One: No Where To Turn
CHAPTER ONE: NO WHERE TO TURN
On March 22nd , 2001, the sun rose that morning, it was not a morning that could be called good, nor could it be called bad, it was just another day in the Stockman house hold. Joseph Stockman was up at his normal 5:30 in the morning to get ready for his day job as a high school janitor. Not exactly the dream job of anyone, but with the education of a grade eleven drop out, he considered himself lucky to have a job that paid the bills. Joseph was raised an only child after his older brother died at the age of just twelve, Joseph was four at the time. He didn't remember very much about his older brother Matt, the guilt would have been the word he would have used if he was asked the first word that came to mind. Guilt for being able to live a full life with a beautiful wife and child while he lies dead in the ground, never again to know the taste of bread, the feel of water or the touch of a loved one, all that's left for Matt now is the slow decay of time.
Joseph walked out of the bedroom where he and his wife slept, it was almost 6:00 am, and she would be up soon. He scratched at the facial hair on his face, the hair on his chest showed and he looked down and slowly began to move out of denial and into acceptance that he was growing thin. Being someone who just seven months ago weighed in at two hundred and thirty pounds, and was now a mere one hundred and ninety. He had been eating less so that his wife and adopted daughter could get a full meals worth out of the day. He mainly lived off black coffee and early morning bacon. And as each day passed on he began to realize more and more that he could not continue to do this forever, he was thirty one years old and it was starting to take its toll on him.
It wasn't the staving that was getting to him, it was the lying to his wife Karen and adopted daughter Kelley, and he didn't want them to know he would willingly do this to ensure their health. He changed the coffee in the coffee maker, put in the water and he turned it on, then he walked into the bathroom for his morning shower. He removed his sweat pants and he stepped into the tub and he turned on the water. He let the water rinse down him as he quietly awaited the alarm to go off and for Karen to wake up. When it finally did, he heard footsteps walk into the kitchen of the small apartment only a few moments later. Karen had always found it easier to actually get up in the morning than he did, it has been only lately that it had gotten worse. He turned off the water and dried himself off with a towel and wrapped it around his waist and walked out and back into the bedroom where he put on his pants and a shirt then he walked back out to see his wife. They said good morning to each other and he gently kissed her.
Karen poured both herself and Joseph a cup of coffee, she had clearly let her dirty blonde hair down last night seeing how it was such a mess this morning. “And just how are you doing this morning?” he asked thoughtfully.
“I'm doing alright, and you?” she replied, she didn't seem to sound as heartwarming as he did, it wasn't difficult to tell that something was wrong. The only question that he had was what was it? A million thoughts crossed his mind as to what it could be, that the only thing he was sure of was bad sex wasn't one of them. That was mainly because he could hardly remember the last time that they were intimate with each other. Maybe that was it? She was feeling unloved or unwanted in some way.
“I'm alright” he replied with a small smile.
“I need to talk to you about something and i need to be honest with me, ” she said with a concerned voice. This was it, he knew it was. She was going to ask him if there was someone else. There wasn't, he would never do that to her, or any woman he was ever with for that matter, but he couldn't deny that due to how exhausted he was he had become more distant than he had meant to.
“I've noticed that you've lost a lot of weight, especially in the last few months.”
“I know,” he replied with as straight of a face as he could make. “It's this new diet I’m trying, I think it's working great,” he was trying to make it sound like a joke and he tried to hold a poker face when he said it. He guessed that the only person he was fooling was himself because the look of worry did not leave Karen's face. “Okay, money is tight, but we're getting by.”
“At the cost of your health?” Admittedly, this wasn't what he expected her to say, at least now he didn't have to lie to her about it, however he hated the thought of her constantly worrying about him. “Joseph, I love you, and Kelley loves you, you mean the world to us, to her. I understand what you're trying to do, but starving yourself to death isn't going to fix this, we'll find another way around this.”
“Better mine, then yours and Kelley's, you two are my main concern. And after all that poor girl has been through I see no need to trouble her with something that might get worse than it is. It's not an emergency yet.”
“You Joseph Stockman are the stupidest man I have ever met. The stupidest, but the most kind-hearted and bravest man I have ever met. I won't lie to you though, the thought of losing either you or Kelley terrifies me more than words, I don't know what I'd do if I lost you.” She kissed him, it wasn't something that fit the mood of their conversation, but she felt it was the thing she needed to do.
