Chapter 26: Chapter 26

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 59

The all too familiar darkness encompassed Kate. She desperately tried to convince her mind to leave or to at least change the scene, but it never faltered, and the ending never changed. Each time she entered the dark ominous room it only seemed to become worse. The walls rose above her and pulsed inward certain to devour her. The urge to escape pushed her forward and only stopped when the feeling of dread shot through her. Something moved across the floor before she felt it brush her shoulder. She whirled around with the touch, but there wasn't anyone or anything, just the abyss of emptiness that extended behind her. She didn't want to continue, she wanted to leave, to somehow stop the unnecessary cruelty and wake up. A shadow flashed in her peripheral and with the fear she lengthened her stride away from the ever-growing evil. She found herself tripping and stumbling forward the whole time trying to force herself awake, but it was useless. She was destined for the torturous memory to play out in her subconscious.

A light flickered on behind her and bathed the space in a pale yellow glow. She searched the room for Tyler. It was what her mind wanted, another chance to try and save him. When she saw his huddled form against the wall it began to merge and warp with the shadows until he came into focus. Her voice caught as she tried to call out. His eyes opened wide just as the blood began to puddle. His cries for her ricocheted off the walls and attacked her from all sides. She could only fall to her knees and try to force her body to crawl in his direction. His arms extended to her. She was failing him again. The fear in his eyes was so real she could no longer discern if it was just the torment of a dream or reality. All she knew was that she had to save him. As she inched closer he began to sink slowly into the pooled crimson. Kate reached for him but the distance grew. She felt his weak grip intertwined in her fingers. She squeezed and pulled. He slipped further away. He called out once more as he became fully consumed, vanishing below.

Kate jumped and tried to stifle the scream back down her throat; choking on the escaping noise. With panicked eyes, she searched the heavy shadows for a solid object to focus on and regain a sense of calm. The images hung on in vivid reality refusing to vanish. Her stomach twisted and the disgusting feeling permeated throughout her body. All she could do was suck in a deep shaky breath to try and relax but found the sheets confined her as the walls pressed in on her. She kicked and squirmed to struggle and free herself. The effort left her exhausted and her body craved sleep, but knowing what lay behind her eyes had her fighting it. Instead, she swung her legs over the bed and let her feet fall to the cold wood floor. She got up and pulled a sweatshirt over her head before she quietly exited the room. She glanced around the hall and saw a thin line of light under Alex’s door. She had no intentions to alert her so she silently tiptoed out.

Rontu raised his head curiously as she crept down the stairs. When she turned to the door he popped up and slowly moved to follow her out. She whispered to him to go back to bed, but she didn’t fight his persistence to be by her. She relented, as she could use the quiet support he offered. Kate opened the door wide enough for both of them to exit and as they emerged the salty air hit her face immediately. She welcomed it and breathed it in. Barefoot she moved forward towards the shoreline. The distant gong of the moored buoys could barely be heard over the roar of the pounding surf that became louder as she leisurely approached. Her focus was on the small detail of the cold grains of sand that absorbed her weight as her feet sunk in with each step. Once she could go no further, Kate settled along the fringe between the dry sandy beach and vast rise and fall of the ocean. She watched how the whitecaps broke through the darkness and gave a visual to their size. Rontu sat protectively next to her, his ears perked and moved with every minuscule sound. She silently stroked the dog’s thick fur ignoring the threat of the rising tide as it flowed in and nip at her toes. When it retreated an undulating line of foam was left in its wake marking the tides gaining progress.

She closed her eyes to find a center, but the lingering feeling of the dream remained. She opened them to try and ward off the internal battle, but it wasn’t easily done. As much as she tried to fight it, her mind was consumed with the memory of the last moments of her son’s life. She was a strong woman. She had survived and found a purpose to continue on, but she could never find a way to forgive herself for not fighting harder to save him. It didn’t matter what people had tried to convince her of. She may have been barely conscious because of her own life-threatening injuries, but in the depth of her mind, she believed that somehow a mother’s strength would be the difference.

It hadn’t been long that she sat alone in her misery before she was greeted by a familiar voice. "I know it’s tempting, but night surfing isn’t fun."

