The current of the river rushed past Jack’s thin calves as he stood on the bank. The buoy of Jack’s fishing line rested on the top of the water, bobbing up and down as the waves hastily swept underneath it. Jack sighed as he slowly dazed off, mind going blank.
There was a sudden pull on his line, jutting him out of his stupor. The buoy quickly sank below the waves. He struggled to reel in the line, his bare feet sinking into the loose sand and his small arms fighting against the will of whatever he had caught.
Suddenly, he lost his grip on his fishing rod, and it flew from his hands. He stepped forward and, desperately reaching, he almost lost his balance in the current. Reluctantly, he stood and watched the pole drift away on the surface of the river.
He slouched his shoulders in defeat of the river. He turned and climbed back ashore out of the water. He sat down in the tall grass that grew on the riverside. He stared out at the rushing water.
“Jack!” he heard a voice call his name.
He looked around for the source of the voice.
“Yes?!” Jack called back, unsure of who was calling him.
He heard steps come up behind him, he turned his body to see a boy his own age come up.
“Jack!” the boy had an unusually high pitched voice, “C’mon, it’s time for my birthday party!”
Jack smiled brightly at the boy. “Oh right! How old are you turning again, Liam?” his bangs slightly covering his eyes as he spoke.
“Twelve! I’ll be the same age as you again!” Liam’s smile shining in the sunlight.
“Uh, is it that time of year already? Dang. Well okay, let’s go.” he stood and followed Liam back to town through the dimly lit forest.
The sun began to set on the small birthday party. The adults started to round up their own children who were drawing with chalk on the sidewalk. Jack looked as his small group of five friends left him without saying goodbye. He looked down at his crude drawing of a tree. He felt an unexpected urge to go back to the river. He glanced around for his thin mother whom he admired so much. Spotting her long chestnut hair he broke into a run. He surprised his mother with a hug. She turned to face her child and hugged him back. He smiled up at her.
“Mama! Can I go back to the river?” He beamed at his mother.
She smiled down at Jack, “Sure dear, but be careful, the wolves like to hunt at night.”
Jack smiled at his mother thankfully before he turned to run into the forest. He didn’t run for long before his small muscles got tired. He walked slowly as he caught his breath. Something moving in the corner of his eye caused him to pause in his steps. He shifted his eyes to look in the direction of the movement. Nothing was there, so he turned his head to get a better look. There was still nothing. He shrugged and continued his trek into the forest towards the river.
He heard the sound of the rushing water get louder. He began to feel jovial as he got closer to river. Something moved in his peripheral vision and he quickly turned his head to look. He winced as whiplash from turning his head too quickly set in. Wind howled through the trees as he held his eyes closed to somehow try to alleviate the pain in the back of his skull.
The pain subsided soon enough for him to look around. Again something moved toward him in his side vision. He turned his head slowly this time as he took several steps forward. He watched the area where he believed something was following him. The sound of the rushing river fell on deaf ears as Jack’s attention was elsewhere. He was too distracted to notice the drop off of land he was walking towards. He unexpectedly fell forward, his arms outstretched to catch his fall as he closed his eyes. He felt a jolt on chest and his shirt pull. He gagged as the hem of his shirt pulled around his throat as he himself was pulled back onto land. He looked behind himself as he could see the figure in his peripherals. When he was set down onto the land he turned his body to thank his rescuer the land behind him was empty.
Frightened, he shot into a run home, his silver hair giving off a soft glow in the shining moonlight.
Trees blurred past the Jack’s vision through the forest. Breaths shallow as the moon shone brightly through the canopy. The soon to be victim glanced behind, only to see a glimpse of the dark figure that pursued so relentlessly through the night. A yelp escaped past soft lips as small toes caught the protruding root of a menacing tree causing Jack to careen down a steep hill.
