A Darker Turn

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Jeff has a fairly normal life, until two unrelated head injuries open doors to worlds that he had no clue could exist. But some doors are better left closed.

Submitted: June 13, 2013

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Submitted: June 13, 2013

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A Darker Turn

 

Jefferson, or Jeff to his friends, was born like most anyone else. His birth wasn’t particularly rough, and aside for the usual missteps of a toddler, there was nothing to show that he was different from any other kid. But Jeff always felt different. He couldn’t tell you how, exactly, but he could sense that he just wasn’t like other kids, no matter how hard he tried to be.

 

Jeff liked to think, and did it whenever he had a moment to himself. However, when he tried to share these thoughts with others, he gained a reputation for being ‘weird’. He wondered why he was the only one that seemed to think his type of thoughts. He tried to discover what he was supposed to be thinking about, since his usual thoughts evidently weren’t the thoughts of a typical kid. But asking what he should be thinking about only solidified his reputation. He couldn’t ask his parent’s because they always seemed busy with work, or too tired after work to discuss his issues. So Jeff grew up drawing further into himself, only making friends by chance, and even then keeping most of his thoughts to himself.

 

When Jeff entered the latter part of his adolescence, it was decided that he suffered from depression, which only caused his isolation to grow. He needed a productive outlet, so he tried art. He took as many art classes as he could while in high school, which he enjoyed, but his art always confused his classmates, as well as his teachers. It didn’t matter if he was doing a drawing, sculpting a bit of clay, or creating a wire form, he always ended up hearing, “I don’t get it”, and “That’s so strange”, or worse yet, “Why are you so weird?”. So he stopped showing his art to others. He also tried his hand at writing. He wasn’t very good. His stories always lacked something that he couldn’t quite put his finger on. It was like the ideas had no real life in them. After a while, he stopped writing, as well.

 

Jeff grew up. Because of his deepening depression, he was usually quiet, even with those few friends that he had managed to hold onto after he graduated high school. However, he tried to be as outgoing as they were, and often accompanied them on trips around the area. He rarely found the same activities fun that they did, but he took an interest in trying to figure out how their minds worked, and how they were able to cut loose in ways that he never imagined for himself.

 

One day, he went out to explore a local cave system with a couple of his friends when he lost his footing. He was standing on a large rock, about the size of a throw rug when both of his feet came out from under him. He landed flat on his back, with the back of his head slamming into the rock. There was no blood, and he was sure he didn’t pass out, but he did see stars, and his head felt a bit foggy afterwards. He sat up, and when his vision had cleared, he went on with his day. After that, Jeff started seeing things a little differently. Nothing had changed, but he was able to grasp why certain things were the way that they were without quite as much difficulty as before. At the time, he didn’t even consider the fall in the cave as the cause, as he had pretty much forgotten about it.

 

Time passed, and Jeff found himself thinking up random stories. Nothing great, but they were stories that he entertained himself with between bouts of depression. In fact, it was while he was depressed that he found the stories within himself that seemed to have that lifeblood that had always been lacking in his writing before. However, when he tried to write these stories down, some sort of miscommunication between his mind and the paper kept the stories from being anything near as special as they were in his head. Again, after several failed attempts to write a strong story, he set the pen down.

 

A couple of years after the incident at the cave, Jeff ended up with his first car. It was a little two-door sports car that he really had no business having in the first place. Not too long after getting the car, Jeff was driving down a winding road when there was some malfunction, causing him to lose control of the car. When he came to, he was looking at the ceiling of the car, wondering why his head hurt. When he turned his head, he saw a person pecking on the glass of the driver’s side door. He managed to open the door and get out of the car, realizing that he must have had a wreck. He checked himself, and found that he had escaped with nearly no injuries. There was no blood, but there was a rather large goose egg on the side of his head where the airbag had slammed his head against the glass. After a trip to the hospital, he was told that he had suffered a concussion, and that the swelling on the side of his head would subside after a while. He hoped that the headache went with it.

 

Long after the car accident, Jeff found himself coming up with stories again, but these all seemed to have a life of their own. He even attempted to write some of them down. Much to his surprise, not only did they retain the feeling that they had while in his head, but they evolved even as he wrote the stories to show him glimpses of worlds completely foreign to him. Each story seemed to come from different parts of one big realm, even if the individual worlds were nowhere close to one another. Jeff soon found himself nearly drowning in ideas, so he began writing each new idea down in a story list. He figured that as soon as he came up with a new story idea, he would completely lose the thread of each previous story, but that turned out not to be the case. Often times, he could lay down an idea and not revisit it for months, or even years, but as soon as he looked back at the idea, he found the general thread of each idea and realized that it had evolved while he had his back turned. This allowed some decent sparks to grow into amazing stories.

