R. J. DAVIES, AUTHOR
Maybe Ashley was right? Being afraid of the dark, basements, shadows, horror stories and monsters in general was so much work. Hell he was afraid of his own shadow if the truth had to be known. He had just turned eighteen last week and he never grew out of his fears. Dwayne met Ashley at the restaurant for his birthday. She was there with a few of her friends and he was there with a couple of his friends. Ashley had a sparkle about her. He never met anyone who seemed to be so knowledgeable at such a young age. She was one of those old souls people talked about, people who seemed like they had roamed the earth for centuries.
He had moved out on his own a couple weeks before that. It was a bit of a struggle but he was getting used to being independent . . . it was really great. Staying up late, eating whatever you want. Okay it wasn’t by choice. His uncle kicked him out. His parents were living who knows where. They were always on the go. But Uncle Rick couldn’t take it anymore. He freaked out and told Dwayne he was too delusional. Dwayne felt the assessment was inaccurate paranoid yes . . . delusional no. So he was afraid of a few things. It wasn’t his fault. A healthy dose of fear kept people safe and he was one of the safest people he knew.
Double checking his locks on his door he made sure his apartment was nice and secure. Then he went through his apartment making sure the lights were all on and all the doors shut and locked as best as they could be. Heading back to his living room he sat down on his sofa. Pulling out the book Needful Souls he shuddered as he saw the severed head and blood on the front of the book cover. Did he really need to do this? Maybe he should try watching another Stephen King movie. No he couldn’t get past the first fifteen minutes without hyper-ventilating. Swallowing hard he felt his body start to perspire at just the thought of trying to endure a Stephen King movie. Jumping up he paced around the room and cleared his throat a couple times.
“I’m okay, I’m okay,” he kept repeating trying to calm himself down. Inhaling deeply he tried to hold his breath for as long as he could then release it. Swallowing hard he did a couple more deep breathing exercises.
“I can do this,” he nodded his head and felt hot tears threatening to come forth. Shaking his head no, he repeated, “yes, I can do this.”
Walking slowly back to his sofa he sat down. The soft wool fabric of the sofa cover felt comforting. Swallowing hard a few more times, he managed to calm down by picturing a pretty field of flowers in the hot sun on a clear day. It was relaxing. He loved going to the park and this field he would image always made him think about the park. With children playing on the swings and sliding down the slides, and hanging upside down giggling on the jungle gyms. People, walking their dogs, holding hands and in general people just being happy. He loved the park. He always felt safe at the park.
Feeling at ease he almost forgot what got him so worked up. Setting the book aside he turned on the TV. Flipping channels he found a comedy movie on. Watching it he really wasn’t watching it. It was a distraction while his mind wandered. He had to be the only adult that was such a chicken poop. There were kids out there that lived off scary movies. He was never one of them. Dwayne didn’t think he could ever be close to one of those people.
There was no reason for it. He had a happy childhood when his parents were around they always had fun. There wasn’t a traumatic memory he held. Even his uncle was generous with his patience. His mom and dad were adventurers they were always on the go, checking this out, exploring that, researching and investigating mysteries. His biggest adventure was going out with his friends for his birthday. Going out and mixing with people was dangerous as well. So many accidents could happen. He wasn’t really paranoid he felt he was more cautious than paranoid.
Glancing over at the book, he felt the hairs on his arm stand on end. “It’s okay. It’s just a book and it can’t hurt you. Just read the first chapter and be done with it. Read it fast and it’ll be over with. You can do this Dwayne!”
Beads of sweat pooled on his forehead, back of his neck and palms. Holding his breath he reached out and the tips of his fingers lightly grazed the cover. He felt an electrical charge transfer from the book to his hand. It was just his imagination running wild he reminded himself and tried to swallow some of his fear. His mouth felt so dry all of a sudden. His breathing turned shallow and quick. Swallowing hard again he grabbed the book and dropped it in his lap. Rolling his eyes he looked to the ceiling. Oh how he need strength to get through this.
“Nothing bad is going to happen it’s just a book and probably not even a well written one. Just open it and read fast.” Swallowing hard again he tried to clear his throat again.
Forcing himself to grab the book he did. He opened it quickly and then started to read the first paragraph. He got through the first paragraph and it was okay. Feeling a little more confident he reminded himself, “If it gets too scary you can put the book down any time you want.”
