Blood faded out down the drain, and the tearing screams subsided to finally disappear. It was then the turn of the credits of the film. The woman pressed the stop button of the video and three things simultaneously happened: the fog took over the screen, the silence over the room, and a vague restlessness over her.
She was alone at home, except for her young son, sleeping in a small bed in his room. She shouldn’t have looked that horror movie in those wee hours. Her husband had night shift at the factory and wouldn’t return until seven. But she was bored. A story of undead which had awed her more than she thought. It was long, too long. What had seemed entertaining at eleven that night, when she could still hear the lively conversations of neighbors coming through the window ajar, now seemed gloomy. The silence unfolding throughout the building and the ramshackle city was now perceived as a dull buzzing in her ears. Instinctively she lifted her feet off the floor and curled up on the couch.
Her pulse was accelerating. She had to get up early to go work. She needed to move and go to the bedroom. She knew it was mad, but still looked under the sofa before putting back her feet on the floor. Nothing. As always, nothing. She turned on the corridor light and went back to the living to off lights there. Passing she noticed the door ajar in her child’s room. She wasn’t sure she has left it this way, but the irrational alert now bristling in her neck was making unbearable the buzzing in her ears. She just wanted to get to bed. She turned on the bedroom light and went back to switch off the one in the corridor.
She looked at the clock, and then the empty bed, and tried to efface from her mind her always intimate fears of darkness, of sleeping alone, of the empty space under the bed, of the large closet which, at that wee hour, seemed ominous and threatening, and had the door slightly open. She shut it completely. That slice of darkness always frightened her – it seemed that, suddenly, the slit would begin to expand caused by something pushing the door. She felt as beginning to lose control.
Finally she decided to get into bed. She tried to banish from her mind all these absurd fears, but couldn’t escape her inevitable ritual before turning off the lights, and looked under the bed. Nothing, as always. She never found anything that might unsettle her, but had never stopped to take a look. Since childhood she always had a premonition that something terrible someday would emerge from down there. Her husband laughed at her fears. During the day she also used to smile about. There was nothing. She tried to smile now, but a disfigured grin was all she got.
With effort she walked toward the switch, turned it off and, running, took off the shoes and climbed into the bed, covering up the head, to then feel the heart beating faster than usual. Mirk always terrified her. She tried to concentrate on happy thinking: her husband’s kiss in the morning, her year and a half child waking up and looking for her… but failed. When alone, before sleep seized her, only terrifying gloomy fears and ideas come to her mind. She’d only construct hands grabbing her ankles from underneath, or the closet door cracking, opening to allow way for a nightmare creature … Her hands gripped the edge of the blanket, praying that sleep soon ensued and to wake up, as always, in a room bathed by light.
She guessed an hour when she began to be invaded by that pleasant laxity, looseness of limbs and mind, that she always associated with the onset of the savior sleep.
Finally! … she was thinking, when an instant chill abruptly changed everything. She thought she had heard a noise under the bed. Her heart suddenly started pounding desperate the walls of its box, her mouth opened trying to scream, just to make no sound. Yes. Now she clearly heard it. She thought of a mouse, a small animal that crawled across the floor and would disappear any time. She clung desperately to the idea, to realize with infinite panic that noise couldn’t be caused by any animal. They were sinister creaking, followed by hideous caricatures of breath, as the noise of an asthmatic in a crisis, a dreadful and cavernous gurgle. Her mind began to escape into the dark regions of madness and infinite horror. That was crawling under her bed, moving ominously in the dark. And the breathing sounded almost human. At any time a dark and bony paw would emerge from down there and would toy with her hand immobilized by terror, and some subhuman would come for her. It’s here! Her brain paralyzed repeated faster and faster, while waiting for the final moment, her heart messy jumping in the chest, threatening to burst. It’s here, it’s here…!
Her husband will never forget what he found in the bedroom on his return that morning. His subhuman cries of pain woke the neighbors who were still sleeping. He kept screaming mad when they, after forcing the door of the apartment, found him. In bed, his wife was laying faceup, her eyes frighteningly open, her mouth distorted into a horrible grimace, her contracted and clenched hands clutching strands of her own hair. Dead. Dead by fear. And under the bed the small body of a child, that crawling, had got entangled in plastic, dying suffocated after a horrible agony.
Mirk – Dugutigui (based on a story from the Internet)
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