The darkness suffocated her.

That was what the night was like. What night was always like. The stars blotted out by clouds, the moon non-existent, the wind rustling through trees in the street below. Even the city that never slept had to break that mantra at times. And in the dark before the dawn, even New York slumbered.

A typical night. And typical terror.

Alice huddled in the darkness. Alone. Afraid. Alan was gone, on some book tour to advertise his latest Alex Casey novel. Barry had recommended she sit this one out-try not to remind the world that twenty-something Mister Wake was actually married. A good idea, from a business point of view, an iffy one from a marriage point of view, and in the midst of her personal crusade to conquer her fear of the dark, a terrible one.

You couldn't conquer your fears without confronting them. And sometimes, they couldn't be conquered at all.

Lying in her bed and trying to keep her eyes closed for more than a few seconds at a time, Alice briefly wished she was a child. At least her imagination then was limited to what she read and watched, to creatures such as dragons and griffons-creatures that could be terrifying, yet also majestic. Not like the nameless terrors that now plagued her every half-sleeping moment. It was strange how her nyctophobia seemed to get worse with age, as if the darkness itself was becoming more powerful. An absurd notion of course, but to her, darkness was more than the absence of light. Darkness simply was.

The monsters crawled...danced...cackled...laughed at her terror. Tempted her to turn on the light, to give into her fear. They scuttled over the bed, dug their claws into her flesh...whispered in the dark. Give Alan a call. Wake him up at 2am. Nevermind that he would likely be exhausted. Never mind that you're a coward. Just do it...turn on the light...we'll still be here when it goes out.

Alice refused. She could conquer this...conquer it...had to sleep...had to tumble down the rabbit hole...through the gloom...hit the dark with a thud...

And wake up screaming.