The lights flickered violently and then with a small pop, winked out. Asima was left in the dark, broken only by sporadic flashes of lightning. She could not see the mural she was painting in the nursery. She did not want to move and risk spilling the paint still arranged around her. The lights would come back on, they always did. So she would sit and wait in the darkness.
The darkness, why does that word stick in her head? Asima shivered. It was best not to wander in the dark her mother had always said. Her mother had disappeared into the very darkness she warned of. She dismissed the thought and focused on the art work; on the mural she was building for the small life which stirred in her womb.
Asima closed her eyes and leaned back on her hands, careful of the paint, and opened her eyes in time with the next flash.
The light revealed a gaping maw. Asima stifled a gasp, afraid now to look away lest the opening be allowed to fill with… her thoughts stuttered to a stop. She remembered her mother had left her on a night like this.
“Keep your eye on it,” Her mother had whispered, “They can’t come out if you watch the entrance.”
“Who,” Asima had asked, “who can’t come out?”
“I will tell you when you are older and better able to understand,” Her mother had said. Asima remembered her pale skin and large eyes fastened on the wall. Her mother was always watching the walls.
But that day of understanding had never come. Asima had glanced away for a moment when she heard a sound at the window behind her. She had looked back and her mother had been gone.
Asima drew her thoughts back again to the mural. The first thing she had painted was a castle with a portcullis. All of the windows and doors had bars on them. The bars pleased her and she made sure they were in place before the end of each painting session.
Asima realized suddenly, that there was one thing which did not have bars. The tree she had just added had a cavity in it: a rotten place that some trees get when vicious winds knock off a limb and the tree survives. That one entrance did not have bars. She lifted the brush still in her hand and brought jagged lines of paint across where the trunk should be.
There was a wail and a crash behind her, but she kept her eyes glued to the place where the tree should be. With a sudden flicker, the lights came on.
The new paint looked like oozing raw cuts. Asima stood slowly, paint forgotten. A black, severed arm twitched on the floor just below the tree.
Originally published February 2013 issue of The Sirens Call eZine