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The Darkness Within


The Darkness Within

Copyright 2016 Michael Huddlestone

Published by Michael Huddlestone at Shakespir

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The bitter winter wind chilling Peter’s skin was nothing compared to the icy reception that he would no doubt receive when he arrived home. Lilyan always had a response for everything. According to her she was always in the right. When she didn’t have an answer she would deflect the question, bringing up the past, exaggerating it to suit her point. He had to walk out, needing a break from her as he climbed on his bicycle and left for a ride through the park. The truth was, he couldn’t even remember now what started the fight. Only that it got very heated fast, certainly on her behalf. It was like it was her intention to drive him out.

The sun had just set as he rounded the corner, his street bordered with shadows. In his rush to get out, he had left his bike lamp at home. Riding in the dark, he took it slow. The only light was the dull glow of the street lamps, too few and far between them to be of any real illumination. Their house lay at the end of the dead-end street. The last inch of suburbia before Hidden Springs State Forest. Approaching, Peter watched the final few streams of sunset silhouette their colonial high-set house, raising it from the dark as if it had grown with the night. He entered the driveway, storing his bike in the adjoining garage. He took his time. He wasn’t ready to face the music just yet. Outside, the night had taken over, the stars extinguished from view by a threatening cloud washing over the sky from the east coast. The woods stood like shadow giants in the night. It was one of the most appealing aspects of the house. Both Peter and Lilyan loved nature. In their early days they used to take long walks through the grove. They built a gate in the back fence, walking along their unique path through the undergrowth, joining up to the nature tracks that ran through it like streams. He missed them. These days Lilyan used the gate to escape into what had become her private garden for solitude. He wouldn’t be surprised if she were out there now.

Pausing in the driveway, Peter noticed the house was in darkness, no light emanating from the windows. Lilyan’s car was still in the garage.

Was she in the woods or maybe she was in bed already? Peter thought to himself. Secretly he hoped it was true. Head upright, he prepared himself for the fury that may soon break the silence of the evening. Peter proceeded down the garden path towards the back stairs. The garden, usually alive with the sounds of insects, was quiet. It was as if they too, were preparing for the incoming storm.

Opening the back door quietly, Peter entered the hallway. He paused. His eyes needed time to adjust to the depth of darkness that the now house lay. To the left, the bedrooms and bathroom, to the right the lounge, study and kitchen. The scene was still. Turning right Peter proceeded down the hallway towards the kitchen, its entrance veering off to the right while the lounge room lay ahead. The television was off. There was an electric glow coming from behind the lounge. Changing direction, he moved towards the room for further investigation. As he approached his eyes adjusted enough to see the shadow of a woman sitting on the lounge, her back towards him. The electric glow came from the computer tablet he had bought Lilyan for Christmas. She didn’t make a sound as he passed by, taking the alternative route to the kitchen.

Maybe without me here she didn’t need the forest for solitude.

Peter didn’t speak. He could feel the chill in the room, but not just from the open windows. Lilyan was always like this after a fight, she would go quiet for hours on end. It was almost like a battle on who would speak first. In most cases, it was him. Peter didn’t like conflict, nor silence. His mind felt like it was screaming when it was too quiet. Still, he didn’t speak.

Not this time.

The light from the refrigerator poured into the shadowy kitchen, beams of it touched the sink behind Peter as he reached for the chilled water bottle resting on the shelf in the fridge door. Its coolness ran down his throat, refreshing yet painful at the same time. His chest felt like a fridge as he drank; chilled to the core. He raised the bottle again, glimpsing movement in the corner of his eye. He turned just in time to see the outline of Lilyan disappear around the corner. The sound of her footsteps softly kissing the carpet came from the hallway.

She must be sick of the tablet. He looked down the darkened hallway; it was empty from what he could make out. Gone to bed now?

“Night, Dear,” Peter muttered under his breath. The words left a bitter taste in his mouth, he felt conflicted. Proud that he had not broken the silence yet ashamed that he had allowed his wife to go to bed in angry silence. Peter had always believed in the old saying: ‘Let not the sun go down on your wrath.’ The words echoed in his mind.

Returning the bottle to the refrigerator, Peter decided he would shower and then make peace with his wife. The door to the refrigerator closed, and the house returned to shadows. There was a strange comfort in the darkness. No judgment, no scolding eyes. Here the shadows wrapped themselves around you. Embracing each movement. Just as you are – without trying to change you.

Peter slid off his shirt as he entered the hallway, catching the aroma of something that made him pause, a sensuality that teased his senses.

Sandalwood. With each step, the scent grew in intensity, begging him to discover the source. The crisp sound of water falling on tiles broke the silence of the night. Was she in the bathroom? Passing the backdoor he entered the house earlier, a dim yellow glow danced on a half-opened doorway captured Peter’s gaze further along the hallway. Approaching, he heard a faint melody drifting from the room.

