A Dragon Rises

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

One night in a stranger's life, as he gives in to his darkest nature.

A complimentary piece to my main story, GOLDEN AGE. This takes place before the plague ravages the planet, and tells of one night in the Dragon's life. He's one of my favorite characters to write for. Hope you enjoy.

 

 

Make Your Own Kind of Music

 

I’ve known Bradley and Justine for a while, now. Hell, at this point, I may know them even better than they know themselves. They remind me a lot of Nikki and myself. Well, at least before Nikki had her accident. This couple, this couple you can just tell are madly in love with each other.

You know, it’s funny. Justine even looks like Nikki. It brings a smile to my face every time I see her. The memories just flood right on back. So many memories...

They’re just like any other young couple, really. Work at some job that’ll keep them satisfied til they find their careers. They go to movies, dinner, you know, typical couple stuff.

Times are hard for both of them, of course. Brad lives with his mom, and Justine lives with both her parents, so the time they get to spend alone doesn’t happen often. Hell, it’s almost exactly the same as Nikki and me when we started out together.

They’ve found this little road out in the country, they think it’s their little hideaway. They’ll park the car, and after a couple minutes, move to the backseat. A couple more minutes, and you can see the car rocking. Every Wednesday, like clockwork.

Well, like I said, I know them pretty well. I know their routine. So tonight, once the car starts rocking, heh, I’m gonna run right up to the car, and scare the shit out of them. Oh, God, this is gonna be great!

I’m hiding in the field, when they pull up. Same spot, every time. I wait for the rocking to start, let it go for a couple minutes. I can barely contain my excitement, I’m so giddy. I run up to the car, and rip open the back door.

Brad looks up at me, this angry look on his face.

“Who the fuck---” I put my gun against his head and pull the trigger. The sensation is so strong, it’s sends chills down my spine.

The girl looks at me in total shock before she starts screaming. I grab her face, gently, and start caressing it.

“It’s okay,” I say to her. “Everything’s gonna be okay, Nikki.”

“Who... who’s Nikki?”

I put the gun away, and pull a knife from my other pocket. I start rubbing it against her neck, so cold, so very cold. She starts whimpering, she always whimpers.

“Shh, Nikki. Everything’s gonna be fine.” I keep comforting her as I dig the knife into her neck, cutting ear to ear. God, this feeling is so exquisite... There’s nothing I can compare it to. Sex isn’t even this good.

I look down at the girl. Blood is bubbling from her neck, as she tries to breathe. The horror of what I’ve done washes over me, suddenly, violently.

“Nikki! Oh, God, Nikki! What have I done? It was an accident, Nikki, I swear!”

She stares up at me with those lifeless blue eyes. I let go of her, and start running.

As horrified as I am, there’s only one thought racing through my head.

Funny, I always thought her eyes were green.

 

 

 

Run (I’m a Natural Disaster)

 

Catatonia.

They told me that it’s just a response to highly stressful situations. Been happening for as long as I can remember. It used to be quite frightening, but at this point, I’m used to it. I just take it as a sign that I need to slow down a little bit, and relax.

I usually avoid mirrors. For some reason, I don’t know, they seem to trigger the episodes. I stare at myself, and get lost in that image, in that world. I imagine things there are so peaceful, so serene. I picture a world where Nikki was still here, where she didn’t have her horrible accident.

When the episodes happen, they say I go completely rigid, and nothing they can do can snap me out of this trance. They don’t understand, that’s where I want to be. Not here, in this fake world, with all those fake people living their fake lives. They can’t understand.

I find myself in this gas station bathroom, washing my arms, my face. Sloppy, too sloppy. I glance at myself in the mirror, and for an instant, I see her. I smile. I can feel the episode coming. My arms are feeling stiff, tight. So are my legs.

