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Fanfiction ► Fear Itself

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Darkrooms and safelights
Mar 19, 2005
Sitting inside the viewfinder of a camera, watchin
Well, this was a random English assignment, and now I'm bored, so here it is.

“No … please work, please. C’mon….”

The cell phone answered only with a flashing LOW BATTERY.

“Just one call,” Ana begged, clutching the device in shaking hands. “Please, please.

With the callousness to her fearful pleading that only an inanimate object can provide, the phone went dead, leaving Ana alone on the curb where the bus had left her. Huddled in her coat, her face drawn and pallid under the sickly orange glow of the street light, she choked back a whimper. Ahead of her lay the long walk home through the dark, the road bordered by woods made black and threatening by night. Above the sinister canopy that stretched out over the street was an empty void, a clouded sky showing neither moon nor stars. A recent rain had left the leaves wet and glistening, and they slapped against one another in the wind like the flap of leathery wings. A faint mist muffled the nocturnal noises of the wood, but it could not entirely block out the distant footsteps, or the eerie hoot of an owl.

Ana’s only salvation lay in the circles of light cast by the four dim street lamps that were spread far apart along the road. Between them lay darkness, and fear.

Noctiphobia, Ana thought, a word that had haunted her ever since she was six years old, and all the doctors and psychiatrists that her mother had takenher to in her childhood had said the same thing: Extreme and irrational fear of the dark.

Because of this, Ana always had a flashlight on her. If she couldn’t call her roommate to drive down and pick her up, she would just have to walk.

Ana put away her cell phone and dug in her bag, pulling out her flashlight and holding it gratefully to her before switching it on. The pale spotlight was lost in the street lamp’s circle, reappearing on the outside of it in the black, a comparatively tiny sanctuary. But it was better than nothing. She gripped the narrow handle with both hands, and the beam wavered.

“I’m not afraid,” she told herself between clenched lips, and repeated it over and over to herself like a prayer against the night. Ana sucked in a deep breath and stepped into the darkness.

A terrible shriek pierced the misty air.

Ana screamed. Bag and flashlight fell from her hands and onto the road and she staggered back. The flashlight recoiled once and broke apart, the compartment that held its batteries springing open. She lunged after it, but it was too late: one battery after another rolled down the asphalt and into the drain.

Sobbing, Ana dragged herself back into the circle of lamplight, grabbing hurriedly at her things and putting them back in her bag. The screech had only been an owl, just a stupid owl, she realized now, but it had cost Ana the safety of her flashlight. She had no more batteries with her.

After a while she dried her eyes and looked up, shakily gathering her bag and clutching it to her. She needed something to hold.

“Not afraid,” she muttered to herself again, willing it to be true. “I’m not afraid. It’s just a road, and a bunch of shadows. It can’t hurt me.”

She stood up.

Only fear can hurt you, Ana thought, and shivered. One of her therapists had said that. Or was it her mother, dead these long years? She couldn’t remember.

Well, whoever it was, they had been right. She teetered on the edge of light and darkness, steeling herself, repeating her mantra, as familiar and worn as an old sweater. I’m not afraid. She knew it better than her own name.

She stepped into the darkness for the second time.

Ana felt the well-known freeze of panic, the fight-or-flight rush that too often told her to simply run. But she had nowhere to run to now: all around was fear. So she clenched her fists and took one step after the other: unsteady, timid steps, but progress all the same.

I am not afraid of the dark.

(Shadows everywhere-)

One foot followed the other. I am not afraid of the dark.
It was so cold.

I am not afraid of the dark.

It was almost as if the night were a living thing: Ana felt it breathing all around her, and shuddered from its embrace.

I am not afraid of the dark.

(You are … you are-)

(Come with us-)

“No … no….

“I’m not afraid!”

And the darkness seemed to swallow up her voice and spit it back at her, twisted and mangled: Afraidafraidafraid?

A sibilant hiss in her ear, like a demon riding on her shoulder. But of course, there had always been a demon there, four of them, and their names were Notciphobia, Hemophobia, Trypanophiba, Necrophobia.

Desperately Ana cast her eyes straight ahead, not daring to look around her: the next street lamp was only twenty yards away, surely she could make it?

If only her demons would let her be.

(We’ve always been here-)

Ana staggered blindly forward, hands clasped to her ears. “LEAVE ME ALONE!”

