Friday, October 21, 2011

Dark Places; Halloween Special Part 2

Lucy rolled over leaving her wet and mascara-streaked pillow case behind her turned head.  She blinked until the moist lining around her eyes stuck heavily to her lashes and she glanced at the mug of tea that still held three-quarters of her drink.  Her trembling hand reached out, but she knew she needn't touch it to know that the mug was cold, its contents colder still.  She microwaved the drink half a dozen times already but her body didn't want to hold anything down and after the first incident she decided a dry mouth was better than a sore throat.

She looked past the tea and to the red lights of the digital clock on the nightstand.  At a quarter past two in the morning, Darren had been missing for close to sixteen hours.The police almost left without even taking notice of the small trail of blood down the stairs.  She had searched the basement for hours before and after the police left.

"Where did you see him last?" officer Thompson said after they arrived.  He was armed with a notepad and pencil, his gun resting lazily on his hip.

"I saw him here.  He went into the basement,"  she recalled between sobs. "He went down, about two minutes later I went to check and he wasn't there.  The door was shut. He never came out."

"Mrs. Stansason, where did he go after he left the basement?"  he sighed and looked down at his notepad as if it were a magic eight-ball with all the answers.

"What aren't you hearing?  He never left, that's what I'm saying to you!"  Lucy felt the heat rise into her face just recalling the nonchalance they tossed her way like left over scraps. "He went down, he never came back up."

"Tr to look at it from our point of view," the female cop said.  Lucy couldn't remember her last name and she didn't really care. "He isn't down there, so he must have come out.  The basement window is bolted and too high for him anyway.  This door is the only way out and you said you watched it the whole time after he closed it."  She looked at Lucy with darting, dark, eyes.  "So, Mrs. Stansason, where did he go?"

The conversation circled the drain of futility like that for hours with a few condescending questions like, "Are you on medication?" and "have you been drinking?" thrown into the mix just for agonizing fun.

Lucy rolled over and looked at the ceiling, the wooden blades whirled in a hypnotic rhythm of vapid promises. Streaks of moonlight threw themselves across the foot of her bed. She imagined Darren on the streets alone or worse kidnapped with some sick predator.  The fan continued its hum. She tucked her feet under her as she rolled to her side and brought her pillow into her arms where Darren had rested as a small child.  Her feet bit at her, protesting from the miles she walked around the neighborhood asking questions.  Some of those who answered their doors expressed their sympathy, some looked on her tear-streaked face and darting eyes with a mixture of worry and disinterest, and still others judged her motherhood with open contempt. She closed her eyes, shutting it all out until she could clearly picture Darren's bright smile and even brighter eyes.

The metal chain on the fan swayed back and forth, chiming every so often and allowing its voice to be added to the harmonizing blades gliding above the bed.  Her eyelids drooped as anvils attached to them.  The fan suddenly sounded like gentle waves lapping at the shore whispering her son's name.

Darren isn't asleep! He could be hurt!

Lucy snapped her eyes open.  She expected to see the fan and the moonlight and the red clock and her tea-mug, but what she saw instead stopped her heart and sucked the air straight out of her lungs.  She blinked her eyes and it was gone, or it drifted to the side, but each time she tried to focus, the translucent form had shifted and moved again.  But she knew her son in any form and through any haze of sleep.

"Darren," she mumbled.

Yes mother?

"Are you safe?  Tell me you're safe."  She felt the sleep flying from her mind but her body felt drugged and slow to react.  Her voiced sounded like a mouth stuffed with cotton.

Safe? Yes, I think so.  I don't feel pain mother.

"What happened?  Where are you?" Her heart rate accelerated and she felt it slamming against the top of her chest, but still she could not move.

I don't know. I think someone came for me. I mustn't say, he'll get mad and then he'll hurt me!

"Who will hurt you baby? Tell me, tell me Darren!"  She wiggled her fingers and felt her body jerk as if she had fallen.  Her eyes fluttered and Darren faded and the moonlight returned.

No mom!  I can't.  Oh no!  He's coming!  He's coming!

Lucy sat up in the bed, breaking free of her paralysis. Her eyes snapped open but her son, or the dream of her son, was gone.  She looked around the room allowing her heart a moment to slow down. She lay back on the bed.  "It was all a dream," she said to the dark room around her.

No one answered.  The silence beat against her ears like drums.  Silent base echoed, followed gradually by a scuffling snare.  Then a thud.

Lucy sat back up and looked out of her bedroom door to the long hallway that reach like a black tendril towards the kitchen.  At first she didn't see anything, only heard the small scuffling.  Then step by step, she saw him.  His shadow seemed darker, cutting across the dark hallway in a twelve foot silhouette that snaked across the floor.  Lucy stood up and took a tentative step towards him.  He came closer and then she ran to him, arms outstretched.