Nikki comes back into my sight. She grabs my hand, and pulls me out the door. Next to the gas station is this large meadow. The sun’s coming up, and it looks so beautiful. She runs up ahead, laughing, and skipping. She starts dancing underneath a tree, and she’s wearing her white dress, the one I love so much. With the sun behind her, I can see her body silhouetted by the material. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, and I can’t believe she’s picked me.

She comes running back to me, and grabs my hand.

“Come on, slow poke!” She says to me, as she pulls me to the tree. She kisses me, one of her deep, passionate kisses that I miss so much.

“I love you, so much,” I tell her, as I take off her dress.

Smiling, she lays down in the grass, covering herself. Nikki always was so very modest. We stare at each other for a moment, both caught in this moment of bliss. She moves her arms, and glances down her body. My eyes follow hers, and I see the scars, all over her body. I glance back to her face, scared. Her eyes, those dark brown eyes that pulled me deep into her soul are now contorted in pain, and blood is trickling out of her mouth.

“Why?” She asks.

I scream, as I snap back to the fake reality. I’m so angry, and scared, I punch the mirror, shattering it. Someone’s pounding on the door. I hate when people interrupt me when I’m in the mirror world, they take all the beauty and peace out of it.

“Hey, buddy. Everything okay in there?” It’s the attendant, some poor hick kid that can’t do anything better in his life. He glances behind me, and sees the shattered mirror.

“Look, man. You’re gonna have to pay for that.” He now takes a good look at me, covered in blood. It’s dripping from  my hand, all cut to hell.

He looks back at me, sheer horror etched into his face.

“Maybe... maybe we should get you to a doctor, man. Right?”

I keep staring at him. I hate this man. He brought me back here, when all I needed was some time away. Everything just bubbles over. I punch him, square in the face. He falls backwards, lands hard on the ground. I punch him again, and again. I can’t tell what’s his blood and mine.

I pull him up into a sitting position, and lean him against the wall. Reaching into my pocket, I pull out a twenty.

“For the mirror,” is all I say to him, as I walk out of the store.

 

 

 

Would Be Killer

 

I don’t understand human connection. The need to interact. For example, this man that picked me up on the side of the road. He keeps on going on about this, that, and the other. Trying to make small talk, in between coughs. The weather. God, how I hate talking about the weather. He’s so tedious, I’d kill him right now, just so he has some excitement. The way he’s hacking up his lungs, though, it’s only a matter of time.

Go right on ahead, Mr. Driver. Light up another cigarette. I don’t mind.

He keeps looking at me out of the corner of his eye. He wants to ask about the blood on my clothes. He’s too afraid. So, he keeps making his small talk. I refuse to answer. I think he’s just happy to have someone to talk to. He probably can’t get a word in edgewise with his wife. Poor, pathetic little man, caught up in his poor, pathetic life, spent looking for that poor, pathetic human connection that everybody wants. Pathetic.

My mind is stuck on tonight. Everything was too sloppy. I’m better than this. Too much blood. Too many witnesses. That kid at the gas station, I shouldn’t have done that. Alas, he probably won’t remember what I look like. And without the surveillance tape, they won’t get a good look. I was too sloppy, sure. But no need to be absolutely reckless.

I’ve done this enough now, but sometimes, I get caught up in the moment. Tonight was one of those times. It happens when I fight the urges for too long. I’ve learned a long time ago that I can’t control this need. I don’t know why I still try to fight it. The humanity in me, I guess.

God, is he still talking?

He reminds me of my dad. Now I really want to kill him.

I don’t remember the first time I did this. I thought for sure I would. But it’s all become a blur. Melded into one gigantic memory. I’ve lost track of how many times, how many towns. Fifteen? Sixteen? Twenty-three? Forty-two? Who knows?

Well, the families. They Know.

Cover your mouth, Mr. Driver.

It’s taking all the strength I have not to kill this guy. He should be thankful tonight was a colossal fuck-up.

Is that Nikki under the streetlight? No, too young. 

When was the last time I slept? Or ate?

