Stranger

Part One

By Derrick Nadeau

Scott felt disoriented as he looked down the long, stark white hallway to the door at the end.  As he focused on the door, Scott could hear what sounded like a woman crying on the other side.  Scott took a deep breath, and slowly began to walk down the hallway.  With each step he took, the door at the end of the hallway seemed to be getting further away rather than closer, yet the sound of crying seemed to be increasing in volume.  Scott began walking faster, almost to the point of jogging, but still the door remained just out of reach.  Frustrated, Scott stopped walking, and turned to look back in the direction he had come from, and saw nothing but a cold, empty darkness.  Feeling panic begin to set into his mind, Scott turned back to the other end of the hallway, determined to run as fast as he could towards the door.  As he turned, Scott was shocked to find himself suddenly standing directly in front of the door.  Scott stared grimly at the doorknob, feeling an intense sense of trepidation., as the sound of the crying woman continued to grow louder.  Scott took another deep breath in an attempt to calm his nerves, then slowly opened the door in front of him.  The door opened to reveal a heavy darkness on the other side.  In the center of the darkness, a large bed could be seen bathed in a dim light.  Scott was shocked to see a naked woman on her hands and knees on top of the bed, facing away from him.  It was evident to Scott that the crying he had been hearing was coming from the woman on the bed.

“Are you all right,” Scott asked as he approached the bed cautiously.

“How could you,” the woman asked between sobs.

“I’m sorry?  What did you say?”

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried, remaining perfectly still on the bed.

“Me,” Scott asked.  “What did I do?  Are you okay?”

“How could you,” the woman repeated coldly.

“What are you talking about?  What did I do?”

When Scott reached the head of the bed, he froze in his tracks and let out a loud gasp.  To his horror, Scott immediately discovered the answer to his question.  Through the dim light, Scott could see a large pool of blood soaking the bed directly under the kneeling woman.  Upon closer inspection, Scott discovered that the blood was pouring out of a large gash cut into the woman’s throat.  A sudden rush of panic filled Scott’s mind, and he began to stumble backwards into the darkness.  As he moved back, the woman began to stir on the bed, rising up and appearing to float off the bed and onto the floor.

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried as her body began to move towards Scott without moving her legs or feet.

“What is this,” Scott asked, his voice barely more than a whisper.  At that moment, Scott tripped over something he could not see and fell to the floor.

“How could you do this to me,” the woman cried again, moving closer and closer to Scott.

“I didn’t,” Scott said, shaking his head furiously.  “I don’t know what this is.  I don’t understand.”

“How could you,” the woman asked again, this time a loud shout.

“Please,” Scott cried.  “Don’t.”

“How could you do this to me,” the woman asked again, this time in a scream so loud that it hurt Scott’s ears.

Before Scott could say another word, the woman suddenly appeared directly on top of him, pinning him to the floor.  Scott tried to push the woman off of him, but found himself unable to move as blood from the woman’s throat flowed down into his face.  Scott felt terror overtake him as the blood flowed down his throat, choking him.  Scott wanted to scream, but could not get out a sound as the deathly pale visage of the woman began to peel back, revealing a deep darkness underneath.  Scott could only watch in horror as the darkness expanded out, swallowing him up into it.

Scott woke up with a scream and quickly sat up in his bed, breathing heavily and drenched in sweat.  Scott shook his head, trying to shake the horrible dream out of his head, and then rubbed his eyes wearily.  Scott took a deep breath to calm his nerves, looked at his clock, and swore when he saw the time.  Though he felt exhausted from a night of disturbing dreams and wanted desperately to go back to sleep, his clock told him that he had a mere six minutes before his alarm would go off to let him know it was time to get ready for work.  Scott swore again, then stumbled out of bed to start his day.

Though he felt like a zombie, Scott managed to follow his routine and get himself ready for work.  Once he arrived at work, Scott headed to the break room and bought himself a cup of coffee from the vending machine.  Though he usually found the sludge masking itself as coffee served by the vending machine completely disgusting, Scott hoped that it would be gross enough to pull him our of his funk.  As he tried to force the coffee down his throat, his mind suddenly flashed back to the blood choking him in his dream, and he almost choked on the viscous liquid.  As he tried to recover from his choking, Scott’s friend Rich entered the breakroom and greeted him.

“Hey buddy,” Rich said.  “You okay there?”

“Yeah,” Scott replied, clearing his throat.  “Just trying to suck this crap down.”

“That stuff is nasty,” Rich said.  “Why are drinking that?”

