Available Darkness: Chapter 35
(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.)
John and Larry both reached out in a blind attempt to stop the slaughter.
Abigail’s fingers were ten tiny pythons around Lydia’s paling skin. Both bodies shivered and shook, Lydia tangled in death’s inescapable clutches while Abigail feasted on her fleeting life.
John and Larry were dead in their tracks, impotent witnesses to the destruction playing out before them. The child, so sweet just hours before, had been transformed, by them, into a killing machine.
John was frozen. His heart shattered as he stood in the shadow of the sentence he had condemned Abigail to endure. Yes, he had saved her life, but at what cost?
Larry fell back. He wanted to scream, but his mouth filled with vomit instead, which spewed in a fountain, burning bile through his esophagus and onto the cold cement floor of the warehouse. Suddenly, something in Larry snapped. Rage, anger, hate, he wasn’t sure, but it stormed toward the surface and splashed ice water on his inaction. He raised his pistol, aimed directly at the back of Abigail’s head, and marched forward.
John glanced up just in time. He instinctively reached out, and for the second time that night, delivered a blast of energy from his palm, sending Larry to a crumpled heap on the cement. The gun skidded backward across the floor and John descended on Larry in less than a breath. Unlike last time, John wasn’t weakened by the blast he had sent. However, the blast also didn’t do as much damage to Larry, who was on all fours, scrambling away from John and towards the gun that had slid across the floor.
“Stop!” John barked.
Larry turned and glared upward, his face flushed with anger.
John stared down, silent. Unflinching. His message was clear: do not fuck with Abigail.
Larry looked past John and toward Abigail, who hunched over Lydia’s ashen body. The electricity had nearly finished its course through her body and her body was rocking slowly as she murmured something Larry could not make out.
Something in Larry shifted.
Yes, he was still horrified and saddened that Lydia, one of the only women he was ever close to having loved though he’d never uttered the words or even admitted the fact to himself until this very moment––was dead. Yet there were other emotions churning the sick stew in his guts and brain, a blended broth of awe and curiosity. This was the first such transformation he’d ever witnessed. Though he’d known of a few instances where people had become feeders, they were rare, the stuff of whispered legend.
A thousand questions throbbed through his mind. He’d been obsessed with the arcane knowledge of Other World ever since he’d first seen one of the aliens, more than two decades prior.
John watched Larry’s face transform, his flesh fading from raspberry to blush, and finally to its normal doughy hue. He could sense Larry’s heart rate slowing, could even hear the man’s heartbeat, he noted with interest. He glanced over to the gun, which lay a good 10 feet behind Larry.
“We have a problem here?” John asked.
Larry shook his head. His eyes passed John, darting to something behind him. John did a 180 and found Abigail standing, facing them.
John braced for what was to come, for her to break down and cry or scream out in anger at what they’d done to her. His mind scrambled over the possibilities. What he would say to comfort her, to explain what had happened, or at least to say he was sorry. However, she wasn’t crying. She wore a marble slab of emotion.
After a long stretch of silence, her vacant expression changed slightly.
“What happened?” she asked, in barely a whisper.
“What are you looking for?” Bob said, repeating the question that had rendered Jack speechless.
While Jack would normally flare up at anyone (no matter how high their ranking) who had the temerity to ask him such a thing, or dared to spy on him, he needed to tread carefully. Something big was happening, and for the first time in his professional career, he was at a disadvantage because he had no idea what was in play.
Jack figured honesty was the best policy since he had no idea how much they knew. “I’m remembering things, Bob. Things that don’t make a whole lot of sense.”
The other side of the line was silent.
Shit, I said too much.
Then, after a long silence, Bob responded. “Let it go, Jack.”
Jack wanted to do anything but let it go. He wanted to jump through the phone and demand for Bob to tell him everything. Right now!
“Listen, Jack, I get that you have more questions than answers right now and that it’s frustrating. However, I need your head in the game. We have a killer to catch. The man who, I might remind you just in case you’ve forgotten killed your wife.”
“I haven’t forgotten a thing,” Jack said, pissed that Bob would play that card. He was also somewhat pleased. If Bob was getting desperate enough to try such a cheap tactic, it meant one thing, Jack was closing in on something that they, whoever they were, didn’t want him to know.
“We’ll help you make sense of things, soon, Jack, I promise. But right now, I need to know you’re not going to be sidetracked. I need to know you’re not going to botch this up.”
Jack measured Bob’s words. If he responded too quickly, Bob wouldn’t buy the change of heart. Moreover, he’d likely lock down Jack’s ability to get any information at all, if he’d not already done so. Jack pulled a sigh from the depths of his belly and unscrewed the bottle of whiskey he kept on his nightstand. He took a deep swig and sighed a second time, half enjoying the show he was putting on for Bob.
“I’m just so tired,” Jack said, broadcasting utter exhaustion, “I just want to close this case and put an end to the nightmare.”
“I know,” Bob said, his voice soothing.
“You know, I haven’t cried since the funeral,” Jack said, in a moment of spontaneous honesty, surprising himself with his confession.
Bob was now the quiet one.
Jack continued, “My head hasn’t been right in a while, Bob. I’m not eating or sleeping. It’s no wonder I’m having such fucked up dreams. I just want to catch this guy, Bob, nail him to the fucking wall so my wife can finally rest in peace.”
“Do you need some time off?”
“No, Bob. Just let me get this monster and then we can deal with whatever else we need to deal with.”
“If you ever need anything, Jack, anything at all,” Bob said, “just ask.”
“Thank you,” Jack said, taking another sip, “Right now, I’m just gonna get some sleep so I can hit this tomorrow with fresh eyes.”
They hung up. Jack turned out his light and stared at the computer, wondering how else they might be monitoring him. He glanced at his window, the curtains closed, as they always were. He then rolled off the bed, dropped softly to the carpet, crawled toward the wall, and slowly pulled the bottom corner of the curtain aside just enough to steal a glimpse. There, about half a block down, he saw a van nearly swallowed by darkness.
“Well, hello there,” Jack whispered to his watcher.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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