Serial and Milk : Available Darkness – Chapter Seven
(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.)
“You did this?” Abigail asked the man without a name. She leaned in close to study the still smoldering corpses, but did so with a cool curiosity normally accompanied by a fossil brush.
Seeing a small child who should have been the picture of innocence looking down at death with such a clinical detachment sent a chill through his body. It started at his shoulders, slithered down his spine, and settled in his soles. Only the thinnest membrane held the torrent of tears welling in Abigail’s eyes, but not a single drop would ever fall for the fiends who tormented her.
He’d tried to keep her from looking; begging without touch, but she insisted, sprinting down the stairs in the absence of timidity. She demanded to see for herself, to know with certainty that the demons were dead and the breath of freedom was hers to inhale.
“How did you do this?” she asked before the backbeat of her own answer fell into the rhythm section of her reasoning. She raised a wavering finger and pointed upstairs toward the makeshift dungeon where she had accidentally touched him and nearly suffered the same fate just a few minutes before. “Oh,” she whispered, “like that.”
“Yeah,” he said from behind eyes that were about as hollow as they could be while still leading straight to a soul, “but I don’t really know how it happened. It… just did.”
“You’re him, aren’t you?” The understanding that had flickered across her face ever since he’d first entered the small, unspeakable chamber now danced across the insides of her eyes – like a torch suddenly tossed into the rage of a bonfire.
He gazed at the girl for a long and winding moment, trying to pull meaning from the tangled mess in his mind, knowing as he did, that there was truth there to discover.
“You know me?” he said. It was exactly half a question.
“I’ve been waiting for you.” Her large dark eyes swam with a sense of awe amid a deep expression of love that even an amnesiac would have difficulty mistaking.
“How…” he tried to swallow his disbelief, “do you know me?”
She shook her head, then turned slowly and headed back upstairs.
He didn’t follow. He waited for a minute that felt like an hour until she returned with a folded slip of paper. She held it out, then seemingly thought better of handing him anything, and let the paper waft without ceremony to the edge of his feet.
He reached down, retrieved the paper and unfolded it all in what seemed like a single fluid motion. It was a child’s drawing, in crayon, of a man with dark hair, blazing blue eyes and the wings of an angel. The man’s hands were surrounded in large overlapping ringlets of red circles; undulating waves of fire as expressed by the quickly waning innocence of a child. He was ascending toward the heavens, hovering just above a burned body that could only have been one person – the bald man. Below the man, thick dark black lines, caked as if the crayon had been pressed repeatedly to its breaking point against the paper.
“I dreamed about you,” she said, “two nights ago. You saved me.”
The amnesiac’s head started to split along that seam that separates the impossible from the inevitable.
“That’s not possible,” he said.
Before the little girl could say anything, the man’s breathing picked up its pitch and the tiny hairs on the insides of his ears seemed to suddenly singe the skin around them.
Someone was coming.
“I have to leave,” he said walking toward the sliding glass door as another battery of images rained through his mind.
The old gas hog, keys dangling from the hook by the kitchen, garage door opener in the glove box, three $100 bills clipped inside a fold out map beneath the seat.
The amnesiac turned back around and started walking toward the kitchen. “Give me ten minutes, then dial 911,” he instructed, “You’ll be safe.”
Abigail didn’t cry. She instead threw him a look that made him wish she had.
“I have nobody,” she said in a voice so tiny it seemed as though it would perish amid the faintest of winds. “My family’s been gone almost as long as I can remember. Most of my memories are… there is nobody else.”
The amnesiac fell to one knee and put his hands behind his back. He wanted so badly to take her hand in his, wipe the tear veined grime from her cheek, and promise her his undying protection. Instead, he locked his eyes on hers.
“You can’t come with me,” he said – teeth clenched and jaw set, “the police will find a place for you. They can keep you safe.”
He stood up and found himself staring into two tiny marbles of hurt. He opened his mouth for a final apology, but fell to the ground, howling in pain as splintering pain shot like lightning through his head.
The amnesiac teetered back, the protest “not again” barely leaving his lips before he fell into another alien memory – this time of the bald man, just as the stranger was laying his death touch on him. The amnesiac tumbled backward through the sliding glass door, crashed through the grass and descended into another void.
His mind’s eyes flickered on a memory he had not recognized. Of the girl, alone, walking along a surreal landscape of impossibility. Decaying urban streetscapes surrounded her. Corpses, human and otherwise lay in the street, being torn apart by blurred creatures he could not make out. Above her, a red sky was a swirling chaos of fast moving black storm clouds which seemed not at all clouds, but in fact, a darkness eating at the very fabric of the world.
As his mind swam slowly to the surface of reality, he encountered an angel, blurred against the harsh of the ceiling lights. As the image drew focus, he was met with the almost maternal smile of the girl, sitting over him, waiting for him to come to. That’s when he realized why she was a blur. He was crying.
His heart ached at her concern. He couldn’t believe that someone so broken could find the capacity to care for another soul.
He slowly sat up, ignoring the piercing pain in his body.
She pointed to a pile of suitcases, already packed and arranged by the door.
“You won’t be safe with me,” he told her, knowing she didn’t care.
Suddenly, he caught a glimpse of the clock on the wall. It was 5:02 a.m. He needed to quickly find a place to hide. The few moments of available darkness were rapidly receding to the morning light.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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