Darkness

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
A troubled young man filled with a darkness of his own making robs a pawn shop, but may have woken up an even larger darkness in doing so.

Submitted: April 12, 2013

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Submitted: April 12, 2013

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The force of the door slamming rattled the windows in their panes.

Not for the first time did Mariel wonder how many of those slams they could take before they eventually broke. Walking over to the window, she tipped a slat of the blinds up and peeked out, watching her teenage son Derek strut down the street. His hoodlum friends called him, “Wicked,” which she thought was mostly fitting, despite how hard she tried to steer him the opposite direction.

Before she had picked him up at yet another stint in the juvenile detention center the day before, she had once again called and canceled her credit cards, knowing that he would only find a way to steal them or charge insane amounts of money on them online. Rubbing a spot on her forehead where a headache was threatening, she shook her head, gathering her things to go to work as she wondered how she was going to manage to save her son.

 

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Derek, “Wicked,” was pissed. He walked with his usual swagger, but slammed each foot down a little harder than was necessary and stared daggers as he went at anyone who dared look at him. He was aching for a fight and needed a fix. He wanted someone to make some sort of aggressive move towards him so that he’d have an excuse to slam his fist into a face. It would give him a large amount of satisfaction to feel the snap of bone.

He needed money and had already found out that his bitch of a mother had canceled her credit cards, likely to keep him from having anything. Well, there was more than one way to get money.

His eyes lit on the pawn shop that he had been walking towards. The old man who owned it would never buy the stuff he stole. He had told Derek that he didn’t deal in stolen merchandise and that the things he’d taken had “the feel of darkness” to them, whatever the hell that meant. Derek thought maybe he wouldn’t mind bringing the feel of darkness to the old man himself. An old-fashioned bell jangled as he shoved through the front door, turning slightly to thumb the lock closed behind him.

Glancing up as Derek shoved the door open, the old man froze in the act of placing a bookmark between the pages of his novel, a wary expression coming over his face as Derek locked the door. “Son, you don’t want to do this,” the old man said, his voice surprisingly steady for someone in the midst of a robbery.

Derek’s eye wandered over the display case before him, lighting on a simple wooden box on top of the counter that held a silver switchblade sitting on a bed of purple velvet. Opening the box, he pulled the blade out, weighing it in his hand and rubbing his thumb along the grip. It felt . . . right. Perfectly balanced for his hand. Pressing the release, he smiled as the blade made a soft snick and sprang into place.

Casually walking over to the counter across from the old man, Derek leaned carelessly on the counter, his demeanor deceptively carefree. Eyes hard, he stared at the old man as he made little patterns in the air with the tip of the switchblade. Pressing the meat of his thumb to the blade, he glanced at the old man. “This is pretty sharp,” he said, as he gave the old man a smile.

Sighing as he saw how useless his arguments would be, the old man opened the register, muttering about darkness beneath his breath. Derek snorted. Stupid codger was worse than his mother, thinking people get what they deserve in this life. Derek knew better. People get what they were strong enough, smart enough, and ballsy enough to take.

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Old Ben, so named by the kids of the neighborhood for his likeness to the older version of Obi Wan Kenobi from Star Wars (which he secretly found pleasing), watched the punk kid who had just robbed him strut down the street, so full of himself and completely unaware of the nearly translucent swirls of black that pulsed and throbbed, emanating from his body.

Ben shuddered. He hadn’t seen anyone that bad off in years. He reached for the phone to report the robbery, but hesitated, thinking. Pulling his hand back, he went to his safe to replace the petty amount of cash the kid had taken, thinking himself lucky to have been unhurt and have had nothing in the store broken.

Glancing back up to the street where the kid had since disappeared, Ben nodded and decided to keep the incident quiet. He’d long-since learned to listen to his feelings and this felt right.

Really was a shame losing that blade, though. Ben vaguely remembered liking the kid who came in and sold it. Some soldier fresh from the war with a haunted look had pawned it off a while back.  With a mental shrug and a quick swipe across the counter where the punk had smeared it while leaning on it, Ben picked his book back up and settled back down, determined to let the entire matter go.

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Derek stumbled into the house, belatedly kicking the door closed behind him. His mother’s car wasn’t in the driveway, which he was grateful for in a fuzzy way. God, he was so damn hungry. He wasn’t sure of the last time he ate. He jerked the fridge door open and grabbed a package of lunch meat, taking a handful out and dropping the rest of the package on the floor. He fished a soda out and took long gulps between eating the lunchmeat out of his bare hand. Finishing, he crushed the can in his hand and dropped it, wiping both hands on his shirt as he headed for his room, not caring that he left the fridge door open behind him.

Opening his bedroom door, he walked in, the sight of his dirty clothes lying around the room filling him with a sudden rage. His lazy mother should have taken care of this by now. Gathering them up in armfuls, he flung them out the door into the hallway. Maybe she’ll get the point now. That thought amused him and he laughed loudly, slamming his bedroom door. Sitting down hard on his bed, Derek kicked his shoes off, chortling to himself as they hit the wall with a hollow clunk.

Falling over on his side, he felt the outline of the switchblade pressed against his thigh from his pocket, but couldn’t find it within him to care enough to take it out as he fell into a deep, drug-induced slumber.

