Side note – It took a lot of scrolling through reddit to find this one. Picture the scene – It’s February (I think) 2017. Hungover as I’ve ever been in my life the morning after a family wedding, I can’t be arsed to listen to music or podcasts or play games on the long train home and my other half at the time isn’t in the mood to talk because of the aforementioned wedding alcohol and the dickheadishness that followed, so I start writing a story. It’s pretty dark, probably reflecting how near death I felt at the time, but I’ve been writing ever since because of this story. One of the better decisions I’ve ever made. I hope you enjoy, despite the fact that it’s a little rough around the edges.
A creaking floorboard makes me jump. I stay frozen just for a second and then check the clock on the wall; 2:46am. Another creak and i instinctively snap my eyes towards the stairs, scanning the inky darkness for any sign of movement.
My heart is hammering itself into my ribcage like its trying to escape. Who’s there? Do they know I’m here? Are they asking themselves these exact questions too?
Another creak, and another. Footsteps now, and I dash towards the cupboard, gently open the door, climb inside, and close it again. A moment ago the house was silent but now all I can hear is my heart thumping in my chest. It’s deafening.
The footsteps are growing louder and louder, closer and closer. I put my hand tightly over my mouth so that my breathing won’t give away my hiding place as the footsteps make their way into the room, probably a few feet away from me. And then they stop.
My eyes widen, my breathing quickens, and as silent as I’m trying to be, I genuinely worry that the sound of my violent heartbeat could give me away at any second.
There are no longer any footsteps, but I hear the breathing of their owner: nearly as quick as mine, but more strained and raspy. I’m trying to keep my head clear but all I keep thinking is one word over and over again: “Survive…Survive…Survive…”
Suddenly a voice pierces the silence. It’s a man’s voice. Low, and raspy like his breathing: “Hello?”
What am I meant to say? Does he know that I’m even here? I don’t know what to do! And all the while “SURVIVE…SURVIVE…SURVIVE”, the word is becoming louder. Bolder. Through the darkness I can see a shadow moving towards the door of the cupboard. He knows. He knows where I am and he’s coming to open the cupboard.
“SURVIVE! SURVIVE! SURVIVE!” Every time my heart crashes against my poor ribcage the word becomes brighter, more saturated, impossibly loud and vibrant and unavoidable. It’s time to take action. I reach down slowly and silently, fumbling and scouring the floor of the cupboard for an ally.
I find one. I caress the outline trying to figure out what I’ve picked up. I can’t make out what it is but it feels heavy, and blunt, and that’s good enough at the minute.
Instantly the cupboard door is thrown open, revealing the outline of the footsteps. The outline of the breathing and the voice. “SURVIVESURVIVESURVIVE”
I grip my new weapon as tightly as I can and hurl my hand towards the top of the outline. With a sickening thud and a loud crack the outline falls and is lost in the darkness.
Without hesitating I sprint to the front door. I know what I’ve done. The footsteps, the breathing, the voice. This is how I know you. And you can never be those things to anyone ever again.
I throw the door open and don’t stop sprinting until I’m well away from the house. I duck into a side street where I can be invisible once more, and lower my rucksack onto the floor. It’s heavy. Heavier than usual. I’ve done well tonight. I probably would have done even better if the old fool had just stayed asleep.