Friday, September 7, 2007

Chapter 3: First Night, Part IV

As if the thought were a signal, the little tugs ceased. Something rushed past him in a steady stream. Vernon sensed it building somewhere on the other side of the room, a mounting wave waiting to crush him and his son. Eyes wide, he continued groping. His hand brushed cool metal. He tried to grab it. The flashlight rolled away again. His questing fingers found nothing but carpet and desk.

The streaming sensation stopped. Floorboards creaked, and the night growled. It came as a deep rumble more felt than heard. The floor trembled, and off to his left, he could hear metal vibrating against wood. Vernon leaned over and snatched at the sound, his fist closing around the metal cylinder. He hauled himself upright and set the flashlight on one cocked knee. He frantically squeezed the barrel. Where's the switch? The room fell silent.

When his hand closed over a smooth circle, Vernon ran it to the other end and squeezed. His middle finger landed on rubber and the flashlight flared to life with a soft click and caught him full in the face. He spun it around and cringed, waiting for night to overwhelm the feeble illumination. The light stabbed forward about as far as his foot, a short, blunt club when he needed a spear. Still, it was the only weapon he had. He swished it back and forth. The beam grew with each pass, driving the darkness back. It went – though not as far as before – and resumed its circling.

Thank God. His breaths came in ragged pants. He looked down at Ray, who remained sleeping in his arms. The baby had a double handful of his shirt. Vernon held the light up over his head, shining it down over the pair of them. He wondered how long he could hold it up there. However long it takes. I sure can't set it down again.

Not that that was the end of it. Whatever was out there apparently learned from its failure. As much as the headlong assault had unnerved him, Vernon soon found its new tactics were worse.

It started with a nudge at the flashlight. Tired as he was, he had difficulty telling the intrusion from his own trembling at first. It wasn't until the light started slipping from his weakened grasp that he realized the problem. He tightened his hold and whipped his wrist around, pushing the darkness away before quickly shining it back over himself. In that short gap, shadows crept in and pulled at Raymond. They fled when the light returned, only to have something else try to pull the flashlight free.

Vernon spent the night in a deadly game of tag, chasing shadows away only to have them sneak up from another direction. He'd feel something crawling along his leg one moment and tugging at his shirt the next. The attacks came faster and faster, snatching at his waist, baby, light, shoes or even hair in rapid succession. Before long, he had long scratches along his arms, legs and neck. His shirt hung in ribbons, and a good portion of his pants lay on the floor, shredded to tatters below the knee. Even Raymond hadn't escaped. Red welts marred the soles of his feet and left cheek. He stared up at his father, trembling and whimpering. But Vernon had been able to shield him from the worst of it.

Tears of frustration trickled down his cheeks. Exhaustion threatened to drag him under as each long minute dragged by. Every sweep of the light, every new tug on his clothing only added to his misery. As midnight crawled toward morning, Vernon found himself wishing he could just give in, lay down and let the darkness roll over him. I can't do this again, he thought as he waved the light yet again. I just can't. He swept it around in another arc to shoo the night away from his foot.

Every time he thought about quitting, Cheryl's face swam in his vision. He saw her disappearing into the darkness over and over, heard her cries to save their son, witnessed her final action to push her baby to safety. I've lost them all but Ray. I abandoned them. He looked down at the boy dozing in his arms once more. I tried to abandon him, but Cheryl wouldn't let me. That one burned most of all. Shame strengthened his limbs long after his will gave out.

The night passed so slowly that Vernon didn't know what he was seeing until he realized he could see. When he lifted his eyes from the immediate circle of his body, he found himself blinking at the far wall of the room and a black, gaping hole he thought must be the bathroom doorway. We made it! He tilted the flashlight down toward the floor. Immediately, it started sliding from his grip, but the pull lacked the strength it had earlier. Vernon snapped it back up and resumed protective, sweeping arcs of light.

Weak, bitter laughter escaped his lips. He'd passed a night in hell and lived to talk about it. All it cost me was most of my family. Just a little longer, and they'd be safe.

Dawn was coming.

Part I of Chapter 4 coming Monday!

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At September 7, 2007 10:06 AM , Blogger Bret Jordan said...

Now that he has lived through hell, and a terrible cost, I can't wait to see what happens next, and what answers the day and townspeople might have. Nice, scary stuff here, Jeff!dowload free gay porn  

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