Saturday, March 21, 2015

Despite the Darkness #6

They completed the circuit around the town, he realized later that they had walked right up to the start of Isaiah’s trail creating an unbroken loop; of course he didn’t realize at the time because Jan was barreling towards them.

“Isaiah!” A part of him shrunk when he noticed she didn’t bother to say his name.

“I caught up with him on the backside of the buildings there.”

“What were you thinking? Its freezing and its dark,” she smothered her son in a tight embrace and then started him towards the haus. “This is not alright.”

He fell back a step and let the two of them go ahead. He was now coldest he’d ever felt, far worse than the time the “igloo” he and his brother had built had collapsed. He’d been trapped in snow while his brother ran for help. Now, the chill came from the inside not the outside. He looked off into the dark treeline. How easy…

There was a howl, close… very close. Another answered but in the opposite direction. The townspeople were starting to file out of the Dambuster, slapping each other’s backs and staggering in a few different directions. One brushed off the windshield of a Dodge Dart.

“Hey! Next time Pete just record the good parts!” Stu barked from the steps.

“There’d have to be good parts to record!” The assembled throng laughed loudly and without reservation.

“They ain’t never gonna be any good.”

“Ain’t winning a Super Bowl, that’s for sure.” Another bout of laughter.

Pete jumped in his car, started it up, and threw it in reverse.

“Bye, Pete,” they all said in unison.

The Dart started down the road, blazing its own trail through the fresh snow. Everyone had turned to go their separate ways. A loud snap caught their attention and they quickly looked back. A tree fell across the roadway right in front of Pete’s car, both blocking the road and crushing the front of the Dart. The horn wailed in the quiet night.

“Pete!” Even Jan was looking back to see what the commotion was. He was already running towards the crash, cutting across a field, while the others stood dumb struck. The horn stopped and a bloodied Pete forced his way out of the car. There was a noise, a mix between a growl and a laugh, so close that it raised every hair on his body and it seemed Pete had a similar reaction because he was looking around wildly for the source.

He was about thirty yards from the wreck when he saw a dark shape leap out from the trees, bound into the roadway, grab ahold of Pete, and then drag him screaming into the woods. He slid to a stop. The act had happened so quickly it was impossible for his mind to make sense of any of it. Pete’s scream were loud and insistent – then there was a snap and the screams stopped. A howl erupted from the woods and the scream started in his own mind; the scream was now a mix of the first and now Pete’s.

“Oh… my…" The man crossed himself.

The half dozen men finally awoke from their stupor; Stu grabbed the collar of the man closest to him and barked something about “guns”. The man ran off to a building past the Dambuster.

“Steve!” Jan’s voice broke, but the commanding tone was still clear. The men were arming themselves now, a mixture of shotguns and scoped rifles landing in ready hands. He looked from them to Jan and then back into the woods. Everything was moving slowly now; a part of his mind nagging him that he was missing something. He looked down and his breath caught.

Stu was leading the pack, his jaw set and his eyes fixed on the point in the woods where they all thought Pete surely was – he didn’t even notice the man standing stone still until his arm came up to block his path.

“What?!” Stu’s breath was pregnant with the smell of alcohol.

“You can’t go out there.”

“Who are you to stop me?!”

“You have to trust me. You can’t cross the trail there.”

Stu and the rest gave him a mixture of incredulous and bewildered looks. “The fu…”

Three senses were flooded simultaneously. First there was a bright golden light that blinded everyone huddled around the two men. There was also the sense that a great force had just crashed into a granite mountain face. Finally, there was a powerful growl that died out suddenly in a whelp. Three men fell back into the snow from the shock and everyone else jumped.

Struggling to look through the bright spots still blurring his vision, he tried to spy what it was that had caused all the commotion. There was a bright golden light that dimmed and then flashed back to life, again and again. It started low and then went upwards, then to the left, and then low to the right, just a few feet from where they all stood. Eyes adjusted to the explosions of light and they all started to catch glimpses of what was causing the ferocious thrashing. It was still too dark, even with the flashes of light, to see anything with definition, but it appeared to be as large as a man and covered in course hair. He thought he spied claws during one swipe.

The attacks stopped just as suddenly as they had begun and the shape disappeared back into the darkness of the woods.

So I had a hard time with this part for kind of an interesting reason - swearing. You see before I posted this I had a little more colorful terminology for the guys to say, but that was really bothering me. Anyone that knows me, knows I don't swear (mostly), so its not really something I'm comfortable with or want to encourage. Course big tough guy Stu would have no such problem. So how do you reconcile that? I sought out the advice of another writer (Marcus Brotherton) and he gave me a few things to think about. One take away was that swearing can be an easy out, lazy even. I'm still thinking about it, but that one take away has got me writing differently later in the story, so when posting this I changed this section to hopefully reflect my current thinking. And if you are wondering about, "The fu..." that just from the Sound of Music... you know Doh, Ray, Me, Fu, So, La, Te, Doh... isn't that how it goes?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Despite the Darkness #5

Continues immediately after his dream...

