Blogs by Wade Hunter
Dark Glimmers Chapters 7&8
10/24/2006 8:54:35 PM
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Nature of the Dream
Frank stared into the mirror, examining the strange rash on his chest. It was red and angry looking. His fingers touched the irritated skin. It didn’t hurt, and it no longer burned, like it had this afternoon when he was in the grip of that monster in his dream. It just was, and he wondered if it would always just be, like the scar on Spinner‘s face. He let his eyes linger a few moments more on injured skin, then he lifted his gaze, feeling a strange form of embarrassment about the marks. It made him fell unclean and molested. He hated the feeling.
Frank stared into the eyes staring back at him from the mirror. They were bloodshot; the tiny blood vessels snaking towards the pupils like worms digging into soft clay. He searched intently for any flash of color, just a single winkle of brilliance in the corner of his eye, but he saw none. He wished that he could see some blast or shimmering light to confirm all the crazy things Spinner had told him. He couldn’t, but Spinner said that was natural for a Chimera-if one could use the words natural and Chimera in the same sentence. You couldn’t see your own glimmer, just that of others, and that some how added to the craziness of the entire concept. He didn’t break his gaze in the mirror, hoping to see the hidden secrets behind his own pupils, praying for a sign to build his strength on. He couldn’t see any evidence of the strange power nestled inside of him, but he could see a hard edge to his glare that hadn’t been there a month ago, an innocence that wasn’t so innocent any more.
Frank felt a hundred years old, instead of twelve. His imagination had always been on one of his greatest assets, and he had daydreamed about being the hero in many adventures, just as most boys his age did. Now, he was in a grand adventure of sorts. Now, he was actually the one facing the peril and the monsters, and he wondered how he ever dreamed of wanting such a thing.
Dreams of vanquishing monsters are nothing but nightmares in waiting.
The thing about it was fantasizing about fighting monsters was a fun thing to do, because you scripted the ending. You decided when and how you would win. You were in control. His ordeal was different than that. He wasn’t sure if he could win this one, because he had no control of what was happening. He felt like the last pawn in a chess game full of opposing pieces. All he could do was hope to survive the game.
The idea burned in him. Is that all he could do? Could he even do that?
His eyes drifted to the scratch marks on his chest. They were just streaks of thin red, starting above his left nipple and ending on his right pectoral, lingering just under the top layer of skin. They looked like sleep marks from a crumbled sheet or blanket, but he knew that they were much more. They were scars. Would he have these marks the rest of his life? Spinner did. More importantly, would he live long enough to find out just how long the marks would stay?
The idea of pitying himself, about the situation that he had landed face first in, never crossed Frank’s mind as he looked at what could best be described as battle wounds-even though he hadn’t done much battling, per say. He had simply attempted to keep his heart beating and managed to get a shot or two in between life threatening moments. In truth he hadn’t done much but run. Although, he did fight his way out of that cabin. He had gotten away, and he had survived by using the strangeness within him. He didn’t know how to fight back, but at least he learned how to get away. What would he be able to do when the time came? How do you beat something that you barley know about? What can kill a dream, Frank wondered.
A memory of his father flashed in his mind. He had once asked his dad how he solved tough problems at work. His dad said “To solve a problem, you have to go back to where it started. From there you can see how things went wrong.”
How do I get back to where this all started? Frank wondered.
He considered his position for a minute, bringing his gaze back up into its reflection. He was in the mist of something very powerful, and he had two choices. He could roll over and die, or he could fight. He searched for the inner fortitude, which drives people through the impossible times, within the pinpoint pupils staring back at him. He searched for the slightest twinkle, the slightest glimmer of the strength it would take to keep him from just rolling over in the face of adversity. He searched for the fight.
Dark Glimmers, he thought. Like the soul seeping from the body. The thought made him shiver, made his mind try to apply some logic to what was happening.
What was happening?
Could he really possess some strange dream power? That wasn’t the easiest thing to grasp, even with his overactive imagination. Could his dreams be haunted by a dark legend of a small town? It was all too much to believe. It was a fairy tale. It was a true to life nightmare. Frank’s head spun with all the different possibilities, and all the things he had seen over the last few days.
Can’t see the forest through the trees.
Frank thought he finally understand that phrase. He looked into the mirror, and he saw the spark in his eyes that he had been looking for. It wasn’t purple or red or blue. It wasn’t a shimmering, and it wasn’t a glimmer. It was the will to fight that he saw. It was the strength that everyone said was deep within him, and it lit a spark in his mind.
As crazy as it all seemed-all the talk of Chimera and the dream world-it had to be true. It was too wide spread, and its depth to vast to be just a dream. The detail was too intricate for his young mind to conceive on its own. Like it or not, it was all real. The legends. The Chimera. The monsters. All of it was real.
At that point, in that moment of recognition, Frank accepted the burden of what he was. He was a freak of nature that could bend and mold dreams, an enigma of mind over matter. He was one person that could live in two realities simultaneously. He was a young boy with the burden of a man. With Frank’s recognition of all this came anger, swelling in him like a large fat sponge filling itself with all the questions, doubt, and fear that were rattling around inside of him.
Spinner wanted Frank to help rid the town of its plague, of Anna. The man never really said it, but Frank didn’t need him to say it. He could tell in the man’s demeanor. Spinner was both amazed by Frank and scared for him at the same time. Frank felt that the man’s concern was genuine and warranted, but Frank didn’t know what he could do to help. How great it would be to control the end of this one, to win against the odds, but Frank had no misconceptions. He may never see tomorrow. As much as he wanted to help Spinner win this fight, he wanted to concentrate on staying alive first. Perhaps though, surviving was winning. If he could just survive, he could try to live a normal life (that is as normal of a life that he could with his-what had Spinner called it-talent). Then in a flash a revelation filled him, and it was both complete and harsh at the same time.
Frank turned the faucet on. Cupping his hands under the cold water, he brought his face down and bathed it. The water was cold, but its frosty touch eased his mind by a notch. He did it twice more, and each time the cold shock of the water washed away another block of drudgery from his mind. Reaching up, he turned the faucet off, and then found the white cotton hand towel that hung on a ring beside the sink. He buried his face in the towel, breathing in the fresh smell that the laundry detergent left behind, and wiped his skin dry.
As he looked up, he saw his face and the look of determination that rested on it.
His revelation was simple, and he felt that he had to hear it aloud to fully comprehend it.
“You have to win in order to survive,” he said to his image in the mirror in a low dry voice, and he knew that without question it was true. There was no common ground on this one. There was no second place. He had fallen prey to strange events, and even stranger wraiths. He was the hunted. There was only one way to win in that scenario. He had to outlast his pursuers. He had to survive, and in order to do that, he had to win. The monsters had to be vanquished.
It was a hell of a thing for a twelve year old boy to realize.
When Tommy walked in, Frank was sitting on the couch, trying to cleanse his mind with some good brainless television. He was watching a talk show where a transsexual was married to a man that didn’t know she was a man herself. As Frank watched, he began to think that his dilemma wasn’t so bad compared to the two screaming people on TV. At least he wasn’t finding out that his wife had a penis on national television. Score one for the home team.
Tommy came in and sat down beside his brother.
“Very deranged people,” Frank answered, without looking over at his brother.
“My favorite,” Tommy said and settled back. The two sat like that until the commercial break. As much as Frank tried to clear his head, he couldn’t. He couldn’t get his situation out of his mind. He kept thinking of everything that happened to his family over he last couple days. His dad and brother could have fallen victim to strange deaths. Thankfully they hadn’t.
Spinner’s voice filled his head. You saved him. The voice was referring to the incident with his father. How things had escalated from that point. The situation seemed to be building up steam, and that worried Frank. He had too strong an advisory and too little information about them.
It was time to do a bit of fishing.
“How was the Iron Chair?” Frank asked. It was an attempt to fill the conversation void, and to get some insight from his brother. He didn’t know what if anything the Iron Chair had to do with the strange things happening in this town, but he was beginning to think that everything was connected in some way. A ghost of his encounter with the dark man in the cabin rattled its chains, but he dismissed it without thought. Focus on that later, he told himself. Aaron had taken Tommy to see the Iron Chair. Aaron had to spew some town history to him on the trip. Maybe he told Tommy something could be useful in some way.
“Kinda spooky,” Tommy replied to his brother’s question as he stared at the television. “Spookier than that picture of Anna.” he added, leading the conversation in the direction that Frank wanted.
“Really,” Frank said. “How so?”
Tommy shrugged. “I don’t know. Aaron was telling me stories on the way up, and I think that got my blood pumping. You know him-Spinner junior.”
Frank laughed at this, but the laugh contained little amusement among its chuckles. He didn’t particularly like the mention of the tale weaver right then. The name didn’t send cold shivers through him, or fill him with an impending feeling of doom. The mention of Spinner right then made Frank think of later, when he would close his eyes and sleep. It made him think of the unknown possibilities of the night.
Do you really have any clue what could happen later?
