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A Taste of Night

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The end of the world happened March 15, 2042, a rather fitting date considering its reputed historical significance. Late on this day, all the superpowers of the world turned their nuclear arms against each other and fired letting the cards… and bodies fall where they may. What sparked such a response? One can only guess. Maybe someone insulted the American President’s wife? Maybe Spain got tired of trade negotiations with China? Who knows? However, all I can remember is the smell of burning flesh and seeing people I knew and love die painful deaths.

We were in our house when it happened, my wife and I. I sat in the den in my easy chair as I listened to my wife busying herself in the kitchen. It was her night to cook, and I still remember the crunch of the carrots that she chopped to put into the stew she prepared, while she hummed a jaunty tune to herself. As I sat there reading the Times, I remember hearing a pop from somewhere very distant from where we were and thought nothing of it as a result. As I sat in my windowless cave reading my newspaper, I soon felt the house begin to buckle and heard my wife’s humming replaced by a blood-curdling shrieking. I rushed upstairs immediately to see what was the matter expecting that she might have cut herself badly or burned herself on the stove top. Sadly, I was mistaken as she turned to face me, revealing the seared flesh of her face and twin trails of liquid running beneath where her eyes should have been.

I moved closer to investigate and started to weep myself as she continued to scream.

“Oh my fucking bloody hell, what the fuck should I…” I started to question to see what I could do for her. However, the cracking of timber and drywall met my cries as the house collapsed upon my wife and me. And then, all was darkness as I reached and found my beauty in the aftermath.

I held my wife one last time while she slowly sank into shock, and, then, her respiration stopped. Where my beautiful wife had once been, now an eyeless husk remained… An eyeless husk held by myself. I cried tears for her as I lay there in the dark holding what remained… tears of blood, the only kind that a vampire can cry. I held her for several days until the smell of rotting flesh became too much for my heightened senses. I kissed her one last time as I decided to go, leaving her there alone in the darkness and rubble of our former home. The same pile of rubble that I had to push through to escape from the dark and enter the world as we know it now.

At 6:32pm on a breezy, frigid Saturday in New York City, my world changed as my human wife died before my eyes. One week later or at least I assume it was about a week at 9:14am, I pierced through the drywall, timber, and bricks that encased me and found myself in a new world.

The sun still shone in the sky, but a thick cloud of dust and particulate debris now covered it, obscuring the full power of its rays. Surrounding what had once been our house, similar monuments of destruction and despair filled the spaces of our neighbors and our friends. What once was a thriving neighborhood was now a ghost town… or rather the ruins of one. Where green had been brown took its place. As life existed before, nothing but death met my sight. All was silent Human life had existed as the dominant species, now only death and the monsters of the world remained. A world that I was a part of and had been for the better part of four hundred years.

On this end day, the human race found itself instantly an endangered species of sorts with small groups living below the surface of the Earth. My kind would have its era upon the earth. . . my kind would reign. I shook myself into motion and walked toward the horizon, hoping that I would find someone. . .something to balm my ills and make me forget that I am Raymond Rothschar, that I once was married, and now I was irrevocably alone. . .

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Written by barryr22

May 8, 2012 at 1:57 am

Origins

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Rajhym stood on top of Mt. Vijadt watching the people in the village below scurry about. He had been hiding for the past couple of hours, shirking his duties in the fields to do what he like to do best: people watch. Now, as it began to get dark, he decided to climb down the treacherous path to get home, where warm goat stew and cider would be waiting for him.

The journey down began as always with Rajhym using a small torch to light the precarious trail. It felt much the same under his feet as it had felt many times before, but after walking for at least forty-five minutes, he began to climb the mountain again. This was when he began to worry.

“I have taken a wrong turn,” he thought, “and now, I will surly die from exposure.”

When this crossed his mind, he sat down and started to cry for he had never been lost or alone in his fifteen years, and now, he was truly scared for he knew that Mt. Vijadt turned dangerous after dark and creatures roamed the paths that no one spoke the names of anymore. He remembered four years ago that his father had wandered into the mountains in search of his sister. Neither of them had returned, but he and his mother found a necklace of bloody teeth strung with his sister’s bloodied golden hair… and they knew that their family was dead and that they had suffered. After this, his mother had kept him close at all times… that was until his fourteenth birthday when he had to begin working.

He knew it was a risk to climb the mountain but did it anyway. Now, he wished that he hadn’t.

