Hush, My Love

It was a dark and stormy night.
Sorry, but it’s true. It was blacker than black outside, the darkness engulfing everything but our lone house that stood at the end of the road in the middle of the South Carolinian woods. Black clouds covered the moon, and fierce winds howled as they rushed through the trees, causing them to bend under the force of their power. Angry raindrops struck the window harder than I thought possible, making a rat-a-tat-tat sound on repeat. And full volume.
So I guess I can say it really was dark and storming. Cliché, yeah, but I never was much of a writer. Math was more up my alley. Kaitlyn, my wife, was ever the wordsmith and one of those bloggers with thousands and thousands of followers. She could probably make the rain and wind and lightning into something spectacular, using phrases like “eerie incandescence” and the like. Me? Theorems and postulates, please and thank you.
So there I was, assessing how much of my money the government decided was theirs this year, while Kaitlyn was at the other end of the house, probably watching Tyrone. Kaitlyn had wanted a baby more than I did, but ever since he’d become an addition to the Jackson household ten months ago, I had to admit the little guy had worked his way into my heart. Of course, Kaitlyn had given me no end of “I-told-you-so” looks once she realized how enamored of Tyrone I was. But still.
It was just after eight when Kaitlyn started singing to Tyrone, who had woken up. I could hear everything through the baby monitor that sat on the corner of my desk, but I wasn’t really paying much attention to it.
“Hush, my love, now don’t you cry; everything will be all right . . . ”
Not only was Kaitlyn a good writer, but she also could sing. There was a reason why Kaitlyn sang the lullabies and not me, probably because I sounded like a scarecrow. Whatever a scarecrow would sound like if it tried to sing.
Tyrone gurgled a little bit, but stopped crying. I could hear some snuffling noises, and then Kaitlyn said, “Shh, shh.” I involuntarily smiled and took off my glasses, rubbing my eyes. Not even thirty and I couldn’t work for two hours straight without getting mentally exhausted. Way to go, Will.
I was half tempted to go over to the family and sit with them for a little bit, but I’d been putting this off for long enough already, so I put my glasses back on and kept on working while Kaitlyn started singing again.
It was a mistake.
Not even three minutes later, the front door opened. I started, mind going a million directions at one time. Kaitlyn stood there in a bright yellow slicker, pushing the wet curls of blonde hair out of her face. “Man, it’s amazing out there, Will. It’s all so . . . powerful.”
“Wait, Kaitlyn? What the—what are you doing here?”
She looked confused. “Mm, because I live here, Mr. Jackson?”
“But . . . but if you’re down here? Who’s . . . who’s with Tyrone?” I pointed to the baby monitor, where I heard the now-chilling voice of what I thought was Kaitlyn singing, the voice low and almost hypnotic.
“Close your eyes and drift in dreams; rest in peaceful sleep . . .”
The blood seemed to literally drain out of Kaitlyn’s face, leaving her face void of color. “Oh, no.”
The words were hardly out of her mouth before I took off, heart hammering wildly. “God, no,” I pleaded. But no what? What was I asking God not to let happen? It seemed to take an eternity to reach the room, but it really took less than ten seconds. I stood at the door, hand shaking.
“Open up the door, Will,” Kaitlyn managed. “Open it now.”
“God, no; God, no,” was all I could manage to say. But I swung open the door, a blast of freezing air hitting the two of us.
Like hungry hands reaching for food, all the shadows in the room were cast towards the window at the other side. The window was open.
And Tyrone was gone.

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So, you know this ain’t a formal investigation or nothin’ like that, yeah?
. . .
Good, good. Things don’ work the same way out here in the middle of nowhere, you know?
. . .
Laughter. Yeah, yeah. True. Well, let’s get down to business, Mister . . .
. . .
Right, Mr. Anderner. As you know, I’m Detective Mitch Collins and we’re here because of the ah, interesting rumors that’ve been circulatin’.
. . .
You know that there have been–hardly-suppressed snort of incredulity—uh, about a half-dozen unique claims that you’re behind the recent chain of homicides/disappearances we’ve been havin’ in town and the surrounding counties?
. . .
Now, I’m sure you understand that these are obviously outlandish claims, particularly considerin’ that each of these are of a . . . supernatural tone.
. . .
More laughter. Exactly. The townsfolk keep callin’ you the Devil, claiming that you shape shift into various mythological and even unknown creatures . . . um, such as a werewolf, dragon . . . even got a Grendel and two-headed fire-breathing snake here.
. . .
Yeah, that’d be somethin’, wouldn’t it? All right, so there’s obviously not much substance behind these claims, but apparently since you moved to town on Friday the thirteenth, three months ago, and it was coincidentally a full moon, people think that you’ve brought over a crateful of wickedness for us.
. . .
I like that. “Flair for the dramatic,” indeed!
. . .
Yes, either that or a complete coincidence. All right, while some people—especially Mr. Bauer from the department store—have been saying that you’ve been the ah, catalyst for these events, the first disappearance actually took place over a month before you came to town. You said before you came here you lived in Kansas City?
. . .
Right, right. Totally understand that need for a slower pace. So you never even knew Jolene Roderick, then.
. . .
Good, good. Now, uh, we had Bobby Guilders go out on a hunting trip coupla days ago and he hasn’t come back yet. Mr. Bauer came over t’ my place last night and demanded that I do somethin’ about this whole little fiasco, so I guess it’d be proper t’ ask where you’ve been over the last few days.
. . .
Right, right. Some scribbling. I’ll check up with them later just to be sure, Mr. Anderner. Okay . . . Ripping and folding of paper, then rustling. Uh, I suppose a visit to your house would be in order. That won’t be a problem would it?
. . .
Good man. It wouldn’t be an inconvenience t’ drop by now, would it?
. . .
Sure thing. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve just got t’ go to the other room. Just a minute.
. . . Slamming door. Silence. Then whistling. . .
. . .
Creaking door. Sorry about tha—what the—
. . .
Scraping chair. Curses.
. . .
No, no. It’s impossible. Please no!
. . .
Oh, God, help me!
. . .
Indiscernible sounds. More whistling.
No, no, nononononon—
. . .
Thumping. Whistling tapers off. More noises.
. . .
. . .
— —