He had some, and he knew that it would be no cakewalk. He made a realization in the bathroom earlier, when he was looking at the marks on his chest, but he failed to recognize a very important fact at that time. He was feeling alone in his quest for survival, but he had a companion. He had Spinner. It felt odd to recognize that, as if he was avoiding the man’s help on purpose. He had walked away from the man twice now, when he was trying to help. Frank felt foolish for his rash behavior. Frank had been second guessing the guy, as if Spinner had some hidden agenda to get through. Frank had felt as if Spinner was trying to use him, but that was all wrong. Spinner and he were rowing the same boat, against the same harsh current. Spinner was trying to help not hinder. Spinner was just trying to survive. Frank now knew that he had someone that could help him inside the dream, because that someone was Chimera. That person was just like him, and that person was meeting him tonight.
“Tell me everything,” Frank said to the surprise of his brother. “I want to hear every last little detail.”
Frank and Tommy spent most of the night side by side with their father, waiting on him hand and foot even when he didn’t need it. Their dad seemed fine, but he said that his head still hurt. “Still have a screw or two lose,” he joked with the boys. Their mother jokingly wished that the two were so attentive all the time. It was a quite evening spend in front of the television, but everyone enjoyed it.
It felt good to Tommy and Frank to have their father back home with them. His presence alone seemed to fortify the walls of the house against the harsh outside world. When Mrs. Jordan announced that it was time for bed, the boys protested, but when their father said that he was also heading to bed, they gave in with out much of a fight, leading him up the stairs and wishing him good night.
Frank washed his face, brushed his teeth, and slid into a set of dark blue pajamas. He left the light on, not because he was scared of the darkness, but because it would draw his father in for one last good night. As Frank crawled under the covers, he heard his dad slide into the room.
“Hey, sport,” Rob Jordan said.
“Hey, pop,” Frank replied, happy to hear his dad’s cheerful voice inside the confides of his room.
Frank’s dad came over and kissed his forehead. When he pulled back, Frank noticed the strange look his father was giving him. It was a combination of love and puzzlement. Frank said nothing just met the gaze of his father. Frank was thinking about his father’s wreck. He was thinking about the true unknown danger his father had been in without even knowing it. He tried to stop himself when he started asking in his head what would have happened to his dad if he hadn’t of showed up.
You saved him. Spinner’s voice filled Frank’s mind again.
Frank and his father peered into each other’s eyes for half a minute, as if each one of them was searching for an answer to some secret question. Then without warning or pretext, Rob Jordan kissed the top of his son’s head, filling his nostrils with the smell of his young boy, and pulled the child into a strong embrace that clamped down on Frank, held tight, and released a moment later. Frank squeezed back, not wanting to let go of his father. Frank wanted to stay with his dad all night, keeping each other awake with silly stories and talk about sports. When his father started to pull back, Frank released his own grip, and took in one deep breath.
“Love ya, dad,” Frank said, not feeling the shame that a twelve year old boy normally felt at saying those words. There were a thousand thoughts going through Frank’s mind, but right then all he cared about was his dad was home safe. He was saying goodnight to his dad, when it could have been goodbye. Frank felt the slightest bit of pride. It surprised him, but he was proud of himself for saving his father in a world neither here nor there, but both places at the same time.
“Love you to,” his dad replied, and got up. Frank watched his father start to leave, but his dad stopped at the door, clinging to the door frame as if trying to hold back a force driving him from the room.. His hand was on the light switch, posed to turn it off when he turned back towards Frank.
“Son,” he said and the word sounded like a question to Frank, as if he may have already fallen asleep and his father was checking to see if he was awake. Frank heard a softness in the man’s voice (like the beginning of a good, hard cry) which normally didn’t reside there. It was a quiet vulnerability that called out to Frank.
You have to go back to where it started.
“Yeah, dad,” Frank replied, trying to keep his voice from breaking.
Rob Jordan said nothing, smiled at his son, then turned out the light, like he was embarrassed to say what he had to say in the light where Frank could see his face.
“Thanks,” he said softly. The remark drifted through the darkness and caught Frank off guard. He heard himself ask for what, knowing the answer and not wanting to admit it.
“I’m not sure,” his dad said, “But…I just felt like I needed to tell you that. Thanks, that is. When I hit my head during that accident…well…I thought I heard…I don’t know.” His father’s words became soft almost inaudible, and the image of the White Wolf lunging through the air, searching for his father’s neck branded itself into the soft part of Frank’s mind. His dad gave him a short smile that was caught in the light from the hall, and left, shutting the door behind him.
“Anytime,” Frank said softly as the door closed.
Tommy shifted under his covers as he tried to find a comfortable position to sleep in. In his head, he saw the snarling black iron faces of wolves, and the deadpan stare of ravens, every time he closed his eyes. He heard the screams of people thriving in pain, echoing in his ears, and smelled damp wet earth with his nostrils He cursed Aaron for taking him to see that stupid chair and telling him all those stories.
The entire day had been a strange one. First the whole thing with Frank at school. Tommy still wasn’t sure what the hell had happened there. Then there was the aloof, far away nature of his brother. Frank definitely was hiding something. Whether it was his fear or something more, Tommy didn’t know. The kid seemed strung out, and the emotion in his eyes warned of trouble on the road ahead. Tommy had never seen such sternness on Frank’s face before. It was if the kid was balancing on a high beam, and the slightest slack in concentration would send him toppling into the abyss below.
After much consideration, Tommy believed that Frank’s story about chocking on gum in school was hog’s wash, but he was lacking an important part of the equation that would help him understand it to be anything different. All he had was a gut feeling that twisted the unseen bond between his brother and he. It wasn’t just Frank, though. It seemed that everybody in this town knew something that he didn’t. He hadn’t liked the hard look in Frank’s eyes on the way home from the cemetery today, but there was more to it. Later in the day, he swore that he saw that same distant stare, that same hard edge, in Aaron’s eyes as his friend broke away from his normal jovial self and became distinctly serious about the strangeness of the town of Armstrong.
Tommy was lying on his back, staring at the ceiling. His eyes picked up a small crack in the plaster, and he focused on that one spot. It was but one small, three-inch gouge in the ceiling (probably caused by water damage), but he couldn’t pull his eyes from the stupid crevasse. In his head, Tommy felt that the crack was as big of a blemish to the ceiling as today was on his mind. It was a crack in the fortress that would allow dark things to slip through.
Never before did he believe in all this mumbo-jumbo nonsense about ghost in the night. Now though, he was afraid to close his eyes, afraid that if he did he might see visions of a graceful yet large, white, killer wolf, stalking him in his dreams. He was afraid to pay any attention to the small creaks that the old house may make, enchanted by the idea that one small board settling could turn into a knuckle rapping on the front door, that would turn into a full scale pounding as someone (another of the damn town’s ghost) tried to get in. He found himself thinking of the strange man Spinner, and he hoped that someone had locked the front door tonight before they all came up to bed. He pulled the covers over his face, feeling six instead of fourteen. The covers blocked his view of the crack in the ceiling, or was it the gateway to Narnia? Or Wonderland? Or worse yet someplace darker, someplace where all the legends of the town were true?
Tommy didn’t like this new feeling of insecurity. It ate at him, biting with sharp little teeth, not allowing him peace. He hated the ugliness that it made him feel, the lack of control over his own thoughts, and with that came the image of his brother. Is this what Frank was feeling over the last several weeks? Is this why he couldn’t sleep? Maybe he had seen a crack in his ceiling, and maybe he had fallen into it like Alice down the rabbit hole.
Stop it, he told himself, but he knew it was a feeble attempt. His fear for his little brother seemed amplified now, as if the volume of the scratchy little voice in his head had been turned from two to ten. He wanted to stop thinking like he was. He actually felt that he needed to stop it before he fell of the edge into the deep ocean of what ever this was and drowned in it.
Tommy felt his eyes slipping shut, as his mind tried to unravel from the coiled position he had twisted it into.
Suddenly there came a load knock that seemed to fill the house like the voice of an opera singer filling the opera hall. It was one heavy thump that sounded like a drum on the way to hell to Tommy. He snapped his head around, trying to catch the fading echo of the knock. In the seconds to follow, Tommy found himself curling into a ball under his cotton covers, as if just being in the fetal position would make him safe. He was tense under his covers. Had that thing at the door come back, trying to get in and finish what it wanted to start the other night? The house feel silent. Tommy waited breathlessly to see what would happen next. Then came a series of rattles, followed by another loud knock, then finally a whoosh of air. Tommy let out the breath he was holding. He saw past his fear, and recognize the noise for what it was.
It was the damn furnace turning on.
The cold winds must have finally dropped the temperature enough to cause the heat to kick in. He scolded himself for his lack of courage, as his mind drifted back a couple nights. He felt panic that night also, like an electric wire run under his skin. He recalled the events in his head as he made himself slide out from under the covers. Forcing his gaze around the room, showing himself that he could resist the whispers of terror in his head, his eyes fell on the window, and his mind asked a question that it had asked a thousand times and received a thousand seconds of silence in response.
What the hell happened in Frank’s room the other night?
