Darkness

Jimena had walked her dog in her apartment complex every night for the last two years. She had begun to enjoy these nightly walks with her dog, since the city seemed to be sleeping around her. Her dog had seemed to enjoy them as well. At least, she used to.

As of late, every time the pair approached the dark area on the far side of the complex, her dog, Jewel, would tense her entire body. There was an apartment here that never had any lights on, and Jimena assumed that it was vacant. So really, there wasn’t any real reason why either one of them should be scared.

Jewel used to love going in this area because she would always manage to find a creature to chase, an occasional frog or maybe even a large bug. But now, it was like she was scared to go over there. When Jimena would take her too close, she would stop dead in her tracks and pull in the opposite direction.

Sometimes, Jimena would take her that way anyway, as it was the quickest way to get back to her apartment, and Jewel would cower and shake, her tail between her legs until they were well away from there. Then she would perk up and be back to her old self, though she would spare the quick glance back to that spot.

Jimena tried not to look into it too much because she was sure that her dog was just going through a weird phase. She did that from time to time. So, she would continue to walk through that area, much to Jewel’s dismay.

It wasn’t until about a month after Jewel’s strange behavior started that Jimena started noticing weird things that were happing in that area. Jewel had begun to stop dead center, in the darkest area, and growl ferociously facing the apartment door. The apartment still seemed to be vacant, so this confused Jimena more than anything.

One day, when they were walking one night, Jewel did her usual growling show, and Jimena was about to pull her away when she noticed a flicker of movement in her peripheral vision. She snapped her head in the direction of the movement and looked intently into the darkness. She saw nothing out of the ordinary.

She figured that she was probably letting her dog’s behavior spook her, so she did her usual tug to get Jewel to continue on their walk. As she turned away, though, she felt that she was being watched. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end. She did not turn to take a second look.

That night, when she walked into her apartment, that feeling of unease didn’t go away. No matter how much she tried to relax, she still felt like she was being watched. And what made this worse was that Jewel, who usually slept with Jimena every night, was now standing tensed at the front door, growling low and deep, her nose pressed firmly against it.

Jewel did not move from that spot, no matter how much Jimena coaxed her towards the bedroom. She laid down and tried to rest, but her body was still on high alert.

Jimena was not sure how she finally drifted off to sleep, but when she woke the next day, Jewel was laying in bed next to her, once again acting like herself. When she felt Jimena wake up, she jumped up excitedly and licked her face, the picture of happiness.

** ** **

That night, on their walk, Jimena decided to walk the long way, avoiding that spot completely. She was still trying to convince herself that she was just paranoid, but something made her walk as far away from there as she could.

Their walk went without a hitch, and both had almost forgotten how they had felt that night. As they approached the apartment, Jimena watched Jewel’s hair stand up, a warning sign. Then she swiveled around quickly and growled ferociously in the direction of that dark area.

Jimena’s blood froze in her veins. She turned slowly, not wanting to look but still wanting to comfort her dog.

What she saw scared her to her very core.

The area was pitch black. It was like a void, inescapable and lacking any light. Except for the eyes. There, in the center of the darkness, she could see bright, burning purple points of light. The light seemed to have no origin, but she somehow knew that it was looking at her.

All around her, sound has stopped. There were no noises from passing cars, no birds, and the bugs flying around the streetlights had seemed to disappear. It was just Jewel, those eyes, and Jimena.

Goosebumps covered Jimena’s body. She was frozen in place, unable to run, unable to breathe. Jewel, who seconds earlier had been barking and growling like mad, was silent as well. Jimena glanced at her dog, not wanting to lose sight of those eyes.

She was still barking, but Jimena couldn’t hear anything. It was if all other senses had fled her body. Still, those eyes burned into her very soul.

And then she felt herself moving slowly towards them. Her legs didn’t move an inch, but still she moved forward. Jewel was now jerking away, trying to move away from the eyes, not toward them. She finally managed to wriggle out of her collar and stood, barking and gnashing her teeth soundlessly.

The closer Jimena glided towards those eyes, the darker her world became. It was as if the darkness was sentient, and it was swallowing her whole. As darkness enveloped her, she could feel her mind slipping away. Her eyes rolled to the back of her head, and her world went black. The last thing she saw was those purple, bright eyes. The light flashed just before everything went dark.

** ** **

Jimena’s mother stood looking around her daughter’s empty apartment. It had been over a month since her daughter had gone missing, but she hadn’t been able to clean out her apartment before now. Though truth be told, she was only doing so because the complex wasn’t giving her a choice. The apartment needed to be vacated. Jewel sat by the door, sadly waiting to be taken away.

She had been found wandering the complex the night Jimena went missing. The neighbor knew who she belonged to and immediately knew something was wrong.

Police and volunteers had looked everywhere. Jewel had tried to run multiple times, always ending up at the vacant apartment, but eventually she was kenneled. She could not keep distracting the search party.

No trace of Jimena had ever been found.

While she had been cleaning the apartment, Mother had walked to the dumpster multiple times. On her last trip, a flicker of movement caught her eye. It had come from the window of the vacant apartment. For a brief moment, her heart had jumped to her throat because she thought she saw Jimena.

Then that turned to fear because whatever she had seen couldn’t have been her daughter. Could it? The figure she saw was beating on that window, screaming soundlessly. It had lasted only a second, but Mother had to pretend she had never seen it. It was not her daughter. It was too… scared. She could not bear to see her daughter like that.

The moment she walked back into the apartment, Mother looked at Jewel. It was almost painful. She was the only one who had seen what happened, and she would never be able to tell anyone. Jewel met her gaze, her eyes unfocused and empty.

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