The sun’s coming up. I tell him to drop me off at the corner. I can’t take his coughing rambles any longer.

“Well, there you go, kid. Be safe. It’s a crazy world out there.” He’s still eyeing the blood.

“Thank you, Father.” He gives me one last odd look, and scurries away in his old beater of a truck.

Go on home to your wife, Mr. Driver. And your nice, warm bed. And don’t forget to say  your prayers.

 You’re lucky to be alive.

 

 

 

Go-Go Gadget Gospel

 

Mr. Driver dropped me off close enough to home, which is a shock. I had no idea. I just have to go through Drunk Alley, a couple blocks, and I’m home. Drunk Alley, five bars in a block and a half. All filled with women having mid-life crises, drunk college kids looking for a fight or a fuck, and old balding guys looking for the same. I find it pathetic, always the same people, every weekend. Going through their pathetic lives, just to forget about their empty shell of a life with a couple bottles of booze. All of them, with a deep, burning desire, tucked way down in the pit of their - - - what is it? Soul? - - - to be able, at least for one day, to do what I do. They won’t admit it, but give them a day without rules, consequence? Most of them wouldn’t be alive the next day. But no, they’re trapped by their conscience, by vague promises of a Hereafter. Forever ensnared by their concept of morality.

I guess that makes me the freest man alive, yeah?

It truly is a great time for a man like me. When people see starving kids in Ethiopia on the television, they barely bat an eye, or change the channel. Nobody cares about the human suffering. But, show a commercial with all those sad puppies and kitties, abused and abandoned at the Humane Society, everybody starts bawling their eyes out. Brad and Nikki will only get a thirty second blurb on the news tomorrow. That barn holding those four horses that went up in flames will probably be Breaking News Story Number One, all day. They’ll never catch the guy that started it, either. Sloppy, but not reckless.

Since I’m not reckless, I also happened to pick this day, specifically. The busiest bar night of the week. Almost always a fight, no doubt. My bloody clothes will fit right in, nobody will even notice. The perfect time for a monster like me.

I’m sneaking by some bushes at this one bar, the last one on the block, and I hear this horrible coughing sound. I stop, my curiosity getting the best of me, a trait which I know may one day be the end of me. There’s a blonde girl, hunched over, retching. Not a very attractive sight, by any stretch. I suddenly get a cold chill, a memory. Nikki, before her accident, she spent a lot of time, just like that...

Her friend comes into view, a redheaded woman. I, for one, have never found the appeal of redhead’s, but to each their own. She’s obviously the caretaker this evening.

“Melissa, there’s a man over there, staring at us.” The blonde, between vomiting. She looks so much like Nikki, how could I not see it before? No! She doesn’t. You’ve been awake too long, this night is over. Go home.

Maybe in a couple minutes.

“Excuse me? Could you please fuck off?” The redhead almost screams at me. The violence in her scream takes me aback.

“Sorry, I... I just wanted to make sure she was okay.” A horrible lie, but it sounded convincing enough.

“I’m sure. Get out of here, you fucking pervert!” Maybe not.

I need to go home, anyway. Too much for one night, I need to lay it to rest.

“I’m sorry.” And I skulk away.

How embarrassing. Some little girl yells at me, and I run away with my tail between my legs. If she wasn’t with Nikki, I swear I would’ve... Would’ve what?

That’s obvious, isn’t it?

No. It would’ve gone beyond sloppy. You’d be reckless.

Yeah, maybe you’re right.

You know that wasn’t Nikki, right? What’s gotten into you?

I know, but she looks so much like her.

She looks nothing like her! She’s not even blonde!

Are you sure?

Positive... I think. Maybe you should go back and check.

I’m already standing outside my door, but I have to go make sure that wasn’t Nikki. Good thing it’s not that far of a walk. I’m starting to feel tired. When did I sleep last?