He continued reading and felt his body starting to relax a little. By the time he got to page four the book was interesting but not scary. A small part of him that was untapped felt alive and open to possibilities. There was an energy in the room that he wasn’t even aware of that he created himself. It lurked in the dark corners … waiting … preying … its fingers stretching, reaching and clawing to come out and play.
The lights flickers he jumped. They didn’t go off. Looking around him he surveyed the room. Nothing was out of place, getting up he walked over to the window peering out that’s when he noticed there was a light rain that started. Surprised he hadn’t noticed it before. Absently he went over to the hall and pulled out his emergency pack. Closing the door securely behind him he went back into the living room and began preparing in case the lights went out. Pulling out a small generator that was fully charged, he began plugging his lamps into it, and kept the radio close by in case everything went out so he could have updates.
Inhaling deeply and letting out the apprehension he felt he went back to his sofa. The book lay open where he had left off. He really loved reading and read many books, mostly history books. Swallowing hard he tried to swallow some of his fear that was creeping up and threatening to swallow him whole.
It was a light rain and nothing more. It didn’t hurt to be prepared just in case. Picking up the book again he continued where he had left off. The story was getting interesting. He liked the main character already he had reminded him of himself. Flipping the page he continued.
He heard Mrs. Trout upstairs walking around. Her lazy strides sounded like a large animal crossing the room. Dwayne knew the woman didn’t like it when it rained either. Sometimes he would go up and sit with her. He wondered if he should go now.
“You’re an adult it is crazy that you are carrying on so. Just sit down and read your book.” He went back to reading again.
Lightning flashed in the sky lighting it up like day light. He began counting and stopped only when the thunder roared. It felt like it was right above him. It was 15 seconds dividing that by 3 it was approximately 5 kilometers away. The rain started coming down a little harder. He jumped up and ran through his apartment making sure everything was unplugged and the lights were all on and all the doors closed and locked … everything was secure. Running back to the living room he checked his generator. It was on and the lamp was working. Quickly he ran into his bedroom grabbing his blanket and pillow off the bed. A quick look around the windows and curtains were shut tight. The doors were all closed. Dropping to the floor he peeked under the bed it was clean. There weren’t even dust bunnies living under there. Getting back up he left his bedroom making sure the door was closed tightly behind him. He hurried over to his sofa and jumped on it wrapping himself under his blanket and holding his pillow close to him.
His heart was racing. He could feel it thumping hard against his rib cage. Swallowing hard he kept trying to swallow his own fear but his stomach was beginning to feel sick of it. He felt like he was going to jump out of his own skin. It wasn’t possible he reminded himself.
“It’s just a storm it will pass … it’s okay nothing to worry about.” The phone rang he didn’t know who would be calling him in this weather. Everyone who knew him knew he would never chance picking up the phone in a storm. Thunder rumbled and it felt like it was just outside his apartment.
His mind began reeling with thoughts, over 2 million lightning strikes occurred in Canada on average per year. 9 to 10 people were killed and between 100 and 150 people were injured every year. He was grateful he didn’t live in the States because they had 60 deaths a year on average and Florida was the lightening capital of the world. That was one place he would never go to even for a quick vacation.
“Think happy thoughts!” he squeaked interrupting his own mind. “Fluffy blankets, bunnies and kittens, yummy cheesecake, donuts and muffins. A field of flowers in the shining sun, children playing in the park … maybe I should read a book it will be distracting.” The suggestion was a great idea. The bookshelf was across the room next to the window. He couldn’t bring himself to get up off the sofa to cross the room. He desperately needed a distraction from the storm.
Grabbing up the book that sat beside him he absently went to the next page and began reading half-heartedly. His eyes kept trailing back to the window. The lights hadn’t gone out so he was good. Gulping back some fear he made an effort to focus on the book in his hands. His mouth went dry again.
Thunder cracked and he could hear the glasses in his cupboard clink together. It rumbled and his apartment building shuddered. Trembling … his whole body was trembling ever so slightly he tried to calm himself down by deep breathing. He remembered something his mother use to say to him as a child. ‘You are very special Dwayne you come from a long line of special people. Not everyone will understand you or appreciate you. No one must know how special you are. You get this from your daddy’s side of the family.’ He had just figured at the time she was trying to make him feel better since he was such a scaredy cat. Somehow he wondered if his mother meant that he came from a family of cowards. Perhaps she was just trying to calm a scared child a child that jumped at his own shadow. His mother’s voice haunted him.
