Uncage the Night, Chapter VII



Leslie threw herself on her parents’ bed and quickly bundled up in the covers. She was now more than ever unwilling to face the monstrous mirror glued to the ceiling. Inside the blanket cocoon, her tension was rising in spite of its shelter aspect and had her heart beating in her chest like a claustrophobic confined in a closet. Each breath let out would bounce on the sheets, swathing her body in an uncomfortable warmness. The heat was so intense in there it burned her cheeks and made it hard to breathe. It seemed as though her lungs had shrunk inside her chest and could barely take in the small amount of air Leslie could sip from under the bed covers. For a second she pictured a newspaper front cover about a teenage girl who died asphyxiated under her covers because of her mental illnesses; she frowned. “Pfft… Fuckers.”, she hissed.
At that moment, safety was a foreign notion to Leslie as she was silently gasping for air in a fetal position in the middle of a king-sized bed. She tried to remain as quiet as possible and not shake so much that it would ruin her camouflage. But the heat made it really hard to breathe, which made it hard to calm down, which was all Leslie needed right now. She needed a break from all the nightmares and immersive memories; she wanted a restful, uninterrupted sleep to recharge her batteries. “Just close your eyes and sleep.”, she whispered. “Just close your eyes and sleep.” After picturing herself in the garden the next morning at eight o’clock, painting in the garden with Mitch next to her and the birds singing sweet melodies, she eventually drifted away in a dreamless sleep. And even then, the frown hadn’t left her forehead.

A few minutes later, Leslie awoke slowly but with a racing heart. Her first instinct was to hold her breath so she could focus on her senses and have a better understanding of the situation. Leslie’s eyes opened wide. Something was tickling her feet, this was why her brain was panicking. Was it a bug? She recalled the countless times she had been awaken by cockroaches roaming on her legs or even on her face; it made her paranoid to the point her hearing developed and she could hear their tiny feet scratching against the oil painted walls near her bed. She grimaced to the thought of it and shook her feet to get rid of potential roaches. But it didn’t go away like a bug would have had.
Leslie froze. No, it wasn’t a bug; she could feel it. Its touch was different than that of tiny hairy legs that tickle and scratch at the same time. It definitely wasn’t a bug for its touch was heavier and more specific; a roach wouldn’t trace such definite shapes on the sole of her foot like that and it surely wouldn’t move its legs so fast. Leslie cringed to the thought of roaches dancing around on her feet; she gulped. She felt it scratching her feet through the covers; it was not a bug. It was something else, something lighter but with a heavier touch. She was in the middle of the king-sized bed, so whatever it was had to be on the bed to touch her and she did not feel any other weight than hers on the mattress. She tried to convince herself that if she remained still and silent, it –whatever it was– would leave her alone and she could finally rest. And to this thought, as if it had heard her, the scratching intensified and were joined by tickles. It was testing her limits, Leslie thought, it wanted to see her move.
After a few minutes of stillness and silence, she deemed it was safe to move again and breathed in to initiate a sigh which failed to leave her throat. She was wrong, it was not done with her. However, it wasn’t so friendly anymore. The tickles and scratches were traded for weak punches, which soon enough turned more violent but combined with soft caresses. Leslie was not scared, rather utterly confused by the behavior of her attacker. The kicks got more brutal with each breath that she took, tossing her around the king-sized bed.
Leslie recalled that one out of way too many times she got bullied after school. It was in ninth grade, she had written a pretty dark poem for a holiday assignment. After reading it in front of the class, the whole place was quiet until her teacher broke the silence with a “Weird… Thank you, Leslie. Who’s next?!” and a forced smile. After school that day, three of her classmates waited for her down the street and beat her up, screaming that she was a demon, a witch, a murderer and whatnot. She then became the entire school’s scapegoat.
But this night was different. Her nocturnal bully was stronger than Josh, Zack and Jeremy and surely way scarier. And actually, now that she focused on the abundance and frequency of punches and caresses, she realized that there were more than one attacker, and more than just three. She covered her mouth with her hands to keep in a “What the fuck!” dying to burst out of it. The caresses ceased but punches were still thrown at her.
Leslie took a chance at rationalizing, but she had never been really good at that. Mitch wasn’t crying so there couldn’t be anyone in the room, right? Maybe she was having a night terror or something. Now that she thought about it, every time she was hit she would feel it quite intensely and hurt but the collision between them and her was so soft, almost imperceptible. The punches were like the wind, they would affect her but not actually physically touch her. This could only mean that it was just a figment of her fucked up imagination; only her brain could make that up. It was not the first time she would scare herself to death and force-feed panic attacks to herself. She closed her eyes and breathed deep breaths. They hit harder and harder, making her doubt it was truly a delusion. She gasped loudly as some tugged on the covers, trying to snatch it off her. Her heart was now banging louder on her rib-cage like it was ready to burst it open any minute and run away from that nightmare.

