Available Darkness: Chapter 20
(Serial and Milk: Available Darkness is a serialized thriller 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.)
“What happened?” John asked, “Why aren’t you burned?”
The man flashed a smile that John felt he should recognize. “Come in, come in,” he said as he escorted John into a dimly lit space that was about as clean as a cramped dorm room shared by a pack of messy freshman. Empty pizza boxes and soda cans littered the room while stacks of white cardboard file boxes were stacked ceiling high like Doric columns supporting the motel’s ceiling.
John made his way past the first wall of mess and noticed a door to his left, slightly ajar, revealing an adjoining room bathed in the blue light from a bank of computer and TV monitors. Only then did John notice the man was holding a black gun in his left hand.
“Just in case you were someone else,” he said, noticing John surprise. The man gently set the gun on a stack of boxes and led John towards the other room. “Actually, it’s for the rats, you should see the size of the fuckers here.”
As the man walked two paces ahead, John considered grabbing the gun, given that his power had no effect on the stranger. He resisted the urge, though his instincts were screaming for him to do otherwise. Besides, the man wasn’t exactly screaming danger,what with his messy long hair, flabby gut and cheeky grin.
“Hey, lemme put some pants on,” the man said, “I don’t wanna’ get you all hot and bothered with these sexy legs.”
The man paused, as if he were waiting for John to laugh. When no laugh came, the man disappeared back into the first room. John stood in the adjoining room, confused and trying to make sense of his surroundings.
The second room was equally messy, though more organized, and seemed as if some sort of work was being done inside. The door out was blocked off by one line of a C-shaped desk which lined three walls. Rows of computer hard drives with different colored lights, blinking and steady, lined the floor. Atop the desk sat at least 14 different television and computer monitors. Despite the plethora of equipment, there stood only two office-type wheeled chairs.
On the computer monitors, John spotted several screens of presumably live closed circuit camera footage around the motel’s perimeter, various web sites and live news feeds from several news stations. The TV’s were also tuned into new channels, except one which showed the episode of Seinfeld which John had heard. All the monitors were silent.
The man returned, now dressed in black jeans and black biker boots, holding two Coke cans. He held one up, offering it to John, who declined with an absentminded shake of his head.
“What is this place?” John began, then asked, “who are you?”
“Larry Keriowski at your service,” he said, extending his hand and smiling a huge grin. “It’s okay, I’m vampire proof.”
John shook his hand. Larry’s soft hands matched the mush of his midsection. Only after they shook hands, did Larry notice that the tips of his fingers were coated in some orange powdered residue. “Sorry, I was eatin’ Cheetos; want some?”
John shook his head and repeated his first question.
“This,” Larry said, waving a hand around, “is the war room. I’ve been waiting for you to come back.”
John circled the war room, more confused than ever.
Larry explained that he was using the equipment to track any sort of news which would let him know when John had returned. He hadn’t expected John to appear so close to home, whatever that meant, nor had he expected to see him so soon. The comment Larry had made when he met John at the door about taking so long had apparently been ironic.
“I figured I might get some unexplained deaths from some small town news a month or two from now. Little did I know you’d be all over CN-fucking N.”
John looked up just as a handful of screens began a video of John from earlier. He stepped closer to the screen.
“Oh my God,” he said.
Though he had vague memories of the man he drained on the street hours earlier, they were fuzzy, without detail. Seeing himself, through footage someone had shot at the scene, sent a chill down his spine and cemented the reality of his murderous actions. While the video was of him, it did not seem possible he could do such a thing.
“I am a monster.”
Larry laughed. “Well not quite, but I can see how you’d get that.”
John sat down in one of two chairs and looked Larry dead in the eyes.
“How do I know you? And why aren’t you surprised that I don’t remember you?”
Larry’s eyes flitted nervously for a moment but then returned with their jovial light.
“I’m your apprentice,” Larry said, “you’ve been teaching me magick for the past few years.”
“Magick?” John asked, “what are you talking about?”
“You really don’t remember… anything?” Larry asked.
John shook his head.
“Wow, it worked better than I hoped.”
John felt the hairs on his neck stand on end as something in his stomach twisted. What the hell did that mean? He started glancing around for another weapon and wondered if Larry had grabbed the pistol while he was changing his clothes.
“Relax, John,” Larry said, as he nonchalantly popped the cap from his Coke can and took a deep swig. “You asked me to wipe your memories and bury you.”
TO BE CONTINUED…
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