The Light

Alex Shah ’20

Following my typical night-time routine, my hands heedlessly graze the slim hallway walls as I prance to my pale blue bathroom. The sage blossom candle that hovers on the marbled counter fills my nose with ease and illuminates my body with spine-tingling, familiar warmth. I turn the shower on, and while waiting for it to heat up, I take off my rings, and my earrings, and my necklace, placing them down to wait for me the next morning. As I step into the shower, the fresh water washes away my mascara and all of the grime, worries, and antics of the preceding hours, preparing me for a night of needed tranquility. I wrap myself up in a fresh, soft towel, and run a brush through my hair before stepping into my comfiest sweatshirt and pajama shorts.

“Goodnight, sweety. Rest well,” my mom says as she peers through the door.

“Yeah, thanks. Goodnight, ” I answer, in unconscious repetition. 

“Did you set your alarm for tomorrow?”

“Yes, Mom. I love you. Goodnight.” 

“I love you more.” I blow out the little candle and turn off the lights before heading to my bedroom.

The stark lights of my bedroom reveal the remnants of another homework invested night– papers sprawled across my desk, my lamp burning hot and loud, my backpack flung open on my bed. I pack away the chaos, yearning for the moment I get to close my eyes and fall asleep. Everything is done now. Everything is calm. I finally turn the lights off before scurrying to my bed, eager for the night’s rest. I set my alarm, and roll into my teddy-bear-soft white sheets. And while the little fairy lights that fill my room continue to twinkle, my eyelids touch, and the blackness consumes my vision.

My eyes burst open when my sleep is disturbed by an eerie ringing noise that echoes through my room like a wolf’s howl in a grim and barren canyon. I roll over to turn my alarm off, but there are no rays of sun gleaming through the cracked-open blinds, and it’s only three-twenty-four in the morning. With confusion, I roll back into bed. But the ringing grows louder as it approaches me until it distorts into a full and angry screech that leaves my fingertips, toes, and lips tingling. And in an attempt to protect myself from the awful sound I try to cover my ears with my palms. But my body feels slightly numb. My hands and arms, and then my legs all begin to feel so limp, until I’m left starfished on my white sheets, stuck staring at the ceiling. The walls start to vibrate, and all of my belongings start to shake on their shelves until they clang to the floor in a cluster of loud and unpredictable noise. My pillows fly across the room, taking with them my pictures on my wall. The lights turn on and off in bright and vibrant blinding pulses. I try to mutter the simple words “help me,” but my tongue is stuck in its chamber and nothing will come out. My throat starts to feel tight with the strangling grasp of a knuckle-white-hand as the frustration builds inside of me. I have lost control over every part of my body, including the straggling tears that fall from the corners of my eyes and run down my stone cheeks. I try harder and harder to move, but my wrists and ankles are melded to the bed, and my eyes are glued open, and I begin to sink deeper and deeper into my mattress. 

And then everything stops. The noise. The movement. The ceiling lights return to their darkened state. Only the fairy lights cast a small gleam of light on my still room. I feel a sudden wave of control over my body. But as I lift my chest to address the upheaval of my room, I am sucked back into my bed, and my vision goes white. 

I’m staring at a ring of bright white lights. Dark shadows encroach on the edge of my vision, but I can barely make out their forms. My eyes ache from staring at the lights. I want to close them, to escape the pain and confusion that starts to make it hard to stay conscious. But I can’t. My lungs tighten as they wait for a release from the air that is so clean it burns my nostrils and throat when I try to breathe. I still can’t move my body, and I still can’t see, but I know that I’m not in my room anymore. It’s the strangest feeling. Like I’ve been sucked into one of those unearthly places that you only reach in terrible dreams. The surface that I’m trapped against is as cold as a morgue, and I can feel the goosebumps run up and down my now naked body. I’ve been stripped of my soft white sheets, and sweatshirt and spread out on a freezing metal table. I try to scream, and while my mouth has been forcefully torn open, still, nothing comes out. 

