Shadows *Chapter 1* (Working On Title)
Posted November 3rd, 2013 by Arthurboulos
ilvermorny (sam) |
in the false nirvana
I was sitting in my room thinking about school. The day was ending and I couldn’t believe how much had changed since my eyes first opened this morning. This morning everything was going great. When I woke up I knew I needed to make my snack and pack my folder and if I did these things it would be a good day. It was, after all, Friday the day most all can agree is by far the best day of the week. Friday is a day filled with promise: promise of a weekend filled with fun, or movies or at least a good book. So when I woke up I packed my snack, some crackers with honey (which always get crushed under my books so I really need to figure out a new snack, or at least a container for the crackers) and I put my computer in my backpack. Off to school then home for the weekend. It was going to be a good day, or so I thought this morning when I lifted my head from my soft pillow covered in pillowcase and looked over at my sleeping brother. I didn’t know what was coming.
Mom called the three of us to her car: “Hugh, Phillip (that’s me), Sybil, come down to the car, we are late, it’s time to move!” I walked out to the car with my little brother Hugh (he’s 9, eighteen months younger than me and he has great hair that always flops to one side) and my little six year old sister Sybil (who talks ALL the time). We stopped together and looked at the car. Mom was sitting there sunglasses on bopping along to the beat of Eminem. “You know Phillip,” said my brother Hugh to no one in particular, “she really shouldn’t play that music so loudly, I am worried about her hearing.” I disagree with Hugh on this one.. mom loves her music and I think that the less appropriate it is for the three of us the more it seems to wake her up. It seems second only to coffee in terms of the morning pleasures she has. That and giving us our morning kisses.
Mom dropped us off at school right on time; she hates to be late. She dropped us each at our classroom waved and kissed us good-bye. Mom loves to kiss us so we still let her even though Hugh is in third grade and I am in fifth grade. Sometimes mom seems far away even when she is kissing us good bye or making us breakfast or reading to us. She has a sad look on her face but promises she is happy; I think grown ups have a different kind of sadness than kids. It’s like they have had to see so many sad things that they have lots of suitcases to keep the different sad things in and mom tries to only keep the happy thoughts in the little purse she carries with her during the day and leave the scary grown up stuff in the luggage closet at the house. Sometimes when I see her face I think that maybe some of the bad has slithered out of the luggage closet and onto her shoulder but she doesn’t know it; it just sits there, an invisible snake on her shoulder whispering sad stories from our collective past into her ear. Perhaps that is why sometimes when she is tucking me in she turns quickly as if someone else is in the room only to quickly return her gaze to me to finish my bedtime kiss.
Once mom left it was time to settle in. I have trouble with “executive functioning,” and “working memory,” what this means is that I am “a very smart kid” who has a LOT of trouble remembering to bring my homework home, or to bring anything home for that matter. I sometimes feel like I spend half of my day retracing my steps trying to find my piano music, my jacket, my gloves, my text books, you name it. It’ s supremely frustrating especially because the reason I can’t remember where I put anything is that I am very busy having “amazingly genius creative thoughts” while the teachers are shuffling from one class to another. “Why would Poseidon leave only one son to defend his honor, doesn’t he realize what a burden this will be?” “Why does God not let everyone in the world have a safe home and warm bed, and since I have these things am I meant to ensure the safety of others.. and if so how.. again I am only ten…”
It is always in the middle of one of these amazing thoughts that someone interrupts me to inform me that: “you don’t have your book, you left your rubric in the desk not your binder, you are late for chemistry, you forgot your study sheet.” With my thoughts and their voices my head can get really noisy sometimes. So I was looking forward to my one free period of the day. My teacher Alice keeps our room very quiet and sitting in there is like heaven for me, a place of quiet solitude where I can be free to read or dream as I choose. We finished our snacks and I walked in with my friend Charity to start our silent study period. I like Charity a lot; we have been friends since second grade when I came to the school. Sometimes I feel like she may have an “active imagination” as the grown up s like to call it too. She tells great stories and is hilarious, she tells her stories using her whole body and her face! She takes you along in her story so by the end you have been with her to SPain or England or Italy. Charity’s dark features are almost universal in the sense that one could never really pinpoint any specific cultural heritage. You would look at Charity and some people would say she looks Italian, others English, still others Greek or Spanish. It’s an amazing quality and sometimes I imagine her traveling from country to country becoming immediately immersed in any culture because of her universal appearance but also her cross cultural charms. That’s part of what I love about Charity.
So I walked into class beside her but noticed she seemed a bit sad. I wanted to ask what was wrong but our teacher, Alice, had the face that said without words “Quiet, study…...good.” No one ever really dared challenge the silent command and silent study was a time of solace for me. Perhaps like the Buddhist monks my mind requires a certain amount of emotional silence during the day. I was looking forward to reading about British History and letting my thoughts wander on about their brutish treacherous ways when my silence was interrupted. NOT HERE I thought. I looked around the room hoping to see a child out of their seat and walking around, hoping to see the teacher up from her desk and approaching mine but I looked up and just as I dreaded, everyone in the room was still. Whthump, whthump, whhhhttthhhuummmmp, wwwwhhhhttttuuummmpp, they were here. I had prayed that the footsteps I heard in bed at night were those of my parents for so long, but I had recently realized the footsteps could not be Mom’s. I rationalized or tried to rationalize that perhaps they were part of a dream, these vaguely menacing footsteps I heard each and every night of my life for the last three years. BUT now they were here and while I wasn’t sure what it meant… I knew it wasn’t good.