He realized that the sequence of events in Frank’s room were the root of his new found fears. Before that night he had never truly believed in all the supernatural stuff that was said about the town. The thing knocking at the front door had scared the living hell out of him, but it had been a nightmare. He hadn’t thought so at the time, but he did now. At least he wanted to. He had hauled ass for his little brother’s room in his moment of terror, but dreams can do that to you. Sometimes you think that you’re up, and in truth you’re just dreaming away. He knew the next morning that he had dreamed the hideous knocking man, but he could never fully convince himself the same about what happened in Frank’s room. Perhaps it was because his little brother experienced it also. Two people can’t share the same dream, he thought. That was impossible, and if that was the case then something extra ordinary happened in that room. There was something knocking on Frank’s window, and it sounded like it wanted in. Hell, it cracked the glass, and no dream Tommy ever heard of could crack a window.
Then what the hell was it?
Tommy didn’t know, but he found himself staring up at the ceiling, peering into the thin dark line of the plaster. He watched it to see if it would get bigger and swallow him whole.
The temperature in the small white walled house was eighty five degrees Fahrenheit. It was tuned up and meant to be uncomfortable. All the curtains were shut and the shades drawn, separating the electric glow of the interior of the house from the cold dark night that lay like a shroud over the outside of the walls. There was little noise in the house, except for the furnace, breathing its charred breath from floor slotted vents in a constant steady huffing sound. The was no radio playing; no local news filling the air with the latest tragedy. Although, on occasion the old oak wood chair that Spinner sat in would grown in protest as he shifted his weight from one side to the other.
The man with the strange purple eyes sat with no shirt on, and the sharp edged curves of has back and shoulders gleamed with a dewy film of sweat from the dry heat, licking at his bare skin. He didn’t mind the hot, brittle air that enveloped him, any more than he minded the darkness that pushed at the outside of his house. Droplets of fat ripe sweat formed on his brow, and he was careful to hold the Chimera text that he bought in Virginia away from his body so that the salty leakage from his skin didn’t fall and damage any of the pages. His breath was soft and slow, but he felt as if his heart were beating at a hundred beats per minute. In truth it was skipping along at half that rate. If all his years living under the threat of personal harm had taught him anything, it taught him that control was essential. Mind over matter was the motto, and he had learned through patience and practice how to control his heart rate. It allowed him to shut his body on and off when the need called.
He squinted his eyes as a stinging dribble of perspiration dripped into the corner of his tear duct. Most people would have tried to wipe the sting away, but Spinner simply stared through the blurred pain that had been delivered to him by his own body. He had turned the heat up on purpose, both to exercise his control over his body’s heart rate, and to keep him focused. The heat acted like an intense pressure on his mind that helped him focus instead of draining focus from him.
When he left young Frank Jordan earlier, his mind was amazed with the knowledge that the boy showed of his situation, and at the power that rested deep within the boy. Those viscous thoughts for his need of self preservation had drifted back into his head, and at some points it was harder to quiet them than others. In a sense, he was going for self-preservation, but if he was safe then others, like Frank, would be safe also. He just wanted it to end, all of it. He was in no way an old man, but the years of hardship drained him with each new day, like a bucket that had a hole releasing one small drop of water at a time until it was almost empty. He felt about one hundred years old in his head.
Spinner picked up on something raging inside of him over the last few weeks, but it had gone unchecked, and unrecognized. Over the years, he began to recognize a certain feel to the town and all its haunts. It was a cold icy feel that bore with it malicious, vengeance, and a need to cause mayhem. He assumed that he had picked up on this do to his special gifts, and from his encounters with Anna. Perhaps he had tuned into the wavelength of Anna’s evil conscious. It wasn’t something that was always presents, but occasionally he would catch hold of it. It made all the muscles in his body stiffen, and his mind fill with dark thoughts. It was all together ugly. Recently, Spinner had noticed a small shift in that wavelength, though. Perhaps he was projecting his own thoughts and fears to intercept the decayed volley of emotion that surrounded him and the town, but he noticed a bit of anxiety mixed amongst the malevolence that was the town’s heartbeat. In all his years he had never noticed that before, and he had a feeling deep in his gut that fed of his subconscious like a tapeworm that this new anxiety had nothing to due with him at all. If he could touch the dark soul of the town with his mind then maybe it was that darkness it self that was anxious. Maybe Anna was feeling a bit of the terror that she so regularly dished out.
And why would that be?
Spinner knew the answer without contemplation. The answer was Frank Jordan. The kid had exceptional amount of the Chimera life force running through him. Perhaps Anna knew just how dangerous that was to her, and her…what? What was it that Anna had against this town? What awful thing happened to make her cause such havoc?
Spinner spent the evening digging through old journals, covering the pages for what seemed like the thousandth time. The oldest of rumors said that Anna had worked as an employee for the founder of the town, James Armstrong. The rumors say that one night she just disappeared. The was no written documentation of the girl, who at the time was suppose to be a young woman, but Spinner knew that most of the local lore was based on some fact. After the death of the Armstrong family, it was Anna’s name that had surfaced, and thus the legend was born, as the town fell into a rash of death and misfortunes. There was nothing solid to back up any theories as to what may have happened to the young Anna Fallon in the first place.
After so many years of mishap and occasional sightings of Anna, the town knew that she was riding the wings of some dark force and torturing the town with her evil ways. The town had formed hunting parties to find her and try to stop her, but they never even found a clue of her on their hunts. The town assumed her a witch. The years passed, and the death tool rose. No one had an answer how to stop her. Then one faithful night, a four-man posse formed by the mayor himself was said to have finally found her. How the caught her no one knows. The next day, to the dismay of the town, her grave was found next to the church, headstone and all. It also sent a wave of relief through the town, as they thought the plight with the mysterious Old Anna was over. The town’s people didn’t know about the confrontation the night before the arrival of her grave, but the mayor did. He knew that there was not enough time to dig a grave, and create a headstone, in the few short hours from the time he received his reports from his posse to the breaking of dawn. The grave was there, though, and there was no denying that. The mayor and his closest board of trustees had two unanswerable questions. How had the grave been dug, and filled so quickly? And who had down it?
Spinner had been asking those same question for years.
He was amazed that he had never thought about it before, and it took a conversation with a young boy half scared out of his wits to shine light onto the answer. The boy had called him Mr. Black Eyes. Spinner knew that he was a Dark Agent of the Chimera, a rogue that had escaped persecutions by his kind, and he was the answer to both questions.
There is a funny thing about the dream world, and one that only a Chimera would be able to exploit. It was the information that he was looking for now in the leather bond book that helped him solve so many other mysteries. He had read the passage many times, and even pondered on the thoughts that it possessed, but never before did he have the missing link.
Spinner’s fingers flipped the delicate pages with care, both exhibiting his rush, and his control. He looked at the clock. It was going on nine. That was good. It gave him some time before he would have to prepare for sleep. He had an eleven o’clock date, and he didn’t plan on being late for it.
His fingers rolled the next page of the journal over, and he say part of the passage he was looking for. It was about three-fourths of the way through the book. He placed a string in between the pages he wanted, and leaned back. He took the time now to reach for a white bath towel that sat on the carpet beside his chair. As he leaned back, the chair protested underneath him. He wiped his face, and shoulders with the towel, trying to sop up all the wetness that he could. He took care with his hands making sure that they were clean of perspiration, then he bent back over the desk, and opened the journal to the pages he had marked, made a quick scan of the next few pages, then read the passage from the beginning.
I have reached new heights in my understanding of the strange world of the Chimera. For years now I have explored the halls of the Castle in the Air, not knowing how this place ever came to be, and why I was able to visit it for ages without losing as much time in the real world. The Castle is a magnificent, beautiful place. The stone carvings, the vast hallways, the sparkling walls, the expanse of the five towers, and its ability to augment my personal power have always been a thing of wonder in my heart.
Let me state that, although I have met more than a few people in my exploration of the Castle, it is not commonplace to run into crowds of Chimera roaming around. In fact, I wonder just how limited access is to this strange and glorious haven.
There has been more than one occasion where I have met several people in the halls, but there has been plenty more where I have roamed for hours without ever witnessing another living soul. I have found that when looking for someone that I know may be there, I find myself pulled with a strong magnetism to the spot that they are. Francis for instant, I can find in moments, and he me. I assume it is because we want to be found. Whatever strange power encompasses the Castle in the Air makes it a place of solitude if you so desire. I dare call it a hiding place from the rest of time and space.
Well I recently found out just how true that statement is.
Last night I met a new man in the grand hall of the Castle. The grand hall is by far the most amazing room in the entire place. There are statues of such odd design and style that I can place them with none of the greatest artist of all time. The same goes for the paintings that hang on the smooth and shimmering walls. They are pictures of majestic grandeur that one only sees in dreams or hears about in tales. The colors they possess are mystifying, and the brush stroke is flawless. There are two massive fireplaces, one on each side of the hall, and fires burn there with never dying flames. I never see wood stacked beside them, or anybody tending them. At one end atop a set of fifth teen stairs sits a throne made of the silver lining of clouds. Its workmanship is magnificent, and it radiates a white hue, like a halo. It has one large blue cushion on the seat with red tassels hanging from the corners, and the back is eight feet high in my estimation. Behind the throne are five banners that stretch from the ceiling to the floor, one for the five colors of the Chimera, and all bearing a large black outline of the Eye in the Sun.