Leslie couldn’t take it anymore. I’m done, she thought. She took a deep breath and fueled by fear and weariness, she threw the covers away from her and sat up straight with her eyes shut tight. The new-found bravery had faded fast and Leslie was frozen once again. She couldn’t help but imagine ten tall rugged individuals surrounding her bed, looking gloomy and staring her down with laser eyes. Leslie’s imagination was basically digging her own grave, so her ears focused on what was going on inside her body in order to ignore the horror movies being played in her mind. Her lungs could barely pump the air out and it seemed her heart was now attempting to escape through her throat. She started a countdown in her head to find the courage and strength to open her eyes. “One!”, she said. Her eyes widened at what she saw: nothing. There was nothing. Not one soul in the room except for hers and her brother’s.
“What the actual fuck!”, she whispered. “Is that it? Fucked up brain toying with me again! And I thought I was getting bet–” The rest of her sentence lost its way behind her teeth when the thought occurred to her. “The mirror…”, she whispered in a grave tone sending shivers down her spine. In a slow motion of her neck she lifted her head to glance at the glass surface. Through her mind were already flashing hundreds of possibilities, hundreds of ideas of what could be the worst in that situation. Leslie knew that looking up was far from being a good idea but there was this morbid curiosity driving her and she couldn’t fight it. And she knew that “worse” was merely just a word, that the Universe was infinite and smart, and that there was always a worse version of the worst things our tiny minds could ever come up with.
Once again, her hand covered her mouth to keep in a scream that could have ripped her throat apart if it got out. The terrifying sight she had in there would have created a scream way too piercing for her muscles and skin to survive. In that mirror, the same one which watched her parents sleep for years and then her for hours, was a horrifying sight, a blood curdling reflection. Leslie was shocked; the air refused to leave her lungs anymore. She was up there, in the mirror, but circled by a dark cloud in motion. She looked around the bed and then back up. There was a thick shadowy fog surrounding her reflection, just a few inches away from her body. She didn’t get it. Was it trapped in the mirror or was the mirror actually unblinding her? Her forced skepticism had completely vanished; this was real, she couldn’t pretend anymore.
Leslie blinked. It was more than just a thick cloud wavering around her in the mirror. She could make out something else in there, that could have been described as moving figures with undefined shapes creating small waves of static with each move. The cloud was as wide as the king-sized bed making Leslie look like a boat lost in a dark ocean. She felt disorientated and extremely cold. Leslie grimaced and slightly shook her head; her neck was hurting from all the staring up. But the mirror was giving her a broader view of reality, she just couldn’t look away. Shivers were running down her spine and she was panting, but looking away wasn’t an option, her eyes were like glued to her reflection. And all this time she thought she was getting bad again, when in fact her vision had never been more accurate; bitterness filled her mouth as she realized the fool she had been.

