The shrill scream echoed through the dark house, shattering the quiet stillness of the midnight. My body was already moving before my eyes were even open, reacting to the primal cry while my mind still slumbered. I was out of my bed and down the hallway to Danny’s room before my brain began to register my surroundings: the chill in the air, the hard wood beneath my feet, the moonlight shining through the windows lighting up the single bed where my son sat upright with terror-filled eyes.
Susan pushed past me into the room and went to our son. Her house dress billowed out behind her as though she were a guardian angel swooping in to protect him from the onslaught of unimaginable terrors. Her arms wrapped around his thin shoulders and she kissed his forehead, rocking back and forth. She began to sing quietly as she did, her voice filling the room with the lullaby she used to sing him when he was younger.
Danny’s eyes remained wide and unfocused, his pale skin blending with his mother’s dress in the moonlight. He was not dark like me, something Susan had commented on when he was born. She had hoped that he would be as dark and broad as his father. Instead, he was a spitting image of his mother.
That suited me just fine. I left that life long ago. Better that he look like the other boys in school than those of his paternal ancestors. Eventually, he would ask questions. For now, though, he was content with his parents just being his parents.
Danny opened his mouth slightly and whispered. Susan leaned closer, pressing her ear against his lips.
“What is it, Danny?” she whispered back. “What did you say?”
Danny spoke again, louder this time. His eyes lost their unfocused look and turned to stare into mine. The normally deep green orbs shone silver in the moonlight.
A shiver went up my spine and my bowels loosened so quickly I clamped down to keep from shitting myself. It was Danny’s voice.
It was the old man’s words.
“Sam?” Susan said, alarmed. “Sam, are you alright?”
“Yeah,” I said. My mouth was suddenly dry. “I need a drink.”
I turned away from them and started down the hall, Susan’s voice echoing quietly as she asked Danny if he wanted to sleep with us. I walked to the kitchen and moved to the cabinet over the sink. The moonlight streaming in through the window was so bright I did not need to turn on the light. I took a glass from the cabinet and turned the tap on. After letting the water run a moment to clear out the calcium deposits, I filled the glass. I did not even bother turning the water off as I gulped down the first glass. I filled it a second time three-quarters of the way and turned off the tap. From the cabinet over the stove I took a bottle of Seagram’s and filled the glass the rest of the way. I didn’t even pause before I knocked the mix back.
The watered-down liquor slid down my throat and pooled in my stomach where it began to grow warm. I took a few deep breaths and blew them out slowly, trying to lessen the tension in my shoulders and neck. I took a leaf from the mint plant in the window above the sink and chewed on it as I walked from the kitchen. The hall was dark, but a light from the master bedroom cast a pathway of light leading me to the room. Susan had turned on the lamp on her bedside table and was lying next to Danny. The boy was sleeping peacefully now, his head cradled on his hand. You wouldn’t have known he had been screaming only minutes earlier. Susan saw me come in and looked up.
“What is it, Sam?” she asked.
“What is what?”
“What’s got you so scared?”
I waved a hand at her dismissively as I walked around to my side of the bed. She couldn’t possibly have known what Danny had said. She didn’t speak Cree. For all she knew, he had just spoken gibberish.
“Nothing’s got me scared,” I said.
“Bullshit,” she countered. “You’re chewing mint so I don’t smell the liquor on your breath. I’m not an idiot, Sam.”
“I never said you were an idiot,” I said, my jaw clenching. “I just took a drink to help me sleep.”
She opened her mouth, and then slowly closed it. She kissed Danny’s forehead before reaching behind her to turn out her light. I stood in the dark listening to her settle in for the night. I crawled into bed next to her and Danny and began waiting for sleep to find me.
It stayed away the rest of the night as my mind replayed Danny’s words.
It is coming, Redsky.