She slid to him on her knees, the carpet immediately burning her flesh as she fell before him and lifted his little body into her arms.  He smelled musty and his blue bed clothes were tattered.  Tears poured in rivers of liquid salt down her cheeks.  She squeezed him so hard she heard the air leave him and then she relaxed her grip and put him to the ground and back on his feet.

She could barely make out his features but she brushed the hair away from his face and away from a gash over his eye.  "My baby, my baby, my baby!"  His arms fell at his sides and she smoothed the wrinkles in his pajama sleeves and looked at him.

Before he said a word, she knew.

"I'm not your son Mrs. Stansason."

She knew he wasn't.  She knew her son in any form.

And then she screamed.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Update and Script Update for For Nothing

Hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was relatively relaxing and I was able to write a bit so that was nice.  Weekends can sometimes get away from me because the family expects me to crawl out from under my rock every now and then to visit with them, but this was a kindly weekend and fortunately I was able to accomplish both my familial responsibilities as well as my professional goals.

I just have a few quick updates on this manic Monday...(pause for the 1980's flashback brought to you courtesy of the Bangles).

Update Uno:

The second installment of my Halloween Special Dark Places will post this week, most likely on Wednesday so keep an eye out.  I love the feedback so far, and thus the story weaving continues!

Update B (yes I know it is not 2, have a sense of humor!):

The screenplay being written by Welsh Lord, Thomas Humphreys is making serious progress.  In fact, he has decided to grace us with a snippet of the work in progress. So without further ado, please read on:

Catch up with writer Thomas Humphreys on Twitter @Mr_Frodo_Esq

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Dark Places; Halloween Special Part One

Darren ran through the kitchen chasing the bouncing rubber ball that ricocheted off of a counter top and then off the pantry door. His knobby legs were small but moved fast enough that he could easily beat the other children from around the block in footraces.  He loved the feel of the wind moving through his hair when he was allowed out of the house.  Some kids didn't enjoy running, but Darren loved to race anyone who was willing.

He always won.

"Darren! Cut that out!" His mom loved to tell him to stop doing things.

He slid across the tiled floor in his fresh white socks and reached out as the blue and red rubber ball changed direction and sped towards his face.  He snapped his wrist around and caught it, chest heaving from the sprint.  The red emblem on the ball matched the emblem on his blue cotton pajama shirt.  His pants matched as well but he liked to tuck his pants into his socks so he looked like he wore white superhero boots.

His mother stooped down, still holding the pan she was cleaning, and grabbed the ball out of his hand. "You have so much energy!  Can you please just relax until I'm done cleaning?  Then we'll go to the park. I promise."

Darren let go of the ball and ran over to the counter where his orange juice waited just where he left it.  The house smelt of fresh cooked bacon and his mouth tasted of it's remnants.  He looked over at his mother, humming a tune he couldn't place.  She really was the best cook in the world, he was sure of it.  He swallowed the citrus down in between gulps of air.  Superheros didn't get tired. He was going to have to train harder.  The park was good for that. The swings, the jungle-gym, the tires, they all were great to practice on.

His mom finished drying the pan and walked across the kitchen to put it away.  Darren knew he was in trouble the second it happened.  She spun around just in time to catch the large toy truck on the ankle.  Darren squinted as she exhaled in pain.  He felt bad that she hurt herself, but he felt a bit more bad for himself.  She was going to yell at him, he knew it.

She didn't disappoint.  "Darren!  Pick up your truck.  How many times do I have to tell you?"  She lifted her foot up and rolled the sock down.  Darren could already see a red mark.

"Want me to get ice?" he asked.

"No.  What I want is for you to take your truck downstairs and put it away."

Darren felt his heart rate speed up.  He hated the basement.  He hated its smell.  He hated the wet feel of it.   He hated how dark it was.  He hesitated.

"Now! Darren."  She gave him that look that promised a red bottom.

"I hate it down there," he whispered.  He picked up the truck anyway.

"Everyone hates basements.  Now go put your truck away."   She gingerly placed her foot back on the tile and flexed her foot.

He carried the truck under his arm, it was heavy and nearly half the length of his body.  It was the only truck he had that could actually carry all of his army men standing up. He stood in front of the heavy door that blocked the musky basement from the rest of the house.  He pushed it open and swung his hand around to the left of the door, groping for the light switch.  He pungent smell of wet stone wafted up to meet him.  The bit of day light that hit the stone stairs showed the cracking foundation and webs where spiders had taken up residence.  He flicked the switch, bathing the stairway in a soft yellow glow.  The light gave just enough illumination to allow a peak down the stairs and into the suffocating darkness.

Darren took a deep breath and put a trembling foot on the second stair down.

Superheros are scared of nothing!

