Original Short Story: "An Interlude Before The Darkness" | Part 2

             The appearance of the bars in the square of light had caused me to convulse in fear.  My eyes never left it.  My hands pushed on the ground.  The ground gave in to the pressure of my weight.  I stole my eyes away from the light and directed them to this strange sensation.  I pushed down on the ground with my hand again and felt the give of some kind of foam type substance.  Just a while ago I had felt the coldness of a wood floor, but now my hand felt the softness of fabric.  What is happening?  Why is everything shifting from one moment to the next?  What is happening to me?  I pushed my body back until I felt the contact of the room’s wall.  It too gave in to my push.  I turned a put my hand on it.  The same softness that was on the floor was covering the walls as well.  I began to crawl around the room feeling the wall, but avoiding the light.  I made it around a good portion of the room, nothing but that same feel of fabric.  I reached a corner and huddled up in it.  A new fear feeding on me.  The fear of this apparent shifting of reality.  What I thought was, no longer was.  My eyes went back to the light.  The light was fearsome.  I couldn’t let it expose me.  They might see me.  They might…

Snap!

            “You can’t escape the darkness!” he yelled this time and it shook me out of my trance.  I looked his way.  He was still looking forward and his demeanor had not changed.  Yet he spoke.

            “What are you talking about?  What darkness?  Why can’t I escape?” I inquired.

            “You can’t escape the darkness.  You can’t escape the darkness.  You can’t escape the darkness.  YOU CAN’T ESCAPE THE DARKNESS!!”  His voice went from soft to loud.  He was now screaming this over and over again.  I slammed on the brakes and slowed to the side of the highway.  I put the car in park and turned to the kid.  I turned his head toward me, a little roughly this time.  I snapped my fingers and told him to calm down in as soothing of a voice as I could muster at that point.  It took repetition to finally get him to stop yelling.  Finally, he stopped and I tried to ask some questions, leery that I might just start him back up again.

            “What is this darkness you are talking about?”

            His left hand pointed toward the windshield and out into the now black sky. 

            “What? The night? Is there something out there that is going to get you?”

            He slowly shook his head in the negative.  His point shifted from the windshield to straight at me. 

            “Something out there is going to get me? Why? What is it?”  I was growing weary of this at this point.

            His point went back to the windshield and into the night sky. 

            “Is it out there right now?”

            His gaze returned to me without my coaxing it.  Then he nodded affirmatively.

            I opened the door to the car and got out.  I turned my brights on in order to see further in the distance.  A squeal emitted from the darkness as if the light caused pain for whatever it was that was out there.  I kept my eyes on the road searching for any kind of movement.  Something flashed across the road but I couldn’t make out its shape.  It went way too fast.  Then it flashed again.  Squeals emitted from the darkness just beyond the reach of the headlights.  Just then the headlights began to flicker.  Then they went out.  Something turned them off.  My heart began to pound in my chest.  I got back in the car and slammed the door.  Locked it and reached for the ignition.  The first attempt there was nothing but I kept trying.  The squeals were getting louder and louder.  There was more than one out there.  Are these the things I have been seeing in my visions?  I kept trying the ignition.  The squeals became piercing, so bad that I had to cover my ears.  It seemed like it went on forever, but just as quick as it began, it ended and my headlights popped back on.  I quickly tried the ignition and the engine revved up right away.  I pulled off from the side and slammed on the gas.  I turned to the kid and he was sitting there as if none of that had affected him.  I started going as fast as I thought my car could handle.  My eyes on the road in case they were still there.  In the night. 

            My hands were squeezing the steering wheel tightly.  My arms were sore because of it, but I wouldn’t relent.  I had to reach the town.  I had to.  A hand grabbed my arm as tight as I was grabbing the wheel.  I looked toward the passenger seat.  There he was staring at me, but it wasn’t him.  His face was contorted and grotesque.  There was a smirk emitting from his face that would have frightened even the toughest guy on the planet.  I watched his eyes because his iris became pure black and that blackness began to spread over the whites that were there in the beginning. 

            “You can’t escape the darkness.  You can’t escape me.  You will become completely like us.  The only thing keeping you from that fate is this worthless body that you cling to so tightly.  Give it up.  You’re fate is with us.” He stated in a deep husky voice. 