As my eyes start to tear again, a strange, unfamiliar hand wipes the tears away. My throat clenches, and my stomach convulses in fear and panic. Who was that? What was that? My body becomes stiller than before. If they see the chills that trace my body, or the trembles of fear from their touch or apparition, they’ll hurt me. Moist, oblong-shaped fingers poke at my stomach, and chest, and pelvis. And then they caress my leg. And then they glide their fingers along every inch of my unclothed body. The fingers are so cold that wherever they touch me my body throbs in agony. I can feel the creature lift my limbs, one by one, while leaving the rest of my body to wait for their unapologetic curiosity. They begin penetrating my skin with chilling metal instruments, scraping me open. I want to thrash violently to stop them as they plunge their fingers into the open cavities, remorselessly exploring inside of me. I can start to feel the blood spew from my body and puddle around me. And then I can’t feel their fingers on me any more. They left me. They’re going to let me die. But all too soon they return, and begin sewing up the wounds they created. I want to burst out in tears and cry for help. I want to beg them to please just stop. But I have no control over my body. The only thing that is controlling my body is the creatures lurking above me. I want them to stop, but I can’t do anything as I lay there numb like an injured deer on the side of the road. They move on to their next victim, wholly aware as I plead for the release of death, with the only remnants of life streaming out of my glossy, terrified eyes. And after hours of waiting for it to stop, my vision fades to black.

When I open my eyes, I’m lying in my bed in my suffocating white sheets, clothed by my hoodie and shorts. I break out in short and heavy breaths and near vomit-inducing coughs. My room is untouched. My pictures still hang from their wall. My belongings still sit on their shelves, leaving no trace of the destruction that took place. I tear off my blanket to begin scanning myself for wounds. But as I run my fingers up and down my body, following with my eyes, it is completely unscathed. No bruises from the grip of the creatures. No cuts from the metal objects that they dragged along my skin. No evidence of the way they tore both me and my room apart. I ball up, clinging to my knees for comfort. My breath grows heavier, and my mouth still sits open in painful cries and murmurs of confusion. But then I start to feel their touch underneath my skin like maggots slithering in rotten fruit. Get out of me. I need to scrub their touch away. I need to get to the bathroom and remove this internal layer of the unknown.

As I get up from my bed, I nearly collapse to the floor, forgetting how to control my own legs. They still tremble and tingle. I need to cling to the bedroom doorway for balance before bouncing between the slim hallway walls towards the bathroom. As soon as I enter the bathroom, I shut the door, catching my breath as I lean against the barrier of safety. I turn on the shower, knocking down my precious candle and neatly organized soaps in the process. I collapse onto the hard shower tile and wait for the pain to wash away. But each water droplet feels like the sharp pierces of the needles they used on me before. I curl into the shower corner while the water scorches my skin.

I can’t stop itching. What did they do to me? What did they do to my body? What was inside of me? What were they? What did they want from me? Why me? I itch at my legs and arms until I tear the fragile skin and the water begins to drain red. I can’t stop crying and asking myself those unanswered questions. Their touch is ingrained in my skin. The bright white lights ingrained in my eyes. Their presence, and the fear that they have caused, eternally ingrained in my soul. I can’t move from my corner of the bloodied shower. My entire body shakes in bursts of tears. I’ve sat here for so long that my hands and feet begin to prune. 

I smash my head against the wall to try to stop the memories from flashing through my head. But the objects in my room vibrate from my violent outburst. They’re back. I finally let out a gut-wrenching shriek. Tears stream down my face faster than the water spouts from the showerhead. I pull at my hair, trying to free my mind from the fear until my hands are filled with bloodied clumps. I see a shadow appear under the bathroom door before it jiggles the door handle. “Please. No.” I let out as I sink further and further into the corner. 

“What’s going on in there, baby? Are you okay?” A voice muffles through the door.

“Get away!” I scream in panic.

“What are you talking about, it’s three in the morning.” She replies as she opens the door. With horror at the sight of me in the shower, my mother runs in and attempts to comfort me. She tries to wipe away my cowardly tears. But as she reaches for my cheek, I swat at her hand.“Please. Just stop.” I plead as I stare at the water, blood, and hair swirling down the drain. My Mother continues to pry at me, begging me to tell her what I’ve done. I want to tell her all that has happened, but she’ll never believe me. It’s all in your head. None of it actually happened. You have no proof.  The only mutilation left on your body, you inflicted yourself.

Alex Shah is a senior at MBS.