Affinity for Darkness – Chapter Ten

Here’s the next section from the “novel” I wrote one winter in high school.

To start this story from the beginning, click here

afd10images“Wow,” I breathed, almost speechless. “That was great. You have some imagination!” The story had definitely moved me.

“Who says I made it up?” Justin asked.

“Personally I would have added more sex and violence,” Karl said. “But I definitely liked the part when William chopped their heads off and blood was spilling all over the floor. It was vivid, and of course, I like all that gory stuff.” He smiled.

“I swear you have a one-track mind,” Jill muttered.

“Yes,” Karl admitted. “And it’s such a wonderful track to be on. I think I’ll stay awhile.” He laughed.

“It was sad,” was Don’s only comment on Justin’s tale.

“To tell you the truth, I didn’t really like it,” Jill said candidly. “I think there should have been some way other than death in the end. I also think Clara should have changed her mind somehow in the end, and relived the feelings she once had for William. It was too sad, in my opinion.” Then she added, “No offense, Justin.” H¨e didn’t seem to take any.

“Hey Justin, what did Miss Bennett say about that one?” Karl asked. “I think it was worse than mine, more bloody.”

Justin laughed. “She told me that vampires didn’t exist and that I shouldn’t write about such frivolous things. She told me that I should have had them fight by daylight, so there would have been at least some sunshine in my dark story. That’s just what she wrote on my paper. After class she asked me if I was feeling depressed about anything. She told me she knew someone I could talk to if I was.”

I wanted to ask, Well are you depressed? He often wore a sad expression. He had an aura of constant melancholy about him. I wondered, as I had many times before, what troubled him. He never did anything outwardly that expressed this. He smiled, laughed, was kind to everyone, barely ever got angry. There was just something about him. Poignancy twinged in every smile, sorrow in every laugh. Sometimes it just ripped me apart. I could not stand the thought of him being in pain.

“Where did you think it up?” I asked. I was truly curious. I had never heard anything like it from Justin before, and I quite liked this new side of him. I thought the story was beautifully sad.

“Somewhere in the realm of my screwed-up mind,” he replied.

“I still can’t get over how real it seemed. I felt like crying with William at the end. It was as though I could feel his agony.”

“Wimp,” Jill said, teasing me.

“Thanks,” Justin said to me. A spasm of woeful thought gripped him then. He frowned, and his eyes told only of sorrow. A few strands of brown hair fell across his face. I wanted so badly to reach over and brush them away, to hold him and tell him everything was fine, and that he needed not to be so sad. I did nothing. I would have been a hypocrite to do so, anyway. There were plenty of reasons to be sad.

By that time it was quite late. Don put out the fire. Once without the light and warmth, a sense of fear set in on us. None of us had talked of Eve’s death, or even of Eve, but I knew none could stop thinking of it. Everyone was looking at everyone else through suspicious eyes. Karl even asked Justin if there was any type of night-light around that he could borrow for the night.

When Justin replied that no, there wasn’t, Jill began to poke him and asked, “So, the man with the iron stomach, the boy who loves blood, gore and horror, is afraid of the dark? Poor baby.”

“It’s not that. It’s just . . . no one knows what lurks in the dark, or what you might trip over if no light is provided,” he quipped.

Jill laughed as we walked into our room. Just before we did so, we overheard Karl say secretively to Justin, “Hey, man, do you mind if I leave my flashlight on during the night? I’ve got extra batteries in case it runs ∞out.”

I closed the door behind us and Jill laughed. “I swear, he’s such a wimp. He’s afraid of the dark. What a little boy he’s acting like! I bet he misses his mommy.”

“Well, maybe there are things in the dark that we should be afraid of,” I said seriously. I was not looking forward to falling asleep.

Instead of trying to rest, we stayed up. Jill and I sat on her bed, talking late into the night.

“Do you think we’re in real danger?” Jill asked, beginning the conversation. “I mean, what if she did fall, and hurt herself on the metal frame of the cot?” When I said nothing, Jill cried, “Damn it! It’s possible!”

“Yes,” I said slowly, “I suppose it is possible. But I don’t think it’s likely. That would be one weird coincidence. Though, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to . . . hurt her.”