The things that were in the smog stopped swaying to spread out several long scaly limbs. For she was too absorbed by the horror displayed in the mirror, Leslie did not react right away. There were too many of them for her to count. Long, shadowy arms extending themselves to an unusual length and with a spiky and stony appearance. It didn’t appear to have any skin yet it looked palpable though Leslie’s guts strictly forbade such behavior. A click resonated inside her brain: she had seen a similar picture on the internet once, that of a tenebrous dragon that seemed to have a thick darkness oozing from its body. Fairly alike but nothing compared to the limbs unfolding around her reflection. Her ability to doubt had died, she believed everything she saw. This was real; out of this world, but real. She blinked once again.
As the arms unfurled out of the cloud, they revealed scrawny fingers evocative of an old tree’s crooked roots. It danced in the air as would a pianist’s fingers and Leslie heard a nocturne playing loud, wrapping her parent’s bedroom in a classical madness. They went on following a preordained path and reached towards her reflection’s legs. Leslie instantaneously moved backwards even though she realized it was in vain for she was surrounded. When the fingers touched her legs in the mirror, she felt it and startled. Her stare unlocked from the mirror allowing her eyes and neck to roll down and look at her legs. She couldn’t see anything on her but she felt it. Its touch was soft in spite of the apparent roughness and spikes; it reminded her of what happened earlier in the bathroom, except that this time it was not her own hands running along her skin, but it felt as tender if not more. She couldn’t help but faintly gasp. She grimaced, it made her sick to feel the pleasure pump in her veins. The nocturne’s volume suddenly decreased, rendering it only a background soundtrack. She crawled backwards until her back reached the headboard where she closed her eyes for a few seconds to catch her breath.
The stroking had stopped, leaving Leslie puzzled. She looked up and saw that the arms had disappeared. Instead, the black cloud had returned to its original form. It had gathered in the center of the bed and swayed nervously. She gulped and naively hoped it would vanish in the air. Pearls of sweat formed down her neck, she felt as if she was being stared at by the dancing fog. The nocturne played again slightly louder than before. Arms popped out of the mass again, only faster, and rushed to her legs once more. Leslie, expecting the same old tenderness, was caught off guard when it collided with her reflection. Its touch was rough this time and felt like having her skin penetrated deeply by several small thorns at once; the spikes never felt more real. It scratched her painfully and her reflection was crying. She looked down to her legs and saw several cuts all over them. New cuts kept appearing; Leslie stared at the blood pearling on her skin, she couldn’t dare look up anymore. She looked to the open bedroom door and a ray of hope shined onto her. She crawled as fast as she could to one of the sides of the bed but as she reached the end of it, it grabbed her ankles and pulled violently.
Leslie found herself in the middle of the mattress, face buried in it and cried. The pain was bearable but weighed down on her. She still wasn’t ready to give up; she kept thinking about Mitch, she had to protect him. With this in mind, she never looked over to the crib because she knew that he wasn’t safe. Mitch’s reflection was only in that mirror, only half of him, but still, she wouldn’t take the risk so she focused on herself so as not to give away his position. She dried her tears and turned around to face that mirror again. And she stared as her reflection kept being assaulted by sharp caresses and strong punches while she bore all the wounds and bruises. The hands were all over her. She screamed but no sound came out. There were far more than before and she could feel them everywhere, even on her back like they were coming from beneath the mattress. She rolled on her side, curled up in a ball and clenched all her muscles as hard as she could in an attempt of protecting her private parts and organs. But the hands grabbed her and sharply broke her resistance. Maintaining a tight grip on her wrists and ankles, they pinned her to the bed on her back so she could watch the show through the looking-glass. Leslie looked away but two other hands came out of the fog and grabbed her head firmly, making sure she wouldn’t miss a drop of blood. She wanted to scream as loud as she could to wake the neighbors and get help, but the look on her reflection’s face said it all. All hope was gone. There was no use. No one would come; she had killed the only one who would’ve had. Her body became like stone at the sudden realization of her doom. Leslie became a bloody statue staring at her reflection. It was only going to get worse and she had accepted it, she would no longer fight and only hope for it to be quick.
Leslie had surrendered her meat-bag to the shadowy entity and it had understood it. Even when the hands freed her wrists and ankles, she was pinned to the bed. She wasn’t in control of her body anymore, she was a spectator. She saw her reflection struggle but she wasn’t, not anymore. The dark cloud migrated to the edges of the bed, circling her from the distance, and seemed to run down the bed like a waterfall to the floor. Leslie waited. The arms moved one by one, floating like ashes in the wind, and fused into two solid limbs on one side and the other of Leslie. It looked like they had burst through the mattress. The fog moved and gathered under her until a solid shape materialized behind her back. It was twice her size and grinning from ear to ear, reminding her of the Chelsea Smile she had seen on her own face in the bathroom that same day. It had the same scaly and rough texture as the arms and it looked like a slender burnt tree. Its eyes were dark yet could be told apart from the coal black of its body.
It pressed Leslie hard against its body with its left arm wrapped around her waist and it waved at her through the mirror with the other. She was terrified in spite of her surrender and tears streamed down her face like a downpour. It stared at her through the mirror for a short while and then brushed its head against her cheek. It made Leslie feel sick to the guts. Her reflection opened its mouth and spit out a mixture of blood and vomit on her chest, then it frowned. At that moment, she lost it and tried to break free from the entity’s hold but her body did not respond. She closed her eyes but reopened them immediately. Its grip tightened around her waist and she heard the sound of bones breaking. Her heart nearly stopped when she saw Mitch’s reflection in the mirror. He was awake and standing in his crib, looking in her direction. With a motherly unstoppable strength, she managed to utter a few words. “Mitch turn around now. Go back to sleep! Please, go back to sleep…” The entity wiped away the single tear that escaped her eye and pressed one of its scraggy finger on her lips. She heard a cold “shh” being whispered in her ear and froze to the bone.
The grin on the creature’s face disappeared. With its right hand it caressed her face and then slipped two fingers through her lips and opened her mouth. Its left arm held her even tighter against itself and the cold heat exuding from its ashy body engulfed Leslie’s senses. She was paralyzed while her reflection kept fighting a losing battle. Its dark stare grew more intense as it stuffed its arm down her throat, making its way through her flesh envelop. Her reflection was in agony, blood squirting out of her gaping mouth but Leslie remained stone-faced. Her soul was taking all the damage, she was bathing in pain deep inside, but her body wouldn’t translate any of these anymore. Her whole being had given up the fight but still couldn’t escape from the acute pain; she was trapped in her very own body. The entity had turned into a bigger one now with its arm still halfway through Leslie’s esophagus. It kept rushing into her like one giant never-ending snake. It was as big as a dragon, she thought.

