There was a night, oh….so long ago now. A night she'd rather forget completely. A night that, now, after terrible advice from therapists, her parents, and even questions from her friends, she rather thought never actually happened at all. But it was like the night of her first major final exams since that 'visit', the night before her high school graduation, the night before her first real job even, where as she lay herself to sleep, and gently closed her eyes, she could almost see it, just flickers of it, once again. The stark stone walls, the vividly green and impeccably manicured hedges…she found herself floating above them. And everything she saw was wrong.
A troll-like creature she recalled affectionately as 'Hoggle' was chased through its corridors, prodded with gleaming swords by shielded men on creature-back, running endlessly, some nights even running to death, while her other gentle companion, Ludo, hung by one giant leg from a massive and gnarled tree as he was seared with hot irons, bits of thick fur burning away never to grow back again. Deep in the forests, the valiant Didymus, surrounded by rabid Fierys, was pulled limb from limb- parts tossed like game pieces mixed with their own limbs.
Generally, this was enough to get her to pull away, but on some nights she saw what never could have been- the utterly impossible. Toby, her brother, now seven or eight, running mad through the streets of what had been the Goblin City, thrashing here and there, wild from lack of human contact. He was savage, his arms especially full of scars that Sarah refused to ponder the origins of.
"Offer up a prayer, if you must," it would whisper on the wind,
"Offer up the very light, too— your cowering won't be forgiven either
Even if you avert your eyes, the thoughtlessly forgotten boy
will continue to hide his wrists' sinful scars."
To make matters worse, sometimes she would see the aftermath, her home, where she alone was the returnee, and her stepmother mad with grief only to instantly see her lying dead on the carpet. The reaction was always the same.
Sarah's 15 year old self gasped. "Oh my god!" she wailed, covering her mouth with her hands. She was hyperventilating.
"Oh my god!" she screamed. She yelled and cried, tore at her hair. Nothing to be done, nothing to be done…
Finally, she would lean over the body, close to the unhearing ear, and she would whisper. "I'm so sorry…I'm so sorry…it's my fault…it's my fault….I couldn't get Toby back…"
If the dream got that far, it was too hard to wake herself up from it. But as painful as the scene was, it was always quick. As she leaned over, rocking herself to and fro, murmuring into the ear of her rapidly rotting stepmother, she would hear:
"To his rotting mother's corpse, continue to murmur…
Let the youthful bouquet put in your hand slip away like your past form.
Kind, that gaze, isn't it? Like an unsullied girl
Staring only into changeless time…"
It was then, usually, that she would see him. Mostly as a blur, some indistinct shape slowly taking over the horrific scenes she suffered through, emerging like some dark saint with a halo of white gold.
"Since there's no such pain…Ohh, do not cry…" he would sing. Yes, she remembered- she'd seen this part before.
"Because if it's peace of mind you want, I'll grant it as you desire…
Since there's nothing to fear, no, no….come to my side…
There are no more stains of sin- I've snatched all of yours away…"
Yes, heard it before. It was oddly comforting despite the dream-guilt that still clung to her like talons severing its prey. Usually, this is where she'd wake up. Usually. She looked down at her hands. A scream tried desperately to escape from her throat, but she felt paralyzed, unable to hardly move, as her hands practically glimmered with fresh, hot blood.
"Since there's no such pain…Ohh, do not cry
Because if it's peace of mind you want, I'll grant it as you desire…"
Sarah looked up, and this time, the shape in the distance sharpened.
"Since there's nothing to fear, no, no….come to my side…" he beckoned, and he seemed to move, or did she move? , without exerting a muscle.
There are no more stains of sin- it's alright should you easily, sweetly go to sleep…"
As he sang, the melody became more discordant and her legs buckled beneath her. Sleep….why can't I wake up? She looked up into his face and unsteadily reached out, smearing a blood-caked hand across his alabaster cheek, and as she lost her ability to stand, dragged her sullied hands down his tunic, staining it forever an unnatural crimson.
