Cry

I cry for help

Only to be shushed

So I lock myself away

But it feels like the isolation will kill me

Am I invisible?

What’s the point in anything

I cry for help

Will they hear me before it’s too late

The Big Night

Hello dear readers. I’m posting late on in the month again but I was distracted waiting to hear back from a writing competition. Sadly I didn’t make it onto the short list but I can now share my entry! Thanks for reading – Niamh

 

Everything was going to plan so it looks like the many stressful months of preparation were finally going to pay off.

The hotel was stunning; all of the guests were having a blast, the band was playing a great Bon Jovi cover and the food was about to be served. Let’s not forget everyone looked divine. That’s the point of informing guests about dress code when you send out the invitations I suppose.

I never thought I would be celebrating a five year anniversary. There was one point where I couldn’t even imagine keeping the same car for that long. Then I met Alex and I slowly began to change my mind as we spent time and grew as people together. Tonight wouldn’t just be our fifth anniversary celebration – if all goes well then this would be our engagement party too.

Alex had the idea we should give a speech together once dinner was finished but before too many drinks were poured. We’ll tell stories both funny and sweet and towards the end I’ll make a big show of taking the small box out of the pocket of my suit jacket and getting down on one knee. I think it will go down well; when I tried to hint at what would be acceptable the only rejection was if I did it in food or in a champagne glass because “that’s too cheesy and sounds like a big mess.”

In my head I imagine it going so well – that I’ll be the embodiment of suave and charm, but the reality is there will probably be tears and maybe even a little snot. Yeah, I can’t wait for the story of my snot crying during the proposal to be all anyone can talk about for god knows how long.

And there she was on the dance floor, with her niece doing the robot simply to make her laugh. Making people laugh and smile is what she did best. Alex looked simply sublime tonight; wearing her best black trousers and purple blouse, short dark hair all glossy and that smile was brighter than the biggest cities.

If I had to pick, I would say the first thing I noticed about Alex was her walk. The spring forever present in her step and the way her arms swung, it just caught my attention and the rest was history.

Now here she comes, walking towards me just as the head server for tonight announces that dinner is ready to be served. Another thing I’ve been looking forward to all this time – the delicious dinner. Terrine wrapped in prosciutto for starter, fettuccine al fredo for the main course and Belgian chocolate mousse for dessert. Delicious food that no one present could complain about.

Next time I do something like this – like say, our wedding – I am going to make a strict seating chart. The first priority will be to put my annoying cousin Allan as far away from everyone else as possible. Or maybe just not invite him at all, that sounds good too. Because of course he had to get drunk before the food was served and of course he had to start shouting every single thought that came into his fat head – even at people sitting right next to him. Because since his days at university he thinks every get together is an excuse to drink to a ridiculous extent as quickly as possible.

Now he’s trying to flirt with some random co-worker of Alex. However, he’s so drunk that all he’s doing is invading the poor girl’s personal space and spraying her with bad breath as he laughs at something he said that only he finds funny. Is he seriously going to ruin tonight before the main course has even been served?

Luckily dad is on hand to save the day, because he and mum are the only ones here who know what’s going to happen tonight. I don’t know what I would do without their support. I watch them closely as they go out to the gardens and wait for dad to give me the thumbs up. Everything is going to be okay.

Once that kerfuffle is sorted Alex takes my hand and gives a reassuring squeeze – for who exactly I can’t say. After the main course we’ll be giving our speech, and I’ll pop the question – hopefully without my shaking too much. Maybe then we can finally get a cat too, Alex has always said no pets unless it’s a serious commitment.

When the time came we took to the centre of the room together, both sides of our family looking at us adoringly. I couldn’t believe it was finally happening. Alex took a copy of the speech out of her pocket written on little yellow note cards. But just as Alex opened her mouth to begin, a scream took everyone’s attention to the garden doors. Was Allan still out there, and if he was what could he have done now?

For a moment we are all just frozen there. Then two of the servers working the room are running through the door. A few people get up to follow. Next I witness people shouting and running back into the room; people are yelling to phone for police and ambulances, my uncle is pulling my aunt back into the room as she wails and her legs just seem to give up on her and there’s still more noise outside, the sound of a great struggle.

