run, rabbit, run
your heart pounds like a prey animal.
lie down and close your eyes
within seconds they pop open again of their own accord
a windowshade stretched to the limit
snapping back up to check
:what’s that dark shape hovering:
the little voice inside asks
it’s nothing, just the lamp.
close your eyes.
make sure no part of your lower body is exposed
or it’s not safe
you don’t question this, just obey.
it gets hot and you lift the sheet for a moment but you can’t sleep like that,
not with the silent alarm shrilling in your head
the voice inside doesn’t dare to think, :I pressed the alarm but nobody came to save me,
there is no one that can save me,
so keep watch. can’t sleep, must stand guard.:
if you can make it til dawn you can rest. another fact you do not question,
though you don’t really know why.
ghosts, you think. dark is dangerous because ghosts.
but there are only one of you and you can’t stay awake forever.

there were no locks on your door
at your mother’s house
when you were 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.
weekends, summers spent there
and a man and two boys in the house –
older than you, bigger, stronger –
who are nominally family.
this is a horror story where no one remembers meeting Freddy Krueger,
where nightmares walk among us wearing a familiar face.
you don’t even dare to think it
(:your real father wouldn’t try to touch you like that.
your real brother wouldn’t touch you like that.:)
your heart races with every false alarm,
hoofbeats across an imaginary plain
fleeing this house of secrets and shame things that are hidden from your conscious mind.
:you’re not safe here in the dark. keep watch until morning.:

that was then, this is now, right?
no one can hurt you anymore unless you let them.
but the little guardian inside says
:better be sure:,
says :what’s that sound?!:
:what’s that noise!?:
you wake yourself up screaming your throat out
at the danger that cannot be named,
for the help that never came.

Published by

R. Brookes McKenzie

what fresh hell is this

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