It has been quite awhile since my last post, and for that I apologize, but this has been in part due to the fact that I’ve been working on a new, long term project. Earlier this year I got the idea to start writing a novel, and have recently found the time and motivation to begin writing it. I will be posting its progress on this page, often in lieu of my usual material, but hopefully it will be no less entertaining. Without further ado, here is the prologue:
The springs of the bed creaked audibly as the the boy rolled over again, coming to rest on his elbow. Luke lay his chin in the palm of his hand and looked up at the dark window on the wall, watching as streams of water raced to the bottom, pooling up for a moment, then vanishing from view. Luke shivered, pulling the blankets up to his shoulders. The chill seemed to radiate from the cool glass, crawling across the floor and over the edges of the bed with the express purpose of making him miserably cold. He shifted and lay on his side adopting the fetal position, hugging the covers closer. From here he could clearly hear the rain rhythmically drumming on the roof above. It was like a metronome, relentlessly pounding its way into his skull, each drop tapping and reverberating through his bones.
Luke pressed his eyelids together, willing sleep to take him, though deep down he knew his heart wasn’t in it. He reopened his eyes and looked at the alarm clock by his bed. The light display seemed to yell, “It’s 2:30 am! Go to bed, man!” He frowned at it and stuck out his tongue, shifting his weight and throwing his legs over the edge of the bed; he wasn’t sure why, but he really wanted to see this storm.
As he stood up, Luke let the blankets fall away, feeling them brush from his shoulders down his back, raising goose-bumps on already cold skin. In three quick steps he stood at the small window, trying to focus on the images that swirled and distorted with every trailing drop of rain. A strong gust of wind rattled the house, and he watched as the downpour was suddenly ripped to the left, giving the impression that the sky itself had fallen on its side.
Luke cupped his hands around his face, pressed up against the windowpane, and peered into the distance. Across the street, beyond two lines of houses, and down a hill was a high, rippling sea of pines. The forest looked alive tonight, flowing and churning with the wind, painted black with the rest of the night world. So similar, Luke marveled. Every one of them. He grinned widely, I wonder if they look at us and think the same thing. He thought for a moment, then stood perfectly still and listened. Through the carpet and floorboards, eyes tightly shut, focusing intently. His smile grew as he found what he was searching for: the soft one-two snore of his parents from downstairs.
Without wasting a moment, Luke began making his way out of the bedroom and down the hallway, walking on the pads of his feet and stepping carefully around the places on the floor where he knew the boards squeaked loudest. It was a short walk from the hallway to the living-room, and from there to the front door, and he made it just as easily and stealthily as he had a million times before.
The door was at the far end, and his hand reached it before the rest of his body, quickly but carefully applying downward pressure on the “J” shaped bronze handle. The mechanism clicked softly as the latch receded back into the door, and Luke slowly pulled backwards until it was open about one-eighth of the way, then he slipped through the opening like a ghost, pulling the door just to the point when it hadn’t quite latched.
Immediately the automatic porch light popped on, bathing him in a warm yellow glow; it almost made him forget how cold the wind and rain was making him. Almost. Luke felt a chill go down his back that continued right on to his bare feet, inducing a violent shiver. By the time the spasm ended, Luke’s jaw hurt, and he realized he had been clenching his teeth.
He stood on the soggy wooden planks that made up his porch and watched the millions of drops of water explode into mist as they hit the earth. The world’s coldest blanket. After a moment of standing there, Luke breathed deeply, puffing up his chest, then he took two big steps away from the porch, and into the wall of water in front of him.
It just kept coming down! Brandon groaned, he hated storms, always had. Always will! Brandon growled inwardly. He reached his arm across his chest and grabbed the end of the blankets, ripping them off and sitting up in his bed. Frustrated, he picked up his alarm clock in one hand and looked at the glowing blue numbers. 2:35 am. Brandon’s eyebrows moved together as his ever present frown deepened. He tossed the clock aside and got up, kicking aside the dirty clothes and random toys that decorated the floor of his room. His bedroom door was always open and he moved from there into the kitchen to root through the cupboards for a glass that didn’t have smudges all over it. He didn’t find one.
It amazed Brandon how loud and incessant the hum of the refrigerator was, even compared to the heavy rainfall. He spun towards it on his heel and loudly walked forward, taking full advantage of the fact that his parents wouldn’t be home for another hour or so.
