Beyond Darkness ( Episode 15 ) An uncertain future.

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: The Dark And Suspenseful
Episode 15 in the paranormal noir detective series Beyond Darkness.

Submitted: April 25, 2019

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Submitted: April 25, 2019

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The woman sitting in the easy chair stared intently at the world outside her window; to a casual observer it would seem that she was captivated by something just beyond that glass. However, were a person to come and stand close enough to observe her eyes, then it would be plain to see her gaze was somewhere very far away from the scene outside her window. The blank stare in those eyes made him wonder if perhaps her vision had turned inward, either that or she had learned to see things beyond this mortal realm. Things that held her stranded in a twilight world, like a deer staring into the headlights of an on rushing car.

He always made a point of knocking loudly on the room door before entering; he would knock and call her name. This was more for his sake, than for the woman’s modesty, each day he carried out this ritual, he hoped it would be the day she answered him. But today was no different to all the previous days, the nurse had dressed her and put her sitting on the easy chair a tartan blanket wrapped about her legs. Sarah just sat there staring at something only she could see, and Kirby found a hopelessness growing inside him. He would sit here with the manikin like woman until feeding time, then the nurse would spoon feed her before preparing her for bed.

In the beginning he would carry on an endless monotone about trivial things, but it was as if she was alone in the room. Whatever Blum had done to her had left her locked inside her own mind, Cissy bird had been busy researching a way to break this spell Sarah was under, but so far she had not found a way to do this. In the meantime Sarah’s doctors appeared as puzzled as everyone else; all the while Sarah remained in a prison that was her own body. The cheerful young nurse arrived with a bowl of what looked like baby food; this was Kirby’s cue to leave, as he found it soul destroying to see Sarah dribbling food as the nurse fed her.

 Kirby left the residential home and just drove without any real clue as to where he was going, all the while a loop played in his head of the scenes from the lighthouse on the night Blum died. It had been over six weeks since that night and there was no sign of any improvement in Sarah’s condition, and Kirby’s mind was tormented by the visions surrounding that event. But even though these unwanted visions were vivid, they made little or no sense.

 Glimpses of an insect like monster that was moments before a man, and an old stooped woman suddenly becoming an angel like figure with a flaming sword, had begun to make Kirby believe that Sarah was not the only one that suffered a psychotic episode that night. He found himself once again staring into the shadows of his existence, something dark lurked there but it moved in places beyond his vision or understanding. He sometimes feared that perhaps his very sanity was what was in question; he only hoped the old adage was true. The one that said. “Only a sane man questions his own sanity.”

The past number of hours had become a blur and when he came out of his trance like state, Kirby found himself approaching a small town that looked vaguely familiar. This was becoming a disturbing habit of late, getting into the car and arriving somewhere with no recollection of the drive. It was rapidly becoming a source of amazement and consternation to him, just exactly how he had managed to avoid a car wreck so far. Kirby was alert to his surroundings now but apart from a vague feeling he had been here before, he had no idea where he actually was.

Kirby found himself driving through the small town with purpose, as if some part of him knew exactly where he was going. He found himself pulling in off the road on the far side of the town outside a small neat cottage; there he sat staring at the house until the seed of a memory began to take hold. It was not easy being a man whose memories played hide and seek with you at every corner, but suddenly this particular memory came flooding back. It was late at night when he had been here before, and he had brought a badly injured woman here.

Kirby felt guilty now, he had promised Geri he would check in on her to see how she was progressing. But that was quite a while ago now, and he had not kept his promise. The trouble was, that time seemed different to him; it was as if the recent past and the distant past were just vaguely remembered chapters from another person’s biography. Now that he found himself here, Kirby was at a loss as to what to do next. The last time he had stood on that particular door step, Geri’s grandmother left him in no doubt that she felt he was somehow responsible for her granddaughter’s injuries.

The light was beginning to fade now, and he knew that even if he was to turn and leave this moment, it would still be approaching daylight by the time he got back. Normally this would not bother him, but of late weariness had crept into him. It was not a natural tiredness that one might feel after a long day’s work. Instead it was something that affected him physically and spiritually, a deep set exhaustion of his very soul. This thought in itself surprised him because it was not a normal thought process for him; he never thought of spirituality in relation to himself. Kirby found himself with three options now, find someplace quiet to park up and sleep in the car, go back to town and try to find accommodation or the one he had been avoiding, get out and knock on the cottage door.

