Hello, my Freaky Darlings!
I recently stumbled onto an old word document that I’d completely forgotten about. It was the sequel to Shadows which I’d abandoned. For the life of me, I can’t remember why I did, it’s not half bad even if I do say so myself. It’s not a finished book, not by a long shot. It’s about 18000 words or so. After reading through what I’d written, I’ve come up with an idea for what to do with it, and I hope you’ll be happy.
While I fix and finish it, I’m going to post it here in parts every week for you to read along for free as I go. Hopefully, with your comments and feedback, I’ll be able to make it that much better.
Without any further preamble. Here’s the first part.
From my vantage point in bed, I watched a small deer make its way out of the mist and jump onto a rock close to our wooden deck. I’d opened the bedroom curtains an hour ago just as the dawn was making its presence known. An icy mist surrounded our cabin on the edge of the cliff and the April air was fresh and crisp. Byron snored softly next to me, he slept like a log, but I had difficulty sleeping in a new place. The nightmares also didn’t help much and watching the mist was better than lying in the dark, pretending to sleep.
Byron stirred, grumbled about something unintelligible and snored happily again. Looking down at his face, snuggled deep into his pillow, I remembered how we’d met. I’d only been out of the institution a few weeks, shell shocked from my encounter with Jack and Dr Lynch. I was also stuck in a wheelchair that doctors predicted I’d never get out of. Byron was the physiotherapist assigned to my case. He was good looking, young and energetic. I was a complete mess and somewhat fragile. It took six months for him to ask me out. He waited until I took my first steps on my own. The date was a celebration of sorts.
The memory stirred something inside me. It resembled hope, although hope for a happy future was not something I usually allowed for myself. But at that moment, lying in bed watching the deer and the mist and listening to Byron snoring, I let that fragile feeling of hope grow.
The deer jumped off the rock and scampered away, out of sight. I snuggled further into the feather duvet, a contented sigh escaped from between my lips.
Then something all too familiar happened, something I’d prayed would never happen again. All hope for the future disappeared.
The air crackled with electricity as Jack appeared. He sat on the edge of the bed with his usual grin. His teeth were still yellow, sharp and pointy. He hadn’t changed in the last two years. He even wore the same black leather biker jacket.
“What do you want, Jack?” I whispered, trying not to wake Byron.
“What? No ‘hello Jack’? No ‘good to see you, Jack’,” he said. “What happened to the simple pleasantries?”
“What do you want, Jack?” I pulled the duvet up to my chin.
“Relax, darling. I missed you. That’s all,” he sighed. “Aren’t I allowed to visit my favourite pet.”
“For one thing, I’m not your pet, and for another, it’s only been two years.”
“Has it really been that long?” He looked surprised. “Time for us demons isn’t quite the same thing as it is for you. It feels like just yesterday we were having such a great time together.”
“Thankfully, for me, it’s been a while, but not nearly long enough.”
“Come on, Sarah. You don’t honestly expect me to believe that you haven’t missed me just a little bit.”
“Actually, Jack, my life has been wonderful since you disappeared in a puff of smoke.”
“I don’t believe you.”
“That’s your problem,” I said, as I slid out from under the duvet. “I need some coffee.”
I slipped my feet into fluffy black slippers and slowly made my way towards the kitchen. Byron didn’t need to be involved with this. I’d hoped that my past with Jack wouldn’t interfere with my present and possible future with Byron, but I realised now that that was wishful thinking. The past always comes back to bite you in the arse.
“So you’re drinking coffee now?” Jack asked as he followed me out of the bedroom. “What happened to the green tea?”
“I never acquired the taste.” I put the kettle on. “Plus, no more job and no more you, means no more bleeding ulcer. So I can drink as much coffee as I like.”
“Coffee’s bad for you.”
“So are you and yet here you are.” I put a heaped spoonful of coffee in a plain white mug that resorts such as Crystal Springs seemed to favour. Byron had booked us a cabin in the luxury mountain resort as a surprise.
“I also want a cup,” Jack said, leaning against the kitchen counter.
“What happened to coffee is bad for you?”
“I’m a demon, honey,” Jack said. “I can eat and drink anything without having any problems.”
“Fine.” I took another mug out of the cupboard and put a spoonful of coffee in it for Jack. “Sugar?”
“Three, please.” He smiled.
My hand shook as I put the sugar in his cup. I hated myself for that sign of weakness. I took a deep breath and held it while I put two spoons of sugar in my own coffee.
“Don’t worry, darling,” Jack said, sounding strangely sincere. “I wasn’t given back to you. I’m here of my own accord. I wasn’t lying when I said I missed you. Besides, did you really believe that it would be that easy to get rid of me?”
I exhaled as I poured the boiling water into our cups.
“A girl can dream. Milk?” I asked, opening the fridge door.
“No thanks. I like my coffee as black as my little heart.”
“I didn’t know you had a heart,” I said, as I poured milk into my own coffee. I took my time stirring the coffee. I needed to slow my thoughts down. I needed to think. How could I have been so stupid? I’d been so proud of myself for giving him the slip two years ago, but now I realised that I hadn’t outsmarted him. I hadn’t evaded the curse that was Jack. I was stuck with him forever. I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. I thought about throwing the mug at him, but it wouldn’t do any good. I would just end up having to clean up the mess.
