The nightmare of Her Dreams
by Susan Hocking
It didn’t seem to matter in which direction she ran, the maze would just spit Victoria out in the exact same spot every few minutes. She felt like she was running in slow motion, not getting anywhere fast, just like in a bad dream. Except this bad dream was a very real nightmare. How had she not seen this coming? How had she not realised what her fiancé was until after the wedding, when he became her husband, and it was already too late? She felt so stupid, so helpless. She had loved him with all her heart and it had blinded her to the truth. She had to get away. Where she would go, she didn’t know. Just away from this place, away from her new husband and the awful truth about him.
She looked up. Grey cumulus clouds were building against the fading blue of the late afternoon sky. Already, she could pick out the pinky-purple hues of the approaching dusk. She was running out of time. She didn’t want to think about what the darkness of night might bring. If she did, she might have been too terrified to move. She picked up her pace, hoping and praying that this corridor of green would be the one that would lead her to the outside, to safety. There it was, the end of the corridor. She stumbled over the edge of her dress as she broached the gap in the green and landed hard on her knees on the uncompromising gravel. She steeled herself for a brief second, sucking in a lungful of air and trying not to think of the pain in her knees, then she lifted her head. Only to see the same damned statue fountain she had seen at least five times before.
Victoria choked back the tears that threatened to spill. If she started to cry now she would never get out of this horrible place. She had to stay strong. There had to be a way out, didn’t there? She picked herself up off the gravel, dusting her once white wedding dress off. Although, she needn’t have bothered as it was now dirty and torn in several places. She looked around for a different entrance back into the maze from the ones she had taken before, sent up a quick prayer, and started running again, the tall, green walls of the maze swallowing her up.
She wished there was a way to see over the walls, but they were just too tall, easily twice her height. She felt trapped, closed in with nowhere to hide. Not that hiding was an option. Not with her voluminous, white wedding dress on. The layers upon layers of, what was once pure white, satin and flowing georgette was like a frothing sea, swishing rhythmically around her legs as she ran down the evergreen hallways of the maze, the train dragging behind her along the dirty white gravel path. Even over the tall, leafy walls she could see the imposing balconies and turrets of the castle that was supposed to have been her new home. The castle which she had once dreamed of living in, of running as the Countess de Bouillion. Now, when she thought of what was inside that castle, all the dreadful secrets it no doubt held, her stomach roiled in disgust and horror.
“Victoria,” a faraway, sing-song voice called after her. The voice had a dream-like quality to it, but Victoria knew all too well that this was not a dream. She knew that the man behind the voice was more of a nightmare than any dream she had ever dreamt. “Victoria, my Darling. Why do you run from me?” The voice carried over the maze walls, rustling the leaves as it floated down to her ears. She could barely hear it over the pounding of her own heart. “Don’t you want to be the Queen of my castle? The Queen of my heart?”
“No!” Victoria screamed. “I do not want to be your Queen!” She had stopped running and had tilted her head back to look up at the sky. The light was almost gone now. She wanted to cry.
“But my Darling, why then did you marry me, if not to become my Queen?” The sing-song voice was closer now, louder, piercing straight through Victoria’s heart. Her fear was palpable and she was sure that he could smell it. She wondered if he was enjoying her fear, feasting on it like the monster she now knew that he was. Oh, how could she have been so blind? The gravel crunched under her feet as she started running yet again. “Come, my Darling. Come to me and let me truly make you my bride, my wife, my Queen.” Never! She would never give herself up willingly to him. She would run for as long as she had breath. Victoria threw herself through the opening in the living maze wall. Please, oh please let it be the exit.
“No,” she moaned. “No, no, no!” This could not be happening. She was back at the statue fountain. She was running out of options, she was running out of light, she was running out of time.
“Ah, there’s my good girl, my beautiful bride.” Victoria gasped and whipped around, her legs tangling in the dress she had worn to wed the man of her dreams. She had never imagined he would turn out to be the man nightmares were made of. He was standing casually in one of the entryways, holding a blazing torch in one hand. “It’s getting late, my Dearest. Don’t you think it’s time to stop playing this silly little game and come back to the castle with me?” Victoria started backing away as her husband took a step towards her. She didn’t get far, however, as she backed into a maze wall.
“I don’t want to go anywhere with you,” she spat. She was trying to maintain an air of confidence, but she knew she wasn’t fooling him. He knew she was terrified.
“Well, I’d rather not leave you to die here in this maze. You’ll never get out of it without me, Darling,” he said with a small half-smile. “Come with me, be my Queen and we can live happily ever after. Isn’t that what you wanted? For us to be together forever? I do believe I remember you sharing that sentiment with me many times in the past.”
Yes, well,” she gulped back the pain that arose from hearing her own words thrown back into her face. “That’s what you say when you’re in lov –“
“That is right, my darling Victoria,” he purred, “You do love me, you married me. So why the childish games?”
“Yes, I do – I mean, I did love you,” she stuttered. “Before I knew the truth. You lied to me, you tricked me. It was all just a game to you.” Hot tears pricked at her eyes as they started to track down her cheeks, smearing her mascara as they went. She felt as if her heart had splintered apart, leaving nothing but a gaping hole in her chest.
“Oh my Darling, it was always more than just a game.” He had stepped close now, his body a mere hand span from hers. He ran a finger down the side of her face ever so gently, making the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention. His touch used to send tingles down her spine for a completely different reason, before she knew the truth. She really had loved him with her whole being. Now they were shivers of pure terror. “I wanted you the moment I laid eyes on you, my dearest Victoria. I always knew you would make the perfect Queen for me.” He caught one of her tears on the tip of his finger and looked at it with a hunger in his eyes. Then he placed his finger between his full lips and sucked on it. He brought his violet eyes back to her own ocean-blue ones, pulling her against his muscular torso with one arm around her waist. He could feel the tremble that coursed through her body.
“Why Curtis? Why did you have to choose me?” she whispered, her eyes fluttering closed in defeat. There was not going to be any escape. She resigned herself to her fate as Curtis de Bouillion lowered his mouth to her slim neck, placing his lips over her main artery. He kissed her softly, the touch of his lips feather soft on her skin.
“Because you are the only one for me. You have always been, and always will be the only one I will ever want. Forever,” he whispered, and he plunged his razor-sharp fangs into her delicate neck.