This is my contribution to The Prompts third challenge: First Line Dilemma. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, not even a witty way to express how much I don't own anything.
They lurk, the shadows and dark concealing them, hiding them from the eye as they skulk, seeking for their next victim, always ready to attack. They're horrific, a multiple of quick and nimble legs making it useless to try and outrun them as they race, teeth bared and eyes cold, pursing you.
They reside in the unknown of darkness and in your floorboards, in your loft and in the corners of rooms, where light seldom reaches. Black eyes are void of emotion as they watch your every move, calculating the best time to make themselves known.
You shudder, just the thought of them makes your heart beat painfully in your chest. Sweat claims your palms and brow while the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. You feel the compulsion to grab someone, anyone, to protect and defend you. Your legs are weak and they wobble slightly while your stomach feels empty and hollow, your entire being feeling faint. Breaths are quick and sharp, your mouth quickly becomes dehydrated and you feel dizzy, your vision blurs.
You try to calm yourself, inhaling slowly through the nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. It doesn't help much but the distraction does and eventually you grow more and more calm.
When you're unsuspecting, your attention occupied, they creep out, a blur of black as they move, on and on.
Then they stop. Resting, waiting, gauging your reaction.
You're frozen in fear and for a while there is no movement. Then, suddenly, it darts towards you and the scream that escapes you is piercing. You attempt to run but your legs don't carrying you fast enough.
Of course, what is meant by you is me.
I'm wrenched out of my thoughts, thankfully, by a car horn and a yell to get out of the way. It's only then that I realise I'm walking across the street at a pace considered slower than leisurely. I mumble an apology even though I know the driver can't hear and jog to the pavement.
I walk down one more street and up a flight of stairs before I'm at his mom's apartment and a sense of calm washes over me as I step in.
As I'm about to utter a "hello" to let my presence be known my eyes zero in on one of the creatures that were invading my thoughts just moments before. My greeting is left unsaid and I instead dash to his room, shutting the door quickly behind me.
He looks up startled from his position on his bed, drinking a can of Coke and waiting for me, probably. He chokes on the mouthful he just swallowed and thumps his chest repeatedly until he's finished choking and coughing.
"Why do you look so sca-" he croaks, his throat raw from the coughing. He doesn't finish the sentence, instead pulling Riptide out, uncapping it in the process.
He goes to open the door but stops, looking at me again, studying me.
My eyes narrow in confusion. "Wha-what are you doing?"
"There's only one thing that makes you so worked up and petrified like this," he states, tucking a stray lock of blonde hair behind my ear while staring into my eyes. "All the time I've known you not one hell-hound or Fate or even Tyson made you act this way. Which means..." he said, capping Riptide and placing it back in his pocket. "..You're overreacting," he says matter of factly, sitting back down on the bed.
You see, my idiot boyfriend thinks there's nothing to be scared of when it comes to them. Emphasis on idiot.
My mouth hangs open in shock but I quickly compose myself and glare at him.
"Overreacting? Overreacting! How could you say that?" I exclaim.
"Because that's what you're doing," he tells me with a shrug.
I'm fuming, mad yet puzzled at how he fails to see how I could be so 'worked up', so scared. If we were in a cartoon, smoke would be billowing out of my ears endlessly.
Just as I'm about to tell him - more like shout at him how moronic he can be at times, he grabs my arms and pulls me down next to him.
"Look, I know you're about to rant and rave at me and call me things you and I both know I won't understand. But listen to me. I'm not going to tell you I understand, because I don't. I don't understand why you're scared. What I do get, however, is how scared you are. I've felt the same as you hundreds of time," he confesses, forcing a smile, to show that he doesn't care that he just admitted being frightened multiple times to his girlfriend. The effort makes a small smile of my own form.
"So please agree to just stay in here with me. I bet that after a while it won't even be there. You have nothing to worry about," he tells me.
I decline when he offers me some of his Coke and he shrugs before taking a sip. He finishes it then throws it at the bin. He misses. I chuckle and pink faintly blooms on his face as he leans against his headboard.
He tries to convince me that there really is nothing to be afraid of, I know he's discussing the topic again to get over his poor throwing skills, and it works, unfortunately.
He says that there's beauty in what they create, the thing they use to catch their pray. A sticky substance, where once the victim is stuck to, it's entangles them, before ridding them of life. When the temperature's so cold your breath's visible and mountains of clothes are needed to survive, what they create is magnificent. The ice and chill making them sparkle and shine, so fragile and so captivating.
I huff, muttering that I could live without the cold easily.
I tell him that that's beauty in death, too, according to others anyway. Yet hardly anyone likes that. That the time when the heart fails to beat any more, that there's beauty to be found, somewhere, somehow, hidden within the departure of life.