He clicked his fingers and once again my world was turned upside down.
I found myself sitting in a leather wing-backed chair. The smell of cigar smoke clung to the air. Jack and I were back in the same room where he’d told me the story of my father’s death. I’d sat in the same chair a little over two years before. I wanted to scream, but I bit my tongue and waited.
The room hadn’t changed much. It still had the same leather chairs, the same coffee table between the two chairs and the same bookcases lined the walls. The books were old. They looked like they belonged in a museum. I could smell the mustiness of the old paper. My hands itched to pick them up one by one and devour the pages with my eyes.
“What do you think about what I’ve done with the place?” Jack asked looking around the room with pride.
“Isn’t it a little manly for you?”
“There’s no need to be bitchy, Sarah,” Jack said, taking a seat in the chair opposite me.
“Fine, but it looks the same to me.”
“What do you mean it still looks the same?” he sounded hurt. “I had these chairs redone.” He ran his hands over the arms of his chair. “And I’ve expanded my collection.” He gestured towards the books.
“What do you want, Jack?” I asked again.
“You haven’t changed, have you? It’s still one question after the next with you. Can’t I just pop in for a visit and a chat?”
“No.” I crossed my arms and waited.
“So, who’s the new boy in the bed?” Jack asked while tapping his fingers on the armrest of his chair.
“His name’s Byron.” I couldn’t help the smile that crept across my lips as I said his name.
“You know he has to go, right?”
“Excuse me?” I hadn’t expected that. Fear for Byron’s safety turned my guts inside out.
“You heard me.”
“I’m going to pretend I didn’t and change the subject.” My heart pounded, and my skin crawled. “So how’s Carol?”
“Ah yes. That.” He paused for a beat too long. “How about we discuss her later?” He smiled. “I have a surprise for you.”
He clicked his fingers, and the air sizzled.
“Get them off me.” Kevin, my cheating ex-boyfriend and Jack’s latest victim, stood screaming in the middle of the room. His arms flailed around him. I saw the scar on his shoulder where I’d stabbed him with my kitchen carving knife. The shock of seeing him after so long brought tears to my eyes. Guilt stung the edges of my mind. I tried to choke back the sob escaping my mouth. Jack would take any sign of emotion as a victory. Blood gushed out of the self-inflicted wound at his throat. I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to slit his own throat.
“Kevin,” Jack shouted. “Focus.”
Kevin’s eyes opened wide. He looked around as though he expected something to jump out at him.
“Remember what we discussed?” Jack asked.
“What are you waiting for?” Jack asked. “Go on, do it.”
Kevin looked at me. It took a few seconds for his eyes to focus. I saw a flash of anger cross his once-handsome face, which was quickly overcome by fear.
“Sarah,” Kevin said, his voice barely above a whisper, “I’m sorry for mistreating you and for cheating on you with Denise. I didn’t deserve you.”
The last sentence was probably the only part of his speech that was sincere, and he didn’t mean it in a good way. I was, after all, the reason for his current predicament. I’d given Jack to him, like a demonic STD. No matter what he’d done to me, no-one deserved Jack.
“Good boy,” Jack said. “Now back to the torture chamber you go.” Jack was about to click his fingers when Kevin interrupted.
“Please, no more snakes,” he begged.
“You’re right,” Jack said with a smile and mischievous glint in his eyes. “They were a bit boring. I will have to find something more entertaining.”
Jack clicked his fingers, and Kevin exited with a gut-wrenching scream.
“Why are you still tormenting him?” I asked. “Hasn’t he been through enough?”
“It’s fun, and he deserves it.”
“No one deserves you.”
“You know it really hurts me when you say things like that.” Jack pursed his lips in a pout that a two-year-old would have been proud of.
“You poor baby. Did I hurt your wittle feewings?” I asked using my best sarcastic baby voice.
“Actually, yes.” Once again his pout was something to marvel. “And don’t forget you gave Kevin to me. It’s because of you that he’s my latest toy.”
“What do you mean by toy? Isn’t it over once they kill themselves?”
“Not by a long shot my sweet. Once you’re mine, you’re mine forever.”
My fears were confirmed in that one sentence. No matter what I did, I would never be rid of Jack. I may be alive, but he would be a part of that life for as long as I lived, and when I died he would be able to do with me as he pleased. I wanted to scream. I also wondered if my father had been aware of that when he gave me to Jack. I certainly hadn’t been aware of it when I gave him to Kevin.
Rain pounded on the thatched roof of the cabin. Jack and his smoking room disappeared.
“Hey, Babe,” Byron’s voice sounded far away. “Couldn’t you sleep?”
Standing at the sliding door, I looked out into the mist-covered valley and watched the rain soak into the wooden deck.
“Babe?” Byron said a little louder, a little closer. “Hey, you made me coffee. You’re the best.” He slurped Jack’s coffee. “Bit sweet. Did you forget I only have two sugars? Sarah, is something wrong?” he started to sound worried.
I felt his hand on my shoulder. I flinched.
“Sarah, for heaven’s sake, say something.”
“I’m alright,” I whispered. “Just watching the rain.”
So …What did you think?
Remember to pop in next week for the next bit.
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