Yellow Eyes

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 23 (v.1)

Submitted: May 02, 2008

Reads: 172

Comments: 2

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Submitted: May 02, 2008

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The moon was going down when Nadia braked to a stop and traded places with Slim.Cornfields stretched off to either side of us and with the dwindling light, visibility was limited.Taking several moments, we surveyed our surroundings before deciding to make a quick bathroom break during the stop.Nadia helped Dale and Ginger out of the van, Slim, hurt, though not as badly as Doug or myself, gave us a hand.We took turns standing guard while we emptied our bladders.Ginger, urgent, lowered her face with shame while she evacuated her bowels.
Slim opened the back doors of the van and rummaged for a while, coming up with a select assortment of canned goods, a twelve pack of soda, and a box of cookies.He passed the items out and we climbed back in the van and drove a few miles, to another area where we had an open view around us, before stopping to eat.As we ate, Ginger scribbled on a notebook she had picked up back at the last house.
“Okay,” Ginger broke into the silent banquet.“I’m making a list of all the things we’ll need to get, or should try to get, if we’re shooting for the islands.I’m going to read off what I have, then go around and ask suggestions.If anyone thinks of anything later, just tell me and I’ll add it.”
I nodded my appreciation at her orderliness.Dale leaned over her shoulder and peered at the list.Feeding pieces of canned ham to Soldier as Ginger read, I listened silently.It was a long and well thought out list.Slim interjected a few times as she read, questioning the validity of some of her claimed needs.
She explained her reasoning without apparent defensiveness and he listened then fell silent as she continued to read from the list.When Ginger asked for any suggestions to add to the list, nobody offered any and she closed her notebook and sat, silent in thought, moaning from time to time as the van lurched or turned too quick, awakening the pain of her wounds.
We rode on in silence for some time.I was riding waves of confusion over waters of unconsciousness, drifting between solid thoughts and memories, turning dreams over to examine them with the hopes of finding meaning.The trees and fields and occasional house ticked away outside, sliding into view then retreating into darkness.I had the window facing east, and was watching the sky lighten from dark, dark to gray for a while before realizing it.

“Getting light.”Doug commented from the seat in front of me.

I shifted my eyes toward him, not wanting to tip over the edge of consciousness by stirring and calling up the swirling black tentacles of fatigue that reached for me.In the close darkness of the van, I could only see the back of his head and shoulders.He was trembling, or at least I thought he was.It could have been the way he rocked in his seat, but I thought that would have been more pronounced than his movement, which was only a shaking of the shoulders, that unsteady hold of his head on his neck, like an elderly woman that was constantly doped to help control the pain of her age.