His tears continued.

“Ah, poor child,” came an ethereal voice just outside the torch’s ring of light. “Why are you sad?”

He wiped his eyes and replied, “I’m lost and find it impossible to find my way in the dark. If I have to stay here, I’m sure to be gotten by a creature of the mountain.”

“There, there,” answered the voice as a feminine arm came into the circle and its hand stroked his face. “I won’t let a creature of the mountain get you.”

As the he felt more at ease, Rajhym noticed the gnarled hand and the fingers that ended in talons. He gasped at the sight and started to run away.

“Now, where are you gong little Rajhym?” cooed the voice as steel-like grip clamped upon his shoulder. “Don’t you want never to be afraid again? Wouldn’t you like to haunt this mountain all of your waking moments, forever?”

“Let go. I need to make it home.” He struggled against the hand, but it was no use.”Help! Help! Help!”

“Poor little vagabond,” whispered the voice covering his mouth with another taloned hand. “I will make you strong. You shall be mine.”

A noxious breath blew across his torch, causing it go out. Rajhym was left in the dark with the creature. Slowly, his eyes adjusted, and he began to make out the outline of what looked like a nude woman with glowing eyes, looking at him hungrily as she continued to grip his arm.

“I shall kiss you and make it all better,” she said. “And none of the others will attempt to take you ever again.”

She stooped down closer and closer toward him until her toothless maw covered his tender face. He felt something like warm flesh in his mouth that he assumed was her tongue, but soon, he realized it was more like liquid energy flowing from her into him. He felt stronger as his limbs started to extend and claws began to grow from the tips of his fingers. Quickly, he felt more powerful than he had ever dreamed of becoming.

“And now it is finished, my child,” she creaked withdrawing from him. “My journey is done, but yours is just beginning.”

“What do you mean?” he questioned, recognizing a deeper, more raspy voice which frightened him.

“You are now one of the Draknar. An ancient race, very powerful of sorcerers that some worship as demons… and to a certain…*Ack, ack*” her coughing interrupted her speech. “…extent we are, I suppose.”

“What is this about your journey being done?” again the deep raspy voice came.

“I have endowed you with the eternal essence, the source of your power. But like a bee sting, once given the stinger must die.”

“So, you’re leaving me?” tears began to fill his eyes again.

“You’ll be okay, my child. But all things must come to an end, Ahsa. . .”

“You create me, and then. . .” the deep, raspy voice trailed off as he noticed the light leaving her eyes. He knelt beside her for a moment before her flesh started to flake away in the breeze.

The last thing to go were the eyes in which he saw his reflection. His eyes glowed with a cold fire from the depths of his now gaunt, cadaverous face. Jagged teeth replaced his once boyish smile. And a desire to inflict pain filled his heart because he lost everything as all Draknar do but gained so much more.

Written by barryr22

April 29, 2012 at 12:12 am

A Bargain

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A fetid smell rose from the slave pens. Another had died in the night, and it would surely be days before their overlords would notice. . .and by that time, there might not be anything left for them to find, save a few chips of bone.

Rhoda had been praying for seventeen cycles for someone to come and rescue them, and even as he gave up hope, a figure appeared at dusk. One who seemed to be little more than spindles, allowing its hollow voice to fill the darkness between them.

“He who has summoned me, I am Ahsa the Blight of the Seven, the Bringer of Pestilence, and a Lord of the Under Realms. What would you have me do?” hissed the tall lanky figure from the shadows.

“Free us,” Rhoda replied.

The creature’s two eyes gleamed like fire as it whispered, “There are many of you. This will require a lot of power. Are you willing to give everything for these your people?”

“They are my family. They are all my brothers and sisters. We have suffered much pain. I would do or give anything for our freedom.”

“Anything?” Ahsa half questioned, half chuckled.

“Anything,” Rhoda answered tentatively.

“Good. A future favor is my price,” whispered the old one. “One to be asked sometime hence from now on my terms. It shall be one of my choosing that you must ask no questions about. Do you agree to these terms  Seridian mutt?”

“It seems that I have no choice.”

“Then, we seal it with our blood,” the figure responded as it slashed one hand with a gnarled talon from the other, and after doing the same of the slave, they clenched hands in a salute of understanding.

“And thus it is done,” creaked Ahsa.