“I love you, you know that right?” He didn't mean for that to sound like a question, it just sort of slipped out that way.
“Every morning I wake up I see it in your face” she laid her head on his chest. “I love you too”. He just simply put his arm around her and he held her tight. This, what he had with Karen. It was not something that he expected, not something that he ever thought that he would be able to find, the literally prefect woman. Despite the misfortunes that they had, this was one positive thing they did have, each other, and he would do anything for her, her and Kelley.
The now eighteen year old Kelley lay awake in bed waiting for the alarm to sound, it would come on to the normal local rock station that it does every morning. She had not slept the entire night, she had been thinking, thinking about the day ahead. The hell that lay ahead. This wasn't something that was new to her, for the last two years if she got even three or four hours of peaceful sleep she considered herself lucky. Her eyes were blood shot, partly from the not sleeping, but mostly from the silent crying, that she had done most of the night. There was one thought that she constantly thought over and over again, an answer to her prayer, the answer was not the best, but at least it was one which was more than anyone could offer. She kept in her top part of her dresser, in a small bottle, 26 pills, a few moments of pain and then it would be over. She wasn't positive that there would be any pain, it might just end.
Every day she thought that today would be the day she would finally do it, but hasn't done it yet, she prays constantly for the same thing over and over again. That the day would come where she would no longer feel the need to consider it, that it was no longer a part of her life, that she could look out of the window and see the light, but she couldn't, even on the brightest days, all she saw was dark sky. It had been like this ever since her parents had died and she went to live with her aunt and uncle. To live on with this darkness that was now inside her, a monster that before February 10th, 1999 had not existed, and if it wouldn't leave her, she needed a way to leave it.
Her alarm finally went off as it did every day at 6:15 in the morning and she climbed out of her bed, walked over her dresser and pulled out a shirt and some pants and got changed before joining Joseph and Karen in the Kitchen. She decided to let her long jet black hair flow free, she combed it quickly and then walked out of her room in order to join them. “Morning Kelley” Karen said.
“Hello,” she replied. Joseph detected something in her voice, something wrong. He had known there was something wrong with Kelley since the day that she came to live with them, and why wouldn't there be? He would have been more concerned if Kelley had gone through what she did and wasn't at least a little bit fucked up. Kelley walked over and she poured herself a cup of coffee. They remained fairly quiet for the rest of the morning, Karen walked down to the studio where she taught art where Joseph drove himself and Kelley to the high school where she went and he worked. It was really no secret that he worked there and that they had little money, but Joseph was good with the kids, tried to help them with their problems if could, and most of them returned the favour by treating him with respect. But like in every school, there were the assholes who wouldn't take the hint to piss off if it hit them right in the face. Joseph always kept his cool though, he never once let things get out of hand with any of the students. They weren't really interested in him, though, if it was a strong reaction they were looking for, then they went after Kelley, after her parent's deaths, she was never quite the same again. And all she needed was the right push off the edge.
It was the break between fourth and fifth period, the last one of the day when a few of the richer and more popular girls walked over to Kelley. She didn't know them, she wasn't the kind of person to even bother to learn the name of someone who treated anyone lower than them, in their minds, like dirt. People like that, as much as Kelley tried to avoid them, they always seemed to find her, like she was a magnet for them, There were three girls and one boy, he seemed to be following the blonde girl pretty close, she assumed he was her boyfriend. Girls like that couldn't go a week being on their own, always someone richer, hotter or cooler to be found somewhere, and he was in the area, this girl looked as though she'd be the first to find them. “Hey” the blonde girl was facing Kelley, Kelley pretended not to hear her, “Hey! Shit for brains, I'm talking to you,” there was a hint of anger in her voice. Kelley thought of just walking away, just going to class, but something, she didn't know what exactly made her turn and face them. “What's your name freak?”
“K-Kelley” she murmured. The thoughts in the back of her mind kept telling her to get out of there, that this was a bad idea and she had no reason to even talk to them.
“K-K-Kelley” the blonde's boyfriend mocked and the others laughed. She didn't like thinking it, but she thought it anyway, if I had someone he would have kicked the shit out of this guy for doing that. This guy was probably only trying to be a hard ass to impress his girlfriend, he had no idea how that ate away at Kelley.
