By Casey Douglass
as part of #fridayflash
You feel the air currents swirling against your skin but can see nothing through the blackness that envelops you. You wave your arms around and feel slight relief that you can feel them, even if you can’t see them.
A cough rasps through the void behind you. You wheel around and see a small area of golden light glowing some way off, a dark shadow stooped in the middle.
You force your heavy feet to take move toward it. You struggle to get the muscles and nerves to obey the order but you manage a shuffling step. The next is easier, the third almost child’s play.
The tension in your body dissipates as you edge nearer the light. The dark shape that moves and twitches now and then is nothing more than an elderly man leaning over a large table peering at a piece of parchment. He is bald and wearing a weathered white robe that looks rather like an old dressing gown.
You stop beside him but he fails to acknowledge you. You gaze at the parchment and the design upon it, wondering what on earth he is doing. The paper is brown with age and pinned at each corner with a rusty nail. The centre of the page is covered with a large black blob of ink.
The quivering hand of the man pours more ink from a small clay vessel, expanding the dark patch so that it almost takes up the whole parchment. A tuneless hum sounds from his pursed lips, the smallest hint of a smile stretching the mottled skin above his white stubble.
‘What are you doing?’ you ask.
He begins to whistle.
‘Hello?’ you say, waving your hand in front of his face.
He reaches down to a small drawer and takes out a quill, the edges of the feather fizzing with tiny sparks.
You watch as he leans forward. He presses the writing tip into the inky dark and begins to scrape searing lines of white light. You cannot make out what he is drawing but your heart begins to pound as some of the elements coalesce into something horrible. You see a large maw forming, then some razor teeth. Further up, two eyes with an evil gleam. A little lower, a massive outstretched claw.
The elderly hand picks up speed and is gliding over the surface of the parchment now. You watch the creature take shape, each new feature adding to its hellish appearance. A trickle of sweat gets stuck in your eyebrow and you wipe it away with the back of your hand. The air is hot and stifling, the heat drying the back of your throat.
The man leans back and mutters something before adjusting his position. His hand manoeuvres the quill in the area just under the colossal claw, the scratching of the implement slicing through your nerves. You lean forward, trying to see what he is drawing now. It is small, tiny even, and very hard to make out. You reach out and grab his wrist, dread rising inside you. The wrist cracks in your fingers. The old man yowls.
You sense movement behind you, a shifting of the air, a tension pressing down on your head and shoulders. You lean forward, feeling your heartbeat in every part of your body. You look at the paper, your eyes struggling to focus on the intricate art. The tiny, dwarfed thing that the monster is towering over. It’s you! You reading from some device!
You notice your hand is empty, the man is gone. You vaguely wonder how he vanished and where he went. That is, until you turn around and empty yourself into the biggest scream you can muster.