This entry is part 15 of 15 in the series Beyond the Darkside

Somewhere in the distance, Margaret heard the uneven clang of metal on metal. The muted noise only roused her from her sleep because of the consistent rhythm. The dark confines of the safe room were all she had known for some time. Whether she had been stuck there for hours or days, she could not say. The lack of electricity turned off the clock embedded in the wall beside the locked door of her unintended prison. She remembered a power surge caused the lights to flare before going out. Since then, her life was a blur of darkness and screams. The lack of food and water silenced her attempts to escape and left her barely able to move.

“Help,” she croaked. Her voice did not sound like her own. It barely sounded human at all. She tried licking her lips, but it felt like rubbing sandpaper across rough stone. She winced at the sensation before turning her head back and forth in an attempt to locate the source of the sound. Margaret could no longer remember which direction the door faced. but she hoped that the now constant clanging originated from behind the door. If it came from anywhere else, she would never see the conductor of her salvation’s symphony. The safe room’s walls were nearly impenetrable, so trying to cut through anything but the door meant she would be dead long before they reached her.

The noise grew louder, and its source more discernible. Margaret clawed her way across the floor, dragging her legs behind her. She tried to stand, but her bloodied fingertips and broken nails provided little purchase on the cold, steel floor. She had already resigned herself to death and made peace with her own mortality. Her time within the room stripped her of any notion of a benevolent God, and as she prayed for someone to open the door and rescue her, it was not the God of her youth that her silent pleas beseeched for deliverance.

Isolating darkness had opened her mind to the madness that lurks hidden in the black places of the universe. Ancient beings of unimaginable power, hidden behind the thin protective layer of reality, had spoken to her in whispers that never reached her ears. They assured her that there was no God; that such a benevolent entity would have been consumed by his jealous peers long before the creation of man. No, the universe was a cruel place made to be ruled by those with the will to get what they wanted. Anyone who thought differently was a fool born to be a victim of the powerful.

The banging beyond the door stopped as Margaret’s outstretched hands reached the door. “No,” she moaned. Margaret laid her head on the floor and wept. No tears could be drawn from her desiccated body.

Suddenly, the door shifted to the side. The nearly imperceptible movement was the first sign of life outside of her own breathing that she had experienced since the lights had gone out. Another shift of a quarter inch confirmed that her mind was not playing tricks on her once again. With a shuddering lurch, the door opened enough that a thin crack of light and a precious flow of fresh air, slipped into the sealed chamber.

“Pass the light up here,” a voice beyond the door shouted. It was strong and masculine in the way of a man who worked hard all of his life. It was not at all like the scientists and intellectuals that she spent most of her life dealing with.

“Help me,” Margaret croaked as she reached for the gap in the door. Her hand brushed the light and she was shocked to see her skin stretched tight over delicate bone. Her fingernails no longer topped her fingertips. Only a bloody mess of torn skin and muscle remained at the end of her fingers.

“Holy shit! There’s someone alive in here!” The light grew brighter and Margaret closed her eyes as the sting of it touched them. “Dave, call a medical team. The rest of you guys help get this door open.” The sound of mechanical equipment grinding and tearing at the obstructions on the other side of the door mixed with the grunts and yells of men exerting themselves in an effort to rescue Margaret from her tomb.

The door slid open two more feet, and light flooded the safety room with a brilliance that ignored Margaret’s eyelids. The shock of it proved too much for her, and the world went from bright to dark in a heartbeat as she passed out and slumped to the floor.

Series Navigation<< Beyond the Darkside – Chapter 14

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