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(SMSHC): The Black Men

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posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 04:36 PM
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This is my first entry to the Scare Me Silly Halloween Contest (SMSHC). It will require two posts to get the entire story in, sorry. To avoid breaking the flow of the story, I won't be putting anything like (continued) at the end of the first post, but rather just continuing on with a reply.



"The Black Men" by The Libra
========================================


The terrified cries of a child are bad enough, but this time, I was the cause for them. Adam had walked in on his mother and I, in relations as it were, and ran off down the hall, hollering up a storm. I gave Starla the oh-sh-t look, and she shrugged back with all the jaded weariness that a single mother of three young boys can muster. I put some pants and a shirt on, grabbed my robe, and decided to sort it out.

Adam sat at the far corner of the hallway, pointing right at me as he wept. I raised my hands non-threateningly and stopped. I had to choose my words very carefully. In what would already have been an awkward moment, I now had to contend with the fact I had to explain things to a mentally unbalanced eight-year old whom was not even my son.

“Go Away!!!”

“Adam, I know what it looked like, but I wasn’t hurting your mother. You see, when two adults…ummm,” and then, thank god, he interrupted me.

“Not you! I don’t care that you and mom was sexin’, I want them to go away!”

Thank god, he—“what?” I turned around. “What them?”

“There,” he stood and pointed at the corner. “The black men.”

This was a hell of a lot better than the previous conversation, and thus worth pursuing with great interest. I flicked the light to the den on.

“Adam, all I’m seeing is the coat rack, can you describe them to me?”

“You turned the light on.”

“That’s right. You can see some weird stuff in the shadows, but when you want them to go away, you just turn on the light.”

“But then you won’t see them. They hide at the edges of the light,” Adam sounded irritated for some reason.

“Adam, there’s no reason to be afraid of black people. They’re totally—.”

“No, not black people. The Black Men,” he interrupted angrily and stood up, growling.

“Tell you what. I’m blind as a bat; that’s why I wear these glasses. Why don’t I make us a glass of chocolate milk while you draw me a picture of it?”

It was a trick I’d picked up teaching day-care. You have a child draw their fears, and suddenly they had some power over that fear. Adam could, with a few years practice, draw professional quality artwork, and I was eager to see what he would come up with.

His imagination was always at work on some beast, robot, hero, or villain. Lately it had been these things that looked like jackrabbits with frog legs, vampire fangs, and bat wings. They lived in the trees, he’d said they feed on old people, mostly. He’d even tried to burn the tree down, which landed him a month in the puzzle box. His therapists said it was a cry for attention. And then, one day, Adam had decided a traveling magical man had killed the evil rabbits in the tree, but he didn’t know why. I learned all this over glasses of chocolate milk, which had done more for Adam than any of the pills they’d made him take.

“Here. They look like this,” he closed his pad and claimed his prize, pouting “I didn’t get a straw.”

“No straws, kiddo, sorry.”

Adam sighed dramatically and we both drank. I opened his drawing pad, and flipped to the newest sketch. My throat realized, seconds before my brain, that the milk had gone down the wrong pipe, and I coughed. I couldn’t stop coughing, I couldn’t breathe. All I could do is hack and cough so hard my eyes wouldn’t close, and they bored into the image in front of me.

The Black Men...




posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 04:41 PM
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I coughed harder, and felt blood rushing to my head in waves.

I was barely old enough to hold conversation, when I awoke to find one of them knock over my lamp. I screamed bloody murder from the bed, my parents unbolted the room and ran inside. I was punished for breaking the lamp. My parents had been very insistent on that point.

I could see the edges of my vision darkening. I smoked two packs a day, coughing fits like this left me light headed. It didn’t help I had asthma to boot. It had reached the point where any liquid left in my lungs was being hyperventilated in and out, as the involuntary spasms kicked in response to the shallowest of breaths.

I’d seen them. I’d seen them my whole life, off and on, until my parents, thinking only of helping their poor demented child, agreed to a combination of drugs and therapy at a hospital. One of the more talkative doctors carried a pinwheel. I never really paid attention to what he was saying, the pinwheel was very distracting, but the rest only gave me drugs or ran tests on me. After a while, they said I could go home, and to tell the truth, I’d never really thought about it since then.

