We Are All Alone When the Dark Comes by Donna L. Greenwood
In the dark it clicked. She knew from the sound it wasn’t human. There was something insect-like about the way it skittered across the floor. Sometimes it came so close to her that she could smell it. It smelled like drains. Mostly it kept its distance and just scuttled around the blackest corners of the dark which surrounded her. She wasn’t frightened because she could hear the people and their voices made her feel safe.
There was a chink of light in her dark world and this also brought her comfort. The creature hated the light, so the girl stayed within this small bar of brightness, listening to the voices, smiling when she heard laughter, crying when the mood turned sorrowful.
She was lying within her patch of light when the voices began talking once more. A woman (mummy) was crying,
“No, no, please, we need more time.”
Then a voice, male and authoritative,
“I’m sorry, Mrs Geddes, but Mary has been brain dead for eight days now. It is only the machine that is keeping her alive.”
I am Mary, shouted the girl, but blackness filled her mouth like treacle. I’m not dead. I’m just trapped in the dark. There was only one who could hear her scream and, from a shadowed corner, it began to stir.
“Mary, my Mary!” howled her mother.
And then all was silence.
‘Mummy?’ whispered the girl.
The light blinked out. Behind her the thing in the dark grew large; it began to clickety-clack towards her.
The girl wiped away her tears and her face grew hard. She was alone and her mother couldn’t help her. She straightened her back and turned to face her foe. The darkness was her territory now, and she would fight for it.
Judges’ comments on the winning story
This story is a perfect blend of vivid, dark imagery and poignant emotion. In the few sentences, I felt the little girl’s fear, the mother’s horror, the threat of the creature.
This one freaked me out. The idea of what was happening to the little girl was terrifying enough but couple that with the monster element of the story and it’s just too scary. Really loved the last line too. So much story packed into so few words. Bravo!