You're already bored. Your friend, Janis, brought you to The Rabbit Hole's annual party—an invite-only affair—and then promptly disappeared into the throngs of people dressed up in costumes you don't really understand.
You were told the theme was to dress like your 'favourite fictional character'—which most of the partygoers are, from what you can tell, and you're dressed as Sailor Mars for the occasion. But many of the people around you are dressed in Batman costumes. As far as you know, Batman is very much alive, and the costumes range from the really well done—only their smiling faces and reek of booze separating them from being the real thing—to the rip-off brand kind that looks like it’s made with lycra. Your confusion grows when you see a few wearing Scarecrow masks.
I guess the holiday brings out the strange in people.
Standing off to the side, the loud music deafening you and intense heat from all the dancing bodies making you sweat, you take a drink from your cocktail. It’s orange—the bartender said it was a…. Well, it was something about pumpkins. To you, it just tastes like a flat orange-flavoured soda.
“Are you a Powerpuff Girl?” a man asks, slurring badly, to your right. He’s wearing a cowboy costume of some kind, but you have no idea who he’s supposed to be.
“What?” you question, hoping you heard him wrong. Yout put a lot of effort into your costume, but you feel self-conscious, pulling on the skirt and adjusting the circlet.
“Isn’t that what they’re called?” The man gets close enough that you can smell the beer on his breath. You draw away from him.
Janis, where’d you go?
Looking into the crowd and not seeing your friend—who was meant to be dressed as Sailor Jupiter but came as some sort of Star Wars character in a bikini instead—you edge back along the wall. You’re trying to make an easy exit, not really feeling like having to explain what Sailor Moon is, but he follows you, too drunk to see your very apparent disinterest.
“Come on, it’s cute,” he shouts over the noise. He looks unsteady on his feet and waves his drink around as he smirks at you.
You smile awkwardly but don’t answer, backing up instead closer to the exit. Even before he started talking to you, you’ve been wanting to leave anyway. Pulling out your phone from your small side clutch, you start texting Janis.
At least she’ll know where I went if she finally remembers that she brought me to begin with…
“Hey, don’t ignore me.”
The man from before grabs you by the arm, twisting you around roughly. You try pulling away but he holds on tight.
“Let go,” you say, attempting to stay calm. Thinking of the line-up of movies at home and the ice cream waiting in your freezer, you just want this night to be over.
The man stares at your face and seems to realize what he’s doing. Releasing you, embarrassment breaks through his alcohol-induced haze. “S-Sorry,” he says, but you ignore him, pushing past a gathering group to leave.
When you get to the door, one of the people dressed in Scarecrow’s mask stands in the way, his body hidden by a long trench coat. The small hairs along your spine rise.
“Um, can you move, please?”
The man in the mask doesn’t say anything, only turns his head to stare at you, his eyes black pits that sink into the burlap. You feel yourself start to sweat.
“I—I just want to leave,” you say.
Pushing away from the door, he picks up a bag at his feet. But he doesn’t let you move around him, instead he keeps getting closer to you, backing you up until you almost run into the group you passed a minute before.
“And miss the party?” the man in the mask says. His voice is deep and gravelly, inhuman and guttural. You flinch when he raises his hand, just catching a glimpse of something silver, and to throw something behind you into the crowd. “It’s just getting started.”
Screams erupt in the club, wails of terror and confusion. The man in the mask rolls other canisters under the feet of the partygoers, and the sound of the shrieks only grows as something like smoke rises and starts to fill the packed dance floor.
Pushing past the man in the trench coat, you go to the door, pressing and pulling on it. Janis is back there somewhere, but you need to get out and find help—this is Gotham, and something like this is beyond your ability to do anything for. No matter how hard you try to move the door, it doesn’t open.
It’s locked—you’re trapped in here—
All the people behind you are tearing at one another, their eyes wild but unseeing. You think you see blood—long wet streaks that run down their bodies. It’s hard for you not to start screaming, too.
The man in the trench coat stands in the middle of it all, raising his arms like a conductor of the symphony of terror he’s orchestrated, and you need to get out.