Is Lilyan humming? Peter smiled to himself, he couldn’t remember the last time he had heard her humming. Steam spilled out of the doorway, flowing low to the ground like incoming fog.

The tone was sweet and inviting, not something he would have expected tonight. At the door, the room was bathed in shadows. They leapt up the walls, moved by the flickering of a single sandalwood candle that sat on the vanity unit to his right. A large bathroom was something they were both desperate to have when they bought the house. The vanity unit was a double basin with twin mirrors, now entirely covered in steam, allowing them both to use it at the same time. In their last house, there was only one basin, a pet hate of Lilyan’s. On the right was an entrance to a smaller room where a large ceramic bath sat. It had a window above, overlooking their gardens and out onto the forest that their property backed onto. The bath was once a place they frequently occupied together, soaking in its warmth while talking, or reading. Just being in each other’s presence.

On the far side of the room, behind the shower’s foggy glass, a female figure swayed with the rhythm of her melody. The candlelight gave little of her features away, only a dim glow reflected by the tiled walls.

“Come,” her voice was tender and soft, obscured in part by cascading water. She knew he was there.

“Have I been forgiven?” Peter stepped into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. The door to the shower opened, answering his question. Disrobing, he moved slowly towards the inviting door. The candle dimmed as he approached, now only the dull red amber of a nearly extinguished flame. The darkness was alluring. Guided by the reflected light of the open shower door, Peter stepped in. Steam filled the spacious shower, double in size to most. Twin shower heads hung down from the ceiling, giving the sense of washing in the rain. Her shadow seemed to evade him as he stepped into the warmth of the falling water. At first it stung his skin. The heat of the water struck the coldness of his naked body. Hundreds of individual damp paths formed as beads of water cascaded down his body. He moved further into the steam-drenched darkness of the shower, his vision poor. Searching with his hands, Peter found only cold wet tiles. Where did Lilyan go? His thoughts were interrupted by the feeling of fingers sliding up his sides from behind, like vines they worked their way around caressing his chest. They gently pulled him into their embrace. He felt her behind him, pressing her body against his, bring warmth to his back. Peter was about to speak but, as if already knowing, the fingers touched his lips instructing silence. The darkness had encapsulated him, his eyes useless vessels, closed and allowing other senses to be heightened. It briefly cleared from his mind. He found himself no longer in the shower but instead standing naked in the forest, her touch confirming he was not alone. She kissed his shoulder, parting each with the gift of a long sensual caress before turning Peter’s head, his body followed. He felt the winter breeze pull through the trees, cooling the skin as the sun shower fell through the canopy. She pulled him closer, her delicate body pressed up firmly against his. The warmth of the sunlight bathed them, the chorus of nature celebrated. Her lips hovered around the base of his neck, only coming in contact momentarily.

Oh, my God.

Lilyan had not been like this since they were dating. Peter secretly hoped that this was to be a more regular thing. For months she had been distant, leaving him feeling as though their connection had finally dissolved, that was until now. His body tingled with an energy, long since forgotten. He ached for her. Her soft hands ran down his spine, returning upwards again, dragging her nails softly against his skin. They left shivers in their wake, rippling over every inch of his skin. They moved down once more and pain surged through Peter’s back. Her nails dug in, each nail scratching a path down his body. His body ached with pain but screamed pleasure, the falling rain healing the skin as it beat down on him. Eyes closed. Each lid was tenderly kissed as her arm moved round his neck pulling him close. Their lips met, parted and swayed with passion. He could not endure the pleasure longer, he had to look at his wife. The sun showers cold touch became warm as he returned from the vision into the steamy present.

Opening his eyes as their lips separated revealing only a shadowy fog. Peter watched as her hands, the only part of her visible to him rose, delicately moving over the sides of his face before gripping them intently. A face exploded from the depths of the darken clouds of steam. Mouth open wide revealing jagged canine-like teeth. Her face was sunken, thin paper-like-skin clinging to the bone of the skull. Its eyes were gone, empty sockets like pools of the blackest night stared back at him. Staggering backward, he slipped. His hands desperately searched in the steamy haze for something to cling to. Finally, they found the soap ledge gripping to it for dear life. The creature launched forward again, the room exploding into light, blinding him. Peter’s body fell, hitting the cold wet tiles.

Looking up from the shower floor, Peter saw that the door to the bathroom was ajar. He rubbed the shower glass clearing a path to the outside. It was Lilyan, her head was bowed, hair tucked behind her ear, but he couldn’t quite see her face. Yes, it was certainly her. Then who was in here?

“I’m sorry Peter” Her voice cracked. Was she apologising? Peter had never been more pleased to see Lilyan. Relief washed over him as he attempted to stand. He felt himself smile.

“Lilyan…” He adjusted his footing despite his legs feeling weak “It’s not…” Her posture was crumbled, with her eyes staring at the floor.

“For all our arguments…” She continued as though she had not heard a word he said. Peter kept struggling to stand, slipping on the wet floor.

“Lilyan… Please wait” His pleas went unheard as she continued.

