For this first real post I’ve chosen a text which is part of Innocence universe. In truth, it is a short story which also, serves as a spin-off of the main storyline. Furthermore it was a kind of challenge for myself to create a story composed by only one ambience and character. If I could define “Night in the Room”, it would be like one of the first sketches for the main story.
This text has been written as a prose and also for a comic (which is being produced as a kind of pilot for Innocence comic).
Below you may check the prose version.
NOTE 1: If you wish to read the Night in the Room comic, this story has some spoilers.
NOTE 2: English is not my home language, so, you may find some grammar mistakes and misspellings. If you find one, please, let me know so I can fix it and also I’ll be thankful to you :).
Have a good reading!
NIGHT IN THE ROOM
When she lowered her head, Mina sighed.
The taste of that medicament was so bad that left her queasy. Nevertheless, she had to take it or the consequences would be worse as her psychiatrist told her.
Then she looked up and faced herself on the mirror of the bathroom where she stood: what she saw on the reflected image was a thin girl, around fifteen years old with an untidy light brown hair falling on her shoulders and shiny green eyes, those that now were showing tiredness and discouragement. She was dressing a little bit old light pink pajamas.
She sighed again. Usually she had rough days; however, lately these days were worse than ever. Her colleagues at the school didn´t leave her in peace; it was always the mockings, the paper balls and even physical aggressions. How she hated all of this!
While she glanced at herself on the mirror, Mina felt a shudder rack her body. The place where she was was very wide since it served to attend to a female dormitory. Therefore, it was disposed by a set of sinks with a little bit grimy mirror leaning from one wall to another. By the other side, there were the toilets and finally on the other extremity there were the shower stalls. Generally, it was a busy place, but at that time late by night, it was quiet, making this ambience just as stifling as a tight room.
Now it was time to go back to her room. When she closed the cover of her medicine, it produced a loud “clack” sound. Perhaps loud too much for her, for she sensed that the sound echoed around the place. The girl stopped for a while, watchful to any other noise that could come in answer, but the only sound she could hear now it was a far distant singing cricket, which had just started his chant.
If the bathroom had that gloomy look, the corridor was worse. The doors were disposed by both sides of it leaving no space for external light. Therefore, at night the feeling was that there was a vast black abyss just ahead.
Not to mention that the place was in a total darkness, there was a faint penumbra light a little bit further coming from some stairs. Another source of lighting was coming from the bathroom, this one, still with the lights on. When turned off, Mina would be almost in total darkness.
So did Mina. When she left the bathroom in the dark, she quickly moved to push the switch light of the corridor… which didn´t turn on for her distress.
“Crap”, thought Mina. “I forgot they didn´t fix this yet!”
Then she turned herself again to the penumbra ahead. Her room wasn´t that far, but it would be suffocating to walk through that darkness. It was almost like if there was something lurking in the shadows. Mina tried one, two, three steps towards it. She felt her feet as they were made of lead. At each step, she could feel a shiver run from her nape to her spine. She could sense the thing, whatever it was; close to her, it was as if it was almost touching her.
She was trembling and cold sweating. The girl tried some more steps, but then stopped, breathless, what made her automatically put one of her hands on her neck. Mina tried to say something but she could only babble an inaudible sound.
Suddenly, she shouted loudly and seeing herself free from that constriction, she ran clumsily until stopping short-winded in front of a door.
Mina needed some time to catch her breath. Her heart looked like it was about to explode and the heartbeats sounds seemed to echo through the entire corridor. After she recovered herself, she couldn´t help but give a slight smile: She´s just stopped in front of her own room door, easily recognizable by the golden number 306 and the many inscriptions on it like “DON´T KNOCK, HERE LIVES A DISTURBED ONE,” and “GET LOST FREAK!” being that last the most recent.
Giving out another sigh, this time a relief one, Mina opened the door. Her hands were still shaking, but at least she knew that she would be free from that weird shadow. After seeing the lines on her door, her feeling of relief gave place to sadness. At school she used to have many issues, but at the female dorm it wasn´t that better. Her puny complexion and clumsy manners didn´t help her at all and to worsen things there were those shadows constantly chasing her no matter where she was. By many times she has been caught talking alone or running from something invisible to the others. The result were many mockeries and jokes.
Once inside her room, she felt safer, because she was finally inside her nest. In addition, she had luck; usually during her panic attacks it was common to her to mistaken the rooms what rendered more issues with the other girls.
It was a small place, but for Mina standards, it was a true luxurious suite. There was a big wardrobe made of old wood; a desk; an also wooden chair; a bed table; a small trash can and of course, her meager belongings. A faint light prominent from the street penetrated through the window.
