When she wakes up, there’s no one around. Doesn’t matter. Still the cold sweat again. Still the jolt awake. Wide-eyed peering into the night.
The phone replaced the clock. The phone says some god awful time, that’s forgettable the instant she looks at it. Two. Three times. She still doesn’t remember. It doesn’t matter. She turns over.
There’s a cluster of bumps on the cold wall. She touches it. Feels cold, smooth, almost wet. Are the walls wet? I don’t think so… Fingers brush the surface again. No, it’s not wet. Why do I need so much convincing? She rubs her fingers together. But it’s just the warmth of skin touching skin.
As she closes her eyes, she exhales a deep sigh. The image remains. The sound returns.
A rock in a forest surrounded by rushing water. A great grey, smooth rock that as she places her hand upon it, feels silky. How can this great big rock feel so silky smooth? It’s just a rock after all.
Then the wooden face with no eyes and big sharp teeth returns and fire around him as he laughs echoing in her mind and all around her. It’s not real. Covering her ears from the laughter, she opens her eyes again. Daylight. Birds singing to one another. Rushing water. The rock. She reaches out to touch it.
The laughter returns. She covers her ears. But why be afraid? It’s nothing she hasn’t heard before. Still, no matter how many times she hears it, it takes her by surprise. Stomach leaps up to where the heart is. In the chest as if it could force a gasp.
But I know where I am again. And I know you’re not necessarily trying to scare me.
She knows the face smiles with those teeth. She knows without looking. She can’t look without shuddering.
Okay, so you’re here. What do you want now?
And the face disappears down the water, darting as it creates ripples.
And off it goes, down the water. Ripples forming circles colliding with the rock. With her legs struggling through the muck on the bottom of the stream. The echoing laughter in the distance.
Trying not to become frustrated with moving slow. One foot stuck then the other then a series of rocks that she could climb upon. But carefully so as not to slip on the moss lining each hard surface. Balancing. Careful… careful… foot gingerly placed upon each wobbling stone, smooth and polished. Silky smooth.
She looks up as she steps upon the ground, sinking beneath her feet. Trees blocking it, but in the distance she knows it’s there the face is there and waiting for her. She slowly approaches. Hesitating. What if I don’t want to hear what it has to say? But it doesn’t matter because her body’s already bringing her to the clearing.
And as she she gets closer there’s something that makes her fall to her hands. She can’t look up. Doesn’t matter if she tries. She can’t look up. Crawling now, on her hands and knees through to the clearing. That’s all I have to do. Through to the clearing and that’s it. Every movement a great effort. Every effort takes more time than the last. As she reaches. every movement takes every thing she’s got.
Something tells her to look up. And so she does. She knows she’s there.