With the glass in one hand, Brandon reached over and grabbed the aluminum handle of the fridge, tugging the door open and grabbing a half empty jug of milk. Half walking, half stomping, he made his way to the small table in the living room and filled the glass, spilling some but not really enough for him to be bothered with it. He popped the red cap back on the plastic container and carried it back to its home, slamming the fridge door and walking out the way he had come.
Instead of heading back to his room, Brandon turned right and walked back into the living room, grabbing a chair from around the table and setting it in front of the broad glass pane at the front of the room. Maybe I’ll get to see a tree fall on someone’s house or something, Brandon thought sourly as he turned on the light and plopped himself down.
And then he saw him. Brandon squinted and blinked his eyes a couple of times to make sure it wasn’t just his imagination or the glare of the glass making him see the half-naked boy standing in the rain across the street. The boy’s hair was plastered to his head, and he looked as pale as a ghost. As far as his head went, Brandon could only really see his neck and chin, since the boy seemed to be staring straight up into the sky. Brandon moved closer to the window and craned his neck to try and see what was so interesting in the clouds, but there was nothing… just clouds and rain. What a wierdo, Brandon thought, rolling his eyes.
Brandon took a heavy gulp of his milk and was about to turn the light back off when the boy’s face lowered and looked right at him. Brandon stopped, halfway off the seat with his glass of milk raised. The ghost-kid seemed to be frozen as well, obviously not expecting anyone to be watching, and Brandon definitely knew how this must look. Creepy, very creepy, he figured.
The two of them stood like that for what felt like minutes, until Brandon realized his legs were aching from the half crouched way he was posed. He quickly stood up and fumbled with the light switch, plunging the room back into darkness.
Luke’s heart was pounding in his chest and his face was so warm he thought the rain might evaporate off of it. Oh god! Luke thought, horrified. He knew the kid in the window, his name was Brandon Tucker, and if Brandon had recognized him he would never hear the end of it at school. Luke lowered his chin to his chest and began to turn back towards the house.
Suddenly the world split in two and there was a blinding flash of light accompanied by a deafening explosion. Luke didn’t feel himself leave the ground, or the jarring impact as he came back to it, nor did he feel or smell the skin on his chest and forearms scorching. Luke was a million miles away.
No sooner had Brandon turned off the living room light that it seemed to turn itself back on, except a thousand times brighter! Brandon covered his eyes and felt the house shake with the exceptionally loud crack and roar left by the blast. When he looked back, the pavement where the boy had been standing was scorched black in the shape of a star, the boy lay some five feet back, smoke curling off of his torso.
Brandon’s heart was speeding from the adrenaline. He took a deep breath, and that was when it hit him. He’s not getting up. What do I do?! Every muscle in his body screamed run, and he had a sudden strong urge to go to the bathroom. His mind was blank, if only for a second. The next one he was sprinting across the room for the phone. His fingers were shaking and sweating as he dialed. He recited the numbers mentally as he typed them in. 9-1-1.
The dial-tone only hit once before the line was picked up on the other end by the Emergency Operator. “911, what’s your emergency?”
Brandon’s voice caught in his throat and he was worried he wouldn’t be able to speak. When he answered his voice cracked out a panicked, “Hello! The-there’s this boy across the street and he, um, he’s hurt!”
“What’s your location?” the operator responded calmly. How the hell are you so calm?! Brandon wanted to scream. Instead he gave her his information and the phone on the ground where he had been standing, running to the front door, and throwing it open. It didn’t even register to Brandon that he, too, was barefoot as he dashed into the storm and over to the stranger lying face up on the concrete.
He could hear the sirens off in the distance, and the smell of burnt hair and flesh still hung in the air. The rain began coming down harder, and pretty soon it overwhelmed his senses. “They’ll be here soon! Don’t die!” Brandon half yelled, half screamed in a voice that even he couldn’t hear past the rain. He crouched down next to the frighteningly pale boy and wiped the rain from his own face. He brushed some of the hair from the boy’s face to try and get a better look. The boy didn’t look familiar, Brandon wondered if they went to the same school…
© 2012, Fulton Miller
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Each installment of this book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from Fulton Miller.