"Since there is no anguish…Ohh, do not cry…" he cooed, and caught her falling form in his arms. He didn't seem to see how he was smeared in the blood from her hands, or he didn't care. He cradled her now, in his arms, as she looked up, mind trapped in the horror whirling around her. Her friends. Her brother. Her fault. All her fault. The castle, too- her fault. The castle….
"Since you can't run away….
Since I forgive you everything….
Since it isn't over….
come to my side…"
Sarah lay in his arms now, surrounded by the fathomless white, and she began to weep. He raised up a hand and brushed away her tangled hair from her face. "There are no more stains of sin- because I snatched all of yours away from you…" he continued to sing, his lips pressed against her forehead now, rocking her in his arms. The cacophony swelled and the white, like years and years of layered paint, began peeling away leaving nothing but void in its wake. Sarah started in his arms, struggling to stop herself somehow from falling in, but he held her close. "Until forever and a day, I will not forget you…" he murmured and, as the blackness closed in, she felt her very being pressed against him.
"There now…" that voice said. "Close your eyes."
Sarah shot up what felt like ten feet and bounced off of her mattress which nearly bounced her onto the floor. Her breathing was heavy, and she contemplated screaming, but decided to aggressively reach out for her bedside lamp instead. Nearly knocking it over before turning it on, Sarah flipped around, pasted her back against her headboard, and scrutinized every inch of her apartment bedroom until her breathing had calmed. Satisfied that she was its only occupant, her eyes glanced at the door, and a shock went through her when she noticed to her horror it was unlocked. Trying her best to keep calm, she girded herself, and in one swift movement bounded off of the bed, slammed into the door, locked it, and leapt back into bed again. She grabbed her pillow and hugged it tightly, even going so far as to wrap her legs around it as well, and nervously bit at the corner of it pointed in her face.
As she tried to collect her thoughts, she recollected the nightmare, and hugged her pillow tighter. There was more to it this time. This time, the song had finished. This time, the very world fell down. Tears stung at her eyes as she bit more strongly at the corner of fluff. She was terrified, horrified, and furious all at once. Her eyes, then, drifted over to her dresser. On the corner, tucked behind a photo of happy, healthy 12 year old Toby, was a white paper bag. Cautiously, no longer afraid of the shadows in her room, she gravitated towards the small parcel and stood before it, leaving the pillow behind. It felt like the worst kind of fate to her, having no choice but to resort to such a thing. She slowly reached out a hand and picked it up, its contents giving an innocent rattle as a small bottle fell into her hand.
TO TAKE ONCE BEFORE BEDTIME"
She wanted to scream. She wanted to throw the bottle against the wall and to tread the little pills to bits. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Even if what she experienced so long ago hadn't been just a dream, she'd won, hadn't she? Hadn't she?!
It wasn't fair.
She popped open the lid and shook out a single, tiny white pill. She wanted to laugh. But she was too tired to laugh.
Replacing the top, she put the bag and the container back on her dresser and walked over to her nightstand, picking up a crystal clear glass of water. She stared into it a moment and, holding it up to the light, could almost see the sheer whiteness that had enveloped her just minutes before. Gripping the glass, she knocked back the pill and drank it all down, setting it back down with a clatter that cut through the silence of the room.
"There," she said quietly aloud. "No more of you."
A/N: Well then...this is without doubt the darkest thing I've ever put down on paper (or file?) to date. I'm not entirely sure what stark corner of my brain it came from, as it wasn't what I set out to write at all, but here it is, in all its grisly glory. The song used is actually a translated, and slightly transliterated, version of a song called "Maria" by Japanese artist Gackt, so he retains all rights to the dark spectacle displayed therein while the concept here inspired by it is all mine. I was translating the song when I noticed how eerily similar the "I am the Devil, come hither, I love you" theme was to the blacker elements of the Labyrinth and this is what ultimately came of it- written rather late at night and under very sleepy conditions that are making me ramble now, so that'll be enough of that. Hope at least a few of you out there enjoy it!