The footsteps became louder, and more realistic. The more I heard them, the more my heart pumped, and my sweat crawled out of my skin. My pencil slipped out of my hand, and my head slammed onto the table. The noise made an echo across the room. Charity’s eyes darted to me. Then she stared back at her Math Study Guide, not daring to anger Alice.
The footsteps started to walk farther away, around around where Hugh’s classroom would be. Then they walked past Sybil and out of the school. What felt like five minutes had been all of Math Class.
“Class is dismissed,” Alice said. “Get your things and pack up.” Charity walked out to the hall along with Theo and Trix following them. Trix’s locker was on the right of mine and Theo’s was on the left of mine. Trix was short and had caramel-colored hair that was always braided back, perfectly, with fair skin. while Theo had blazing red hair that slicked down to his forehead. Trix’s locker looked like a disco club complete with mirrors, purple wallpaper and a crystal chandelier
Trix dropped her textbook and all of her notes came flying out. I bent down to help her. I picked up one of her notes and started to place it in her book when Trix’s neat cursive handwriting changed into a sloppy one. Curiosity filled my mind and I couldn’t help but to read it.
I know you are reading this.
The text changed. I blinked to ensure that what I just saw was real. But the text was moving as if an invisible pencil was writing and erasing.
I come to warn you. Your family is in danger. You must protect them, or else their safety is not guaranteed. You may not know who I am but you will, one day. All in good time, Phillip. All in good time.
Then the text on the lined paper turned back to Trix’s cursive history notes. She took it out of my hand, and placed it in her violet binder. “Thanks,” She said, sounding a little creeped out. She walked to carpool. I took my bag out of my locker and headed in that direction as well.
Where is Charity? I thought. Then I walked into carpool where I saw Hugh and Sybil. Sybil was talking non-stop where Hugh’s eyes were closed and his nostrils flared as if to say: “HELP! SYBIL IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!”. Sybil was going on about how there was some mean girl named Casey. Last year there was kindergarden drama between her and Ulyssa. Sybil is a sweet girl but sometimes I think she lives her life as if she is a character in a bad episode of a cheesy Disney TV show: drama, drama and a little more drama.
I was terrified about the note I had seen, or at least thought I had seen. I have worried that the footsteps might mean something but now there seemed little doubt that their presence was a sign of something ominous to come.
What had I done to be punished by these things that stalked me? Had I done something wrong? What had my family done? I would do anything to protect them.
Sybil sat in carpool going on about the kids in her class and the drama. I couldn’t think about Sybil right now. All I could think about were the footsteps I had heard that day in school.
The footsteps in my head aren’t what scare me the most. The terrifying part about hearing such an unearthly sound in my head is the thoughts that accompany the footsteps. The thoughts are like a train of dread one horrible vision after another. It’s like being in a nightmare except that I am wide awake and fully conscious of these paralyzing horrors of my own mortality.
The first time I remember hearing the footsteps was six years ago when I was four. One night I was lying in my bed in our old house. I slept in a big day bed so it was like having three walls around me and a long opening along one side. I loved that bed; before the night in question it always made me feel sheltered and safe. I had a soft blue comforter and lots of fluffy pillows. One night when I was on a family vacation with my cousins in Florida I had a nightmare about dragons the soundtrack to the dream was the thumping beat of giant footsteps and in the dream I saw a man cloaked in black and surrounded by dragons. He was sinister and wore a hood and sunglasses; upon his command the dragons attacked my brother and sister and my cousins.
Ever since that night, ever since that horrid dream I have heard the footsteps in my head. At night when I am lying in bed I hear noises; at first I did not know what they were but as days passed the sounds grew clearer and closer. I knew that the sounds weren’t my parents footsteps. My parents footsteps have a certain sound a certain pattern and the footsteps I hear don’t belong to my parents. These footsteps are heavy and intermittent but completely unpredictable like the thunder that booms in a summer storm. Sometimes I think I am going crazy and sometimes I think it will go away. But now I have seen the note in Trix’s bag, the disappearing note, and I know that I have been right all along. The footsteps belong to whoever is coming for me.
Through the windows of the gymnasium where I sat with Sybil and Hugh in carpool line the sky turned from blue to grey in an instant. It was late fall and every leaf seemed to blow off of the trees at the exact same moment as a menacing wind tore through the air. “Zane,” I heard someone shout with a nasal twang from the front of the room…. “Zane: HYUGH, SYBIL and PHIIIIIILIP.” Mrs. Peabody always sounded like she was shouting and blowing her nose at the same time. I stood up and almost fell straight back down, I heard the footsteps, I FELT them. I looked around to see if anyone else seemed to sense what was happening. No one seemed to notice anything. I could feel the vibrations in my legs and I began to tremble as I walked towards the door with Sybil and Hugh. Pushing my terror aside, I wrapped my arms around my brother and sister to protect them from the invisible danger.
