The Taylight Zone - Anthology Four

06 - Something Like Blood - K. Blur

Note to reader: The character of main focus in this story has not been
given a permanent name and therefore the name and/or personality you
choose to give the main character(s) is up to you. It began as a Hanson
story with the Hanson brother that I had in my mind, but as I went on,
it seemed that any brother could fit into the personality of the
character. I don’t know the Hansons, never will, so the character I have
created is based entirely on what I have picked up through web
interviews, television interviews, etc. So, please, enjoy.

At the end of his street, three houses down from his own, was a house. Paint chipped and fell in white sprinklings over the dying rhododendrons and browned grass, and all the windows, except for one at the very back of the house, were boarded up by thick plywood. The front porch sagged in the middle, growing closer to the ground every time he walked by, and the rusted iron fire escape that climbed along the side of the house looked as though, one by one, each screw was coming undone.

The children that swarmed the neighborhood during the wretchedly hot summer months tended to stay far away from the house, and only on a triple dare would a child even approach the haunting structure. Ghosts lived in that house; the evil spirits of witches that died years ago haunted and drove those who entered to insanity.

But he refused to believe the stories told around the bonfires on Friday
nights. Human kind had solid proof that such beings did not thrive on the planet earth, if they were anything at all but a way to explain the state the house had been in for as long as he could remember. And so, he found no reason to allow shivers to run up is spine and the hairs on his arms rise as he rode to the end of the street and back around, still mentally sane and without ghosts knocking over lamps and slamming doors when he was alone.

On the second Friday in August, the second bonfire of the month, he agreed to the dare given to him to ride his bike down the street, knock on the door, and return back to the circle around the bonfire. Despite warnings made by his brothers to forget the whole thing and just say "No," he climbed on his bike and began his ride to the house.

As he turned down his own street, he began to see the darkened shadow
that melted into the dark pines sitting behind it, resisting the illumination of the street lamps that sat tall and warming along people’s front lawns. His skin prickled up and down his back, along his arms and legs, his scalp.

Coward. The word flashed through his mind, bright, resembling the jagged
lightning bolts that shot through the sky when thunder protruded into his tranquil sleep at night. He peddled harder, picking up speed, and let his bike fall softly on the coarse grass that crunched under his sneakers. The rounded cobble stones that worked as a pathway up to the porch seemed to crack and crumble beneath his sneakers; the rocks gave way beneath his feet and made him walk faster, almost to a jog, as his heart pumped blood faster, faster, and sweat began to slowly make its way through his pores and to his back where it dripped icily over his skin.

The steps creaked. Putting his weight down, each board let out a painful
moan, whining with every step, crying as his breath became nothing more
than a quick, raspy pattern. Reaching the door, his muscles froze. His mind fought furiously against his muscular system, urging his muscles to contract, finish the dare and allow him to return safely to the bonfire and tell his friends it was a piece of cake; his body wouldn’t comply.

Light. Through the foggy dust painted over the glass beside the door, a light sprung on from somewhere in the house. It flowed and met his eyes, splashing a yellow glow over his face, his skin sparkling as the light danced over the tiny beads of sweat that burst through his skin. He tried to yell, run; run far away from the light, the house, the street but his legs were stiff as the boards that bolted the windows, his knees and ankles frozen straight.

The door knob turned, squeaking painfully as metal rubbed against metal.
A darkened figure appeared standing in the doorway, head bent and arms
hanging loosely at its sides, hands barely peeking out from above the
sleeves. Straight, shiny hair, ebony as the shadows that irrigated from the house at night, flowed over her shoulders and swung in curled tendrils against her arms. Her head shot up, introducing his terrified face to her own, calm, solemn expression. Her eyes, gray as the burnt charcoal at the end of their bonfires, stabbed into his, making his legs feel like gelatin and his hands turn clammy and warm.

She placed her hands on his face, five fingers spread lightly on each cheek, and brought his face to hers, making him stumble inside the house, the door slamming behind him. She forced him against the wall, smashing his head and back hard against the wood, and brought her lips to his, enshrouding his mouth in deep kisses. He tried to push her away, stand and run away from the house, but his head felt drained and heavy as she moved her lips down to his neck where he could feel his pulse bulging through his skin.

Pain. A sharp, piercing pain shot through his neck in numbing throbs. He felt the energy he once had slowly drain from his body, his head cloudy, his vision blurred. He tried to breathe, catch some of the clean air that floated through the hole in the glass of the window across from him, but he coughed instead, wheezing and choking against the sharp pain beating through his neck and the heavy exhaustion he couldn’t resist.

