Monday, October 22, 2007

Chapter 6: Second Night, Part III

As the curtain fell back in place behind him, he stared around the kitchen, unsure of what exactly he wanted. Finally, he shrugged, ignored the cabinets and headed for the refrigerator. After everything else they did, they probably left something in there to eat. He hooked fingers through the refrigerator and freezer handles, opened both doors and peered inside.

A wide assortment of food stared him in the face. Unfortunately, it was only a potential feast – cartons of eggs, frozen microwave dinners, beef, chicken, pork, sliced meat, cheese, sandwich condiments, vegetables, fruit, milk, soft drinks, juice, butter, bread. And not one bit of cooked food to be seen, not so much as a casserole or salad. I guess they think I need to learn to be a cook, too, he thought sourly and swung the doors shut. As they closed, the fridge shuddered and the compressor started up. The lights flickered. Not again!

He dashed around the ice box toward the back room. Something caught at his shoe laces, and he stumbled through the doorway, banging his injured arm against the doorframe. Grimacing and rubbing his elbow, he turned to see shadows streaking across the floor in time with the flickering lights. They converged on the doorway, backing off only when they hit the patch of illumination coming from the back room. It knows I'm here. It only lasted a few seconds before the lights overhead steadied and banished the darkness.

Vernon sighed and took a shaky step back into the kitchen. The darkness had seemed nearly mindless the night before, but those streaks of shadow just now had been quite orderly, heading straight for him like a pack of wolves trying to corner a deer. Is it learning, somehow? A frightening thought, one followed by an even more frightening idea: What if it's mad because it couldn't get me? What happens when it learns more?

A foul-tasting, caustic burp slipped free. His throat constricted at sudden pressure rising from below. Hand clasped over his mouth, Vernon spun on one heel and dashed into the bathroom. He just made it in time, sliding to a halt at the toilet and bending over as the afternoon's sandwich forced its way back up, burning his throat and mouth as bile and partially digested food splashed into the bowl. Gagging at the vomit smell wafting back up at him, he winced as his stomach clenched painfully and he retched again. And again. And again. Finally the spasms passed and he collapsed next to the commode, gasping through a raw throat.

"Oh, man," he croaked, and swallowed. Even that hurt.

Lightheaded, he grasped the side of the toilet and climbed to his trembling knees and then shaky feet. He flushed it, watched everything he'd eaten that day swirl around for a moment and stepped to the sink, where he splashed cold water on his face. Once the dizziness passed, he stepped into the back room. He spied his flashlight on the floor where he had left it that morning and went to retrieve it. Couldn't hurt. Picking it up, he thumbed the rubber button only to have the bulb flash briefly and die with a pop. At least I've got all those new ones... He smacked his forehead. His entire supply of lights and batteries were still in the car, surrounded by a sea of night. He hurled the flashlight into the corner with a yell. It struck the wall with a tinkling of glass and thudded to the floor. Pounding his fist into his thigh, he stalked out of the room.

Back in the kitchen, Vernon glanced at the refrigerator, shuddered, and turned his gaze to the cabinets. His stomach clenched. Not right now, he thought and rubbed his throat. Food might not be a consideration, but he could use some water.

He walked to the nearest cabinet. Plates and bowls, but past them to the right he could see the glasses lurking behind the next door. Small glasses squatted in front of their taller brethren, with the plastic cousins relegated to the corners. Vernon rose to his toes and stretched his good arm to grab a large, blue cup from behind a bowl. Faint shadows crawled across his hand and forearm. They lacked any real strength, but that didn't stop them from trying to hold him back. It was like fighting cold cobwebs that squirmed and grasped. He dropped to his heels and whipped his hand down. A few strands followed his arm out of the cabinet, withered and died in the light. Trembling, he shuffled to the sink, filled the plastic cup and brought it to his lips. Shaking hands sloshed the water; he spilled nearly as much as he got down his throat. He repeated the process, drinking more this time. Vernon tossed the cup in the sink and walked to the side door, through the second bedroom into his room.

He stopped at the bed and tossed a few pillows to the other side before halting. Do you really want to sleep in here tonight? No, he didn't. The thought of spending the night where he'd almost been taken earlier threatened to make his gorge rise again. Leaning out the door, he glanced at the recliner. I've slept in it before just fine. Just need a blanket or something. Vernon walked around his bed to the closet on the far side, pausing to look at the blackness pressing against the side window. He swallowed hard, grasped the knob and yanked it open.

Shadow loomed over his head, toppling toward him as soon as the door opened. Shouting, Vernon collapsed, using both arms to scoot backward, heedless of his sore elbow. The wall of darkness evaporated as it fell, gone before it touched the floor. He scrambled to his feet with a strangled sob.

"Come on!" he yelled at the closet "Just leave me alone for a few minutes, that's all I ask. Just a few minutes without something trying to drag me off!"


Part IV coming Friday!

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At October 23, 2007 8:57 AM , Blogger Bret Jordan said...

Enjoyed the installment. Forgetting the flashlight in the car sounds like something I would have done...and I love your description of the darkness, it really gives me the creeps, like shadowy spiders.wallhack 2 tibia  

At October 24, 2007 12:03 PM , Blogger Jeff Parish said...

Man...think of the webs. *shudder*wallhack 2 tibia  

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