I was scared that the owners of the footsteps were here to kill me and my family, for something wrong that we did. To get revenge on us for something. I wish I knew why. I wish I had a team to help me. I wished so many things.
“What are you doing?” Hugh asked. I realized that I still had my arm around Hugh. I let go of Hugh and then realized his embarrassment was less important that his life. I wrapped my arm around him once more and he scowled, looking away from me.
We walked out to where our mother greeted us with her car. Unfortunately, every single day we had to stop the car and run through the long list of things that I had to bring home: and a large majority of it is usually forgotten at school. Miraculously, I had only forgotten one thing today, but I cast this thought aside to refocus on the challenges that seemed to be laying ahead.
I sat in the middle row of the car, Hugh was next to me in the other bucket seat, and Sybil was in the back. She was still sitting in a booster and could not wait to get out. Hugh and I usually listened to the radio and sang along on the way home but today I wanted to clear my head so I rolled my window down. Mom asked no one in particular “How was your day?” Sybil quickly chimed in “Well, mommy, Ulyssa was mean to me again. She pretended I was a radio and kept turning me off.” I thought that I wouldn’t mind being able to turn her off myself but knew I could turn any knob I wanted and she would never stop talking. My sister is undeniably cute and very sweet when she wants to be. I think she has trouble keeping up with me and Hugh and that this may be why she talks so much.. so that she will finally be heard over the din of two brothers and the constant barking and meowing of the family dogs and cats (two dogs, three cats).
Mom answered Sybil “Honey, when someone is unkind it’s a good idea to take a break from them, you know, maybe move your feet to a different part of the classroom.. right love?” “But Mommy” Sybil continued. “So Phillip,” mom interrupted “what’s new in fifth grade? any big news? lots of homework? any funny stories?” What could I possibly tell her? ‘Well mom, I am hearing big huge footsteps throughout the day and cannot determine if they are in my head or real, I may also be hallucinating notes written to me on other kids papers.. so mom, happy to have a crazy kid?’ “No mom, nothing new,” I lied.
Usually, she would protest, but today she just moved on to Hugh. “You, Hugh?” She asked.
“Same old, same old,” He responded, as always. Mom looked a little hurt that her kids wouldn’t tell her anything about their day, except for Sybil who always talked whether she was happy, sad or basically whatever mood she was in. It was very unusual for her mouth not to be constantly moving: word after word. Sybil had a little body, and a big mouth.
Once we got to our house: our strange blue house, we went inside and did our homework. Every second that passed, the more distressed I became. If what happened today was scarier than what usually happened at night I was in for a petrifying night.
As hours passed, I started to fret. I heard the clock tick, loudly.
Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Little beads of sweat raced down my forehead and I was scared. I almost blurted it out, it is hard keeping everything tucked inside.
Before I knew it, it was seven o’clock. Time for bed. Mom kissed me goodnight and it was lights out. I enjoyed the possible last sight of my mom: Darcey Zane, and my eyelids shut.
In a dream, I saw four fading figures and a dog in the oppressive grey mist. “They are in grave danger,” he spoke in a deep and loud in his voice. He was obviously the type of person who was loud: walking, talking doing anything, really loudly.
I wanted to speak, I felt awake but heavy, but whenever I tried to open my mouth, I couldn’t breathe. So I kept my mouth closed. I rolled about in bed trying hard to rouse myself, halfway between consciousness and unconsciousness. All I could hear was the muffled deep voice of the man disappearing into the darkness of my subconscious. “PHILLIP!” What the…. I opened my eyes and my mother and Hugh were standing at the side of my bed yelling at me.
In my new house Hugh and I share a room. We each have a bunk bed and they sit across from one another so at night Hugh and I talk and whisper long after bed-time. I don’t know if mom and dad thought this through when they bought the older house with character and decided Hugh and I would “be fine sharing a room,” it would in fact be “charming.” I’m not sure how charming mom finds it now as it’s constantly overrun with the junk, clothes and dirty sneakers of two quickly growing boys.
I scratched my head. What had I done wrong this time? “What?” I asked in a tired voice. “What did Sybil tell you I did this time?” Hugh rolled his eyes and sat down next to me. He put the palm of his hand on my forehead. He was very mature for a nine-year old.
“He doesn’t have a fever of any sort,” Hugh told Mom and climbed the blood-red ladder back to his bunk. It was strange, because he was the younger one and he still slept on the top of the bunk bed. I looked at Mom.
“What time is it?” I asked her. She looked at her phone. “One in the morning,” She said.
“Why did you wake me up?” I asked rubbing my eyes.
She looked down, with a concerned look on her face. “You were screaming in your sleep,” She said. My eyes widened and my heart started beating fast. “Well,” She said again. “The Windermore Trip is in two days,” she said, “are you worried about your trip.. is that why you are having bad dreams honey?”
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