As sometimes happens in life, the choice was forced on him at the end. The cottage door opened, and the silhouette of a woman stood in the fading light staring in his direction. The outline of the woman’s figure told him it was not the grandmother, so unless someone else lived there, it was Geri. Kirby climbed out of the car and made a show of searching the back seat for his cane, he had become more dependent on this cane as time went on, but he was also waiting to see if the woman would close the door and go back inside.

When he turned to face the door she had stepped a little further into the shadows of the hallway, however the door still remained wide open. Kirby made his way slowly in her direction, as his mind searched for something to say when he got there. As it turned out, fate once again intervened, and the woman spoke first. “Hello Kirby, it’s been a long time, I thought that you had forgotten me.” Her voice was soft and she somehow sounded sad, Kirby again found himself feeling guilty about not coming sooner. Geri turned sideways in the hallway and gestured for him to come inside, her features were lost in shadow but he would recognize that figure anywhere.

The interior of the neat little house was filled with shadows as she walked ahead of him towards the sitting room, something about the way she was dressed felt peculiar to him. Geri led him to the sitting room it was almost dark in here now, Kirby took the armchair on one side of the fireplace and Geri sat opposite him. She leaned behind her and switched on the standing lamp behind her chair, it was then he figured out what had bothered him about her clothing. Her face remained in shadow but he had a clear view of the rest of her, she wore a plain black dress, black stockings and black Paten shoes.

Geri must have sensed what he was thinking, and she cleared her throat a couple of times before she spoke. “Forgive me if I appear a little sombre Kirby, I really am glad to see you and today in particular. I have just returned from burying my grandmother, and I am glad I am not alone in the house this evening.” She lapsed into silence again, and Kirby searched frantically for something to say, but anything that came to mind sounded so trivial at a time like this. In the end he settled for a short sentence, “I am sorry to hear that Geri, are you alright.”

Now that those words were out, they too sounded petty and patronizing, Kirby was feeling more awkward by the moment now, and in desperation he took out a pack of cigarettes and offered her one. His hand trembled slightly as he offered her the pack, he could not even remember if she had smoked the last time he was with her. Geri took the cigarette and he was relieved, but he was in for another shock when she leaned forward to accept a light. Kirby just about managed to stifle the gasp before it escaped his lips; the scars on her once beautiful face were vivid and angry looking.

 The man that Kirby had killed had left her disfigured, but those scars somehow made her seem more attractive to him. This thought left him scolding himself, the woman had been through a terrible physical attack and now she had buried her grandmother, yet here he was eyeing her up as if they were on a date. “It is hideous is it not; he has left me a freak.” Her words were almost casual and lacked that bitterness that she was entitled to feel, they just sounded as if she had accepted her fate. “You are still one of the prettiest women I have ever met.” The words just came out of him without any fore thought, yet he felt no embarrassment for he knew immediately that they were true.

Geri smiled for the first time since she had showed her face, and the gesture gave him a warm feeling inside. Geri insisted on cooking supper for him and now that the initial awkwardness was out of the way she turned on more lights, it was as if his words had restored some confidence to the woman. After supper she brought out a bottle of whiskey and they sat at the fireside, Geri talked and he listened as they drank and it seemed the most natural thing he had experienced in a long time. Her grandmother had passed away after a short but devastating illness, and her passing had come as a relief to both herself and Geri in the end.

By the end of the night Kirby had to help her to bed in the backroom, she had already persuaded him to spend the night. Kirby returned to the sitting room and finished what was left in the whisky bottle, and as Geri had not shown him to the guest room he ended up sleeping on the couch. The following morning he was awoken by the smell of breakfast cooking, he wandered in to find Geri standing at the cooker in her dressing gown. Later at the kitchen table he was amazed to find that when he looked at her face he no longer saw the scars. He was right in what he had said the night before; she really was an extremely pretty girl.