A faint maniacal laugh could be heard by the ears as he violently rolled down the hill, brush thorns gouging the smooth innocent skin. The hard fall into the ditch knocked the wind from struggling lungs. Gasping for oxygen, the kid slowly rolled onto his stomach and inched forward on all fours. Jack meekly opened his eyes and glanced up toward the other side of the ditch towards town. A sad smile graced pale lips as salvation was just beyond a low hill.
A shrill scream echoed throughout the vast length of the ditch as claws dug into Jack’s small back. Jack was thrown over onto his back. Jack tightly closed his gentle eyes as the figure’s face came close, breathing moist rotting air, filling the youth’s airways. He reluctantly opened his kind eyes and stared the figure in its pupils, panic rising as the ominous intent the eyes of his captor glared down into the juvenile’s own.
The figure leaned its lipless mouth towards the Jack’s ear, its tongue licking the delicate neck below the small appendage.
A voice intertwined with several others whispered threateningly, “Not yet my sweet flower, but in time, I will have you. You belong to us now.”
The child winced and nodded as the demonic figure that chased him smiled as it turned to dust in the wind.
Dragging steps could be heard outside, climbing the steps up the back porch. A mother stood and went towards the back door. She flipped the switch to turn on the light. She opened the solid wooden door and peered outside. She gasped as she saw her son collapse on the porch floor. She threw open the back door and scrambled up to him. She knelt beside him and pulled him into her lap. She soothingly brushed her hand across his cheek. She tenderly grasped him around the shoulders and attempted to shake him awake. His eyes glazed over as his breaths were shaky. She noticed a warm liquid seeping into her dress. She lifted her son slightly looking at his back to see large wounds covering her sons back that were profusely dripping blood. She looked into her backyard and peered hard into the forest. She saw nothing suspicious. Tears welling in her eyes, she lifted her son into her arms as she stood. She turned toward the door and saw that she had ripped the screen door off its top hinge leaving it open. She rushed inside through the kitchen rushing into the bathroom down the hallway connecting from the living room.
She lightly laid her son down in the bathtub. She sat on the tub ledge and reached behind her inside the medicine cabinet. She turned her body to better see inside it, she grabbed several cloths. She swiftly lifted the shirt off her son. Tears fell down her cheeks as she now saw the gashes spread to across his chest. She gasped and took in a shaky breath, she wet one cloth in the sink, her hands unsteady as she brought it to her son’s bleeding back. She affectionately dabbed the cloth on her son’s wounds.
She brought a dry cloth to the cuts on her son’s chest, the blood coagulating as she cleaned the carvings. She lifted her son up to dry and finish cleaning his back. She inhaled sharply as she noticed puncture marks held an ink-like color around them. She stood and went into the living room, she opened a draw in the secretary, grabbing a curved needle and string, and she quickly made her way back into the bathroom to her unconscious son. She lifted her son up and began to patch up all the slashes across his back.
She finished closing all the injuries on her precious son. She stared at the black infected marks on her son’s back. She began to stare off into her son’s black dotted back and wondered what could have possibly happened. Something in the corner of her eye brought her out of the short train of thought. She looked out the bathroom door, waiting to see if something would move. A few moments passed before she looked back to her exhausted son. She decided that the bathtub was obviously not the best place for her resting son to sleep. She scooped him up into her arms and carried him into her room.
She laid her son down on her bed.
Kissing his forehead sweetly, she cooed quietly, “Goodnight, Jack, my Snowflake.“ As she left the room to call the hospital. As she glanced back towards the room she left, she thought she saw something move from the corner of her eye into the room. She brushed it off as nothing and continued to the kitchen where the phone hung on the wall.
As she reached to grab the phone something moved in her side vision towards her. Thinking it was her son she looked in the direction of the connecting living room. Nothing.
“Hmm.” She hummed aloud perplexed.
She stayed looking into the living room as she reached for the phone. Her hand fumbled on the wall before it had a good grip on the phone. Her eyes glanced to the phone to quickly enter the number to the local hospital. She gazed back into the living room. In the corner of the room the heirloom rocking chair was slowly rocking. She held the phone to her ear and watched as the rocking chair began to move faster. With each ring the chair rocked faster and harder. With the last ring the chair abruptly stopped.
