6:00 A.M. Prompt
by Kenya Jones
It sits there while she’s eating her cereal. She stares at It. It is a twisted, gnarled, mottled grey and ugly Thing. It stinks. Vapors rise from its husk , visible to her like smoke, thick and suffocating. It reaches for her, meaning to seize her lungs, stop her heart; paralyze her. The appendage is long, far reaching, slow in its approach, yet determined to find and touch her.
She chews. She swallows. She stands. Turns her back and walks away.
It stands behind her while she readies herself for the day. It is tall, ominous and silent as the grave It must have climbed from; where she thought she’d buried it. She’d worked so hard, digging and digging. Deeper than she’d ever done. It tries to steal her breath away. It’s mouth opens, the orifice parting the seam that seals it shut with a sickening tear and howling scream that echoes in no place but her own head. It sucks the oxygen around her out of the room and into It’s greedy body. The walls begin to collapse in on her.
She manages to escape from the room, even as it stretches towards her again. She slams the door before It can crawl inside of her.
She didn’t think It would follow her out into the daylight. But It lingers in the periphery of her gaze as she makes her way through the world. Its intentions brush up against her heart, stuttering the blood-pumping organ and making her inhales shallow; her exhales deep. Too deep. It wants to bring darkness down on her, but she won’t let it. She can’t let it. Shadows shift and grow, then retreat in the face of her determination.
This goes unnoticed by those around her.
Through the hours of day, It idles by. It moves when she turns her head. The stink of It envelops her like a blanket of fog. It towers behind her, stilling her fingers and hands in the midst of some task. It lounges, ungainly, in an empty chair around large tables in rooms where she meets with others who are oblivious to iI. To It’s grotesque stare. It’s red hypnosis. It’s beckoning gestures.
She lowers her head, hiding from It. She makes herself small. Smaller than the others in the room. Will it not plague one of them? Will it not leave her be?
When the day has done, and It has not managed to turn her into stone the way It seems to yearn to do, she endures Its muted presence stalking behind her like it is her own overgrown shadow. She knows it’s there, but cannot see it. Soon, she puts it out of her mind. There is the routine of removing the day’s collection of exhaust from her person. Of washing herself clean. Of putting back the nourishment her monstrous shadow managed to steal from her. Of settling, comfortably, into her own embrace.
Her lungs feel free, even as It moves into a deep, dark corner and waits for her to open her eyes again.