A childhood memory of Halloween
|Silence. Nothing but silence and the blackness, which is broken only by the occasional coin of candlelight, carving streaks of yellow through the interlocking plates of darkness. The silence is loud and hisses incessantly in my ears whilst it wraps me in its giant arms. I saw silence and heard blackness; there was no distinguishing between the two, my senses merged as I crouched there staring into the blackness and waiting.
Whispers of sound ruffle against my earlobes as my sister shifts her weight from one leg to the other beneath a black rubbish bag; as she moves shapes of colour distort on her costume like seaweed floating on the rippling dress of the ocean. As we waited together, ears pricked to the ceiling, listening desperately, she slips something between the lips of her mask; parcels of sweetness; sugar wrapped in rose petals; her munching is noisy and dribbling like the sound of wet mud being churned. Again the flavourless voice of silence breathes and the emptiness breeds again; no ticking clocks, no babbling radios, no voices, nothing.
My nose is strangled by the plastic-toxic smell of my mask and instantly the image of conveyer belts with large barrels of green nuclear waste and men in white overalls with gas masks stains my mind. The elastic holding the mask is tightly wrapped around my head, lifting my hair up at the back in a salute; something I always imitated with my fingers on furry animals. The tip of my tongue pokes through the mouth of the frozen expression that is the mask; it is sharp, restrictive, but also exhilarating as I turn to my sister, imagining what I looked like as my muscles creased into a rude expression; but it was my secret for she would never know.
I look into the two holes spread equal distance apart halfway up her mask; colourless eyes wiggle in their sockets like revolving mirrors; the only colour is the pinprick of light punctured from the tender warmth of candlelight. Whilst she waits excitedly, jets of sweet breath erupt in pulses through the nose-holes of her mask; it sounds feathery like the taste of clouds; her panting quickens with every passing moment. But moments were like hours when you were waiting in such suspense, such expectancy; waiting like that was similar to walking through a featureless landscape, there is nothing to mark where we have tread or where we were heading; likewise, as our minds tried tasting and feeling the house with our senses, there was nothing to mark the passing time. Somewhere else time ticked on, but not here; here, suspense had babies and it felt as though the room was filled with a huge invisible lung, which was inhaling and inhaling but never exhaling, growing bigger and thicker and stronger. Inhaling. Its stealing the air from my chest whilst leaning on me and pushing my body against the wall. I glanced at my sister who was still crouching next to me and I think she felt it too; the silence was blaring but still invisible, but it is so real and so alive and –
Wait. Stop. A vibration. A noise from upstairs. Ever so gentle, so deliberately soft, but so definitely there. We waited more but there was nothing. We remained quiet and still, practically dead whilst immeasurable slots of distorted time passed; there was nothing. But there was definitely a voice; a muffled whisper, except in the dead silence it was like a shout through a megaphone.
Suddenly a growl erupted from somewhere in the darkness; it was husky like the hoarse taste of eating half-buttered burnt toast. My sister squeaked with half-surprise and half-panicked delight. I felt alarm, fear and excitement unzip from their cages within me, combining into one emotion which began ripping through each of my senses; I could not comprehend how three such different feelings could unite into just one emotion.
Then there is nothing. We are once again caught in the round bubble of silence where there are no doors or windows, just wild images of what could be lurking in the darkness.
I hear small muffled giggles from my sister who tries to hide her tiptoeing-laughter behind her hands. Abruptly, her legs became erect; she stood, towering over me still trying to hide her laughter. I am not sure if she meant to or even had the control to stop them but her legs began pulling her into the darkness. Her footsteps were so small, barely mouse-sized steps, but they were definite and controlled. Her body slipped out of the room with barely a murmur; she was gone. I was left in the darkness alone. She had left me; my own sister had left me with only the ghostly silhouettes of highlighted objects for –
Almost immediately I was aware of movement; my vision was unsteady; I was tripping on the heels of my sister hopelessly grabbing for her hands in the darkness. My eyes ran uncontrollably up the walls to the roof of the corridor, which seemed so high in the darkness; it dwarfed my sister and I. Her footsteps became more pronounced and longer; I had to hurry my pace in order to keep up; I dare let myself straggle behind in the suffocating darkness.
Suddenly the noise thunders again, except this time its longer, deeper, closer. My sister squeals, a sound like smashing glass; my eyes gaze upstairs into the yawning mouth of nothingness. At first my vision is contaminated with the black mist but as my mother said: “Eat your carrots and you can will be able to see in the dark.” I am not sure if I actually wanted to see what was up there, hearing it was bad enough. Shades of darkness began to peel from my eyeballs like petals from a rose; I see a tall doorframe like the gaping entrance to a fortress; the handrail snaking up the stairs emerges from the gloom with the vague shape of the bars descending from –
Instantly my sight is winded, I attempt to breathe into my lungs of sight; fingers, hands, gripping the rails with a large shadow behind them; its moving, breathing.
“I’m coming to get you, little ones, and then…I’m going to eat you all up.”
There was a noise like the pop from a champagne bottle. Then nothing, and once again, silence falls like a suffocating blanket. I felt my legs twitch from under me, they were moving, walking up the stairs with a robotic charm; but I did not want to go into the darkness, I did no –
Suddenly I am blinded; my eyes become drowned in a Godly light, I jolt my head away and ram my lids shut but I can still feel it penetrating my vision like a laser. Immediately it’s gone and my vision converts to tiny black and purple grasshoppers jumping around on my eyeballs. A yelp sounds in my ears, my body whirls a half-circle; I see a long thin tube of florescent light splurged on my sister mask. My head flits back towards the darkness as my ears become encompassed by roaring, it’s like the feel of lying on a knife among feathers. My hearing is etched by a scraping; it’s the sound of movement like a lion trying to walk on ice, then thunder explodes somewhere else as the creature begins running.
“I’m coming for you!”
Excitement laced with panic escalates in me like the impending threat of an overflowing cup.
“It’s coming!” I hear myself scream in the mania. I half-turned half-fell down the stairs collapsing on my sister who remained still like a plug in the darkness. She held her hands to her head shrieking, seemingly unaware that our limbs were intertwined; she was the older sibling, the one who was supposed to look after me but she had been horror-licked; what hope was there for me?
“Quick the other way.” A hysterical voice cries; my sisters.
A hand grabbed me somewhere, I began tumbling and running down the stairway but the darkness had glued our limbs together and, after the world span the wrong way, we lay strewn on the floor in a heap of bewildered squeals and limbs. My lips spread wide to draw in a full chest of air; replenishment, but I suck and gasp but no oxygen refills me, nothing comes into my lungs; it feels as though my sisters leg is stuck in my throat. I throw my body up from the floor…
…but I am instantly sucked back into the ground by the carpet-turned-quicksand; again I thrust upwards and push off downwards, but the spider web of my sisters arms and leg push me back to earth.
My muscles tense and I seesaw on the floor like an upside-down turtle as each of my senses sequentially acknowledges the bangs of treading feet; my eyes strain looking for a body, or feet at least. The sounds of the footsteps became shape, entering our space from the blackness, slowly, measured steps, robotic. With my cheeks pressed against the floor, two eyes peer down at me like lights from at tall building; the figure looked too tall...
...I will finish soon!