Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Chapter 12: Fourth Night, Part IV

Ethan grabbed the flashlight and set a brisk pace through Alexis’ room and into the master bedroom. He walked around the bed and stopped on the far side. Vernon stood beside him. “This the closet that’s been giving you so much trouble?” he asked, pointing with the light. Shadows crowded away from the illumination. Vernon watched them brood in the corners and nodded. “Alright then. When I come back out of there, I hope you’ll actually listen for once.”

Vernon grabbed his arm. “Ethan, don’t!”

He smiled and pushed Vernon’s hand away. “Don’t worry. Just give me a minute, then open the door. I’ll be fine, and maybe you’ll come around.”

Reaching out, Vernon tried to grab him again, but Ethan shrugged him off and stepped into the closet. He shoved clothes aside, stepped in and turned around. His knees buckled a bit as if something had bumped into his back. “Looks like we’ll need to get an exterminator out here in the morning. Some big rats in here from the feel. Give me about two minutes, then open the door.”

Vernon opened his mouth in protest, but before he could say anything, Ethan leaned out, grabbed the knob and pulled the door shut. Vernon saw the light swishing side to side through the crack near the floor, then it winked out.

Something thudded against the door. Ethan gave a muffled shout. Something clattered against the floor. And silence.

Uncertainty kept Vernon rooted to the spot. He knew he should open the door. But what’s the point? It’s not like there’s anybody in there anymore. He shoved a fist into his mouth to stifle a giggle. “Get a grip on yourself,” he muttered and jumped at the sound of his own voice. He took a deep breath and walked to the door. The knob felt slippery in his sweaty grasp. Vernon wiped his hands on his shirt, grabbed the doorknob, counted to five and yanked it open, taking a long step backward as he did so.

Vernon watched as the darkness rolled outward and went through its usual display of flattening and retreating from the overhead light. A part of him wondered how he could stand there and witness such a thing so calmly. Guess you really can get used to anything. Another wild titter threatened to bubble up. He forced it back down. Once it appeared the shadows had withdrawn as much as they were going to, Vernon took a couple of hesitant steps toward the closet. Ethan, of course, was nowhere to be seen. But a round piece of metal protruded from the darkness. He dropped to his knees and crept forward until his outstretched hand stood a few fingers’ breadth from the shiny object. He stayed still for several moments. Then his hand shout out, grabbed it and dragged it out. He half expected shadows to cling to it like some sort of glue that would snap back and yank him with it. But the flashlight pulled free easily enough and he scuttled backward without any interference. He clutched it to his chest and clicked it on and off a few times to prove to himself it still worked. He kept it pointed at the closet, watching the light drill its way through the darkness. Finally, tired of the game, he shut the flashlight off. Vernon stood, stretched and went into the living room. After a few tugs, he wrestled the door open and walked out onto the front porch.


Part V coming soon!

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