posted on Sep, 13 2006 @ 04:41 PM
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.”
“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
“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
“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.