She had awoken like a newborn, pushed out into cold harsh reality, knowing nothing about who she was or how she got there. The room was small, filthy - all mold, peeling paint, and unimaginable stains - lit by an ancient light bulb. She had opened her eyes, and found herself lying on a vile, smelly old bed, while looking up at a water-marked ceiling. She had barely the time to take in the toilet, bath, and boarded-up window, before the terror started.
Something started rattling the doorknob. Something with a low growl. It slammed against the door again and again and she could only stare as the thin wooden barrier shook with blows. She started to tremble. The attack on the door ended without warning, but no sooner had it stopped than another something with a high-pitched giggle slammed against the wall behind her. She leapt off the bed and ended up standing in the middle of the room, shaking, as more unseen things tried to get at her. They scratched and howled at the walls and floor and ceiling.
Sometimes their impacts made the light globe flicker and dim.
This was all she had known since first opening her eyes to stare at the four decrepit walls of her world. If she was lucky, she might get a few hours sleep before they started trying to get in once more, but that was rare. There almost always seemed to be something sniffing under the door, banging on the pipes, scraping nails along the window...
She'd tried screaming, calling for help, begging - nothing stopped the onslaught. In her braver moments she had tried to catch glimpses of them through the gaps in the boards over the window, but it was always bright outside, too bright to see clearly. At most she saw flickering shapes.
On the edge of the stained and dirty bathtub, was a rusty old straight-razor.
She wasn't sure how many times she had picked it up and sat there oh-so-close to letting her blood add itself to the myriad stains and marks around her - but always too afraid to make the first cut. She was sure that the first slice would be the hardest. After that, she could continue to open her flesh, let her life ebb and pool around her, and in that way cheat the monsters.
The scratching and screaming and banging was overwhelming her once more. She stood in the middle of the floor, tears streaming down her face. She looked at the door, it was shaking and moving as something slapped wet-sounding flesh against the thin wood. Finally it was too much, the idea of a life like this, without hope or respite. She leapt across the room, grabbed the razor, and pressed the pitted, rusty blade to the sensitive skin of her throat.
One slash was all it would take.
Her trembling hand held the blade there, scraping the skin, for what seemed like hours. Then she howled, the sound torn from her soul, and dropped the razor. The thing behind the door slammed itself wetly against the thin barrier, making the tiny chain rattle and jump.
No more. No more, no more, no more... If she was going to die she wanted to face the monsters.
She walked over, slid back the latch-chain, and the pounding on the door stopped for a few moments. Then there was a gurgling, cackling noise, and the doorknob was rattled from the other side. She flicked the catch, turned the knob, and threw the door wide open.
White light streamed in, blinding her.
The shape screamed at her, then it started to move. She struck blindly at it with her tiny hands, hitting something soft, the skin tearing like fairy-floss. The thing screamed again, but in pain this time, as its wet leathery skin caught fire. It swung its impossible shape around and started to flee, only to burn and melt down in front of her, the thick oily smoke pouring off it making her choke and gag. Unable to comprehend what had just happened, she staggered back in confusion, tripped over her own feet, and fell backwards, hitting her head on the bed-frame. She lay there unmoving, spots flashing before her vision, feeling like she was going to vomit.
The door slammed shut.
No, NO, NO! One was in here with her! She struggled to move, scrabbling on the floor, trying to sit up. She jerked her head about, causing huge flashes of pain to arc through it as she tried to catch sight of the thing in the room with her.
The room was empty.
It was all too much, she vomited, and passed out.
When she came to, her head was pounding. The things were crying and growling once more, scratching at the window, banging on the door and walls. She felt sick, and tried to ignore the sounds as she wiped down her face and drank some water. Then she filled the bath, stripped, and lay in the lukewarm tub for a while. Idly she played with the razor, ignoring the monsters.
When she was ready, she dried herself off. Picking up her filthy clothes, her nose wrinkled at their smell and she dropped them into the bathwater to soak. Then she walked over to the door and opened it. She saw a brief flicker of movement as something disappeared out of sight around the corner. She knew it now. Not how they had gotten her here, where she was, or how they had blanked her memory... But she knew why.
Standing naked in the doorway, she stared out at the white void that stretched before her, and shouted into the empty expanse.
"I am called Fear! I have chosen that name because I am the thing the monsters are scared of."
Fear walked into the void. Naked, alone, and unstoppable.
"And I'm free!"