Later that morning Kirby drove her to town, Geri wanted to tie up any loose ends with her grandmother’s estate. She had told him that she felt there was nothing left in this small town for her anymore, and that she intended to move on just as soon as she could sell up the cottage. Kirby dropped her outside the attorney’s office that was dealing with her grandmother’s estate; she told him she would catch a lift back to the cottage later. Geri got out of the car and hesitated on the sidewalk, and then she leaned back into the car and kissed him on the lips.

 “Thank you for coming in my hour of need”. She was about to leave when he called her back, he wrote the office number on a piece of paper and shoved it to her hand. For the second time since he came here, Geri smiled as if she was genuinely happy. “Call me if you are looking for work or if you ever need anything”. Now it was his turn to smile when she answered. “Don’t worry Kirby now that I know how to contact you, I will definitely look you up.” Kirby sat watching her walk away and for the first time in a long time he felt he had made the right decision in coming here.

Kirby had been driving for a while when he felt the urge to stop and eat, a sign post advertising good home cooked meals caught his attention. He turned down the small side road and fifteen minutes later he came across the restaurant, it was on the main street of another small rural town. Kirby ordered the homemade burger and some French fries; he was quite surprised at how good the food really was, as he had not had much of an appetite of late.

 Kirby stood on the narrow street outside and wandered where he could turn the car, rows of cars and pickup trucks lined either side of the narrow street. “You can drive straight through Mr; the road follows a loop that will bring you back to the main road”. The sudden voice startled Kirby and he turned to find a young boy standing beside him. “Just stay right after the fairground and you will be okay”. Before he could answer the boy was off and running down the street, in the direction he had pointed Kirby to take. Kirby stood there perplexed for a moment wondering how the boy knew what he was thinking, but then he got in the car and followed the child’s directions.

He had not driven more than a hundred yards when he found himself enveloped in crowds of people; it seemed the entire local community was walking in the same direction he was driving. Coming towards the edge of town Kirby gave up and pulled the car to the side of the road, he would have to wait a while until the crowd thinned out. The people continued to stream past the parked car in an almost trance like state, it was if the whole place was suffering from mass hysteria.

 A loud knock on the side window almost made him jump, Kirby turned to find the same boy that had given him directions standing staring in the window at him. The boy had a strange smile on his face, he rolled down the window and the boy leaned in. “Come on Mr, you have got to see the fair, it is the best most magical fair that ever was.” Something about the boy’s expression disturbed Kirby on some level, he had this dreamy smile on his face and his eyes appeared vacant. Kirby glanced around at the other pedestrians and they all had the same look on their faces, an almost intoxicated look of bliss.

Kirby watched them file past and they looked like an army of zombies, except for the fact they all looked impossibly happy. When he looked back to where the boy had stood moments before he was gone, the peculiar thing about this was there was no sign of the child among the crowd ahead of him. Kirby found himself compelled now to get out of the car, he wanted to see what had attracted the town’s folk in such numbers. One moment he was in the car and the next he was being swept along with the crowd, but for the cane he would have been knocked over on more than one occasion.

Fifty yards further down the road the crowd suddenly veered left off the road, and Kirby found himself in the fairground field. The funny thing about it was, the crowd seemed to suddenly disappear; well at least it had diminished to the state where things looked far more normal. Here in the fairground it was like another place, the few people he could see appeared and disappeared into the various tents in a silent manner. Kirby began to feel as if this whole thing was a dream, being in this place had an abstract feel about it. He tried to speak to some of the people close by, but they hurried away from him.

Those that did not hurry away looked at him as if he was some sort of apparition, they would step backwards with a shocked expression. Everything about the situation was getting more bizarre by the moment, the bright sunshine disappeared and the sky took on the hue of a purple bruise. He suddenly found himself standing alone in the middle of the field; Kirby knew then that it must be a dream. Looking around now, all the fairground attractions bar one small tent had disappeared, it was then he heard the boy’s voice. “This way Mr, come quickly you are missing the best bit”. The child stood in the entrance of the small tent gesturing frantically.