 

Even though Jeff was writing now, that didn’t mean that the depression had left him. Quite the contrary, in fact. Now Jeff found himself falling into some of the deepest depressions he had ever suffered. On more than one occasion, Jeff attempted suicide. His methods changed from pills, to hanging, to jumping. Always, however, he found himself to be fine after each attempt. The only thing that was different after each attempt was that he seemed to have even more story ideas inside of him. After a half dozen attempts on his own life, he decided to just focus on his writing, and perhaps try to get a book published. After all, what was the point in having these stories if no one was going to read them?

 

Jeff managed to cobble together a workable collection of short stories, and he even managed to get them published. The stories were decent and followed a common flow, but the book itself wasn’t anything truly special. He felt that when he first laid eyes on the finished product. He knew that he would have to work harder if he was going to create a book that, in itself, held the power that he could feel in each individual story.

 

With Jeff’s second book, he felt closer to that goal, but it still hadn’t captured the essence that he had been looking for. As all he wrote up to this point had fit into a certain genre, he decided to try his hand at other types of stories. Maybe he could capture the new stories as easily as he had captured the older ones. As it turned out, he could. Actually, the other genres seemed to be easier for him to write. He wasn’t sure if that meant that his skill was growing, or that he just had a mind for these new stories. It seemed to him that no matter what genre he tried to write in, he found a certain level of success. It began to worry him, because he remembered how bad his early writing attempts had been. But he let that worry go when his books kept getting published.

 

By the time his sixth book was published, Jeff began to grasp a few new truths. He was not the one coming up with the stories. He had suspected this back when he had found that he could write the stories down, but it became clear when some of the new stories that he had written seemed to show the worlds that he had visited in those early days, but after they had gone through the natural changes that come with time. At first he dismissed these as left-over ideas from the early stories, but the stories he was seeing in his head didn’t fit in anywhere. They were the little side stories that you walk through every day without realizing. They were the bits of life that happen while you have your back turned.

 

The fact that the stories had a life of their own didn’t really bother him, because he found himself fascinated by the possibility that the stories were out there, even if he wasn’t telling them. The thing that did bother Jeff was that it seemed that the stories had more control over him than he did over them. Jeff rarely ever took sick, and the few times that he did, all he would have to do was start developing a new story, and he started feeling worlds better. When the depression began to deepen, a new story would bring him out of it easier than any meds. He began to wonder if major bodily injuries could be healed the same way, but he never appeared to get hurt in any lasting way, so he couldn’t test the theory. Nor was he going to injure himself in order to find out.

 

These thoughts began to deeply trouble Jeff, but he had no idea what he could do to stop the stories. Even if he stopped writing the stories down, that wouldn’t keep them from filling his head and driving him crazy. Or rather, crazier, if you believed what some people said after reading his books. He began to wonder if this was the reason that other writers turned to drinking. Perhaps it was the same for them, and they needed the blurring effects of alcohol in order to turn down the screaming of the stories. After briefly considering life as an alcoholic, he decided that he would take the stories over hangovers and liver damage.

 

Jeff was writing the stories for his seventh collection when he started on a story called A Darker Turn. At first, it seemed to be about a kid that was just a bit too odd for his own good, but it seemed to be evolving into the story of his own life. It held a few secrets that were so deep that Jeff himself had tried to erase them from existence. Yet here they were, for anyone to read if they so choose. He ignored the noise in his head and deleted the parts that were the most damning, while leaving enough substance to allow the story to flow naturally. He was content to finish the story and move on to the next one, when the ending smacked him in the face. What he read was that while there were stories that needed to be written, they would come to him. While he was writing, the stories would keep him relatively healthy. And finally, while there are still stories to tell, he could not die by any normal means. He was being granted immortality, yet none of the freedom that one imagines would come with such a gift.

 

Jeff found himself being filled with a deeper despair than anything that the depression had brought him to. He knew that there could only be one ending to this, and after looking ahead at a life never-ending, in eternal servitude to an infinite river of stories, he decided to put his plan into action.

 

Jeff pulled his books into a pile around himself, packed the open areas between the books with the papers that were covered with his most recent unpublished stories, and pulled a small object out of his pocket. He held up the finished manuscript for A Darker Turn, smiled, and brought the lighter that he had fished from his pocket up to the pages. After the paper had caught fire, he dropped them onto the pile surrounding him. Within moments, he was surrounded by a small inferno. By the time the flames reached his clothing, Jeff realized a wonderful thing: He couldn’t think of a single story that needed telling. He smiled the first genuine smile that he could remember, until his body caught fire and all was lost in agony.

 

 

***

 

Tucker had always had a flair for writing, but the ease with which he wrote this latest story was kind of scary. He wasn’t sure why, but this story kind of scared him. But what did he expect from something called A Darker Turn.

 

 

Charles Lee McCabe

6-13-2013


© Copyright 2020 CharlesLeeMcCabe. All rights reserved.

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