“Didn’t sleep well last night,” Scott answered back, trying to decide if he could stomach another swig of motor oil.  “Figured this might help me wake up.”

“Yeah, you look like crap,” Rich said, shaking his head and chuckling.  “Late night with Sarah?”

“No,” Scott replied with a sigh.  “I didn’t even see Sarah last night.  She had to work late.  I’ve just been having some really bad dreams lately, that’s all.  They’ve really been messing with my head and ruining my sleep.”

“Really?  What kind of dreams?”

“Just,” Scott paused a moment, deciding if he wanted to discuss the nightly horrors his mind had been playing for him.  “I don’t really remember them.  I just know that they are bad and they are causing me to sleep like crap.”

“Sorry to hear that buddy,” Rich said.  “Maybe you should have called in sick today.”

“Maybe,” Scott said with a frown.  “But I think I needed to come in to keep my mind off of my crazy dreams.”

“Have you thought about going to see someone about this,” Rich asked.  “It’s obvious that it is something that is really affecting you.  You look exhausted.”

“Yeah, maybe,” Scott replied.  “I guess I could try to make an appointment with my doctor later.  Maybe that will help.”

“I’m sure they will be able to help in some way,” Rich agreed.  “Come on, it’s time to get to work now.”

“Yeah, okay,” Scott said, dumping the coffee he could not stomach down the drain of a nearby sink.

As Scott and Rich exited the breakroom, Scott paused in front of the doorway to let one of his coworkers, a woman named Mona, enter the breakroom.

“Good morning Scott,” Mona said, offering a greeting smile.

“Morning Mona,” Scott said back, attempting to return a weak smile.

“Have a good day today.  I’ll talk to you sometime later.”

“Sure thing Mona,” Scott said, as Mona walked past him into the breakroom.  “You have a good day too.  I hope it won’t be too busy.”

“Look at the ass on that one,” Scott heard someone say near him.  “I bet you could have some real fun with that one.”

Horrified, Scott turned to see who had made such a crass statement, but was surprised to see that there wan not a single person around him.

“I must be hearing things,” Scott said to himself, letting out a frustrated breath.  “My lack of sleep must be getting to me.”

“Come on,” the voice said again with a rough growl.  “You know you want a piece of that.”

Scott looked around again, desperately searching for a source to the voice he heard, but was dismayed to once again not find a single person near him.  Scott shook his head furiously, and hurried out of the breakroom.  Scott felt a surge of panic as he began to worry that his mind might be slipping, causing him to begin to hallucinate.  Scott ran into a nearby bathroom, walked up to the sink, and began to splash cold water on his face.  Scott grabbed a couple of paper towels, dried his face, and rubbed his eyes for a long moment.  Scott then took a couple of deep breaths, then glanced at himself in the mirror to see just how tired he actually appeared.  Scott’s blood turned to ice when he saw the face of a stranger staring back at him.

“Hey buddy,” the stranger in the mirror snarled.  “Remember me?”

On Blackened Wings

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You Burn

Rand could not hold back his joyous laughter as he soared through the air on his newly acquired wings.  As the cool wind gently nipped at his face, Rand felt the troubles and concerns of his life slip away into nothingness.  At that moment, all Rand cared about was the feeling of unparalleled freedom he felt soaring among the clouds.  Rand had never dreamed that flying high in the sky could feel so truly amazing, and he found himself wishing that he never had to touch the ground again.  As Rand began to feel more comfortable with his newly acquired wings, he began to test himself by attempting to mimic the actions of the birds that he had witnessed in the sky.  Rand pulled his wings close to his sides, and launched into  a free-fall towards the ground below.  Seconds before reaching the ground, Rand opened his wings again, catching the air perfectly to halt his fall and send him back up towards the sky, spinning and laughing as he rose.  Once he reached a high enough altitude, Rand dove towards the ground again.  Instead of rising back to the sky, Rand this time opened his wings further to allow himself to soar low to the ground.  Rand let out a triumphant shout as he watched the ground below him speed past.

As he soared along, close to the ground, Rand suddenly noticed a strange creature crawling on the ground ahead of him.  As he got closer, Rand noticed that the creature was actually a man.  Rand recognized the man immediately as he flew over him, and the joy in his heart was instantly consumed by pure hatred.  Rand adjusted his flight to bring himself back into the sky, and he circled around to get another view of the Seraph below him.

“How do you still live.” Rand shouted to the Seraph too far below him to hear.  “How is it possible?  I told the elders we should have killed you!”

