Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bedtime Stories for the Insomniac by Matthew Yaeger

Later his father came home, tired from searching for his friend.  Jimmy saw the look on his face and knew that they had not found Ryan even before his father could say anything.  After returning from the shack Jimmy knew that they would not find him.   There was something larger going on than his parents could understand that even Jimmy did not understand.  He only knew that his dream was more than just a nightmare that would disappear in the sunlight.

His father explained that they had not found Ryan, and that Jimmy's mother would be staying with Ryan's mother overnight while they waited to see if he would come home.  Since they were on their own and his father was tired, Jimmy made a microwavable dinner and ate it while watching TV.  The microwavable dinner had no taste and no matter how he tried to pay attention to the TV his thoughts kept turning back to the origami creature in the shack, trying to make sense of it all, then retreating from those thoughts in horror.

Night came and there was still no sign of his friend.  His father put him to bed and sat on the side of it for a moment looking down at Jimmy.

“You okay son?”

“Yeah.” Jimmy lied.

His father nodded, then surprised Jimmy by leaning down and kissing him on the forehead in a way that he had not done since he was a child.

“We will find your friend, don't let that worry you.  I love you.” his father said.

“I love you too Dad.”

He father then left and went down the hallway.  Jimmy stared at the ceiling, wondering what was happening to his friend at that moment.

Jimmy realized he must have drifted off to sleep.  Time had passed and his digital clock showed that it was close to two o'clock in the morning.  Before he could roll over and try to return to sleep, he heard an odd noise.  The strange music from the night before was playing again.  The rhythmic beating swelled and crashed, and grew louder.

Jimmy stood and went to his window.  Down the road the streetlights were off, the darkness too thick to see anything through.  The music was coming from that direction, and as the music became louder and moved closer more streetlights turned off.  They would flicker like candles in a strong breeze, and then the light would cut off completely leaving the street below them in shadow.  Jimmy felt his heart speed up and tried moving away from the window, only his legs wouldn't respond to the thought and felt as though encased in concrete.  He wondered if this is how a deer felt when caught in a pair of headlights.

The strange music continued to grow louder, more sounds became clear, though not the sound instruments would make.  It sounded like screeches and howls, screams and growling, all flowing along the deep bass beat that had now grown to such a volume Jimmy was wondering why his parents or neighbors were not awake and storming out of their houses to see what was going on.

The streetlights towards his house continued to flicker and die.  As the darkness crept closer Jimmy realized he could make out a shape walking down the street.  Jimmy knew right away what the shape was.  It was his friend, Ryan, and he was walking down the middle of the road as though the leader of a parade.  Behind him the darkness was no longer the empty shadows of night, but the silhouettes of larger things moving from within them.  The darkness itself seemed alive, twisting and folding into itself like the paper that Ryan had fashioned origami monsters from.

The procession carried onwards, until it reached the streetlight right in front of Jimmy's house.  That streetlight stayed on and the darkness stayed back though it continued moving and shifting in ways that made Jimmy's mind hurt.  Ryan stepped forward from the shadows until he stood under the streetlight, and then turned his gaze upwards to the window where Jimmy was standing.  They locked eyes and at that moment the moving shadows and crazy dreams meant nothing.  He best friend was there, looking at him with an expression on his face that was both pleading and scared.  Then Ryan held his hand up, spit into his palm and stretched it out in Jimmy's direction.

The message was clear.  Jimmy found he could now move away from the window.  He went to his closet, put on a hooded sweatshirt over his pajamas, slid his feet into his sneakers and headed downstairs to the door to join his friend.  There might be punishment for messing with the book they had found, there might be creatures in the shadows that made him feel as though he was losing his mind, but his friend needed him, and he had made a promise.

Best friends forever, no matter what.

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Genre – Horror

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

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