For myself, I wondered what the day would bring.Remembering the moon, that hideous unnatural moon, I was anxious that the sun would be more terrifying in some unnatural aspect.Would it be larger this day than the prior?What color would it burn against the sky?I dreaded the prospect of its imminent arrival, yet craved for its revealing light nonetheless.Over the tops of the trees, the sky was dark purple, the leaves of the trees beginning to take color under the approaching day.
Slim slammed the brakes and I lurched forward in my seat.Dale cried out and grasped my arm for support.Ginger held onto the door beside her and Doug let himself be thrown forward as the van rocked on its wheels.I looked forward in time to see, through the windshield, the rear end of a deer slipping from view.
“Holy shit!”Slim exclaimed before suddenly stomping the accelerator.
We were rocked back and I let out my own curse, as there was a loud thump, then the van bounced twice.I was trying not to squeeze Dale’s arm too hard.We had just hit a yellow-eye and when I turned to Dale, she was staring at me, looking for confirmation of what she had just seen.Nadia had seen it to.
“That was intense.”She allowed in a low voice.
“Christ!” Slim said.“They’re running deer now?Like bad fuckin’ dogs?”
“Did we just hit one of those things?”Dale asked me.
I nodded.Dale let go of me.I let go of her.She dug in her pockets, found another smoke and pushed in the ashtray lighter.After her smoke was going, she puffed it anxiously a few times then seemed to calm.She looked at me again, pushed hair out of her face and let out a stream of smoke.
“What made them change?” she asked.
I just shook my head.Of course I had run around that question in my mind but had come up with the same resolution at each attempt.I didn’t know, there was no point in wondering the why or how of it.Not yet anyways.All that mattered to me was living and I didn’t really know why.Sooner or later, the adrenaline charge of mere survival with these new predators swarming the planet would have to wear off and when it did, I was going to be face to face with the realization that all the reason I had for living was dead.By my own hand and, possibly, my own inattentiveness.
“Maybe,” Ginger began.“Maybe I don’t know why, but I keep thinking about my first semester in school.There was this basic biology course we took and it wasn’t part of the curriculum, just sort of a side-note in my textbook.”She stopped and looked around, probably figuring on letting it drop.But, she had our attention and went on.“It was about flatworms.”
Nadia turned around in her seat, almost smiling.“I know that story.” She stated.
Slim spoke up beside her.“I don’t.What about them?”
Ginger continued.“These doctors made a simple maze and kept putting these flatworms through it every day.It took them a while, but they finally learned it.After that, they got two more groups of the worms and fed the ones that knew the maze to one of the two groups.Then, they put both the new groups through the maze.When the group that hadn’t eaten the original test group was put in, they didn’t know the path.The doctors tried the other test group, the ones that ate the very first, and they got it on the first try.”
“Weird.” Slim conceded.“What’s that got to do with these yellow eyed fuckers?”
Ginger shrugged her shoulders.“I don’t know.Nothing.Something.I don’t know, I just keep thinking about it.”
Doug turned his head and scoffed at her.“Are you talking about racial memory?”
“What’s that?”Dale asked.
“It’s something like, remembering things you weren’t around for.”Nadia said from the front.“Like, knowing how to do something your ancestors used to do because the memory is so strong it’s part of your genetic make up.”She looked at Ginger.“Right?”
“Something like that.”Ginger agreed.
She closed her eyes and held her head in her hands for a long moment.Her shoulders rose and fell as she cried into her palms.Dale leaned forward and rubbed her back.Nadia reached around her seat and stroked her hair.
“God.”Ginger moaned.“God what’s happening?What the hell is happening? This is just so…so…crazy.”She sobbed loudly and Dale slipped her arm over her shoulder.“I don’t understand.It’s just too crazy.I was doing everything…living right, I had a business…I had a fianc.We were getting married in a few months and now I don’t know if he’s alive.”She leaned forward farther, her head almost resting in her lap and wept.Dale and Nadia cooed at her, stroked and patted reassuringly.
“I know girl.”Dale said.“I had a fianc too.Only…only I know how he is.”She fell silent, choked by her own emotion, for a moment.“But he’s gone now.I don’t know why.I don’t know why he’s dead and I’m not.All I know is…is…”
“You’re alive.”I spoke into their grief.“And that’s all there is for now.It has to be enough.”
Nadia lifted her head and for a moment there was anger in her face as she looked at me.I could feel the emotion welling up inside of me, knew it was showing in my face, the raw edged grief I had felt over my own loss, being drawn out by their open display.She saw it, and her look of anger relented, replaced by a flat acceptance of our situation as it was.Doug turned to study me.
“Maybe you don’t understand what they’re feeling pal.” He suggested.