In a blink, the creature extended its hands from the darkness and a ghostly light started to radiate from them. And for a moment, Rhoda held his breath as he waited for his friends, family, and himself to be transported away from this place of terror. However, Ahsa’s hands soon stopped glowing, and it turned to him.

“And now you are free, little Seridian. Remember our agreement. I will require something from you, one day,” it said, its jagged teeth gleaming in the light of its eyes.

An instant later, Ahsa was gone, and Rhoda found himself confused about what had happened. Then, he noticed the two guards, who had been standing watch in front of the slave pen, now hung from the side of the small hut closest to the pens. Slowly and cautiously, Rhoda exited the pens without alerting any of the others and walked closer to the hut’s wall. Suddenly, a metallic smell filled Rhoda’s nose, and he realized with horror that the men hung from small stakes that pierced their hands. What’s more, he saw that their entrails spilled out into the dust and understood that they were dead.

This dawned on Rhoda gradually, but then, he turned and began running toward the main body of the city Urant, yet even before he got too close, Rhoda noticed the grim forest of bodies. Some hanging from houses, more dangling from the trees, and others strung about the plaza fountain. Whether man, woman, or child, all were represented in the gruesome tableau, and not a single soul remained alive.

Rhoda fell to his knees at the sight, choking back the vomit. Tears filled his eyes, ones of disgust and joy, happiness and pain as he knew all this freed his people. But he did not want it to be like this. Not like this at all.

*******************************************************************************************************************

All the while, Ahsa watched from the shadows with a jagged smile parting its cadaverous lips.

 

 

Written by barryr22

April 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm

The Woman on the Road

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Late September a couple of years ago, I was driving down a road in the backwoods of Tennessee. Now, it was a road that I knew quite well so the overhang of trees that blocked out the starlight was not nearly as creepy as it should of been. My radio broke the week before, so I drove with my windows down to hear the wind rushing by because on the back roads there aren’t really speed limits. It’s just how fast you can go without dying. But anyway, I was driving down a long dusty dirt road with the sound of wind and my own thoughts to keep me company.

This road seemed to follow the trail a snake had made some time ago as it twisted and turned back on itself making it difficult to stay on your on side when you went around curves. But the moon stood high in the sky, and my dashboard clock said that it was around 2:00 am. So, I wasn’t afraid of anyone being on the road. So, my car flew down the road.

As I rounded a corner, suddenly, a deer jumped from the bushes, and I slammed on my brakes and swerved into the ditch to keep from hitting it.

“Fuck, shit, damn, fuck, fuck, fuck!” I cursed while banging my fists emphatically on the stirring wheel.

“Stupid God damn deer!” I yelled out my open window as threw my truck into reverse and attempted to exit the ditch. A spray of dirt answered, but my truck didn’t move. “Damn!”

I checked my cell phone and was met with a screen that read “No Service.”

“Fuck,” I thought again as I looked down the road one way and up the road another. There wasn’t a house for miles, and I knew that getting my truck out of the ditch was at least a two person job. “Well, I guess I better get walking,” I said aloud to no one.

A cold, clammy hand touched my arm. “I can help you,” came a voice that was a half sob.

I whirled on heel and saw her standing there. She looked to be about twenty years old with jet black hair and matching streams of mascara trailing down from her eyes. It was obvious that she had been crying, and looking at the wedding dress she was wearing, it was pretty obvious why this might have been.

“I can help you,” she whispered again, “if you will take me home.”

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“I don’t want to talk about it. I just want to go home,” she replied coolly.

I could see her shiver in the moonlight but decided to take her up on her offer because it looked like neither of us would be home anytime soon without one another’s help.

“Okay,” I said,” I’m going to need you to get in the driver’s seat and wait for to tell you when. I’m going to in front of it and push. Okay?”

“Okay,” she said as she climbed in my open truck door and cranked it.

I took position at the hood  and yelled, “Okay, now put it in reverse, and here we go.”

With a few shoves and a gash in my left leg from a nasty briar, we righted the Toyota back on the road. As soon as this was done, however, the young woman began crying again.

“Give me a sec to see how much damage I’ve done, and then, I’ll get you home. That okay?”

“Yes,” she whined.

“My name’s Ryan. What’s yours?” I asked as I inspected the truck with the flashlight from the glove compartment.

“I have no name. He took it away when he left me,” her voice rustled.