Rand continued to circle the Seraph below him like a vulture waiting to feast, cursing the gods for sparing the creature’s life.  Letting anger take control, Rand dropped into another dive, aimed directly at the Seraph below.  Rand felt his blood boiling in his veins as he soared towards his target, and his mind began to focus on getting his revenge.  In a matter of seconds, Rand reached the Seraph, but was soaring too fast.  Unable to control himself, Rand crashed into the Seraph and rolled several feet before coming to a halt.  Rand moaned as he felt the pain of several broken ribs and a fractured jaw.  As Rand tried to get back to his feet, he heard another moan from the nearby Seraph.

“How,” Rand hissed, spitting out blood.  “How do you still live?”

Rand tried to stand but found that he had sprained his ankle as well, forcing him to drop back to the ground.  Rand fought back tears caused by a mix of pain and frustration as he looked over to the Seraph lying broken several feet away from him.  The Seraph began to attempt to move again, and Rand found his mind filling with hatred and anger once again.

“Die, damn you,” Rand shouted.  “Why won’t you just die?”

The Seraph responded to Rand’s question by coughing up blood, drove Rand past his breaking point.  With a scream of anger mixed with intense pain, Rand rose to his feet, ignoring his injuries, and hobbled over to the Seraph.  Letting out an anguished cry, Rand grabbed the Seraph and mustered all the strength he had left to launch himself back into the sky.  Though it was a great struggle, Rand lifted the Seraph high into the air, leaving the ground far below him.  Once he rose as high as he felt he could go, Rand released his grip on the Seraph, letting his son’s killer fall.  Rand began to fly in a circular pattern, watching intently as the Seraph dropped to the ground.  An eternity later, the Seraph crashed into the ground violently, leaving a bloody splatter around his body.

Rand felt a sense of relief as he stared at the lifeless body of his son’s murderer lying on the ground below him, and the tears began to flow from his eyes.  Moments later, Rand’s relief was turned to horror as he felt a burning sensation on his back.  In his peripheral vision, Rand could see flames coming from behind him.  Before Rand could realize what had happened, his wings had caught fire and burned up, leaving a mass of charred skin on his back.  Rand let out another pain filled scream as his once glorious wings burned off, leaving him charred and falling back to the earth.  Despite the agony of losing his wings, all Rand could focus on was his family as he fell to his death.  A brief moment later, Rand’s body crashed into the ground bringing his life to a painful end.

“I’m sorry Waryn,” a white-winged Seraph named Gabras announced.  “Your son did not survive the fall.”

“My son,” Waryn whispered as he knelt  over his son’s lifeless body.  “What did those animals do to you?”

” I can’t explain what happened here,” The Gabras stated.  “It seems that Ezkel’s wings have been chopped off his body, and his death seems to have been caused by the fall from that.  But, I can’t possibly imagine how that is possible.  We may never know the true story of how your son was slain.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Waryn stated coldly.  “All that matters is that my son lies dead in the dirt like some common beast.  Wrap up his body so that we can take him back home and give him a proper ritual.”

“Of course Waryn,” Gabras said, then turned his attention to the burnt and broken body of the Devlin lying nearby.  “And what of this beast?”

“Leave it,” Waryn snapped.  “I know that creature is somehow responsible for the death of my son.  Leave it lying in the dirt for the other beasts to feed on.  That is a fitting end for that creature.”

Waryn let his tears flow as he and Gabras wrapped Ezkel’s body in a large cloth.  The two Seraph then launched into the sky, carrying Ezkel’s body back to his home for a proper burial.

Dedicated To My Uncle Lenny

I told my cousin that I was going to write this post many months ago.  I guess it’s about time for me to actually write it then, even though it’s the hardest post I’ve tried to write yet.

I don’t have a lot of memories from my childhood, which I believe is because I have blocked them out of my mind.  I won’t discuss the reasons behind my memory blocks in this post, that will be a post for another day.  This post is about the fond memories that I do have about my Uncle Lenny, and the strange impact his death had on me.

My Uncle Lenny was one of the most interesting and fascinating men that I knew when I was a child.  Uncle Lenny seemed like a very busy man to me when I was young because he had a lot of hobbies as I recall.  One of Uncle Lenny’s favorite hobbies that I can remember was ice racing.  My uncle owned a car, which he may have built himself, or had at least modified, specially suited for racing on a frozen lake bed.  The car had chains on its tires and a painting of Snoopy in his pilot costume on the side of the door.  I remember going to the races and cheering my uncle on as he raced.  I’m sure I often froze my buns off, but I remember the races fondly.  In a related hobby, my uncle also owned a kit car that I think he built himself  in his spare time, or he may have had it built for him, I’m not quite sure.  I remember the car was a beautiful blue sports car, though I don’t remember the make or model, that sat very close to the ground.  I thought that car was the coolest vehicle of all time when I was a kid.

