Two meals a day

Time for dinner

Well, we all knew what that meant

Time for the end of the day

Time to send friends on their way

Time to come in from outside

Time to come out from your room

Time to stop homework

Time to put down that book

Time to race to the bathroom

Time to tuck in that shirt

And brush your hair

Time to scrub those hands

Polish that face

Ready for inspection

 

Time to transform from

Rough and ready rascal

To be seen and not heard

 

Time to never be late

Time to take your designated

Place at the table quietly

With bowed head

Time to await your plate

Time to scan the newspaper

Standing tall in thick fingered hairy hands

At the other end of the table

Only the front and back pages ever viewed

While mum dutifully served

And offspring mutely ate

An unchallenged meal

Of meat and three veg

Tinned fruit

and milk for the weeds

 

She spoken to but never heard

They spoke at and ever erred

Sitting in silence always unnerved

 

Once fed desperate for dismissal

Before something went wrong

Before the security of bed

Where the anticipation of morning

And a new day unhindered

Would see a smiling chatty woman serve

And happily scold misdemeanours

In a bustling kitchen full of life

Breaking our bread

While the breadwinner toiled away

At that unhappy and mysterious place called work

Fear

I feel it behind me

stalking and faceless

skulking and malevolent

The hairs on the back of my neck

stand on end

like highly sensitised

oh so brittle antennae

 

I walk more briskly

I am tempted to run

but not tempted to tempt fate

Each step announces

a deepening sense of dread

a heightened anxiety

a rising feeling of panic

 

Evil is about tonight

amongst the chill night air

and the cold dull haloes

of the too distant streetlights

 

There it is again

The faintest of scrapings

rapid and sequential

advancing along the pavement behind me

Demonic footsteps of malicious intent

portents of pain and suffering

They strain my hearing to the point

of questioning whether I hear anything at all

but I know they are there

coming

closing

 

My eyes dart urgently

from side to side

A tic

twitches my cheek

I am shaken to my core

I startle at a moth that brushes my cheek

My head flicks left

My head flicks right

My fully dilated pupils

black as any pit in hell

scream at me for more light

and scour the edges of darkness

for a bolt hole

Sanctuary

any hope to cling too

Peripheral vision

reams in the sidelines

desperately seeking refuge

struggling to see ahead and aside at the same time

 

Sweat begins

to bead my brow

Cold sweat

Shivers

wrack my body

I begin to whimper

I don’t want to hurt

to plead for my life, my soul

for mercy

I don’t want to die alone

I don’t want to die here

and now

 

A movement

in the corner of my eye

I stumble in fright

miss the kerb

roll my ankle

The pain shoots up into my calf

and something tears

I gasp

My flight becomes hobbled

I limp on in fear

dragging my injured foot

scraping the rubber of the sole

on the hard surface

of coarse concrete

 

Then

comes the first touch

An icy point

A razor-sharp prickle

pierces my jacket

In one swift motion

needlelike it penetrates the fabric

just breaking the surface of my skin

 

From my lower back

a cold finger of ice

tracks a paralyzing pathway

up toward my right shoulder

Muscles cramp

then seize

into an excruciating knotted strip

of rock solid pain

Futile teardrops begin to fall

I sob in absolute horror

and misery

“Oh God, help me, somebody help me!”

I wheel

there is nothing there

 

 

The second touch

burns

as a keenly sharp edge

slices a clean shallow line

fully across my left cheek

This one is hot

like dry ice

The blood flows

as thick warm syrup

It makes its way down my pallid face

mixing with the tears and snot of fear

dripping onto my stained clothes

gluey on my hands

I didn’t even sense the blade coming

let alone what wielded it

 

Dread wells up inside me

threatens to overwhelm me

I pursue escape

from terrifying pursuit

The road is empty

straight

as far as the opaque darkness

allows my eyes to see

Where pavement ends

terraformed tracts of bare earth begin

A homeless housing estate

 

At the periphery of illumination

feebly provided by each dreary streetlight

is murk

thick with ominous foreboding

It envelops the world

on this souless, moonless night

Hope fades

 

The third touch

is a heavy thump

in the small of my back

It cripples me

I stagger

It is all I can do not to collapse

I must stop to breathe

to fall on my haunches

straining to fill my airless lungs

 

I double over

when I need to stand

I pause

when I need to run

I falter

when I need courage

I give into weakness

when I need to find strength

I heave

when I need to draw breath

 

The fourth touch

comes as a surprise

Desperately preoccupied with surroundings and survival,

my head and neck are parted,

as I miss the prophecy of imminent death

but fleetingly register

oh timely release

oh sweet oblivion