Available Darkness: Chapter 22

serial-and-milk-button-225x225(Serial and Milk: Available Darkness is a serialized horror 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.)

Abigail reached out to grab John as his limbs turned liquid and he started his collapse to the floor.

“Whoa, there,” the pudgy man said, grabbing the girl around the waist and pulling her back. “You don’t wanna’ touch him.”

Abigail took a tentative step back, gun still in both her hands and pointed at the floor. The man felt John’s neck for a pulse, shook his head, then dragged him across the floor and propped him against the wall.

“You … can touch him?” Abigail asked.

“Yeah,” the man said, standing up and rubbing the front of his head which was already turning a bright shade of red from being knocked to the ground. “John and I go way back. My name is Larry.”

He offered his hand out to shake. Abigail ignored it.

“It’s okay,” Larry said, “I’m not one of them.” He waited a moment before withdrawing his hand.

Abigail looked over at her fallen angel while keeping one eye fixed on Larry in case he made any sudden moves. She wasn’t yet sure she could trust him and hoped he wouldn’t ask for the gun, even though most of her felt silly holding the heavy metal in her tiny hands. It wasn’t as if she knew how to shoot. She imagined missing her target and having the gun used against her. She wished she could just make it disappear so nobody would be able to use it.

“Is he going to be okay?”

“I think so,” Larry said, “do you … know what he is?”

“Some kind of vampire?”

“More or less,” Larry said, “but with touch rather than biting. He feeds off the energy of our souls. Only now, he just shot all his energy at me.”

“Are you okay?” Abigail asked, courtesy in her voice but nowhere else.

Larry smiled, “Yeah, I’ve had worse. Now that he’s more or less running on empty, he‘s out cold for a while. He should be okay. But, we’re going to need to take precautions.”

Abigail watched as Larry moved towards the back of the hotel room, kicking empty soda cans aside as he waded through a sea of trash. What a pig, Abigail thought. Larry swiped a stack of newspapers off of a black trunk, flipped it’s fasteners open and thrust his hands inside. Abigail tightened her grip on the gun as her eyes dilated in anticipation. Larry retrieved a rough looking white jacket with long sleeves and an assembly of straps and buckles. Whatever it was, it didn’t look good.

“We need to restrain him,” Larry said.

“Why?” Abigail asked, nerves tickling the back of her neck.

Larry dropped the jacket in front of John. A heavy thud echoed in the room as the metallic buckles banged against each other and the floor. He turned to Abigail, squatted on his haunches and folded his hands in front of him.

“Listen, I know you don’t know me from Adam and you’re probably scared. But I need you to trust me when I tell you this one thing, okay?”

Abigail glanced at the gun in her shaking hands then back up at Larry. She nodded, her head barely moving.

“When John wakes up, he’s going to be very hungry. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

Abigail thought she did, but at the same time, knew she was missing a finer point somewhere. She shook her head no.

“John’s tank is empty. If he doesn’t feed as soon as he wakes, well, our boy could be seriously hurt. And let me tell you, when he is that hungry, he becomes something else entirely.”

Abigail didn’t like where this was going. The acid in her stomach agreed.

“He will feed off of the first person he sees. Won’t matter if it’s you, me, his own mother, or all three of us and a birthday cake; the hunger overrides everything he knows. Which is why we need to strap him up. To protect ourselves.”

The small room suddenly felt smaller. “He wouldn’t hurt me,” Abigail said, her voice coming out more childish and whiny than she wanted.

A smile spread across Larry’s face. There was something in the smile, not mocking her statement, but rather some sort of genuine kindness which matched the gentle gleam in his hazel eyes. Though he looked a bit gruff, Abigail suspected Larry was secretly a teddy bear when it came right down to it.

“I don’t know what happened between you guys,” Larry said as he pointed to the rows of TV screens and computer monitors replaying news coverage of ’the kidnapping’ just beyond the doorway, “or how you came to be traveling together, but you don’t know what John is capable of.”

“He’s good,” Abigail persisted, “that’s all I need to know.”