“Hello?” asked a young female voice.
Shaking her head of the current situation to the circumstance lying in her bed, “Hi, this is Ms. Karen Frost, is Dr. Ladeaux available to make a house a call tonight? And if not when is the doctor next available?”
“Sorry Ma’am but the doctor is not taking house calls anymore. If it is an emergency you can go to the hospital in Hollings.” The secretary said flatly, unaware of the situation Ms. Frost was in.
Frustrated, “It is an emergency, my son can’t travel two hours to Hollings in his state.” She raised her voice as she spoke.
Irritated with the tone in which Ms. Frost was speaking to her, “Ms. Frost, calm down. If your son can’t travel at this moment, would you like me to dispatch an ambulance to your residence from the Hollings E.R. or, if it would be more convenient, could your son travel to this hospital?”
Thinking about her son, Karen contemplated for a short moment before she answered, “I will bring my son there, when he wakes, though.”
Smiling, “Okay, Ma’am, I hope whatever your son’s condition, he wakes soon.”
Karen hung up the phone. She looked into the living room. Looking out a window she thought she saw something move in the corner of the window towards the front door. She turned around to face the kitchen. She went to the countertop near the sink to grab a knife out of the block. In a town of 107 people, police or EMT units were not readily available so late at night.
She held the chef knife tightly in her left hand as she stepped forward silently. The looked at the hall entrance thinking of Jack. Suddenly a black figure appeared in the tangential part of her vision. She looked at the front door, which now stood wide open. The screen door to the outside slammed shut causing her to jump. She quietly entered the hallway entrance keeping her eyes on the front door. She became aware of something entering her room. She dropped the knife and ran to her room and looked inside. Her son was still undisturbed.
She walked up to her bed and knelt down. Hesitating, she slowly bent over. She pushed her fear down as she brought her head lower to look underneath the bed. Only air filled the foot of space between the bed and the floor. She sighed at the fact she was letting herself get so worked up over nothing. She stood and looked out the window. The wind mutely stirred the tree branches outside. She went to the other side of the bed and decided she would stay in the room to monitor her son’s condition to the best of her abilities.
Lying down in her bed she watched Jack’s chest rise and fall slowly. She noticed something getting bigger in her peripherals. Startled she sat up quickly and stared where she thought she saw something. She looked around the room, nothing was disturbed. She remained sitting as her eyes raked over the room. With her recent charges of adrenaline, sleep overtook her unpredictably, causing her to ignore the step-like noise that crept up to her and Jack.
She awoke with a start. Sitting up hurriedly, she grabbed her head, head rush making her slightly dizzy. She laid back down, not wanting to wake up yet. Her head hit a hard surface. Wincing she grudgingly opened her eyes. Her eyes went wide with distress. She backed up defensively, realizing she wasn’t in her bed anymore. She looked behind her to see a void of blackness. She stood, spinning to look all around her. The ground under her feet had a bright smoke emitting from nowhere. Her eyes broadened with fear as she realized her son was not with her.
She began to run hopefully towards the way out in the dark. In the corner of her vision she kept seeing something moving with her. It seemed to be getting closer as she strained to gain distance from the thing that kept disappearing when she chanced a glance in its direction. Suddenly something grabbed her shoulder, shoving her to ground.
“Jack!” She yelled as she sat up in bed roughly. A cold sweat matted her hair and bed.
She looked to her side to see Jack, still safely asleep next to her. A grumble resonated through him as he stirred. His face twisted into a look of pain as his body shifted. She turned to sit on the edge of the bed. She glanced behind her at Jack, again catching a glimpse of something in the corner of her eye. She stood watching her son. His snow colored bangs moved slightly as if the wind ruffled them. A quizzical look spread across her face as she perceived the lack of wind in the room.