“Exactly. I doubt if any of us would even be capable of such a thing.”

“What about Karl?” I asked carefully. “He’s so” obsessed with violence and death.”

“I don’t think Karl did it,” Jill said earnestly. “And I’m not saying that just because I like him or whatever. Those are just movies and stories. I’ve never seen him hurt anybody. Besides, he’s afraid of the dark, remember?”

“True,” I remark. “Is it possible that the culprit is not among our group? That there is someone hanging around outside the cabin?”

“Probably not,” Jill answered matter-of-factly. “It would be really hard for anyone to go unnoticed for this whole time. And there is nowhere where this person could stay near here.” I did not mention that little room I had discovered; I did not really think anyone could be hiding there anyway.

“I know.”

“Andi? What about Justin? None of us really know him well. He’s always seemed mysterious to me, like he might be hiding something.”

“I know.”

“It was rather strange the way he invited us in the first place, and that he invited us at all.”

“I know.”

“It was a very generous offer. One doesn’t usually make such an offer except to good friends.”

“I know.” My excellent verbal skills were really evident in that exchange of words.

“So what do you think?” Jill asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered. Another display of supreme verbal ability. An amazing zing for conversation. I sighed heavily. “I don’t want to think that Justin killed her. I really don’t. But I guess it does seem to be the logical answer. He’s the outsider of the group, the one who never says much. We don’t know all that much about him. But, honestly, I’ve always thought Justin was the kindest person who ever lived. I just can’t think such horrible things of him, even if it does appear to be the logical answer.” Not to mention that I would literally die if Justin were able to commit murder. I loved him too much to think poorly of him. It would shatter more than just my dreams or my hopes if he killed Eve; I felt it would take my life too.

“I hope you’re right,” Jill said, unconvinced.

During the entire conversation, I could not help but think that I could easily be sitting next to a murderer. I knew I could be taking a chance by confiding in her. She must have been thinking the same of me. I could not be too suspicious of my best friend, though. I knew her too well, had known her for all too long.

God, this thing was ripping me apart. I looked at everyone with a critical eye, analyzing every sentence. I was making myself sick. I guess that’s what can happen when one loses a good friend, and the killer is another good friend. I didn’t even feel I could properly mourn Eve’s death. I was too worried about preserving my own, to think much about hers. Not that I didn’t think self-preservation was worthwhile or anything, I just ,felt that maybe I owed Eve something.

“We should probably go to sleep,” Jill said, after a long period of silence. “We might need to conserve our strength if we intend to live through tomorrow.”

Her words rang true. “Yeah,” I agreed. “But we might need to stay on our guard to survive the night as well.”

“I know,” Jill replied.

“We should try to sleep with one eye open,” I muttered. Then I moved onto my own bed, against the opposite wall of the room.

After a long silence, Jill spoke again. “Andi, can I ask you a favor? It’s really important.”

“Sure, of course.”

“If I, you know, don’t make it through the night or whatever, could you tell Karl how I feel about him. We joke around and all, but I’ve never told him that I love him.” She sounded dangerously near tears. “Can you promise me that?”

For some reason beyond my realm of comprehension, those words brought everything that was happening close to home. It made everything more real. “Yeah,” I replied. “Tell Justin the same for me.” I knew I would try to keep my promise to Jill, I just didn’t know if the circumstances would permit it.

We fell silent and spoke no more. I was overcome with an extreme desire to make it, at least through the night if nothing else. I couldn’t stand the thought of never seeing another dawn, even if I didn’t particularly like sunlight. Determination and will rose up in me. I knew I would do anything to survive. I would stop at nothing to get home safely. I would not lose the fight in me. I felt fire burning within me, the flame of life that would not easily smother.

I did not want to sleep, for fear of another nightmare, yet sleep’s tantalizing claws were nearby, trying to pull me into their vise-like grip. How badly I wished for the relief of sleep tortured me. Each time my eyes closed and incoherent images began to fill my field of view, I would bite down hard on my lip, drawing blood. The pain would jolt me back to the dark room. I know this must sound sick, but the blood didn’t taste all that bad. I had always had a real bad habit of biting my lip when I was troubled.