Now people are getting scared as they move away from the garden doors and are trying to figure out what the hell happened. But there are some letting curiosity and stupidity get the better of them and are going to investigate – maybe some of them are even thinking of bursting through to be the hero. I don’t think this is a situation where you can be the gallant protagonist though; just one look at my aunt tells me that something horrible has happened.

Another cry of pain startles us all, and someone is being brought into the room while someone else is pressing on their arm. A red stain growing along the sleeve of their white shirt. How long would it take for the emergency services to get here?

More guests are shouting now – “bit”? Are they shouting about being bit?

Allan stumbles through the door, he looks horrific. There’s so much blood on his shirt and face and he’s just standing there staring at nothing with his arms hanging at his sides. Someone frantically approaches him, talking to him and trying to coax him to sit down. Maybe he’s gone into shock – where the hell were the emergency services!?

In the blink of an eye Allan suddenly launches himself at the waiter nearest him. He pushes them to the floor and – oh god no, this can’t be real! There’s screaming and people running and there’s so much blood. This is a nightmare – it must be – stuff like this doesn’t happen in real life.

Because if this was real then that would mean Allan really was eating a person right now.

I feel someone pulling my arm furiously. Alex is trying to get me out of the room, they’re saying something but I can’t hear anything other than the commotion around me. But before Alex can pull me any closer to the door a woman bursts through and launches herself at someone. It was bedlam and we needed to get out of here now.

We’re running out of the room and trying to find somewhere safe, there’s other people trying to phone for help but just shouting because there’s no answer. Somehow we make it to the lobby where the television is showing riots going on all over the country. Immense destruction and things that made me question my sanity. More and more screaming was coming from the room we fled. I didn’t want to think about who was hurt; Alex’s parents, her niece, all our friends and my dad – oh god please not my dad, the optimistic man who always said things get better. I don’t know where I would be right now without his guidance during the darker times in my life.

I wanted so desperately to run back and try to help everyone but for now I needed to protect Alex.

That’s when I feel Alex take my hand and just by the look in her eyes I can tell they feel the same way, absolutely helpless. I had to take charge and keep Alex safe. So we just ran and prayed that everyone would be okay despite how unlikely that was.

In films and TV programmes this would be where the protagonists hot-wired a car for an epic get away. But this was real life and neither of us knew how to do that. Our only option was to go on foot.

The car park was going to be hard enough to get through. It was already fairly dark out and we could already hear those dreaded rasping groans. We would have to sneak along, using the cars for cover. I was honestly too scared to breathe as we stepped outside because there was no way to tell how well those things could see and hear.

It was a big car park to cross; with almost all spaces occupied by vehicles ranging from tiny Fiats to massive Range Rovers, and there were groaning figures scattered throughout; some were just standing there, others shuffling about and there were some silhouettes in the dark even hunched down – I couldn’t tell if they were hunching over something or if they were trying to hide like us and I honestly didn’t want to find out.

Each time we moved between cars it felt like an eternity; watching for any shadowy figures, waiting for our moment, hurrying to the next car and then pausing to see if anything noticed us before we made our next move. My legs were already killing me from staying crouched for as long – and I was terrified a car alarm would accidentally be set off. I was made painfully aware of my breathing as I tried to stay calm, was it as loud as I thought or was that paranoia?

The exit to the car park was so close, one more sprint and we would be out, and we were past the worst of them by what I could see. I turn back to check on Alex – only to find her trying to fight off one of them. Without thinking I lunged at it knocking into the figure’s shoulder first. Somehow in the chaos a car alarm was somehow set off, I was so disoriented I couldn’t even tell who set it off. All I know is I’m frantically grabbing Alex and we’re running out of there and just keep running until I feel like I can’t breathe.

It’s only when I can’t run anymore that I let go of Alex’s arm and fall against a tree at the side of the road gasping for breath and trying not to vomit. Everything hurt so much and I couldn’t move a muscle, and if not for this tree I’d probably be on the ground right now. Who knows how long I spent leaning against the tree, I just spent the next twenty minutes waiting for it to become easier to breathe and prayed I could stay conscious.

