My limbs were locked in excruciating pain. My vision clouded in darkness. There was a sharp ringing in my ears. My throat and lungs seemed to be on fire as I shrieked loudly. For my life. For my sanity.
A woman’s merciless laugh rang out from above me. And the pain got even more unbearable. My legs began flailing about of their own accord, desperate for an escape from the grotesque torture. Each muscle in my body was on fire. It felt like someone had cut open my head and was tearing through my nerves one by one while pouring boiling hot liquid into my skull.
But all that pain seemed nothing more than a mere interlude. Between the bright light that had been my life before. Full of hope. Full of fight. Full of my determination to strike brutally at the monsters that lurked at the corners of the path I’d chosen to walk. The path of a brave soldier. And the gloom of the darkness that was sure to shroud me once the torture ended. The ageless immortality that death’s oblivion was sure to throw me into. Leaving me to deal with the memories of the terror that had been inflicted upon me. Forcing me to drown in the ghosts of my past. Bit by bit, at an excruciating slow speed, the cold hands of pain began to withdraw. As the darkness receded, consciousness returned to me in pools of surprise. And with it, came the frustration and anguish.
Cautiously, I opened my eyes to the reality of the infuriatingly familiar room. And to the face of a young, concerned boy leaning over me, his expression soft and gentle. Instantly, a warm feeling filled my chest. His presence calmed me. Gave me hope. Or what my heart faintly remembered hope to feel like.
I wanted to smile at him. Gently whisper to him my gratitude. I wanted to get up and stroke his beautiful blonde head and ask him who he was. But when I tried to do so, the words would not reach my mouth, instead getting stuck in my brain and forming an endless and illogical loop.
“Alice, dear, are you awake?” The approaching lady called in a rather too loud voice. I closed my eyes again, pretending to be asleep, wishing the woman would go away and leave me alone with the boy for some time.
“She’s still asleep,” came the sweet voice of the boy beside me. Ah, was I fond of him! I felt her linger around for a while longer and then stalk away.
“She’s gone now,” he whispered.
I opened my eyes once again and looked at his adorable, round head and grinned again. Finally. The fight was over. And in spite of all my losses, a giddiness filled my chest. For I had this. My prize. The boy smiled at me with tears in his eyes. “I love you, Mum. You know that, right?”