As I explored the hall last night, I suddenly felt eyes on me. It was not a threatening feeling that I felt. I just noticed it, but when I looked around I saw no one. Then out of the silence, I heard a voice welcoming me, and I turned to see a man with slicked back, jet-black hair, which hung to his shoulders, and I could see deep blue eyes the color of the sharpest sapphires in the world behind the pulsating glimmer of his stare. He was sitting on the throne, and it fit him to be doing so. He wore the clothing of a king, and it matched the attitude that the man personified. He seemed regal in everyway. He possessed both a cunning stare, and a knowledgably look about him. His shoulders were broad, and his skin the perfect shade, not to light and not to dark. He leaned on a cane that had a silver handcrafted Eye on the top of it. His fingers were looped through the rays coming from the eye. The cane seemed to be made of the same material as the throne, and it shimmered like diamonds. It was obvious that he had no use for the cane to stand or walk, because he was an athletically built man. He watched me as I watched him, and he did not say another word until I thanked him for his welcome.
He introduce himself as Igor Van Zant, and what he told me after that was amazing. I should say here that Igor Van Zant possessed all five colors of the Chimera. His eyes were a rainbow of glimmer that shone like the sun itself. I had never before heard of someone that possessed all the powers of the Chimera. When I asked him about his powers, he smiled at me and waved his hand as if I were to survey our surroundings, then he spoke once more.
“I have watched you for many years.,” he said in a harmonic voice. You have explored this haven many longs nights. You have walked in my palace, and you have drank from the promises that I have built into it.”
I couldn’t believe my ears at first, and it must have showed in my eyes. Igor Van Zant laughed at me, but the laugh held no malice or ill intent. Instead it was the laugh of a parent enjoying the musing of their child.
“This place is my world,” he explained. “I built it…in here.” He tapped the side of his head with the cane, right at his temple. As he did so the blue glimmer in his eye pulsed and consumed all other colors. Now, I knew Francis could bend the dream into what ever he wanted, but this was amazing. Could Igor Van Zant have really built this world that I had spent so many night in? As I asked the question in my head, I stared into the pulsing dark blue glimmer, and its power riveted me like never before. I knew then that it was entirely possible.
“How?” I found myself asking, and the smile on Van Zant’s face broadened. He came out of the throne and walked to me. He reached for my shoulder, and said “Come with me.” The instant he touched me we were on top of the blue tower. “Look around you,” he said to me, and I did so. I saw an endless expanse of the world below us. “That down there is the real world,” he said and pointed. It is where you (your body at least) still resides, even though you are currently here with me. You are in the Chimera world, the dream world. You currently exist in both places.” He turned back towards the courtyard, and mentioned to the rest of the Castle. “This is where I reside,” he said, and looked for my recognition, but I was unable to supply it. “I do not exist down there anymore,” he said motioning to the land far below us. “I died many years ago in that place.”
My mind wavered then. “How?” I stammered, not realizing the rashness in my voice as I asked the rude question. It did not seem to faze my new friend.
“I survive in this place, because I have created it. I was wounded in war, during a great battle. The wound did not kill me instantaneously, and I was able slip into the dream world and to mend my dream into this Castle, implanting my dream self here before my earth bound body passed.”
Still not understanding, I asked him to explain it further to me.
“When my body died, I was separate from it. I was here in a new world, where time is different.” He stopped and stared far off into the distance. “Have you ever noticed that you can spend what seems like days exploring in the Castle and wake up to find that only hours have passed back in living reality?” He focused his intense eyes on me now, and I nodded. I had noticed that many times. There were times when I felt that a day here was but a minute in reality.
“I chalked it up to the nature of the dream,” I said.
Spinner stopped to wipe his face again, and reflect on the last passage that he read. He had noticed this before. Time was different in the dream, a minute could last a day if you wanted it to. He never placed that fact together with the arrival of Anna’s grave, mainly because he knew that someone else had to dig the grave. Before today he never knew that there was another Chimera running around the town, aiding Anna in her reign of terror. Could it be that that other person, that other Chimera, the dark man himself buried Anna’s body in the dream? It would allow for the time that was needed, and Spinner knew from experience that you could take objects into the dream with you. If this Dark Agent managed to get Anna’s body into the dream then maybe he took all the time he needed while in the dream to bury her, while in reality the grave showed up at dawn the next day.
Spinner felt a hot swell in his gut. It was all starting to come together, piece by piece, but how was he going to use that to stop Anna. He had other thoughts about the passage he was reading. He had formed theories in his head from it, and how Anna may still be here after her death. Could she or this other Chimera formed a separate time and space to survive in, much like Van Zant formed the Castle in the Air? He wondered how he had over looked this all before, but even as the thought entered his head, he felt a heavy pressure squeezing the room around him, draining his mind of everything but pain. He knew that it was the town, Anna, trying to stop him, trying to cloud his mind. He wandered if she had been hammering him all along, somehow hindering in his discovery of what happened. If he could feel the pulse of the town, why wouldn’t she be able to throw some sludge into his think tank at times?
He picked the book back up, and felt the pressure in the room lessen slightly. He fought against it. He had to finish what little was left of the passage in hopes of some new epiphany.
“It is the nature of the dream,” Van Zant replied, and I have used it to cheat death. You see, when my living body died, I was here. One can survive after natural life in the dream would if they have the power to do so.” His eyes flashed that deep blue once more, as if to indicate what power he was talking about. He could change the dream and it gave him someplace to hide when he needed it to. “As long as I stay here,” he continued, “In the Castle in the Air, in the world that I created, I will continue to survive. The Castle in the Air is both my safe haven and my prison. ”
I felt an awful sadness for him. “How do I manage to get here then?” I asked. “The most powerful can get here, the most in tune with their ability. I do not block entry to anyone. I have had trouble at times with Dark Agents who don’t understand that if I die then the Castle dies with me. You see one can cheat death by escaping into the dream world like I did, but once you die in here…in the dream…well let’s just say then there is no escape. Any Chimera can reach into the world of a fellow Chimera. It is just the way it is. It is how the Dark Agent does his evil. It is how I share what I have created with people like you.”
I asked him questions about Dark Agents, telling him of the man that Francis and I saw the one time. He was patient and answered my questions. I will go into what detail he gave me later, for now I want to finish telling of meeting with Igor Van Zant.
He gave me time to reflect on what he had told me, and I asked him a very simple but serious question. “You can die then, here, in the dream you created?” He nodded grimly.
“I am very powerful, and it would take a mighty blow due to my power,” he stated, “But I can die in the dream. It is the curse of all the Chimera. Any damage received in the dream is visited upon the body in reality. I have no body, but if I were to be overcome in my dream, then I would pass forever, and everything that came with me would go. Don’t fool yourself child. The dream world can be very treacherous, and death can find you…even after you’re dead.”
Spinner repeated the last words of Igor Van Zant in his head.
Death can find you…even after you’re dead.
Ghost of the Past
The red neon on Frank’s clock read ten forty. Frank lay on his side, watching the numbers stare back at him. A bubbling anxious feeling brewed at the pit of his stomach. He had told Spinner eleven o’clock, but he wasn’t sure if he would be able to keep that date. His body was tired, exhausted in fact, but he knew what was waiting him in those dreams. It wasn’t the kind of thing that you look forward to. Rolling over onto his back, he looked up at the ceiling. He closed his eyes and tried to concentrate on nothing, but it was an act of attrition. All he could think about was what was going to happen when he did fall asleep. Who would he run into? Would it be Anna or the Dark Agent? Would he be able to find Spinner in the dream, and if he did would the two of them stand any more of a chance of defeating Anna together than they did apart?
Frank said a quick prayer, asking for the strength to see him through, and the courage to understand what was happening. When he looked at the clock again, the red neon umbers were gone. The clock began to vanish soon after, and Frank felt himself sliding from one reality to the next, from the living reality to the world of the Chimera. He felt as if he were sliding down a long tunnel, and that he was accumulating too much speed on the way. He closed his eyes, and tried to quell the vertigo in his head.
The world stopped sliding, and Frank felt moisture on the skin of his hands; felt the gentle kiss of wind in his face. Underneath him he felt the ground grow soft and squish under his shoes. He was fully dressed in a dark blue University of Pittsburgh hooded sweatshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes- things that he hadn’t worn to bed. He looked around trying to orientate himself to where he may be, but he already had an idea of where he was.
Frank had told Spinner of his dream, of the field where he had seen Anna chained to the tree. Spinner said that he would meet him in that spot, and Frank must have subconsciously took himself there. He saw things that he might remember from his earlier dream. He had been running scared then, and there was truly only one landmark he would recognize when it came time. That was the tree where he had seen the beaten and bleeding form of Anna chained up, like the wild animal she was.
Frank began to wonder how long it would be before he ran into trouble. He crouched low and listened, but the night held no threat as far as he could tell. He knew that it truly meant nothing, because Anna or Dark Agent could be anywhere. This was their realm, more than it was his, and he knew that. He had to be careful of placing to much trust in what he saw and heard.
After a long while of crouching and watching the night around him, Frank began to move. He noticed that he was near the edge of a field, and he knew that the tree that he was looking for was in the middle. He wished that he had stayed and talked to Spinner earlier, learned more, but everything he was told was a bit to surreal at the time. He had to get away and clear his head. Maybe tonight-if and when he found Spinner-some more of his questions would be answered.
