The Sleepers

Photo Credit: Fable 3

So I’ve been caught up with essays recently and haven’t been able to write much, for the paper or for myself.  The work load is just about done away with and my work for The University Observer will be starting again so articles will be going up here some time after their published on their site.

But for now, I felt like putting up some of my own writing. This is some flash fiction which I wrote for a creative writing workshop around October of last year. The only guidelines we had was a six hundred word or so limit and a first line. We could create our own or pick one from several well known novels our tutor had provided. I had been reading some darker fantasy and science fiction at the time and I was a tad obsessed with shadows and the like. So the first line you’ll see below is the one I thought up. I hope you enjoy it, I’ll probably be posting up more short stories and flash fiction later.

* * *

Stay awake‘, he told himself, ‘stay awake and you’ll be safe.’

The darkness was coming. Specifically the encroaching darkness brought on by his inevitably heavy eyelids. He had been awake for four days now. He now stood in a corner of his bedroom, staring at the bedside lamp. The room was fully lit by it’s own light but he had lit candles and taken excessive measures to keep himself awake. Empty caffeine tablet-packs and coffee cups littered his room. But every person had their limits; his limbs were weak and his head was cloudy. He refused to sit or lie down, it would be too easy to doze off and lose himself. One more hour, one more day, he had to stay awake. He glanced to the other bed in the room where his sister lay, fast asleep. If he fell asleep he could help her, but he might fall into the same state. She was in an opposite state to him, solidly asleep for as long as he had been awake. He had to fend off the darkness. For her.

His eyes snapped open, he was standing in the same spot but he was in flickering darkness. He had closed his eyes for a second, no longer. He couldn’t be dreaming, could he? One candle remained lit, flickering by his sister’s, now empty, bed. Taking it without question and opening the door to his bedroom, he ventured out to find her. He hadn’t left his room for a week, the outside was alien to him now. Shadows flickered like monsters fleeing the light. The odd angles cast by such erratic light threw his mind into a frenzy; his heart pounding and eyes darting from shape to shape. The floorboards creaked with each footfall, and once he could have sworn they creaked again a few seconds later. He spun with a cry, expecting all manner of horrors to greet him but only the dark stared back. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. He was being watched, he knew it. He didn’t know exactly where he was going, but his feet moved by themselves. He found himself at the attic, climbing the ladder into the upper reaches of the house. He scrambled to his feet, and stopped as he looked up. His sister, hanged from the rafters. Skin, white as snow, lips purple and closed eyes. He approached, his voice tiny and frightened, “Sis?”.

Her eyes opening violently, empty and bloodshot yet full of darkness. He spun and ran, fear overtaking him but stopped short of the ladder. A dark claw appeared on the top rung, inky and monstrous. He drew breath to scream.

He opened his eyes again and sat up in his bed. He looked across and saw his sister; awake and breathing heavily. He knew at once they had shared the dream, but they were safe now. They were awake and they were safe. The door began to creak open and an almost liquid darkness poured in. They sat, helpless as a dark and monstrous claw appeared on the frame.

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