Heaven Sent

By: Avelyn Paige

Cold. All I can feel is a deep chill blanketing my body. My eyes open to complete darkness as a voice calls to me. Its muffled tones send shivers down my spine with every garbled word. A sense of familiarity floats around me as its words become clearer.

“Run, Dani,” it pleas from beyond the black veil shrouding the room. “Escape while you can,” it continues. Panic courses through my veins. Where in the hell am I? Why can’t I see anything? The pleas go unanswered as my voice fails to render sound.

“Help!” I scream internally, “Please, fucking help me!”

The voice’s call fades with each word.

You need to get the hell out of here, Dani. You need to move. Find a wall and escape, I coach to myself. A cold chill of air sweeps into the darkness encompassing me as I try to feel the space around me. My fingers plunge into a dense, sticky liquid as I crawl forward, causing my body to slide with each movement. A hard surface is finally inching its way under my fingers.

Crawling upward, I splay my hands against the cool wall. “You’re on your feet, Dani. The hardest part is over now. Time to find a door or a light switch, something to get us out of here,” my internal coach continues.

Keeping close to the wall, I finally find a switch. Flicking it upward, the light shines brilliantly. As my eyes adjust to the light, my hands come into my vision. A scream barrels out of my throat when I see the sticky, red blood covering my hands and clothes. My heart races as I frantically wipe the blood away. Blood begins to pool at my feet, inching toward me. Rushing away from the blood, I fall backward into a solid but warm obstacle. Before I can turn around, hands grasp my arms as a person’s hot breath trails down my neck.

“Hello, Dani,” a different voice whispers in my ear. “Welcome to Hell. You’re mine now,” the voice crackles as my body is pulled into black oblivion.

I scream as I wake up, huddling against the cool glass of the bus window. Instinctually glancing at my hands, I find them clean. A sigh of relief forces my body into relaxing when I notice several sets of eyes staring at me. “I’m fine,” I tell the others that sit around me on the bus. “It was just a nightmare. I don’t sleep well in moving vehicles.” The lie spills from my mouth just as I’ve practiced in preparation of my nightmares happening in public. I know that simple statement eases those around me, but it does nothing to ease the pain and fear enveloping my body. I know the truth about the origins of my screams, but I keep those close to my heart. If any of the people surrounding me on this bus knew the truth, I’d be in handcuffs immediately. These nightmares are far from fictional nighttime fantasies. They are my subconscious’ attempt to make me relive the worst night of my life.

It’s a memory of the darkness that lies back home. The origin may be washed from my hands, but it will always stain my soul, never will it be washed white from its contamination. That night ruined my semi-happy life. I had a family and friends that loved me, but love isn’t something I can afford to rely on any longer. It can’t keep me safe from him. That gruesome night set me on my escape path. I left behind the girl I was and the life I had in Cleveland when they died that night. I had no choice but to leave while the demon plaguing my life slept. It hurt to leave the only place I’ve ever known, but I’ve forced myself to never look back. I would end up just like them. This was the only way I could have some semblance of peace and serenity in my life. I can only hope that I will find them in the destination that lays ahead of me.

Just thinking about their faces allows tears to pool in my eyelids. Their faces and voices linger in the back of my mind for hours after every nightmare ends. You need to stay strong if you’re going to survive this, Dani, I chant to myself. I can’t let the darkness win. I need to fight to survive.

Wiping away the tears, I stare out the window of the bus. It’s been three days since I watched Cleveland shrink in the distance. Ohio has been my home my entire life and I just left it in the past like a dusty, unwanted photograph. I didn’t want to leave, but the things that happened in that house forced me to escape. I tried to stay but I knew that if I did, things would only get worse. With nowhere else to go, I took a taxi to the closest bus depot in the middle of the night and never looked back. The bus wasn’t exactly the quickest way to travel, but it was the cheapest. Cheap is the only thing I can afford right now; I am running on financial fumes and need to find a new source of income quickly.

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