“Are you talking about the guy who…” I stopped because her lip began to quiver again and tears started streaming. “Nevermind. We’re good to go. No damage. Here take my jacket. It’ll help take the chill off of yah.”

“Thanks,” she responded through her premature tears and clenched teeth.

She scooted into the passenger seat as I climbed in behind the wheel. “Where to?”

“Just drive that way,” she pointed. “And I’ll show you where to turn.”

“I can see that you’re cold,” I said as I rolled up the windows. “The heat’s busted or I would turn that on.”

Quiet greeted me as she stared out the window into the night.

“And I know that the Band Letter Man jackets aren’t nearly as thick as the ones that football players have. But I never have been athletic. I sure could play the trumpet, but never could catch a ball,” I chuckled.

Again, she just stared out the window.

“I can tell that you’re a woman of few words. I would turn on the radio but that’s busted too…about the only thing electronic that works on this truck are the windows…”

“There,” she said suddenly and gestured toward a well-rutted path that wasn’t more than a break in the overgrown field of weeds.

I turned onto it and drove a little further. After passing through what seemed like a half-a-mile of this weed walled driveway, a clearing appeared and a quaint white siding house seemed to rise up from the mystery of the weeds. A single light illuminated the front porch, and I stopped just short of being at the front steps.

“Thanks,” she said as she jumped out of the truck, slammed the door behind her, and mounted the steps quickly. She opened the door and disappeared inside before I could say anything.

The light on the porch switched off, and I was left with only my headlights shining into the darkness. I turned my truck around and headed out the driveway. At the end of the road, I noticed the base of the mailbox across the road from the drive was made of old wagon wheels.

“That’s weird,” I thought as I turned onto the road and headed home, “I’ve never seen a mailbox quite like that one.”

Again, I rolled down the windows to drown out the non-music from my busted radio. This time, however, I noticed the chill in the air quite well and realized something pretty quickly.

“Fuck, I let her take my God damn jacket,” I said into the wind, but by the time, I was already pulling into the driveway of my home.

I knew that my mother would be expecting me; although I’m older now, she still worries. So, I reasoned that I would go back the next day and get my jacket from the woman, since it was on my way to work.

The next morning, I left a few hours early just to make sure I could find the place. With only the wagon-wheel mailbox base to guide me, I found the rutted driveway fairly easily. In the light of midday, the house was revealed to be a little more suburban than I imagined the night before. White siding with a brick facade to one side met me. I was sure it was the same house, but only knocking on the door and finding the girl would prove that this was the right house or not. So, I knocked on the door and waited for a response.

Again, I knocked. I felt that someone was home because three cars sat in the driveway…and really, how could no one be home with that many cars?

This time, a middle-aged woman answered. She had dark hair that was beginning to show touches of a silvery gray, and besides a few deep set wrinkles, she looked like the girl from last evening.

“Ummm…. Excuse me, I need to talk to your daughter I’m assuming because the girl I picked up last night on the road looks just like you. I’m here to get my jacket back from her because she didn’t give me a chance to get it back.”

“What?!? Katie, were out wandering again last night?” the woman yelled down the hallway. “Please come in and have a seat in the sitting room while I sort this out. Your Mable’s boy from down the road right?”

“Oh, you know my mom?”

“Yes, we were friends a long time ago, back before…Oh, Katie. Katie! Where are you?” she questioned as she wandered out of the room.

While I heard a little arguing in a back room, I saw a photo sitting on the table by the chair I had taken. And in it, I saw the girl and her twin sister in a black and white picture like you have taken at the fair. Both girls smiled out of the frame at me, and I wandered which one this Katie.

As I thought this, into the room walked a young woman who looked exactly like her mother, except that she had sandy blonde hair with her mother following close behind.

“Mom, I’ve never seen this guy before in my life,” she said, her braces gleaming in the light. “I don’t know who he is. I wasn’t even out last night.”

“He said you did. So you tell me where that jacket is and don’t lie to me anymore.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” I said stopping her, “But it’s one of your other daughters that’s here in this picture.”

“Don’t you kid with me boy. This is the only girl that I have.”

“But the girl I picked up looked just like this.”

“That’s me and my twin sister Ellie. She’s been dead for twenty-five years now. So, don’t you try to trick me. If my girl took your jacket, she’ll give it back,” she said with tears beginning to come to her eyes.

