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Heart Of Darkness

By Julie Hull

Romance / Drama

Prologue

A traumatic event... That’s what my mother called it. I, on the other hand, call it a living nightmare, that still haunts me. I can still see that cliff as clear as day; the ground ready to swallow us whole.

My dreams and even my conscious ones continue to remind me of that day. Each one changes but they all come down to the same thing; where we were either caught, dragged or even thrown over the cliff. Although, that wasn’t quite what occurred – I remember it as clear as day as if it only just happened yesterday – When it was well over 7 years ago...

It started on a crystal, clear day; there was hardly a cloud in the sky and the air was almost non-existent which made your throat so dry that you had to keep clearing it. The sun beamed so brightly, it looked like a shiny diamond, tempting you to get closer. I was out enjoying the fresh air. Even though the air was so dry, it was still nice to be outside smelling all the wonderful scents around me.

My family had owned their own farm which happened to be right next to the Kirks’ farm. (Although, the family name had changed since Winona Kirk remarried) Once upon a time, their fields used to be well kept until Winona started spending all of her time at Starfleet – Jim, her youngest son didn’t really talk about her. He certainly didn’t like his stepfather; Frank at all and in Jim’s own words - ′My father will walk through the door and boot that man out.′ (Although, Jim had never met his real father; he died a hero’s death on the day of his birth) ′My mother would come home and Sam and I would have a real family.′ I truly didn’t like Frank either; he was always angry and mean, even to me.

That very morning, I was sitting in one part of their fields that was well overgrown, waiting for Jim to finally crawl out of bed; he truly wasn’t an early riser, unlike I. The weeds had grown almost as tall as I, and I certainly wasn’t small for someone who had just turned 10, more like the opposite, in fact. (I had been almost as tall as my mother’s height of 5 ft 7) so, when I was sitting down, it provided a good hideaway; no-one could tell I was there. I didn’t want to come face to face with his stepfather, so that had been the perfect place to wait. It was like having my own secret place until Jim turned up, that was.

I remembered Jim being up to his usual tricks, trying to scare me... One minute, I was staring up at the blue sky, lost in my own world and the next moment everything went dark. I was clearly confused to start with until I heard his voice...

“Guess who?”

“Mmm, let me think about that one,” I started to tease him. “Is it, Sam?”

“Ha, Ha, very amusing!” Jim instantly removed his hands.

I had turned my head to look up towards him but all I saw was a dark shadow glowing in a bright light. I knew it was just the sunlight playing tricks on my eyesight. I instantly turned my head back around when the light alone had started hurting my eyes. “So, what tricks have you got up your sleeve today?” I asked him. Jim was always up to something; he loved showing off. Sometimes, he would just play silly tricks on people; Anything from, knocking on their doors and running away, to messing things up that they put all their hard work too. Unfortunately, that wasn’t all. There were other times when he just went a bit too far. For example; Causing harm to others – Not intentionally, but Jim just didn’t think of the outcome. Although, he was very smart for his own age. He was just very rash when it came to... What he called, having fun. And this so happened to have been one of those days.

“Oh come on...” Jim started to say as he had sat down across from me. “You love it too, I know you do.”

I looked up to see that usual smirk on his face which always meant ‘I know you too well’. Jim was right - He was quite amusing, sometimes. But I suppose that was just the kid in me. I couldn’t hide a grin from appearing on my own face. “Why, oh why, do you have to be right all the time?”

“Someone has to be when you keep denying everything.”

“Not everything!” I tried to defend myself.

“Almost everything! You just can’t admit to having fun.”

I had stared back at Jim before saying, “I know I’m more sensible than you but I can still have fun.”

As soon as I had said that, Jim instantly jumped to his feet and stared right back at me – I had known from that look alone that he was planning something, something I wouldn’t like.

“Prove it,” Jim challenged.

I took that moment to stand on my own two feet and stared back, letting him know I wasn’t happy about this but I’d do it just to prove I was right. Jim always had a way of bringing out my competitive side; anything to prove him wrong, for once.

At the time, I didn’t realise how fatal that would be; I should have known not to challenge Jim. There had been plenty of other times when I had regretted what I had done so why did I continue to let Jim get to me? “Bring it on.” I had said instead. He was a little shorter, although, he was a few years older than me. so every time we were face to face like that, Jim had to lift his chin a little which always annoyed him. Eventually, he got over it as he was never far behind me.

“Oh, I so love a challenge.” Jim instantly started jumping about as if that was the best thing that could happen to him and in a way it was; there wasn’t anything more interesting than a challenge.