Truth be told, she really felt fortunate for having this room for herself, because ordinarily the place would serve for two guests, however for some unknown reason Mina had been placed to live alone, therefore, there was only one bed and she could call the place hers.
Tired as she was; her only thinking was to fall on her bed and try to have some sleep, even knowing this would be a hard task. That is why she put her medicine on the bed table and, already lying on the bed, she reached out to one of her most precious objects: a lampshade. She never slept with the lights off.
Mina heard the equipment´s “click” sound, but nothing happened. She tried again and another failure. Preoccupied, she rose a bit and pulled the lamp´s string for many times. “Why don´t you turn on? C´mon, do it!” she asked herself in thoughts, but again, she heard the string´s sound, with a disappoint glance on her face at each time it didn´t turn on.
Once again, she started to succumb to despair. Mina sat on the bed and dismounted the lamp, returning to mount it repeatedly with no success.
“Why? What is happening? It cannot be a power outage. Did it break?” she thought while walking towards the door. “Well, there´s still the room´s light. It got to work!”
Fearfully, Mina took a deep breath before pressing the switch. Very shaky, her finger pressed with some difficulty the switch´s button, but just like the lampshade, there was no result. She couldn´t believe on what was happening, so she tried to press it many times.
“Turn it on, turn it on, c´mon!”
In a blaze of hopelessness, her only thinking now was to get out of that place. She always liked her room, but as long as there was light to sleep. Since she was a small kid, she had fear of the dark and never could withstand it. It was an unutterable, irrational fear.
Completely in panic, Mina tried to open the door in order to leave. How then was her surprise when she discovered that it was locked!
She pulled and pushed the knob in all ways imaginable. Her mind was a complete chaotic maelstrom and she couldn´t thinking in nothing else more, but her mad desire to escape from that imprisonment.
When she came to herself, she was yelling and knocking the door with all her strength.
“OPEN IT, OPEN IT, PLEASE! DON´T LET ME STUCK HERE! PLEASE, OPEN IT! THIS IS NOT FUNNY!” she bawled vehemently.
She knocked so many times and so hardly that at a given time her right hand hit the door awkwardly making her shout of pain. Tired and sweating a lot, Mina turned her back against the door, slid slowly in a lubberly manner to the floor, defeated.
For a moment, she thought that it was a trick played by the other girls. This wouldn´t be the first time they locked her inside her room, but in other hand, the present situation was entirely different. Her mind worked fast trying to rationalize: in that case, the girls just barricaded some chairs on the opposite side to avoid the door from opening. Even if by chance someone had stolen the extra key in the administration, how to explain the lack of light? Mina knew that if any of her harassers’ would´ve come to her room, she would do something more obvious and explicit, like writing on her wall or throwing some of her belongings through the window. Not, it wasn´t any one of the girls.
Then she put her head between her knees and remained there for a long time without any reaction. The only sound she could hear was the one of her gasping breath producing a thin layer of smoke from her mouth at each time she breathed.
Teardrops poured from her eyes. Mina pressed herself hard, forcing her nails to penetrate her flesh, what made her remember the pain on her hand and the reality. She dried the tears with the good hand and stood up.
If she couldn´t have light inside the room, at least she could breathe a little bit the nocturnal air. That is why she walked slowly to the window, which was covered by a strange faint green light. Mina couldn´t say which light was that one, but also she didn´t care that much.
The window glasses were closed, so, Mina moved away a little bit the curtains and took position to open it. She struggled hard with her good hand but did not make it. Clenching her teeth, the girl made sure that the lock was open. She did another attempt and once more without success. This time, without caring for her injured hand, she exerted more force to push the window and even so it wouldn´t budge a bit!
“No!” it was her only thinking. In a brief moment, she had that twinge of hope.
In front of this new failure, Mina fell on the bed. She couldn´t think in anything else, not even she had will to try the small table lamp on her desk or her cellphone, for she knew that the only result would be a new failure, and she just filled her quota of it. Now she had full assurance that it wasn´t the girls. It was something worse, much worse. She knew very well what would come next which she wouldn´t like it.
The minutes seemed to pass in a slow walk. She was still sweating and at each drop that dripped from her forehead, she sensed as if an entire hour had passed. “They” would come soon and this sensation, she could feel inside herself and around the ambience. She also could sense that the corridor´s shadow was there. Somehow, the thing tricked her and managed to come inside.
Then suddenly she jumped out of her bed and moved her back towards the wall. Finally “they” had come. Below her feet, it looked that the floor was moving. When she looked forward, the impression was that the entire place was writhing and twisting. Behind her, the wall pulled back making her lose her balance and falling sitting on the floor. Everything went dark in sudden and Mina felt as if she was losing her own self. Now the smoke rose more intense from her mouth at each breath.
