Silhouette Nocturne

Dark Outline of the Night

An original short-story by
Nathan Gregory

She balanced precariously, her right hip resting on the strange commode, vainly struggling to relieve the pressure her bladder insisted was urgent yet refused to unburden. She stared blankly at her broken, mutilated body, struggling to comprehend the horrific damage and more importantly, the how and why. She felt foggy, confused, as if roofied, unable to comprehend the extent of the damage, the intense terror inflicted, almost as if she were immersed in some strange, virtual reality 3D horror movie, not only 3D visually, but three additional dimensions of touch, smell and pain. Especially the intense throbbing pain of her inexplicable injury.

 

     She was alone in this strange place. Strange, but not unfamiliar. It was terrifyingly familiar. The features of the room seemed fuzzy and indistinct, yet she had been here before. She concentrated, willing the room into focus, trying to remember. Whatever detail she managed to bring into focus somehow looked exactly like the same feature of her own residence, the false familiarity all the more unsettling.

     She struggled to push back the drugged cloud. She had taken LSD once in college and yet though this was quite unlike that experience, there existed vague similarities in the dreamlike unreality and trance-like inability to comprehend reality before her.

 

     With effort she stood, awkwardly, with both hands grasping the wall for support, stretching and turning before the mirror, her reflection clouded, distorted as if the mirror itself were fogged, or even frosted, weirdly distorted as though in some perverted house of horrors. Seeing, understanding, yet somehow not fully grasping, as if the mutilated, naked body before her belonged to someone else. When she looked at the reflection, her head throbbed.

 

     She didn't know how she got here. She could not remember where she had been, zero memory from before the instant she found herself seated unsteadily on the toilet. Not even her name would come. Struggles to draw recalcitrant memories to the fore bore no fruit, only pain, a mental pain fully in sync with her physical pain. Her presence here was not new. The few fluttery memories she could raise seemed to be deja vu of having been here before, of having previously suffered at the hands of her attacker.

 

     Her attacker! Vague images. Larger than life. Huge, robotic, like some movie monstrosity, an inhuman cyclops with one red eye, staring unblinkingly down at her with mechanical indifference, its effect hypnotic, transfixing.

 

     Suddenly one image floated to the surface, almost sharp in her otherwise drug-like fog. A glowing golden rope. Not a rope of cotton, hemp, or fiberglass, a rope unearthly in composition. Not a rope she realized, a garrote, a thin glowing, almost insubstantial cord connecting a pair of handles with odd buttons or controls.

 

     Had this been the instrument of her dismemberment? She could not remember. She only saw the impossible tool in her minds eye even as the image escalated her already incomprehensible terror.

 

     Abandoning the failed attempt to void, she hopped unsteadily into the bedroom, it too so frighteningly familiar, yet alien. Placing her hand on the wall for balance and support, she haltingly moved toward the bed, flailing to remain upright. The bed had no blankets, no sheets, no linen of any kind, merely a smooth soft expanse on which she could recline. She wished her captor had given her a blanket to wrap herself in, but there was nothing at all.

 

     As she sat lopsidedly on the bed, fighting a tendency to list leftward, she groggily realized her tormentor stood beside her. For half a second she tried to retreat, then the glowing red eye impaled her, pinned to the bed as if a Lepidoptera on display. She froze, every muscle and joint locked solid, utter terror possessed her as he moved toward her, unable to move even to breathe.

 

     He? Was this thing before her male? There was no visible feature indicating maleness. Or gender of any sort. The pronoun notwithstanding, this was not a man, rather an animated anthropomorphic Golem, or perhaps a Monster from the Id.

 

     Frozen, unable to offer even token resistance, she lay with helpless passivity as the softly glowing golden strand looped around her left arm, encompassing her shoulder. Though she seemed to know what was about to happen she was powerless, unable to scream, her very lungs unwilling to move, her throat plugged tight against sound or breath. Her head swirled as her body's oxygen depleted, though somehow merciful blackness failed to descend. Adrenaline surged, her heart pounded as she struggled to release the scream locked in her throat. Her body convulsed in pain as the golden strand pulsed once, twice and yet again. With one last horrific pulse the garrote released its unearthly grip and her left arm bloodlessly fell away, leaving nothing but a smooth cauterized surface where she had once had a shoulder, matching the smooth cauterized surface lower down where her left leg belonged.

 

     Then suddenly she was screaming, her furious torment unbridled, she catapulted bodily from bed in pain and terror, sobbing, shaking convulsing in fear. Her lover grabbed her and held her tightly, cooing soothingly as she tried instinctively to escape. After a moment she realized it had only been a dream, a horrific nightmare. She collapsed sobbing incoherently in her Cubby's arms and allowed herself to be soothed. Several minutes passed as she fought for calm, pushed back the surging adrenaline, struggling to slow her pounding heart.

 

     This was the worst one yet! Cubby gently questioned her, but hiccuping and sobbing she was unable to answer coherently. Finally, after many minutes, a measure of calm and composure restored, she attempted to tell her lover of the dream, but before she could begin, her bladder demanded immediate service. She excused herself to attend the need, walking easily, if a bit unsteadily, shuddering slightly as she entered the eerily familiar bathroom, so similar to the one in the dream world. With some trepidation she settled to attend her need, as she regarded the clear, intact image in the mirror.

 

      Moments later she returned to her lover's arms to recount the nightmare, but even as she began she discovered she could no longer recall it. The memory had evaporated. Not a nit remained. Nothing, no fearful imagery. She could not even evoke a useful adverb to describe it. It was gone as if never dreamed. All she could remember was a profound sense of terror and nothing more.

 

     Another dramatic, horrific nightmare had come and gone, the latest in a series of night terrors that had awakened her again and again with violent screams and indescribable fear, and though still rather unsettled, she snuggled down into the blankets and her dear Cubby's embrace, cuddling together against the terrors of the night.