Vignette with a Halloween flavor -- written for Acme's Freestyle Writing Challenge
Now I Lay Me Down To Rest...
I lay down to rest. The afternoon sunlight waned, casting long shadows through the window and across the carpet. I knew they came from the thorny rose bush outside shivering in the dank winter air, but the shadows looked like witches’ fingers as the leafless branches shuddered in the frigid air.
I’d been studying all day for mid-term exams. My head felt too heavy for my neck to support, not from so much knowledge crammed in there, I can assure you, but from the exhaustion that comes with concentrating for too long with no reprieve. The caffeine was no longer doing its job. The last two or three cups of coffee hadn’t made my eyelids any lighter or my mind any more alert. I realized I needed a nap – just a short catnap would do the trick. Then, I reasoned, I’d feel refreshed and ready to tackle the last couple chapters.
The rough slipcover itched my skin through the hooded sweatshirt I wore, but the wool warmed my back and I felt my body resign its weight to the sofa. My eyes were closed and I watched the spiraling, psychedelic shapes ebb and flow across the backs of my eyelids. I fancied I saw a cat, its curved tail an extension of a radically arched back. The cat faded and was replaced by a large, glowing letter P that trotted left, and then ricocheted right. My breathing slowed, to the point that I barely noticed the stale stench of cigarettes lingering in the sofa’s fabric. I was thinking about the smoker, wondering what kind of person he had been and where in the world he was right that instant, when I heard the laughter.
It wasn’t loud. In fact, I didn’t think someone on the other side of the room could have heard it. I wasn’t even sure I’d heard it, until it came again. This time it was clearer, devoid of joy, menacing. My heart had been racing all day thanks to the large quantity of coffee I’d ingested, but now it skipped in my chest. I opened my eyes and tried to move. I couldn’t sit up. Paralyzed, my eyes darted to every corner in my field of vision, but the darkening room looked empty. The laughter continued, and then I felt them.
Tiny, claw-like hands gripped my fingertips and climbed up my hands. I screamed out, but no sound issued from my mouth. I couldn’t see the creatures, but I pictured them. I imagined stout, miniature, gray-skinned people, with squat faces like carved apples left out to dry. They pulled their little knees up from my arms and onto my torso. I felt their coarse skin and the weight of their small bodies. They snickered and wheezed as they pressed down on me, trapping me in place. I struggled harder. I wanted to get up and run away, but I was powerless against them. I concentrated on my right arm. "Lift, damn it!" I shouted in silence. If I could get my arm up, I could throw the creatures off me.
Suddenly, the laughter ceased. The creatures scampered down the side of my body and slid off my arm, dropping noiselessly to the rug. Slowly, I turned my head, blinked my eyes. I curled my fingers and formed weak fists, and then stretched and spread them wide. I smiled. Just a dream, I thought. My heart hammered in my chest, but I was sure it would soon slow. Just as my eyes dropped closed again a thought that seemed not to be my own skittered across my mind. I wonder if sometimes they come back...?
Heinous laughter shattered the silence, and terror prickled my skin. I tried to jump up off the sofa, but small, gray hands pinned me down…
PROMPT: "Sometimes they come back..." Who? How? What? Show me!
Written for Day One of