 "How would you know? You’ve never tried it.” 

“Details.” Alex shrugged and moved around to sit down. As she did Rontu rose to greet her and limped in her direction. Kate watched him and toed the wet sand in an effort to fight her anger to his injury.

 “What happened, Old Man?” Alex asked examining his paw.

Kate didn’t hold back her disdain for what was done. “I figure Damian had him tied up and muzzled. I found him down the street struggling to get loose and his paw was caught in the chain.”

 “Seriously? That man needs to be taken down.”

“Wish it was that easy. I’m not interested in wasting more guilt on him.”

“You won’t have to.”

“You go right ahead, see how that turns out.”

Alex didn’t respond and Kate looked at her then back at the rumbling ocean beyond them and whispered, “We were the good guys once.”

“We still are,” Alex assured.

“That lined got blurred a long time ago.”

With that statement, the silence was back and Kate dug her feet deeper into the sand.

“So, all these years and I’ve never asked,” Alex said changing the subject as she ruffled up the fur on the scruff of the gray dog.

“What?” Kate asked watching the dog close his eyes in enjoyment.

“What kind of name is Rontu?”

Kate smiled at the question. “It means Fox Eyes.”

Alex looked at her in confusion. “He looks more like a wolf.”

“I know.”

“Then why the hell would you call a dog Fox Eyes if he doesn’t have fox eyes or even looks like a fox?”

“It was from the book Tyler had been reading at the time we got him.”

“What book was that?”

“The Island of the Blue Dolphins,” Kate answered.

“Man, it’s been forever. What’s it about again?”

Kate pulled her knees to her chest and thought for a second to recall the story. “A girl is left by her people on an island. She had to survive alone.”

“How was she left?”

“Otter hunters massacred her people, and the survivors decided to leave the island. Just as they set out she jumped ship to get her brother who had run back to the abandoned village to get something.”

 Alex sat up straighter and turned slightly to face Kate. “They didn’t wait or go back?”

“Eventually people came, but it was like fifteen years later.”

“You said she was alone? How was she alone if her brother was still on the island?”

“The wild dogs killed him,” Kate said plainly.

“Nice story you let your kid read.” Alex huffed in sarcasm.

Kate shook her head and chuckled softly. “It’s a good book.”

“I guess.” 

Alex kicked at the sand and neither woman spoke, but Kate could feel that Alex was working on something to say. They never really addressed Damian’s visit, or what it might entail for them. Neither women wanted to relive their murky and jagged truth. He was reveling in being able to taunt and try to intimidate them. Just by walking into the bar he was a threat, but his words solidified a warning. 

Kate felt Alex adjust her weight and cleared her throat before she spoke. “You’re not alone on an island.” 

“I didn’t say I was,” Kate responded quickly, hoping to not have to verbalize any angst she was truly feeling.

“Yeah, but you just need to know that. There are wild dogs out there, but they’re nothing we can’t handle together.”

“Listen to you.” Kate smiled and looked over to her friend. Curious eyes met hers for what she found amusing. “Together. I never thought the word would come out of your mouth.”

“Shut up.” Alex laughed and kicked sand in Kate’s direction.

Kate laughed with her and welcomed the ease in the tension.

“I’m still confused,” Alex said again, “If the dogs were hunting her why the hell would she name them? I’d want to kill them.”

“She did.”

“You make no sense.”

“Rontu was the leader of the pack. She vowed her revenge, but when she was given the opportunity to kill him she couldn’t. She nursed him back to health and he became loyal to her after that.”

“Huh.” Alex nodded in understanding. “Like this guy was to Tyler.”

Kate looked away from the dog. The reality of it all came flooding back. The night and all that he had tried to do to save them. He should have died from his injuries, and it had taken her a long time to accept that he had not lived to torture her in the memory of her son but to give her strength in what she was to face. He was truly an emotional source of support for her, and without even realizing it she had grown to depend on it.

“It’s a good name,” Alex said and ran her hand through his fur again.

“It is,” Kate whispered in agreement.

 

 


Submitted: November 01, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Kathrynmp. All rights reserved.

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