Turning his eyes back to the book at hand he tried to focus and then felt an episode coming on. The room started to sway, he felt light headed, nauseated and confused. This part felt like an old friend visiting him. Closing his eyes he knew it would soon go away. It always went away after a few minutes. Resting his head on the sofa he felt the uneasiness of his fear start to subside. “Every little thing is going to be alright … don’t worry … don’t worry about a thing,” he hummed the rest. Bob Marley made him feel good. Especially that song it was like magic, it calmed him down when he had an episode of sorts.
Opening his eyes he realized the power went out. When the nauseate hit his external senses shut down. Shallow breaths and a racing mind came rushing back. The storm seemed to be moving away he noticed. He wondered how long he was out of it for. Trying to shake it off he grabbed up the book again and tried to focus his attention on it.
Looking down it was like the words were floating off the page. They danced in front of him. Wide eyed he mouth gapped open. This had to be another episode of some kind but he wasn’t sure of what. He had never seen anything like this. The words bend and folded in front of him and then formulated into a sentence in front of his eyes. Dwayne felt his stomach churning as he whispered the words, “Welcome dark prince we looked for you everywhere.”
The words scattered then floated about again swirling in the air in front of his eyes. Blinking hard he thought he had to be imagining it all. “The Key Master is coming.”
Key Master who was that? What was that? Rubbing his eyes he watched as the words floated and swirled around again. Coming back to formulate another sentence, “Open the front door.”
Open the front door? What front door … his front door? He looked at his front door to his apartment and then there was a knock. Bam, bam … followed by silence the only noise was the rain from outside.
The words floated around in front of his eyes again and formulated, “Answer the Door!”
Slowing getting up on shaky legs he walked over to the front door. Standing in front of it he looked back at the living room. Did he just imagine that?
There was a knock on the door again he jumped. His heart was racing, his breathing shallow. Stretching a hand out to the door his fingers wrapped around the door knob, it felt ice cold to the touch. Twisting it ever so slowly … he pulled it open a crack, the door chain was still latched.
“Hi Dwayne,” Ashley smiled at him.
Swallowing hard he didn’t know how she found out where he lived. He had never invited her over. He only met with her a couple of times.
“Are you going to invite me in or what?”
“Who are you?” he croaked.
“I’m your friend Dwayne it’s me Ashley.” She smiled at him but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.
“How do you know where I live?”
“A girl can’t look you up in the phone book?” she tilted her head a little to the side and smiled at him again. “Are you going to invite me in?” she asked again.
He didn’t want her in his home. There was just a bad feeling about all of this. Yet he didn’t want to be rude either. She was a nice girl and all but he didn’t know her well enough to be inviting her in. Stranger a little voice in the back of his head yelled. Trying to squash that fear down he looked back towards the living room.
“You’re being awfully rude Dwayne, is there another girl in there?” she caught his eye and he had trouble looking away.
Shaking his head no, “no, no,” he stammered. “No one is here but me. Listen Ashley I gotta go.”
“Dwayne we’re friends invite me in and we can hang out,” she persisted.
He almost said yes but there was this nagging feeling in his stomach that he couldn’t ignore. “I’m really sorry Ashley,” tears started to well up in his eyes. “I can’t right now.” He slammed the door in her face and bolted it.
She continued to knock. He stepped back. What was happening? Swallowing hard he had a bad feeling about everything tonight. The phone rang again. The rain was letting up outside but it still wasn’t safe to answer the phone. It stopped for a few minutes then rang again. The knocking on the door and the phone ringing he felt like he was going to lose his mind. Staying away from the living room he didn’t want to go back in there and find the words floating again. He’d rather just chalk it up to a delusional dream.
Backing into the kitchen he turned around and almost peed his pants. All the drawers and cupboards were open! They were all wide open … gaping at him! He didn’t do that! He knows he didn’t do that! He could be a little crazy sometimes but this he didn’t do. Did he?
“No I didn’t do this,” he whispered to himself. Fearful that if he said it out loud someone was going to stop him.
Ashley was still banging on the front door the phone was still ringing … Dwayne felt like he had opened a door and stepped into a whole world of crazy.
The phone on the wall in the kitchen kept ringing. He had to answer it even though it wasn’t safe he had to make the ringing stop.
“Hello?” he croaked.
“Dwayne you have to get out of there!” it was his father.
“Yes there is a lot you don’t know about and right now we don’t have the time to explain it to you but you need to get out of your apartment and away from anyone you just met since your birthday.” His voice sounded strained and scared.
“I can’t … Dad I can’t it’s raining outside.”
“Dwayne!” his mother’s voice was shrilled. “Listen to your father! Get out now!”
