Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chapter 9: Third Night, Part VI

The shadow shortened and darkened as he came. It gained strength as it compacted, picking up speed. Vernon fumbled with the switches on the lanterns. By the time he got them on, the shadow's head and shoulders had disappeared underneath the chair. Raymond was not far behind. Vernon threw himself on the floor and slammed the lights down in front of the seat, cutting the shadow in half. He heard a slight growl from the darkness below the chair. Vernon picked the baby up and held him close, kissing his cheeks and forehead. Salty tears wet his lips. Ray quieted, although he still trembled.

"I'm sorry, buddy. Daddy's got you. You're alright." He sat in the recliner and started rocking. The baby's trembling eased, and Raymond buried his face in the hollow between Vernon's neck and shoulder. Just a little break, that's all I'm asking for, he thought. He turned his face toward the front windows, which seethed with darkness just like the one in the back. Vernon clutched his son tighter. You don't need him, and you don't need them. Take your own people. Leave mine alone. The night quivered harder.

His eyes fell on the lanterns glowing on the floor. Shadows cowered under the chair, occasionally lashing out at the light. It reminded him of Grande, his mother-in-law's Chihuahua. The nervous little rat would bark and growl at everyone but her – and run away from anything that actually confronted him. But once your back was turned, Grande would launch from his hiding spot and snap at your ankles. If no one was watching, Vernon would boot the dog back wherever it had come from. I wasn't always so good at knowing when someone was watching. Vernon shifted in the chair and chuckled at the ceiling. On one visit a few months before Alexis was born, he'd sent the pooch sliding across the vinyl floor under the dinning room table and turned with a satisfied smirk on his face only to find his wife staring at him with one hand over her mouth in horror. It wasn't until she started shaking and her lips curled past her fingers that he realized Cheryl was laughing. She giggled through dinner whenever Grande slunk past and kept right on chuckling when they went to bed.

This one's for you, Cheryl. He stood and walked across the room. Hitching Raymond higher on his shoulder, he bent down, tipped the lanterns over and shoved them under the chair until only the wire handles were visible. Something between a squeak and a growl came just on the edge of hearing. Light shone out from underneath the seat, playing across the carpet and wall. He grinned despite the twinge in his hip. That'll teach you. He stared for a moment, then grabbed the handles and fished the lanterns back out.

Something caught at his foot as he turned to go, and he stumbled around to keep his balance. Light splashed across the room. He looked down and brought the lanterns around once he steadied himself. The shadow hooked around his shoe dissolved. He scowled at it and limped backwards to his recliner. The darkness returned as soon as the light moved out of range. Vernon set the lights on the floor and sat. Why couldn't the light come alive here? Leaning back, he smiled at the image of bright shards stabbing under furniture and into cabinets. Raymond squirmed. He patted the baby's diapered bottom, a series of soft whaps that sounded loud in the still room. Muscles in his shoulders gave a painful twinge. Vernon shifted in the seat and craned his neck, trying to find a more comfortable position. This won't last too long, but at least it feels better for now. He found himself staring over the back corner of the recliner.

The kitchen had gone dark.
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Part VII coming next week.


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At March 6, 2008 6:53 AM , Blogger Bret Jordan said...

Enjoyed the chapter. The little dog reminded me of my grandmother's dog. It acted just like that.rus teen litle porno  

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