Night shift (Part four)
Sorry for the long delay on this serial! All problems with my laptop and Internet are now solved. Whew! Enjoy.
Comes the dawn
“Come on Johnny! You don’t want to fall behind do you?”
Little John Walker stops at the bottom of the small hill leading to the junkyard where his friends like to hang out and collect bottles caps and cans. He is younger and smaller than the other boys in the group but wants to be “cool” too, and ride his bike fast like them, or run as fast as they do. He is unable though and now he can’t catch his breath. His ribs hurt. His friends are already at the top, preparing to descend into the kingdom of plastic, metal and rubber treasures. He can see Pete Webster standing tall, bathed in the light of the sun (what sun?) only a smile recognizable on his silhouetted face (he looks like Alan Miller this way, with his cheesy, fake grin).
John watches as Pete disappears, and he hears the laughs and the joyful shouts from the other side, from that other fantastic world where Little Johnny is not allowed to go and play.
Tears of anger run down his face as he walks away. His bike lies on the ground. It’s covered with falling leafs. The bike seems further away then he thought. Johnny starts to worry. He has to be home by four. Clouds protest before the sun and the park becomes abandoned by light and warmth. Johnny starts to fear. He tries to run. From behind him the trees start to creak and all of a sudden the park is dark as night. The darkness moves towards Johnny, but his bike is still far! He screams when the cold and dead matter touches him. Little Johnny is slow. The darkness eats him.
John awoke shivering like mad. He hadn’t thought about that day from his childhood for years, more so dream about it in such a nightmarish way. “Weird”
He rubbed his eyes. The digital numbers of his alarm clock were showing 11:30 AM.
He rose from the bed and stretched. It was pointless going back to sleep.
Whereas his bedroom was darkened by the curtains the rest of his apartment bathed in sunlight.
John walked in the kitchen to prepare some coffee. He stepped on something sharp and quickly jumped back from the sudden pain. John looked down at the object. It was a mangled bottle cap. (Pete Webster wouldn’t want it looking like this). John took it in his hand. It had dirt on it, and the sign was scratched, but John could read it- it was a “Strawberry Soda” cap.
“How did you get here?”
He turned to throw it in the bin when his eyes widened. The whole kitchen floor was covered with bottle caps.
John crushed his back against the wall and slowly dragged himself to the floor, starring in horror the glimmering treasures his old friends used to gather without him.
He composed himself and thought about going back to bed. Maybe he was sick, seeing things.
John opened the door of his bedroom. It was still dark inside there, still cold. He entered and came out in the park of his old hometown. A couple of boys were running between the tall dark woods, their laughs distant; their movements vague, shadowy. John called out to his friends, and ran after them. This time he was faster. He stood before the small hill that was smaller now and climbed it, seeing for the first time the magnificent junkyard caught in the light of the descending sun.
“Come Johnny…Come down”
Pete Webster’s voice reached him and he followed it. His foot slipped and he tumbled down until the slope ended. John raised his head.
There was a door before him, tentacles of light crawling from underneath.
“In there Johnny, off you go. You don’t want to fall behind do you?”
John opened the door.
A helpless cry escaped his mouth. The light burned in his eyes filling up his entire existence with spikes of pain, each penetrate bringing vivid images to him – a note saying Sanctum needs more; the homeless man shaking his head, fear expressed in his old, watery eyes; the suspicious paramedics outside the hospital; Doctor Brown with his round face apologizing; the hospital security grabbing John; John tearing away and running down the stairs; John dialing Sam telling him to come on 3rd Ave.; the loud honk, the crushing sound of metal touching metal…then the sky appeared, a dozen stars spattered across its inky color. The pain was gone.
John was standing in the back alley from earlier, a sign on the building opposite saying Sanctum St. Behind him a door was tightly shut.
“Took you long enough”
He turned to the familiar voice.
“Sam? What’s happening?”
Sam was smoking one of his Lucky Strike cigarettes.
“You called me to come here, remember? 3rd Ave and…Sanctum, that’s what you said. Here I am.”
John slowly nodded. He had to put the strange events from before behind him and focus on the danger now.
“I called because something is terribly wrong at St. Ann’s. I think Brown is in the center of it. He’s got the whole day shift in his pocket. But I don’t know what they’re up to yet. I need your help to find out Sam”
Sam tossed his cigarette aside.
“I know. But you shouldn’t have found out about it Johnny. You shouldn’t have climbed that hill. You were right, from the start. There is a conspiracy. There is a dark secret hidden in St. Ann’s”
John was shocked.
“Oh, no Sam, don’t tell me you’re in it too”
Sam stood there, in a pair of black jeans and a black shirt, his hair more shiny and slick than ever. His onyx eyes glared at John, but he spoke nothing.
“Tell me, what does Sanctum mean?” John pointed the sign. He tried to breathe but his chest ached with anger. “Damn you Sam!”
“I won’t leave this go unnoticed. I will go the feds.”
At those words Sam laughed.
“You over exaggerate Johnny! I couldn’t help but see that face of yours, all troubled and worried. Sorry. There is no conspiracy, really. There is no mystery, no horrid crime, no fancy, scary secret, no evil doctor and his day shift minions. It’s much simpler than that my friend.”
John felt the trees in the park from his childhood creak and narrow upon him. Closing.
“You are dead Johnny. And I am your Reaper”
To be continued…