The night above him was filled with dark gray clouds that reflected the light of a fat, orange moon. Tendrils of fog were slipping down from the tops of the hills, like fast moving vines, overtaking everything in the way. He thought back to his dream, and remembered how thick the fog was then. It was all consuming in the dream, swallowing everything past a six-foot radius around him. It wasn’t nearly like that now, but if that fog bank kept advancing then it may get to that point.
The deep voice of the Dark Agent filled his head. You do have some talent. It’s just like the night I found her.
Frank shuddered at the memory.
After walking another one hundred yards, Frank saw the landmark he was looking for, scratching a ragged line against the foggy hill in the distance. There it is he thought, and his apprehension came into his throat like a hot ball of fire. Frank felt a sharp, quick pain in his forearm, and looked down to see the Eye in the Sun once more. That can’t be good, he thought as he tried to rub the pain away. The mark glimmered with an intense red, and Frank quickly pulled his sleeve down to cover it up. The last thing he needed was to be given away by the mark, glowing like a beacon in the night.
What about your eyes? A little voice in his head cackled. Can’t hide that can you? Frank’s hand instinctively went to his face. “Damn it,” he whispered, but then he realized that he had a hood on his sweatshirt. Reaching back her hoisted the canopy over his head, and pulled on the strings to make it stay. In the back of his mind he wondered what he would look like if he could see himself. He wondered if he looked like some storybook demon with his glimmering eyes shining out from underneath a dark mantle that guarded the rest of his face. As cool as the image might have been, he didn’t dwell on it long. He could feel his mark pulsing, and it cleared his thoughts of everything but watching his ass.
He sat in the moonlight watching the tree for what must have been five minutes. The only movement he saw was the fog (now ankle deep), creeping ever faster into the rest of the night. He looked up in the sky again, and he noticed something for the first time. He turned around in a circle, and listened ever more intently. There was no noise. There was noise. There were crickets chirping, and the dry raspy voice of the wind through the trees, but that was about it. Frank did one more pirouette, and then focused his attention back in the sky. There where no lights past the stars and the moons. He didn’t hear the far off rumble of an eighteen-wheeler cutting its way up route 386. He didn’t here the eternal fuzz of radios and televisions, blurring the air like with their electronic energy. He saw no blinking lights from planes in the sky. All the ambient noise was gone.
“Your doing,” he told himself, but he didn’t think so. He grew up in the city before he moved to Armstrong. Ambient noise was more common than breathing. It was a fact of life, and Frank wasn’t sure if he had ever experienced a moment of his life without it. Something suddenly felt very strange about the place he was standing.
Spinner, he thought, where the hell you at, buddy? Spinner had told him to call to him with his mind if they couldn’t find each other, but Frank felt a bit strange doing it. He tried anyway, and he received no kind of mental wave or strange calling back to him. He wondered if Spinner had even fallen asleep yet. It still might not be eleven, or he may be having trouble getting asleep.
“Just peachy,” Frank whispered, and he began to advance slowly on the tree.
He stopped when he heard heavy footsteps off to his right. He looked that way and saw a four, strange, distant, orange orbs of light about the size of a basketballs, piercing ever so slightly into the night and air. Closer and more to his left he thought he saw movement. He pushed himself to the ground. It was cold under his palms, and the fog was making the long blades of grass slick with moisture. He could smell the dankness of the earth, creeping from the pores in the ground, and he had to lift his head to avoid choking on the odor.
He kept his eyes peeled for more movement at the spot where he thought the original motion had come from. The movement had been a good distance off when he had spotted it, just a shadow racing across the fog, but he was certain that he had seen it. His breath was becoming rapid, and he could feel himself breaking into a sweat. The mark on his arm felt alive on his skin, and his eyes blazed with heat. He looked back to the four glowing balls in the distance, and noticed they were coming his way. He thought he saw indistinct shapes sketched behind the glowing orbs, and came to the rationalization that the lights were lanterns.
Four people, he wondered in his head. He was worried enough about Anna and the Dark Agent. If there were more, then he was really in trouble.
Spinner, he yelled in his head. Spinner, I need you now. If you can hear me find me.
Frank was contemplating whether he should bolt before the lights, and the people carrying them got any closer. Now that he was watching, he noticed that they were moving at a pretty good clip. He pushed himself up onto his legs into a crouched position, much like the starting stance of a sprinter. Legs don’t fall me know, he thought, and he hoped that he could utilize his talent for speed once more.
He waited a split second, and because he did that, he saw another rush of shadows about thirty yards from him. The fog was about knee high now and getting thicker as every second passed. The moon seemed to have vanished behind a large cloud, because the night seemed dark all to sudden. He followed the movement this time, tracing it as a hunter would trace a flushed grouse with his gun barrel, and he could see it now. Someone without a light was moving towards him in the dark.
Frank had been worried about the advancing lights and the people that may be carrying them, but when he saw that shadow coming, he knew in his heart that the most dangerous of things slithered through the dark without a light to lead its way.
He gave one more glance towards the approaching lanterns, which were about sixty or seventy yards away now. He could here soft musing voices, drifting in the night. The sounded gruff and forceful, like the voice of men. He merely glanced at the lanterns, for the racing shadow was about twenty yards away and closing.
Frank tensed his legs, and pushed off with a massive force that propelled him forward. He was running full tilt towards the tree in the middle of the field. If he could make it there, he could reposition himself compared to the on comers, and maybe get around a flank without being noticed.
He thought he heard footsteps behind him, but he didn’t turn to see. Just run, you little bastard, he told himself, churning his legs like there was no tomorrow. He was running top speed. He could fill needles of pain in his legs and in his lungs that came from running hard. The fog was hiding the surface of the upcoming ground. Frank couldn’t see what the footing looked like, and occasionally he stumbled on hidden ungulation in the ground. The tree was about twenty feet from him, when his toe caught the edge of a rock, and he was sent sprawling to the ground. He through his hands out, but the ground found him before he could create a good enough cushion with his arms. His rib cage was compressed, forcing all the air from his lungs. Panic like an anaconda ensnared Frank. He couldn’t draw breath in. He had knocked the air out of himself, and in his panic he was trying to force quick little breaths into his lungs. The combined affect of his fear and his lack of good rhythmic breathing was suffocating.
Frank pushed himself up onto his hands. Deep breaths, he told himself, but his mind was on overload. He kept trying to take fingernail breaths from the night air. You have to get yourself right, his mind was screaming, and the fear in the voice was compounded by the wet slapping of feet just behind him. His lungs were on fire, and he felt his head getting light. He was still struggling for oxygen when he saw a black shape cut through the fog. The shock of it made him take one, long, deep inhalation, more out of the terror than the necessity, and he felt the vice on his chest release itself by a turn or two.
Frank looked back to see a shrouded shape breaking the fog. The shape was a person, and they were breathing heavily from the labor of running. The person wore a muddied brown dress, and a shawl over her head. Frank had just enough time to register that the person was glancing over their shoulder at the quartet of oncoming lights, before it was to late.
The shrouded figure, not seeing Frank sprawled on the ground because of the fog, tripped over him as he tried to scurry away. He had gained some of his breath back, but not enough to make the evasive maneuvers necessary to be avoided.
He felt a boot tab him on the back of the legs and snag there. He forced his arms and legs to push him forward. He heard a heavy grunt and the thud that only flesh can make when it hits the earth with force. He looked up to see that the lanterns were only about thirty yards from his location, and he tried to shuffle himself into the cover of the fog, before they would reach him.
He heard a voice yell something to the others. The words sounded heated with excitement and anger. Move he told himself, but he felt a force pulling his leg in the wrong direction. Alarmed he rolled over onto his buttocks. He saw the hand clamped onto his leg about the same time he heard the curses being hissed at him. He looked up and saw the green shine escaping from under the shawl of the person that had tripped over him.
After reading the last of the passage in the Chimera journal, Spinner placed everything back into the floor safe in his bedroom closet. It was close to eleven o’clock now, and he was lying in bed reflecting on what he had finally unlocked, hating himself for not seeing through the murk and catching the little details before.
Anna had a helper, in life and in death. No doubt the person that built the Iron Chair was the same person that dug her grave. Spinner had looked in his journals and some of the journals in the town hall for any documentation of what happened the night before Anna’s grave was found. The only references he found were to the four townsmen that were formed by the mayor to do what they could to rid the town of its plaque. Something went down one night long ago, and Anna was taken from the physical world somewhere outside of the town, but Spinner could not find the fine detail to what had happened. He had a fair idea to where it had all happened. He had visited the sight earlier. The Iron Chair was a monument to the place that Anna died; there was no doubt in Spinner’s mind about that.
He knew that Anna’s helper was Chimera, and worse yet a Dark Agent. Nobody knew for sure what a Dark Agent could do. They could kill that was certain, but what else could they do? Nobody ever lived long enough to find out. Could this Dark Agent have created some form of field around the town, enabling Anna and he to survive here much like Igor Van Zant had created the Castle in the Air? Spinner couldn’t dismiss the possibility, but he couldn’t confirm it either. What else did he know? Not much, but, it was more than he knew this morning. If this Dark Agent did make the Iron Chair and Anna’s gravesite then he had to be a good with his hands. With all the detail metal work in the Iron Chair, Spinner was willing to bet that he was a blacksmith of some kind. The first victim found in the chair was a blacksmith, but was that a connection? Spinner couldn’t know. Tomorrow he would see what he could find in the town records.