As time wore on, I could hold out no longer. I had no choice but to succumb to my exhausted wishes. I was halfway to dreamworld when there was a knock at the door. It was Justin. He asked us if we would like to come to the living room. He said that then if someone came to get us, all the rest could be there for protection. Sounded like a good idea to us. We moved all of our stuff to the living room.

Karl had the TV on and at around eleven o’ clock, was at the end of watching a hockey game. He was completely zoned out, not paying a bit of attention to our conversation.

At one point, Jill said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be going home. I just don’t see myself ever getting out of here alive.”

“Don’t say that,” Justin countered, but there was great pain expressed in his eyes.

“I feel the same way,” I said, agreeing with Jill. “Home seems so far away.”

Silence followed. A cloud of sadness fell over us. I knew that no matter what, I probably wouldn’t make it; I most likely wouldn’t be around to see Saturday morning. A sense of urgency set over me. I knew there were some things I would do before I left this Earth. I wanted to finish writing my book—it was such a desire of mine to complete one before I died. I also wanted to tell Justin how I felt about him. I didn’t care if I was rejected or laughed at, I just knew I had to tell him.

Jill was apparently having similar thoughts. She reached out and touched Karl’s arm. “Karl? There’s something I want to tell you. It’s kind of important.” Karl said nothing, staring, oblivious, at the TV screen.

“Damn it Karl, listen to me!” she demanded.

“But the Rangers are winning,” Karl protested earnestly.

“Yeah? Well shove the Rangers up my ass!” Jill said in frustration. “I’m trying to tell you something important!” ‘

Karl turned off the TV, properly chastised, and turned to Jill. He seemed surprised at her outburst. “What is it?” he asked, concerned.

“Oh, never mind,” Jill said, obviously flustered. “Go back to watching your game.” Jill looked very upset. My guess is that she chickened out before she could say anything. Karl told Jill that he didn’t want to watch the game. He wanted to hear what she had to say, but Jill remained silent. Karl looked guilty. I’m sure he was sorry he had slighted her in the first place.

A grin began to spread over Jill’s face. She said to me, “Hey, Andi, don’t you have something important you want to tell Justin?” Justin turned to look at me.

Talk about putting me on the spot. Now that I was in this position, I couldn’t bear the thought of bearing my soul to him. By the sheer good graces of quick thinking, I managed an answer, though probably not the one Jill anticipated. “Oh yeah, I guess there is something I never told you. You know, at Todd and Jake’s birthday party, when we were all talking about the end of the world? Well, I feel the same way. I’ve always imagined a dead world, too. I’ve always pictured the sun shining over a barren land, with no life, not even in the most minuscule form, surviving. Only sand and water, still and silent will remain.”

Justin’s eyes were sadder than ever before. With what felt like a fist to my stomach, I realized that what I’d just said must have hurt, brought back painful memories. How could I forget that Todd had been one of Justin’s best friends? Strange how we end up being the most insensitive to the ones we love.

Justin’s mood remained permanently dampered throughout the remainder of the evening. “I’m so sorry.” I told him. “I don’t know how I forgot. I shouldn’t have said that.”

Justin waved me away, saying, “No, it’s OK. Don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine.” Justin is not a very good liar.

All of a sudden, I realized something. “Where’s Don?” I asked.

Justin replied, “He said he didn’t want to be bothered, he needed to be left alone. Let me try to go get him.”

When he was gone Jill turned to me. “I gave you the perfect opportunity,” she accused.

“I know,” I replied sheepishly. “But I couldn’t. I don’t know why, I just couldn’t.”

“Are you that afraid he’ll reject you?”

“No, it’s not just that. There’s more to it, I know there is, but I can’t explain it. I can’t put it into words.”

“I understand,” she said. “Not like I put on a winning performance, either.”

Suddenly Justin burst through the door. He wore a face painted with fear, disgust, anger and melancholy among other things.

“Don’s dead.” he said in a flat, deadpan voice.

~~~

Another installment of Affinity for Darkness, a novel I wrote in the winter of my junior year of high school. To read from the beginning:

Feel free to check out other Samples (including more current work), and Published and more early work.

~Emilia J

Next Up: AfD Chapter Eleven

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