            “What the hell are you talking about? What are you? What do you want from me?” My pathetic try at strength was easily seen through. 

            “Give it up! GIVE IT UP!” His voice began to squelch slightly.

            “No!” I slammed on the brakes and reached for the door, but before I could make an escape he shattered my arm.  I passed out from the pain.

Snap!

            I awoke in some grass and dirt right next to a rest stop.  I pushed myself up off the ground and started walking towards the rest stop where there were a few cars.  As I got closer I noticed people in one of the cars.  Looked like they were making out inside from what I could tell from the rear window.  I got a few feet away when I saw something dark rise up in the back seat and it pressed itself up against the glass.  It was almost like it was silently laughing at me.  Its shifting presence began to take form and the face I thought I had seen a glimpse of before formed right there in the back window.  It was a face I knew too well.  It was mine.  I was watching myself laugh with a malicious grin on my face.  I ran towards the car.  It had disappeared into the back again.  I pounded on the window.

            “GET OUT OF THE CAR!!! THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE BACK SEAT!!”  I yelled as loud as possible.  The boy and girl just looked at me frightened that I was going to kill them.  I kept pounding, trying to break the glass.  As I feverishly tried to get in I saw a hand with a knife reach around the girl’s neck and it slid across it.  Blood began to spurt spill down upon her white dress as her head hit the dash of the car.  Once the boy turned toward her he started screaming.  He hopelessly shook her and tried to hold the blood in.   

            “OPEN THE DOOR!” I yelled.  He reached for the lock but as he did it a knife blade came through his mouth subsequently knocking out a few of his front teeth in such a brutal manner.  It pulled the knife out and stabbed him in the chest a couple of times.  Then he stared at me through the side window, laughing at me.  He was me.  His bloody hand hit the window and he slid it down leaving a film of blood that I fixated on with horror.  Just then my visage faded into the shifting smokiness that I had seen every other time.  It squealed at me so loud that I hit my knees and covered my ears.  It stopped suddenly.  I brought my hands down and as they came within my eyesight, I noticed that they were covered in blood.  A new fear was beating inside of me.  I wiped them on my jeans and felt my ears but they were dry.  I looked to my side and there lay a knife with blood all over its shiny, steel blade.  This isn’t my blood…

Snap!

            The sound of what seemed like a fog horn brought me back to consciousness.  My arm had needles of pain traveling from my hand to by shoulder and there was no way that I could move it.  I looked in the passenger seat and there was no one there.  That kid, that thing left.  I looked up and noticed that my car was taking up both sides of the road and that an eighteen-wheeler was trying to get my attention to move it so he could make whatever deadline he had to make.  I had to shift with my left hand then steer with it, which, admittedly, created some interesting moments on the highway as I headed for the town just up ahead.  There was a bit of me that was uplifted by the fact that the city limit sign just passed by.   I pulled into the first convenience store that I came to and walked, calmly, into it and into the bathroom.  It was there that I took off my jacket as carefully as possible, not being able to alleviate any pain in the process.  I tore a piece of my shirt off and made a tourniquet for my arm.  I turned the water on in the sink and splashed water on my face and took some paper towels to wipe the water off.  I pulled the towels away from my face and there I saw it in the mirror.  The face of the kid that was in my car was staring back at me.  I moved my arm, touched my face, and nodded my head, all of which the reflection repeated exactly.  I backed away from the mirror but the reflection did not.  It stood there and smirked at me with those dark eyes. 

            He said, “Do you know who I am?”

            “No, how are you doing this!”

            “Simple, I am able to do this because on some level, I am you.  Or at least, I am the reflection of your thoughts at this moment.”

            “What are you? I don’t know what you are talking about!”

            “What?  You don’t remember me?  You should.  You took something from me that I can never get back. “

            “I didn’t take anything from anyone! I don’t even remember you!”

            “I suppose it has been a while, but to think that a man can forget the first person he killed.  Seems odd, don’t you think?”

            “I didn’t kill anybody! I don’t know what you are talking about…” I spoke with a thin, dry voice.

            He continued.  “Those visions you have been having about people being killed, those are your murders.  You killed those people and that’s not even all of them, those were just some of the few that I wanted to torture you with, to make you remember.  Don’t you remember how you kept showing up but were never able to save them?  You remember how you started to see your own reflection in the shadows that killed them?  That’s because they were already dead…you killed them years ago!  You are a murderer!”

