01 Feb Something visited me from behind my closet door
I shot up to a sitting position in the bed. There was no mistaking it. I was hearing footsteps, footsteps on stairs. Stairs which apparently lay behind the door of my tiny bedroom closet. Stairs which I knew for a fact – did not exist. The steps grew closer and closer, heavy slaps against what sounded like cold stone flooring.
I didn’t scream. I didn’t move. I wasn’t even breathing. I sat, paralyzed by the impossibility of what I was witnessing. The steps grew closer until I could hear the short breaths which accompanied them. My heart began to hammer in my chest so hard that I was amazed it didn’t break through the fortress of my ribs.
THUD. THUD. THUD.
It was here. I could hear them breathing behind the door, exerted by the long climb. I felt a wash of sickening cold grow down my neck as a heavy dread began to weigh down on me.
Is this it, Nathaniel? Is this how I’m going to go? I thought to myself. I wished with all my heart that I would be able to feel his arms around me again, and his gentle whisperings of comfort in my ear like he did so long ago during sleepless nights.
I was answered by silence. There were no arms to stop me from shaking. I was cold, alone and surrounded by darkness. I stared at the handle to the closet, afraid to even blink, waiting for it to turn. I jumped out of my skin when instead, I was met with a sharp knock which seemed to echo around my room, bleeding into the thick silence which hung in the air.
The knock had jolted me to my feet. I stood by the bed, steadying myself by the scratched-up wooden bedpost. I was shaking so hard, I may as well have taken a fit. I couldn’t begin to comprehend what was happening, or who could be behind that door.
Another knock, this time louder – more forceful, hit against the closet door. I gave a small shriek, akin to that of a frightened mouse.
Another knock. My knuckles whitened against the bedpost and my nails dug into the wood as hard as they could.
“Who are you? What do you want?” I cried, my voice tinged in fear and helplessness. I covered my mouth with my free hand as soon as I had said it. I was quickly losing the battle of holding back screams of terror, but I knew that if I wanted to stay safe, I had to stay quiet.
“Nathaniel sent me. I am here to check up on you, if that is alright? I promise, I mean you no harm.” a smoky voice, soft and thick like velvet replied from behind the door.
I felt all the hairs on my body stand to attention, and a sick, queasy feeling gnaw into my stomach. “How can I trust you?” I shrieked, more loudly than I wanted to. Hot tears flashed behind my eyes and I felt them begin to roll down my cheeks, my breath ragged with fear.
“Because, petal, I want to make you feel better. Nathaniel has been worried you aren’t looking after yourself. He sent me to protect you. I am to be your guardian angel.”
I blinked back tears, now in a state of shock. I wasn’t quite sure what to say to that.
A silence hung in the air for a long moment as I sat back on the bed, staring at the floor. I’ve gone mad. This is it, I thought.
“O-okay.” I managed, the terror tangible in my voice.
“I am going to open the door now, Lucy. I would like you to shut your eyes whilst I am here with you. Humans can find the appearance of an angel quite overwhelming, at first. If you open your eyes, you may die of shock. Do you understand, little mouse?”
My eyes widened. Mouse was Nathaniel’s nickname for me. It seemed like it had been an eternity since anyone had called me that. Before I could consider a response, I heard the creak of the door handle, and in terror, screwed my eyes as tightly shut as I could manage. I held my head in my hands and began rocking slightly back and forth on the edge of the bed as footsteps padded over the rugs strewn across the cold of my bedroom floor. I felt a sharp draft carry across the room, which sent a violent shiver down my spine. The footsteps grew closer, and I felt the bed shift as whatever had emerged from behind the door now sat down on the bed next to me. A whimper escaped my throat, and I had to choke back any further sobs which ached to be released.
“I am sorry if I frightened you, little mouse. I only want to make you feel better. I apologise, I seem to be failing in this endeavor. Let me comfort you. You can cry into my arms.” said the voice softly.
Before I could protest, I heard what sounded like rows of feathers gather around me, and shelter me beneath them. I was pressed against a large, warm, leathery body, which smelled of earth and moss. The sensation both horrified and repulsed me at first. I tried to struggle out of the embrace, but my efforts proved futile. Eventually I fell into the creature, letting my muscles relax. The feathers continued to wrap around me and cover me in a gentle warmth. I realised it was the first time I had experienced contact with someone (more likely some-thing) in about a week.
“I’m not so bad, am I, little mouse? You can cry if you want. Let it all out. I will be here for you.”
The absurdity of the situation was dawning on me. I realised this had to be a strange dream. I thought, fuck it, and decided to spill my guts to this strange creature who held me so tightly. “Why did he have to leave me? Why did he have to fucking die on me when I need him to survive?” I cried, my sobbing now transforming to wails like that of a child. I didn’t care. The creature rocked me steadily, and I felt long sharp talons gently scrape along my scalp, which seemed to unnerve and comfort me all at once.
“Everything dies. He was a mere mortal, and like all mortal things, he died. He had to. One day you will too, and you will understand.”
“I can’t eat, I can’t wash, I can’t sleep without him. I’m already dying. I gave myself to him. He was everything to me, and he fucking abandoned me.” I choked through tears.
