Available Darkness: Chapter 23
(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.)
Baldwin stumbled through the doorway and into his darkened house; a cavernous hollow in the deep dead of night. It was close to dawn and he was exhausted. While Bob waved the carrot of promotion, he’d not been nearly as forthcoming with details as Baldwin would’ve liked. There was a process, Bob said, which would be starting soon – though not until this case was officially closed. In other words, if Baldwin wanted to know everything, he had to catch the killer he was already hunting.
Baldwin wasn’t sure why Bob had bothered to call the meeting. Sure he filled him in with some sensitive details – that he was in fact hunting something not human. A pretty big fucking deal, no doubt. But something wasn’t adding up. Why withhold other pertinent information? Why promise him a promotion he wasn’t bucking for? Bob was putting the squeeze on him, a gentle one, but a squeeze nonetheless. But why? It wasn’t as if he needed more motivation than catching the man who murdered his wife.
Five minutes from Bob’s estate, Baldwin called his second in charge and said he’d be out of commission for the day. Not exactly the best way to kick the investigation into overdrive, but it had to be done. He was falling apart and needed time to mend, a few hours to do nothing but lower his lids and surrender to the dark.
He fell into bed, not even bothering to get undressed, reached into his pants pocket and retrieved the only tether he had to peace of mind. The pills that made all his thoughts disappear… at least for a little while.
Jack Baldwin quickly fell into a peaceful slumber, a blissful smile on his face.
“It’s not that big of a deal,” Larry said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Killing someone isn’t a big deal?” Abigail asked, not quite believing what she was hearing. They’d been debating his proposal for nearly half an hour already.
“It’s no different than feeding a snake. Sure, you don’t want to kill the mice or rats because they’re cute, but you know if you don’t put the cute and fuzzies in the tank, your snake is going to die. Same thing here, we just need to bring someone here for when John gets hungry.”
“I don’t like snakes,” Abigail said, her arms crossed, “and people aren’t rats.”
“Apparently, we don’t hang in the same circles,” Larry joked, but the joke fell flat; Abigail giving him the silent treatment.
Finally, she said, “There has to be another way.”
Larry suddenly rushed Abigail, wrapped his arms around her from behind, closed his hands over hers and pulled the gun up, aiming it straight at John’s head.
“No!” she screamed, tears flooding her eyes as she tried to free herself from Larry’s sudden grip.
“This is the only other way,” Larry whispered in a soothing voice that seemed at odds with his quick, abrasive actions. “If you want John to die, then pull the trigger now so he doesn’t suffer.”
Abigail trembled, unable to say anything, as she looked at her angel’s face, so calm and peaceful. His eyes moved again under their lids and she wondered again what dreams he was dreaming and if, perhaps, she was in them?
The boy clutched his pillow tightly as the shadow in the corner subtly shifted, dark charcoal barely outlined against the inky black backdrop.
“I’m sorry I took so long,” the shadow said, its voice strained and fragile as if it were made of fibers which might crumble to nothing in the slightest of breezes. Despite the voice’s brittle quality, the shadow seemed to exude an incredible force of undiluted strength, which gathered in his room like a slowly churning funnel cloud, absorbing every available shadow and casting itself into an impossible shroud of darkness.
“Wh.. What?” was all the boy could manage.
Downstairs, his father piped up again, screaming incoherent curses at the boy’s mom.
The shadow’s head, if it indeed had one, spun quickly towards the boy’s bedroom door.
“Ah, father is quite mad tonight, eh?”
The boy’s bottom lip trembled as the shadow swirled even faster, as if gathering a solid mass of twisted knots of sinew, forming into something.
“You … won’t need to … worry any long … er,” the voice said. The shadow man drifted towards the doorway, shadows trailing him along the walls, floor and ceiling like floating streamers tied to an automobile.
“No!” the boy cried out, “don’t…”
The shadow stopped and turned, fixing its eyes, if it had such things, on the boy.
“Surely … you want him to stop … hurting you … yes?” it asked.
A million thoughts raced through the boy’s mind – what was this thing? Why did it apologize for being so late? Was it The Devil who had come to answer his many silent prayers for his father’s death? The boy was awash in guilt, fear and confusion. The monster waited, its shadows swirling around it like wisps of inky smoke caught in a holding pattern … waiting for the boy to give the command.
“It can … all … be … over,” the thing said, its voice seemingly weaker, giving the boy the impression that if he didn’t act now, this thing, whatever it was, would go away forever.
“You stupid cunt!” his father screamed, followed by a sickening thump of his fist on the boy’s mother.
Now or never.
“Kill him,” the boy said, his eyes suddenly steel marbles of clarity and conviction.
The monster flew from the room, its form tightening into an ever more human shape until the boy could clearly make out the features of a face, and two, impossibly blue eyes. It turned to the boy, the shadows of its face rising in a smile.
“You w … won‘t regret this … Jack.”
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.