Monday, September 3, 2007

Chapter 3: First Night, Part III

He craned his neck to peek out the window through a gap in the curtains. Full night ruled out there, broken only by a few stars. Is it even eight o'clock yet? He glanced down at his wrist. Blood dripped where his watch had been. Shaking his head, he leaned against the wall and sighed. He'd never appreciated just how bright Houston was. Light was everywhere in the city. Even at midnight, streetlights glowed, cars drove by and a few neighbors stayed awake. But out here, light only remained while you created it. Darkness reined supreme everywhere else. Why do people always want to leave the city and come out here?

Vernon began to see patterns as the darkness writhed around them. It flowed like a black river, creating alien alphabets and pictures in its whirls and eddies. He even saw faces in that blackness, but looked away hurriedly, afraid of seeing a small, familiar visage looking back at him. Occasionally, tendrils of shadow ventured toward them, only to whip back from the light. Mesmerized, his eyes started to lose focus. His head nodded.

Afterward, he could never pinpoint the moment he drifted off to sleep. One minute, he was listening to the slow, steady breathing of his wife and son while gazing at the midnight kaleidoscope around them, and the next, he was jerking his cheek off his wife's hair to look at the ring of light, certain it had grown smaller while they dozed. But everyone was still here. Sucking in lungful of air, he tried to slow the galloping pace of his heart. He leaned back and gazed at Cheryl. Sleep had erased the lines of worry that etched themselves into her face when she awoke. The light created a halo around her, outlining the edges of her body in a soft glow. His eyes followed the line from her head down her shoulder to her arm holding their baby, the elbow resting on her hip, which led down her leg and to her foot…

Vernon's eyes widened. Her foot was gone, slipped into the shadows.

Slowly reaching across her, he grabbed Cheryl's knee and pulled. She stirred and murmured, but didn't awake. Sweat beaded on his forehead. Her foot wouldn't budge. With a grunt of effort, he pulled as hard as he could. Something popped and ripped. He caught a glimpse of her ankle and tattered shoe before her leg snapped straight and disappeared to the calf.

Eyes popping open, Cheryl screamed. She clutched Ray, muffling his own cries against her chest. Her leg sawed back and forth, dragging her a little further into the darkness with each pass. It twisted, and she flopped over onto her belly. She started sliding faster. She extended her arms, pushing the baby toward him. Hugging himself, Vernon shook his head in mute denial.

"Take him! Take Raymond!" She jerked back until darkness hid everything below her armpits. "Don't let it get him! Take your son!"

His gaze flickered between his wife's anguished face and the squealing infant in her outstretched hands. He unclenched one fist gripping his shirt and hesitantly reached for Raymond. She slid back to her neck, and he jerked his hand back. She kept yelling for him to take his son. Raymond squalled. Vernon started to reach out again and froze as the night claimed its prize and wrenched her from sight. Her screams cut short.

Tears screaming down his cheeks, Vernon groped in his pool of light until a tiny hand grabbed his finger. He snatched his son against his chest and rocked until Ray's cries subsided.

"You got her!" he yelled. His voice cracked. "Isn't that enough? Leave us alone!"

The darkness, apparently unmoved and unsated, continued its black dance around his illuminating shelter like coyotes circling a campfire. Shapes formed and broke apart. He saw Cheryl and Alexis gazing back at him from time to time, silent and accusing. He wanted to plead with them, tell them he was sorry, that he had done everything he could. But his tongue refused to form the words. You abandoned them, a voice whispered from the back of his mind. They know it. You know it. Why lie? He wept and closed his eyes.

Leaning back, Vernon tilted his head against the wall. The sobs grew until they shook his body. Raymond squirmed and whined. He propped the baby on his shoulder, rubbing his back until Ray fell quiet once more. Vernon wiped his eyes clear and stared at the writhing darkness. He ran his vision around the swirling lines, trying not to focus on any one detail. Still, he caught a glimpse of a reproachful face every so often. He shied away from the glares and moved onto another section of night whenever that happened. His eyes moved continuously, gliding and circling from one line to the next, around and around and around... His head bobbed.

Vernon bolted upright and slapped his face. Wrenching his eyes away from the dancing night, he stared at the ring of light that ended just beyond his toes.

The line quivered.

Rubbing his eyes with the heel of his free hand, Vernon blinked several times and looked again. The edge vibrated and blurred. Something scraped softly along the wall behind him and the circle shrank a hair. He reached up, careful to keep his hand along the light's edge without casting too much shadow over himself or Raymond. His gaze swiveled from spot to spot, searching for any encroaching darkness. His hand reached the wall where he had wedged the flashlight.

It had moved.

Where his fingers should have felt the light's flared head, they instead encountered its rubber power switch. He felt along the barrel. He poked it. The flashlight remained steady. He gave it a tug. It shifted slightly, but still seemed to be securely wedged against the wall. Frowning, Vernon pushed it back to its original position and shoved the television over to tighten its hold. It pushed back, softly at first, then with increasing pressure until it squealed across the wooden surface. The TV snapped his hand to one side as it became airborne. It sailed into the darkness and smashed against the far wall with a loud crash and tinkle of falling glass.

Freed from its prison, the flashlight tumbled. It struck the edge of the desk and clicked off. It bounced away, struck his shoulder and fell to the floor beside him.

Darkness descended upon them. It didn't fall all at once, but flowed in, moving quickly but cautiously like an animal stalking the hunter that had wounded it. Vernon could feel its first exploratory advances. It plucked at him. Shoestrings tightened, then sagged. His pants leg twitched. One shirt sleeve fluttered, and the collar flipped back and forth. Ray's onesie tugged and pulled around his arm in several directions. Vernon fumbled at his side. His hand brushed the flashlight and sent it rolling. He heard it bump against the side of the desk. The darkness pulled harder at his clothing. He reached for the flashlight, hand spider-crawling across the floor. He couldn't find it. How much longer before it stops playing?
Part IV coming Friday!

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At September 3, 2007 1:33 PM , Blogger shadowstalker1978 said...

I'm on the edge of my seat! Good job!beach 2 hentai game  

At September 6, 2007 11:09 AM , Blogger Bret Jordan said...

Awesome work, Jeff. I loved the horror of not only his predicament, but the horror of loosing his family, plus the sense of guilt he is feeling over not being able to protect them.beach 2 hentai game  

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