“Come on, come on!” you say, panic making your voice high. You’re shoving your body against the door, but it won’t move.
“Fear reveals the truth, Gotham. Erodes your self-control.”
The voice is coming from the loudspeakers above, mixing with the electronic music until it’s that inhuman voice mingled with the sound of nails on a chalkboard. You cover your ears as it seems to pierce through your eardrum like a lance.
“Oh, not to worry, everyone. You’re not dying—well, not all of you. It just feels like you are.”
You really do let out a scream, bracing your shoulder and shoving against the wooden door as hard as you can.
“My toxin is filling your lungs, drowning you in your greatest fear.”
The other people who were on the dance floor—the ones who still seem able to think, are heading towards you, desperate to get out, too. Some are dragged back by the hair, being cut with broken bottles. The terror starts to make you go blind, but you hold your breath tight in your lungs, hoping you can keep your mind from losing it like the others. Your head quickly starts to throb, the urge to inhale almost insurmountable.
“An amazing formula, really. It acts on that part of the brain that harbours the ego, that dark, primal corner where lies our baser selves," the voice trails off, but the screams and snarls only grow louder, drowning out the microphone feedback, "and deepest fears.”
Giving the door one last shove, it bursts open. Breathing in big gulps of fresh air, you run. More lines of people aren’t far behind you, and you need to get away.
“Remember, there’s nothing to fear but fear itself!”
The voice follows you out, twisting around and whispering in one ear to shout in the other.
Air biting and cold, it tears into you, eating through your sheer tights and making your skin crack open. You don’t look down—you don’t want to see the blood that’s surely running down your arms and legs. Something comes with the cold, worms under your skin—into the cracks you feel forming—wriggling and burrowing deep. The lights around you dim, dispersing and then appearing further down the path.
You’re not sure where you are—the sidewalk keeps elongating, taking you down a dark tunnel that you can’t see the end of. It’s not until you fall that you realize you’re not moving—you’re stuck, feet rooted and sinking in wet cement. You know you’re going to keep being pulled down until it’s up to your neck, and then you’ll have to feel the thick, wet cement going down your throat—sealing your airway shut and making you descend into the earth.
No one will hear you—no one will miss you.
The world twists as your heart stops, and you keep going lower and lower.
You’re sinking and you’re going to die.
Trying to move your legs forward doesn’t work, and when you look ahead you see a multitude of red eyes peering at you through the opening of the tunnel, inching closer.
“No, no! Get away, stay away!—” you shriek, but you're sucked in further and the eyes come closer, the sound of maws snapping, growls and yelps of something hungry. Sobs wrack you but you can’t make them stop—they’re expanding your chest, only getting bigger until you know you’re about to burst—
“Well, hello there.”
The sinking stops, the eyes stay at a distance. You can breathe again, air coming in and filling your lungs.
“G-Get away—get away from me, please—” you say, too afraid to look at what’s speaking. But you don’t want the things in the dark to come closer either. Shaking so hard your teeth chatter, something warm touches your back as the world vibrates at a frequency that hurts. “Please, d-don’t hurt me.”
“Shh, shh, shh,” the voice says, but you still can’t look.
There’s a chuckle behind you, and the warmth on your back rubs up and down. The things under your skin calm, your veins stop swimming across your muscles. You’re crying hard but manage to catch your breath.
“Hey, hey now—what has you all up in a, ah, tizzy, hmm?” the voice asks. The chuckle you heard before turns into a giggle. “Ah, Johnny’s been having some fun.”
Unable to speak, you manage to turn toward the voice. The wet cement has loosened its grip on your legs, and you look up at the figure towering over you.
You think it’s a man, and he’s smiling sweetly at you. He’s wearing a bright coat—it’s purple and it sticks out against the pulsing black that’s on the edges, waiting to crush you back down. His eyes are large and brown, and they distract you from the red lights hiding behind him.
You remember—somewhere in the back of your head—that he asked you a question, but you can’t seem to be able to make yourself speak; it’s like your tongue disappeared, your lips sewn shut. The panic makes your skin itch, the suffocating black coming closer—
“Wait, don’t tell me that’s a, uh, Sailor Mars costume,” he says, both hands going to your shoulders.
