This week’s edition of The Glitterlady’s Tuesday Tales is a special Extended Edition, with the word limit increased to 1000 words. This is the inspiration photo:
“The Dark Prince”
I’ve been trapped here countless times, locked in this maze of dank, fetid passageways, this tangle of crumbling tunnels and halls.
I’m no stranger to this world of darkness, and yet familiarity doesn’t lessen the panic that clenches my heart. As always, blood roars in my ears and adrenaline pumps through my veins. I forget to breathe while I am here, confined, claustrophobic, hunted. He is in the shadows, watching, stalking, waiting for me to crumble, the dark prince that consumes my thoughts and, it seems, my dreams. It’s his castle that holds me, his dungeons that imprison me.
I cannot remain here, staring out into inky blackness. I must escape; that’s how it always goes, isn’t it? I run, he pursues, and in that vital moment, that sliver of time during which I am forced to choose between the light and the darkness, between the steady humming of my life and him, I awaken. Those are the rules of the game that my subconscious has created, the rules that I have followed since I was a girl.
Just a bit of a chase, really. That’s all that stands between me and freedom.
Why do you leave me? The voice in my head is magnificent, thrumming with power, caressing my ear like so many dark promises. I can’t help but scream out at the sound reverberating through me, so beautiful that tears spring to my eyes. There’s a note of sadness in his voice that I’ve never before noticed, or perhaps I’ve forgotten it upon waking, washed away by my return to consciousness.
I’ll find you, he adds. I always do.
I run, my breathing harsh and ragged in my ears, a counterpoint to the slapping of my feet against slick stones. It’s not long before my lungs begin to burn, the simple task of inhaling and exhaling transformed into agony. It’s only then that I hear him behind me, his footsteps purposefully slow and deliberate. He’s waited for this moment, when my energy has flagged and I’m too exhausted to go much further.
“You cannot abandon me again.”
He speaks aloud now, and though his voice is quiet, it carries well in the darkness, sending a shiver down my spine. There it is again, that sadness and longing that I hoped to ignore. The words awaken within me what I never hoped to feel for him — regret, tinged with desire. There’s a part of me that yearns to go to him, to reach out my arms and touch him at last. But that is not part of the game, and so I limp onward, my gait unsteady, waiting for the inevitable moment when I will awaken.
He continues at that same measured, even pace, a predator toying with his prey. “What must I do, Love, to convince you to stay?”
His words are a caress, lulling me into submission, and yet I know I cannot yield. If I falter, I’ll never wake up, I’ll never break free, and so I push ahead blindly — only to stop short at the sight of a wall looming before me. He is behind me, blocking off my only possible means of escape. There’s no going forward, and there’s no turning back. I’ve been forced into a trap.
“It’s just a dream.” It’s shocking, the whimper that comes out of my mouth, a mangled, half-sob of desperation. “It’s only a dream, I’ll wake up soon, any moment now…”
And then he touches me.
It’s difficult to describe the spectrum of emotions that blossom within my breast, brought into being by a simple brush of his fingers against my shoulder. Bewilderment comes first, for I had imagined that he would be frigid, chilling, but this butterfly-soft caress is as warming as summer sun. Fear comes a heartbeat later, a frisson of horror taking root within my stomach, for he’s broken our script. This isn’t supposed to happen. He has never touched me in my dreams, but now that he has…
I swallow hard, my muscles relaxing an infinitesimal amount as fear gives way to the smallest tingle of desire. Longing and love come last, flooding my awareness without warning; I am locked well within their grasp when I turn to face him.
How is it that I’ve never been able to remember how beautiful he is when I awaken? I’ve seen him before, but in fits and snatches — a flash of white teeth, the gleam of black eyes. Nothing prepares me for his dark brilliance, and for a long moment, all I can do is stare.
He cups my cheek with infinite tenderness, and I tremble before him, unable to move or think or even breathe. “I’ve waited for you for so long,” he says, his eyes threatening to overwhelm my soul. “You cannot leave me now.”
“But this isn’t real,” I protest. “I’ll wake up, any moment now…”
He chuckles at this, a low rumble that makes me ache. “Is that what you think?” His thumb lingers over my lower lip.
“That’s how this always works —“
His fingers tighten, gripping my chin hard, and I gasp, the surge of emotion that warmed me withering at the ice in his eyes.
“Not this time.”