A/N: Hi, thanks for reading! This is my new chapter story, a little strange, but I hope you like it nonetheless. Please do let me know what you think, good or bad.
Thanks to lily moonlight and chrysalis escapist for reading through and encouraging me to post this.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters. Much as I'd like to.
She opened her eyes. And then she tried to open them again, because there was no change for her between closed and open.
There was only darkness.
It didn't make sense. There was a fog inside her head, and all her thoughts felt only half-formed. Something had happened. She wasn't supposed to be here. Was supposed to know what was going on. But didn't.
She was drowning in a sea of ink, smothered by a mountain of soot, entombed in a block of jet. She could feel the heavy blackness pressing down on her skin, slithering into and out of her lungs, seeping through her pores, filtering in through the iris of her eyes.
Blackness slid through her veins and arteries, pounded through her heart.
She opened her eyes again.
She felt her arms and legs move. She felt herself sit up, put her hand flat on what she was sitting on. Cold. Hard.
She knelt, or, at least, her body told her she was kneeling. She swept her arm around her in a wide circle, fingertips just brushing the roughness of the floor. There was nothing there, or if there was then her hand passed through it without resistance. The blackness in her blood thrummed loudly against her eardrums.
Slowly, her hand against the floor to push her up, she stood. But there was no reference, no plane in the dark, and she wavered unsteadily with no sightline to throw for balance. She took a tentative step forwards, and fell. The palms of her hands smacked down against the ground.
She opened her eyes. The gesture was still futile.
It would be safer to crawl, she decided. So she crawled forwards, one arm out in front of her to feel her way. The position made her feel like a child again, crawling in the dark. Feeling her way. Dark which, only a little more than an arm-span away, began to fill slowly but surely with the creatures from her nightmares, long swept away beneath the bed. When she moved she could hear the slithering of snakes, the loud hungry breath of nameless monsters. Spiders scuttled around and between her limbs but when she tried to squash them, pounding down with a tightly-clenched fist, they had moved away, and there was only the hardness, which hurt her hands.
The imagined sounds spread outwards from her mind, filling the sizeless space.
She stopped dead, and held her breath, suddenly knowing, knowing that there was something waiting for her, maybe reaching out towards her, directly in front of her face. The shades and monsters beside her in the blackness froze with her, so still that she couldn't hear them, although their echoes in her memory pressed in around her. When, finally, the pain and pressure were overwhelming, she breathed out, in, as slowly and silently as she could. They breathed with her, exactly in time.
For long, stretched minutes she didn't dare to move. The fear of what might be waiting for her paralysed her, petrified her in the stone-coldness where she was. Her breaths were shallow. Not enough air.
Shuddering and biting her lips shut, she reached out a shaking hand. Her eyes were screwed tight shut, and without her noticing, her face had turned reflexively away. Her fingers moved through the air and found –
Nothing. There was nothing there.
She put both hands palm-down on the floor and leant forward, gasping heavily in relief. With an effort she tried to push the nightmare monsters out of her mind, telling herself to be logical. Logical. They were creatures of her imagination, and that was all. It had been years since she was afraid of the dark.
But this was beyond darkness. She let the clichés swim through her mind, welcomed them as a distraction. Pitch black. Dark as night. Black as soot. Cat in a coal cellar. She tried to hold an image in her mind, the sun, a tree, city lights. She pulled faces towards her, conjured up names to match. Mac. Hawkes. Sid. Flack. Danny. Mac. Mac. They span up towards her and then sank away. She knew they were out there, somewhere, but they faded in her mind. Faded to black.
They'll be looking for me. They'll find me soon. She knew that. The fiercely rational part of her mind tried to convince the rest of her too, forcing determination. She couldn't stay curled up there. There might be a way out, and was she just going to wait for them? No. Never. Mac'll expect more from me.
So she opened her eyes, as wide open as they would go, so that she couldn't miss seeing any light that happened to exist. Then she began crawling again, pushing herself through the deep pool of blackness. It felt far thicker than air should, as if she was crawling along the bottom of an ocean trench. The weight of the water threatened to smother her.
She hit something.
She jerked back, an automatic recoil. It hadn't been a wall her hand had just brushed against. Something soft, something which yielded under the light pressure of her hand. She froze. Waiting. Nothing moved.
Thoughts shrieked through her mind, but she knew all along that she would have to find out what it was, if only to quell the panic, the fear of one of the demons of the darkness sitting watching her. She thought furiously, I'm not afraid. I'm a scientist. I want to know what's there, and surprised herself with the detachment with which she wondered momentarily whether denying fear made her a coward. It was that thought which gave her the courage to lean forward and place her right hand in what she thought was the place.
What it met was at first unfamiliar. About half a forearm-span from the floor she found a surface, cold and firm but yielding a little way to pressure, a smooth surface but not flat, curved, a harder projection coming out from it. There was a bewildering feeling in her mind that she should recognise what it was, but she couldn't.
Her moving fingers found a surface within the surface, a tighter, smaller curve. Colder, and slimy, with a rim that brushed and bent easily. The surface of a cold, moist globe, almost like… almost like…
She threw herself violently backwards, back into the blackness which at that moment was preferable to what was in front of her, what she was touching. Panic at last overwhelmed her and she screamed, screamed, shoving her left hand over and partly into her mouth to try and mute the sound, and to force down the gag reflex as she retched uncontrollably. She scraped her right hand frantically against the roughness of the floor, and then against her clothes, but she couldn't scrape away the feeling inside her.
She pulled herself up into a tight ball, as small as possible, trying to compress herself enough that the hideous sensation of the cold eyeball, staring blankly into the blackness, could be squeezed out of her mind.
It wasn't working.