Beyond cars, I remember my Uncle Lenny owned his own telescope.  Uncle Lenny loved taking me and my cousin and sister out to his back yard and showing us the stars in the night sky.  Uncle Lenny was the man who introduced me to all of my favorite constellations in the sky as well.  I owe a large part of my love of space to my uncle.  Perhaps I should buy my own telescope to relive those wonderful memories one of these days.

Uncle Lenny had a great sense of humor and a wild imagination too.  My father told me a story once that my Uncle Lenny once spent an afternoon around the holiday times sitting in front of his Christmas Tree, concentrating on moving the tree with his mind.  The funniest part of the story is that at one point, my uncle actually believed he had managed to move the tree a couple of inches using telekinesis.  My father told me that my uncle was so excited by the accomplishment, he had to tell everyone.  My uncle was so proud of his accomplishment, even if nobody, my father included, would believe him.

My Uncle Lenny was great, and I loved him very much.  That’s why my reaction to his death has always confused me, and still confounds me to this day.  Let me try to explain how I felt, and hopefully you will understand.

Uncle Lenny died when I was thirteen years old of a massive heart attack.  My uncle was somewhere near my current age when he died, that’s one of the reasons I’m trying to lose so much weight now.  I remember the day I found out my uncle had died very clearly.  I had walked into the house after hanging out with my friends to find my cousin and sister sitting at the kitchen table.  They were both very upset and crying ,  it was instantly obvious that something terrible had happened. I asked what had happened, and my cousin told me that her father, my Uncle Lenny, had died earlier that day.

The death of  a relative, particularly one as close as my Uncle Lenny was, is a tragic and painful experience that we all must deal with at some point in our lives. Everyone deals with that loss in a different way, but generally it is met with grief and sadness.  When my cousin gave me the news about the death of my uncle, I don’t know how my outward appearance must have seemed to my cousin and sister, I just remember how I felt inside.  I remember thinking, oh, that’s too bad, as if I had just learned about the death of a stranger that I had never met before, or someone’s pet that I had only heard them talk about.  I felt no immediate grief, sadness, or even loss.  I can’t even say I felt numb or surreal at all.  At that moment, it was as if my mind didn’t even register what was really going on.  To this day I don’t understand why I felt that way, and I still feel bad that I wasn’t immediately distraught or even mildly saddened by my uncle’s death.  The days leading up to my uncle’s funeral did nothing to change my feelings.  I wanted so very badly to feel grief at my uncle’s passing, I just didn’t.

I remember very well the day of my uncle’s funeral, I recall it raining that  day.  The moment that stands out the strongest for me is my family and I waiting inside the entrance of the church that held the funeral services.  I stood there next to my father and watched as the rest of my family filed into the church, each face soaked with a sad combination of tears and rain, still wishing I could share their grief.  It wasn’t until I saw my aunt and cousin exit their car and approach the church that something changed.  I can’t say for certain what had happened in my mind at that moment, all I can say is that when I saw my aunt and cousin walking in, seeing them crying and distraught hit me so hard that it caused me to instantly break down and release all the tears and grief that had been missing from the previous days all at once.  I felt as though someone had punched me so hard that the pain reached my very soul.  There are only a few times in my life that I have cried as hard as I did at that moment.  I still get a bit teary eyed when I think about that moment.  In fact, my eyes are watering a bit as I type this.

After that moment, I was able to feel the full grief of my uncle’s death.  Oddly enough, I am grateful that the grief did at last come.  I have not had such an odd reaction to a family member’s death since my uncle died, and I hope to never feel that way again.  I think missing the grief immediately, then feeling a few days worth of grief all at once, is without doubt one of the most horrible feelings I have experienced in my whole life.  At times, I have felt guilty about my initial lack of grief.  When I feel the guilt, I remember how much pain I felt when I saw my aunt and cousin at the funeral, and I realize that the grief did come, it just took some time

 I have often thought about how my life, and the lives of my family would be different now if  Uncle Lenny were still alive.  I love my Uncle Lenny, and I miss him very much. Sharing all of this with you is my way of honoring the memory of my uncle, and I thank you for reading this important posting.

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