Chasing a Dream: Guest Blog Post

Today’s guest post was written by Gabriel Davis, a college student in Tennessee. 

It was happening again.
I was running, out of breath and seemingly out of time. My footfalls felt hollow on the wooden bridges that made up the framework of my world. I was there for something. I knew that much, but I couldn’t see it. I couldn’t see the ground either, only the bridges and the platforms between the trees. Something was chasing me—and yet nothing was. There were no voices, no wind, no sounds—nothing. Looking back over my shoulder I felt as if whatever was chasing me was right there, across the bridge and staring back at me, but there was nothing but the previous platform surrounding a wide-girthed tree.
Turning, I saw what looked to be a large round button, larger than my torso. I knew this had to be the place that I had come to see. I realized something as I pressed the button: I had not come to investigate something, but to steal something. I wanted something badly, but I couldn’t—no, I didn’t know what it could be that drove me so wildly to find it. I felt fear grope its way up my esophagus and into my throat, its tendrils feeling at the nerves in the back of my mind. The elevator opened and I dashed into it. I could almost feel the fingers of death caress my back as I leapt from its reach, but when I turned to look out of the window of the elevator, there was nothing.
I breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator lowered and the dimness of the cabin cloaked me. I was safe there, alone. I didn’t have time to think, however, for all too soon the elevator opened, and I found myself in a room. It was like a study, with books and maps and tools that I did not recognize. I was looking for something, something important. I knew that if I could just see what it was that I would be able to recognize it and take it. I walked over to the table in the center of the room, nearest the wall. There was a large book on an easel with letters I could not read, but that didn’t seem like that was what had drawn me here. Or was it? I reached for the book slowly, as if moving too fast would spell my end.
My hand froze when I heard footsteps. It was coming for me.
I decided to forget about the book and dashed for the elevator. The moment I dove inside, the door closed, and again I could see nothing but the presence of my stalker. It was overpowering, filling me with the fear I could only know in my dreams. I could feel it and see it, though there was no image. There was a wavering in the air that I saw outside the door of the elevator, and in an instant it was all a vague memory as I was once again pulled upwards to the platforms above me. I knew I had to move, to get out. I felt sorry that I couldn’t get the book, but I had no other choice. I had to escape! He was coming faster now, knowing exactly where I was and where I would try to go to next. I could feel him, hear his breathing ragged and sharp like daggers. I ran again, but this time I had a new sensation. This had happened before! I know that I had been here, in this place, chased by him… I had escaped then, but all of that was being pulled from my mind as I stumbled while his presence made my soul scream for mercy. Struggling against the pressure, I scrambled to my feet as the presence drew closer, his breathing silent and composed—yet I could almost feel it. The book and its secrets were nothing to me now as I ran across the bridges, around the wide-girthed trees that tethered my existence in this place. I was scared for my life, but somehow I was able to sense where the exit was. To my relief, around the next corner I saw it. Bolting as my legs began to shake and give, I sprang for the tall black gates that would protect me from my pursuer. I ran through the decaying exit as if I had won a marathon. Breathing hard, I began to feel safe again, though fear still lingered calmly at the back of my consciousness.
That’s when I felt it. In my ears like the rushing winds he spoke to me, chilling my blood with his words.
“Silly boy. There is no escape for you.”
Blackness took me as I faintly heard my own scream break my throat as my soul became entangled in the winds of his reality and my flesh slowly ripped from my bones.
I had failed.

Less than three,

Josh

“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” ―Jane Yolen