She searched for something in that deep darkness but couldn´t reach anything. After some desperate examination, she found something solid on which she could lean. When she realized what it was, she knew that if she could see her face, it would show an expression of complete horror.
“No, not this!” She said desperately.
Mina leaned herself on a wooden bench. She perfectly knew which bench it was as well as the place where she went. In addition, she knew that she would be compelled to keep going.
The benches multiplied by others made of the same type. A faint light prominent from three small luminous points far towards, was enough to brighten a little the field of view. It was like there were hundreds of benches disposed side by side, forming a corridor between them and having Mina in the middle.
She walked in small steps, carefully leaning herself at each bench. The place was very cold and she was barefooted.
“No, please, no”, was her constant thought.
As soon as she arrived at the three points, she discovered that it was a candlestick with three candles. Beside it, there was a crucifix whose material could be silver, but it was hard to discern once it was filled with blood. Mina knew both objects and so she looked at them with deep disgust.
“It wasn´t me,” she said loudly. “What do you wish of me?”
There was no answer.
“What do you wish of me?” this time louder.
Now a fine breeze started to blow, causing the flames to tremble.
“ANSWER ME AT ONCE! WHAT DO YOU WISH OF ME?” she shouted the louder she could.
Then the flames were extinguished.
Mina backed off some steps until she stumbled on something. She fumbled the object and felt something sticky on her hands. Suddenly a flash: Around her, a great fire started with flames erupting from everywhere. Some flames looked as angels with fire swords trying to flank all her sides. She glanced at her hands and discovered that the sticky substance was blood.
In complete horror, Mina kneeled down and took both hands to her face, tainting it.
“It cannot be. It wasn´t me. Go away and leave me alone!” she whined while sliding her hands to the eyes closing them. The object, which she stumbled, was a body which she didn´t want to know whose it was. It didn´t matter.
After some moments, there was only the silence. When she uncovered her face, Mina perceived that she was back to the room and that everything had vanished, including the blood. Still shaking, for in her heart, she was certain that it didn´t finish yet.
Like an answer to her thoughts, firstly, she heard a low sound, but a bit later, it was a booming sound. Laughs, many laughs from all kind of people: children, youngsters and adults in a growing roar. Coming with them, shadows filled the room.
From where she was, Mina cringed trying to cover her ears. Her head felt like it was going to explode with so much pain from that uproar. The maelstrom was moving again, gaining speed.
“Stop that! Oh, shut up!” she begged with in a tearful voice.
All she could achieve was to make the laughs to increase in intensity. She shadows were being molded until forming faces of people known and unknown.
“Stop, I beg you! I can´t stand it anymore!”
The room seemed to increase in size again. Everybody was there; all those hateful people who made her feel ill and faces of people she knew that one day would treat her badly. They were laughing frenetically.
Mina felt as if she was being undressed under spotlights in the middle of a crowd. How was her despair when she found that she was indeed naked in the middle of these shadowy faces! Ashamed, immediately she tried to cover her body with her hands. This was more than she could withstand and she knew that they were laughing not only because she was undressed, but also, because she was weak and foolish. She knew that she deserved all of that. It was always her fault. Always and always!
A voice protruded along the laughs. Primarily, it was so low that Mina couldn´t hear, but soon it gained strength and when she noticed, it was she the one was shouting:
“SHUT THAT DAMNED MOUTHS AT ONCE! I CAN´T STAND THIS ANYMORE!”
Her teeth clashed with each other and she even bit her lips until it shed blood. The room became colder making her shiver of cold. Apparently, the voices went away and her clothes came back. Mina stood up and sat again on the bed, which was as cold as the room.
“You see? They are laughing of how foolish you are my dear,” said in a sudden, a soft female voice near her ear.
Mina felt frozen again and this time it wasn´t because of the coldness of the room. She didn´t need to turn herself to know from who the voice came. She felt it behind her back touching her shoulders and was sure that it would show itself soon or later. This time it was later.
“You´re late,” she said coolly.
“No, you´re the one who took too long to call me, my love,” replied the Voice.
Mina had no words to answer to that reply. Until she could remember, the Voice always followed her, whispering things in her ear. As the years passed and Mina grew up, it looked to her that the Voice was gaining strength, as it was dominating her little by little.
“You´re late,” Mina repeated while holding tight her pillow.
“You´ll forgive me dear, but I repeat, it was you who took too long to call me,” the Voice answered again. “What are you afraid of? You know you need me. You just need to give yourself at once.”