Finally standing upright, still taking deep breaths, I turn round to check on Alex who is lying flat on their back and gasping for air. I kept watch while she got herself together; it hurt too much to talk still anyway. The only problem now was trying to keep calm and figure out a plan of action; we have no vehicle, no idea where was safe, no way to defend ourselves and there was no sign of normal people who could – maybe – be of help.

Other than that it appeared to be the perfect evening for a late night stroll.

Once we were both able to talk the first decision we came to was where our destination would be for now. Going home first was the best idea we came up with – so as to get our bearings together, with the added bonus of knowing the area well enough we could hopefully avoid danger. But the down side was if it took an hour by taxi it was likely going to take quite a bit longer on foot.

Our trek along the road was deathly silent. Safe to say we were both being extra cautious about our environment – and what may be waiting in the shadows. The wind was cold; it was getting to that time of year where a jacket was a necessity every time you stepped outside. Unfortunately Alex did not have a jacket, and I could tell it was getting to her as she crossed her arms and tried to shield herself from the cold. It would be snowing outside before Alex would think to grab a jacket.

So without thinking I took my suit jacket off and draped it over Alex’s thin shoulders, I never minded the cold as much as she did anyway, I knew Alex would suffer for a hell of a lot longer before saying anything.

But as I do so I feel a warm wet patch towards the top of her arm and it immediately makes the blood in my veins feel like ice. It had been dry all day so I knew it wasn’t water, I hadn’t even noticed before due to the dark colour of their shirt. I looked them dead in the eyes – this could not be what I thought it was. Had I failed to protect them so horrendously, had I really been that slow in the car park?

The dread filling Alex’s eyes said it all though, and just like that she made to walk the opposite way we had been heading. But I refused to let go of her arms.

I had lost enough tonight – I would not lose them now. Where Alex went I would go, and nothing would stop me. We just had to keep moving and find help – find help tonight.

Then everything would be alright and we’ll move past this. Everything would be fine; we just had to find help, we had to. We just had to.

Stalker

He always found a girl that would capture his attention. Never enough to actually aproach them. Lucas just preferred to watch from afar – it was better that way. It meant they stayed perfect for longer.

But eventually their flaws would come to light. They always did.

It started with the girl next door when he was 13. She was a few years older and Lucas was at that age where he began to notice the other sex. He borrowed his parents old polaroid camera and would take pictures of her in secret. It was a short lived affair as she moved away a few months later.

For a few years Lucas lived without anyone to fill the girl next doors place. Then at college he got his first girlfriend and through her met Alice. Sweet innocent Alice who was so unassuming. Never questioning how Lucas always bumped into her when she was alone and never brought up with his girlfriend these frequent “random” encounters.

Then Alice got back together with her ex-boyfriend and just like that she was never alone again. And Ryan wasn’t so unassuming. He was always asking questions about Lucas’ relationship and what he did in his free time. When all three of them were involved in a car accident it was such a tragic loss. Not for Ryan, that’s karma for driving under the influence. But poor Alice; she was so fragile and the crash proved that by crushing her lie it was nothing.

Lucas had to get away from it all and where was better for that than a busy city like Edinburgh. So much to distract you. And so many new faces.

There were a few girls from then on. But something always went wrong. That ethereal looking girl with the crack addict friends who destroyed herself so quickly by giving in to the persuation of others. Or the tall one working in his favourite coffee shop who was so nice when standing behind the counter; but bitched about her customers on her break.

Get too close and the flaws became painfully evident every single time. It’s why Lucas went back to watching from afar. Far less messy work, and less chances of getting hurt.

His newest obsession was a woman by the name of Anna. She worked in the same building as him and always wore the nicest clothes. Her style was unique but in the best way possible, she could be easily spotted in a crowd but it wasn’t like she was trying to get all eyes on her. In the summer she would wear the most lovely sun hats when out and about and in the winter she brought out her array of beautiful coats in all different colours from pale blue to vibrant red.

Anna was keeping his attention so much better than most of the previous women. He was talking online to some “like minded people” about this. He used to term loosely as most of them took it too far. And usually it was an ex they were pursuing; and they all said the same thing “they’ll soon realise I’m the best thing that ever happened to them” or “I know I’ll win them back” and other cheesy lines like that.

