Serial and Milk: Available Darkness – Chapter 2
(Serial and Milk: Available Darkness is a serialized horror story co-written by David Wright and Sean Platt. A new chapter appears here each Friday. If you missed part one, you can read it here.)
He raced from his soggy tomb, stumbling into the black forest as fast as his weakened legs would go. Sharp pain lacerated his sprint; branches clawed across his flesh and jagged rocks and warped roots rendered the pads of his feet into a mess of gory ribbon.
He was prey, and expected his predator any second. Perhaps a scream, or a gunshot to split the silence; anything to stop him in his tracks.
He couldn’t stop. Every step of blind terror shoved him deeper into the horrible dark. And while he ran, he considered his situation.
Who was after him? What had they done to him? And then the puzzler to top them all — who was he?
Aside from a few moments of a dream before he woke in the coffin, the man could remember nothing of his past. Not his occupation, not his location, nor even his name. He pressed against his pants pockets, searching for a wallet, perhaps some identification. There was no wallet. Instead, he found a balled up piece of paper, damp with sweat. He could see lights ahead, peeking through where the trees began to thin. He looked for a place with enough light to stop and unfold the paper. As he got closer, his eyes adjusted to the squares and rectangles making up a row of two story homes.
He paused to catch his breath and calm his heart, kicking triple time against his chest. He was standing behind one of several look-alike homes, one of the few without a privacy fence keeping the rest of the world from encroaching on suburban oasis.
He chanced upon a clothesline, dipped low with damp garments. He snagged a shirt from the line just as a series of lights flooded the windows in the back of the house. The shirt slipped from his fingers and he scurried away, slipping in cold, wet grass as he raced off with a final fearful glance back.
Sudden agony pounded between his eyes and sent him to his knees. He wanted to crawl to someone’s stoop, pound on their door, and plead for help, but part of him was whispering; begging him not to do the obvious.
Help can only hurt you, it said.
Someone is searching. Someone wants you dead, and until you remember who, you need to stay invisible.
His head was a thousand needles as he tried to recall a single moment prior to waking inside the coffin. He claimed nothing; not a single second from his past’s enigma.
Perhaps his memories were only clouded by the pain racking his body, he thought. If he could just find a spot to rest, maybe everything else would fall into place. Though he had just woken only moments before, he needed sleep. Now.
He spied a shed behind one of the other homes without a fence. It sat far in the back, bathed in the shadows of the treeline from which he came. He glanced up at the windows, squares of black against slate. Either nobody was home, or the occupants were sleeping — he hoped.
The neighborhood must be as nice and presumably safe as the houses suggested, as the shed was unlocked. He slid inside and though there was hardly any light, he could make out some lawn equipment, three bikes and several large plastic storage containers. Easily enough room to lie down. He grabbed a pair of hedge clippers from a rack, in case his pursuer followed him.
He was about to shut the door when he remembered the slip in his fingers.
As he unfolded the paper, he noticed his trembling hands. He tried to calm his breath with little success and moved closer to the open shed door seeking what little light he could find. The handwritten words proved easier to read than he would have thought.
312 Hanover Street
Trust Nobody. Especially the law.
None of it made any sense. The sentence which followed made even less.
Avoid the sunlight! Don’t touch anybody!
What the hell?
He sat still for a moment trying to make sense of the words when an idea occurred to him. Perhaps he could steal his reflection in one of the windows. Maybe if he saw himself, it would trigger a memory or two. His body was not as curious as his mind, though. As his eyes grew heavy, he noticed he’d left the shed door open. Too late. He collapsed and fell into the deep, dreamless sleep of the dead.
He woke with a start to the sound of a scream.
(to be continued next Friday)
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