Drawing back, he looks at you up and down, eyes lingering on the big purple bow on your chest. He starts humming something, but you can’t really tell what it’s supposed to be. You recognize parts of the Sailor Moon theme song, but there are so many other additions you can’t be sure. He stops abruptly, eyes rolling up and mouth twisting to the side before breaking out into a smile.
“Can’t lie, sweetheart—she was one of my favourites. Always had good taste,” he says, pointing to the purple ribbon and tapping the red heart in its centre.
You faintly remember putting it on, how long you took to do your hair, making sure the circlet sat just right against your forehead. You also remember how disappointed you were that Janis didn’t wear hers.
Am… am I missing something?
But the man’s smiling at you, and it makes the oppressive thoughts go away. It's almost contagious, and you feel oddly glad that he recognized your costume when no one else did. You find yourself smiling, too.
“See, that’s better, ain’t it?”
You nod. It is better. Light seems to come out from around his head, but it’s like his face is shifting—going too fast for your eyes to track properly. The only thing that stays constant is the smile—it feels reassuring. But there’s something else there, something you don’t know how to name.
“Don’t you just have a beautiful smile,” he says. A quick feeling of heat passes over your lips, making you lean closer as you shiver. “Such a… shame.”
As soon as he was there kneeling over you, he’s gone. Your head spins, and darkness floods in from where the colour was before. Your vision starts to go black; the tugging on your legs starts again.
“W-Wait!” you cry, finding your voice and your mouth finally able to open. The man was the only thing keeping the night’s terrors back, and you’re desperate—you don’t want to be dragged back down, be torn apart and eaten alive. “Don’t leave—”
“Hmm?” the man says, dropping back down in front of you so quickly that you yelp and scramble away. He laughs again, and it sounds like… some kind of music. You just can’t tell what kind. “What, you, ah… you lookin’ for some company?”
“I—I—” Your voice cuts out, seems to die in your throat, disappearing like your tongue did before. His eyes help you think again, the only steady thing in a constantly shifting landscape, warm brown against a sea of black. “I don’t—don’t want to be alone,” you say, finding your voice at last.
His smile gets wider. Sweeter.
“I ain’t gonna hurt ya,” he says. An eye narrows, head tilting to the side. “What, don’t believe Mr. J?”
Mr. J? Is… that his name?
Something in the air changes, the wriggling under your skin starts again—seems to push until it feels like your skin will split. You need him to stay, you need him to believe you.
“N-No, I do—it’s just—just—”
“You’re scared?” he interrupts.
You vaguely feel your head bobbing up and down in agreement.
“You wanna be, ah, safe?”
You nod again, hot streaks of something burning—burning like acid—roll down your cheeks.
“Follow me,” he sings, shooting to his feet and pulling you up along with him.
There are snarls coming from behind you. Heart beating fast, they come so close you know you’re going to be torn apart. A bright blue flash—quick as lightning—makes you look up. You see the moon, but it’s not right. It was illuminated white, but now it’s blooming into scarlet, throwing the world into an ocean of red. You forget how to breathe, your chest getting tight as jaws snap at your side, getting closer until—
“Oh, come on. Don’t be a tease, doll.”
You’re twisted around, a hand snaking along your waist. Mr. J is staring at you expectantly, something darting along his lips and widening his smile. It’s red, too—red like the moon. Something in your stomach is burning but your skin feels like ice.
“Do you want me to hurt you?” Mr. J asks.
Shaking your head, you shiver hard, unconsciously drawing closer to him. His head drops to the side, turning the grin with it as his eyes focus somewhere else. Something’s wrong, but you can’t tell what it is. You just need him to take you away from here—keep back the monsters.
“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.”
He’s walking down a new path that forms in front of you. Great slabs of concrete shake under his feet, getting ready to fall. You rush forward, the ground rumbling and making you stumble. As you walk forward, the path behind you drops into a black void, swallowed by the shadows.