I thought about Genie, her head caved in, lying at my feet.Remembering the night in that farmhouse, shit plastered to my lower half, puke on my upper half, wandering around and screaming into the emptiness of the house.I felt an urge to reach across the seat and smack Doug a good one but didn’t.What was the point?I was feeling rough, my whole body ached and even if I were strong enough to rattle him, what would be the point?It would only stir the whole pot of shit until it stunk worse.I looked away.
“Maybe I want to make sure I have time before I grieve.”I told him.He shrugged his shoulders and turned around.
“He’s right.”Slim said from up front.“We got time for that later or not at all.Either way, we got more pressing problems.”
“What’s that?”Nadia asked from beside him.
“Like we’re running out of gas for one.”Slim pointed at the gauge.
We fell into silence again.The sun was growing stronger outside.Any moment it would break over the horizon and fill the land with hope, day was ever the hope of man I had heard, or with dread as it revealed its new form and color.I watched through the window as it finally broke, gold and radiant, sending streaming shafts of utter white brilliance sliding across the land, restoring the colors from their darker shadowed variations of night.
It was the same glorious burning orb I had known since I had first been aware of its existence.I felt a deep sense of relief wash over me, then thankfulness.Reaching for Dale, I pulled her next to me and embraced her.Not a lover’s embrace, but like I might have done with my son if he had grown older.She was awkward at first then, realizing it was a need for closeness and sharing, wrapped her own arms around me and leaned across my chest to look out the window.
“At least that’s the same.”She muttered.“Thank God.”
There was a muted ding from up front and Slim swore.
“What was that?”Dale asked.
“Gas light just came on.”Slim informed us with a flat voice.“This baby’s gotta have a reserve tank though.”
He brought the van to a slow stop then turned on the dome light.Outside, trees pressed close to the edge of the road.I scanned the woods off to my side and told Nadia and Dale to do the same on theirs.Dale pushed herself off me and leaned against her window.Up front, Slim gave a short laugh of triumph then swore again.
“Shit!They didn’t leave no gas in this tank.It’s worse than the one we’re driving on.”
I sat up in my seat suddenly.I looked up and down the trees and recognized where we were.“Just keep going.”I told Slim.“Hang a Luey at the next road you come to.”
“What’s up there?” he asked.
“A junk yard with tanks.”I told him.He nodded and dropped the van back into gear.
“How far?”
I tried to remember and couldn’t exactly.I hadn’t been past that junkyard in a few years, but knew where it was.Hopefully, it still had those tanks.Hopefully, there was fuel in them.
“About ten, maybe twelve miles.”I told him.
Ginger straightened out in her seat and turned to look out the window.I felt Soldier stirring on the floor near my feet and clicked my tongue at him and he jumped up onto my lap.Doug turned around and stared at the cat with a blank expression.He shifted his gaze to me and offered a weak smile.
“Surrogate.” He said.
“What?”
He indicated Soldier with a nod.“Surrogate kid.”Then he nodded at Dale.“Surrogate kid too.You lost your family?”
“I’m not talking about it now.”I told him, anger rising in my voice.He only smiled again.
“Pretty fucking tough.Too tough for that?”
Ginger was watching us and burst out.“Shut up Doug!”
He turned to stare at her a moment then dropped a hand to Soldier and scratched his ears.“It’s pretty rough huh?Too rough to think about?” he shrugged.“Too much to do to live to waste time on the dead.That’s our motto around here.”
“I said shut up!”Ginger screeched from beside him.
Doug whipped around and glared at her.“You too?All a bunch of tough motherfuckers in here!All of you!But what do you know?What did you lose?What have you seen?”His voice was growing loud turning shill, and his face was going red.I saw the sweat beading up on his forehead.
“We’ve all seen the same thing.”I told him, trying to keep my voice calm.He snapped his face back to me.
“Yeah we all seen the same fucking thing!You too tough guy?What have you seen?”
“Shut your fuckin’ mouth asshole!”Slim warned from the front.Doug ignored him.
“You seen your brother get ripped to pieces in front of your eyes?You seen your friends being drug off by their feet, screaming for someone to help?How about you been cold cocked and woke up with one of them fuckers dragging you off through the grass while a bunch of motherfuckers are sitting tight in some damn house eating Spam and letting you die so they could know something was coming for them?You seen that tough guy?”
Doug half rose in his seat and leaned over me, raising his hand from Soldier’s head.The cat jumped to the floor and huddled beneath my feet.He put his finger in my face.
“Christ almighty!Do you have any idea what that’s like?Coming around with one of those foul motherfuckers snarling and drooling and just trying to get you far enough away from its pals so it can eat your guts out all to itself?Do you know what’s that’s like?You seen that?”
Dale reached across the seat and punched him in the mouth.It wasn’t a large blow, but she threw it like she meant it, probably wanted it to knock his teeth out or send him flying back.But it didn’t.He just stopped talking, looked at Dale and then back at me.I turned my head and held my hand up to where the blood was seeping through the bandage over where my ear should have been.