 

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Mariel closed the door quietly, surveying the evidence in the house of her son having returned from his recent bender. She paused, listening for his movements and relaxed, happy for the moment that she didn’t hear any of his friends or rap music throbbing through the house until she felt like it was vibrating in her bones.

Stowing her things in her usual hiding place when Derek was home, she went to the kitchen and began cleaning up the messes he had left behind. She let her thoughts drift as she worked, daydreaming about having a son who loved her.

A short while later, Mariel grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge, making sure that the seal hadn’t been broken before drinking it. Several times Derek had found it amusing to slip drugs, alcohol, once even his own urine into her drinks. She wondered if it was possible that he was evil, beyond saving and immediately cringed. He was her son. She just had to try harder.

A ragged scream broke the silence, the abject horror it carried raising the hairs along Mariel’s arm. She jumped, a strangled cry coming from her mouth as she jerked, her water sloshing from the bottle across her shirt and the floor. Frozen in fear, her thoughts refused to move before suddenly rushing over her with the force of a tidal wave, each one crashing over the next. He’s finally done it. There’s someone up there with him and he killed a person. He’s taken a bad drug and is hallucinating. He’s trying to mess with my head; he heard me in here.

Finally spurred into action at the thought that she could perhaps save whoever Derek may have hurt, Mariel ran down the hallway, her feet tangling in the mounds of clothes outside Derek’s doorway. Cracking open the door, she peered inside, blinking in confusion at the sight before her. Derek sat on the floor, his arms wrapped around his knees, rocking back and forth. His eyes stared at nothing and he kept repeating, “In pieces . . . just pieces,” in a flat, monotone voice that Mariel found disturbing.

Backing slowly away from the door before he saw her, Mariel left the doors lightly cracked. She knew that any moment Derek would snap out of it, begin cussing her and throwing things or even just start laughing that he scared her. Grabbing a laundry basket from her room she began picking up the clothes, becoming slightly more concerned as she continued to hear vague mutterings from Derek’s room. Telling herself that she would check on him again later, she took the basket towards the washer and began thinking about searching online to see if his actions were commonplace for taking a bad drug.

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Derek bumped fists with his best friend (who is that guy?) Thomas, who everyone called Mac because he looked so Irish with his curly red hair and freckles. Some part of him recognized that he was dreaming, or hallucinating, or . . . something, but he had never had an experience quite like this and no frame of reference to compare it to.

 

Mac grinned at him, the sandy dirt streaking his face. Damn, but Iraq is dirty as hell. Can’t wait for a shower, and Beth. A strange melancholy and longing broke over Derek for the girl even as he wondered who the hell she was. His imagination, which seemed completely out of his control by now, brought up Beth’s face for him. More cute than pretty, she had deeply familiar features. Features he’d seen a million times. Creased into a radiant smile as he lifted her veil and kissed her at their wedding. Teary and upset when her puppy got out and was hit by a car. His wife.

 HIS WHAT? Derek struggled against the revelation, wanting to wake up and get the hell out of this weird shit. He would never tie himself to one chick. Screw that.

Torn back to the scene at hand, Derek startled and swore aloud as a shell went off close enough to where he and Mac crouched behind the blasted wall of an old building that he could feel the wind it raised. Mac laughed, but it sounded almost maniacal to Derek. His eyes were wild as they met Derek’s again. “See ya on the other side, pal.” He motioned over the wall and even though Derek knew nothing of military hand signals or combat, he knew he was supposed to follow Mac over the wall and engage the enemy.

Derek opened his mouth to tell Mac to shove it, but found that he was following against his will. Before he was able to take two steps, the air concussed before him, shoving him so hard against the wall that he felt each one of the ribs that broke, snap inside him. His mind registered Mac’s curls disintegrating before he felt the warmth of his blood snap across his face. Pieces of Mac went in all directions. I didn’t even see the shell.

 

Derek screamed.

 

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Mariel knew that the time had come for her to call someone. A doctor, the hospital, someone. Derek had been going through bouts of screaming on and off for hours now. He was stuck somewhere in his head. He didn’t seem to recognize her, even called her “Beth” at one point.

She knew now, of course that he wasn’t faking it. As she picked up the phone and prepared to hand the responsibility for Derek at least temporarily over to someone else, a guilty part of her felt almost…relieved.

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Retired Sergeant Jason Montgomery, dubbed “Sunny” by his army buddies for his constantly optimistic and happy nature, stretched as he woke up. He had slept through the night undisturbed by nightmares of the war for the first time in over a year.

He scrubbed the heels of his hands over his eyes, feeling like a new person. Feeling the bed shift next to him, he glanced over. Beth was lying on her side facing him, tears standing in her eyes. “Mac?” she asked softly. He shook his head at her. He hadn’t dreamed of him, his best friend.

Beth caught her breath in a half-sob and pulled him close, hugging him tightly. He returned her embrace just as fiercely hoping that this meant he was finally healing. He rested his head against her silky hair, stroking it as he allowed himself to have a little hope for the future.

 

The End

 

 


© Copyright 2018 Sarah Mondy. All rights reserved.

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