She was stuck.
She didn’t remember anything.
She couldn’t see anything.
She had called for help, shouted for help, but was met only by a deafening silence.
She was afraid to stand up, but when she did she was stable. She was afraid to take a step, but when she took it and a second and a third she was on solid ground. She was afraid to reach out, but when she did her fingers brushed against smooth rock.
She could hear her heart beating; hear the sound of her breathing.
She would have stayed on the ground but the darkness around her had started to creep into her soul. She pressed a hand against the rock wall and started walking. She moved her hand forward first and then took a step. She counted five steps when there was no more rock beneath her hand. She turned into it the opening and put both hands out only to find that she was in a tunnel – two feet wide, arched, five and half feet tall. She kept her hands on the walls to either side and started moving forward again. She lost count this time around and had to stop three times to rest.
She was hungry now. She could feel a headache coming on.
She started walking again after the third rest stop. She walked another fifty feet and bumped a door. She felt around it, found a knob. She was about to turn it when she felt like she heard a whisper. She was so used to the silence that even that slight whisper made the hair at the back of her neck stand up.
She could feel the panic coming back. She took two steps back, a step forward, and another step back. She couldn’t decide. She could stay in the dark; go back the way she came, find another tunnel, maybe even a way out or she could open the door and see who owned that hushed whisper.
She took a step forward and turned the knob, and then turned it again, and again – but nothing happened. She didn’t know what was worse – the fear of the dark or the fear of the whisper which was growing closer on the other side of that wooden barrier.
She heard noises now, like nails scratching wood. She tried to calm herself. She counted till ten in her head and by the time she was done, the scratching had stopped and the door was slightly open. She could see a trickle of light coming through the slit; there were candles on the other side, but not too many. She pushed the door open, but it wouldn’t budge. She had to put her back into it, only then did it sway just a little to widen the gap so she could slip in.
She wished she hadn’t. She wished for the dark again, for the door to have never opened.
She counted them, five, hanging from rope from a beam in the ceiling. She remembered nothing, but she remembered them now. She could see her Dad still wearing his horn-rimmed reading glasses, her Mom still wearing her ”#1 Mom” apron, her brothers both had their hands glued onto PlayStation joysticks, and her sister was wearing red lipstick. She could see their bulging eyes and their swollen faces.
She heard the whisper again then, right behind her. She could not turn, would not look.
She could feel the whispers bouncing off her body, the voice was moving around her until it was in front of her – SHE was in front of her. She was her, a mirror image in 3D. She could see the mole on the wrong cheek, and the hair parted on the wrong side. She could feel it now, how wrong it all was, the other her had killed them all. She lunged at her, but before she could get a grip she was falling, faster and faster, the dark closing in on her again.
She woke up, covered in sweat, in her own bed. She ran downstairs and there they all were; her Dad wearing his horn-rimmed reading glasses sitting at the kitchen table reading, her Mom wearing her ”#1 Mom” apron fixing dinner, her brothers in the den playing on their PlayStation, and her sister wearing the red lipstick about to walk out the front door. She saw them all turn to her, ask her what was wrong. She tried answering but her throat was dry. She sat down, across the table from her Dad, sipping from the glass her Mom had handed her. She was beginning to calm down but something changed; her Dad’s face started swelling up and turning blue, her Mom’s eyes popped out, her brother went limp on the couch, and her sister screamed for her life.
She woke up again, in a different place this time and then again in a different place.
She was stuck.
“So when do we wake this one up?”
The nurse didn’t feel sorry for the little girl, but was scared of her. The eyes had been just as glassy before putting her into the coma, just like a murderer’s.
“Fifty years to go for that one,” replied the doctor.
Well, that’s what you get for killing your whole family in cold blood. It was not her job to judge the people who came to her. They had all already been judged. Her job was to make sure they stayed under and the loop kept playing – showing them their crime, again and again until their time was done. Not many survived, and those who did – their brains refused to let them come out of the loop. They got stuck. Just like that poor girl would be. For eternity.