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“I’m so cold.”
This was the first thought that entered into Amber’s dazed consciousness. Her eyelids flickered open to see nothing but hazy darkness around her. Moaning softly, she struggled to raise her body from the prone position she lay in, wrapping her bare arms around herself in response to the strange chill that permeated the air. She blinked several times and brushed a wisp of dark hair from her face as her eyes began to adjust to the ethereal aura that filled the cold, empty room.
“What… Where am I? How did I get here?”
She pushed herself up on one knee and shuddered. The room was cold… so cold. She had no memory of how she had gotten here; no memory of the past few hours.
Slowly, Amber stood and looked around. “He-hello? Where am I? Is anyone here?” she called out, her tremulous voice echoing slightly in the bare room. Her normally active mind was in a blur she attempted to discern what was happening to her, and in her confusion, an icy fear began to grip her. “What’s going on?” She shuddered and wrapped her arms around herself again. “Come on Amber, think; what’s the last thing you remember?” She rubbed her eyes. “Eric… A bookstore… No, I can’t remember!”
Amber peered around again. A strange, faintly luminescent mist writhed about her, giving off just barely enough light to see the shapes of her surroundings. It was by this cold light that she noticed the door and a chill ran down her spine, although whether for excitement or dread she did not know. Amber walked cautiously over to the door and reached out to grasp the cold doorknob. Her mind burned with a strange fear that absorbed her thoughts as she held the handle. “What’s behind this door? What if it’s locked and I’m trapped here? Why am I even here? This room is so cold.”
Her heart pounding, Amber braced herself and gripped the doorknob tighter, slowly twisting it and pushing the door open. To her relief, it gave way; and yet, to her surprise, it made no sound. No squeaking of the hinges, no soft jingle as the doorknob turned in its socket. Just silence.
She swallowed the lump of anxiety in her throat and bit her lip as she pushed the silent door wide open and peered outside. She stepped out of the doorway and looked around. It was a hallway, stretching for many yards on both ends. It reminded her of the halls in those old Victorian mansions, except this one was totally bare. No pictures, no statues, no houseplants, not even wallpaper; just dark, cold walls and doors. Dozens of doors lined either side of the hallway, each one identical and each one as dark and silent as the one she had just stepped through.
Amber shuddered and ventured again, her voice still shaky, “Um… hello? Is… is anyone there?”
There was no answer except her voice reverberating along the dank walls. She clutched at her arms and hugged herself tighter, her heart racing. “Should I try to open one of those doors?”
Taking a cautious step further out, she reached towards the doorknob opposite her. However before she could grab hold of the handle, she froze, and a chill of pure terror rippled down her spine.
A sound had emanated from behind her in the room that she had just exited: a low, sibilant hiss.
A small whine of apprehension trickled from her throat and she turned, her eyes widening and her face turning pale. She began to shiver uncontrollably as she stared into the dark room. At first she saw nothing, nothing but the same cold blackness that had surrounded her. She continued to stare ahead, not daring to turn her eyes away as she waited.
Then it was there.
A tall, lithe form stood, almost as dark as the room it occupied, vaguely humanoid in shape, but otherwise indiscernible in the darkness. Amber slowly backed away from the door, every instinct in her body telling her to flee, and yet she could not. She stood transfixed, gazing back at the shadowy creature in the room.
The low, hissing breath wreathed out from the murky chamber… and it smiled. The darkness smiled, with two rows of long, glistening, crimson fangs.
Amber’s senses were suddenly awakened as a scream tore from her throat and she ran. Her mind became numb with fright, her body bent on survival as she raced down the hollow passageway. She could feel it behind her; it was so cold. Rows upon rows of doors flew by her as she ran, not caring or thinking about anything but flight… and the fangs. Her vision began to blur as her mind raced frantically. “There’s got to be a way out, there has to be some way to escape…”
She could hear the serpentine hiss echo around the halls. It was following her.
The hallway ended abruptly, bending sharply to her right. With no time to slow her acceleration, Amber slammed into the wall and staggered back, not even daring to look behind her as she turned down the other passageway.
Still the hissing followed.
Sweat had begun to drip down her forehead, mingling with tears of terror as she felt the overwhelming sensation of hope and energy draining from her. Her run slowed to a stagger, her mind blazing with a strange, hazy pain. Still she continued on, driven by fear. As she rounded another corner, she saw the unexpected.
A single, desperate ounce of hope sprung up within her at the sight of the small but bright light at the end of the dark hallway; she felt as though it were the first light she had seen in ages. Amber didn’t care where it led, as long as it took her away from here; away from the cold hissing, and from those glistening crimson fangs. With renewed energy Amber began to sprint towards the light.
The hissing continued.
Before she knew it the window of light stood before her, glowing brightly and proving a stark contrast to the dank, gray walls around it. Mustering every last bit of energy within her, Amber leaped, hoping to pass through the light and into freedom… but her hands slammed into a wall of glass.