And the pain stopped. His neck ached some, but the pain had subsided,
slowed to a slight sting when he tried to turn his head. He opened his eyes, searching for the girl, wanting to ask her what had caused him so much pain, so much exhaustion; the girl was gone. He felt his heart speed up, bringing back the choking tightness of his lungs and before his muscles froze up again, he reached above for the door knob and leaning against the wall for support, struggled successfully outside to his bike which waited silently, fearlessly, on the coarse grass hiding in the shadows of the house.

He stumbled slowly up to the circle around the bonfire, dropping his bike just outside the group, and took a seat on the ground next to his brother as questions and cheers were thrown at him from around the circle.

"Ma man, you did it, dude!" Someone cheered from across the circle. He
couldn’t tell who said what; his head was drained, his legs and arms limp, eyes slowly drifting closing then jerking open as someone new slammed a compliment at him.

"Piece of cake," he said, tiredly, and slowly got up, oblivious to everyone around him and the calling of his name to come back. He concentrated on getting into his bed and falling asleep.

He awoke to a long stream of light splashing over his face. He tried to roll away from it, but his legs and arms felt like weights and his neck throbbed when he unsuccessfully forced his head to the other side of the pillow. He could hear his family, all eight of them, chatting away downstairs at the breakfast table while bowls and spoons clanked beneath their voices.

Pulling himself out of bed, every muscle moaning in pain like the steps of the house the night before, he walked to the bathroom and threw himself against the door as it slowly closed behind him. He walked to the sink, hands shaking, knees weak and tired, and splashed ice cold water against his face. His head shot up, introducing him to the weighted, drained face that looked back at him. His eyes were clear, glossy under the vanity lights bordering the mirror, but dark, violet circles were painted underneath the usual bright shade he met in the morning. His hair was gold, shining because it was greasy, not because of its texture, and loose tendrils jutted out from the ponytail he hadn’t taken out the night before.

Then he noticed them. Two, small, magenta gashes, an inch apart from each other, decorated his neck just below his ear. They were circled by a light brown bruise and lucky for him, his hair was long, down to his shoulders and the marks could easily be hidden. He couldn’t figure, however, where they had come from. Maybe the girl’s kisses had drawn the blood to his skin, or maybe his neck had been pressed against nails jutting from the wall while the girl had seduced him. But how ever they had appeared, he couldn’t think of the girl, the house, the fear, the pain that he had endured the previous night without tears erupting from his eyes and his chest convulsing with the threat of heavy sobs. He wanted cry, but he couldn’t waste the last amount of energy he had left.

Brushing his hair and letting it fall lightly over his neck and shoulders, he retreated downstairs where his parents and brothers and sisters sat energetically at the table, each chatting with another about something that intrigued them greatly. He slumped in silently, sitting slowly as to not cause anymore pain to break through the tranquillity he had finally received. No one noticed his struggle.

His brother leaned over, lowering his voice as to not arouse any question of what he was about to say. "Where’d you go last night? You were supposed to tell us what all happened," his brother said in a low whisper, stealing a glance in his parents direction. They didn’t look up from their papers.

His chest grew heavy, a lump in his throat forming as the house and the girl and the pain flashed through his mind. He felt his eyes blur, liquid tempting to spill over and he quickly got up from the table and went over to the refrigerator to get a drink. Water, all he wanted was water to push one swallow down and dissolve the suffocating block in his throat.

He grabbed a glass from the cupboard and slammed the faucet on, quickly
filling his glass and consuming the clear, tasteless liquid in one gulp. He felt his eyes dry and his breath flow easily in and out. But a heaviness swallowed him whole, dragging his energy to the floor and leaving him limp and exhausted. He tried to walk normally, in a straight line, but he had to return to the counter for support or he would fall to a pile on the floor.

His sister got up from her seat at the table carrying a bowl of milk and soggy cereal to the sink beside him. She poured the milk and cereal into the drain, oblivious to her brother’s drained stare, and set her spoon and bowl in the dishwasher. Her curly blond hair was pulled loosely into a high ponytail, wild wisps floating daintily about the soft flesh of her neck. He saw the light blue outline of a vein protruding normally from her neck, and suddenly felt a thirst tear at the back of his throat, scratching and twisting at his tongue, making him cough and sputter. He refilled his glass with water and drank it quickly, savoring the cool freshness of the liquid.

When the glass was empty, the thirst returned. He craved something thicker, saltier, something that would glide down his throat slowly and rejuvenate his energy. Something red, something like blood...