You wake up as the sun begins to crest the tip of your tent through the canopy of overhanging trees. You hear a faint muttering, people talking in hushed whispers for the behoof of your rest.
The crisp morning air leaves your sinuses dry, and your throat parched. As you turn to reach for your canteen, you hear something being gently called, carried on the early morning circus of bird calls and bug chitters.
It’s your name.
Waking in full, you peel open the tent flap to see three close friends of yours, already around a small crackling fire. As they turn to you, warmth and happiness wash over you. An arm is outstretched, holding a mug of hot fluid toward you. There couldn’t be a better place and time to be.
This is the life.
Shortly after a hearty and cozy breakfast, you and your friends sit around the small coals of the fire, and chat briefly while you digest. After a few minutes of chit chat, you grab the small book just inside your tent, and relax in the hammock.
Swaying gently in the warm summer air, you succumb to the gentle sounds of the tree leaves above you, tickled in the breeze. Your eyelids close, depriving you of sight and nourishing your other senses with the discrete serenity of nature.
You feel a small thud, followed by a sharp pang on your upper thigh. You jolt back into a state of awareness, and slap the strange little nub of fuzz out of your lap.
One of your friends comes over, and the two of you examine the little nugget that saw fit to join you in the hammock.
“I think it's a baby bat...” Your friend says poking it with a stick.
The bat writhes and wriggles on the ground. It’s obviously hurt, and scared, but there’s a distinct lack of options for what to do with it. As the two of you keep watching the bat, its twitches cease, and the struggling creature goes dormant.
“Perhaps it was badly injured by the fall?” You ponder, aloud. A somber air descends on the camp. The sky begins to darken.
After informing the rest of your friends, the consensus to bury the now dead bat is reached.
As you return to the camp from burying the small, delicate remains, the sky begins to open. Pouring rain blankets the clearing, berating the overhanging trees that attempt to shelter your tent. The pitter patter of thick raindrops serving as a eulogy to the small, lonely mammal.
Moments later, everyone is in the truck, sheltered from the sudden downpour. You look to see the friend next to you leering into his phone, forlorn and frustrated.
“Well, it came out of nowhere, but it’s not going to stop any time soon,” they say with an angry tone.
“How long until it passes?” you ask hopefully.
“Unfortunately, it looks like it may rain all day, and all of tomorrow…”
After weighing the pros and cons, briefly, the four of you decide to load all of your soaking wet gear into the back of the truck, and head home to the city. The plan was to head back the next morning anyways.
Back in the city, it’s been a little over a month since the camping trip. You reflect fondly on the fun and relaxation, but can’t help but return to thoughts of the poor bat. It’s almost as if it was a harbinger to the end of the trip. Perhaps your over-active imagination is simply getting the better of you.
As you make your way home from work, to start your weekend, your commute is plagued by intermittent headaches. Every time the train screeches on the rails, every car horn that honks, every baby that wails feels like a needle being driven into your brain.
Despite the headaches having all but ceased, you race to the medicine cabinet in your bathroom as soon as you arrive home. A small handful of over-the-counter pills are washed down your throat by a tall glass of cool, crisp water. Maybe you should lay down on the couch, just for a few minutes.
You shiver into consciousness. How long were you out? The sun’s still up, so it couldn’t have been too long. You feel a chill. It’s strangely cold in your apartment. You consider turning the air conditioning off. As you rise from your couch, you take the small blanket with you, covering your shuddering form. You feel that it’s soaking wet, along with most of your clothes. Maybe that’s what’s making you feel so cold?
You reach your AC unit, beside the bathroom. No lights, no sound.
Why did you think it was on?
Entering the bathroom, you grudgingly unsheathe your body from the wet blanket and soaked clothing.
Desperately, you turn on the taps of your shower, carefully balancing the hot and cold. One turn hot, half turn cold. But as you enter, what should be a warm comfort feels like icy daggers, digging and tearing at your flesh. Desperately, you crank the hot tap, until you can feel a moment’s relief from the chill in your bones. The immense steam blocks out all sight.
A strange fear begins to take root as you feel the heat slowly taper off.
The water is getting colder. You turn the taps off, and open the curtain. Shivering, naked and wet, you turn to grasp your towel. All heat gained in the shower feels lost already.
In a shambling whirlwind, you bundle yourself up in layers, and retreat to the covers of your bed. You’re exhausted. You probably just need to sleep it off.
You wake up to the icy chill of winter air.
It is winter, isn't it?
No matter, you have important things to do. But it’s so cold in the apartment. As you rise out of bed, you begin to pack for your upcoming camping trip, when something catches your eye. What is it? Maybe a mouse? An irrational terror takes root.
You follow the small furry thing into your bathroom, and corner it. Grabbing the hairbrush from the counter, you wag it at the small lump of fuzz. The brush rattles loudly. Staring at the potential intruder, you recognize it as a friend of yours. You met camping, but you haven’t seen them in a very long time. It’s the little bat.
You drop the pill bottle you held fiercely in your grasp, and scoop up your friend. Together, you walk over and sit on the couch. Your furry little pet stays in your lap.