Until this moment, of all times, when I’m choking on the damned chocolate milk, all over Adam’s drawing pad. Adam, torn between worry that I’m hacking up a cow, and anger at my ruining his drawing pad, takes it away from me and handed me a towel.

“Do you need me to call 911?”

I shook my head no. The worst had passed, at least physically. Fingers of shadow mixed with pinpoints of light in my vision. Adam walked over to the kitchen counter and reached up to flick the light switch.

From somewhere in the darkness, he asked “Can you see them now?”

I was still doubled over in pain, my eyes watery and burning, but there, beside the window, was the faintest edge of a form. As I stared, uncertain of what I was seeing, four shadows across the blinds began to curl into a fist.

A sudden explosion of light stung my eyes. Starla stood by the kitchen entrance hand on the light switch, “what are y’all doing?”

“I wanted him to see the Black Men.”

“Adam, it’s three in the morning. Go to bed.”

“It’s his fault,” Adam pointed at me.

“What’d I do?”

“They didn’t even start showing up till you came here.”

“Who?” Starla asked

“The Black Men! Geez, don’t you ever listen, mom?”

“Adam, go to your room right now. I don’t want you to say another word about the blacks.”

“Not—.”

“Now!” Starla turned to me, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what his deal is. I thought he’d gotten better. I think we’re going to have to up his meds.”

“No.”

“It’s okay, he gets like this. He almost burned down the apartment once.”

“No, Starla, listen to me.”

To her credit, she did. She looked right at me, expectantly. I could have told her anything in the world, at that very moment, and she’d have been more than willing to accept what I was saying as truth. What do you tell a woman in that situation? I’m sorry? Your son sees these horrible nightmares because he hasn’t been brainwashed with enough drugs and hypnosis not to? These shadow people followed me here, it just so happens that he’s one of the only people that can see them too, and it’s my fault he’s seeing them. Should she dope him up and spare him the horror, or let him continue seeing what’s really there?

“Starla… let him decide. Do what is right by your kids, but let him know whatever the decision was, that it is his to make. I’ve got to go.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow?”

“No,” I looked at her and sighed. I couldn’t lie to her. She had three boys, and I was a terrible liar. Fortunately, the truth was forthcoming. “I’m not…ready to be a father. I’m sorry.”

She sniffed and shrugged, “it’s not like you’ll be the first. Well, I’ll help you pack.”

“You’re taking this rather well.”

“My boys are my life. If they can’t be a part of yours, then you can’t be a part of mine.”

I nodded. The boys were in good hands. Ten minutes later, backpack across my shoulder, I managed to finally light a cigarette with the tiny blue flame of my dry Zippo, and stared hard at the ground. The overcast sky rubbed out both the moon and stars, and the only streetlight had been shot out by Adam’s older brother, Conner, a week before. I could just make out the sidewalk, and wandered till I found the bus stop from memory.

I coaxed one more flame from the Zippo and read the schedule posted on the kiosk. Carefully lighting my smoke, I glanced up and cursed. The bus wouldn’t be arriving for two more hours. There wasn’t an all-night place around for miles, and it was cold enough for ice to have formed around the edges of the sidewalk. With a gasp, my Zippo spat out the last of its fumes, with just illumination to reveal a featureless face leering down at me from atop the kiosk.

It lacked eyes, mouth, even a nose, yet I felt it smile before my tiny light, expended, left us both in darkness. The last thing I felt was its cold breath on my face, and a steady chittering from up in the trees.



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 04:44 PM
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(The End, in case there was any question.)



posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 09:47 PM
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A very cold tale, thelibra, very cold indeed. The tenuous flickering light barely holding back the horror crossing generations. I saw the scenes played out in grey and black shadows punctuated by the light switch and a guttering zippo flame.

Poor Starla and Adam, never to see our doomed hero again. But fate was kind to them, was she not?

But, where now, do the black men haunt?

Well done...

(I was expecting to read an assembly manual for a DeLorean)



posted on Sep, 15 2006 @ 07:14 AM
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Thanks, man. It's loosely based off of an actual incident I went through. A much more summarized version of the actual story can be found here. In any event, I appreciate the compliment and will try and come up with a couple more stories...perhaps something from my nightmares, but those are usually daft things. For instance, I can never adequately explain why my socks suddenly gaining the ability to talk is so terrifying. (/obscure reference)



posted on Sep, 19 2006 @ 11:52 AM
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Touching story, man. I look forward to reading more from you.

Steve



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