“I can’t,” tears ran down his cheeks. “It’s raining outside and there something really bad happening here.”
“That’s why you have to get out of there son! Climb out the window and go down the fire escape. Do it NOW!”
He looked back down the hall, Ashley was still outside his door calling to him and banging on the door. The fire escape was off to the side of the fridge. The rain was letting up but he knew it was unsafe to go outside when it was raining.
“Dwayne go now, your uncle is outside waiting for you. Run!”
The phone went dead, “Dad? Mom? Dad?” He wiped the tears away and tried hanging up the phone and then dialling their cell phone but there was no use his phone line was dead. Ashley was still outside his front door.
Struggling to be brave he stood up and forced himself over to the fire escape. Peeking outside there was no one out there the fire escape was all clear. Mainly because anyone who knew him would know he normally wouldn’t even be near this window let alone considering climbing down the metal wet fire escape, his heart was beating a mile a minute he couldn’t even think straight. Looking back at his apartment he knew this wasn’t right and he wasn’t imagining this. He had to get out. Ashley was not the cute girl he thought she was.
Opening the window the light drizzle assaulted him. It felt refreshing against his hot skin and yet he was so scared. Looking back over his shoulder he had to move fast. He still had his rubber boots on since it was raining out he always wore them just in case lightening came and got him. Poking his head outside, he felt the cold breeze against his skin. Oh god how could he do this? What was he thinking? Was he really going to climb out on his fire escape! Dwayne forced himself out onto the fire-escape and then within seconds he made it down to safe ground.
Scanning up and down the street he looked for any signs of Uncle Rick. The rain had let up. Puddles of rain were everywhere. He had to get away from his home. Maybe he could go to his Uncle Rick’s house. It wasn’t far away.
Starting off he hurried as fast as his legs could carry him he just wanted to get back inside somewhere where it was safe. He needed to get shelter. The skies were still dark and he needed to get inside before the shadows got him. It took him ten minutes to jog over to his uncle’s house. As he approached something caught his attention. There were several people standing around it didn’t look normal. Coming to a stop he ducked behind a bush and looked back behind him. What was going on? None of this made any sense. Who were they and what were they doing standing around like this?
Something told him whatever these people were doing it wasn’t safe he had to get away from here. But where was he going to go at this hour in the dark? It was so dark outside. He felt the tears starting to come again. Backing away from the direction that his uncle’s house was in he decided maybe one of his friends might be a better idea.
As he started down the street the apprehension began to ease up. What was going on? None of this made any sense. Maybe when he got to Jerry’s house he could call his parents. He had to find shelter it was so dark out. He didn’t like the dark.
“Dwayne?” Ashley softly called his name.
He looked behind him but no one was there. Stepping up the pace a little he turned the corner and ran right into her.
“Dwayne I know you probably have a lot of questions, I’m going to help you with them.”
“No don’t come any closer! Please don’t!” he held up his hand. “Please don’t I don’t know you. Please don’t come near me!”
“I’m on your side Dwayne it’ll be okay I assure you everything is going to be okay,” she stepped closer to him. Reaching out her hand she almost was close enough to touch him.
“Don’t!” he screamed and a ball of fire flew out of his hand.
Ashley stood in front of his eyes being engulfed in flames. She screamed and kept approaching him. He backed up out of her way. With his mouth gaping open and his eyes as wide as saucers as he couldn’t believe what he was witnessing. Ashley fell down on the cold wet pavement in front of him. Then her body just disappeared in a puff of smoke.
He rubbed his eyes he looked at his hands he looked back the spot she just disappeared in front of him! How?
“Holy sh…,” he swallowed hard and backed up into Uncle Rick.
“Dwayne it’s going to be okay.”
“Uncle Rick she just disappeared!”
“Lower your voice we are beginning to attract unwanted attention. She was no one don’t worry about her. You are far more important than any of them.”
“We have to get out of here,” Dwayne looked over his uncle’s shoulder. The ones that were outside his house were starting to approach them.
“Dwayne there are some doors in life that should remain closed you don’t have that luxury. You are so special even you don’t know how special you are but you will soon find out. Your mother and father don’t understand how important you are.”
His uncle touched his shoulder and suddenly everything went dark. How did his uncle do that? He felt the world around him slowly dissolve in front of him. A small part of him was trying to warn him that this man in front of him wasn’t his uncle but it was too late as darkness took over.
“Everything is going to be okay dark prince, your kingdom has been waiting for you and you will be great.”