Available Darkness: Chapter 29

(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.)
Available Darkness Book Cover“Leave her alone!” John growled, turning to face the gunman holding Abigail at gunpoint. Her eyes were wet and crimson; face stained pink from crying. She opened her mouth to speak, but the gunman clamped his hand across it.

“You need to come with me,” the man said to John.

“No fucking way.” Larry lifted his rifle, aimed it at the man’s head and said, “Let her go.”

“If you shoot me,” the gunman said, “my finger will twitch, this gun will go off and she will die. It’s all very simple, really. Or … we can end this peacefully, John comes with me, you take the girl and this never happened.”

The man was Brock, John recalled from a sliver of memory he’d stolen from one of the squad. A real badass. He wasn’t bluffing – he would shoot Abigail without flinching if he thought all was lost. He had no compunctions about killing – anybody. Brock worked for the same man he saw in his vision. The one who took Abigail and then let her go.

Jacob.

“Put the gun down,” John told Larry.

Larry didn’t budge. “No way you’re going with him, John. Trust me, it won’t end well for you.”

Brock looked down at Abigail, smiled a sickly sweet smile, “Tell them Abigail, do you want to die today?”

She looked up at John, eyes now flooding in tears, and whimpered, “No.”

John, heartbroken, turned to Larry, stepping between Larry and Brock and placing himself directly in Larry’s line of fire. John looked his old friend in the eyes, they were wild and a bit scared, but also angry. Sweat drenched his brow and hairline. A single drop dangled from his ear.

“Let me go with him,” John said, “you take Abigail and watch over her till I come back.”

“I can’t let you do that,” Larry shook his head, looking past John and at the gunman, “the minute you go, they get what they want. And I can’t let that happen. YOU can’t let that happen. This is more important than one person’s life.”

John couldn’t believe what Larry was saying. How could he be so cold? Whatever the gunmen wanted, it wasn’t worth a child’s life, especially not Abigail’s! Pondering her death for even a second twisted something deep inside John’s heart.

“Larry,” John said, trying to influence whatever compassion might be resting in the man’s core. “She’s just a kid.”

Larry blinked the sweat from his eyes, doing his best not to look away from the gunman and Abigail.

“You don’t get it John, you would choose the same thing. You chose burial to protect this, to keep it from them.”

John wished he could remember something from his past life, anything. It was hell on earth wondering what was so important; serious enough to trade for the life of a child. He couldn’t imagine anything important enough, except … Hope.

“Is it … Hope?” he asked, mentioning his love’s name to Larry for the first time.

Larry’s eyes widened in recognition then froze on John for a moment as though trying to taste the right answer.

It was Hope, John decided. Dark despair dug its talons deeper into John’s brain. Something horrible was about to happen. He could feel it racing towards him like a runaway train, and he, fate’s passenger, with no control.

“Doesn’t matter, Abigail needs me. Needs us. Now.” John said. He turned to Brock, “What do you want me to do?”

“Get in the back of the van,” Brock said, pointing to one of the identical black-windowed black vans behind him, “there’s a special cell to ensure you won’t … well, you know,” he said nodding his head in reference to the dead bodies between them. “Once you’re inside, and I’m in the driver’s seat, I will let the girl go and bring you home. You will be perfectly safe. If we wanted you dead, we would’ve struck during daylight.” Brock glanced up at the sky. “The sun is going to rise any minute, we need to get on with it.”

“How do I know you’ll let her go?” John asked.

“If we wanted the girl dead, she would never have left our custody,” Brock sighed, losing patience with the exchange. “Shall we?”

John glanced back at Larry, who almost imperceptibly nodded his head yes, with great reservation.

John tried to signal to Larry not to worry. He would find a way out of this, he was certain, despite the overwhelming sense of dread pumping through his veins. Right now, this was their only card. Despite his powers, even if he could duplicate the energy blast he had managed to hurl at Larry earlier, he doubted he could do it any more quickly than Larry firing a round at Brock. Either way, Abigail would end up taking a bullet.