The anger left his face and he sat down, holding his hands in his lap and staring into them like he could somehow find some serenity there.Slowly, the tension left us and he cried silently, tears tracking through the grime in his face.Ginger tried to reach over and place a hand on his shoulder but he slapped it away.

“I had a family.” He stated.“Had a great family.Beautiful wife, only nobody but me would call her that.We had three kids too, a teenage girl and two sons.Funny.My boys were pretty young, five and three, I loved the hell out of them.I loved them all but God…God!…Jenny was my favorite.That kid, she just put the sun in the fucking sky, ya know.”He stopped, lowered his head and raised his hands to catch his face.His shoulders shook with his sobs.

“That girl was the best.Just the absolute best.I remember when she was just a little kid.I don’t know why, but I remember it, she was like three maybe four years old and she had this stupid pink bunny.Not a stuffed animal, but one of those cheap dipshit plastic dollar toys with the wire inside.You know, like you put in an Easter basket.
“Anyways, she had one of those.Had a blue one too.Hell we gave ‘em to her in her basket that Easter.She never touched those dumb fuckin’ things from the day she got ‘em until a few months later.One day she’s in her toy box just looking through it and finds that blue one.She plays with it for the whole evening then when it’s time to go to bed, she remembers the pink one.Hah!
“ ’Where’s my pink bunny?’ she wants to know.Hell I didn’t know.It had been months.Probably the dog had ate it, or it was with half the fucking socks that never seemed to come out of the dryer, who knows.Anyways, she’s in her pajamas and I try to put her in bed and she starts crying real bad.‘I want my pink bunny, where is it?My blue bunny wants her mommy!’
“Oh Christ!So what do I do?Of course I try to explain to her it’s lost, probably gone for good and that just makes her cry more.I hated it!Then I tell her we’ll look for it in the morning and she just breaks down crying.No questions, no demands and I’m just standing there looking like an asshole.‘Okay baby.’ I says.‘Alright We’ll buy you a new one tomorrow, okay?’
“But she ain’t having it so what can I do?I’m just standing there telling her it’s gone and she’s crying and when I sit down on the side of her bed and try to tell her I’m not going to look for it she quits crying and just looks at me and then goes ‘But you’re daddy.Can’t you find it?’Aw hell, what can I do?She thinks I’m fuckin’ Superman.So I tell her I’ll see.I’ll see.
“She settles down and I leave her there in her room sniffling.I close the door and go down to her playroom and just tear it apart.I can’t find that fuckin’ thing for nothing.So I’m standing there in her playroom thinking about her telling me how I’m daddy and how that must mean I can do anything.
“Hell, it’s just a stupid fucking cheap-o toy you know.I could try to buy one but I only ever saw them at Easter time before you know.I try to tell myself that she’ll fall asleep and then tomorrow she’ll forget about it.I almost had myself convinced.But man, she just thought I was the end all be all, you know.I can do anything.I’m daddy.I’m fucking Superman without a cape.Then she starts crying down the hall and I know I have to go back in there.But if I just give up and go back in to tell her I can’t find that dumb toy she’s gonna look at me for the first time in her life like I’m not Superman.I’m gonna be fuckin’ Jack-Off-Dad.”
Dale laughed at that and Doug whipped his head up, mindless of the tears that streamed from his eyes.He tried to smile, faltered, choked back a sob and tried again.
“So what did you do?”Dale asked softly.
“What could I do?I tore that house apart and finally found that dumb fucking thing jammed under a couch cushion.It was all dirty and I washed it and took it to her room and she was sleeping so I woke her up and gave her the bunny.She told me I could do anything and then fell back asleep.”He grew silent and turned away from Dale’s smile.
I glanced to the front of the van and saw our intersection.“Hang a left.”I said to Slim.
He nodded and turned left.After we drove a short way, I told him to turn left again.He nodded and complied.
“One more left.”I said as we pulled onto Washington South Road.“One more left at the stop sign and then we’ll be going about eight or so miles and the junk yard will be on our right.”

“I hope we make it.”Slim muttered.


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