“But it’s this daughter…”

“She’s dead! That’s my sister, and she’s dead. If you don’t believe me, I can show you her grave.”

“I don’t think that’s quite necessa–”

“Here,” she said frantically, pulling me toward the back door. “Mama and Daddy buried her in the family cemetery out beside their house. We built this one close to theirs a few years before they died.”

In a few seconds, we were traveling down an overgrown path toward an old decrepit shack.

“Lady, I’m okay. You don’t have to tell me some intricate story to…”

“I’m not lying to you,” she replied as she finally pulled me behind the house far enough to see a row of low tombstones in a small fenced in area. “My sister committed suicide and could be buried in the church cemetery, so my parents made this one.”

As we got closer, I could see that there were three stones each with what looked like a small picture on the front.  Still, she continued pulling. Soon, I could see the young woman’s picture on the stone in the middle. It was a pretty picture with her smiling back at me, and laying on the ground in front of her stone like some kind of offering was my coat folded nicely with a note pinned to it that said “Thanks for the warm ride home. Sorry, I forgot to give this back.”

 

 

[This story is derived from a ghost story told by a close personal friend.]

 

 

 

Written by barryr22

October 23, 2011 at 9:04 pm

Kindle Publishing: A Forray

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So, recently, I’ve had a lot of people I know direct publish short stories and novels to the Kindle. So, I decided that I would try something, too. So, I found a story that I have been working on for quite a while and am currently testing the waters on Amazon.com. So, if you would like to read some of my stuff on your Kindle, I might recommend either downloading my short story “Why? A Ghost Story” or getting my blog sent directly to your device. As always, good luck and happy reading!

Buy my Short Story for only $0.99 :  http://www.amazon.com/Why-A-Ghost-Story-ebook/dp/B004RPS86M

Written by barryr22

March 19, 2011 at 12:24 am

Reality. (Warning May Contain Grotesque Images and Violence)

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The old man limped slowly down the alley. The shadows loomed all around him, but still he continued. His cane clicked almost mechanically against the dingy pavement. His blue eyes shone out piercing the darkness that lay in front of him.

“Hey old man,” a voice bellowed from a side street. “I think you’ve picked the wrong night to be in this part of town. So how about you give us all your money, and we’ll talk.”

Several figures detached themselves from the darkness. The one who had addressed him spoke with a think Spanish accent and carried a crowbar which he tapped gently in his hand. The other three looked like stock characters from a frat house, each tall, slender, and muscular. One had eyes of steel-blue and whirled a chain lazily. The other two were both brunettes and seemed to have stepped out of an Abercrombie and Fitch Catalog. They mimicked their leader by tapping their steel bats in the palms of their hands. They laughed a very guttural chuckle as they closed in on the man.

“”You forgot to…” began the old man.

“To say please” snickered the leader, his black eyes gleaming in the darkness.

He lunged toward the septuagenarian with the crowbar raised. The crowbar hit with a thud, burying itself deeply into the alley wall.

The thug’s face contorted in confusion, “What the!”

“Ccraaackk!” screamed the cane and skull as the eagle’s beak buried itself to feast on the innards.

A gurgle came from the boy as he collapsed glassy-eyed in a heap. Blood seeped from the open wound.

“You forgot to know your enemy,” hacked the old man, wiping the blood spital off his face.

The old man slumped quickly over the body. Murmuring a prayer, he applied the pressure to the corner of the eye. “Squi-pop!” He claimed his prize.

The other three kids stared in amazement for a second before they moved in on man.

In the old person’s hands, steel glittered briefly in  the dim light. The blonde attacked. The old one caught his chain and slung him around to be face to face. Three quick precision placed stabs, and the blonde sank to the pavement clutching his gut mass which started spilling out of the newly opened vessel.

The two muscular brunettes gaped, and both immediately swung their bats. In moments, one gasped and grabbed at the new vent in his throat that gushed crimson, while the other knelt subdued at the feet of the silver-haired assassin, waiting for judgment to be passed.

“You have been left alive for a reason. Sure, I’ve cut out your tongue, and in a bit, I will claim that hazel trophy of mine. But you’ll serve as my message to your boss the he better not FUCK WITH ME AGAIN! You can keep your life for this purpose for this moment anyway. Cross my path another night, however, and you’ll wish that I ended it quickly for you, like it did for your buddies. Whimper if you understand.”

“Whmmam,” came the response.

“Good.”

