Fugue Refugee: Voices
She knew it was impossible to get away, but it didn’t stop her from trying.
Still, even when she was running her fastest, she felt as if her legs were carrying her nowhere. The dark nothingness followed her no matter how far she thought she had gone.
And the voices only drew in closer.
She kept running, ignoring the surreal ache of her muscles and the growing weight of each breath she took. She was too stubborn and too afraid to stop, but she knew it wouldn’t be long before her legs gave way and her body would be too weak to continue.
But if the exhaustion wouldn’t end her, the fear would. Physical pain, she could ignore, but fear itself diminished the very courage needed to fight it away. It was like hands were slowly closing around her heart, tightening with each whisper the voices uttered.
They were getting louder.
She willed herself to go faster, to go farther. It didn’t help; with each useless step, the world only felt smaller around her. A sudden tightness in her chest made her feel like her lungs were being pressed flat. She took deeper breaths, but there was no air to breathe.
She was suffocating.
Gasping for breath, she finally fell to her knees. With gleeful malice, the voices swooped down on her, surrounding her like any animal would their prey. She couldn’t move, bound by cords and ropes that weren’t there. She struggled, but even then she knew there was no way to escape an evil she couldn’t see.
They were screaming now. The chaotic din of their words pierced her ears, filling all of her with their wretched presence. Unable to shut them out or wish them away, she lay defenseless on the ground hoping they would get tired and decide to leave. She hoped even if she knew they never would.
She would be alone with them forever.
Suddenly, unseen hands grasped both her shoulders and shook her vigorously. The indecipherable whispers in her ears became one voice, saying only one word.
The voices stopped speaking all together. In the blissful silence, she felt her fear turn to relief. She inhaled the sweet air that was suddenly there.
The hands shook her shoulders again. Hannah! the one voice repeated.
Instead of fear, the word brought her relief. It was her name.
She opened her eyes.
She woke up, sweating and gasping for air. Her heart was still racing but a warm hand on her shoulder told her she was safe.
“It’s all right, Hannah.” His voice chased away the phantom ringing in her ears. “It’s all right. You were just having a bad dream.”
She turned towards his voice and buried her face in his chest. His arms wrapped around her body, and a soothing hand ran through her hair.
“Want to talk about it?”
Hannah shook her head, unwilling to relive it all.
A few more minutes of comforting words and gestures were all it took for her to fall asleep once more. Safe in his arms, she spent the rest of the night in a peaceful, dreamless slumber.
The next morning, the nightmare was only a forgotten memory.