Not Lucas though – he didn’t want to interfere with Anna’s life. Yes, he wouldn’t mind helping her decide her accessories day to day. But that was a level of commitment he wasn’t ready for. Maybe one day but not now.

After another mundane work day he stopped at the supermarket on his way home to collect dinner. There Lucas stood debating between ready meals for one when he felt a presence. He turned just in time to see a blur of a figure disappearing around edge of the aisle.

A vibrant red blur.

The thought sent a shiver down his spine. Surely that wasn’t Anna; if it had been Anna she would have said hello, they were familiar enough with each other from work to say a greeting. Lucas used this logic to shrug off his concern – it must have just been his imagination.

Appetite suddenly gone Lucas just grabbed a tin of baked beans and a fresh loaf in case he got hungry later and made his way to checkout. It was time to head home for a relaxing evening before going round to Anna’s to check on her. It was the second Thursday of the month so she would be giving herself a pedicure and watching Love Actually with a glass of red.

She really did love that film – hopefully with the festive season approaching she would expand on her film choice because Lucas had had enough of Hugh Grant dancing in Number 10.

Lucas made his quick stop home and then began his trek to his usual viewing point into Anna’s flat. Thank God she was on the ground floor. But something was off tonight; no wine, no Hugh Grant and no pumice stone. Instead Anna sat watching some old slasher film. You would think she was in a trance as she sat stiff as a board with no reaction to the gore. He felt that same shiver go down his spine as earlier.

Something inside told him he needed to escape.

He slipped away earlier than he planned. Whatever was going on today gave him a bad feeling in his gut. Lucas just knew whatever flaws Anna had were worse than the others combined.

A sharp pain exploded through his head so suddenly he collapsed with dark spots clouding his vision. His ears were ringing. Lucas tried to turn on his back to see who had attacked him only to be stopped by a boot stomping onto his back.

The ringing in his ears faded enough for him to hear a feminine and very familiar giggle.

“Have you enjoyed your sick game Lucas” Anna looked down at him maliciously, the bat still at her side. “Because it’s my turn now, you need a taste of your own medicine.”

 

This is the longest post I’ve made yet on here and I’m so pleased with how it turned out I may make a part 2. I would love to hear some feedback and thank you for reading – Niamh

What Scares You

Halloween night is a time for dressing up, trick or treating or even just sitting in with a mountain of bulk buy sweets and scary films. A night that inspires tales to make your skin crawl. But what will scare you most of all?

Is it the strange creaking of floor boards when home alone that is always just out of sight?

Is it wandering down a dark path and hearing footsteps behind you? Or through the woods under the glow of a full moon when you hear the call of something not human nor animal.

Will you fall sound asleep when you hear the tapping at your window? Or when you feel the weight of something sitting on the end of your bed?

Going to a party where you don’t know anyone and the costumes are just too realistic. Your friend that invited you is just nowhere to be seen and everyone is looking at you with nothing more than hunger in their eyes.

Or is it the smaller things like when your pet stares at something you don’t see?

Big or small everyone has fears.

So tell me, what scares you?

Delicate

“Delicate” brings an image to mind

Say, an ornament of glass or porcelain

“Delicate” makes me think of the noise of such an ornament

shattering

Such a resonating sound

“Delicate”, how should you feel when it’s used to describe you?

Like a gut punch

A knife to my pride

You see something false

I am stronger than you think

Forest Path

Today I walked a path through the forest

Where all the plants towered

far above my head

As though I had stumbled into Wonderland

I met no Cheshire Cat or Jabberwoky

And before I knew it,

I was back in the real world

So I continue with my walk,

and appreciate the beauty witnessed today

 

Finally got another post up. This summer has been more chaotic than I’d like but I’m not going to let it get me down. Thanks for reading – Niamh

Who am I?

Sometimes different people see you

in different ways

To so many I have been the shy and quiet girl,

the one with her nose in a book

To my long time friends I hope they think of good things

Like the laughs we had playing cards against humanity

When I meet new people,

what version do they see?

How many people will ever know me completely?