John began to walk towards the van. He glanced down at Abigail, who was sucking back a small sea of tears and snot. He winked, as if to say everything would be okay. The lie made her smile, for a moment anyway. Seeing the glint in her beautiful eyes, made him smile.

He prayed this would not be the last time he’d ever see her. In the past 48 hours she was the only person for which he felt anything remotely close to love. Without memories of his own life, she was his everything. Without her, he was adrift with reality’s compass broken and more alone than God.

__________________

Abigail watched as John approached the van. She knew she should be brave and do something, but what could she do? The soldier already warned her that if she tried to do anything stupid, a team of 12 more men, snipers, he called them, would, on his command, kill everyone in sight. She didn’t know if he was lying or not, but she didn’t want to take any chances.

“He can die, you know,” the soldier told her as they walked towards the motel a few minutes earlier, “if they shoot him in the head enough times, he won’t come back to life.”

So she remained silent. What little fight she had stayed dormant. And as John walked towards the van, she wondered if she’d made the right decision. Wondered if there was anything she could do to make a difference. In a few moments, they would have him. God only knew what they wanted, but she couldn’t see it ending well for John. These men looked like government soldiers who might experiment on him or … worse. The gun tightened against her head, as if the soldier could tell what she was thinking and meant to dissuade her.
____________________

Larry watched as John walked towards the van. The fact that he trusted these men, was further indication of how much of his memory remained blank. Larry could think of at least five different things the old John would have done to neutralize the situation. But Larry wasn’t about what could have been, he was about being prepared and making things happen.

And he still had one ace up his sleeve he was eager to lay down.

Prior to getting out of the van, Larry retrieved a watch he’d made and strapped it to his left hand. While it looked and functioned like any other digital watch, it was also a trigger to detonate a nearby series of explosives. The gunman briefly lifted his hand from Abigail’s shoulder to retrieve something from his pants. A remote which opened the side of one of the black van’s side doors. He instructed John to climb inside.

Larry saw something stirring in Abigail, like she had her own ace she was itching to play. Shit, he had one shot at this and couldn’t afford to have another variable in motion. He narrowed his glare at her, and when she looked into his eyes, he shook his head no.

John climbed into the van and looked back at Larry, a vow of I’ll figure something out written on his face. The odds of that happening were much dimmer once they had him, though. John had no idea about the power of the forces he was dealing with. The door slid mechanically shut and the lock clicked into place.

“Okay,” the gunman said, “we’re walking back to the van. Once I’m inside, I’ll let her go. The inside of the van is lined with ultraviolet lights. If you try anything, I will end John’s life in an instant.”

Shit. Larry figured the soldier had something up his sleeve, but had no idea what. His window to act was about to slam shut.

_____________________

Abigail followed the soldier’s instructions carefully, walking backwards slowly, his hand—the one with the remote—on her shoulder and gun now at her back. As she attempted to keep her balance, her mind raced, searching for anything she could do. She watched Larry’s face in search of another subtle glance or shake of the head to indicate direction, but his face was a stone mask.

The soldier instructed her to turn with him as they drew closer to the van, navigated around it and towards the driver’s side door, which had been left open. Abigail’s nerves were frayed, waiting for whatever was about to unfold. Dread, fear and hope were waging war inside her body, her head growing dizzy and her stomach swimming in a stew of sick.

Suddenly, Abigail stumbled backward, her foot getting caught up with the soldier’s. Rather than breaking her fall, the soldier stepped back, as she spun her arms, trying to find some balance before hitting the ground hard. The soldier aimed his gun down at her, his eyes narrow slits.

The chance she’d been waiting for, a moment to help her beloved angel, happened amid an instant outburst of tangled noise and rolling waves of sudden heat.