Something dark and hulking hurdles out of the wall of black, barely missing you and making you scream. You’re forced to go forward, to keep following close behind Mr. J in his purple coat—the only thing not distorted by the red blanket that consumes the light.
Voices whisper beside you, but you can’t make out the words. They grow louder, more insistent, until they become screams—shouting all of your mistakes for the world to hear. You cover your ears again, remembering.
'It acts on that part of the brain that harbours the ego, that dark, primal corner where lies our baser selves…’
It’s that same distorted sound, deep and inhuman—becoming the voice of a demon. It sears into your mind, its meanings something you can’t grasp. The screams turn into shrieks, ear-splitting and bone-shaking.
Too much—this is too much—
Hands pull yours from your face, and all you see are those big eyes and smile. The screaming stops, banished back to whispering.
“Ha ha ha.” It doesn’t sound like a laugh to you. His chin dips toward his chest, eyes going up and down your body to land on your lips. Time seems to slow, the edges of the world blurring. “Johnny really got you good, didn’t he?”
He doesn’t seem to be talking to you, more musing to himself. A blue flicker—a flashing back and forth—makes his face go in and out of focus, transposing the image of a man with a Glasgow smile carved into his cheeks over the one in front of you. You shut your eyes, mind struggling to keep up. Everything is overwhelming, ears ringing and then muffling like you’re dropping fifty feet.
You’re being shaken, head lolling to the side, but you obey. Your eyes open, the two images still flickering like static—red to blue and sometimes stopping in the middle to form the purple of his jacket.
“Eyes on me, hmm?”
His thumb runs over your bottom lip, and something like a growl comes out of his throat. The longer you stare, the more the flickering fades, until the image of the scarred man goes back into the shadows with the rest of the horrors.
His face looks… ethereal to you. Pleasant and smiling. Kind and full of something that looks like desire. The heat in your chest spreads out, lighting a small fire in the bottom of your stomach and coiling under your skin.
Too much… I just want this to stop.
You feel confused, the world starts to spin and blur everything but him. He makes the fear stop—the pain that’s boiling in you.
When he leans in, you meet him the rest of the way, eager to feel the warmth of his body. His hands feel nice—how they trace along your arms, squeeze your ribs as he pulls you closer.
You press into him harder. Something about his mouth feels different. It’s… corded and thick, spreading out to fan along your cheeks. You pull back but he follows your movements, kissing you again, his tongue moving along your lips.
It all feels like a dream to you, blocking out everything that was overwhelming.
Your heartbeat picks up, rattling in your chest to the point you think it might burst. It’s like there are a hundred needles piercing your skin, stinging before turning into stabs of something you haven’t felt before.
And you like it.
He groans into your mouth when your tongue touches his, his hands working in your hair and cupping your jaw, keeping you close and unable to pull away. And you don’t want to—you want it to stay this way, for the pain to turn into something else.
Small pulses of pleasure mingle with the slivers worming under your skin, electricity arcing through you until every nerve feels alive in a way you haven’t experienced before. It pools further in your stomach, awakening something you didn’t even know was sleeping.
It takes you back to another time, bringing up a memory of the taste of ginger and honey. Smoke, acrid and biting, break through—but his lips pull at yours, gently biting.
Your mind gets lost in itself, even as he pins you against something cold yet warm, a hand—-you think it’s a hand—holds your waist, a thumb tracing along the line of your stomach. There’s pressure against your chest, and you faintly register the ribbon on the front of your outfit being undone. A small heat grows between your legs, but you ignore it. You don’t know why, but you don’t want to feel that here.
But then his kissing becomes more urgent, longing and desire mix with something else.
Everything becomes confusing, you don’t remember how you ended up here, only that you were afraid—and are starting to feel that again. It seeps into you like a damp chill. The hand at your chest trails down, grabbing your ass and bringing your hips forward until you feel something hard against your stomach. It’s only then that you pull away and shove his chest.
You’re out of breath and it feels like every nerve is burning—you’ve never been kissed like that—have never kissed anyone like that—in your entire life.