By the time Kirby reached the tent the child had disappeared inside, Kirby lifted the canvas flap and stepped inside. The space inside was impossibly large, and seemed to cover an area many times the size of the outside of the tent. Everything inside here was elaborate beyond any fairground attraction he had ever heard of, ornate brass oil lamps hung from brass poles lining the walls of the tent. The floor of the space was covered in expensive looking Persian rugs; it reminded him of the illustrations from the tales of the Arabian nights. “Over here Mr, come over here”. The boy stood beside a table covered in a gold colored cloth, and a chair on either side. Kirby was immediately reminded of his first meeting with Cissy Bird.

Kirby took one of the chairs and removed his fedora and placed it on the corner of the table, when he looked up the boy was gone and a woman sat opposite him. Her features were hidden behind a veil but Kirby had the feeling she was not old, why this thought came to mind he could not say, perhaps it was the fact that fairground fortune tellers were usually old gypsy women. He was convinced now that he was dreaming as his mind tried to make sense of the whole thing, perhaps his visit to Geri was also part of this dream.

“Hello Mr Kirby, I have been waiting a long time for us to meet. However this could only happen when it was time for the next part of your journey, your dealings with Mr Blum has taken you a step closer to learning the genesis of your existence. The lady from the light house walks a line now between this realm and another, the German has extracted her life essence. However all is not lost with her yet, but her survival depends greatly on you. You are so very young Mr Kirby, younger than you can realise. You were born of darkness James Michael Kirby, and in order to escape that darkness you will be asked to destroy it at every opportunity.”

The woman’s voice was having a strange hypnotic effect on him; he needed to ask her how she knew all this. But his mind could neither form the sentences nor his lips speak them, he was trapped in a world where his sole role was that of a listener. “The more you hunt down this darkness the more you will understand it, until one day you will know enough to save those closest to you, and in doing so, you might even save yourself.” The lights in the tent dimmed and when they rose again Kirby was alone with the boy. “Come on Mr, the reading is finished, it is time to go. The fair is moving on now, and if you do not go you will be taken with it.”

The shrill sound wormed its way into his mind, he tried desperately to ignore it but it was beginning to hurt his head. Kirby awoke to the sound of the ringing phone and the thump of the whisky glass hitting the floor boards as it fell from his limp grip, he was sitting behind the desk with his chair facing the window. It was dark outside and few stragglers leaving the cafes hurried away in the driving rain, his head was pounding and his mouth felt as if he had eaten saw dust. The continuous ringing of the phone felt like torture now, he swiveled his chair and knocked the empty whisky bottle from the desk in his effort to reach the phone.

The sound of the bottle hitting the floor boards only adding to his misery, he picked up the phone and said hello, but the word only came out as a croak. Clearing his throat he tried again and it sounded better this time, a burst of static on the line was closely followed by a woman’s voice. Whoever it was sounded nervous and just kept repeating his name, he tried desperately to identify the voice but his alcohol befuddled mind was not functioning yet. Eventually he managed to get a word out; even then it was only to confirm his name. A sigh of relief came down the line, followed by a silence broken only by the sound of her breathing.

“Oh! Thank god, Kirby I have been trying to reach you for the past couple of days, the phone has just been ringing out. I was terrified that you had an accident on the road after leaving me, I am glad you made it back safely. You had just dropped me off at the attorneys when the weather turned bad, it was the most sudden storm anyone here ever remembered”. She paused for breath now and Kirby’s mind kicked into overtime, so the visit to Geri had actually happened. But what of all that had taken place after that, had he arrived back and climbed straight into the whisky bottle, was his visit to the fairground a drunken dream.

“I know that it is late Kirby and I probably woke you, but I was worried about you and I wanted to share my news with you. The attorney believes he can make a quick sale on the house, that money and the sum grandmother kept in the bank should be enough to help me make a new start. Perhaps I will take you up on that offer of work sometime in the near future.” Kirby told her he would be delighted to help and the call ended on a high note, at least from Geri’s point of view it did. But Kirby was left pondering his lost day, and the visit to a supernatural fairground. He searched his jacket pocket and found his cigarettes; in his trouser pocket he found his lighter, and a fairground token for the fortune teller’s tent.

 

 

 

 

 


© Copyright 2019 Patrick G Moloney. All rights reserved.

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