“Why was I packing?” you ask the bat, who looks just as confused as you are. You realize that you don’t really need to pack anyways, because you’re wearing half your wardrobe. Why don’t people dress like this more often? It seems so efficient.
A thundering raucous sound comes from the door.
Could they be coming for you? Why now?
Who are they?
“Yo, open up! You haven’t been answering your phone, and you weren’t at work today!”
You recognize the voice. This person is a friend. You go to look through the peephole, but there’s no one there. The bat retreats to your pocket for safety.
As you continue staring for quite some time, the knock is heard again. But still, you see an empty space.
“I don’t know you, go away!” you yell to the invisible intruder.
“What the hell, what’s going on?” the voice sternly responds.
This is all very stressful for you, so you return to the only sanctuary you can find. The closet. Cupping your hands over your ears, in the darkness, you huddle into a fetal form, ready to begin waiting out this war of attrition.
You rouse to consciousness.
In a burst of clarity you wonder why the hell you’re in a closet, and why you’re wearing a dress shirt over a sweater.
You're incredibly sweaty and dehydrated. The apartment is uncomfortably hot. Checking your phone, it’s Tuesday.
“What happened? Where did the time go?”
You have several missed calls and unread texts. There’s a chair in front of the door, and small pills all over the floor in the bathroom. You feel a strange firm lump in your pocket. It’s a bar of soap.
Looking at your reflection in the mirror, it’s painfully clear that you are very sick. Aptly, you decide to call your doctor, and try to get an appointment as soon as possible. But you’re thirsty. Incredibly so.
As you ready a glass, and turn on the tap, the water begins gushing out. A fight or flight instinct kicks in, and you run to the other side of the room. The hissing screech of water gushing out of the tap is disturbing and terrifying.
Yet you thirst.
Desperately, you try to inch yourself closer to the running faucet. You try to rationalize that it’s just water, that it’s harmless. Some part of you knows it, deep down, which is what pushes you forward. But the simple thought of drinking reviles your rational mind. Panic begins to set in again, and you feel strange fears coming back.
Only this time you’re angry too.
Once more, you gain some semblance of clarity. How long has life been like this? It feels as though you’ve been trapped in your apartment for eons. Someone out there is testing you. They want to hurt you.
Rising from the bathtub, you realize you’re bleeding. And naked.
Your apartment is a complete disaster. Scenes of struggles and violence flash in your mind, urging you to recede back into that mindless and savage state. Every mirror, every screen... any surface with the potential to show a reflection is either shattered or covered. It dawns on you
That’s how they watch you.
You feel the terror building again. Something bad is about to happen.
Suddenly, the door bursts open. Hulking brutish creatures storm your home, coming for you. As you thrash and fight to resist, you manage to bite one on the arm before you’re ultimately restrained. You feel a sharp prick, as you hear their exacerbated, unrecognizable communications. Your vision begins to cloud, and your strength fades, your desperate attempts to fight are all but hindered.
The world fades to black.
You knew this was coming. But you failed to resist. It’s almost impossible to focus on any one thing, as you scramble for freedom. There are creatures all around. The same ones responsible for restraining you. For putting you here.
White coats and blue masks.
You know you hate these things, these “people” but it’s getting harder and harder to remember why. Nothing really seems to come into focus. It’s hard to do anything but struggle against your restraints.
Momentarily, the mental fog slightly lifts.
Where are you?
Some kind of facility, maybe a hospital.
You’re exhausted, dehydrated, hungry. Above all else, you’re terrified. Even with the shreds of coherence you manage to grasp, you can’t understand why you’re so scared.
Everything is against you. Death would be a welcome embrace from this existential torment. Every second is a lifetime of agony.
Suddenly, you realize you are no longer struggling. Oh, you are trying, but your limbs don't respond. You are a prisoner now, in the husk of what was your only remaining ally. Your body.
As your will struggles against the forced serenity of your body, your eyes dart around the blindingly sterile environment.
There are people around you. Some come, some go. You can’t be certain, but you think you know many of them. They all leer at you. It’s menacing. Some part of your mind wants to believe you don’t fear them. That they care for you. But you know it’s false. These are the people who hurt you, who’ve been torturing you. You finally recognize them as the ones out to get you.
You feel drool running down your cheek, you can’t bring yourself to swallow properly. You’ve lost control of your throat too, now. The dripping feels thick, and paste-like. Rivaling the crocodile tears shed by many of your captors.
As the spectators to your misery have yet another changing of the guard, you notice your breathing has become laboured. Your every breath, a desperate gasp. The paralysis slowly works its way through the last bastion of activity your body was able to hold.
You’d lash out and fight, if your body were capable of movement.
You begin to choke on nothing.
Your dry throat condemned to seize from the moment you laid in that hammock, so long ago.
You drift off into the final throes of a peaceless death. Scared, alone, and in agony.
Another victim claimed by rabies.
About the Creator
"Tewahway? How do you even say that?" Honestly, so long as you try, you're doin' it right!
I mainly write horror fiction, but I'm here to spread my wings and soar like a literary baby bird.
https://www.talesbytravel.com/short-stories for more