You need to think…
The world tilts on its side, red moon rising and growing larger. All around you, the shadows melt, pooling down and collecting at your feet. You feel them probing your legs, sliding past the ladders in your stockings and going into the cuts—flooding your veins. It’s so cold that it feels like you’re burning alive. You whimper and shake, and Mr. J starts laughing.
“Don’t tell me you wanna leave,” he says.
You look at his face and try to scream, but you lose your voice again. The other version is back—the one with the scars and hollow eyes. His hand cups your jaw, moving to push your hair behind your ear. He’s laughing, the sound so deep it seems to be coming from all around you. You feel yourself shrinking, and he looms over you.
“Oh, sweetheart,” his eyes roll up and he laughs under his breath, amused at your newfound terror, “you’re not, uh, goin’ anywhere.”
“Wha-t?” he asks, smile widening until it looks like a slavering maw—cruel and biting. “D’you think I’m the, ah… big bad wolf?”
As if his words held some kind of power, his face seems to transform—teeth elongating until they look like they could tear you apart, his eyes going from golden brown to black.
Vicious—that’s how he looks.
“You know what wolves do, doll?” he asks, voice going low.
Coming closer, you’re pinned against a wall and the cage his body makes around you. Leaning on one hand against the wall, the other snatches your chin with his free hand. The grin splits his face, and the shadows invading your body keep you frozen.
I—I don’t understand—
“Can ya take a guess?”
You can’t even shake your head, but that doesn’t matter. He leans in close, lips inches from yours, his breath thawing the chill in your cheeks. You whimper again, and the smile turns into a frown. He mimics the sound you just made before giggling.
“No?” he asks, hand squeezing tighter.
That burning feeling on your cheeks—you think it’s tears—comes back, searing a trail as they fall. Leaning in close, he licks them and purrs. You can’t move your arms but his drop down and something touches your thigh—feather-light and jolting.
“I’m. Gonna. Eat. You.”
Pulling at your hair, he kisses you like he’s trying to devour you—biting your lips so hard you’re sure they’re bleeding, and he seems determined to tear chunks of your hair from the root. You still can’t move—can’t take in a breath of air—can’t push him away.
But the shadows have other ideas.
They force your hands up and they run through his hair, make you press your chest hard against the hard lines of his. The fire ignites inside you, the heat between your legs growing. You can’t stop yourself from clasping his bottom lip between yours and biting just as hard as he does.
He leans back, gripping your hips. Your hands leave his hair and go down his back, pulling him towards you. He lets out a grunt of surprise and pleasure, his hands moving down to squeeze your ass and pull up your skirt.
When you move, he grabs your throat, pinning you in place. It’s only faintly that you hear fabric ripping, and more of your legs are exposed to the cool reach of the shadows. They move you like you’re a puppet, but the pleasure from before warps your mind—takes away the ability to think.
“Hmm, I was right.” He breaks away and your mind goes blank. You want to run, but nothing obeys; you only shake and whimper incoherently. You don’t even know for what—to leave you alone or hold you tighter. “You’re the sweetest candy of ‘em all.”
It’s not until he attacks your mouth again that you notice he took off his coat, that the bright purple’s been replaced with green. He’s unbuttoning his shirt, exposing a line of tan skin. The ocean of red swallows everything until he’s the only thing that’s real. The shadows make it so.
The bow covering your chest is gone, and he pulls down the front of your top, exposing your bra. Your hands don’t let you move to cover them or pull the fabric up—instead, they cling to his shoulders, the whimpers of fear becoming ones of want.
“You are so…” he trails off. A finger lands on your chin and traces down your throat, exploring your collar bones before drawing down your breastbone and landing at the thin line of fabric of your unlined bra. “Beautiful,” he breathes.
The heat consumes you entirely, arching your back when he traces along the side of your breast. He laughs lowly, hands going to the back of your thighs and pulling your legs up until they wrap around him. Kissing you again, nothing else matters. Your blood’s humming, pulsing in your ears and your heart about to give out—your legs grip him tightly, pressing your spine into the hard edges against your back.
