By Jan Verhoeff
Lightning flashed, sizzled, and fractured the skies. Thunder rumbled, roared, and shivered the land beneath her bare feet. Rain splattered the earth, drenching her in chilling droplets that ran in rivulets down her body.
She squished her toes together, holding the mud between them and cursing the land.
As life drained from her body, she felt the demise of each soul that had surrounded her. Each one more promising than the last, and yet each one pulling power and life from her. They ripped at the silver chord of life, stretching it taunt, pulling at her, jeering at her, teasing her with the release of death.
The word pulled at her.
Perilously close she pulled back, opened her eyes and denied the darkness. She was alive.
Black, shiny, sultry in motion. Dalliance pulled her back, brought her home, and reminded her that she had a purpose, a cause, a reason. Dalliance demanded she return.
The word. The game. She craved the touch.
She sought the aroma of leather, raw land, horses in the pasture, Dalliance.
She dared to stand upright, leaving the clammy feel of damp sheets behind, realizing that she’d been sweating through the nightmare that confined her.
She fought for awareness. She sought the light.
Distortion of the darkness left her shivering, cold, in the night. She knew there were walls around her, but the dream had faded them into the distance and she couldn’t fathom the confinement of her room. The wall came up suddenly before her as she flat faced it in the darkness.
She groped along the surface, seeking a light switch, the door way, or even a cabinet to give her some understanding of her surroundings. The door knob caught her hand first, and she cried out as she jammed her thumb into the edge of it.
The realization that she still felt pain was almost pleasure. A sense of existence in this dire revenge of darkness.
She felt for the switch plate and flipped the switch, but no lights came on. Darkness ruled.
A moment longer she stood in the quiet room, contemplating her surroundings, before she recognized the aroma of cinnamon and pine. The cabin high on the mountain, a refuge by day, a coffin by night. She stood silent, then reached for the dresser behind the door and found a flashlight.