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I approached the dark alley just as I did every few nights and rushed to the pub. Her breath, as always, over my shoulder, and even though I should have got used to it, the frigid horror it gave me was unbearable. Maybe it was the frosty November weather. I rushed through the last few meters of the sidewalk and entered “Hell’s Depths”, as her whisper hummed by my ears. I sat hunched at the bar and ordered the first of the night.

It’s been three years since she died. I turned my back sleepless and she hugged me digging her head in my nape. At dawn, her hand was heavy. I turned and saw her, pale and ghastly, with her lifeless eyes fixed on me. They said it was a heart attack, but I knew this wasn’t the case. Since then, she’s been trying to reveal the truth, a constant shadow behind my back. And every time I turn to look, she’s never there. At times, she whispers to me, but all I hear is her breath, as her agony to talk to me haunts my sleep and my wake.

I try not to talk to anybody, and the truth is that I don’t put much effort into it. Everybody seems to be avoiding me, how could they not? I can’t remember the last time I washed my hair or my clothes. I sleep and I wake up muzzy and haunted, and the days slip by crawling, dragging me until this torment ends. I think that they don’t take my money at the pub, though I’m not sure. I reached my pocket, grabbed something and place it in front of me, having no idea what it is. I give it to the bartender and beckoned him to pour the last one. I had stopped hearing her for tonight.

It’s the booze that makes her go away, as I slip into stupor and recall nothing. Only an unspeakable guilt the following morning, accompanied by the inevitable hangover, remorse that I hadn’t listened to her, that I had driven her away. Unable to see the filth on the sidewalks, incapable of listening to the night sounds, oblivious of the stench that pervaded the gutters, as I was stumbling upon the rubbish. Other times I would find my way home, and others not.

I went out and the wind was blowing hard. I fixed my lapel and hunched forward, trying not to lose my balance. I stepped on the mud and the bottom hems got wet. Was it raining? The raindrops fell on my face and I closed my eyes to hark her. She was gone. I turned back to be sure and I saw nothing in the darkness of the alley. I made a few steps, mostly relieved. The pub lights were off and I heard the bartender closing the door, cursing. It was a fucking cold night indeed. But I didn’t care. It was different tonight. I wouldn’t make it home, but I didn’t mind.

All those nights, she was there to escort me in “Hell’s Depths”, mumbling her deepest, most daemonic secrets with exhalations so obscure and inhuman, that I could barely comprehend. And every time I turned around, she became silent and hid behind my back. I felt her there, day and night, standing or unconscious in some sidewalk, keeping me company with her vast, funereal gaze that I could never witness. I was eager and terrified at the same time at her sight, but she played hide and seek. I worried that it was all in my head, maybe I had forgotten her face after so many years and so much alcohol. I was tormented by guilt, I couldn’t remember her, her face, her voice, that’s why I was unable to see or hear her. In the morning, I would wake up sobbing, begging for her return, and I prayed to hear and see her one last time. I implored her to come back, deranged by guilt, and she would always return merciful, vague and elusive. And I promised that I’d never go back to “Hell’s Depths”, that I’d never drink again. Yet, when dusk came, her shadow grew heavier and her breath deepened. I crouched and curled like a baby, shaking with fright, and I ran to gulp her away. Every time the same vicious cycle, every time the same torment, days and nights would pass, and I became more erratic, more broken.

But tonight, was different. Her breath had ceased and her shadow was gone. Even her reminiscence was blurry, while I was staggering in the darkness. She was gone for good; I knew that. I struggled to recall if something had happened some past November day, when we used to live and love each other, but I was too drunk to remember. I placed one foot in front of the other one decisively, as if I knew where I was going, though I realized that I was lost and I wouldn’t be able to find my way home. I didn’t mind, a part of me was relieved, and I smirked unwittingly as I was swaying in the rain.

Then I saw her. In front of me, lifeless and immense. A pale wall face gazing at me with those huge, somber, barren eyes. I fell, unable to look away. I cried yet my mouth was open in an unvoiced scream that I would never let out. And she was gazing, judging and castigating me with abominable condemnation, a disgust that I would never forget. All her facial features were pulled back sideways, like a plastic surgery that went wrong. Her mouth was a slot from ear to ear as the vast abyss was spreading in it. Her eyes were colorless and dead, pulled back, two holes to crash me.

And then I heard her. Not the breath. The voice. She talked to me through the motionless mouth and the sound was diabolical, but it was her. And she told me the truth. About life and death. About her and me. About light and the darkness. I was listening pale and frozen, as the rain rinsed my tears. I knew, I already knew. Alas, oblivion had erased the truth and had conveniently rewritten it. I reached and got the gun. I didn’t even check it to see if it was loaded. I knew. I put it in my mouth and shot.


My name is Eleftheria Tsichli and I am from Greece. I studied Archaeology and I did my Master’s in Physical Anthropology. I am currently working as an English teacher. I write whenever I can. My influences are, among others, Lovecraft, Poe, Hodgson and King. I have been writing horror short stories and these days I am in the process of self-publishing my first book.


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