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From Within

From Within

A girl is trapped somewhere. She has no idea how she got there, and where this place is. She thinks she's going crazy as little things start to throw her off. All she wants is a way to escape.

119

Crime / Suspense / Mystery / Thriller


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Shaylynn Mendes (United States)


She sat, hunched in the corner of the small room. The light bulbs were shattered, and the glass piled on the floor beneath the dangling rod. Her fingers trembled as she scratched another line onto the wall. The line represented the 142nd day that she has been stuck here, in some dimension, she didn’t know. She let out little, tiny, ragged breaths as she turned away from the wall, and pulled her lanky legs up to her chest. Her dark hair fanned around her, covering her face, and the tears that were beginning to blotch her cheeks. She took in a long breath, and held it, as if she were trying to suffocate herself. It wasn't until a while later that she finally let a shaky breath go. She turned and faced the wall once again, back hunched, and forehead pressed against the dank walls. Her skinny arms reached above her head, and she slowly scraped them down, waiting for the agonizing pain to hit her. But it never does. She falls to the floor, letting her arms flail out around her. She stares up at the dark ceiling above her. She stares into nothing. With no warning, she lets out a high-pitched scream, and her hands fly up to her ears.

"LEAVE ME ALONE!" She attempts to yell out. Her voice comes out hoarse, and brittle.

"Please.." She whispers. The girl holds onto her ears tightly, scrunching her body up into a ball.

"Please, please, please.." She continues pleading.

From somewhere in the room, there's a disembodied laugh. The girl on the floor starts screaming. She pulls herself up, and crawls to the furthest corner of the room. She starts rocking back and forth, hands clamped tightly around her ears, and eyes screwed shut. Suddenly, she drops. She lays flat on the floor, and lets out what sounds like a breath of relief.

"They're gone...". She begins laughing hysterically, and bangs her head against the wall several times.

"I'm so alone now.." She hugs herself, the laughter coming to an abrupt stop.
Her eyes open and close several times. Her heart was thumping several beats faster than it was suppose to. She clutches her bony fingers to her chest, trying to stop the banging on her rib cage. Her eyes swell up with tears. She knew she was about to panic.

"1...2...3..." She counted the numbers under her breath until she reaches fifteen.

She heaves a sigh as the panic and fear withers away. She waits until her eyes adjust to the darkness once more before she cautiously steps towards the pile of glass. She picks one up, and rolls up her sleeve. In a trance, she presses the tip to her scabrous skin. Just as the glass is at the brink of breaking through her skin, she suddenly drops it. The piece of broken glass shatters into millions of smaller fragments. She starts taking cautious steps away from it. Her face was of pale-complexion, like she just saw the worst thing imaginable. She starts muttering incoherent words under her breath, searching around the room. Her back hits the wall, and she becomes silent for several minutes.

"They'll let me go if I behave..." She speaks up to herself. "I'm behaving..." She tries to convince herself.

The tired girl drops to the floor, hiding her face behind her palms.

"Someone please save me."

Her sobs permeated the room.

"I am okay." She tells no one.

"I am not okay." She contradicts herself.

"I will be okay." She corrects.

She speaks up once more before passing out, "Will I?"

She suddenly sits up straight, her eyes fixated on something masked behind the darkness of the room. She stands up and makes her way towards it. She tilts her head to one side, as if she were curious about what was happening. She stands there for another two minutes before walking back to the corner and laying down, acting as if nothing just happened. She laid down and pictured herself lying beneath a sky. A huge sky, sprinkled with millions of twinkling fireflies way beyond her reach. She imagined the soft breeze that would make the grass dance besides her, and twirl her hair around her. The sound of crickets would be chirping a song from afar. She pictured people laying besides her. They were all tracing the stars that shone down on them. Together they laid, pressed by each other’s side. She saw herself smiling at the faceless people. She reached out, linking her arms, and entwining her fingers with theirs. They all connected, feeling at bliss under the never sky.
The thought seemed to rock her. She felt as if it were more like a memory than her imagination. She wondered who they were, and pondered over that question as she drifted away, and the darkness consumed her.
As she slept, she was aware of the soft whispering around her. She shifted uncomfortably. She kept her eyes shut, trying to decipher the incomprehensible words they were saying. She screwed her eyes tightly shut, wanting the voices to go away. Suddenly, her ears were ringing. She scrunched into a ball as the voices screeched. She’s never felt so terrified in her entire life. Her body started thrashing against the floor. It shook violently back and forth, as if someone were grabbing her shoulders and shaking her. She lost all control over her body.

