AND FOR A LITTLE TREAT: The Dorley Cycle in one comic strip
THE DORLEY CYCLE
Oh, no, I thought, feeling something nudging me, gently at first then more persuasive. It was slimy and cold, then it was warm and soft. It slid over my skin, clumsily searching for my face; then it prickled me with tiny pinches. I curled myself into a ball, hands covering my face and waited for it to go away and leave me alone. I felt a stronger push and moaned. “Go away”, I thought, shivering, scared to speak out loud.
“Jackson, wake up! What’s the matter with you?!
I opened my eyes and rolled over, blinking at the light coming from the window. Mattie stood beside my bed rubbing her arm just above the elbow.
“Were you having a nightmare? You almost slapped me across the face – got the arm instead.”
She showed me where whilst making a sad face.
I sat myself up, hands still clutching at the covers of my old bed at home. My sister gave me a closer look.
“Are you alright Jackson?”
I nodded, my voice still a foreign attribute.
“Okay, not going to ask again. Mom sent me to wake you up, so now that you’re awake, let’s go eat.”
I slipped out of bed, finding my feet shaky and my head swimming, but I followed Mattie out of the room and down the stairs to the kitchen which was full of sunshine. The wall clock showed half-past noon. The table was set, crunchy toast and golden eggs mashed with bacon in daisy colored plates and a steaming cup of black coffee beside it.
I sat down, my back to the window and took a large sip from my coffee blessing its sweetly sour burn.
Mattie sat to my left and filled her mouth with veggie omelet washing it down with orange juice.
I had no taste for food, though my belly protested.
“Eat up Jackson, they’ll go cold.”
My mother filled another plate, this one with three bacon strips and a side of peppery jalapeno eggs, then pulled the chair to my right and sat, putting marmalade jam on her toast. She always ate sweet at breakfast and lunch.
“I’ll need some help with the car today. Damn thing chokes up more than before.”
I nodded at my father and took a small bite. The eggs were delicious.
“Hey bro, can I borrow your camera for later, I need to film for the school project, you know the one about a vacation. I’m making a horror movie – “The Massachusetts Critter – Now terrorizing the city of Belmont! and two friends on a vacation.”
“What? It’s a cool idea!”
I listen to all of that, smiling to myself. It was nice being back here, at my parents’ house, seeing them both happy and Mattie enthusiastic about the school project she failed to make after all. I dropped the fork.
“I gotta go.”
“What do you mean honey, where?”
I listened to the distant thunders of heavy waves crashing against solid rocks. I could hear the furious winds tearing at the gaping fisherman cabins. The sun began to set. I stood up turning to face the window. Out there I could see gigantic waves, an angry see rising, almost a vertical of black mass threatening to spill all over and drown us.
“Honey, your uncle died months ago. You don’t have to worry about that now.”
“But Dorley is alive.”
The sea was a wounded animal, bellowing at me through every wave, arching its watery back with every raise, spitting its foamy insides with each crash, glaring at me with its one illuminated eye. I wanted to call back.
My announcement fell deaf. I didn’t want to turn around and meet the quiet of their eyes, but I did. The three of them shot white eyed glances at the ceiling and their mouths were rotting holes for the parasites that slid out and slammed heavy on the table, fighting one another for a grasp, limbs too weak to crawl on their own. They tied knots, sucker against sucker, merging in a pulsating cluster of wriggling arms. A fuckin’ squid king of pale tentacles and scrawny arms, dragging a small and weak body after itself. A thing to kill.
I held up my gun.
The two shots went silent when the wall exploded under the pressure of tons of water. It washed me and It away inside a whirlpool, but I saw it bleed, oozing black and screeching, before my laughing mouth filled with salt.
My mind woke with someone screaming over me. I was spastic on a cold floor, retching all over my face and someone’s hands holding my head up. Another pair of hands held my body down. Something sharp pierced my leg.
The next time I woke up I was lying on a hard bed. Not only my jaw, my entire face hurt. Hell, my whole body did. I sat up painfully taking in my surroundings. Bars. Grey. Silence. Stench.
I was in a prison cell.