The creature said nothing, and continued to let me break down whilst holding me all the while. I cried bitter tears as I ached over the memory of the man who had become the centre stage of my world and who I had loved so deeply, more than I could have loved anything or anyone else in my entire life. It felt as though it should be impossible that someone who had been such an integral component of myself should die and leave me living. If we had truly been one and the same as I had felt, why hadn’t he just taken me with him?
“What will you plan to do now, mouse? Are you ever going to reach out, and get help? How will you try to move on?” the creature asked.
“What would be the point? I can’t see a life for myself without him in it. Do you know we had been together for fourteen years?” I responded, now feeling the last of the tears leaving me as anger replaced them, “We had been together for fourteen years, and we knew each other inside and out. He was the one I was supposed to have children with. He was the one I was supposed to grow old with.”
“That may be, but you were your own person before you met him, all that time ago. So it must be possible that you would be able to live again without him.” the creature reasoned.
I shook my head. Impossible.
“You didn’t even like him a lot of the time. He could be mean. He could be cruel to you when his temper overcame him.”
“How do you know?” I snapped, before realising the futility of the question. “It doesn’t matter. No relationship is perfect. I learned how to handle that aspect of his personality. He got better. We became stronger.”
I felt a rush of cold air as the wings withdrew from me.
“So your choice is to stay here, lying in your bed until you waste away to nothing?” the creature questioned.
I sat up and hugged my arms.
“I think that’s what he would have wanted.” I replied, in a very small voice.
“What do you want, Lucy?” the creature hissed, an inflection of impatience rising in it’s throat.
“I want to please him, I just want to please him – okay? That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
“LIAR.” the creature roared, making me jolt with fright.
“No, I’m not! I know this is how I have to die! I would follow him to the ends of the earth, you don’t think I would die for him?”
“He would have loved to hear that, wouldn’t he? It’s too bad that he’s dead, and the only person you continue to fool with this charade is yourself – only it’s wearing thin now isn’t it? You think about moving on with your life as you lie there in that filthy bed, don’t you?” the creature snarled, it’s lips presumably twisting in contempt.
“Stop! Please stop! You were supposed to be here to comfort me. You told me Nathaniel sent you!” I cried.
“And how pathetic is that? You allowed one of my kind into your room because you thought he had orchestrated it. As though your pathetic, dead lover would have any say over what we do. He wasn’t God Lucy, because Gods do not die, despite what you believe.”
Horror overwhelmed me. I struggled with all my might not to open my eyes as I faced the creature who I knew, despite my blindness, was now towering above me. I could sense it’s bared teeth snarling down on me.
“Get out. Leave me alone, please. Please go away, please go way…” I began to beg.
The bed started shaking, and I felt my feet lift off from the ground as I was levitated into the air.
“Is this the fate you have chosen? Are you truly going to die over this man? Would you like me to choke the life out of you and find you a place with him for all eternity? Because I will, if that is your choice.”
Talons were now squeezing around my throat, blocking off my airways and sending a spell of overwhelming dizziness through my body. I thrashed violently, kicking blindly through the air to no avail.
In my panic, I opened my eyes, and saw the face of Nathaniel, buried in a frame of black feathers, with jagged teeth and black, spidery eyes which did not belong to him staring back at me.
“There you are, little mouse…” a voice creaked out from beneath barely moving lips.
It sounded like a warped, stripped back version of the one I had become so familiar with over the past fourteen years. His lips twisted into a smile and his unblinking eyes glared into mine with a hunger I knew all too well.
My heart stopped as I saw him before me, the man I had told myself I had loved so intensely for so painfully long. I dug my fingernails into the creatures arms, gripping the black, tarred feathers. I pulled, pulled with all the strength I could possibly muster, and felt them tear away from the creature’s flesh, now balled up into my bloodied fists. Nathaniel’s mouth opened and an inhuman screech ripped through the air as the grip around my neck loosened. I screamed in reply, baring my teeth in hatred, anger and fear as I felt myself fall back through the air. Our screams filled the room in a twisted harmony, before I felt the headboard of the bed smack against the back of my skull. In my last waking moments, I saw Nathaniel’s face twisted in anger, still howling in pain, and his black, soulless eyes burning into mine.
When I eventually regained consciousness, I found myself still lying on the bed, this time alone. The room was empty and quiet.
Nathaniel still lay at the foot of the bed, exactly where he had fallen a week previously after an apparent heart attack. There were no feathers, sharp teeth or beady eyes staring at me. Just the body of a man in his late fifties, cold and unmoving. Silently, I got to my feet, and tentatively approached the decomposing corpse. I rolled him over, and found the set of keys he always kept in the pocket of his jeans.
I used them to undo the chains around my ankles. I cannot possibly describe how it felt to feel air caress the sore, bruised skin which had for so long been clamped under unforgiving metal. Goosebumps ricocheted across my skin and a ridiculous smile spread across my face. I couldn’t have stopped it if I had wanted to. I was grinning like a crazy person, and the grin became a giggle, which became a laugh which became a cackle, bellowing from deep within my chest.
I wobbled weakly across the room, with a quick glance at the closet door, which lay ajar. I didn’t look back, as I began to ascend the stairs, for the first time in fourteen years, out of the basement.