My breath comes out in short, sharp gasps. The cupboard is cramped and there’s something sharp digging into the bottom of my back. I try to remain as still as I possibly can.
The noises from outside are getting closer to my hiding place. Some of them are not exactly frightening on their own: they are footsteps, steady if a little clumsy, and the floorboards creak as the owner steps into the room. Between the footfalls, in low tones, I can hear the sound of snarling.
I hold my breath as the thing beyond the cupboard door approaches, willing myself to believe that if it cannot hear me then it will be unable to find me. Without a way to see beyond the wooden cupboard doors, I can only cling to hope.
It falls silent and I have to strain my ears to hear what is going on. The thing is still there; it’s panting heavily, its breathing ragged. A long whine follows: it seems to creep into the woodwork. The sound echoes around in my ears. I screw my face up in distaste. Once it has fallen silent, it begins to do what I have been dreading the most: the noise it throwing open a cupboard on my far right is my death sentence. I hear it rummaging around a little before it moves along.
When I first saw it, I had no idea what to believe. It’s tall and slender, with black eyes and pale, almost translucent skin. The sharp teeth that it had flashed as me had been enough to make me turn and run – but with legs twice as long as mine, it was always going to catch up with me.
At first, it had not tried to harm me. Like some hideous stalker, it had followed me wherever I had gone; as though this had been some bizarre ritual that everyone else had been in on, I had been the only person it had bothered. I had left the house and gone down the street. It had followed me, loud and unimaginably horrible, yet the people I had passed had stared at me as though I was the one they had feared.
As though they could not even see the thing chasing me at all.
I have no idea where I am now, no idea who owns the building in which I’m hiding. Why this bothers me is beyond me, as it seems like such a petty thought to have at such a dangerous time. As the clattering sound of pots and pans being thrown out of cupboards gets closer, I try to concentrate on anything other than the fact that I have only seconds left.
The cupboard I’m hidden in is not locked. I cannot seal it shut from the inside, and even if I could the thing could probably tear the door off anyway. There’s no other way for me to leave the cupboard but the way I came in, and that creature is right outside. If I move, I’ll die. If I don’t move … I’ll die.
Time almost stops. There’s an age between each beat of my heart. This world is nothing more than an illusion. I know everything there has ever been to know in those moments: the mysteries of the universe and the answers to the questions people have been asking since the dawn of time. Nothing is a secret to me.
Scratching on the cupboard door.
At the moment of death, I am truly alive.