The Shadows

[here's a story for anyone who likes Cthulhu / Lovecraft / the Mythos. If you don't, fair warning, this story is just a bit disturbing. No happy ending. Sorry. :\ ]

Trevin was almost devastated when the court made their decision. It wasn't like he'd never get to see him, he supposed… And he was only his brother. In the legal system's eyes, fathers got custody over brothers.

The poor kid had been tossed between Trevin and his father ever since their mother died four years ago. He was nine years old when the court finally awarded full custody to his father. Trevin was eighteen. It made sense. Trevin was just barely an adult. But he could have been better for the boy than that man. At least, he liked to think so.

Eiael had packed what was left of his belongings, hugging his brother as if it were the last time he'd get to hug him. Trevin held him silently for a few minutes. Then he pushed him back playfully and grinned.

"Hey, now, it's not like I'm not gonna see you. So you better be good, or I'll come after ya." Knocking a few fingers against the boy's shoulders, he smiled a bit wider. He managed to pry a reflected smile from the boy's otherwise dark face.

"You better come visit," the boy mumbled. Black bangs tumbled just in front of his eyes, and he slid his gaze sideways. He almost wanted to wrap around his waist again. Refuse to leave. Instead, he hoisted the small bag on his shoulder and shuffled toward the car.

The ride wasn't so bad. It was awkward and silent, but Eiael kept his eyes out the window, watching the scenery quietly. When he walked up the dark front steps, the sense of dread finally greeted him.

"Come on, all the way in," came the gruff voice behind him. A hand pushed him a bit farther forward, until he was over the threshold.

It was like he had entered a different dimension, suddenly. It just didn't feel the same. The air was thicker, somehow, and the light pouring through half-covered windows dimmed before it hit the floor. Fingers curled tightly around his bag, but something ripped it from his grasp before he realized it.

"…Father?" He was uncertain what to call the man. He hadn't even known he existed before his mother died. The living room was filled with junk. It was all neatened junk, set carefully on shelves and tables. Two statues holding a pile of books together stared at him quietly as he passed.

"Yeah. Go on, here's your room," the large man replied, thick fingers sliding a dirty door from its hinges. Eiael watched him another moment, gaze shifting to his bag, and finally to the darkness just on the other side of the door.

He couldn't see a light switch, either. He stepped hesitantly through the door, fingertips fumbling against the wall as he inched along the side. The last bit of light fled along the floor as he heard a click behind him. A small amount of panic welled in his throat.. He felt along the wall back to the door, and twisted the doorknob.

"Father?… Can you open the door?" He gulped the lump back down and jiggled the handle. Nothing emerged from the other side. Okay… maybe he'd locked it accidentally. No big deal. He'd accidentally locked the door once… But it hadn't been this dark. He gulped again, and followed the wall the opposite way. There had to be a switch in here somewhere…

"I can't find the light," he called out, mainly for his own comfort. He paused at each corner, feeling along the cracks. Fingers crossed a few boards in one wall.. Maybe a window behind it. Small room.. Mostly corners. He stopped dead when his fingers hit the door again. "Father… There isn't a light in here…" his voice wavered softly.

Something gurgled in the corner. His eyes trained themselves back, staring a moment as if he could penetrate the thick blanket of darkness. Only darkness greeted him.

"I'm going to teach you something," came the voice after a few minutes. The door swung open, knocking Eiael back a few inches… He blinked and stared at the silhouette, squinting at the light that flooded a small square around him.

"Teach me… s-something?"

"Yeah. I'm going to teach you about your mother." Something hissed. The silhouette moved forward, dark fingers clamping around the boy's shoulder until he winced.

"Ow… you're hurting me," the boy mumbled, stumbling backward.

"I haven't begun to hurt you yet, child. Calm yourself."

Eiael gulped softly, holding his comments between his teeth. His eyes slid backward, toward the corner that had seemed alive before. It was as dead as the one behind him.

"See? You're already learning. Now how many times did you speak to me… Was it six, or seven?" The hissing sound again. The fingers against his shoulder twisted and spun him around, shoving him forward until he was facing a wall. Shadowed hand crept behind him and pressed him into the knotted wood.

"W-what are you doing?" The boy murmured softly. A bit of fear had crawled into his voice. His palms pressed against the rotted wood, bracing him uncertainly.

"Ah, now it's eight." It hissed again. Louder. Somewhere close to his ear. And suddenly, a harsh sting erupted across his back.

