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Into the Dark





Into the Dark

 

  


Hurry!

Frantic, she searched for her room, finding it on the second floor. With fingers shaking, she fumbled getting the key in the lock.

"Yes, finally" she said under her breath as the key slid in and opened with a click.

She turned and scanned the parking lot then shut the door on her back. She skimmed her hand over a wall that was sticky.

"Bingo," she said as she flipped on the light.

She took in her surroundings and cringed. A dull light showed a room worn with age and lack of upkeep. The walls were tinted yellow from years of smoke and the wallpaper peeled from the corners. At least I am out of the open, she thought as she dropped her bag on the creaky bed and pulled out a pack of cigarettes. She took the matches she snatched from a bar out of her pocket and struck the match across the sandpaper. The fire spread over the tip of the matchstick, the aroma and the glow of the fire calmed her. It burned through the stick leaving behind ash. She shook it before it scorched her fingers. She struck another and brought it to the tip of her cigarette, she inhaled the first satisfying puff of smoke then let if escape from her lips.

More at ease, she moved over to the mirror that hung over the dresser, her fingers tapped on the side of her leg as she continued to puff on the cigarette. She let out another smoke-filled breath as she leaned into the mirror to examine herself.

The woman in the mirror was unrecognizable. Her eyes, once a bright forest green, were now dull and tired. Lines dug deep grooves between her eyebrows and around her mouth. Her full lips, once her best feature, now cracked and burned in need of moisture. She reached up to let her hair down from the ponytail and ran her finger through matted hair loosening the knots. The oil from her hair coated her fingers as it fell, wild, around her face.

"Now what?" she asked.

She walked over to the window and cracked the dingy orange curtains to the side. Lena knew they were coming and that they would find her. They were always men, they wore black tailored suits with bow-ties, a chauffeur cap, and drove black vehicles with tinted windows. She drew the curtains closed, walked over to the dimmer switch and lowered the lights so the room would appear vacant.

Prepared for a shower, she remembered she hadn't checked the bathroom when she entered the room. She pulled a switchblade from her back pocket, with a flick of her wrist it opened. Oh Jesus, oh Jesus... I always check the bathroom. How could I be so stupid! She reached out, driving the door open, and saw no one. Thank God, she thought, I don't know what I would have done if anyone had been in there.

Her bag, still on the bed, contained a fresh change of clothes. I'm fine and I need to get cleaned up before I have to run again. She removed the offensive clothes she was wearing and turned on the shower. She adjusted it as close to scalding as she could stand. I will get away. I have to, she thought as she stepped into the shower.

A memory flashed as the water flowed over her mistreated body.

She was thirteen the first time she saw them. She sat on the window seat in her room on the second floor of their canary yellow Victorian home with her head rested against the cool pane. Raindrops burst on the glass and made their way to the gutter like the wet drops that rolled over her lips into her lap. The sky turned a charcoal gray, and the clouds billowed outward as if in a race. It was the one-year anniversary of the death of her sister, Emily.

Surprised, she watched four distorted black bodies with yellow heads sprint past the tree. They stopped and looked toward her window. She squealed and jumped back to avoid being seen. "Lena, what is it?" her Mom asked as she stumbled into the room. Concern showed through deep lines and hazel eyes that were red-rimmed from crying.

Lena pointed at the window, taking another step away, her voice trembled as she spoke, "look Mom, who are those people?"

Curious, she searched for what she might have seen. "Lena, honey... no one is out there." She turned toward her scared daughter. "Are you sure it wasn't the tree moving?"

Lena hurried to show her, but they were no longer there. Just the tree blowing in the wind.

Another memory swept through her mind.

She was seventeen, and it was the first big game of the football season for the Lions and they had won fourteen to six. She loved her school, and the boys had been working hard to prepare. Living only three blocks from there, she seldom drove. She waved to the other girls on the squad and walked through the spinning gate. Tiny dots of light winked through the black in the sky. The street lights cast a yellow glow over the ground and the click of her shoes echoed with each step. The hair on her arms rose. She looked around... nothing. Her fingers tapped at her side. She saw it then, the black van with blacked-out windows.

"They could just be waiting for someone," she said.

Her heart leaped in her chest when someone in the van turned their head in her direction. She picked up her pace, not wanting to draw any further attention. She passed the van, the doors opened and slammed shut behind her.

Lena looked back. Four men wearing black suits walked toward her. Their faces shadowed by the brim of their hats. She thought it strange that they wore bow-ties. The footsteps sped up and sounded closer. She ran. They grabbed for her hair and she screamed.