“I think I really like you,” he says, mouth against your neck.
Hips moving back at the pressure coming from his groin, something warm rests against your inner thigh. It’s only absently that you hear metal clanking together, feel a shifting between your legs.
“I think I just might wanna keep you, ah… forever.”
A hand fists in your hair and tugs, but instead of feeling pain it feels good. The other hand goes from gripping your thigh to moving between them, cupping you and pulling your hips into alignment. He chuckles against your skin, teeth nipping and pulling. You hear a moan and get a headrush when you realize it came from your throat. His finger runs along the length of your slit and you shiver and hold him harder.
“Oh, you like that idea, hmm?”
You can’t make anything comprehensible come out of your mouth but, to your horror, you feel yourself nodding. He laughs again, kissing your jaw. Hands digging into his back like talons, you almost scream for a different reason when he pulls your panties to the side.
“J-Just—hang on for… for a second—” you pant.
Biting your ear, you feel a pressure against your entrance and he pushes into you with a grunt.
“It’s a perfect fit… I think.”
He pushes himself in further when he says it, letting out a groan of satisfaction as the last few inches disappear inside you, making you yelp and hold him tighter as every part of you shivers at the feeling.
“There’s a good girl,” he snarls. You moan with him as your body arches with an arc of electricity that sets your nerves on fire.
Clinging to him like a lifeline, the heat inside you blurs what’s the shadows work and what’s your own desire. You’re not sure if you want to know.
“That’s it, that’s it—”
He’s grunting, one hand squeezing a breast and the other gripping your hip in a vise. The red falls away, turning gold. It hurts—how fast he’s going. But some other part of you likes it that way. Your head’s pressing against his shoulder, teeth digging into your punctured lips so that the pain mixes with the delectation.
Alternating between screaming and moaning, he brings you to the edge of madness before slowing, tugging you back—always keeping up the feeling but not spilling over into completion. You’re writhing; legs clamping around his hips and keeping him close as yours move when you don’t want them to.
You don’t know how long he’s been doing this, but it feels so good you never want it to stop. He’s started building you up again and you’re almost sobbing for him to let you cum.
“You want more?” he asks, breathing heavy and laboured, sweat mixing with yours when your foreheads press together.
“Y-Yes—please,” you force out. His smile widens but he slows, making you whine.
“Not yet, not yet, not yet,” he chides, grunting in between pants. With a fierce effort of will, he stops moving inside you. Crying out, you try to grind against him but he grabs your throat again, keeping you still. “Not. Yet.”
Shoving something cold in your hand, you look down and see something silver and sharpened to a wicked tip. Guiding you, he brings it to his bare chest, making it kiss his skin and weep blood. You try to draw away, but he pushes the knife in deeper. His eyes roll to the back of his head and he growls, smacking his lips before his gaze bores into you.
“Just like that, sweetheart,” he whispers, pushing deeper inside you as you drag the blade down. “Just. Like. That.”
He starts moving again, pushing your shoulders back and bringing your hips forward. It feels completely different, and your mind barely works anymore. But he keeps the grip on your hand, squeezing your wrist in a reminder. You drag the edge of the knife down, making a new cut, and he slams into you as a reward.
You’re getting closer to losing your mind. “M-Mr. J—please, please...”
You can’t say anything else, just closing your eyes and panting. Your legs around his hips are the only thing keeping you upright, his thumb pushing against your clit as he grips the crescent of your hip.
Blood runs down his chest in streams; the shadows and feeling of him inside you, twisting your body and burning you inside, bring you close again. You’re desperate, you want to feel release. It’s something that shames you as much as it drives through and overtakes everything else in your being. Your free hand finds its way into his hair, pulling yourself closer to him and holding on for dear life.
“Please—ah!—please let me—”
Your begging pleas spark something savage in him, and you don’t think you can take it. The knife digs in deeper into his chest until his teeth grind together, pushing against the blade to sink it a little further. You don’t think you can take it, the burning that’s ready to consume you. You want him to stop, you do, it can’t be possible to feel like this. It can’t be real.
