XX | Run

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It was a familiar voice this time, the same one from her nightmare with its intensely ingrained fury. If Kaia could have chosen a color for it, she'd pick red. A dark, raging red. The color of blood. 

Kaia, I want to tell you a story. But she didn't want to hear one. She knew she wouldn't like it. It wasn't like before, where she felt his rage as if it were her own. No, this time she only felt fear: deep, endless fear. It was the sort that you can't stop even if you tell yourself that it's irrational. It's instinct. 

Once, a man loved a woman very, very much. She was his world, you see. He gave her everything she'd ever wanted. 

He said 'everything' as if he were keeping a painful secret. 'Everything' was the most important gift he'd ever given. 

So, despite how it hurt him, he destroyed her. 

Ice shot through Kaia's veins even in her dream. She wondered if she'd be tossing and turning in real life or if she looked still, peaceful even. Would Kaleb look down at her and think she was anything close to ok? Or would he realize that no matter how calm she seemed on the outside, she wanted to scream inside her mind? She tried to break out, do anything to get away from this man. It is a terrible thing to realize that you are helpless, especially helpless within your own mind.

Such a pity. A shame. He thought he'd never see her again after that night. But he was wrong. Because a decade later, there she is standing in front of him. 

No. No, people don't come back from the dead. Kaia had wished that they did so many times in her life it was impossible to count. On her birthday every year. Whenever she recalled something her mom used to say. Whenever the anniversary came around, lumbering and reeking like a cruel beast. Whenever she heard the Scooby Doo theme song, even. 

Only, you see, it wasn't her. Not quite. She was different, but that smell. It was so similar. Then he realized... 

There are moments when you can feel realization like a force. It's not just a thought stuck in your head, cozily curling up in the darkness between your ears. No, this realization was something born in your skull, expanded by the millisecond until it's so big, so dense, so terrifying that it breaks free, shattering everything that you were before. Realization speeds through the entire body like ice, like nausea. All in a second. 

This pain was what Kaia felt. 

...It was her daughter, hidden all these years. Isobel, that sly woman. So he followed the girl, followed her without her knowing. Watched her, listened to her, touched her. 

His words echoed. Touched her. Touched. Touched.K In this little nightmare of a reality she was stuck in, darkness was all she could see. But oh, she could feel everything she didn't want to. Her skin crawled, bile rose, tears sprung up. 

Her mother. He'd killed her, this man. And he'd been there all along, watching her. New desperation possessed Kaia. She could only think of escape. Run as hard as you can into the darkness. Maybe you can get out. Hopefully, you'll see the light. Anything. 

So tell me, Kaia. Why are you lying here, vulnerable? 

Kaia froze. Her heart stopped beating. Her blood stood still. For a split second, she was nothing. 

All I would have to do, child, is reach out, and...snap. Your little lover here wouldn't even know what happened. He'd wake up and see you beside him, unseeing eyes. He'd break, wouldn't he? Just like I did...

The laugh that came next was soul shattering. It reverberated through Kaia, throughout her entire nightmare. Her mind was crumbling. She was going to go mad. "No," Kaia said quietly. Surprise struck her as she realized she could speak, her voice permeating the darkness. 

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