The eye squirted fluid as the thumb found the familiar spot. And howling moans came from the thug instead of terrified screams…but no one arrived with aid.

Whistling a strain from some forgotten hymn, the old man gathered his other trophies, working quickly to finish his work. The dead men’s clothes  provided adequate cleaning for the sword. He gave it one last loving glance as he slid it back into the cane sheath. He wiped his hands methodically on the last flailing man’s shirt.

“Remember. Do what I say, or,” he whipped out the hazel occule and held it close to its mate, “I’ll be seeing you.”

Slowly, the old man stood and began his trek back down the fecal and blood drenched alleyway. His cane clicking mechanically with each hobbled step.

Written by barryr22

May 7, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Why?

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Why?

            “Mom, is Katie here yet?” I yelled down the stairs as I threw on a pair of faded blue jean shorts. I looked at myself in the mirror one last time and straightened my sandy blonde hair as best I could as I threw my book bag across my shoulder.     

        I ran quickly down the stairs to the kitchen where I saw my mom sitting with her morning coffee in front of her. Katie, my best friend, sat across from her. Katie smiled warmly at me as I entered the door, but my mom failed to acknowledge her existence. She must be still mad at Katie about the wreck I thought because it almost killed me.

        “I’m going to go ahead and wait for you in the car,” Katie said as she got up from the table and walked toward the living room.

        “Baby, I need to tell you something about, Katie,” she said as I grabbed a glass of orange juice and gulped it down greedily.

        “Not now mom, I have to go, or I’ll be late,” I replied as I rushed for the door. I let it slam behind me as a sign to her that I did not care what she thought about Katie. She never had liked Katie because Katie was a “Goth,” and she did not want her daughter to be associated with someone who was not normal. The wreck Katie and I had been in earlier in the summer was just one more excuse for her not to like her.

        However, our friendship had outlasted even the wreck that had put me in a coma for several weeks because when I awoke Katie was the first one I had seen and I knew she was truly sorry. Nothing had to be said to convey this thought.

        “I am so glad I got out of there,” I said to her as I climbed into my car.

        “Thanks for the ride,” she whispered like an autumn breeze rustling the fallen leaves.

        “Don’t worry about it,” I replied. “I know your mom hasn’t gotten you a car since you wrecked yours, and besides, we’re best buds forever.”       

        “No really, I think it would be social suicide to ride the cheese wagon to school our senior year.”

        “Really,” I answered as we neared Riverside High which was only a few blocks from my house. “I wouldn’t be caught dead doing it, and I wouldn’t let a friend in need suffer that fate either.”

        “I wonder what everyone has done this summer?” she questioned as she looked sadly out the window of my white Ford Taurus. “I wonder if everyone will label me as a spaz because I wrecked my new car.”

        “Don’t worry what people think,” I replied quickly as I pulled into a parking place that was close to the building.

        I checked my hair in the mirror quickly. My green eyes peered back at me. I stared at my plain face for a second. I look very homely, I thought, nothing at all like Katie with her slender figure, high cheek bones, beautiful brown eyes, and naturally, sleek black hair.

        “Just be yourself,” I said regaining my composure once again as I turned to face her once again. However, she was gone. She must have left when I was lost in my thoughts because I saw her through the windshield rushing for the door of the school. We were almost late after all.

        As I ran after her, I got many mixed looks from the people around me. Some had frowns upon their faces and with mournful looks in their eyes. Others were wide-eyed and whispered as I passed. But I did not care because Katie and I had made a pact to make this the best year ever.

        By the time I opened the door, I heard the do-do-do-do sound of the bell, how they ever selected such a stupid sound, I’ll never know. But, before I knew it, Katie vanished into the hoard of people who were rushing toward their classes like lemmings to their impeding doom.

        It does not matter I thought. I’ll see Katie at lunch, and, then, I’ll ask her what my mom said to her to make her so standoffish this morning. Why, she has not been this removed since after the accident, I thought. When, I woke up to find her peeping through the window of my ICU room. She had stared through the window with a somber look on her face. I guess she wondered why she had walked away unhurt after being thrown from the flipping car when I had been knocked unconscious for three weeks from hitting the dash hard. The doctor said that my brain had swelled but, then, stopped and began to recede before surgery could be done.

