A short story written when I was in the late Jane Elder’s creative writing class. I had joined them in 1983. I was emerging from a difficult time of my life when I wrote it during 1991.
It was black-dark. Clive could not remember how he had arrived there; it just appeared around him. A long-fingered hand reached out of the darkness. Its skin was smooth, jet black, darker than the shadows it moved out of; but he could see it as it slid towards him. Its nails were long and sharp, dirty with rotting flesh and dried blood. There was no voice, no sound, only the hand and a strong, foul smell. Clive stared in horror as it reached towards him, he couldn’t move as fear gathered inside him, poised to attack all his senses, poised to mobilise his limbs to fight or fly; but he couldn’t move. His outstretched arms, helping him find his way through the gloom, were frozen in a gesture of seeming welcome for the snake-like apparition as it insinuated its way through the gloom. His eyes were fixed on it unable to glance away, his head unable to turn. One foot in front of the other fixed in a step towards the long, stretching fingers.
The shrieking started. A spitting, hating voice driving foul taunts and abuse deep into him through his body up into his soul. He could see twisting, black swollen lips, deep hate filled eyes darting in at him from all around. He could not move, all around were a myriad of scowling eyes, bloated lips with flashes of sharp white teeth and spit as they swirled about darting in to loom large over him only to flash back as they were about to envelope him. He could not shout, scream or move, he was helpless. His fear became unbearable as its pressure built up inside him. There was no release. He could feel his head throb it felt as though there was a tight iron strap around his forehead stopping it from exploding.
The outstretched fingers brushed his chest. The smell was overpowering. He wanted to vomit but even his stomach was frozen. The hand formed itself into a claw, its movements slow, deadly, inexorable. Clive felt the nails press into his skin, they were icy cold and drew all the heat from his body. cold swept up his spine flushing out all life. He wanted to shiver but each fibre of his muscles was locked. The pain and pressure was unbearable. The hand still moved forward pressing into his flesh. To his horror he felt it pierce his chest, cold flooded in with the pain. He still couldn’t move, bleed or die.
The stinking cold fingers opened to grasp his heart which it started to squeeze in a parody of life, his blood couldn’t flow it was solid in his arteries and veins. Each cell of his body was suffocating. There was no oxygen to fuel the cycle of life. His body was de-energised but he still could not die, could not move, only feel the intense pain and cold, hear the screams, see swollen, twisted, hating lips.
Then in a corner of his brain he felt a flicker of light. A pale rose-pink glow defying the tides of pain, defying the black shadows and deep cold. The light spread, he could feel its gentle warmth begin to waken his dead flesh driving cold and pain before it as it trickled through his stricken cells. The evil thing in his chest tightened its grip on his heart. The pain increased. He felt it even more keenly as there was a corner of his being that was warm and washed with love. Just at that moment he thought he could not bear the agony anymore. Gentle hands began to stroke his forehead, brush his cheek. Soft sensual actions that gave him enormous strength, great comfort. The pain began to retreat before the pink light that suffused through him. There was an exquisite pain in his chest. He looked down. The hand had gone, and his chest was whole again, his heart moved on its own accord pumping his now fluid blood through his veins.
There was light all around, gold, blue, pink. He could move, the hating spitting lips had gone. There was a trace of a figure, a light just brighter than the surround. He moved towards it reaching out to touch but it retreated staying just beyond his hand. He moved forward the figure slid away. He stopped, the figure hovered.
He could see clear, steady eyes and lips with a gentle smile. He could never give up again.
Anthony Fisher 1991