The world was muted by an encroaching darkness. A blackness peeling off the surrounding walls; tarnishing my edges, sinking into my clammy pores. No light. No life. Impaired by the depths of apparent emptiness, my fingertips met concrete. Fingertips left indelibly in this forsaken place. I continued to teeter forward, on a tightrope of fright.

A sound. Sound. Shattering silence I was adamant existed. It was difficult to distinguish from my dry, vapid breaths; craved then expelled. It was difficult to distinguish from the hurried, worried thoughts darting to and fro behind my furrowed brow.

A sound. Again. No light. No silence. Life?

I’m driven to move. I’m driven to rip my limbs from rigour. Potential definitions flood the vacuous darkness ahead of me. It’s a groan, a grinding of molars and cheeks, a mucous sigh – heavy exasperations of stale air, littered with dust – catching in a throat. Air. Catching. My breath catching. Air. Someone’s throat. Air. My throat.

Panic envelopes – I am drowning on air – breathing in and in and in. Groaning. Grinding. Gurgling. Is it me? Groaning, grinding. Gurgling. No light. No silence. Groaning grinding gurgling. Help. Me.


Perhaps gurgling is a cliché.

I challenged fourteen students to rewrite a passage about a zombie without any clichés. No spooky, no eerie, no heart stops, no suddenly. Both students and I came to realise how difficult this is – our perception of horror being laden with clichés and tropes. Nevertheless, this was my result and perhaps it’ll inspire you to give it go!

#noclichéchallenge #writersagainstclichés 


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