I won't be able to do this much longer, she thought. There was a gate open ahead and as she turned to go through it, arms wrapped around her. The momentum pushed her forward to the ground and her head struck the concrete. Her vision flashed white. Pain traveled through her head like wildfire. The arms loosened allowing her to swing her legs around to land a kick to the head. She gripped the cool prickly grass to pull herself away and dug her feet into the moist dirt. They grabbed her again slamming her to the ground. Pain flared, white flashed, and then black.

Her hands shook as she reached for the knob and turned off the spray of lukewarm water. She was unsure how she had got home that night.  When her Mom asked how she got the bump on her head, she told her she tripped on her way home. She didn't want to worry her.

Dried, she tugged a soft cashmere sweater over her head, then slid a new pair of designer jeans over a fresh pair of panties. She took the ponytail holder from the dresser and wrapped it around her wet hair.  Grateful to be clean again.

The last time she saw them she had spotted their van outside her Mom's house when she returned from a Sunday brunch with her Mom. She had decided it was time to get away; she knew they were coming for her. She outran them several times in the last few days and she needed rest but there would be none tonight. Grabbing her bag from beside the bed, she threw it over her shoulder. Ready to move.

A voice roared in her head, they're here -- run!

"They can't be..." she said, "It's too soon, I hoped I had more time."

Frantic, she ran to the door, but it refused to open. She turned the knob back and forth until her palms stung. The window offered no escape.

I have to get out... Oh my God, please, there has to be a way, she thought, pacing the floor.

Seized from behind, she kicked and clawed at the invisible thing that held her. She screamed when something gripped her wrists.

 "No, no, no, no, no.... not again. Please, let me go," she said, sobbing.

They found you, again, the voice whispered.

She shook her head, "No, no, no..." The room shifted out of focus, a blurry haze of light washed over the place, and then darkness.

Fog covered her thoughts as she struggled to wake. There was a heaviness over her body and it was hard to move her arms and her legs. A hand covered hers, warm and soft. She cracked her eyes open to the blaring light, and saw her Mom laying back in a chair with her eyes closed, a hand over hers.

"Mom?" Lena said as a whisper moved through her parched lips. She turned her hand over to grasp her Mom's hand and squeezed hoping to nudge her awake.

"Lena!" her Mom said, as her eyes popped open. She jumped out of the chair, "are you awake?"

Lena, unable to speak, reached her hand toward a cup on the hospital tray. Noticing, her Mom reached over for the cup of water and handed it to her. She drank until the last of the dryness subsided. The machines and monitors beeped and buzzed all around her. There were flowers were on a stand next to her bed, and the TV played an infomercial about cleaner. Her eyes settled back on her Mom and the sad expression she had on her face.

"Mom," Lena said, "why am I in the hospital?"

Her Mom cried, and she reached over to comfort her. She watched as her Mom took several deep breathes to steady herself and then she spoke.

"The people in the next room heard you screaming and pounded on your door. You never answered, so they called the manager. They found you on the floor. He tried to wake you and when you didn't, he called for an ambulance."

Lena stared out the window as her Mom told the story. She only remembered the fear gripping her heart and the scream in her head when something grabbed her.

"The ambulance got there, and they still could not get you to wake up, so they brought you here to ran scans on your head." Fat tears rolled over her face and her hand gripped Lena's to the point of pain.

"How bad is it, Mom? I need to know," Lena said.

Through sobs, she said, "There is a large mass in your brain. It has been growing there... for years. The doctor said it surprised him we have had no issues until now. The area it's in should have caused you to hallucinate, and he said it will only get worse." She wept, unable to speak as Lena continued to stare out the window. "They said they won't be able to remove it and that you only have a few more months before you will leave us." Her mom wept. "Oh, honey! I am so sorry!"

She turned and looked at her mom's tired face and thought about the pain this would cause her, "I'm sorry, Mom."

 Lena shifted toward the window as the black vehicle with tinted windows parked on the side of the road. The hairs on her arms stood at attention but she ignored it. She laid her head against the pillow and closed her eyes. A single tear rolled over her cheek.

 

 
Jennifer Brewer


 

Jennifer Brewer lives in Bella Vista, AR with her husband, three children, a dog, and a cat. She writes poetry and this is her first short story. You can find more of her work at https://mybeginingfictionwriting.wordpress.com/. She is currently working on another short story and has started writing a novel.

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2 Comments

  1. This is fantastic. Nice details. I was riveted to every detail. Can not wait for more of your writings. I believe you have a great future as a writer!

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  2. Wow! I couldn't stop until the end! I found I was holding my breath as I read on I had to find out who those people were and why they were after her. Seem like they were death angels? Wow! I felt so sorry for her.

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