My vision flickers back along with the panic in my spine, and I peer through the nearly perfect darkness that lays palpably, like moths, against my skin. I’m on the ground, in the swirling shadows of an alleyway, far removed from the protective glow of any streetlamps. I need to get back into the light.
Struggling against bloodless legs, I rise and start toward the brightened mouth of the alley. Abruptly, the light of the street blacks out as something moves between me and the streetlamp. I freeze, and catch the rising gasp in my throat by clamping a hand over my mouth. Reeking breaths of disintegrated flesh waft into my face and worsen the already horrific nausea. If the thing were any closer, I would be touching it. Even in this dark, I’m so close that I start to make out its appearance, and I immediately shut my eyes.
I shut them so I cannot see the bony protrusions crawling from its eye sockets, covering most of its blind face. I refuse to see the taut folds of skin around its mouth, which is twisted into a constant, demonic grin; the clefted upper lip that further disfigures its visage and showcases its several sets of jagged teeth, or the purple tongue twitching eagerly in the putrid recesses of its maw.
It must smell the tang of my fear because it begins to growl, softly, unsure. I stray my free hand behind me for something– anything– and my heart seizes between its hammering beats as my hand closes around a spur of rebar standing among the alley’s detritus. It seems more certain now, leaning forward, breathing quicker. The spike of metal pulls free just as the thing finds me, and I stab in a desperate arc toward its neck.