He grows silent, his shoulders hunched forward, head bowed and sadness consumes him. I'm confused, intrigued. I know the topic of death isn't discussed lightly, but his reaction to the topic is new, more solemn than ever before.
I ask him why he responded this way. He looks up at me, the anguish in his eyes so immense and deep I gasp.
"Because it's makes me think of you dying, and I don't think I could live without you."
His statement is said with such conviction tears spring to my eyes. I don't let them fall, I won't let endless years of containing my emotions fail me now.
If I weren't so stunned, if the sincerity in his voice wasn't so obvious, I would have teased him. I would have told him he watches too much chick flicks, that the soppiness doesn't work with me.
That's a lie though, it does.
I shake my head and the swell of water in my eyes is gone.
His arm drapes across my shoulder and he pulls me towards him. I rest my head in the crock of his neck and we stay that way. The sudden sombre atmosphere is thick and we are rendered speechless with the heaviness of the subject. The sounds of traffic, a television blaring from the apartment next door and of the hustle and bustle of New York filtering in through the open window prevents there from being any silence. I'm thankful, silence is more deafening then anything.
Slowly the beating of his heart and the way he lightly stokes my hair soothes and calms me until I fall asleep.
When I awaken we're laying down, my left arm sprawled across his chest. I peel my eyes open and I'm met with his face, innocent and peaceful in slumber. I smile, he looks otherworldly. His eyelids flutter, dreams and nightmares showing behind them like a movie, his lips are parted slightly and his breath is warm on my shoulder. Before I can notice the soft snores he creates, the urge to pee consumes me. I untangle myself from him and quietly open the door, my feet mute as I pad towards the bathroom.
When I'm almost there I spot it.
It's half hidden by the darkness, the lamp left on failing to cover the entire room with light. I freeze, my foot halfway off the ground. I stare it with wide eyes but say nothing.
I dash back to his room, slamming the door shut.
"Percy!" I shriek, almost hysterical.
His eyes blink open while he sits up right. His hair sticks out and he lazily rubs his eyes.
"It's out there, still!" I screech with panic. All I can hear is the thrashing of my heart as it pounds in my chest and my breathing quickens while I fight away the tears threatening to fall.
The terror in my voice is enough to wake him fully. His back straightens and his hand flies to his pocket, seeking Riptide.
He hesitates, his hand hovering over his pocket and the alarm vanishes from his eyes.
"What exactly did you see Annabeth?" he asks calmly.
His voice sounds distant and quiet, my erratic heartbeat filling my ears making everything else seem like a murmur.
I try to concentrate on his question instead of the horror trying to claim me.
"I...it's...You said it would be gone and it's not. You said I didn't need to worry!" I cried, pointing a shaky finger at him. "But you lied! It's still there and now you have to get rid of it. I can't do it because-be-because I...I just can't Percy," I whisper the end part. I'm ashamed of my vulnerability and can feel humiliation creeping through me.
I look at him, embarrassment filling my eyes. He offers a small smile but doesn't move.
"What are you doing?" I ask incredulously, my voice still several octaves higher than usual.
"Nothing?" he says in way that makes it sound more like a question than a statement.
"Exactly! Why, didn't you hear me? Get rid of it, kill it, please!" I plead to him, moving out of the way of the door for him.
Finally he gets up, but instead of going to the door he heads towards me. He gently places my hands in his. "I will get rid of it, I promise," he says, entwining our fingers. "But please come with me," he asks and I shake my head rapidly while moving backwards. He pulls our hands towards him and I have no choice but to follow them.
"I just want to show you that there's nothing to be scared of. I won't let it hurt you, I promise. It won't even get anywhere near you, please?" he begs, lightly squeezing my hands.
I shake my head again, as much as I want to I just can't. The thought alone of stepping back into the room where one of those grotesque things is, fills me with terror.
He sighs but doesn't push me, instead removing his hands and opening the door.
For a moment I'm stunned at how brave he is, how he could go out there and face that creature willingly. I suppose being almost indestructible helps.
"I'm leaving this," he gestures to the door, "open though, so you can at least see that there's nothing to be afraid of," he tells me.
I give a small nod and chew my lip. I'm numb with fear. He slowly walks to it, and I shut my eyes as I wait to hear the all clear from him, telling me he's killed it. But when I hear nothing my eyes open and I find him carrying a newspaper and glass resting upside down on top of the paper. Inside the horrific thing scrambles against the glass, trying to get out. I feel a sick feeling of happiness as I watch it trapped and struggling. But then I realise how close it is to Percy, how easily it could attack him, and the fear immediately returns.
"See?" he asks, nodding towards the glass as his arms hang out of the window. He simultaneously parts his hands so it falls out down to the ground, floors below us. "Nothing to be afraid of. It's just a spider."
Spiders shouldn't exist.
What they created were cobwebs. I tried to explain it without giving much away, but I'm pretty sure I failed.
Hope you liked it.