“Please let me go!” She cried, pleading to the unknown.

All throughout the time, her mind kept repeating the words, “what did I ever do wrong?”. Her body kept quaking against the ground until she heard a rapid beating to her right. The violent movements that she had just endured had come to an end. She was too afraid to even open her eyes. Her body laid as stiff as a statue on the floor. Her face was pressed into the cold, cement floor, and the smallest sound of a sniffle escaped.
After what seemed like hours, she finally sat up. Her eyes were puffy, and her cheeks were stained with dried tears that never reached the end of her face. She dragged her hand over her face, and her lifeless eyes bored into the walls across from her. Her body slightly trembled with paranoia, fearing that she would have to go through that scene again. Her face displayed a feeling of abject misery.

“I’m sorry...” She apologized to nothing in particular.

Her arms encircled her feeble, knees. She rested her chin on them, and seemed to be deep in thought as she studied the walls of the encased room. To be honest, she couldn’t even remember how she got in this room. She didn’t know how any of it even started. All she remembered was waking up to a dark, dank room with a musty smell. At first, the claustrophobic feeling had crept into her lungs every day, making it hard for her to breathe. Soon, she was so use to it, that nothing in the room bothered her anymore. She just longed to be out.
She sat in the same fetal position for a while more, before her eyelids began to feel heavy. They dropped, and she fought the urge to sleep. She didn’t want to suffer through the same torture she had felt before. But, at the end, sleep won her over, and she was pulled into the night.

“Get off of me!” She growled weakly.

Light, feather touches ran down her arms, sending chills up through her body. She tried to swing her arms at them, but they were pinned down onto something soft.

“Soft..?” The feeling alarmed her.

Her eyes flew open, and she cringed. A luminescent light blared down on her, surprising her. She suddenly found herself staring into a pair of almond, brown eyes. She attempted to flinch back, but she was held back by something out. Her eyes were flickering everywhere, trying to make sense of the situation going on. A pair of hands wrapped around hers, and her arm exploded with warmth. Tears trailed down her cheeks, and her vision got blurry. The colors she saw melted into a shade of gray, and she felt herself being wrapped into a hug. She pulled away, staring at the faces that stared back down at her. It was the faces of the people that she had laid besides under the starry night.

“Welcome back.” The woman smiled at her. She slurred out some words, that sounded more like a strangled noise.

“It’s okay. Don’t try too hard yet.” The lady explains. Before she completely dozes off, the lady says something that catches her attention.

“You’ve been in a coma.”
Flashes of the dark room came into her mind. She realized all along, those voices were calling out to her. They were trying to wake her up. She had been stuck inside her own head all this time, and she finally made it out.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Read Reviews

Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals and conflicts were clearly conveyed.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. The build-up was intriguing and I felt the tension mounting with each word.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
I really loved this story. At the beginning I thought it was about the mental anguish of a kidnapping victim, then I thought maybe this was a tale of an abused child being held in a dark basement as punishment. When it was revealed that it was her own mind and she had been in a coma, I was blown away. This was a powerful story and you set the scene perfectly and believably.

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals and conflicts were clearly conveyed.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. The build-up was intriguing and I felt the tension mounting with each word.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line, paragraph and hook
  • Great stories, nowadays, start with a powerful opening line and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
I enjoyed the unraveling of your protagonist probably a bit more than is strictly necessary. I think that nowadays comas are represented in a way where someone has to have some sort of epiphany before they're able to return to reality, but I'm happy to see that you've taken a slightly different approach.