Suddenly you’re screaming. Hands are tangled in your hair and you’re choking with the need for air that your screeching throat can’t accommodate. Your body convulses, abdominal muscles contracting and nearly folding you in two. You’re sure you're going to pass out, sure you’re going to die as the sensation just keeps building and building.
With one final scream, you collapse against his chest, body going limp, barely even aware of him until you feel him throb and empty into you. His body shakes and quivers, holding you so tight you think you’ll die like that—in the embrace of a demon.
Your legs are too weak to hold yourself up and he almost drops you when every muscle goes slack, all the tension leaving them. An arm goes around you and holds you close, and you feel your eyes starting to droop.
Too much… this is too much.
The shadows leave the way they came, making you lightheaded as they take the red with them. Bleeding backward as if time were reversing, it goes back to the moon as the white light stabs at your eyes.
Sleep… just need to sleep. This isn’t real… not real.
You faintly register that someone is stroking your hair, rubbing your back.
“What am I gonna do with you, hmm?”
Not caring anymore, your eyes close and the darkness you so badly wanted to escape swallows you.
“I’ll, ah… be seeing you soon.”
You bolt upright, panic closing your throat—and you can’t see. Falling off something high, you smack your head against something hard but can’t move—you’re caught in something that tangles around your limbs.
“Get away from me!”
You scramble back, remembering the blind fear—the masks and screaming, the choking and the sinking, being so certain you were being sucked into the earth. The world turning red as creatures waited in the dark, waiting for the last of the light to disappear to devour you.
But you’re eyes are open now, and you see that you’re in your room. The thick, light blue comforter that you’ve had since freshman year is wrapped around you. There is no sound apart from the familiar noise of traffic just outside your apartment window. Breathing a sigh of relief, you inhale the smell of your perfume coming from your oversized pyjama shirt.
What happened? All of that was a dream, right?
A chill goes down your spine. You’re not even sure what day it is. Or how you got back to your apartment.
What’s the last thing you remember? Come on…
A memory—vivid and visceral makes you shake, but you shove it away. It couldn’t have been real. Couldn’t.
“Find your phone, see what day it is.”
Getting up off the floor, you leave your room and head to the living area. You’re almost in your kitchen when you see you left the TV on.
But I don’t remember doing that either…
It’s on mute and playing the news. The banner underneath has you scrambling to grab the remote and turn the volume up.
“—Police are still accounting for the missing after last night’s attack. Jonathan Crane—known by his alias “Scarecrow”—has been arrested for the deaths of over forty people and domestic terrorism after coordinating attacks on Halloween parties all over Gotham City. To check to see if a loved one or friend has been found by the GCPD, please call—”
You stop listening, a loud ringing blocks out everything else.
That can’t be true. It can’t be.
If that’s true, then that meant other things could be, too.
You back away from the TV like it might explode and search for your clutch. The Sailor Mars costume—the party at the Rabbit Hole with Janis—it’s starting to come back. You need your phone. You need someone to tell you that nothing happened. That you didn’t go out last night.
No matter where you look, you don’t find your costume or your bag. Awareness comes back to your body, making you realize that you’re sore, that you have bruises around your hips, arms, and legs.
No, no, no—
You’re remembering the face of what you now realize was a clown. But not just any clown. Your stomach twists.
It’s not until you look under your bag that you find a present wrapped in orange paper with a purple bow. Hesitating, you pull it out and sit on the floor. Gently pulling on the bow, you realize it’s the one from your Sailor Mars costume.
Your throat gets thick as you unwrap it, taking off the lid to see your phone. It’s dead, so you set it aside as the bad feeling in your stomach grows and reality draws its hand back to slap you across the face.
Underneath your phone is a purple leather glove and a note. Hands shaking, you open it and begin to read.
I would’ve said “trick or treat,” but you were so sweet that I went with ‘treat.’
“Oh, Jesus Christ—”
But that’s not all there is on the note. Your face flushes hot, remembering what you said. What you had asked for. What you did.
What you enjoyed.
Oh, no, no, no—
Take good care of that for me, doll. I’ll be back for it real soon.