“Never stop. Never stop fighting. Never stop dreaming.” Tom Hiddleston
I curled into a ball, tucking my knees to my chest as tightly as I could. The ‘ping ping ping’ of falling water ate away slowly at whatever sanity I had managed to retain. Melting snow from the mountains I could just barely see through my window trickled down to me, running free where I couldn’t. The sun, with its all powerful burning rays, was slipping into slumber behind the earth, leaving me in my eternally miserable night.
Night was when he came. I never knew his name. He was dark and imposing, terrifying in his silence. I’d been here for over 100 years and he had yet to speak a word to me. That in itself would be enough to make even the strongest man break. But the silence was nothing compared to the torture. It wasn’t overt, which made it all the more frightening, especially when I was just a boy. It had reached the point that I didn’t remember anything of my life before, though I knew I’d had one somewhere.
He’d go days forgetting to feed me, leaving me alone for days on end with nothing but whatever moisture fell in from the window. In the beginning, there wasn’t even a cot for me to sleep on, although having it taken away was even more torture. The wondering-where my family was, if I would ever see them again, if I even had a family-plagued me night and day. Oftentimes there would be loud, screeching noises blasted into my cell, although I could never find where it came from.
But the worst torture was waiting for the feedings. I may never have known his name, but I know he’s a monster. Sometimes when he’d appear, there was blood all over him, smeared around his mouth, dripped haphazardly down his clothes. On those nights, the gleam in his eye made my blood run cold. But instead of ripping into me, pulling me apart piece by piece as I expected, he’d stalk toward me and stare down at me. The cold, calculating eyes would catalog my every movement, every breath.
And then he’d strike. Hands around my neck, fingers tensed in my hair, he’d force my head back making me stare at the dingy dirt colored ceiling. Clammy fingers would pry my jaw open and then something cool and viscous would trickle down my throat.
Whatever he fed me tasted like ash in my mouth. It burned on the way down, settling into an icy void in the pit of my stomach. I could sense it moving through my body, infecting every part of me. And then he’d leave me, hacking and sputtering, but never able to get away from the gnawing sensation inside of me.
Those nights were the worst.
They became more frequent throughout my tenth year here. He’d approach with a gleaming, malevolent smile nearly everyday, forcing that sludge-like poison into me. Then, he deviated from the norm-he’d watch me. For hours after the feedings, he’d watch with an exultantly expectant glimmer in his eye.
And when nothing happened, he began to grow restless. Night after night of him waiting for something that never seemed to happen began to wear on me. Apparently it began to wear on him as well because he added a new and supremely terrifying aspect to my torture.
The first night was the worst. He stalked toward me, fangs extended and strong pale hands slowly drawing his already unbuttoned shirt off his muscular shoulders, and my heart began racing. His lips curved into a cruel smile. He reached me in what seemed like a blink of an eye, although I could measure every movement he made easily.
His long nails scraped my neck as he grabbed me, yanking my head around roughly. He inhaled sharply, his eyes dilating immediately. Something hot and wet trickled down the side of my neck, tickling me and making me squirm. He began to chuckle, building up to a menacing laugh as he slowly lowered his mouth to my neck while I braced myself for whatever impending horror he had decided to inflict upon me. But he stopped.
I chanced a glance at his face and his brow was furrowed. His mouth gaped open, mere millimeters from my neck, but he couldn’t seem to get any closer. Frustrated, he wrenched my neck even further to the side, rearing back once more to strike. He still couldn’t touch me, however.
That was when he’d literally flown out of my cell. I heard crashing and shouting for the rest of the moonlight hours.
Ever since that night, he would come to me at first dark. Sometimes he repeated the process of attempting to sink his teeth into me. So far, he hadn’t succeeded. Otherwise he’d stand in the darkened corner of my cell and stare. Never a word, never a movement. All he’d do is stare. It was unnerving.
It seemed as if he was watching and waiting for something. But what, I had no idea. So I waited for him to appear. And I’d wait him out, just as I’d done thousands of other nights before.
Because when he left, I was free to sleep. And when I slept, I dreamed of her.
I don’t know her name either. But she’s beautiful. Her shimmering gold hair flows down her back, sometimes down to her hips, other times up near her shoulders. Her skin is always tan and warm, and her body fits to mine like it should never be anywhere else. But her eyes…her eyes are what I picture when I need comfort. The blue depths sucked me in the first time I’d seen them, beautiful in their intensity. I have nothing to compare the color to, since I’ve lived in miserable half shadows and darkness for far too long.
And her voice-sometimes I think hearing her talk to me in my dreams-is the only way I’ve stayed sane. She’d tell me about fantastical things, things that couldn’t possibly be real. We’d play and frolic in a meadow filled with flowers when we were children. As we got older, playing turned into sitting and talking. She’d bring picnics with her into my dream, and I was positive I could actually eat what she brought, waking up with the tastes lingering in my mouth. Sweet succulent fruits, crisp ripe vegetables, cool liquids and other delicacies-she brought them all. She’d tell me about her life, although I have no idea how my subconscious came up with half of what she told me. Like I said, all I remember is this dungeon prison cell.
Growing up in my cell had deprived me of more than just company. I could see the sun from my tiny barred window, but I had never felt its rays penetrating into my lonely world. The pervasive cold of my partially subterranean room meant that I could never quite generate enough body heat. The shivers were just another torture to endure, one which burned more calories than I could spare, especially when he forgot to feed me.
And yet with her, in my dreams, there was sun. There was warmth. Whether it was the sun in the sky of my dreams or whether she was my personal sun, I hadn’t quite figured out. She’d lay on my chest holding my hands, blanketing me with her body, just letting me soak in her presence.
She seemed to know exactly what I needed. And she almost seemed to know what I was going through when I woke up, although we never spoke of it. Frankly, I lived in that dismal place and I had no desire to let it infringe upon my own personal heaven.
I jolted back to my body as my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by loud clashing noises coming from the hallway outside my cell. That was new.
And when the door burst open, I was sure that I had finally been lucky enough to just slip into eternal oblivion. Because there, in the doorway, was my angel.