The people are walking home, or to their cars. They all look like zombies. They’re all zombies. Even as drunk as they are, they know that they’re just wearing masks until Monday comes back. I start to think that they’re pathetic, before I realize that I always wear my mask. Oh, if only I could be truly free! Just me, and her, and nobody else.

That blonde girl, it isn’t her. At least, I can’t tell from here. I try to get closer, but a group of guys come out, bloodier than me. The worst one starts talking to the redhead, laughing as his friends escort him to their car. She knows people. Too risky for tonight.

But that blonde girl...

Maybe some other night

 

 

 

The Boogie Monster

 

Darkness.

Pure. 

Quiet.

Peaceful. 

Still. 

Frightening. 

Deadly.

Who knows what lies in your closet, waiting for you to fall asleep? It isn’t me, I assure you. Not tonight. Maybe. How sure are you?

How do you know that there’s no monster, ready to cut you to bits?

You don't.

Everybody knows that there’s really, truly nothing to be afraid of, when the lights go out. But every now and then, imagination takes over. A room you’ve spent the last four, eight, ten years in, you know where everything is, nothing’s different. Except for that shadow.

You know, for a fact, that it’s just a lamp on your dresser. Maybe tonight, you threw a shirt over it. The light from the moon coming through your window is just right. Your shirted lamp is suddenly Frankenstein’s Monster.

It’s definitely not your father. Not after he’s spent the night at the bar, trying to make it with the new bartender.

And those screams you’ve heard? They’re coming from the TV you’ve left on. They’re definitely not your mother’s. She likes her horror shows. The loud ones, with the crashing furniture.

Why would it be your father? He’s the man that’s supposed to protect you, save you from the evil that is your lamp.

The screams have softened to quiet sobs, now.

It must be Friday. Pay day. Those shows are always on Friday nights.

“What did you hear?”

Please, just leave me alone, for one night.

“Look at this room. It’s a mess. I thought I told you to clean this place up!”

A father, trying to institute a sense of pride in his son. Cleanliness is next to Godliness. It’s best to be a working man, than let everything fall to the wayside. That’s all. He’s just trying to instill morals and duty into his son. Nothing more.

“When I tell you to do something, you fucking do it!”

This is love. Mother knows it. She says so all the time. Daddy loves us. Some people show love by hugging. Father’s a bit more... forceful... with his love.

I’ve learned that it’s best to stay down. Getting back up only makes him angrier. For some reason, tonight, I don’t stay down.

He hits me, hard. I fall back, and hit my head on the bed post. There’s a lot of blood. At the doorway is mother, naked. Her face is already swelling. She was once beautiful. I’ve seen the pictures. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. Now a wretched shell of a person. Years of love thrown at her.

I can’t take it anymore.

I lunge at him, as hard as I can. It’s no use, I’m no match for his brute drunkenness. It’s the worst beating I’ve ever gotten. My arm is broken. I think a couple ribs, too. It hurts to breathe. I try to claw at him. One, two, three fingers, now broken. A knee to the stomach, and I know it’s over. A man of routine, my father.

He doesn’t beat me into unconsciousness. He never does. He picks me up, gently from the floor, and lays me on my bed.

I pray to God, not tonight. Please, not tonight.

“Let’s get you out of these clothes,” he says in a soft, gingerly voice. The same voice I’ve heard him use on Mother, several times, as I sat, ear against their bedroom door.

God never answers my prayers.

“Jesus. Look at what a fine young man you’re becoming...”

I can feel his hand on my leg. I look over his shoulder, towards the door. Mother’s just standing there, watching, as she always does.

This is love.

 

* * *

 

I wake up with a scream. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this frightened. I haven’t dreamed that dream in a very, very long time.

I’ve even pissed the bed. I haven’t done that since I was fifteen.

You don’t believe there’s such things as Monsters in the night? They lurk around every corner, in every closet. Outside every window. In the darkest reaches of your mind. They are everywhere. I’ve seen the worst of the Monsters.

