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[Sticky] Material for Review - December 2020

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Rupert Lally - Where the Dark Speaks (Spun Out of Control)


There is a sinking feeling.

He’s coming — it’s coming — something is…

“We need to leave,” I say, squeezing her hand.

“It’s time for bed,” she says. “It’s too late.”


I can barely mutter the words, I am so deeply spurned by the feeling.

“I’m almost done,” she explains, looking to the dirty dishes.

“Leave them.”

She reaches for the handle to the faucet.

“There isn’t time,” I say, pulling her away.

“The water is going to overflow the sink!” 

“It doesn't matter!”

And so we bolt out the back door of the farmhouse, across the two-track road, into harvest-ready rows, through masking vegetation whose limbs excite the skin upon passing.

This is how it ends? In the fields, at night? I wonder. These fields? Our fields?

It feels like I am standing outside myself. I can see us running. I can see the moonlight on the stalks.

But one cannot see enough of what happens in the periphery during these dreadful moments, and there are shadows.

Whatever is after us, it stands only in the spaces the eyes cannot capture (and is everywhere at once).

A steady rhythm drives the feeling we must keep going, or is this just the heart?

I am shaking.

In these moments, the ears fail, clouded by pulses of blood coursing through the body.

It manifests in vibrating vision.

There is a voice: Keep moving. 

Out of breath, we continue.

“Where are we going!?” she asks.

“Don’t stop!”

My senses fail me. Legs deadened by lactic-acid buildup.

And so we finally arrive.

From outside, lit only by the near-full moon, we stand at the gate of what appears to be an abandoned Victorian mansion. Windows, dark and shuttered.

“You’ve been here before?” she asks.

I have been here in a dream. 

“Here I am, again,” I reply.

Were we running from it or to it? I wonder.

Now, there is no moving: no will to advance; no retreat; frozen, with core-fired fear.

The door opens.

“You’re not going in there.” I can hear the demand in her voice.

I tell her I must. It insists.

Once inside the foyer, I can see light bleeding in through the windows. Inside, it appears clean and kept -- lived in. We can see it all: candled sconces flickering; an ornate railing up the stairs looks to be writhing; carpeted stairs, lush and maroon, track up and down, into every room; an ancient gramophone rotates and wails noise; framed artwork melts into the walls. But there are other signs of life: cracks in the plaster glow red and pulse with each passing second; upstairs — no — in the basement — no — it sounds like it’s coming from the living room: floor boards creak and groan from weighted movements, all around us. The house appears to be breathing. It is alive.

A sense of awe and dread-filled, ominous droning builds and chills the blood.

I can hear children laughing, and there is the sound of a music box: “Merrily, Merrily, Merrily..."

"Life is but a dream.”

The sound makes the hair on the back of the neck erect.

“What is happening?”

I can only remember feeling drugged.

I can only recall standing in blood.

It brought us here.

“There is no escape,” she whispers.

Most certainly it is the stuff of nightmares and the knowledge of scares to come that never fully leave.

“This is the place,” I say.

A smell of wetness and decay descends.

The candles extinguish.

The floor collapses.

Here is where the darkness lives, breathes, and speaks.

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