The story so far:
I couldn't stop thinking about the mysterious man's last remark. It clung to me like a rogue piece of lint after taking the clothes out of the dryer or a shirt after having been soaked from the rain. I couldn't shake his scent, rustic with a hint of charcoal.
I stopped washing my clothes.
I felt his words on my tongue, dark and malicious. No matter what I drank or ate I couldn't wash his taste from my mouth. It felt like concrete had congealed on my tongue and that there wasn't anything, short of cutting my tongue off, to shake the taste.
I stopped eating and drinking.
My world slowly began to darken and close in around me. I felt as if my essence, my soul, was slowly being ripped from my body. I was the hunted animal naked in the middle of a field, open to the attack by my predator. I sunk deeper and deeper into depression.
My wife. My kids.
I had taken up the post of coach potato as I drifted away into nothingness. Jenn's picture sat next to me on the end table, staring at me, burning holes in my eyes. I couldn't look at her anymore. The pain was too much. I shifted my eyes until they rested on another picture. The picture of my two little girls, Arissa and Arabella. I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. My throat constricted and I involuntarily tried to take a breath. It caught deep in my throat and I began to gag, to choke. The wrenching of my stomach brought me to my hands and knees on the floor.
It was my fault. I had failed them.
They died because of me.
The memory was too much. I had locked it away in the deep recesses of my mind but they begrudgingly came to the surface. I was drowning in the memory. It was a weight that was crushing my chest. I couldn't hold myself up any longer. I crashed to the floor and the world went dark. Life had finally kicked me out from the world and I was now floating in the world of In-between.
“Christian!” Jenn called up the stairs. She had Arissa in one arm and Arabella was trying to get into the other. Her blond hair was put up into a messy ponytail and her expression read one of distress,” Christian!”
“Coming!” Came a call from upstairs.
Jenn huffed and turned to walk into the kitchen. Arabella was following after her trying to sit on her feet and Arissa had a lock of Jenn's hair in her fist. Who said girls couldn't be terrors?
I entered the kitchen to see my beautiful twins wreaking havoc on their mother. I got down on all fours and began to act like a puppy,” Puppy express waiting for its passengers!” I called. The girls squealed. Arabella ran towards me climbing on my back first and Arissa, after having wiggled her way out of Jenn's arm, came flying towards me as well. With everyone loaded up I took off into the living room.
“Christian! We still need to talk about going to my mother's!” Jenn called exasperated.
“Just take the girls, I have a presentation tomorrow,” I called back.
“You have to come. My mother isn't going to buy the 'work' excuse anymore. You might not get along but remember that you will always be family,” Jenn scolded to Christian.
I laughed from the next room,” Your mom is one nut away from tumbling over. She still believes that she is Audrey Hepburn's understudy and she waits by the phone for the call that she is playing the part tonight.”
“Oh Christian!” Jenn huffed. She couldn't argue since everything I said was basically true. She finished packing up the lunches and stuck them in a blue bag. Slinging it over her shoulder she walked towards the front door where the suitcases were,” Well the car is still in the shop and I can't drive the truck so your going to have to come anyways. I took the liberty of packing up your stuff.”
I gawked at her as I realized my suitcase was, in fact, with the rest at the door,” Jenn I'm not going. The truck will be fine, your going to be fine, and the girls are going to be fine. What else is there to worry about?” I asked.
This was a battle Jenn knew she was going to lose. She rounded up the kids and set them in the car. I helped with the bags and waved as Jenn backed out of the driveway. I had no idea my life would change forever.
Screams of agony, of dying filled my ears. I tried to block out the sound but I was in my head now, there was no covering my ears. I could hear the sounds of windshields breaking, the glass shattering to the road. The sound of cars smashing into each other and I again heard the screams. How could I possible hear this? I was at home. Watching some lousy game while my wife...my kids....were dying. I just wanted to get away but I couldn't. The screams were taunting me, slowly filing away at my mind.
A chuckle. This new sound startled me. Who was it? Why was he torturing me?
“Be strong!,” A voice called louder this time, and was it a woman? It was different but familiar at the same time. Jenn? Was that her voice? Is she calling to me?” Don't play into his hand...be...strong,” Her voice faded. I wanted to reach out. To grab her back. She can't leave me again! Its not fair!
My eyes were closed but I knew as soon as I returned to the world. The darkness where I had been was so dark, too dark. When my eyes blinked open I could still see the outlines of the table leg and the bulky outline of the couch. I was on the floor. My palms stretched out and I began to raise myself to my feet. Even though I couldn't see anything I made my way to the door. I opened it and I stared into the night.
He had been here. I could feel it, could see his presence on the pavement. I closed the door and leaned on it.
I had heard her. My Jenn, my precious Jenn. Her smile filled my memory and I began to cry. Not a sobbing cry but a few tears left my eyes. I knew what I had to do. Halloween was just around the corner. First things first, I had to see who he had gotten to in the town. I didn't know his motive but I knew one thing, he takes people's souls...
... and he almost took mine...