I am the worst.

 

 

 

Storm Coming

 

Barely anything in the news about last night. Not about the couple in the car, not about the guy at the gas station. Barely a glance at the barn fire. All the news keeps talking about? Some rock star jumped out of his hotel window. Fucking pathetic. Part of some band, called Brain Wrap & the Fiber Gears? Guess they were big, not my kind of thing.

Strange, the thought of killing myself, it’s never occurred to me. Killing other people, sure. Myself? Not once, even through everything. This guy had everything, a nice, cushy life, and he threw it down the drain. Oh, well. Whatever works for you, I guess.

I finally had to turn off the radio on my way to work. That’s all anyone was talking about. Drove me crazy.

That’s another strange thought, isn’t it? Monsters aren’t excluded, everyone has bills to pay. Obviously, it’s quite difficult for a person like me to keep a job. There’s always at least one person who finds me too unsettling, though they can never explain why. Mostly, it’s the women. Sometimes I stare too long, or so I’m told. Who knows?

It doesn’t matter much. My lifestyle choices, well, they don’t really let me keep in one place for any length of time. I’m usually stuck doing some stupid, meaningless, mind-numbing job. Fast food, customer service, that kind of bullshit. But, it pays the bills.

I’ve learned that it’s best to have a job where I’m by myself most of the time. Like right now, I’m working a toll booth. The best part of this job, though, is that I get to meet so many interesting people. Get to know some of the regulars. After a while, it’s surprising how many people remind me of her.

There was this elderly woman, worked the tolls with me. She always treated me kind. Better than I’ve ever been. Her name was Rosetta. I could never bring myself to call her that, though. It was always Mrs. Burgh, no matter how many times she told me not to.

She lost her son in Vietnam, she told me. A good, strong, smart boy. Said I reminded her a lot of him. If she only knew...

In a way, she became a mother to me. More of a mother than my real one, anyway. She’d invite me over for dinner, and I’d do yard work for her. We’d stay up, and talk. About her son, and her husband who had also passed. I’d tell her stories about how great my parents were, and how it was tragic, their accident. We’d spend all night comforting each other. It was truly the first time in my life that I was happy. It was the first time that I can honestly say I felt loved.

I knew that I could trust her with anything, everything, and she would always love me. That’s what a good mother does. I’m her son, she said so herself.

One night, I helped her to bed. It was our ritual, I’d help her to bed, kiss her gently on the cheek, and say good night. Mrs. Burgh lay in her bed, waiting for that comforting kiss from her beloved son. I leaned over, and told her the truth, every last bit of what I had done. Instead of the comforting forgiveness I was expecting, hoping for, a look of pure horror washed over her face. She tried to scream. Tears rolled down her cheeks.

This was the second time a mother had rejected me.

I grabbed her pillow.

She put up more of a struggle than I thought she would.

 

* * *

 

Understanding how bored we get in these booths, they give us these little televisions that only get three channels. I hate TV, anyway, it’s so pathetic. However, it is almost noon, and the local news should be coming on. I have little doubt, the top story is going to be about that talentless jerk off.

The first story is the barn fire. Tragic. Four horses. Odd, though. They’ve brought in the feds. The reporters are interviewing the man in charge of the operation, a Special Agent Peters.

“We are looking into it as arson, yes. Without getting into specifics at this time, we do believe that this may also be linked to a double homicide of a couple found off of Traverse Road last night.”

Catatonia.

Segue into the next story, a gas station clerk was badly beaten. The anchorwoman, with her fake look of concern talking about the sketch the kid was able to give the cops.

My face is plastered on the television. How the fuck did he remember everything?

“Anybody with any information is asked to contact the North Hope branch of the FBI, as well as the North Hope Police Department, or the Hudson County Sheriff’s Department.”

 

I need to leave town.

 


Submitted: October 15, 2018

© Copyright 2023 B.P. Banker. All rights reserved.

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