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When I woke up, I only recognized the growing sense of thirst from within my dehydrated body. I licked my parched lips and slipped out of the covers, my body suddenly hit by the cold air stitched into the seams of the oppressive darkness ahead. I quivered as I reluctantly embraced the chill temperature and made my way to the door, jumping with each step as small creaks were produced from the weight of my foot being placed upon the oak floorboards. Although the noise was faint, it sounded deafeningly loud in contrast to the dead silence surrounding my petite self.

All five of my fingers curled around the bronze colored door knob ahead, and they steadily turned it until a small click was heard. I then placed my tiny hand against the wooden door coated in a fine layer of white paint, and with a gentle push, the barrier between the safe haven of a child's bedroom and whatever lay beyond was removed.

I shivered as a new draft of icy air entered the room. A brand new wave of darkness seemed to rush through the doorway and engulf the area, its color resembling that of tar. Summoning all the courage I could, I placed both feet firmly on the beige carpet that embellished the ground. My eyes glared at the corridor before me. It appeared lengthier at night than during the day. I could imagine elongated arms melting from the walls on both sides, grasping at my clothing. I could envision dozens of spiders dropping from the ceiling, several landing on my hair, and others crawling on the surface of my body.

Shaking my head, I banished such thoughts and proceeded down the hallway. The hair on the back of my neck stood up as I walked past the room where my parents soundly rested in their comfortable bed. There was no turning back, and even if I wanted to, my craving for a drink to sedate my ever growing dehydration only grew. I carried on still, finally reaching the end of the endless path, and found myself in a clearing. By then, my eyes had grown somewhat accustomed to the dark, and I could make out a few pieces of furniture and a television set.

I slowed my pace and gulped nervously. A sense of peril entrenched the room. I found that shadows would dance in the corner of my eyes, only to disappear once I turned my head in their direction. The darkness seemed even more foreboding than it had just seconds earlier. I desperately wished to run to my parents like I had so many times before. Still, I remembered how they had always told me there was nothing to be afraid of. They explained numerous times that my young imagination would always come up with ways to scare me, but I had to learn to be brave and overcome the fear I would often encounter at the hands of my own mind. Thus, my mind was set on proving to my mother and father that I wasn't afraid anymore, and so I carried on.

I confidently walked forward, repeating what my parents had said in my thoughts with each stride. After taking a few steps, I heard it. From behind me, I could make out the sound of footsteps, their rhythm conflicting with my own. As I stopped, so did they. My heart began beating faster than before. Had it been my mind playing tricks on me again? I resumed my steady pace, and this time, the only footsteps I could hear were my own.

As I neared the kitchen, I found myself standing completely still once more. Figures and shapes yet again found themselves located in the corners of my eyes. I attempted to take a few deep breaths in order to calm down. It was just my imagination, right? I tried my hardest to assure myself of that, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I doubted it, and that growing sense of fear showed as I walked even faster. I kept my eyes focused ahead, not daring to look behind me for even a second.

The off-beat footsteps returned once again, and I responded by going even faster. I felt the wind start to pick up and brush by my face as I realized how quickly I was moving. I was certain that my imagination was causing me to hear the footsteps on my trail and the forms appearing in the corner of my eyes. I was aware that my imagination was the reason behind my deepest, darkest fears, which were beginning to make their presence known within my soul. I knew for a fact that only my imagination could make my heart beat the way it did, and soak my palms in a thin layer of sweat. My parents would never lie to me, would they?

Regardless of what I knew to be true or not, I was close to arriving at my destination. I began a full sprint as I felt the darkness clutching my ankles and arms. I could hear the footsteps aimlessly walking around, and more illusions of figures accompanied them. I had one hell of an imagination, and I had one thought racing through my mind. I needed to find a light switch.

I was desperate for light that would illuminate my surroundings, driving back the treacherous night and whatever creatures lived within it, their sole purpose in life to capture me and munch on my bones. I was so close, just a few feet away. I leaped forward and pushed a small lever upwards, soaking me and the area in a warm, much appreciated glow. I sighed deeply, relieved to be out of danger at last. However, before I could even move, my heart stopped, and my eyes widened.

Behind me, I heard a voice most unfamiliar. It was guttural and moist, and it echoed throughout the entire house.

"Finally... I can see you."

I flicked off the lights before letting out a shrill cry. I dashed through the darkness, through the living room, the hallway, all the way to my parents room. Though I can't be certain, I... I swear I could hear the faint sound of childish giggling from behind me. My parents were frustrated that I had awoken them, but I didn't care in the slightest. I clung to my mother, sobbing into her chest.

My father didn't find anything in the house. He searched every nook and cranny of the place, only to confirm his suspicions that we were the sole occupants. My parents let me sleep with them that night. I knew that no matter what I said, they would simply chalk my experience up to being a consequence of a hyperactive mind.

But I knew... I knew there was something with me. I knew beyond any doubt, that the breathing I felt on the back of my neck, and that deep, perverted voice was all real. Looking back I feel almost silly that I was afraid of the dark. We were never afraid of the dark. Rather, it was what was in it that petrified us to our very core.

It was the knowledge that the only thing separating us from a potentially cruel, twisted fate, was the thin veil of darkness surrounding us.

Written by Icydice
Content is available under CC BY-SA