“Your parents died in a car crash, this true?” the blonde girl spoke again.
“I really have to get to class” Kelley said and she turned to leave, when she did, she wasn't sure how he got there, but the blonde's boyfriend was standing there blocking her path.
“Where are you going freak?” he asked. Kelley said nothing, she was just overcome by fear. It was too late for her to just walk away now, that time had come and gone, if it ever existed at all.
“Answer the question” the blonde said.
“Yes...” Kelley finally replied.
“See, I think your lying” the blonde was walking right up to Kelley now. “See, the way I heard it, your mommy left your daddy, couldn't stay away from the bottle, then, not able to take her leaving, he killed himself.” A wicked smile crossed her face, the kind that most people who think they're being both sinister and clever. “Killed himself by shoving a double barrel down his throat.”
“That's not true...” Kelley's voice sounded like she had literally just seen her parents die seconds ago, not years, it was pathetic and she knew it. All she wanted to do was punch this girl in the face just to show her who she was dealing with, but she knew she would never be able to do that.
“Now that's exactly what I thought, and you know what I think? I think your mommy really left your daddy because of you. You know how those unwanted pregnancies can really screw up a good marriage. And after you were born your mother was so ashamed of giving birth to you that she left you, and your daddy, well he just drank himself into the grave because of the sheer disappointment you gave him, hell if it were my choice to drink until i finally decided I had enough and blew my own head off or raise you, I’d chose death, any day. I guess daddy couldn't stand the fact that, even at sixteen years old, his daughter was and remains a whore”.
“You lie!” Kelley screamed as she pushed the blonde girl to the floor and ran off down the hallway. The blonde girl's boyfriend and her two friends went after her. They were screaming things at her, threats most likely, Kelley was running far too fast to hear or care what they were saying to her at this point. The group of rich kids were running as hard and as fast as they could to catch her, but Kelley was much smaller and much faster than they were. The only thoughts that raced through her mind were what would happen to her if they caught up to her. She turned a corner and lost them from her sight and dove into the girl's bathroom on that floor. She waited quietly until she heard them run by before the tears started to stream down her face. She tried to be as quiet as she could in case they came back or if anyone else were to walk by, she wanted to be left alone with her thoughts for a while.
She walked over to the corner of the room crying very heavy now, and sat down and buried her face into her hands. It took a minute or two for her to stop crying so hard that she could see again, she saw herself looking into a mirror that was hung on the wall. There were markings drawn all over it, written in permanent marker her, it was then that she pulled out the small bottle of pills and held it in her hands. She was shaking quite hard now as she removed the lid from the bottle, she took another long look at herself in the mirror and said nothing. She was focused on what she saw, she saw someone who was pathetic, a disgrace, someone who didn't deserve the life she had. She just took the first pill from the bottle and placed it in her mouth. But before she had time to swallow it, she heard the door to the girl's bathroom open, she put the lid back on the bottle and hid it while she spit out the pill and kicked away the pill she had in her mouth. In fear of being seen by anyone she dove into the first cubical that she saw and remained as quiet as she could.
It was Joseph who turned the corner and head the near silent crying coming from the last cubical, he pushed open the door to find it was Kelley sitting on the floor still silently crying. He said nothing, he had heard what the other kids had said to her. He just fell to the ground beside her and he held her tight. She began to cry very hard again, she was worried because this time she wasn't sure if she would be able to stop. “It's okay baby, it's okay, they're gone now,” she continued to cry for several more minutes before she was finally able to control it. It was true, they were gone for the time being, but this wasn't the first time that something like this had happened to Kelley. It felt like she had stood in front of that mirror more times then she was able to count, this was the first time she had started to take the pills. It was clear that she was finally, after two years, she was starting to break, if this didn't change, it was clear that she wasn't going to last much longer.
He got Kelley to her feet and brought her to the principal’s office and told her to wait outside. Although she couldn't see them anymore, sitting on the bench outside the office, she could still hear them. “So you're not going to do anything?” she heard Joseph say.
“There isn't anything I can do” Principal Woodland replied. “What would you have me do to these kids, suspend them? Give them detention? Does that do a justice?”
“How about expelling them?” The anger in his voice was growing, nothing made him angrier than when the rules got bent for certain people while others were left victims.
