He collected beautiful things.
Ripped them out of their natural environment and preserved them in all of their dead splendor.
The problem was I wasn’t beautiful. I was all of the hideous and ugly realities of the world packaged into one broken human being.
He came to kill me.
That was his business.
He ripped me out of my natural environment, the prison I’d created, and locked me away with all of his beautiful dead things.
I hated him.
I still hate him.
But if I was given the choice and the ability to leave this cage, come back to life, I’d stay dead.
In all of my hideous splendor.
Because my murderer can only possess dead things.
And I can only be possessed by someone more broken and ugly than me.Books by Author:Anne Malcom Books
I awoke with that frenzied urgency you get when you"re trying to shake off a nightmare. But instead of the relief of safety in wakefulness, there was only increased terror. Every inch of me froze as I took in the dark figure standing in the corner of my room. My already thundering heart threatened to beat out of my chest.
I blinked, hoping this was a residual image from my nightmare. Nightmares were the norm for me. I was used to the terror that came with them in sleep, that lingered after waking. But most of the images, the horror, pain"they disappeared to the depths of my mind, lurking, waiting for me to lapse into unconsciousness before they struck again. I waited for this to happen. But the figure remained.
I didn"t know what to do"screaming would"ve probably been the best idea, even if I did live alone without neighbors, but a vocalization of my terror might make it real. So I didn"t scream, outwardly at least. I had an idea that if I remained calm, convinced this was a nightmare within a nightmare, I would will it to be so. But then again, I knew better than anyone that hopes of such things were for children and fiction; in real life, the most terrible of realities, of monsters, they couldn"t be wished or hoped away.
Woodenly, I leaned over to my lamp beside my bed, switching it on and illuminating the room in a soft glow. The light only magnified the menace of the masked intruder. We stared at each other in silence, my whole body shaking. I was captured by terror and held hostage by the piercing blue eyes that were locked on me, emotionless, cold and menacing. They burned bright like a predator"s in the eerie light of the room.
The huge figure stepped forward slowly, almost casually, toward my bed. Toward me. I couldn"t escape from his eyes, from the peril that seeped out of them and blanketed my body.
Oh God. He"s going to kill me. Or rape me.
I gritted my teeth. Two years"a lifetime, if we wanted to get technical"of being the victim was enough for me. I was not going to be another statistic. I couldn"t. I wouldn"t survive more abuse"there were only broken pieces of me left as it was. A hollow shell with shards of my soul rattling around inside. It would take one strike from this predator to destroy me. Maybe that wasn"t the worst thing, anyway.
No. I wouldn"t give up. Couldn"t give up.
Life was my penance, my sentence. The price I was paying. And I deserved to live through every second of misery. I needed more of it to pay for my sins.
He didn"t speak, didn"t seem surprised at my paralysis, so when he made it to the edge of my bed, I was able to surprise him when I snatched my lamp and smashed it into his masked head. I took advantage of the muttered curse and his stumble at the impact, shooting out of bed and darting toward the door. Toward escape.
I didn"t think about the lack of escape that lay behind that door, the lack of destination to run to. In my terror, I forgot about the thing that was otherwise the rock sitting inside my lungs, making me unable to breathe without recognizing it.
No, this one moment, I forgot about the thing that had defined me and kept me in captivity for almost a year. I was all about survival.
My fingers closed around the door handle before a sharp pain at the back of my head stopped me. He had grabbed a handful of my hair, yanking me back into his granite chest.
I didn"t make a sound as the rough fabric of his mask tickled my face.
"Though I applaud your effort, I wouldn"t recommend pulling something like that again unless you want a bullet to the brain," a raspy voice informed me, chilling me to the bone at the firm promise behind his words.
I didn"t know what to say. How to respond. Fear was like a gag, silencing and suffocating me.
We stayed like that a moment. The man, whoever he was, seemed content to stay in this position. He had the power, after all.
After the seconds that seemed to drag like years when time was saturated with unadulterated terror, he turned me. I faced him, his hand still grasping my long ponytail, his head cocked to the side as if he was inspecting me.
I met his gaze, refusing to cower in terror. Refusing to plead. The cold emptiness behind those blue eyes told me such efforts would be useless. I wouldn"t debase myself to that.
"What do you want from me"" I asked in a clear voice, one that only shook a little.
I was proud. Years of living with the fear that curdled in my belly had obviously hardened me to its effect, my muteness only temporary.