For now he had another task to attend to, keeping himself and Frank Jordan alive long enough to figure out more of this mystery. Spinner looked at the clock that he had sitting on the table beside his bed stand. It was an old clock, one that he bought as a young boy, but it still worked. The casing along with the hands were made of brass, and the clock face was made of marble. The time red ten fifty. He was suppose to meet Frank in ten minutes, which would give him plenty of time to fall asleep. Using the methods he had learned to control his heartbeat and to keep him calm, he could put himself into sleep in under five minutes.
As Spinner was closing his eyes, before he had fallen into the dream world, Frank Jordan was calling to him with his mind as he lay sprawled with the wind knocked out of him on the ground. Spinner did not know this of course, or he would have forced himself to sleep earlier. Now though, he closed his eyes, focused his mind on his breathing and the rhythm of his heart. A minute later he was taking slow, deep breaths that filled his lungs with large amounts air and his blood with abundant amounts of oxygen. Two minutes later his heart rate was dropping. First to sixty beats a minute, then to fifty, then to forty. When his heart hit thirty beats per minute-one good hard pump every two seconds-his mind drifted, and he was inside of the dream.
The night air was cold in the dream just as it had been the whole night in the living reality. Above him a half moon shone down with enough light to enable Spinner to walk confidently among the headstones of Armstrong Cemetery. He searched the headstones for motion, hoping that he would spot the boy with each new glance, but he saw nothing as he carved his way farther into the graveyard. He wasn’t overly concerned just yet about not seeing the boy. He told the boy to meet him by the Iron Chair, and that was another hundred yards. The kid was smart enough not to go gallivanting. He was probably up ahead crouched behind a grave marker, watching for Spinner’s arrival.
Spinner was always cautious in the dream. He could almost sense when trouble was brewing. The trust in that ability had failed him before, he remembered and rubbed the scar on his face. He slowed himself down, realized that he was hurrying. He was anxious to find the boy despite what he was telling himself. He was acting overconfident and brass just marching through he grave yard without any display of caution.
Spinner stopped behind a large marker that rested about sixty yards from the Iron Chair. He listened for movement, but only heard the rumble of a truck on a distant road. Peering around the corner of the grave marker that was marked Markus Wright, he surveyed everything around him. The night was perfectly clear, and he could see a long distance off in the cemetery.
That could be good or bad, he thought to himself. He didn’t see any sign of the boy, and he didn’t want to risk calling to him just yet. There could be others around that could here him. As he stood there, he had a new apprehension about this place. Before it was always just Anna, but know he had another formidable force to deal with. Now he knew that there was a Dark Agent running around. He pushed the woven material of his black coat aside, and felt for the thing that he had laid on his chest when he went to bed. The six-inch blade that he had carried with him many nights was strapped securely to the small of his back. The weapon wasn’t much, but it still had some bite to it. It made him feel at least a little bit secure now.
Spinner was just about ready to push past the marker, which he was standing behind and head closer towards the Iron Chair, when he caught a ripple of white going from one headstone to another up twenty yards past the place where the Iron Chair rested. His heart jumped at the sudden flutter of light against dark, and he instantly told himself that it had been too large to be Frank.
Crouching back down, he reached around his back and withdrew the knife from its case with his right hand. He peered through the night air, hoping to see another rustle of white reflecting moonlight as it moved from one place to another. He saw nothing, and was beginning to think that he had imagined it when he caught more movement off to his right at about one hundred yards away.
I could be wrong about this, Spinner told himself, but whatever that is might be trying to circle behind me. The thought sat like a rotten tomato on Spinners tongue. He couldn’t help but worry for Frank. Was he to late? Had something already happened? He called to Frank with his mind, but couldn’t seem to find the boy, or at least he got no response from him. Maybe he isn’t asleep yet, Spinner hoped.
Watching the graves for another glimpse of movement, Spinner shot forward in the direction of the Iron Chair, keeping his head below the tops of the graves. Who the hell was stalking among the headstones? He went forward about ten yards and to the left about ten trying to circle away from the movement that he saw. Checking quickly for any sign of movement about him, he darted towards a large sand stone colored marker, turned quickly and placed his back to it. He caught the tail end of a white cloak disappearing behind a gravestone some sixty yards behind him and to the right.
“Shit,” he spat, and shot to the left and closer to the Iron Chair. His breath was becoming heavy as he forced his muscles to use up massive amounts of adrenaline. Hey had a good idea of the size of his pursue now, and he was sure it wasn’t Frank. He had also seen the white flash for what it was, a cloak. There was one person that he knew that wore a white cloak around, and it chilled him to his marrow to think that the Knocker was on to his trail. Why had he been so careless when he first came into the cemetery? He was worried about Frank, and he called to him with his mind again, louder this time, not afraid to give away his presence. He had already been discovered.
Spinner waited for any type of response from Frank, and he caught a distant crackle of some kind. It was nothing that he could decipher. Was the boy okay, and where the hell was he? Oh God, He thought, don’t let me fail again. Help me save this one.
He heard a twig crack on his right, and the noise was much closer than Spinner would like. Spinner grasped the knife in his hand, holding it in a ready position to strike. He looked to his right and he could see the iron fist that sat on top of the pedestal behind the iron chair, looming above everything else. It was about twenty yards away. He decided that it would be as good as any place to make a stand if needed. He also hoped that if he went that way he might find some clue as to the boy.
You have to go know, a voice in his head yelled at him, and he pushed off the gravestone and headed for the Iron Chair. He took three hard strides, and felt his stomach drop. There laid across the arms of the Iron Chair was a white cloak.
“Your eyes,” he heard Anna say, and her voice was different from before. It held surprise under its hateful tone. Frank felt her nails digging into his leg, and he kicked outward with his free foot. The blow caught Anna in the shoulder, and Frank felt her grasp release from his legs. Anna let out a quick surprised gasp, as Frank’s foot connected with her. She rolled back on her shoulders, then over onto her stomach.
Frank scrambled to his feet, and began to run. He heard Anna coming as he past the tree. He felt her hands reaching for him, and he tripped again. The fog encased him, and all he could see was the dark outline of Anna standing over him. His breathing was still quick, but it was improving with every intake.
I’m in for it, he thought as he looked up through the thick bank of fog. Anna’s form was almost completely obscured by the thick mist. Then Frank saw the glow of the first orange lantern. Before he wasn’t sure if the people yielding the lanterns were friend or foe. It had seemed that Anna was running from them. He hoped that was the case, because he needed help. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but when he heard one of the men curse Anna’s name he tried to get up.
As Frank lifted his head from the fog, he saw Anna turning in time to receive a crunching blow to her face by one of the men with the orange lanterns. Frank couldn’t see much of the man’s face through the fog and behind the glow of the lantern, but he could see the smile parting the man’s lips. He also saw the pain streak across Anna’s eyes, as they flashed a sickly, pale-green glimmer. She was pulled into the middle of the four men by the man that hit her initially. Blood was running from one of Anna’s eyes, and she seemed suddenly and completely unaware of Frank and the preceding moments.
The four men had set their lanterns down on the ground, and the light coming from them made the fog a dark orange shade. One of the men brought out a foot long club, and rained four blows down into Anna’s ribs. There was a snapping sound with the forth blow. Frank realizing that he didn’t want involved in this, and he crabbed backwards until he was twenty yards past the tree. He was out of the circle of light that the lanterns made, and he lifted his head from the fog so that he could see what was happening
“You’re reign of terror ends tonight, you bloody witch,” the man that had clubbed Anna yelled.
“Die,” yelled another man, dressed in dirty overalls and a plaid button down shirt. His hair was slicked back on his head, and his face had about four days worth of growth on it. This man kicked Anna in the face, sending her sprawling onto her back. She let out a hurt cry as she landed, pushing the fog outward like ripples in a pond. The movement of the four men and Anna was dispersing the fog from the small circle.
What the hell is this, Frank thought.
“The mayor, sends his best wishes you filthy whore of the devil,” a thick man with broad shoulders yelled, and stomped Anna in the gut with a large heavy boot. Anna spit blood into the air, and the spittle freckled her face with red droplets. She rolled over onto her hand and knees and spewed thick dark blood from her mouth into a puddle on the ground.
Frank didn’t know whether to cheer the men on or to plead for them to stop.
The original man, picked Anna’s head up by her hair, and bent down into her face. He spit on her and said, “This is for my baby boy, you murdering bitch.” His arm went back, and he smacked a blackjack into Anna’s mouth. The sound was gut wrenching, and Frank was certain that the blow broke the lady’s jaw. All four men started stomping Anna with their feet. She didn’t even have the strength to cover up.
Good God. They’re beating her to death right in front of me, Frank thought. Then he saw what the large man had wrapped around his shoulder and under his arm. It was a heavy linked chain.
It’s just like the night I found her.
Frank remembered his dream from this afternoon. Anna chained to a tree, beaten to a pulp.
You have real talent. That’s what the Dark Agent had said to him.
Does any of this help us figure out what red means? Frank had asked Spinner, referring to the red glimmer of his own eyes.
It’s just like the night I found her.
Spoken in the past tense.