Her mind, as hyperactive as usual, recited that ninth grade poem, and she only now understood its meaning. Leslie now could see the entity right before her eyes, it was not in the mirror anymore; it had set her reflection free. It was still shoving its infinite limb inside her throat and Leslie kept reciting her poem as it did.

There is a girl all alone
In a room in the dark.
She is a prison
Bathing in treason.
Feel the darkness ignite
Your bones tonight,
Little one.
There is a girl, all she knows,
All she is, is the dark.
She can’t run, she can’t hide,
Her body is a trap.
Feel it drink your blood,
Let it free your soul,
Little brat.
It won’t stop until
The last drop you spill.
Your veins like drains;
You need a purge.

The nocturne had stopped and had been replaced by a deafening silence devouring the house. Leslie laid still on the bed. The entity had fully gone in now and she had found back the control of her body. But she was weaker than ever and could barely move. Leslie’s reflection had left the bed and was banging on the mirror from the inside. It was yelling and had tears streaming down her face. Some of her ribs were sticking out of her body through her pajamas with trickles of blood dripping from it. She was knocking so hard her hands bruised and cracks appeared on her side of the mirror. After a short while, she gave up and lied down on her chest, her head rotated to the left side with one eye still staring at Leslie. She coughed and passed out.
Leslie’s body started shaking and a mix of drool and blood leaked through the corner of her lips. Her eyes teared up when she heard Mitch’s laugh echoing in the room. “I’m sorry…”, she whispered. Her eyes shut and a single tear ran down her right cheek. The lights went out.

Quite a thing happened here, huh?

It took a little longer than I thought to polish this chapter but it’s here, finally. I’m really proud of it. So far I think it’s the chapter I’m the most proud of. It’s 3548 words long which can seem like a lot when in fact it actually really isn’t this much.

Thank you for your time! ❤

To be continued…


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