“When you have quite finished dancing about...” I started to say until I could make out a distant voice that couldn’t be that far away if I could hear them in that wide open, stretch of field. I had taken a quick look around but when I couldn’t see anybody, I instantly turned back around to find Jim staring back at his own house – Knowing, he could hear the same voice. I had decided to continue what I was saying, “Shall, we get on with this challenge of yours.”

As soon as I had finished speaking Jim turned back to face me with a confusing look on his face – In that moment, I could make out more clearly what this other voice was saying...

"Get the hell out of this house...”

Instantly, I knew who was speaking or more precisely who was yelling; It was Frank!

"When your mum comes home..." He continued to yell.

If Jim was standing right there in front of me, there was only one other he could be angry with... In that moment, Jim took off running, through the overgrown weeds, towards the house, seeming to know instantly where they were as he rounded the house and disappeared around the other side.

“Where are you going?” I heard Jim yell which instantly got my feet moving; he had sounded very hurt and upset. I had truly wanted to know what was going on.

As I approached the house, I could still hear the three of them arguing... Suddenly, I realised the conversation had changed when Frank converted his anger on Jim.

“What do you want Jimmy?” he asked in a sarcastic way.

Everything instantly went quiet and I couldn’t hear anything anymore. I had lingered at the corner the house, slowly peeking my head around; I didn’t want Frank to convert that anger at me, for spying – which I’m sure that would be what he would call it. I was just concerned; I knew how difficult Frank could be when their Mother wasn’t around. The three of them stood a few yards away from the house. Frank was glaring straight down at Jim with a mean and annoying look on his face. I was waiting for what I knew would come from that look alone. It certainly wouldn’t be the first bruise to appear on Jim’s face, from Frank’s hand alone.

“I just don’t want my brother to go.” Jim finally answered.

He had sounded so sad, sadder than I had ever heard him before; Jim sounded as if he was going to cry, any moment.

I continued to stand there feeling concerned for Jim, and his older brother, of course. It truly frightened me to see him that way, I had never heard him so depressed like this before.

"And, what are you staring at?" Frank’s voice continued to boom.

I hadn’t realised that I had actually stepped around the corner and Frank was now making his way towards me as he made his way back into the house. I knew the best way to deal with him was not to say anything at all.

"Get the hell off my property," He continued to yell as he stormed past me and back into the house, slamming the door, behind him.

I had stood there like a statue, staring at the closed door, afraid he would come back out and chase me away, himself. (Which wouldn’t be the first time) When that door continued to stay shut, I had quickly moved away.

Jim had started following Sam down the driveway. I couldn’t quite believe that he was really leaving. I truly wanted to say something, to prevent this but what could I have said to convince him? It had sounded like Jim was doing just that, so I had decided to hang back a little and give them their own privacy.

I don’t remember much about their conversation, just that no matter what Jim said, Sam’s mind had already been made up. The only thing I do remember was what Sam had said and done before storming off, leaving a stunned Jim in his wake.

“At least you have Laura, who stands by you no matter, what you do.” Then Sam had suddenly brought his mouth closer to Jim’s ear...

To this day, I never did find out what he had whispered, only that Sam was staring my way, the whole time. Jim slowly turned to face me as well with an envy look on his face. At the time, I never understood why he did. Now, I guess it was because of the main reason behind all this.

The next thing I remember about that day was that Jim took his Step-father’s car which I knew had original belonged to his late father. I knew it had been some sort of revenge against Frank but, Jim had made it sound like he had planned it for my challenge. I would never have gotten into the car in first place if I had known the outcome.

I had every intention to run straight home to confront my parents; my mum and Jim’s mum had been good friends or so they used to be until Winona kept disappearing off into Space, every chance she got. My parents also worked for Starfleet so I was sure they could get a message to her.

That was until I saw how unhappy Jim was. I knew I had to try and calm him down; who knew what sort of things he could do when in that sort of mood. Jim had been washing the car from the inside out so I had jumped right into the seat beside him and if only Jim hadn’t found the car keys, hidden away in the car, itself, maybe the last 7 years of my life wouldn’t have been so lonely and depressing.

We were suddenly speeding down the highway at quite a fast pace – Luckily enough the highway was quite deserted, except for Sam, who we passed along the way. I remembered yelling at Jim that this had gone far enough but, his only answer was that I was failing my challenge. The next thing I remember hearing was a siren – I had been too scared to turn around at the time, afraid we would crash if I took my eyes off the road. Even though, it had been Jim controlling the car.

The siren, itself seemed to boost Jim’s confidence even more and it was then that I remembered facing certain death. Jim drove us straight towards the cliff. I thought he had truly gone insane and was going to drive us right over the edge – That was until Jim suddenly leant over, opened my door and before I knew what was happening next I was rolling across the desert floor which was the last thing I remembered as it caused me to black out, altogether.

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