“Any punishment I give them, banned from the school or not they are bound to take it out four times worse on Kelley. If they suffer, you can be positive that they will make her suffer too”. Kelley once again buried her face in her hands, it took everything she had to keep from crying. Kelley couldn't hear anymore, she tried to tune them out and slowly the sounds of their voices began to fade till only the background sounds remained. Joesph may be willing to take a stand to protect her, probably Karen too, but they were the only ones. All she could hear now was the water dripping, drop by drop from the broken water fountain across the hallway from her, the light above her head humming and the wind seeping through the cracks of the building. Since the death of her parents, she had become increasingly good at this. Then something broke her focus, something she didn't expect, footsteps, not of an adult of any student in the school but of a young and probably small child.
At first Kelley didn't think anything of it, but then she heard someone say “hello”, when Kelley lifted her head, she saw it was the voice of a young girl, no older than six or seven. She was wearing a white dress with a red ribbon tied around her waist. Long brown hair that reached half way down her back, and no one else around, there seemed to be nothing about this child that belonged here.
“Hello” Kelley said, trying to force a smile. Kelley was never fond of sharing her feelings with anyone, but she wasn't about to spill her heart out to a little girl that she had literally just met. It was better to let her believe the lie that children have the privilege of doing.
“Why are you crying Kelley?” she asked. The little girl sounded so serious that it was almost kind of cute, except for the fact that Kelley was still emotionally unstable and couldn't quite the silver lining.
“I'm Not...” from the look she was getting there was no point in lying to her, she was smart for a six year old “it's nothing you need to worry about...” Kelley just realized something. “How do you know my name?”
“I came to warn you.”
“Warn me, warn me about what?” she thought this to be very odd coming from a child who had probably just started the first grade. Odd or not, this didn't change that this little girl clearly knew Kelley in some way, how else would she have known her name.
“If the door is opened, those who were silenced will awaken, and they want you, they will want what they can never have again.”
“Me? But what did I do?” Kelley was confused by this whole thing, what she was saying was making no sense.
“It's not what you did, it's what you are.” It was really starting to freak Kelley out how serious this kid was being but more so what she being serious about.
“What do you mean? I don't understand.”
“I hope that you listen, and that you never do.” Then the little girl turned her back and walked around the corner, Kelley got up off the bench to follow her, but when she turned the corner the little girl was gone. Kelley looked around for her, but she was nowhere to be seen. To her left was a row of lockers, on the first three in the row as a symbol painted in a dark red, like wet paint. No, not paint, blood. The symbol was of a triangle with a sideways figure eight painted in the middle.
She reached out to touch it when she heard someone say “Kelley?” and she turned to see Joseph standing there. “Come on Kelley I’m taking you home.” She took a quick look back at the lockers and saw nothing, like it was never there.
“Okay,” she replied and followed him outside, out of the day she had, that was what stuck with her, the little girl and the symbol on the lockers. What the hell was going on? Was a question that she kept asking herself the entire way back.
After returning to her home with Joseph, Kelley went straight into her room and closed the door, she couldn't believe how close she came, how she almost pulled out that bottle of pills for the last time. This was the first time since it happened that she had really thought about it, what actually happened instead what almost happened. Tears streamed down her face, but she kept very silent, Joseph was keeping his distance in the next room (she assumed anyway) and she wanted to keep it that way. She then pulled her legs onto the bed and allowed herself to lay her head on her pillow, she closed her eyes and kept them shut, Kelley didn't sleep for a while after that, she heard Karen come home and Joseph explained what had happened. It was only after that, that she finally allowed herself to fall into a deep sleep, and into a dream. A dream that she didn't understand, even more so than that little girl that she saw in the school hallway.
Kelley awoke on a something very hard and very cold, she looked down and found herself to be lying on a stone table. She looked around and saw that her vision had been laced with a kind of grey overtone, it was day, that much she could tell, but yet everything looked darker than it should be. She was in the middle of what appeared to be a forest, the table she was laying on was in the middle of a small clearing, it looked like someone had cleared this spot just for this table, but why? This thing looked to be part of a medieval times art museum or something, whatever it was it had that same symbol in the centre of it. As she sat up, she noticed gashes in the table where her head was, not small, large ones, like someone had taken an axe to it for whatever reason.