        With these thoughts floating through my head, I sat down softly next to Ryan Bricks, Katie’s boyfriend. He sat in all his punk glory. His long platinum blonde hair was contrasted sharply by the black clothes he wore. Metallica was scrolled across the chest of his faded t-shirt. Wait, the shirt he was wearing was Katie’s favorite shirt. How he had ever gotten her to let him wear it I’ll never know because barring the end of the world, nothing would separate her from that shirt.

        He peered sullenly over the square frames of his small glasses at me. His dark eyes stared at me softly as a tear slid slowly down his cheek. Wow, I thought, he has really changed from his dark, broody self from junior year. Then, he turned slowly back toward the droning algebra teacher at the front of the room as he talked about his grading policies and what he expected of us. He stared off toward the blackboard but seemed to be looking at nothing at all.

        The rest of math class and the day until lunch passed in true beginning of the year fashion. However, I could not help but notice the odd looks people gave me as if they were sympathizing with some unknown hurt they seem to have thought I was feeling. Why were they looking at me like I was some alien? Was it because they thought I was crazy for still being friends with the person who almost killed me? Well, I never went with what the crowd thought so why should I start now. But, the lunch bell rang, and I followed the mass of people toward the banter of the cafeteria.

        I grabbed my normal slice of burnt pizza; then, I paid for it quickly and stepped out in the dining area. I saw Ryan and a few more of his friends sitting at a table across the way and started toward them knowing that Katie would eventually join us.

        “How are you doing, Liz?” Ryan asked with a sad smile crossing his face. “I know it’s been a really hard summer for you, for us all with the accident.”

        “Well, I’m doing okay now but…” my voice trailed off because I saw Katie motioning for me to come to her from across the room.

        “Excuse me,” I said as I got up from the table and moved toward the door where she leaned waiting on me.

        “I haven’t seen you all day,” she said. “Is that Ryan you were talking to? It seems like he’s been avoiding me all day. Maybe he heard about that fling I had with that guy from Desden.”

        “I don’t really know, but he’s acting more depressed than usual,” I replied as we began to walk down the hall. Everyone we passed looked at me strangely as if there was something wrong with what I was doing. I’m just walking with a friend I wanted to say, but I did not.

        “Well, I’ll see you later,” she said to me quickly as the third period bell began to ring. With this, she turned and started down the hall the opposite direction from which we were going.

        “But…” I began to say; however, she left just as quickly as she came, leaving me with only a few words passed between us.

        The rest of the day remained uneventful. I received more awkward stares from classmates. I even heard one whisper “She’s back really fast for someone who’s been through what she has.” If only they knew, I thought. It really was not as bad as everyone was making it out to be, and I am sure that all these whispers were reopening wounds for Katie making her relive the accident.

        When the final bell rang to signify the end of the day, I walked to my car relieved that I had survived the first day. As I neared my car, I saw that Katie already sat in the passenger side seat waiting for me to arrive. She smiled when she saw me coming.

        “Hi,” she said as I climbed in and started the car.

        “Where to?” I asked as I pulled out of the school parking lot.

        “Ummm, I need to go to Café Lafrea,” she said. “I’m supposed to meet Ryan there.”

        “Okay, but I thought Ryan was mad at you,” I answered.

        She shrugged in response.

        “By the way, what did my mom say to you this morning? There seemed to be a lot of tension between the two of you. And I was just wondering.”

        “Oh, she really didn’t say anything.”

        “Come on, what did she say?”

        “Oh, wait, this is where I need to get out,” she replied hurriedly as I stopped at the four way stop. She jumped out of my car quickly and began to jog toward Rodham Memorial Gardens, one of the biggest graveyards in the city.

        I thought about parking and running after her, but then, I realized that if she wanted to be alone with her thoughts I should let her. So, I turned my car toward home down Rose Briar Avenue, one of the prettiest roads in the city. Last year, last spring even, I would not have noticed its beauty because generally Katie and I would take the quickest way home so we could get on the telephone and talk the night away.

        Brilliant reds, fluorescent oranges, and other varying hues hung like condemned men from their trees. I drove slowly so that I could take in the beauty of it all. It’s funny how a near death experience can make one stop to think on life, to ponder the beauty in nature.

         Suddenly, I stopped as something caught my eye. In the yard, beside my car, stood a leaf pile just ready for being jumped into, I could not resist the allure of it. I quickly put my car into park and got out of my car. I ran toward the pile, jumped into it, and began to swim and play in leaves. They felt so rough against the smoothness of my skin and crunched loudly as I swam in their midst. Katie would have loved to play in these leaves with me. Why had she just run off like that?

