Monday, February 4, 2008

Chapter 9: Third Night, Part III

Vernon struggled to stand. His right leg quivered as he straightened, and he fell back to the carpet. He rolled left and grabbed the other flashlight. Sitting up, he flailed with both while scooting backwards. He gritted his teeth against the pain in his hip and focused on the darkness before him. Every pseudopod the light touched broke apart, only to reform the instant he swung at another limb threatening to snatch him again. Several brushed his hair and bleeding ear before he managed to dispel them. Others hooked through his clothing; his shirt and pants hung in tatters by the time he dared a look over his shoulder and groaned. He had only crossed about half the distance to the bathroom. Ray had finally quieted and was staring at him with wide eyes. When something slid across his scalp, Vernon quickly turned back around and screamed. Every arm the thing had snaked toward him.

The light flared above and the bulbs went out with a twin pop. The darkness flattened under the flash, seeking refuge out the window and under furniture. Vernon struggled to a crouch and lurched toward the bathroom as night came flooding back. He collapsed on the floor next to Raymond and pulled himself into a ball around the baby, making sure they both had plenty of light around them.

When the pain in his hip subsided somewhat, he scooped up Raymond and climbed to his feet. He shoved the flashlights under his arm. He kept most of the weight on his left leg, using the right one to steady himself. Black shadows pushed in on the band of light. He carefully placed each hobbling step in the center of the path and crossed the corner of the kitchen into Alexis' room. He staggered to her bed and dropped on the pink comforter. Rubbing his hip, Vernon laid the baby beside him with a sigh.

"That was a little too close, buddy." His voice trembled, but he couldn't suppress a wry laugh. "We just about get eaten by some kind of monster shadows, and I'm talking about it like it was a car accident. And to a baby at that." He shook his head. "This place must get to you after awhile. What do you think? Is Daddy cracking up?" Ray sneezed. "You think so? I hope you're right." He lay still for several moments, one arm around Raymond until the infant went back to sleep. The pain in his leg settled to a dull throb, and he felt himself drifting off. He turned a heavy-lidded gaze toward the door. Darkness pulsed and fought against the light in the back room. That's three rooms you've been driven out of tonight. Do you really want to go to sleep in here right now? He groaned, sat on the edge of the bed and lifted Raymond to his chest.

The lights in here looked steady enough, but then they had in the other rooms, too. The less power the house is drawing, the more stable the other lights will be. The breakers should only start flipping when we're using too much. It was a basic principle, but this old shack had worse wiring than any machine he'd ever seen. No telling how that might factor into it. I need to get those lanterns. He frowned, and his brow furrowed. Are they still on the table? In the dark kitchen. He sighed and stood with a long grunt.

Vernon walked into his room and placed Raymond on the bed. He limped around to the closet, still open after the morning's episode. He clicked on both flashlights long before he got there, keeping the beams trained on Cheryl's clothing. What shadows still remained between the clothes scuttled away toward the back. As he approached, he moved the lefthand flashlight to his shoulder and tilted his head to hold it in place. He reached in a shaking hand, wrenched the hangars aside and played the lights over the wall until he found the circuit breaker. He snapped the two tripped switches back on and looked over his shoulder. The living room brightened as lights came back on in the kitchen.

He turned the flashlights off and lowered himself to the bed with one under each hand. Please, just give me a minute to rest. I've still got so much to do. He let his lids settle. Plenty of time to get the lanterns in minute. Vernon shifted his leg and hissed at the bolt of pain that shot through the hip. He grimaced and straightened his leg, but the pain took time to diminish. Even then, it remained as a dull ache. Sleep fled further as he became aware of his throbbing, tattered ear. He sighed and stared at the ceiling.


Part IV coming Friday!

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