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"I used to envy you when we were younger, now I feel sorry for you" Grace refers to herself as sensitive. As a student at her mother's table, she is very careful to filter out the words she listens to. From the music to the art, from the action to the reaction. Everything must be controlled. She is burdened by a vivid imagination capable of conjuring and holding on to the shadows behind words. After a traumatic childhood experience that leaves her haunted by an actor who plays the role of a vampire in an horror movie, Grace had to learn the hard way. She is torn between maintaining the status quo and dealing with the realization that she is not as careful as she tried to be and fear has more than just a foot in the door. Find out how far she fares in this tumultuous ordeal....
The first encounter with fear: The Dark
Grace, 5 years old.
The only light in the room came from a television. Four girls sat huddled around the thing, sacrificing comfort for entertainment. The fast motion of the muted actors casted shadows on their wide faces: the gory scenes they beheld reflected in their pupils. They held still, cloaked in the cover of night, barely taking a breath as time passed and the floor grew colder.
The biggest child leaned forward face almost pressed on the flat screen clutching the remote so tightly that her thumb nail broke but she barely flinched. A horde of vampires were ambushing a clueless innocent. The man flailed as he ran, mouth torn open in muted screams doing nothing but drawing more attention to himself.
The had him cornered him by a Military facility where the endemic had first broke out. They closed in on him like a pack of wolves,the first taking a sizeable chunk of his jugular just to shut him up.
Grace slept alone in the other room oblivious to any mischief until she felt the bed subconsciously trying to borrow warmth from her sisters’. The air smelled of stinging electricity that usually accompanied rain. She pulled a hand free from the tangle of wrappers left behind as souvenirs, realizing that she was alone.
She escaped the bed, dragging her big sweater fabric beneath her feet as she walked. It was her father’s cashmere sweater that he loaned her one night when she was cold. He didn’t take back and she never bothered to return it.
She already looked like a replica of him; a dimple on the left cheek with a space between her two front incisors wide enough for two fingers to fit in. Her downset eyebrows and prominent cheekbone cursed her with looks too matured for her age. But she was a small, lively child with a laugh booming like the punctual AT&P alarm at the start of the morning; long, persistent such that you could not help but like and notice her.
She stopped to wear her bathroom slippers and rub the sleepy from her eyes then held out her hands paces in front of her in order to feel for walls. She knew the room like the back of her palm and moved almost in autopilot, face scrunched up as she tried to think. For weeks she had noticed the change in her sisters: they would typically disappear at night only to return when it was almost dawn, bodies vibrating with poorly restrained excitement. Previously, she had been too tired to follow satisfied with the thought that they were probably planning a surprise for her birthday party. But June 10th had passed weeks ago and she could tell that they were still leaving her.
Akpesiri who was always delighted by her stories barely paid attention to her anymore. Voke always complained of headaches, dad had made a joke about taking her to the clinic to get an MRI, and whenever twilight of the days drew near, the girls would exchange shy glances like a virginal couple. She did not care so much about what they were doing, only that they were doing it without her.
At the back of her brain she felt the urge to pee. She tested and felt the weight of her bladder. A turn to the right would take her to the bathroom but could also potentially wake her parents whose sensitive ears could pick a pin drop. Whatever the girls were doing, she was sure they didn't want Mommy finding out. She tested the weight again and forged her ahead, towards the light. Mother nature could wait.
She pulled back the curtains and found them in the sitting room gathered around the television, watching something she couldn’t see but was sure it was forbidden. Despite the pipping cold, rivels of hot thrilling sweat burst from her pits and trailed down her arms. She stood afar for a minute, just watching them; butterflies flooding her stomach. This was her moment.
“I’ve caught you” she said smiling triumphantly but nobody acknowledged her except Elohor who waved her away, barely even sparing a glance.
Her big sisters adored her, except maybe Voke and this new irritation disturbed her more than anything. Her eyes stung and she wiped at them furiously. Moving closer with her wrapper trailing behind her, she carefully picked her way round the big glass table taking Esiri’s side since Elo was being mean to her.
She stretched her neck “I can’t see”
“But I can’t...” She placed her hand in her Akpesiri's shoulders for leverage and leaned forward. Just as soon as she saw him, he saw her too. His eyes were flat and dead without a soul, they turned her insides to mush with that stare alone. There was fresh blood dripping from his mouth and when he smiled, her heart stopped beating. His kill lay silent beside him underneath his feet. He was a conqueror.
She had never seen a scene so graphic, so vivid she knew without doubt it was going with leave her with nightmares in the aftermath. She stumbled a step back attempting to flee. Her shin caught on the glass table and just before she feel a hand reached out and catch her.
“Don’t be afraid Grace” the voice said. Her feverish excitement had broken. She shivered, it suddenly felt so cold. Darkness grew in the edges of her consciousness and she disappeared.
“We've killed her” Pamela leaned over the limp body of Grace and declared it with all certainty.
They had been taught from a very young age never to play the blame game. Remember Adam and Eve, their mother would caution but in the crisis they threw away the years of home training to the wind.
"This is all your fault" Pamela pointed at Elo. "Mother said no but still you insisted."
"We before all this happened you seemed to be enjoying yourself"
"Enough!" The eldest girl said, "If anybody is to blame, let it be me" She grabbed the cup of water from Pam and emptied the entire thing on Grace's head. Satisfied that it must have done the trick, she sat back in front of her watching her face intently for any form of expression.
The four sisters collectively held their breathe in wait. The frogs from the nearby swamp increased the pitch of their chorus as the sounds of the night closed in, the mosq
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