“Yes, he is good. But he’s not always in control of himself. And when he’s not, he’s not the John you’ve gotten to know. He’s…something else entirely.”

Abigail looked at John’s face, so serene and peaceful laying propped against the wall. His eyes moved beneath their lids and she wondered what his dreams were showing him.

“I’m going to restrain him now and I need to know you trust me. You can even hold the gun if you want.”

Abigail looked down at the gun, considered handing it to Larry, but then thought better. “Okay, you can restrain him. But if I don’t like what I see, I’m not afraid to use this.”

Larry looked at Abigail for a moment, as though tasting her words, or perhaps feigning to take her seriously. Then he smiled that warm, friendly smile. “Deal.”

Larry reached around John and awkwardly dragged him by his armpits into the other room and lifted him onto a chair before sliding the white jacket over John’s arms. The sleeves were much longer than John’s arms and Larry pulled the leftover length behind John’s back where he fastened the buckles. Abigail felt claustrophobic just looking at the contraption. She could practically feel the breath growing tighter in her lungs.

Once finished, Larry rolled John back a few feet, then turned his attention to Abigail.

He glanced at one of the monitors behind him which showed the time. 5:40 a.m. He closed his eyes tight and then started pacing the room, mumbling under his breath as if trying to work something out.

“What is it?”

“It’s almost morning. Which means we can’t bring John somewhere to feed. Which means … we need to bring someone here.”

Abigail stared at Larry for a moment before the meaning of his words clicked into place.

“Oh my God, are you saying we have to bring someone here to die?”

Larry nodded, “If we don’t, John won’t survive the day.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

Be sure to check out our new feature, Author’s Notes in the comments section following each chapter. Also, please tweet this post and help spread the word about Available Darkness and nurture online fiction.

4 responses to Available Darkness: Chapter 22

  1. David Wright

    Author’s notes: Thanks for the comments last week. I responded to them this morning. Trina was kind enough to provide some solicited thoughts regarding some areas she was feeling “meh” about. I explained what I could, without giving away future plot lines. For the most part, her concerns were exactly the ones we want the reader to have at this point. I would elaborate, but to do so may shed more light on what is to come than we’d like. One of her concerns which we did not intend regarded the dialogue where John says of Hope, “she must be special.” Trina felt that it seemed a bit less emotional than it should have.

    To be honest, I’ll have to read the section over when we go in for the final edits once this draft is completed. My gut tells me that John is still in a sea of mixed emotions and he doesn’t have the full memories of his lover to draw the sort of emotional depth of his thoughts. But on the other hand, the reader sees things more objectively and because of that, Trina may be picking up something my mind has yet to spot. I will definitely mark this section for careful review during the process. Thank you, Trina.

    As for this week’s: I love the moral dilemma that the end of this chapter sets up. This is the part of the story I mentioned last week that I was excited to get to. That’s the kinda cliffhanger I’d love to have every week, but obviously, when you’re writing a novel, you must allow the story to take precedent over a desire to end each section with an equally awesome “to be continued” which is one of the unique challenges to the serialized format, I’m finding.

    Any thoughts, questions, feel free to comment. I’ll tell you as much as I can without revealing any spoilers of what’s to come.

    as always, thank you for reading,
    david

  2. janice

    Right now, it’s you we should be sending to that room, you horrible men. What a position to put that girl in!

    I’d love to be able to help out with the editing and buffing up, Dave, but right now, I’m allowing myself the pleasure of simply enjoying it, with the editing part of my brain as switched off as possible.

    I disagree, though, about the cliffhanger bit. As long as there’s variety in the pace of each section and you use a variety of cliffhangers, I’m happy if section lengths are similar and end in cliffhangers. It worked for Dickens, and until he got lazy, it worked for James Patterson too.

  3. Trina

    Not sure how I feel to be at the place you want me, sounds a bit sinister – J/K.
    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ‘represent’ so to speak, and I trust you to do what works best for the series.
    This was an interesting development, moral dilemna indeed… who gets to be the lucky sacrifice? I hope they are picking low-life scum…

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