“Holy shit,” Frank whispered as the men began to drag Anna towards the tree. “I’m in the past.”
Spinner felt his blood go cold when he saw that white cloak draped so lovingly across the arms of the Iron Chair. From other vantage points he was able to see the chair as he moved in that direction, and he knew that the cloak had not been there only a moments ago. A feeling of being completely f***ed filled him. He wanted to force himself to wake up, and under normal situations he would have. He needed to find the boy, though. He would rather die than to have Frank Jordan suffer because he failed.
Every instinct told him to run as fast as he could, but he knew where that could get him. It could make him very dead. Besides if Frank was here, possibly passed out among the graves, then the last thing he needed to do was run.
Doing a quick turn to see if he had anybody sneaking up on him, Spinner started at a quick pace towards the Iron Chair. He had his knife held backwards, so that the blade ran down his arm-sharp end facing out. Cold sweat ran down his back, as he went.
Spinner was in the open bit of ground that encircled the Iron Chair. The flawless stone pillar glinted in the moonlight. Spinner scanned the graves, hoping to catch sight of his follower, but more so hoping to find Frank Jordan. He saw neither. He turned, looking back the way he came, when he heard a voice behind him.
“Do you really think that you can win this little game?”
Spinner twirled around, crouching down into a fighting stance, and holding the knife out in front of him. Sitting in the Iron Chair, was the rotten corpse of a man draped in a white cloak. The only problem was that this corpse was talking and smiling at him. Spinner felt an odd crushing feeling when he saw the man. He fought hard against it, but it was coming in waves and curling back at him like undertow.
“Do you really think that that pig sticker will do you any good?” the man asked, staring at Spinner with empty eye sockets, smiling at him with a lipless mouth, and then Spinner recognized the man from a picture he had seen once or twice. He recognized the man as the first victim found in the Iron Chair, the local blacksmith at the time. He was the Dark Agent.
Spinner watched in amazement as a dark spark lit deep inside of the man’s skull. Dark ooze like tar began to creep from all his open wounds. His eyes began to worm with black whipping tendrils that glimmered in the moonlight. Spinner watched as the man became thick, and strong with rippling muscle under the cloak, as his face filled in with smooth texture. It was as if he was pulling energy from the Iron Chair in order to restore himself. As Spinner watched the crushing feeling seemed to double, taking him down to one knee, and making his head spin. He closed his eyes weary to take them off the man in the chair, but it helped clear his head. He pushed himself back to his feet.
He heard the man laughing. It was a hollow, echoing sound that beat into his ears.
“That crushing feeling is the shockwave. My death rattle,” the Dark Agent spat at him in a chainsaw voice.
“Who are you?’” Spinner asked in a raspy wisp, trying to buy some time to clear his head.
“I am Her vengeance.” His voice was strong and sure, almost musical as he said the words as if he had been waiting for the exact moment that he would be able to deliver the line. Her vengeance, the words delivered a dagger to Spinner’s heart. He had to know if it was to late to find Frank. He needed to now if he should get the hell out of here or try and find the boy.
“Where’s the boy?” Spinner spat at him.
The Dark Agent looked at him. “Perhaps I know,” he said as he started to get up, wiping his hands on the worn black leather pants that he wore. “Perhaps I don’t,” he was looking at Spinner with a tilted head. The glimmer in his eyes was dazzling. It seemed to suck the darkness from the air around it like two small black holes. Spinner had a good hunch that the Dark Agent had no idea where Frank was either, and that was good. Perhaps the boy hadn’t fallen asleep, but then Spinner thought of Anna. Was she after the boy, while her friend here was distracting him? He didn’t know, but he had to try and keep the conversation going to buy some time. He had to think. His head was still ringing.
“How?” Spinner asked, unable to complete the rest of the question, but it seemed that the dark man in front of him understood.
“This is my realm,” the Dark Agent said smiling. “This is where we live. This is where all others come to die. It is my creation. My Nirvana.” He spread his hands out displaying everything around them. “This town belongs to us, especially to her.”
The big man laughed. “Full of questions, are we?” He motioned to the Iron Chair. “Why don’t you sit down and, we’ll talk about it.”
In a moment of clarity Frank knew that he was witnessing Anna’s death. He watched as the men slammed he against the tree, and proceeded to wrap the chain around her. With each circle of the tree the big man would place his boot on the trunk and pull on the chain, digging it into Anna’s skin. Her head hung limply. She was barley breathing. It took the men less than five minutes to bind her there. Then they took turns slapping and punching her, until her face was nothing but a crimson mess.
“Rot in hell, bitch,” one of the men said as they turned to leave. There was no doubt that she was going to die within minutes. The beating she had been rendered was crushing and complete. Blood was flowing from every orifice of her face. There were several wide cuts ripped into her skin. Blood dripped off her chin in rapid-fire globs, soaking the chains that bound her, and the ground at her feet.
Frank turned from the grisly sight and watched as the glow of the four lanterns quickly faded into the increasing fog bank. They blinked out like eyes in the darkness. Frank sat there for a minute listening to the awful high-pitched whine Anna made every so many seconds as she tried to draw air into her lungs. Frank stood, and found himself walking towards her.
Remember the dream, he reminded himself. You thought she was dead last time. He stepped gingerly towards her, but jumped back when he heard her take in one ragged long breath that she released in a low wounded howl.
Frank was wondering if she would transform into the White Wolf right in front of his eyes, when a pulse of air slammed into his chest, knocking him backwards onto the ground. The first wave was followed by a second that bashed into Frank sending him flat on his back. He closed his eyes, and felt his ribs to see if anything was broken. He was a bit tender, but he thought he was in one piece. His head was spinning. The sky above him was clear of clouds now, and somehow the moon was no longer a fat, orange pumpkin in the sky, but a yellow half face instead.
He heard Anna’s voice as he lay there, and it was unlike any other time before.
“Where am I?” she said dazed, and Frank lifted his head afraid that she would soon rediscover her bearings and come after him. As his head cleared the fog he saw the familiar form of the Dark Agent, and he kept his head low, hidden amongst the white fluff.
He watched as the strong man reached up with his right hand and caressed his mother’s face.
It’s just like the night I found her.
It took Frank a second, but he realized that the hand caressing Anna’s face was that of flesh and bone, and not made out of a black undulating tar.
“There’s no time,” the dark man said. “Your riding the shockwave of my death rattle, and you must change before your body passes.” His voice was soft and caring.
“Change?” Anna said in a weak voice. The dark man was wiping the blood from her face.
“Quickly,” the man said. The sleeve of the white robe he was wearing fell down his arm, and Frank saw an ebony mark (the Eye in the Sun) on the man’s forearm. “You must come completely into the Chimera world in order to endure and exact your vengeance. You must live here,” he tapped the side of his head with a finger, “In the dream world that I have created for us. You must ride the shockwave inside of me until I can release you once more.”
Anna coughed blood, and Frank was wishing she would die before she could do anything. He knew of course that she wouldn’t, because this was the past he was watching. This was the red power of the Chimera at work. Maybe if he rushed out now, and distracted the dark man long enough for Anna to die then her continued right of terror would never happen. Before Frank could make his move he saw the form of Anna slump.
“Now’s the time, Mother,” the Dark Agent said.
There was a green ripple sent across the fog, and Frank heard the chains clatter to the ground. He couldn’t believe what he had just heard. He watched as the dark man unwrapped the chains from the tree. They were still dripping with blood. He hoisted them into a loop, and slung them over his shoulder. Then with a great white wolf by his side, the fog swallowed him. A second later there came another great pulse of air that slammed into Frank as he tried to get up.
You must ride the shockwave.
Frank bounced to his feet, ready to run in the complete opposite direction from which he just saw the other two travel, when he heard a distant voice ricocheting through his head.
It was Spinner, and he was in trouble.
Spinner knew that he had to decide within the next couple seconds whether to wake himself up, or to stay in order to find Frank. When the dark man got up and afford Spinner a seat in the Iron Chair, he knew that he had to get his ass out of Dodge. Focusing himself inward, he concentrated on a switch in his head. When that switched flipped over, he would wake up. It was all just a simple trick of the mind played on the conscious to rouse himself out of sleep. He had used it a thousand times before.
The dark man was watching him intently, and Spinner noticed that his muscle were starting to tense. Do it now, man, he told himself. The kid isn’t here. Get out while you still can. This was his basic need for survival speaking to him, and he knew that it was telling him the truth. He could see black whips of glimmer inching out of the glove on the Dark Agents right hand. Frank had warned him about that hand. He pushed his thoughts towards that switch, ready to pop it with one good shot and wake himself up, when a slithering voice in his head spoke up. It was different from the other voice, and Spinner hated it. Go on. Save your ass. It’s the only thing that you’ve ever managed to do.
The voice broke Spinner’s concentration, and the image of the switch faded from his mind. The dark man smiled at him with a malevolent grin. He was taking his glove off, and revealing the black glimmer that was his hand.
“I’ve let you roam unchecked for too long,” the Dark Agent said to him. The dark man through the glove down on the ground between he and Spinner like some ancient knight, posting a challenge to duel. The night seemed to grow darker, the air foul in Spinner’s lungs as if the stench from the corpses in the graves around him were leaking into the air. Before him stood a thing of evil that thrived on killing, a creature that had made his home among the dead. Spinner really wasn’t sure what If any chance he had against this man. He wished that he could shut the nagging voice in the back of his head, which picked at his moral fiber, up.