            I fell back against the tiled wall of the little bathroom and began to start crying out of anger toward the reflection.  “I HAVE NEVER KILLED ANYONE IN MY LIFE!  I don’t know what you are talking about…” I began to trail off. 

            I heard a knock on the door and the voice of a man asking me what was going on in there and if I needed help.  But before I could reply the reflection began to squelch its voice now and said, “You will pay for your crimes.  You can’t escape the darkness.  You can’t escape who you are!  You are a murderer and the punishment of a murderer you will receive!” 

            At that point a flash in the reflection’s eyes caused me to pass out.

Snap!

            My eyes were still focused on the light when a door opened and a man dressed in white came over to me and stuck a needle in my arm. 

            “This will make you have a nice rest.  You need to go to sleep.  You have been up for 72 hours straight.” He said, matter-of-factly.

            “What am I doing here?  Why am I stuck in this room?  What happened?”

            “You broke a sink at a gas station and started to slit your wrist with the porcelain pieces.  You probably wouldn’t be alive if the attendant had not kicked in the door and called the cops.  By the time they got there you had gained some consciousness and started attacking the policemen.  They found dead bodies in your car.  But you were not responsive at all.  They thought you were jacked in the head so they sent you here until they could find out what the hell is going on.” 

            “I didn’t kill those people.  The thing in the mirror is trying to pin the murders on me!  I would never do anything like that!”

            “Shut up.  I have been outside of your cell for the past hour and you keep talking to yourself about all these people who were murdered!  You had a great amount of detail about them for an innocent man!”  He stood up and walked out, pulling the door shut behind him. 

            Darkness covered me once again and the light brought fear like it had before.  My eyes returned to that square of moonlight that I had obsessed over before.  As my attention became more and more directed at it, it began to move toward me.  I shoved myself up against the corner getting away from it.  It kept on in my direction.  Yells emitted from my throat and the light centered right on me and flashes of black began to fluster across the light.  I took my hands from my eyes and looked into the fury of shadows.  Those creeping, lurching shadows were in frenzy all around me.  They scratched and cut me and just then the visions returned in quick bursts…

            …me shoving the pocket knife into the throat of the priest over and over…

            …me lynching that little girl and tearing apart the throat of her babysitter with the broken dish…

            …me slashing and stabbing those lovers in the car and then lurching away leaving a trail of blood and a knife behind…

            …me attacking those cops with the sink pieces in that bathroom…

            …me seeing my face on the visage of those black, shapeless figures…

            Then I came back to the fury of those figures flying around me and all of the cuts on my body left by them.  Finally I felt normal, like I knew who I was now.  My dimples ascended into a malicious grin and a loud, howling chuckle carried through the halls of the mental institute. 

            “I can never escape the darkness!  I can never escape who I am!!” I screamed through the metal door’s square hole.

            The figures still frenzying around me.  I began to lurch around the fabric-covered floor of the cell.  I could see all of those shadowy figures creeping and crawling up the walls and moving across the ceilings.  Their cacophony of screams became its own chorus of worship to the dark.  I raised my hands up towards the ceiling and started laughing and screaming with them.  I began clapping my hands adding to the symphony that was all around me. 

            “Yes. Yes. Yes. YES!!” I spoke in a raspy and gnarled whisper as my started jumping up and down from a bent-knee position.  My hands stiffened into a claw shape and my eyes went bloodshot.  The chuckle became more menacing….

            The guard pushed open the door.  What he found in the cell haunted him for the rest of his life.  There the patient was in the middle of the cell with his hands in some odd shape and his eyes looked as wild as his cackle had become.  The guard to this day swears that the guy literally lurched over the floor with his head contorting itself into different faces and positions.  His mouth was stretched open abnormally wide and the noises were being made without any movement.  The figure kept whispering to himself, “The darkness is all around.  THEY are all around.  They are coming back to me. Hehehehe.”   The guard passed out from fright and fell to the ground in front of the door opening. 

            “Makes no difference to me…hehehehehe…!”  I whispered quietly.  I lurched right over his body out the door.  They followed me close behind.