Time ticks: one. Life changes: two. Death happens: three.

 

A woman in a white dress; a dress that screams destruction. Ripped at the hem, ruined. The one in the dress wears it well although the colour drowns her. It’s choking, a symbol of what she isn’t. Her face copies the colour, but the tears bring the change. Streaks of black, ruined. No one knows her but she is followed. She turns, she looks, nothing. Obsession lurks in the shadows.

 

Watch your back: four. Faces turn to blur: five. Death happens: six.

 

A man sits at home with blood on his hands, ruined. He is a walking shadow of his former self, a soul ripped in two. His eyes bear the ghost of a thousand lives, bright figures in silk dresses. Death looks up to him in respect. Morality looks down on him in shame. But morality is gone and only obsession remains. He knots his hands in anticipation and the sweat forms on his forehead. He bites his lip to stop himself from screaming and draws blood, crimson, fierce. Not many can comprehend this feeling, how much he has to have her, like air to a child, freedom to a prisoner, light to the other side of death. His hand grips a table now ready to crush it, fingernails peel at the wood. He leaves, becoming Death’s accomplice once more.

 

A favour for a friend: seven. Hidden in the dark: eight. Death happens: nine.

 

Blue eyes search a black room, sweep the shadows for danger. The mind feels what the eyes can’t see. Change. A presence. Movement in the dark, fear. Who? Eyes blink, eyes strain. The crowd is suffocating but the white dress is visible. She shouldn’t be here; she must leave. She turns and the dress twirls, snags, ruined. It brushes an arm, a leg, too closely. Strangers, all strangers. She radiates fear, the whites of her eyes match the white of her dress and she stands out. Someone is watching. Cold fingers grasp white dress, ruined. White on white, fingernails bare. Eyes hide secrets, eyes see inside. These eyes look fearful, the blue in them sparkling. They search only for a door.

 

Run from the night: ten. Crowd remains: eleven. Death happens: twelve.

 

Liquid warms his throat, works to steady a nerve and flows fast through his body as he sits. Sits waiting. Close now, closer. He’s watching, a puppet master at his own show. He wants the white dress for his collection and the glass shakes in his hand as he knows he must exercise patience. He wants to move but can’t, not yet. He waits, feels the tension in the room, ruined. This is different from last time. He knows this as he watches his prey in the distance through the crowd, the bodies that fill the room, but nothing can distract him from the white dress. His white dress. Obsession wets his lips and he slowly begins to tremble. The darkness has enveloped him, protects him as if he were an old friend, understands as he continues to watch her, a fawn frozen in headlights.

 

Eyes in the dark: thirteen. A hand twitches: fourteen. Death happens: fifteen.

 

They inhabit this place, the night crawlers. The watchers. They see the dress and they see him but they don’t understand. They are his cover, her safety. But only watch, indifferent. They don’t see her leave, staggering into the night. Consumed with their own problems. The smoke pulls them in; the drink fills them up, ruined.

 

Too many lives: sixteen. Complications: seventeen. Death happens: eighteen.

 

Eyes close for an instant, concentrate on waiting. They flash open, sweep the room but she is gone, sparking a mixture of fear and panic; she cannot run from him. Obsession heads to the bar, questions, demands, ruined. This is not the answer he wants. A glass is thrown and the walls cry like his many victims before. His eyes search and strain, looking for a girl whose destiny is twined with his. There will be no escape for her. He sighs, he sits and a drink is poured. His white dress is gone, ran from him. Possessions have labels.

 

Lost in the night: nineteen. Obsessions torment: twenty. Death happens: twenty one.

 

A lamppost feels a white dress and sheds its light. The night closes in and she wavers, unsteady. Shivers, drips, ruined. The moon can’t keep you dry. Hair sticks to a white face, white dress. The rain teases, laughs. It soaks a white dress, dripping from fingers.

 

Steps slow: twenty two. Decision: twenty three. Death happens: twenty four.

 

A hand slams a table, “I’ve had enough.” His glass shudders and the lights change. Faces turn and question, judging this man who does not belong here. His face is weathered, his snarl is dangerous. They see the undone tie and crumpled shirt. They don’t want trouble. He slides off a chair in anger. Kicks it down like a dog until it splinters, ruined. Red liquor in a glass, red stains on a bar, red eyes of a man who disappears into the night.

 

Time running out: twenty five. Life in the balance: twenty six. Death happens: twenty seven.

