Go go go don’t stop don’t look back. If you look back they can get you, the demons, the shadows, the ones who never slow down. Keep running they’re catching up. They’re always catching up. You said to me once that the truly terrifying thing, what makes you prickle cold with sweat at night and shakes your bones all day, what scares you is that you can go a long way pretty fast but they go slower they do they plod on but they never ever ever need to sleep. You slowed down and they got you.
If I keep going fast enough they won’t get me. If I keep running I’ll be okay. That’s what you told me. Your words go in my head keep going keep going keep going run run run and one syllable with every time a foot hits the ground so I’m saying the words as I go even when I’m walking because my legs might fall out from under me. Those words keep my feet forward, keep my bones working and my blood churning and my face turned up and ahead of me so I don’t look at the ground so long that I just sink right onto it. Sometimes the dirt looks so inviting.
There’s no way I give up, you have to know that, you might be gone to me but I can still talk to you in my head. It’s not like there’s anyone else to talk to either and I’d always rather talk to you than anyone. You know. You always know. Now when I have to do all the knowing when my brain has to work all the time and my body has to go go go all the time and I’m without you and all I have is your words that keep me going because I have to keep going. Now that it’s like this, I still talk to you in my head. I always did and always will. There isn’t anyone better to talk to. Even if there was someone they wouldn’t be better couldn’t not possibly because you’re always you even though you’re not here you’re not with me you’re still you. When I ask myself questions because I’m so so so tired sometimes I can hear your answers because I know what you would say. Sometimes I ask just to hear the answer you would say come back to me and I can pretend for a little minute there that you’re telling me how to survive how to be how to live and it’ll work and because of you, your words in my head, you’re gone but I have your words and so I’ll be okay.
Do you think I’ll ever be able to rest? No don’t stop run run run never stop.
Oh god, sometimes I wake up at night seeing the gleam of his teeth in the shadows lurking in my bedroom and my throat is too tight with terror to scream. He’s coming closer and I can’t make him go away, I’m too afraid, my blood is running cold and my muscles all seize up and my heart is beating a rapid message, telling me that this is new, this is wrong, all of a sudden I’m prey. The adrenaline surges and tries to make me leap into a run but he’s already on me, already lacing his cold cold fingers over my shoulders and drawing me to him. His mouth is cold on my skin but then blood spurts and it’s hot, burning against my skin with his icy lips like brands clamped on me.
I knew it was wrong when I saw that shine. He was already baring his teeth, the monster, already unsheathing the fangs when he slunk closer. He got excited, I guess, he made a sound, a growl that rumbled and muttered in his throat and then he pounced. He grabbed me and just bent me back, like I was a doll or a rabbit or something small and helpless that he could just throw about. Like a packet of ketchup. I was, I guess. I was small and helpless to him. I’ve been small and helpless ever since.
He let me go before I died. They must have to do that, otherwise the people wouldn’t survive, they’d all be left as cold bloodless corpses in the alleys and the corners of the city and the beasts would have to start feeding on rats and pigeons until there was no life left anywhere, and then I don’t know what would happen. I don’t go anywhere by myself anymore, I’m too scared. The next one might let me die. Even if he didn’t, I’d rather he did. I don’t want to be limp and hurting on the ground again. I don’t want to be clasped in freezing hands that dig into my flesh like something human, almost, except that doesn’t know I’m a person. There are more of them these days, stalking the city. They spot a flash of exposed flesh of a pulse beating in someone’s throat and then they hunt. They follow you, soundless in the shadows, until they can smell your fear because you know that you’re being followed in the part of your brain that knows it’s prey. That’s when they come for you. When the terror is rising, they shuffle closer. They slip through the dark and put cold hands on your warm living flesh. When you are afraid, when they can see your eyes go round with horror, when the shivering crawls in murmurs on your skin and your breath is coming short, they get you. Then they bite.
He has too many words to say and write and think and they’re pressing and building – and he’s so afraid that he’ll forget how to unstopper them and let them spill out and fall, slip sinuous and puddle in a pool that sinks into the soft weave beneath what holds something together, himself or something else. He’s afraid they’ll stay there, and he won’t be able to let them out. He’s afraid to live quietly. He’s afraid of being alone, and he’s afraid that people are alone, and thinking of it makes him slide apart. He’s afraid he’ll forget the words he needs to say before they slip out, before he slides apart or together or holds himself fast with forgotten threads of memory laced with tears and grief and still bound tight. He’s afraid to speak.