She gasped and hit the window again, but it did not budge.
The hissing drew nearer.
She pounded at the window, murmuring frantically under her breath. “What’s going on? What is this?!”
It was so cold.
Her brain cleared long enough to notice something behind the window. It was a man, and he was looking at her. Her heart leaped for joy when she recognized him.
“Eric!” she screamed. “Eric, it’s me! Please open the window! Help me!”
But there came no response. Her fiancé simply sat staring at her, his expression one of grief, his eyes slightly misted with tears.
Amber smashed her fists against the window, pleading desperately, “Please, Eric, help me! It’s coming! Please… please help me!”
Still he made no reply.
Amber slumped to the floor, her fingernails scraping against the glass as she slid down the window. Tears streamed down her face and her heart raced like a locomotive as she curled up and wept. “Please, Eric… Save me…”
The hissing drew nearer.
Eric sat in the bright hospital room, listening to the never-ending heart monitor and staring solemnly at the still and quiet body of his fiancée Amber. She lay on the bed, her once beautiful and intelligent blue eyes glazed over in a state of comatose.
It had been nearly four hours since they had found her lying unconscious on the floor in the back room of the old Eldridge Bookshop, her eyes wide open in shock, and a small book resting in her hand. No one had any idea of what had happened to her. The shopkeeper said that she seemed perfectly all right when she had entered, and that she had been perusing through a collection of antique books that they had just received before she suddenly just dropped without a sound.
Of course, there was that book that she had been clutching; that small, strange book simply titled “Crimson Fangs”. What was so strange was that no author or publishing year was listed anywhere on it, not to mention the fact that the pages were totally blank. But then again, Amber liked those kinds of oddities. She was always collecting those rare misprints and old books that were only published for one month back in the 18th century. She was funny in that way. Eric sighed and once again grasped her hand. It was so cold.
For all of the past four hours he had sat patiently by her bedside, staring into her blank eyes and often talking to her, reminiscing about their times together or about her favorite stories; anything to wake her from her state. But nothing helped. The doctors were puzzled about the fact that, other than being in a coma, her body was healthy. Her breathing and heart-rate were normal and there were no signs of a concussion, cardiac arrest, a stroke; anything.
Eric reached out and tenderly brushed a strand of dark, silky hair from her face. She was so beautiful, even with her face frozen in a still, emotionless stare. He wanted to see her smile again.
His thoughts were interrupted when the door opened. The doctor walked over and placed a gentle hand on Eric’s shoulder. “You’ve been in here for a long time. Perhaps you would like a break?”
Eric swallowed back the dryness in his throat and stroked Amber’s cold hand. “Y-yes, of course. I just can’t stand for her to be like this, all pale and…” He closed his eyes and shuddered before standing up. “You’ll let me know if anything happens to her, right?”
The doctor smiled warmly. “Certainly; now go get some rest.”
Eric nodded and turned, with one last long gaze at the motionless form of his beloved Amber before walking out the door.
Amber sat by the window, staring up into the despondent face of her fiancé. She sobbed and reached up to weakly grasp at the sheet of glass that separated her from the one person that she loved and trusted most. So near, and yet so far.
“This has to be a dream. Wake up, Amber… Please wake up!”
Then he moved. She whipped her head up and stared with wide, desperate eyes as Eric stood and looked at her sadly before-
“No. No, it can’t be! He’s leaving me! He’s walking away!” She leaped up and screamed frantically, slamming her fists against the window, trying to get his attention, for him to finally notice her and save her. “No… No, please! Eric, don’t leave me! Please, don’t leave me!”
But he was gone. The window was empty.
Her breath heavy and her eyes hazy with tears, Amber once again slumped to the floor. Eric, her closest and dearest friend, the one person she could always count on to keep her safe, had abandoned her. Every last bit of hope had deserted her. She was alone; all alone in this cold, dark hallway. It was then that she noticed something was different about her surroundings. The hissing was gone. That horrible, chilling sound… there was nothing. Nothing but cold silence.
Amber held her breath, slowly turned her head…
And stared into the crimson-fanged grin.
A calm silence filled the bright hospital room, only broken by the steady beat of the heart monitor.
Amber’s body lay, staring ahead blankly just as she had for the past four hours.
She blinked. Her eyes slowly shifted to look at the monitor.
She sat up, her black silky hair draping around her head like a nest of dead snakes. With one quick, stilted motion, she pried the oxygen mask from her face before her gaze turned to the door. There were the sounds of voices and footsteps outside. The light in the room flickered as a dark, ethereal mist began to writhe up from the floor. The doorknob rattled as it opened.
A low, sibilant hiss rasped out from Amber’s throat… and she smiled, with two rows of long, glistening, crimson fangs.
Credit To – Josh