Chimera – Chapter 1
:: tiny squiggles of silver light worm their way through the darkness and hiss nonsense – squirming messages spawned by kids dashing in senseless circles – their agitation addles my brain – I no longer know who or what or when I am – I crouch between coats in a cupboard amid the smell of Nan my teacher – her pretty perfume gets on my hands and follows me about – backwards and forwards I rock, like a boat praying for the storm to stop
:: no – I won’t go out – it is not safe – only confusion and tears lie out there – I stuff fingers in my ears and listen to the pulse of my heart – when I am under assault, when I find no refuge, I fear my heart will falter or flicker out – where would Sam be then? – in the unending dark I say – in bright heaven says Nan, but how does she know?
“Sam, are you coming out?”
:: I bury my head between my knees and cup my hands over my ears – if only I could think Nan away – not that I want to be rid of her – she’s my favourite, after dad – but I will not go out, not for her, not for anyone – she moves away and the din diminishes
:: the scream has me lurching sideways, my heart clamouring in my chest, my breath wheezing in and out – several dark monsters pounce wrapping cottony wings around my head and set about strangling me – I lash out, arms flailing like a crazed windmill – the more I fight the more the monsters attack – I lurch forward desperate to get free – light floods over me as I hit the floor with a thud and keel forward trussed up in a knot of coats and scarves – I skitter to a halt in front of Nan – at her back, a tight group of kids stare wide-eyed – several point fingers – a number mutter rude remarks
“Oh Sam,” Nan says, disengaging me from the clothes and setting me on my feet. “Whatever happened?”
:: how should I know? – a pained scream echoes in my head – inside my head – it was inside my head – my knees tremble and give way as I slither to the ground – several children giggle behind cupped hands – I stick out my tongue, but pull it back, terror gripping my guts – a form is unfurling inside me, stretching and yawning – a form that is not me – I scuttle on all fours towards the cupboard bowling over two kids – they scream – who cares? – only one scream holds my attention and it is inside my head – in the cupboard I slam the door, curl up in a ball and press my eyes with clenched fists
“Sam!” Nan calls out, a thin sliver of light penetrating the dark.
:: I cringe from her hand snaking towards me – perfumed fingers find my shoulder, brush up my neck and caresses my head – with each touch waves of horror shudder through me as if those fingers could reach inside and grab my soul
“Everything is going to be alright.”
:: never – nothing is ever going to be right again – in the shadows of my head a pair of eyes flick open, large and round – I see alarm and hurt and confusion – I scream and scream and scream only to be lifted from the cupboard, Nan’s arms about my waist, my arms clinging around her neck, my screams muffled as tears stream down my cheeks
“There … there.”
:: Nan’s perfume wraps itself around me, familiar and comforting – it flows into my nose, my mouth, my throat, my lungs – deep inside that alien presence shifts, sniffing the air, enjoying the scent and with that pleasure it grows and takes shape – I try to block my nose and wrestle free of Nan’s embrace to rob it of the scent, but I cannot shut out the smell – something akin to a smile spreads through every cell of my body – I slam up defences, pull down blinds, draw across bolts in a desperate struggle to resist
“Sam, stop struggling. You’ll hurt us.”
:: what do I care if Nan gets hurt – of course I do, but I am being invaded – how did it get in?
Sam? a voice says softly in my mind, a girl’s voice, questioning, uncertain, as if sounding out my name. Sam.
:: get out – get out – I kick with all my force – I hit out with clenched fists but it is beyond reach – I hear Nan cry out as she lets me fall to the floor – kids are screaming, others are crying – to hell with them – I hate them all – I thrash out – a raging battle of legs and arms and desks and books and over it all the smell blood
Stop Sam! The girl’s voice says. Please stop.
:: leave me alone I scream – my bruised arms and the pain in my legs scream back – my movements slow, my strength fades as does the light – as obscurity claims me, I mouth one last word – never