Chapter 3 “A Downward Spiral”
Greta looked at her husband, eyes full of concern, “Clyde, something is really wrong
with Harrison. He’s been acting so distant. He’ll
hardly look me in the eyes anymore. He has dark circles under his eyes, he’s so pale… what could possibly be haunting him?” Her voice trailed
off in a wail. She had never been so worried (well, maybe once
“...Do you think it’s… drugs?”
Clyde looked lovingly at his wife. He was worried, too. No, he did not think it was drugs. He just didn’t know what could be making the boy look
at him with such open contempt (and in stolen glances at his mother too, Clyde had noted).
“I’ll talk to Marcel and Benny about it. Maybe you should call Sophia too. I’m sure he hasn’t seen her in at least a week! We shouldn’t
have let it go this far.”
He texted Harrison’s friends and sat down to a glass of brandy. He had never been much of a drinker but for some reason had been filling more
snifters lately. He sighed. He’d been prepared for some pushback from his teenage stepson, but this seemed heavier and more foreboding than
anything he had ever anticipated. And if Harrison ever found out… the truth… the family would never be the same. Clyde put his head in his hands
and sat in his chair deep in thought, hardly moving, for a very long time.
Chapter 4 “I Have Proof”
Harrison had been living in a nightmarish fugue since seeing his father’s ghost. All of his effort went into putting up a brave front at school,
which was more than he could manage at home or with people who knew him well. He stopped calling Soph when feigning normalcy with her became
impossible. In one moment of weakness he nearly blurted out the whole unbelievable, odious story to her, but he kept it in, instead making some gruff
and cruel comment to drive her away.
He hadn’t seen the ghost since that first night, but had been rehashing the horrific news since then: remembering the odd looks his parents would
exchange when he asked about his dad, about their history, thinking about how his parents had moved far away from his birthplace, taken nothing of
their past with them, how little he really knew about his own history, and he began cursing his position in life in utter anguish. More than once he
considered suicide. But seeing his father’s decaying ghost made him none too eager to join the afterlife. At the same time, nothing in life
mattered to him anymore. In short, young Harrison was in a very bad way.
He couldn’t talk to his mom. He tried-- his words would choke him. He still didn’t know what
to believe. True, his stepdad had been in
his life for as long as he could remember, and had never treated him cruelly. His parents seemed to really be bonded, to love each other and him. He
had lived a happy life-- not completely undisturbed by the sorrow of never knowing his birth father, but happy nonetheless. Now this, and everything
seemed up in the air. Harrison was crushed.
And then came the proof.
Harrison jolted upright in bed, drenched and very much afraid. His dream, of a nameless abysmal terror, faded from consciousness but lingered on in
his psyche. Then he noticed the stench. A dark figure stood blocking the doorway. “I have proof, my boy.” It said.
Harrison followed as if in a trance. The figure was blacker than its surroundings and Harrison was glad he couldn’t see it this time. It led him
down into the basement (Harrison hated
it there) and in a dusted, locked box (Harrison was handed the key by the shadowy figure of his father)
was the evidence that set the final schism between Harrison and the world as he knew it.
It was all there. His father’s death certificate stated the cause of death as “Poison. Took own life.,” not
a IED in Afghanistan as he
had been led to believe. A marriage certificate 50 days later. Then the letters, written in his dear parents’ own script, hinting at dark guilty
secrets that they must hide from Harrison and a fugitive flight.
With brutal reality staring Harrison in the face, he had no choice but to face it. Something in him hardened. Now he understood human nature, and
that it was in his nature to be brutal as well. He was ready to do as his father directed.
Chapter 5 “Poisoned”
Clyde and Greta sat down at the kitchen table. “I think we need to tell Harrison the truth.” Greta blurted out.
Clyde nodded gravely, “That’s exactly what I’ve been thinking. I’m not sure how he’ll take it but I think he’s old enough to know.
Besides, I can’t imagine things getting worse than they’ve been this past month. I don’t even know the boy anymore. It’s horrible.”
He grabbed Greta’s hand. “Any mistakes we made, all of them, were made with the best intentions. We only had that boy’s best interest at
heart. Surely he will understand that. I’ll get the box.”
Greta looked at him gratefully, but through damp eyes, and nodded. She yearned to turn back the clock, and that she had done things differently. But
no going back now.
Her nerves were shot. As her husband went to grab the remnants of their tattered past, she fixed herself and her husband a brandy. First time for
everything, she thought, looking warilly at the dark sharp smelling liquid. Clyde came back with the lockbox, went out to the garage where they kept
the key, and came back smiling.
“Harrison’s a good boy. He’ll understand.”
He sat down across from his wife. They smiled at each other, wished each other luck, and downed their snifters. The front door closed and in walked
Harrison. He blanched when he saw the empty glass in front of his mother, the open box on the table. “Mom… you don’t drink.”
Then Clyde started screaming in agony. “What’s wrong? It’s burning, help me!” His mom was turning purple.
“Why did you kill my dad! How could you marry my mom after what you did? You monster!” Harrison screamed at Clyde, who was unable to answer.
His mom looked at him weakly. She was fading, fast, but not before she told him “Your father had a terrible streak, a wicked man. He had tried to
murder you when you were just an infant, luckily for all of us Clyde was there. He rushed in, saved your life…. Your father swallowed the poison he
meant for you, vowing revenge with his last breath. I’m sorry we… never..told you. I love you son.”
Harrison was left in silence, emptiness, the terrifying weight of what he had just done. His father had succeeded, after all these years, in
poisoning him. His life was over. From deep within the house, from everywhere at once, came a deep, guttural, evil laugh. When Benny and Marcel
found him the next day, rooted to the very same spot and staring wildly at nothing at all, he was laughing too; a madman.
edit on 23-10-2018 by zosimov because: (no reason given)