“… and how I treated you” The door began to close. At the last moment, she reached up to the light switch, whispering under her breath, barely audible to him. “I’m sorry.” Panic coursed through Peter’s veins.

“Don’t turn off the…” His voice raised in a desperate plea. The room went dark. “Light…” his voice faded into the darkness.

Peter reached out, turning the tap, desperately wanting to be bathed again in the light. The rain continued falling; despite the tap being entirely shut off. Peter pushed on the glass door; it pushed back holding firmly in place. As the steam continued to rise from the tiles, he saw the faint outline of a hand on the glass as though it was the cause of the jammed glass door. He staggered backwards. Fingernails danced down his back. He turned quickly. Nothing. His heart racing, he crossed his arms over his chest. His hands gripped his forearms with intensity. Peter breathed in, preparing to scream out to Lilyan, but the inhalation of steam burned down his throat, leaving a fractured barely audible voice in its wake. Shapes and figures appeared like ghosts in the fog, brushing by him before disappearing into the tiles, each sending a chill from their touch that rippled along his skin.

Peter’s ankles grew warm. Looking down, Peter noticed the water was rising. Bubbles of water surged up from the drain as though its flow reversed, filling the shower it once drained. He pushed again on the glass door. It didn’t give an inch. Resting his forearms against the glass, Peter buried his head between them.

“Just breathe Peter, it’s not real.” A light touch to his wrists startled Peter, he recoiled backwards. Something bound his hands. It tightened. They became tied together.

Rope? A surge of Pain shot through his skin, followed by another and another as vicious thorns tore through his flesh.

Vines. Only their outline could be made out of the steam. They stretched up from his wrists, rising to the shower-head. They hoisted his hands above his head. Peter attempted to kick the door open, but the vines coiled around his ankles and holding them firmly in place. No movement. No voice. Peter hung helplessly as the ghostly shadows swept past him. The weight of his body pulled at his restrained arms as a tearing pain screamed in his shoulders. There was no more fight in him, panic was all he had left. Ahead a darkened figure stood still, her shape vivid through the clouds of steam. As quickly as she appeared, she was gone. His heart felt as though it could no longer maintain the manic pace that it was running, his chest heaved inhaling deeply, his lungs filled with the stream. His chest hurt.

Behind him, fingers began slowly walking up his spine, the touch soft and sensual. Teasing his senses with pleasure and torturing his mind with fear.

No. Oh God Not Again. She had returned. His chest pondered, recovering from the skipped beat. Peter’s eyes darted left to right looking for her. Her naked body slid past his, moving around to be in front of him. Peter closed his eyes, he didn’t want to see the horror of her face again. He could feel her breath on his body as she hovered, her lips over his bare chest, brushing them briefly. Something teased his nostrils, faint at first, becoming stronger the closer her lips came to his. An odor like damp moss from dark forest’s undergrowth. It was her breath. Their two mouths met again, this time Peter clamped them shut avoiding her passion like a plague. Pain screamed through his body as her nails pieced his back, he opened his mouth letting out a scream that was swallowed by the creature. She had her opening, latching on in a passionate embrace as she began to drink from his lips. Peter felt as though every part of his body was being torn apart, inch by inch, cell by cell. Drained. Skin began to cling to his facial structure. His eyes flashed open, widening to see the woman’s skin becoming plump, wholesome. Eyelids began to form. Her eyes flashed opened as she let her grip on him go. Dark emerald eyes looked upon him, they shone in the shadows like jewels catching the light. Peter’s head was light as though drugged. He swayed from side to side, possessing only enough energy to watch her. Stepping back, restored, she smiled at him. She was beautiful. He was spellbound.

Who are you?

His heart pounded, slowing in pace as it faded into the cold embrace. The vines released their hold and Peter fell forward, caught by his beautiful tormentor. She held him close to her like a lover as darkness finally covered his eyes, his question remaining eternally unanswered. The beautiful adversary laid Peter’s shell of a body into the dark waters. Carefully. Lovingly. It floated for a moment before sinking into the abyss. As the water drained, the once extinguished candle began to glow, its light bringing a dark yellow radiance to the room. The scene of his departure was now empty as if he was never there. His shadowy seductress was gone.

Lilyan sat out on the deck, her gaze falling into the depths of the forest. The light poured down from the half covered moon as the storm clouds pulled back their curtains revealing a clear night sky. The forest was alive, crickets singing blissfully, an owl called out faintly from the depths. A single tear rolled from the corner of her eye as she shifted her gaze to the electric light of her phone. Her fingers tapped briefly over the touch screen before placing it face up on the table. Her eyes returned to the tranquility of the forest. The screen displayed a single text before falling into the dark like the shadows of the night:

She has been appeased.





The Darkness Within

  • ISBN: 9781370746170
  • Author: Michael Huddlestone
  • Published: 2016-09-20 06:50:13
  • Words: 3207
The Darkness Within The Darkness Within