Chapter 1: The Night.
A darting fear--a pomp--a tear-- A waking on a morn To find that what one waked for, Inhales the different dawn." -Emily Dickinson, 'A Darting Fear'.
The winter outside roars mercilessly against the dirty shaking windows: they squeak on the rotten wood frame, doing, naturally, a poor job in keeping the cold outside the small room.
Y/N drags her scratched up fingers along the rough wall, eyes still closed, body perched on the top of the old bunk bed.
Sweat sticks baby hairs to her forehead, to her neck, it even leaves stains on the musty mattress.
Despite the temperature being torturing low, she tosses and turns, kicking the covers away multiple times only to pull them up again before her toes turn blue in her feverish state.
All the while she nursed herself by murmuring soft words that once belonged to songs from her childhood, probably.
Her eyes sting like she's about to lose her sight, skin red and hot as if her heart had turned into a pressure cooker, spilling boiling blood to her veins.
For what seems like the hundredth time, she unlocks her phone and is taken to the latest conversation she had with Hoseok,
and again nothing new had appeared within the 3 minutes since she last checked.
The conversation had begun and ended around an hour and forty-two minutes ago with Hoseok asking if she felt any better than she did that morning,
to which she replied saying that there were no improvements but this was normal, so he shouldn't be too worried and instead should prepare for his date that night.
Shortly after he had replied with a selfie with his face too close to the camera, a big smile showing perfect white teeth and shiny cheeks, showing off the bouquet he bought her,
little snowflakes sticking to his black hair and light blue overcoat.
She sent a bouquet emoji and a "good luck!!!" with three exclamation points exactly and that was about it.
The entire time her roommate had been completely oblivious to her state, distractedly playing with her own blond hair as her boyfriend spilled some fucked up shit through the phone.
But to be honest between oblivious Morgan or 'paying attention' Morgan, Y/N would always pick the first option.
One could say Morgan had a talent for microaggressions and sharp comments, Y/N hoped she could be spared of that, at least tonight.
However, that doesn't go as planned after Morgan noticed Y/N making her way down the friable aluminum stairs on the side of the bunk bed, taking each step with trembling legs, face pale.
-You going out like this? My god... -Her icy blue eyes scan the girl once, twice, then she sits on the worn-out mattress and lowers her phone while covering the speakers.
-Well if you are going down, grab me something to drink.
Y/N is suddenly hit by a wave of disorientation and she almost loses balance, having to bend over and uphold her body weight on her knees.
Morgan's eyes are big like sausages on her face and she has put all the distance she could between them, pressing against the bedframe.
-I swear to god if you throw up in the room I'm gonna...
With no patience for Morgan, Y/N leaves the room, slamming the door behind her and walking through the hallway with weak legs and dragging her feet slightly.
Her headache is hammering but she tries to be positive and hopes an aspirin and a glass of water will make it better.
Once in the dorms kitchen, she takes a place at the long wood table with a giant first aid kit sitting in front of her.
She presses a cold water bottle to her forehead and mumbles to herself while searching through endlessly expired and empty medicine boxes.
Y/N thinks about all the kids that seek their parents any time they have a common headache.
She wonders if maybe not having that gave her at least independence and taught her how to take care of herself, even if it's a little depressing.
A loud crash comes from upstairs, like heavy furniture falling over, making her jump in her place, heart pumping in her ears.
A few seconds of silence follow and she focuses on the small pack sitting at the bottom of the first aid kit, a soft sigh escapes her then.
Loud noises were somewhat common in the dorms, in fact, they were rarely silent.
In a way, there was always someone awake: groups of young girls having secret sleepovers, couples meeting in the abandoned rooms and gardens, nuns tediously roaming the halls at night.
It's in the nature of kids not to notice, and teenagers to not care for the noises during the night, therefore, the dorms had no other option than to get used to it.
Feeling slightly better, Y/N makes her way to the main hall, silently calculating how long until the aspirin takes effect.
She climbs the stairs one step at a time, wanting to lay down as soon as possible.
As she is on the top of the stairs, a heavy door opens at the end of the hallway on the second floor and a nun peeks through it.
Her black habit blends into the shadows around her, making the wrinkly face look like a carved pale mask floating in the dark.
-What are you doing? Go to your room, don't you know curfew is at ten?
-She reprimands, closing her hands like claws around the large cross hanging from her neck, her thin lips mouth curve in dislike like a crow's beak.
Y/N bows her head quickly and, as a habit, stutters in nervousness.
-I'm sorry sister Hilda, I didn't...
The nun interrupts by placing a crocked finger above her thin lips, telling her to be quiet, followed by pointing at the opposite end of the hallway, to her room.
Y/N pics her pace out of the stairs, moving quickly with her legs still weak and now filled with anxiety.
Behind her, the door to the hallway that leads to the nun's area is closed and locked, she can hear the slow steps of sister Hilda disappearing in the distance.
The girl pushes the door to her room distractedly, lost in her own thoughts. She could only take one step inside before the smell enveloped her.
The smell is so intense and repulsive that she can feel the little nerves on her nose popping and stinging, bringing fat tears to her burning eyes as she coughs uncontrollably.
It's so utterly disgusting that her insides seem to writhe, she presses her jaw trying to stop the mixture of sulfur, necrose, and putridity from making her through up.
Within seconds, a second sense is completely taken over as well: All she can see is a big flash, yellow, red, and orange lights form giant unrecognizable blobs of light before her eyes.
An unbearable heat seems to have repelled winter out of the small room.
Too late, her eyes find balance and she can make out what is in front of her: the lights aren't lights, they are flames.
Liking the wood walls, spreading through the tapestry and consuming anything it touches and raising to the ceiling in large columns.
Still, what makes absolute terror pour through the blood in her veins isn't the fire, but the giant grotesque creature that looks directly towards her, sitting in her destroyed bed,
waiting for their prey in the flames.