She got up from the table and looked around, there was really nothing around her, except forest, above her was a clearing, it was only big enough to see a few clouds through the tops of the trees, she guessed it could have also been used for stargazing, but this much was clear to her. Like the table itself, that hole in the tops of the trees had been put there for a reason of some sort, even if the reason was unknown to her. She then started to notice something a little odd, snow, it was snowing all around her, but she wasn't cold, she felt as though she had just run a mile.
She then heard something weird, a sound, 'boom', it was deep, and nothing she knew of made a sound like that in a forest, then it happened again. It wasn't like a gunshot sound, if Kelley had to guess she would say that it sounded closer to the sound of a kick drum. 'Boom', where was thing coming from? Kelley thought to herself, the next time it happened, they seemed closer together, 'boom' a slight pause 'boom', 'boom', 'boom'. With every other one the length of the pause was getting smaller, till it was only about a half a second apart, in a way it reminded Kelley of a heartbeat, only it was a thousand times louder than it should be and seemed to be coming from everywhere. There was no one place it was coming from, one time it would be in front of her, the next to her left, the next behind her, then in front again. Then out of nowhere, silence.
The entire forest was filled with it, Kelley then held her breath, and listened, she heard it in the distance, this time it was coming from one spot it seemed. Even if this was only a dream inside of her head, she wanted to know what exactly was making that sound. For some reason she felt extremely compelled to find a reason for all of this. She was now out of the clearing and into the deep forest, she kept having to stop moving and hold her breath to know which way to go. The sound was so faint that it was next to impossible to hear anything. After about a minute or so of walking, she came across a path, the noise seemed to be coming from the end of the path heading north. She followed it, it was winding with many turns, and with each one she made she could no longer see the path behind her because the forest was in the way, almost as though it were hiding it from her. The idea did cross her mind that it might not be such a bad idea to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find her way back, not that that was a good idea for Hansel and Gretel. It was only when she thought that she realized she had no idea where back was, or were here was, she was just following a strange noise in the middle of a forest for no apparent reason whatsoever.
She then saw something blocking her path, it was a large puddle of mud that extended almost ten feet in diameter, it seemed more like a small lake than a puddle to her, and she also noticed that the snow had stopped, but it still remained on the ground. The puddle of mud seemed fresh, none of it was frozen, and when Kelley held her breath, that was where the booming sound seemed to come from. She walked right up to it and kneeled down, there was ripples on both ends of the puddle. The sound had stopped. It was out of the blue, like whatever was making that sound knew that Kelley was standing right there.
A hand reached out of the puddle and grabbed Kelley's ankle and then pulled her onto her back and started to drag her towards the puddle, Kelley grabbed a loose root from one of the trees and hung on for dear life. The hand would not let go, it seemed to pull as hard as it could to drag Kelley into the puddle with it, drag her in, or pull someone else out. Kelley kicked as hard as she could and finally the hand released its grip on Kelley and sank back into the puddle.
Kelley was able to get free and hurried to her feet and ran from the puddle, she slipped as she tried to do so, someone then once again grabbed her ankles dragged her back. Whoever was trying to pull Kelley into the mud with them yelled something, it was like a wailing yell and it was muffled. To her it sounded like “Forever and nothing!” She wasn't positive, but she was fairly certain it was a woman's voice. Kelley screamed as loud as she could and dug her hands deep in the dirt and tried to pull herself away, for a reason that was fully unknown to her, something caused her to turn around. Kelley was finally able to pull herself away, but was unable to look away from the woman as she sank back into the mud. The arm once more rose from the puddle and this time its fingers gripped into the hard ground, staining the white snow to an almost black colour. The arm began to pull itself closer and out of the mud, followed by a few feet from it, the shape of someone's forehead, then entire face. The mud was far too thick to tell who, or what it was, but as it stopped moving for a brief moment, and looked right at her. Kelley knew that even though she could not see who it was, it could see her perfectly, it continued to pull itself out of the puddle as one of her hands stretched out towards Kelley.
Kelley then awoke from the nightmare and was breathing heavy, there was no mud anywhere and she was where she had started out, in her bed, in her room. “What the hell was that?” Kelley said softly to herself. It may have only been a dream, but it was one hell of a realistic one. As she looked down at her hand, she realized that she was shaking hard, harder than she was in the bathroom, was this her body's way of fighting her depression? Or was this something else entirely?