by Hannah McNally

My eyes flash open, his face appearing in repetitive patterns in the rusty double door mirrors. I blink again, drifting back into unconsciousness. A dark shadow was cast across the corner of my room as a child like figure appeared to stand beside my bed.

I reached out, but a reflection of something in the mirror caught my attention again. It was him, looking in at me, face disintegrating slowly, and blood trickling down his face. I tried to swallow the rusty taste in my mouth, but a drop of something unfamiliar running down my face stopped me. I turned back to where the figure had been standing previously. It was gone. These manifestations had been occurring for a few weeks now; I rarely remembered them in the morning. Fumbling in the darkness for my light switch my spare hand gathered the duvet up around my neck, as if somehow the thin cotton sheets would protect me from the horrors of the outside world. Blinded by my bedside lamp, I waited for my eyes to adjust, breathing heavily, heart thumping.

I could never get away, he was always there. Behind me, waiting for me and staring at me, but I know I deserved it.

I climbed out of my damp bed sheets, they were clammy with sweat and unwanted tears. Padding softly on the grubby floorboards, my ankles clicking against the uncomfortable silence i made my way towards the bathroom.

"Guilt often is the reason for abnormal sleeping patterns" i muttered to myself under my breath. I knew that I just had to forgive myself but I couldn't escape the nightmare that was chasing me.

Opening the bathroom door, instead of the usual cold gust that I was greeted with, a warm, damp clamminess suffocated me. Gripping onto the sides of the grimy sink, my thoughts and memories came rushing back almost causing me to black out again.

I remembered it clearly; I was on my way to an interview and wasn't thinking straight, driving past an infant school my mobile started to chime. In the panic to make sure I answered it, my hand slipped off the wheel so consequently I slammed down the brakes.

"Stop remembering", I whispered to myself, but I know I couldn't stop now. Ugh, I was seriously messed up. So, here I was in my worst night mare, a night terror. The little boy I killed 5 years ago when I crashed my car, kept reappearing in my mind. Only illusions, but they seemed real enough to me. However, it only occurred at night, in the day I was free of him, almost seeming like a normal person. Night-time was a different story.

I knew I would never fully get away from this feeling of compunction, mentally and physically I had qualms of nausea and dizziness when it came to after light. I wish he would leave me alone.

I will never fully be able to shake the cloud in my weary mind; I hadn't been outside since I killed him. Murdered him more like. Taking a deep shuddering breath I began to run a bath, even though it was 3am in the morning. I jumped straight in, even though the water was just warming up. My body was immediately covered in tiny goose bumps; I waited for the water to warm up. Slowly the water rose up around my body, and at the first chance I got; I partially submerged my head underwater. Here no one could disturb me; enveloped in the steamy water I recalled the incidents that had followed the tragedy that I had caused.

I hadn't been out of the house properly for 5 years, only to get the essentials. I worked from home, trying to blank out the rest of the world. I was a snail, constantly hiding in my shell when I was frightened. Slowly crawling towards every goal but usually getting trampled upon when I was only halfway there.

I washed my self slowly and tenderly on the bruises from my nightmares and the scars from the accident. These were physical bruises though; I had many mental scars that would probably never be repaired. I closed my eyes for a moment; they were heavy with lack of sleep. There was a sound like the shattering of glass, I immediately opened my eyes. A small boy of about 8 was sitting on the toilet seat opposite my bath tub. He had almost white blond hair but it was ruined by clots of blood which were slowly trickling down his dirty face. I could see a rip in his trousers down by his shin; I didn't want to look any further.

I vomited into the bath, this had to stop. Quickly climbing out of the sick filled water I grabbed a towel and fled into my bedroom. I was living in a block of flats, just by the railway. I could see it quite clearly from my window, the trains rattling past at what seemed a million miles per hour. Anything that got in the way would be completely obliterated.

I wanted out. Instantly with no pain. Climbing into my dressing gown I began to walk towards my front door. It was more than a front door to me though; a whole world of terror and disturbance awaited me. I knew there was a 4:30 train, which carried straight on through the station and on to London. It frequently woke me up as it shook the whole building. I looked at my digital alarm clock, it was 4:16. Opening the front door a whoosh of fresh air whipped through my lungs and I struggled to stay standing. Closing the door behind me I began to walk back on myself, towards the platform. It was deserted outside; an occasional rustle from the autumn leaves disturbed the silence. I looked up at the sky, it was grey but with a hint of red framing the clouds. "Red sky in the morning, Sheppard's warning" I recited to myself, like I need to be warned; i already knew what I was going to do.

Approaching the train station, i thought back to the sirens, screaming and blood. People running, blurring my eyes as everything went past me in a whir. There was no point in leaving a will, all my family had died and i had no friends.

I was standing on the platform now; i could feel the cold concrete floor through my cheap slippers. Life's bullets strike with no warning, discrete and silent; they knock you down quite unexpectedly. Days months and years pass by and then, out of the blue, wham. That is exactly what happened to me, one car crash was all it took. My mind was spinning and i took a step towards the edge.

I could hear the train coming, the loud rumble ripped through my stomach like a knife.

"Time to escape" i whispered to myself. It was getting closer, only a few seconds now. I suddenly felt an overwhelming happiness, that it was about to end. I was finally at peace with myself.

It was nearly time, a sharp pain in my lower abdomen struck and i nearly was frozen to the ground. The huge black monster came roaring, just a few metres away from me now. My heart was beating so loudly, a drumming in my ears. I leapt from the platform and smacked against the cold metal train.

Never ending blackness, i wouldn't feel again. I could cope with that. My life wasn't completely made up of illusions, i was gone.

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