“The boy has to be dealt with, and you’ve placed yourself in the way,” the dark man said.
Spinner was about to focus on the switch in his head once more, when the Dark Agent came for him. The dark man had his arm wrenched back as if he held some ancient sword of power ready to strike down upon Spinner. A low rumble filled Spinner’s ears, like twenty bass drums all pounding away at once. He could feel that crushing pressure squeezing him once more.
Spinner rolled to his right just as the dark man swung at him with that glimmering right hand. The blow grazed the back of his neck, and it felt like he had been set on fire. He shoulder rolled, slashing in a low arc with his knife, and he felt it bite into the skin of his adversary. When he came out of his roll, he was ready to make another quick move.
The Dark Agent was standing there looking down at his leg. The was a three inch gash in his thigh that was bleeding. Spinner half expected to see black blood spilling from the wound, but it was red just like his. The dark man looked up at Spinner with his eyes blazing. The dark glimmer that filled his skull vibrated with a thousand waves, and snaked out away from his head in foot long tendrils. There was a smile on his face.
“What did I tell you about that thing?” he asked with humor in his voice, and Spinner could see the wound healing already. The dark man followed Spinner’s gaze, and they both watched as the wound sealed itself. The only evidence left that Spinner had cut him at all was the laceration in his black leather pants, and the shimmer of the blood that had drained from the wound.
Do it know, he heard a voice scream in his head, and Spinner took the chance to focus inward. He saw the switch, flipped it, and for the briefest of moments saw the inside of his house. The next instant he felt himself flying through the air. He felt an immense shock of pain as his back slammed into the stone pillar behind the Iron Chair. The pain radiated outward to all the corners of his body from the point of impact, and for a second he thought he was paralyzed.
Falling in a ball on the ground, his thoughts turned to his mortality and how soon it might all end. He played with the notion of just lying there and letting it be done. He thought of the boy then, and it forced him to roll over and get up. He expected the Dark Agent to be right on top of him, but the Iron Chair was between them, blocking a direct assault by the big man.
“You don’t get to leave my shockwave until I say so,” the dark man growled at him. He was waggling a dark glimmering finger at Spinner, and Spinner found his eyes drifting from the molten hand on the dark man’s arm to the black iron fist a top the pedestal that almost broke his back.
“Do you know what happens when a sun explodes,” Spinner heard the Dark Agent say, breaking his concentration on the black fist. He looked over at his adversary. “Darkness,” the man hissed, and the words sounded like a whip cracking. Spinner pushed himself up, and looked around for his knife, but it was nowhere to be seen. Now he had nothing to defend himself with.
The dark man held what acted as his right hand up in front of his face, and looked at it with what could only be described as madness. “I am that darkness, and that fist represents my sacrifice to and my grip on this reality that I have created. It is iron cast and unbendable.” The man dropped his hand away from his face. Some of the madness left his eyes, but there was still a hint of it back behind the hunger.
“Now you meddlesome fool, your time ends.”
That’s when Spinner heard the bone-chilling growl behind him, and in his head he screamed.
Frank wasn’t sure what to do. He heard Spinner scream in his head, and he knew that he had to get there and help him. Suddenly he could hear another voice in his head, and in the background a distant growl. He searched desperately for some form of weapon, but found nothing. In a last ditch effort; he started groping in the fog for a branch or anything he could use as a bludgeon. He knew that he had to get moving. He had to find Spinner. He made one last search of the fog-covered ground with his hands, not able to see if there was even anything worth grabbing for. His hand slipped into a tacky puddle of wetness, and he felt suddenly revolted. When he pulled the hand out of the fog, he could see the sheen of the freshly spilt blood covering his entire hand. He felt his stomach lurch, but the sound of Spinners panic entered his head again. He tried to draw a location from it, and the world became a blur.
When Spinner heard the growl behind him, every ounce of fear that he ever felt flooded back into him. He was essentially surrounded, and he had now way out. He didn’t scream aloud. He would die with dignity, but he let the screams radiate in his head.
Spinner turned to see Anna in the form of the White Wolf, prowling among the headstones fifty feet behind him. There were globs of slobber falling from her lacerating teeth. Her black lips were pulled back in a snarl. Her mouth looked like that of a dragons, and in his head it made him scream louder. He thought about trying to flip the switch again, but if it didn’t work this time he was defiantly done for. He had to think, and try to find a hole to slip through. He thought it was helpless, when all the sudden the world around him rippled, and Frank Jordan was crouched in the Iron Chair.
When the world came back into focus, Frank found himself crouched in a strange metal chair, that he knew was the Iron Chair from Tommy‘s description. He looked up to see Spinner wide-eyed and staring at him, then behind Spinner he saw a flash of white fur racing towards them through the headstones.
Frank yelled, and he could see Spinner yelling also, but he couldn’t hear what he was saying. Alarmed filled the glimmering purple eyes of Spinner, and Frank could see him looking past him at something behind Frank, just as Frank had been looking past Spinner at the charging beast among the headstone.
Finally when Spinner’s mouth formed into a round circle, Frank heard him screaming, “Nnnnoooooooo!” It was the instant before he felt the hellfire, wrapping itself around his torso. Frank knew that he had made a major mistake. He had focused on what was in front of him leaving his back wide open, and the Dark Agent had snared him once more.
“You’re mine now, little one,” he heard the man saw in an exited almost sexual voice, and Frank tuned, swinging the open palm of his right hand in a large round arc. The blow caught the Dark Agent in the face, and Frank saw red droplets splatter outward. He knew that he hadn’t cut the man, and wondered just where the blood had come from. Then he remembered the instant before he came shooting to this time and place. He remembered the crimson glove that came out of the fog after he stuck his hand in Anna’s blood.
Spinner saw the dark man wrap his black ooze around the boy’s trunk, and for an instant he forgot about the charging, snapping jaws that were hurtling towards him. He heard himself screaming, and he turned, ready to throw himself against the Dark Agent in hopes of freeing Frank. Then Frank hit the man with an open palm, and suddenly the dark man was the one screaming. Spinner had enough time to see the burning flesh on the man’s face, before he was hit with the force of a hurtling boulder.
Frank felt the pressure on his chest release, and saw the his attacker take two steps back and reach for his face. The skin was burning where Frank had slapped him with his bloody hand, and the man seemed to be in genuine pain. Little black whispers of smoke streamed upward from the mark, and Frank could smell the burning flesh, like a thousand dead bodies left to rot.
When he heard someone bark with surprise, he turned to see the White Wolf and Spinner tumbling through the grass. One second the two were together, and the next Spinner had managed to use the wolf’s own weight and momentum to free himself of the tangle. The White Wolf flew awkwardly through the air, and landed harshly ten feet away. Frank knew that the two of them had to get the hell out of there, and he leaped over the back of the chair, and headed for Spinner.
As he landed, he heard footsteps behind him, and realized that the Dark Agent must have recovered from what ever happened to him when Frank slapped him with that blood. The White Wolf was getting up, shaking the fall from her head. Frank was going to do the only thing that he could think of and try to get away. He could see that Spinner had been hurt. There was a lot of blood around his shoulder area, and Frank dove for him. When he felt his hands touching the older man, he focused on the five towers of the Castle in the Air, and immediately felt himself raising upwards with Spinner in his grasp.
The air rushed by them, and Frank could see the first outline of the Castle in the Air. If they could just make it to the Castle then they would be okay. With every second Frank and Spinner gained speed, rushing up higher and higher. The first thoughts of having escaped entered Frank’s mind, but then he and Spinner were hurled backward, by what felt like the blast of an atomic bomb. Frank just barley managed to hang onto Spinner as they went plummeting back to earth.
Frank forgot about escaping and just tried to concentrate on slowing their fall, when the dark man came hurtling at them from below. His white cloak snapped on his shoulders and then was pulled away by the upward force as he flew ever closer to Frank and Spinner. The mass of muscle that made up his chest and shoulders was ripe with thick bulging veins, and his dark hand was glimmering like a super nova before it explodes. His mouth was bent in a fearsome snarl, and from it escaped the most awful ear splitting sound that Frank had ever heard. There was a burn mark on his cheek from where Frank had slapped him. It was ugly and blistered. But the worst part about him was his eyes. They were wide and full of death. Their glimmer streaked around the dark man’s head like fire.
We’re dead, Frank thought as the Dark Agent came within feet of them, but right then Frank’s mind cleared of everything but one solitary picture. It was of a red handled switch, like the ones you see on old furnaces. He didn’t understand at first, but then he heard Spinner’s depleted voice.
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More Blogs by Wade Hunter
Dark Glimmers Chapters 9&10 - Saturday, October 28, 2006
Dark Glimmers Chapters 7&8 - Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Dark Glimmers Chapters 5&6 - Friday, October 20, 2006
Dark Glimmers Chapters 3 and 4 - Saturday, October 14, 2006
Dark Glimmers-Chapters 1&2 - Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Prelude-Dark Glimmers - Thursday, September 28, 2006
Sometimes small towns are small for a reason - Monday, September 25, 2006