        “What are you doing, kid!? Why are you throwing those leaves back all over my yard!?” the man shouted from the screen door of the light blue house, breaking my train of thought.

        I got up from the leaves quickly, apologized, climbed into my car, and started down the road again. After a few minutes, I arrived at home and, to my amazement, found a Lexus in the driveway parked next to the minivan. Who would be driving that, I wondered as I climbed from my car and started inside. I opened the door slowly so I could sneak away to my bedroom without disturbing anyone. However, my mom met me at the door with a worried look in her eyes.

        “Where have you been?” she questioned.

        “I dropped Katie off somewhere and then stopped to play in some leaves,” I replied as if the second was a common occurrence. At mentioning Katie’s name, a pained expression crossed her face.

        “I was so worried,” she answered as tears began to run down her face. “Do you even know what time it is?”

        I looked into her face. The lines there seemed deeper than they were last year. She had been through a lot since the beginning of last summer, and it wore heavily on her features. She had begun to sag like old women on T.V. or movies so often did. Her once lustrous brown hair had turned a flat gray. Her dull blue eyes looked so full of concern as more tears pooled in their corners. I had to look away and see what time it was. The clock read that it was nearly five o’clock; I was nearly two and a half hours late.

        “I’m sorry, mom. I didn’t mean to worry you,” I answered as I gave her a big hug. Her arms wrapped tightly around me, and I realized fully how much she loved me.

        After a few seconds of this embrace, I noticed a new figure in the room watching us from the brown armchair in the corner. He watched us over the tops of his half moon glasses and scratched his bald head in response.

        “Who’s he?” I questioned as I pointed toward the balding stranger.

        “This is Dr. Robert Heckly, honey; he’s here to help you.”

        “With what?” I asked suspiciously.

        “I’m here to help,” he said with a kind smile.

            “What do I need help with?”

            “We’re here to talk about Katie,” he replied.

        “There’s nothing to talk about. My mom has never liked her. That’s about it.”

        “No, it’s about your relationship with her since the accident. Your mother feels that it has become unhealthy.”

        “How could my relationship with my best friend be unhealthy!!? I’m going for a drive!” I yelled as I went out the front door.

        “But Katie is de…” my mom called after me.

        I jumped into my car and sped away just as the doctor and my mom came running out onto the lawn. I blinked away tears of anger as continued down the highway. I cranked up the radio and let it blare out a Nirvana song. . .oh, Katie. . .

        The rain started as I got outside city limits. I had to turn my windshield wipers on high to battle it and pulled my shirt up to wipe my eyes.

The next thing I remember, I woke to a warm stickiness on my head and my eyes could not focus. My hand was covered in red, and a deflated marshmallow sat where my stirring wheel had been. Someone was knocking on my window.

        “Katie, is that you?” I murmured to the shadow at the window.

        I woke in stagnant white. My eyes refused to focus, but I could hear weeping somewhere near me. I moved to look around but found myself hurting with every movement.

        “Mom?” I whimpered through my parched lips

        “I’m here baby; I’m here,” she said with pain and sorrow in her voice.

        A hand squeezed mine, and I could finally see her. Her eyelids were swollen with all the tears she must have cried. However, her eyes sparkled with love

        “Mom, where are we?”

        “We’re in the hospital, honey. You had a wreck. They say you must have hydroplaned into the field beside Highway 153. You weren’t hurt that badly, but,” she stopped, “you’ve been in a coma for a couple of days now. We didn’t know if…”

        “Well, I’m awake now,” I said with a pained smile.

        “Yes, and you’re going to be fine. The doctors said that if…when you woke up. You would be out of the water.”

        “I guess that’s good news,” I chuckled.

        “Shhh…you need to rest now.”

        “Okay, Mom, but one more question, who is that standing at the window?”

        “No one honey. Maybe you saw a doctor or nurse or someone pass by,” she replied as she gave me a gentle kiss on the forehead.

        “I love you, Mom,” I whispered.

        “I love you, too, baby,” she said.

        With my mom beside me, my eyelids slowly began to close, but before I went to sleep, I waved to Katie whose had been watching and smiling at me the whole time.

Written by barryr22

February 17, 2010 at 12:25 am