The motel room door behind them exploded open in a fiery blast. A second door, further back, detonated in a blazing echo. The soldier, stumbled forward then spun around, diverted briefly by the eruptions. Abigail took her chance, scrambled to her feet and ran towards Larry as gunshots rang from behind.

“Goddammit!” the soldier yelled.

Larry was also taking his chance and fired repeatedly at the soldier. Almost instantly Abigail realized the error of placing herself in the crossfire. Breathless, and heart pounding, she didn’t know what else to do but run as fast as she could to Larry as bullets whizzed past her, slamming into the pavement and spitting up chunks of asphalt.

And then one found her.

Pain splintered her chest as she was thrust backwards to the ground.

Oh God, no.

The pain was intense, like wet fire spreading through her chest. She writhed on the ground, attempting to get up before giving up. It was all she could do to turn and look back towards the van, praying that John remained safe from harm. After that, she could not move, laying stomach down on the ground, head frozen in place, eyes on the van.

The pain was soon gone. As if she’d reached whatever limits of anguish a person were allowed before something in their minds finally flipped the shut-off switch. Abigail’s eyes caught glimpse of the spreading pool of blood coming from her like ink in the darkness of pre-dawn. She wondered how so much blood could spill from a single body.

Shots continued to ring out, then stopped altogether. Abigail watched as the soldier fell to the ground. She tried to turn to see Larry, but her body wouldn’t cooperate. Darkness crept in at the edges of her vision, and it was all she could do to keep her focus on the only thing she could see—the van. It shook wildly, a mostly muffled scream from John. Did the soldier make good on his threat?

Something else entered her field of vision. Larry, crouching down, looking at her. His eyes harbored deep sorrow—as though he was looking at a dead girl breathing.

“I’m so sorry,” he said, reaching out to touch her cheek, though she felt nothing.

He leapt up and raced towards the van, his footsteps like echoes from somewhere far away as sound dissolved along with her other senses. Darkness, like a gauze, distorted almost everything in her vision as her life bled out onto the ground of the motel. She watched as Larry ran first to the fallen soldier and then to the van’s door.

Open the door. Please…

All she wanted was to see her angel a final time before she died. She fought to hold tight to the world, to keep her focus.

As Larry opened the van door, Abigail lost the battle and succumbed to the darkness.

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.

7 responses to Available Darkness: Chapter 29

  1. Trina

    There were a couple times as I was about to hit pg dwn, I was hoping for more, and there was….. thanks for the great tension today.

  2. Sarah

    Wow! You made me cry at work. You bastards!

    Great chapter, except for the ending. She better not die!

  3. David Wright

    Author’s Note: Thank you for the comments and the emails. This chapter took forever to write. The ending gave me chills as it played out in my head. I don’t want to give away what happens next, obviously, so forgive me for not getting into specifics.

    However, on the subject of death, I’ve never been one to shy away from killing characters in my work. I drew a lot of criticism when I did a miscarriage storyline in my comic strip, Todd and Penguin. Nobody expected something so tragic in a lighthearted family-friendly comic. It was, I believe, the first, or one of the first storylines like that in webcomics. Though shortly after I did the story, a few other comics also killed characters, causing some readers to (perhaps rightly) accuse some comics of doing it for shock value. My story was sincere though, borne of an impending death in my wife’s family that touched everyone. As an artist, I felt compelled to deal with those emotions in my work.

    Though some authors consider it a violation of some unwritten contract with the readers that no matter what, certain people will make it out alive, I don’t agree with that concept. I think you have to be true to the story and the characters. It’s not just a matter of artistic integrity but one of self preservation as a writer. Readers will know the minute you’re straying off the range.

    To me, a story should be as realistic (well as realistic as a story about vampires can be) as possible and sometimes that includes tragedy or unhappy endings.

  4. Sean

    I LOVED this chapter. I got to enjoy it as both a writer and a reader, though as a reader first. I couldn’t believe what was happening to Abigail. My throat and nose were in an angry battle for my breath. In fact, if my nose were any smaller I might already be dead!

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