 

She senses a pursuer and her face turns white. Confused, scared, ruined. Disorientation is reality. Rationality is lost. She wants safety but fears the blackness around her, the wet falling from the sky. The pavement thunders behind, others are following. Tear tracks meet train tracks. They merge, wait, ruined. It’s easy, too easy. But this white dress cannot become smeared in black, like the white face with blue eyes. It is ruined. Hair blown in the wind, a whistle in the distance ready to straighten it for her. Not tonight.

 

Forget this: twenty eight. Delusion: twenty nine. Death happens: thirty.

 

Obsession comes closer, spies her in the distance, forgets the safety of the shadows, ruined. Yet their colour still consumes him. Black is the heart that guides the man, ripped into pieces like much of his soul. This is a race he cannot lose. Curiosity turns to madness as he fixates on his obsession. The black following the white ready to taint her, a game of chess gone too far but who wins this time? He can see her, she is his.

 

A whisper behind: thirty one. A change in direction: thirty two. Death happens: thirty three.

 

This heart beats fast. Sticks as footsteps are heard. Paranoia. Fear. The atmosphere builds as the bridge feels the weight of a woman in a white dress. Age becomes it, yet it holds. A hand on a ledge crumbles rock that falls into a vast cavern below. Grey dust. She slows, new light on a white dress. Safe.

 

Darkness descends: thirty four. Following: thirty five. Death happens: thirty six.

 

He closes in, but she is unaware, gliding as he stalks. A swan caught in dangerous eyes. Completely vulnerable. He sees her, watches her walk. Dreaming. Drifting. Seconds away, moments away. A dark hand grabs a fistful of white dress. The dreaming fades, the dress stops, ruined.

 

Pace changes: thirty seven. Close: thirty eight. Death happens: thirty nine.

 

Her dress is screaming, ripped at the heart. She looks into the eyes of death, red and haunting, but can’t pull loose. The white in the dress makes her vulnerable. This is what he wants. The limbs of the dress flail. It protests, screaming louder. She stops, feels the silk of it, a final comfort. But this dress cannot protect her, not from him. It moves with her, shudders and bruises as she does. Red and Purple. This body should be white. Her hand strikes a face. Death is coming. This face is rough. It sneers, showing red, stains the body; ruined. A voice shrieks into the night but is silenced like so many before. This is his past. A dark face looks upon a white dress. It is touched, restrained. Caught in a trap, a net of obsession, ruined.

 

Impact: forty. Unbalanced: forty one. Death happens: forty two.

 

A demon erupts out of a white dress, claws scratch, fierce and sure. He does not expect this. Red stains white. White is fading, white dress, white face, fading. A soul is on fire, burning hate. It breaks out to protect the white dress, but its power is fading. Obsession consumes her; he sneers, black, fresh from the rain but he brings the cold, the wind. The dress is damaged. No longer white, white shrouded in black, smothered by him as she struggles, overwhelmed.

 

Possessions are lost: forty three. Not tonight: forty four. Death happens: forty five.

 

Tears drip into water, become one, she is close to the edge, too close. The water is still, waiting. It sees her. It sees the white dress, smudged and torn. It sees a whiter face, scared and ruined. It sees, it sees. She stares Obsession in the eye and he stares back grinning. Her voice struggles out once more and the hand on the dress moves, strangling the sound. She bites, brings red, ruined. The night cradles a woman in a white dress but has no hands. It fails, ruined. But night does not weep, afraid of the figure that lurks, brow lowered, eyes piercing. It is still, night had predicted this.

 

Darkness holds secrets: forty six. Eyes closed: forty seven. Death happens: forty eight.

 

A figure runs through the streets, avoiding the last of the rain. A door opens and a room is straightened. Red eyes fade to brown. He sighs; the room is left, ruined. He wanders, a figure lost, stroking a photograph abandoned on the table. White frame, white dress. He moves, a bedroom, a wardrobe. This wardrobe is too empty, it needs to be filled. Colours, so many colours. Blues, blacks, red; the colour of sin yet soft. He remembers her, the owner of this dress. An obsession long past. He smells it and shudders, imagining her skin. She had screamed but he had silenced her. His collection had begun.

 

Lights go out: forty nine. Cold room: fifty. Death happens: fifty one.

 

Water envelopes a friend, it has tasted their tears. Water covers and water consumes. Wash away the night, sink into innocence. The moon shines on.

 

Time ticks: fifty two. Life changes: fifty three. Death happens: fifty four.

 

A woman in a white dress, a dress that caused destruction.

 

By Becky Andrews