(-and we always will be)

The darkness was laughing.

(Little girl-)

The light was so close-

(-you can’t be rid of yourself)

Ana broke into a run, coat flying, and plunged into the sanctuary of the second street lamp.

She fell to her knees in the center of the circle of light, sobbing again, arms wrapped around herself. Those mocking voices seemed to immediately stop, and she was left with the silence of her own soul once more.

“I can’t do this,” she wept, rubbing her tear-streaked face with ungentle hands. “I am afraid, I am, I admit it!”

She could stay there, wait for perhaps a lucky car to pass by, or just for the dawn.
But oh how she wanted to be home.

If I have to stay here all night, I’ll go mad.

The choice was clear: she had to keep on.

When she stood up again, Ana no longer prayed for her own courage. All she wanted now was just for her feet to untangle themselves and bear her swiftly to that next street lamp in the distance.

She began walking.

The darkness was still unfriendly, still cruel, but silent now. The only sounds were her own soft footsteps, the occasional skitter of semi-dry leaves blowing down the road, the rasp of the forest. All was quiet.

…or was it?

Faintly, so that at first Ana didn’t even believe she was hearing anything, there seemed to be the trickle of water sounding from an elusive somewhere, a slight but incessant rushing. She stopped dead in her tracks, and hesitantly looked around.


Ana averted her gaze again, started to take another step-

-and screamed.

Pooling on the asphalt, creeping towards her, was a flood of black-red liquid, thick and gleaming in the dark. She knew what it was.

(Hemophobia, a doctor was saying in her memory, extreme and irrational fear of blood-)

Ana scrambled to turn around, crying out again as she saw the rivulets of blood approaching her from all sides. Like some horribly sentient creature, it touched against her white sneakers, tentatively at first, and then with gathering certainty. It stained her shoes, her socks, hot and sticky against her skin. It bubbled and writhed, and splattered upon her tiny red droplets and she ran, shrieking and half-insane with terror.

It was as she had instinctively expected: the circle of the third street lamp was untainted, free from the liquid mass. It was only the relief that the welcome sight gave her that brought Ana’s mind back from madness, and she fell, half-covered in blood into the light.

Ana shrieked, over and over again, shedding her blood-stained coat and throwing it out into the darkness, covering her head with her hands and whimpering. She would not go on, now more than ever she knew she had to stay there, in the comforting haven of man-made illumination, until the true light of morning banished away her fears.

But her demons had other ideas.

She felt a tentacle of hot, sticky blood touch her ankle, and she leapt nearly out of her skin, scrambling back from it. With horror, she saw that the blood was advancing into her circle, slowly but surely. All thought was banished from her mind. She pushed herself to her feet and ran again.

Ana stumbled through the dark, looking constantly over her shoulder as she made her way further from the third street light. The blood, she saw with relief, had stopped its mindless pursuit.

“Almost home,” she whispered. One more street light, one more stretch of darkness, and she would see her neighborhood, and the first house that was hers. She could go to sleep in her bed, in her well-lit room, and wake up from this nightmare.


Ana started involuntary at the sound that had come from the opposite side of the street. She couldn’t see anything in the darkness. No matter. It was just something from the woods, some animal, a raccoon, or that stupid owl, nothing could be worse than that wave of blood…

Click-click, click-click-click.

Ana hurried toward the next light. So close, so far.


It was a series of malevolent skitters now, and she felt the beginnings of terror again. Something was following her.

(That sound brought back a memory, of wheels ticking over the gleaming linoleum down a hospital corridor-)

This time, Ana couldn’t even scream.

It was a mass of gleaming silver and white, metal and plastic and sinister pointed edges, just as she remembered. Something vaguely human-shaped was dragging itself slowly towards her, creating the click-click of needles against the asphalt. For that was what the creature was made of, all hypodermic needles growing together, limbs and body. It raised a jagged, pointed, misshaped arm towards her, and she saw that there was blood in two syringes, rolling wetly at her like sightless eyes.

(Trypanophobia, Ana, is an extreme and irrational fear of needles-)

In her began an inhuman, wordless wail, and she moved without even thinking, yearning for the light, knowing this thing would hesitate before it like the others-

Fight-or-flight. She ran again.