“But… I don´t want to,” Mina replied in a sulky voice.
“You need it.”
“I don´t want to.”
“You need it,” insisted the Voice.
In that moment, Mina closed her eyes, threw away the pillow put the good hand on her head and abruptly turning herself, she shouted:
“I DON´T WANT TO! I CAN´T WITHSTAND THIS ANYMORE! I WANNA GET OUT OF HERE! LET ME GO AND GO AWAY!”
Her voice echoed between the room walls. The other one was now silenced.
Like they were enchanted, once more, the walls started to swing and it seemed to Mina that they were darker and bigger than before. Alongside this bizarre vision, came the laughs, but this time absurdly louder than ever.
Mina cowered herself on the bed. She knew; she knew why people were laughing. They laughed of her inferiority and her unworthiness to them. Although she tried, she would never be someone like those people. She should always crawl submissive to them.
“Go away! Leave me alone. Where are you? Don´t go away, come back! I need you!” begged Mina in a shrilly voice.
The guffaws continued. Mina didn´t know what else she could do but stay huddled where she was. It seemed that between the voices there were some accusing ones. In the girl´s mind, they sounded as – “Murder, murder, murder!” – She couldn´t even cry anymore and was completely at the mercy of the night. Deeply, she had conscience that she needed the one who spoke to her some moment before. It was like a heady drug; she hated it at the same time she needed it constantly.
“Murder! Murder!” now the voices were singing as if it was a music.
Then in the middle of this accusing chant, the Voice emerged louder:
“I´m still here my dear.”
“Make them stop, please!” asked Mina.
“You know very well that they won´t stop.”
“But I need you!”
“And I need you.”
“Then, help me!”
“I´m already doing it, this is my help.”
“Listen dear; you know this is needed.”
“I know this, but I´m afraid, I´m so afraid. I don´t like it.”
“I don´t like it either, but it´s the only way.”
Mina lowered her head and placed one of her hands to her right shoulder finding another hand there. The touch was cold but cozy. In a slow movement, she pulled close to her the one who was behind having it hug her in an affectionate squeeze.
“I know,” Mina agreed.
“Don´t you worry,” whispered the voice in her ear with the mouth almost touching Mina´s ear. “I´m here and I´ll be always with you,” – After she said this, the Voice took one of her hands to Mina´s lips to clean the blood when she bit them, and passed it to her own mouth.
Mina trembled before the heady and soft touches of the other one. This left her in a complete submissive position before it.
Suddenly the laughs started again. The shadow returned from the dark shapes molded by the mouths of the faces around the room, filling it. It was a mix between smoke and a slimy dark substance with some green shades.
The girl was paralyzed like a prey hypnotized by a snake. She held tight the pillow just as she did before. The shadow could be felt climbing the bed and coming down from the ceiling. Was it more than one? More shadow shapes appeared and they filled Mina´s body while holding her to the bed. Caught she was, as well as caught to those laughs and as well to those accusations. She was caught by her inner demons in a moment she couldn´t even shout anymore. Terror could be seen on her face and her eyes glanced at the unexplainable searching for an answer to this.
The shadows covered everything. These shadows were alongside her just as the Voice. They were shadows of her obscure past which she can´t remember; shadows of her present life, humiliated by everyone and despised by them; and the shadows of the future, uncertain and unpredictable. Horror, terror, sadness, fear, anger and hate. All those feelings passed through her head and revolved inside her mind. The maelstrom was now spinning in a completely chaotic and furious way.
At the same time, the Voice whispered words in a soft tune inciting each one of the feelings. Until the end, when finally the darkness covered everything for complete and nothing remained but the deep darkness of the void.
Mina opened her eyes feeling the heat on her face. Confused and blinking she stood up and found that it was already morning; the sunlight woke her up.
She shook her head trying to throw away any sign of remaining somnolence. In her daze, she took some seconds to notice a curious fact: the window was open.
When she looked to the other side, she also found that the lampshade light was turned on, just as it should be.
Still feeling dazedly by the cold in the morning and by her discoveries, Mina hit the lamp´s switch turning it off and then turning it on again.
The reason returned to her mind: She had a nightmare!
It was a relief to feel the morning breeze at the window. Mina´s face showed tiredness and defeat. She couldn´t simply stand anymore these bad dreams happening almost every night, even if she couldn´t remember a good part of them. What Mina wanted was to live; just live in peace.
She sighed loudly. It was one more new day and this did not cheer her a bit. At least, the facts of the last night didn´t happen for real.
While she was lost in these thoughts, she felt a twinge of pain. Mina searched for the source of it and what she saw filled her face with the horror again.
Her right hand was injured and swollen.