Serial and Milk: Available Darkness – Chapter Six
(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 previous chapters, you can read them here.)
Almost four hours earlier…
The man without a name stared down at the burned bodies in disbelief. He no longer bore any of the scratches, scrapes or cuts that lacerated his body just minutes earlier, but he also felt impossibly alive; a new tempo seeming to beat in the blood beneath his skin.
Inside his mind, he was still feeling the staccato of shock from the murders he committed. He wondered again what the hell happened? And more importantly, how? He could not get his brain to embrace the arctic truth lying in ash before him.
In a vain desire to resolve his numbing questions and the enigma of his own identity, he slipped into a downstairs bathroom and finally came face to face with his disquieting reflection.
The face that stared back was young, with only two tiny wrinkles yet to flirt with the corners of his full mouth. His long dark hair and indigo eyes were no more recognizable than a stranger off the street. He leaned in close, examining his features as though they were harbored behind glass in a museum. The image blurred like a breaking wave, causing him to lean even closer before the hair on his neck rose to the sound of water running from a faucet he had not turned on.
Suddenly, the mirror image was gone, replaced by a mug he’d seen just minutes earlier – the angry face of the bald man.
He fell back against the wall, before realizing his reflection hadn’t changed. He wasn’t looking through his own eyes; he was peering through the eyes of the dead man, images caught in a previously deceased moment when the man had been shaving his head.
A single beat from the false reflection’s appearance and it was gone, replaced with the wide eyed stare coming from the hollow eyes of the amnesiac.
Without warning, the world disappeared again, and the man found himself staring into the approaching fist of the bald man. A split second shattered along with the impact and the amnesiac felt like a dull echo of a faraway sound. The bald man landed another blow and he felt it, like a phantom pain in an absent limb. The amnesiac screamed in a voice that was not his own, but that of the woman who had suffered the beating he was now experiencing.
Reality returned and the amnesiac fell to the ground, shaking, gripped by vertigo. Then the ride kicked into motion again.
A million memories seemed to tear through his skull in a sudden chaotic burst of flashing images and cacophony of sound. It was too much; the man’s head felt as if it were expanding rapidly, unable to contain all these alien thoughts. He reached up as if squeezing tightly enough would be enough to keep his skull intact.
More images swam through his mind in a dizzying current in which he was cast adrift. Understanding drowned him with the sick realization that he was somehow infected with the memories of the people he’d killed.
Voices grew louder — snippets of conversation, sounds of music, stolen thoughts, growing louder and faster; both cold and sharp like the blade of a dagger, digging into some deep part of his brain like a worm turning towards the center of an apple. Should that worm burrow to the core, the man shuddered with certainty, that it would plunge him deep into a madness from which he would never ascend.
Whatever traces left of his life before waking in the tomb were now drowning in chaos as he struggled to find some tether back to reality.
The whirling world flickered in and out of existence, one second displaying the reality before him and the next, the unnerving world behind the eyes of the dead.
He couldn’t fight anymore.
He let go and slipped into the darkness.
His bedroom was impossibly dark. Even the moon hanging fat in his window held no reign here. Downstairs, the boy’s father raged. But it wasn’t his father that held his attention or commanded his fear. It was the visitor in his room.
The shadow that was not a shadow, but not quite a man.
The boy thought he might be dreaming. He rubbed his eyes and opened them again, attempting to discern the shape, or rather shapes, moving in the darkness of his room.
“Hello?” the boy asked.
“Hello,” a voice whispered back. “I’m sorry it took so long.”
The amnesiac woke to the sound of pounding.
His eyes shot open as he leaped to his feet in a single fluid motion, fists clenched tightly at his sides, palpable waves of electric currents arcing around them. He was ready for whatever was coming.
But nothing came.
He looked around. It was still dark outside. He quickly ran to the blinds and closed them to prevent the entry of unwelcome eyes. He thought of whoever had buried him in the woods and that perhaps they were outside, waiting to finish the job.
He listened. The pounding returned, a soft tempo drifting from upstairs.
Another memory flashed — closet door — unlike the barrage of visions that nearly drove him mad, this one flared and faded quickly. Just long enough to send him up the stairs, hurried but uncertain of the door’s significance.
As he hit the landing, the pounding grew louder.
“Hello?” the amnesiac’s uncertain voice wavered through the still.
“Help, help!” came the shrill scream of a terrified child.
The amnesiac raced into the master bedroom and saw the closet door. The pounding continued louder. He threw open the closet door and flicked on a light. Boxes and clothes, but no child.
“There’s a lock, open it,” the child cried out, pounding at where the lock was.
He tossed boxes aside and saw a lock with a key in it, turned it, threw it to the ground and then pressed against the wall which was a door.
And then he saw her. A girl no older than 12, dark hair hanging over her large wet, dark eyes, her mouth wrenched open in an agonized wail mixed with relief.
“Abigail” a memory whispered just as the girl reached out to hug him.
A spark shot from her skin to his, and suddenly, a barrage of images he would never be able to unsee, pierced his mind; the horror of what the bald man had done to her. The memories flickered away and were replaced by reality as he saw their arms locked, her body convulsing and pupils rolling back into her skull..
It was starting.
This murderous energy was going to take her as it had done two others already.
A terrified scream fled his throat as he pulled back with every ounce of his strength to break the connection. They both stumbled backwards.
She retreated into her dungeon like a wounded animal, shaking, as he put distance between them.
She wasn’t dying.
“Don’t …touch me,” he gasped, fear choking his voice. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
She stared at him and then brushed her arms where they had briefly touched. She looked as if to ask what had he done, but instead said something else.
“Did you kill them?”
“Yes,” he said, about to explain he hadn’t done so on purpose, when she interrupted.
“Good,” she said.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Got any comments or questions? Post them below. We’d love to hear what you think. Also, please tweet this post and help spread the word about Available Darkness and nurture online fiction.