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Lost and Adrift

By: The Earthotic Way

The figure was back.

Dipped in black, he leered at the foot of my bed, his battered top hat askew atop his bent head, eyes glinting madly like hot coals. The shadows played hide and seek with his movements, one hand gripping the cruelly shaped head of a cane, my bedroom alive with dark, unseen motion.

A hushed kiss of air against my cheek told me other things were there too, the distinct animalistic scent of rotting flesh threatening my stomach into a sickening roll.

I licked my dry lips and immediately regretted it, his laugh dark and flinty, like shards of tinted glass scattered across a hot parking lot.

“What do you want? Who are you?” My voice was weak.

As his fingers were drawn across the comforter, flakes of his hand peeled off joining an ever-growing tendril of swirling dust. The more he moved his splayed fingers, the more dust danced in the air, the motion taking more of the figure away with each swipe of his hand.

“Mom?” My voice cracked. Mom wouldn’t be able to hear me in her bedroom down the hall.

The laugh came again. And like a sand castle succumbing to the surf, his face crumbled inward, the sickly, decomposing figure gaunt and crooked.

Trying to sit up, something leathery caressed my face. Repulsive and damp, the wet tongue of a beast. When I coughed, I expelled bits of the figure, black flecks dotting my comforter. My stomach lurched again and again. A feather caress of beating wings accompanied the scent of my mother; lilac blooms fluttered over me in a merciful tide.

“Mom?”

I couldn’t expel the dust quickly enough, my breathing reduced to shallow rasps, the darkness a glove squeezing tight.

“She can’t save you. It’s too late.”

The voice cut me to the core, pain raking my soul raw as the wings beat the air against my face, sharp talons probing my lips trying to enter my mouth. I fought the clawing fingers as feathers brushed across my face. Cracked lips raw with every motion, I shook my head to fight the intrusion. A dusty avalanche of weight pinned my arms down. I could hear the call of the birds, their cries scratching away at the darkness.

“Stop fighting it.”

The words were almost spat. His voice had somehow changed as the weight increased on my chest, fingers prying my lips apart, the sandy dust pouring into my throat.

I succumbed to the moment, the figure’s jagged laughter shattering what was left of my mind, the sound neatly sweeping me into darkness.

Flashes of light sparked in my vision, my eyes fluttering open with the scratch of sand against my bare back. The thick smell of the ocean assaulted me as I coughed, seawater pouring from my mouth. Strands of hair, windblown and alive fell against my face, the figure kneeling over me. Awash with the scent of lilacs, I blinked, my eyes taking in the crashing waves and screeching gulls.

“We thought we lost you.”

It was my mom’s voice, stirring something loose, the faltering struggle against the dark tide closing above me, the flinty laughter of the top hat wearing figure filling my mind. It was a chilling sensation.

With the wicked laughter of the man falling further away with every breath and feeling my mom’s comforting hands on my shoulders, the smell of lilacs surrounding me, I offered an unsteady smile and listened to the surf kissing the sand.

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