The click-click of its drags followed her, worse than the blood, incessant and maddening. She wanted to stop dead right there, leave it all, but the thought of that thing catching her was not to be bourn.

Crying again in terror, she lunged into the fourth light of the street lamp and clung to its post like an anchor. It was real, it was solid, it was a sign of humanity, not some tortured phantasm from her mind. Ana clenched her eyes and wept, and did not hear the creature following her.

Far off, so close, she saw her house, the windows glowing with a buttery-yellow warmth. Safety. Home. In her panic, she had to get there.

Seemingly of their own accord, her feet brought her out of the circle of lamplight for the last time.

(noctiphobia, hemophobia, typanophobia-)

Ana never consciously thought about it, but she knew what was next.


She let out a quiet moan of despair.

(Her mother’s voice as it had been in those last weeks at the hospital, pained and raspy and weak, and she had hated and feared it-)

She appeared as suddenly as a candle flame in the darkness.

Her hospital gown shone as white as a beacon, as if she was lit from within. But the hem of the soft cloth was ragged, and squirming threads trailed past her knees; maroon spots of dried blood stained the front of the gown. Her brown hair was stiff and knotted, the tangles looking like somnolent spiders with too many legs. The rest of her was even more terrifying.

(Your mother has necrotizing fasciitis, Ana-)

Her mother’s skin had sloughed off, like the dead husk of a snake, but there was no new, healthy layer underneath. Instead it was a nightmare of blood and muscle, raw and black, tinged with infection. It was something no human should have to see, that of the inside of their body while they were yet living. Her lips were split and cracked, and blood dribbled down them to join the older stains. Her eyes were completely red, vessels burst and the sockets ringed by signs of the bacteria that had eventually killed her.

(In plain words, it’s called the skin-eating disease-)

Ana’s mother outstretched her arms in a mockery of tenderness, her mouth spreading wide in something that could not be a smile. Her teeth were wet and spurted more blood from between them.

“Come to me, darling,” she rasped. Paralyzed, Ana could only tremble as one emaciated finger reached out and stroked her cheek.

“No,” she moaned, as the smell of death and decay reached her from her mother’s breath. “Mama, no, you’re dead, you’re not real, don’t...."

“You’re going to leave me again, like you did at the hospital, aren’t you!?” Her mother’s voice rose to a screeching pitch, like the sound of rusty hinges opening. “Your own mother, you couldn’t bear to give her comfort as her own body rotted....”

“I’m sorry!” Ana sobbed, recoiling back from that cold contact, pleading, her mind gibbering in fear. “I didn’t, I couldn’t, don’t, no, please, let me go home let me go home home home home I’m afraid….”

“Never, Ana. Never. You belong to the darkness.”

And her mother reached out her ravaged arms and took hold of her incoherent daughter. At her touch, Ana’s skin blanched, grayed, rotted, letting white bone peek through: her hair withered, her nails cracked, and her flesh crumbled until she was a decomposing corpse in her mother’s embrace.


“No … no … Mama, no, NO, NO, NO! LET ME GO HOME!”

And Ana thrashed, strapped down to the hospital bed, in the asylum where she had resided since the day her mother had died, sixteen years ago.
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Tyler Durden

Entertaining, and I think it is well written.

I find myself curious about the grade, however; some teachers would give that an extremely low score.


Who's that girl?
Jun 4, 2005
Northern IL
Whoo! That was pretty intense, not gonna lie. Your word choice is orgasmic, as always, and I love your crazy structure. Like, I mean the literal, visible structure of the sentences.

Sweet deal.


Vampire Fish
Jan 1, 2005
Fleet Street
Aw, Amme.

You had me waiting for a vampire to jump out. I would have liked that. :3

But the Needle Monster o' Death. Well. Certainly didn't see that one coming. Clevar. I don't know what the hell I'd do if I saw that. My fears have been made flesh!

Well. Glass and metal. Whatever.

Very well written, as usual. Lovely vocab and tone. I swear, if I have a nightmare about NeedleMonsters, you won't see writing from me any time soon. >:/

Mason Stark

May 12, 2004
Gravity Falls, OR
Wowwwww. That's definitely intense.

I especially like the part with random blood spewing up, but that's just because I'm weird. D: That, or I just like the parts where she's running between the lights and her nightmares are coming up like crazy.

VERY well written. I love this. 83
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