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It is soft in the darkness behind her eyelids and her limbs still have the delicious heaviness of sound sleep upon them. She half-smiles and goes to yawn, to turn and return to her dreams, but her movement is restricted and suddenly the fog of sleep is a threat instead of a comfort. She forces her eyelids open but finds only a rough darkness, sight failing her as completely as her arms and legs. Air is bitter and jagged in her throat, not coming as easily as it should. She tries not to panic, to remember where she was last, to convince herself somehow that this is a dream, to not go back to the last time she found herself laid out, vulnerable, and unable to fight.

She swore she would never find herself back there, helpless and trapped, but here she is, biting her lip until she tastes blood to prove to herself that she is awake even as she realises what being awake may mean.


Slow and silent.

Perhaps it is the loss of sight and movement heightening her senses but she feels like she recognises them from somewhere, like she’s heard that gait before. Something in her tells her not to cry out. Not to ask why. Not to let on that she’s awake.

The silence adds its weight to the fear that’s building in her belly.

Then there’s a light pressure at her throat, deliberate and deceptively gentle. One last caress down the lover’s path from ear to neck as her pulse races and betrays her. A sigh. His. She is sure now that it’s a man and almost as sure that he has brought her here to die, though she couldn't tell you why.

She wonders if there’s any way to fight it, either the act or the certainty; whether there’s any struggle left in the dead weight of her body, whether her lungs have the capacity to scream as well as to keep breathing. Then a sharp pinch cuts through those thoughts and is followed by a powerful wave of nothingness. Everything slows until she can feel the individual beats of her heart, languid as the pendulum in a clock that’s winding down. The blood in her mouth thickens then stops, and for a second she knows perfect stillness.

When things begin to move again she is no longer lying down but floating, back skimming the cool ceiling, anchored by some invisible umbilical to a girl she doesn’t recognise who lies pale and naked beneath her. A shadowy figure bends over the girl, watching for a breath or a flicker of life. When none comes he turns and walks away, taking her fear with him.

She exhales, lightening and then the vision is gone.

When she wakes up again she can see perfectly; it’s the same white room she always wakes in but the red marks on her palms from her fingernails, the soreness of her throat from screaming and the wet trails of tears and sweat are new.

She shivers. Habit draws her lower lip into her mouth and with it a bloody reminder of the dream. She buries the part of her mind that tells her she tastes something else too, something foreign that belongs only to the nightmare and not to this reality but that’s not possible. Dreams are locked in the mind and though they affect the body there is no way she could bring something tangible back with her. Much more likely she’s just forgotten how vivid the creations of her sleeping mind can be, as medications and retreating demons have rendered the last few months tranquil and dreamless. She thought she was free. Perhaps she is. Perhaps with time she can rediscover that peace without chemical assistance and slip childlike between quiet sheets each night. Maybe this time her dream is just the hasty construct of an uneasy mind, and not a remembrance or a warning. Either way, sleep is lost to her tonight. As she waits for daylight, she prays to a god she no longer believes in that she will never have to return to the hell she has just imagined.