He shot up in bed. Jan had long ago learned to cope with the suddenness of her partner waking in bed and simply turned over with a groggy curse exiting her lips. The feeling of warmth and comfort was suddenly stolen from him by a breeze of frozen air. He searched the room for an open door or window… none were. He got up and went into the front of the haus. Immediately he saw the front door wide open. Then a quick look to Isaiah’s bed chilled him more than any breeze could – it was empty, the covers thrown off. A vice was spun tight around his heart and his lungs longed for a breath that refused to come. The door frame opened up to a halogen lit blanket of snow that was pristine in nearly every direction. He gripped the door jam and leaned out, spying a series of footsteps that went down the stairs and then turned left.

He held back the urge to shout his name, it’d wake Jan and this would be his fault somehow. Instead he slipped back into the bedroom and from years of practice working early mornings he dressed in the dark. Jan shifted once when he stubbed his toe looking for his shoe. She rose up a bit and gave a low growl.

“Isaiah’s outside,” he said hastily. He was out the door and outside before he could hear her ask groggily for him to repeat himself.

The moon was at its zenith and the clouds seemed to content to part and let it shine down on the world below. The tracks led away from the cabin and then turned at the tree line that started at the end of the play field. Beyond in the darkness a creek bubbled cheerfully. The footsteps came to a large depression of snow. It looked like Isaiah had knelt down and then his trail continued. He started to follow but a second set of prints caught his eyes and he stopped so suddenly he slipped. In a fall worthy of the Keystone Coppers, he fell backwards into the snow.

“Isaiah,” he yelled, mixing call and curse.  He then got up and took a moment to brush himself and then find undisturbed tracks, he wondered what it was that was now walking beside Isaiah. The prints were small and at the base of them was a hoof. A goat? Pig? Sheep? A touch of warmth surprised him at that final thought and a soft bleat further ahead flushed him with adrenaline. His training kicked in and instead of freezing, he bottled the flush of energy up, pushed any conscious thought off to the side and instead focused on the trail. He started slowly but was soon haphazardly sprinting alongside the trail. The tracks curved with the woods which now turned back towards the buildings and then across a wide treeless gap that must have been the service road up to the dam. He heard a soft bleat across the way, this time in the trees as they grew closer in on this side of town.

He spied Isaiah trudging through the snow, blazing a trail beside a white lamb that effortlessly traveled over the snow. “Isaiah,” he called and the boy turned around. He was smiling broadly until he saw his father’s stern face. He took a hold of Isaiah’s shoulders, partly to make sure he was real and partly to hold him in place. “What in the world are you doing out here?”

“I had a dream dad.”

I had a dream dad, the words echoed and seemed to call back to a distant memory. He brushed snow out of his son’s hair and tried to soften his countenance, trying to find the right mix between disappointment and love.

“Your mother is going to kill us, let’s go.”

“We have to follow him dad,” he motioned towards the waiting lamb who eyed both of us politely. “The wall, dad.”

“The wall?” His dream nagged at him.

“We have to keep going.” He turned to move closer to the lamb but a hand stopped his progress.

“What did you see in your dream Isaiah?”

“There was a man standing in front of a door, he was painting it with blood. Then there was a man walking around a city.”

“Then a man in a boat,” he offered, but Isaiah looked confused. “You didn’t see that?”


He held still. There were two thoughts fighting for supremacy; one took the form of his wife you glared back at him, cutting him with her gaze; the other was the lamb who simply looked back at him.

“Listen Isaiah, when I was your age I had strange dreams too, o.k.? I thought they were real, but I had to grow up.” The wind swept between them and he noticed the thin layers he was wearing were not enough to keep out the wind. “Your mom is going to be worried sick about you, ok? We need to go back, let’s go.”

Isaiah now seemed to struggle with his own thoughts. His eyes were downcast and his breaths came slowly. “The man painting his doorway with blood was great grandpa…”

“Isaiah…” He took a step away from his son, time slowed and a well of emotions suddenly strained against their restraints, “…how would you know that?”

“He was making his home safe. The man walking the wall is you; you’re making this place safe.” Isaiah spoke in a far-off voice that was sure and absolute.

I had a dream dad. The two thoughts were wrestling for control of not just his mind but his heart as well now. The first was large and powerful, hidden in shadow, but he could see well enough that it was his father. The other was a smaller man whose eyes were bright and looking back intently even as he dodged and paired the attacks of the other. There was a howl somewhere off in the woods. It lingered in the cold, crisp air but his mind grasped onto it and it changed into the scream. He closed his eyes and the world became pitch black and bitterly cold.

He jumped suddenly, a wet nose nuzzling his hand. Through the trees he could see the backside of the buildings, they were on the other side of town and going forward was the same as going backwards.

“Come on… we need to get back.” He then started forward.

I don't know Isaiah's "The man walking the wall is you; you’re making this place safe." feels heavy handed or forced - but he's also kind a weird kid. Thanks for reading Russian Bot Net and the rest of you.