Sunday, August 16, 2009


"Who are you?" Alice demanded with far more confidence than she felt.

From the figure on the other side of the door, there came no reply. Its raven-black garments seemed to fluctuate with the passage of breezes, though there could surely be few such winds in the corridor. Alice could see now face beyond the chin, which poked out with an eerie paleness from below the hood that encovered the rest of the head.

"Why do you not speak?" Alice said with considerably less gusto. She could feel a strange sensation trying to crawl up her spine toward her head and she had a terrible feeling that when it got there something awful might happen.

The figure in the doorway made a strange gesture with its hands -- or what appeared to be its hands. The long sleeves of its accoutrements concealed any digits that might be found therein and Alice realised that the sensation rising to her brain was in fact panic and any moment now it might well be unleashed which would doubtless result in some sort of undignified outburst such as a scream or yelp. Either of which would surely convey a sense of terror that really ought not be revealed to apparitions of this sort, surely, Alice thought with an ever-so palpitating heart.

What would Lizzie do? Alice turned her swiftly scattering thoughts to the reliably comforting image of her cousin. In such a situation, Lizzie would be resolute even though frightened. She would think of something to say or do that would restore a sense of order to the chaos of the unknown.

Amidst the rapidly rising strangulation of alarm, Alice thought she must make some attempt to take control of the situation even as the strange figure swayed disturbingly before her.

"Did you bring my breakfast?" she blurted at last, the words squeaking out of her throat at a slightly higher pitch than normal.

The thing in the doorway began to utter a sigh that stretched into a kind of disturbing moan that made Alice want to curl her toes right up. It seemed to speak the wordless misery and hopelessness of a deeply buried hell that it had risen from only momentarily and would soon be dragged back down into without mercy or respite.

"Well then," Alice said with a decisiveness she did not feel. "I will say 'good day' to you." She closed the door with panic on her shoulder, leaping onto her head as she span around and galloped most ungracefully toward the bed. Leaping into its center, she pulled the bed clothes up to her chin and stared at the closed door.

Minutes ticked by and all remained silent. Alice could hear her own breathing in the small room and tried in vain to silence its noise. There was no movement or sound at the door. Perhaps the figure had moved on, seeking another door or another visitor to haunt. With luck it would not be back and there were surely many such rooms to investigate.

But it knows I'm here now, Alice thought. The realisation made her sink under the bed clothes and grow very quiet.

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