He took another step.  His heart kicked back and forth inside his throat like his rubber bouncing ball.  He willed himself forward and down, down into the deep blackness underneath the house. Halfway down the steps Darren felt a breeze brush across his face as it traveled up the stairs and behind him.  His neck prickled with goosebumps and he felt cold.  The basement always felt cold.

He looked back up the stairs, feeling small as the door loomed up above him. But then he remembered he had taken his eyes off of the looming dark now to his back.  He snapped his head around and ran the last half dozen steps to the hanging light bulb a few paces into the dark.  Leaping as high as he could with the heavy yellow truck, he made a grab for the silver chain that hung like a life line from the ceiling.

The chain clicked and cast an eerie pall that fell from the ceiling like an unsatisfactory cone of dim light.  Beyond the cone, the basement retreated into darkness. Darren squinted into the grey and black world clinging to his tiny refuge of light.  He knew that his pile of toys lay a dozen feet deeper into the gloom, past where he could hope to see.  He took a step towards the darkness.

Then he felt the breeze cross over him again.  This time it tickled the back of his head first and then ran over his ears and face and into the black unknown.  Darren rubbed his arms for warmth and took a step backwards into the light.

An idea struck him.

He bent onto his knees in the middle of conical sanctuary.  The stone floor felt grimy on his hands and a small black smudge left its mark on his palm.  Darren didn't care.  He focused on setting the wheels of his truck straight.  He eyed up the area where he knew his mountain of toys lay hidden from sight.  He brought the truck backwards and rocked it forward.  He had to get the angle right.  He pushed the truck forward, the cool metal gliding across his palm as the yellow truck squeaked slowly into the dark on black plastic wheels.  The truck rattled as it rolled along the uneven floor until it disappeared from view.

The wheels continued their cry.


Darren felt the hair on his neck stand up and he looked harder into the dark.


The draft washed over him smelling of basement musk and mildew and dirt.

Then he heard it.  Faint at first, so faint he thought it may have been the squeaking wheels.  But then he heard it again and his eyes went wide.  His heart finally dropped out of his throat but it didn't resettle until it hit the pit of his stomach.  On reflex, Darren stood straight up.

He he he...

It laughed again.  He had never heard a laugh without joy before.  Whatever lurked in the dark struck Darren's childlike sensibilities as instantly wrong. He froze, fear locking his feet to the cement floor.  He thought to run.  His feet disobeyed.


He heard the wheels of the truck again.  Could he have imagined the laugh?  


The sound seemed to be coming closer


The yellow truck emerged from the embrace of the shadows and came to a slow stop at Darren's feet.  He knew he had to get out of there.

Superheros are scared of nothing!

The laugh seemed to come from the side this time.  Darren spun around and made a break for the stairs.

He he he

He reached the stairs and leaped up two at a time.  A breeze wafted over him again, but he ignored it as he made his way for the door and the light up above.  He was at the top stair when the door slammed shut.

He turned around and looked down the stairway.  He could see the mud from the floor on his knees and curling out from the underside of his socks.  His heart seemed to stop beating and contented itself with rattling the inside of his fingers. Darren reached behind him and felt the doorknob. It didn't turn.

Then the light at the bottom of the stairs went dark as if someone or something had snuffed out a candle.

"Mom?"  Darren tried to bang his tiny fist against the door behind him but his arms had gone week. He let out a trembling breath.  A white cloud puffed out of his mouth as the cool air seemed to instantly drop to frigid.  The last light flickered above him.

"Mom!" Darren yelled.  His strength returned, he turned and pounded on the basement door.  "Mom!"

The last light went out bathing Darren in frozen darkness.

"Mom!" his voice shook.  He felt tears rim his eyes and they stung from the freeze that bit at him through his thin cotton pajamas.

He felt something grip his ankle.  A frozen grip that lashed through his pajama pants and tore into his ankle.  He cried out and gripped the doorknob in both hands.  Then his feet were airborne as it tried to pull him down the stairs.  Darren clutched the knob with all of his strength and his body went taut. Fire burned in his arms and his midsection felt like he might be pulled in two.

Superheros are strong.

"Mom!" he cried in one last desperate plea.  Then it yanked him harder than before and Darren's grip broke.  His face hit the top stair before he could bring his arms around to brace.  He felt the warmth of his blood trickle along his brow and then he was descending the stairs.  Each step bounced into his forearms at jagged angles and cruel ledges bit into him all the way down leaving a trail of fresh blood, invisible in the darkness.

Darren tried to scream as he was dragged across the dirty basement floor and past his idle yellow truck, but  he had no strength left.

He he he

The voice seemed pleased.  One last thought fluttered through Darren's fast fading consciousnesses as he succumbed into weeping oblivion.

 "I'm not a superhero."