Eiael cried out, fingers digging into the knotholes in front of him. "What did I do???" he howled, squeezing his eyes shut as the pain slithered through his veins. Another hiss, and another bright flash of pain.

"Shut up. Jesus took forty lashes without making a sound," the voice growled. It had grown considerably louder, full of hatred and something inhuman. The boy shuddered. He clenched his teeth to keep the cries back as another lash, and then another, slapped across his back.

Eight lashes streaked across his back before the hissing died, ripped fabric dangling behind him. "Every time you speak, you'll get another one. Once a day, for as many times as you speak." The voice grew subtler again, almost as if it were used to giving this command. Thick fingers released the boy's shoulder, and Eiael slid along the wall, falling finally into a corner. He stared at the man incredulously.

"Your mother," the voice continued after waiting for the boy to speak, "was a whore." The boy shook his head frantically. "You disagree?" The man waited for a reply that never came. He finally continued. "You'll learn. I'll teach you to be thankful for every morsel I give you. It's time to sleep now," the man finished, stalking to the door.

Eiael bolted forward, slamming his shoulder against the door as it shut. He slid down the door, soft cries finally spilling from his lips at the pain snaked over his back. Both arms covered his face, shivering softly as the blood tickled his flesh.

The gurgling sound again. Only closer… Somewhere near, a soft lapping against the puddles of blood beside him.

"Hello…?" He whispered, peering between the arms. It was softer than he'd spoken before. The lapping sound continued… methodical, quiet, close. He jammed himself farther against the door, squeezing his eyes shut.

Splinters dug through clammy flesh as the door shoved open, and Eiael sprawled a few feet away. He forgot where he was for a moment. Dreams made it so easy to forget. Heavy eyelids blinked blearily, voice catching in his throat as he mumbled softly. "Why's it so dark, Trevin…"

Something metallic crashed by his ear, and he shot up. Both hands clapped over his mouth, eyes widening. It hadn't been a dream… It was still real, this nightmare was real... Freshly wakened gaze slid toward the object still clattering on the floor.

"Breakfast," the man replied. He didn't seem angry. Maybe he hadn't heard him. Maybe Eiael had just dreamed that he said it. "Enjoy it. I don't serve lunch or dinner." He leaned against the door frame. After another awkward moment, the man's voice rose to a gutteral growl. "Eat it. Now."

Eiael crawled slowly toward the small, metal bowl. His eyes didn't shift from the man's face as his fingers dug through the mess of cold goo inside. It was bland and sticky. He shoved it in his mouth with a look of disgust, sliding the metal away after a few mouthfuls.

"Eat it all."

"I'm not hungry," the boy replied before he remembered. Fingers pressed over his mouth sadly.

"Suit yourself. You just let me know when you get hungry, then." The man scraped up the metal bowl, stalking out the door.

His eyes had almost grown accustomed to the darkness. The room was rather empty; four bland, knotted wooden walls, and a floor full of splinters. A closet door loomed in the far right corner, almost invisible through the darkness. A boarded up window. A fan on the ceiling, slightly off-center, which didn't seem to connect to a switch anywhere.

Eiael stuffed himself into a far corner. Two fingers twisted into a knothole, and suddenly his full attention was devoted to the small exit. The small wave of hope splashed over him, forced his muscles to work frantically as if he were suddenly running for his life. Maybe it was a way out… Somehow…

Dirty fingernails dug against the rotted wood. The splinters stung against the quick of every finger, but after a few minutes, he ignored them. Prying the chips apart piece by piece, he dug the small digits through the space, scraping them along the outer wall.

He had almost worked it into a fist-sized hole when the door shot open again. For a few seconds his eyes squeezed shut, blinded from the light that flooded in. The rough grip yanked him away before he could see. It spun him around, and shoved him hard against the wall.

------------- part 4 has been lost -----------------

The scream broke through the tight wood around him. The worm-like breeze flicked across his flesh, drinking up the beads of sweat and blood. It died, and the gurgling sound slid away.

Eiael broke into tears, drowning his shaking frame until it lost itself to sleep.

As the second week passed, his hunger began to speak for him. It didn't matter, anyway. The Gurgling Thing was angry when he didn't speak... His father was angry when he did. Somehow, he almost preferred the sharp sting across his back from that crawling sensation. The room hadn't stopped wavering for days. Something surreal about it. The darkness had grown.

"I'm hungry…" came the soft whisper, when his father's silhouette finally poured over him. It wasn't a real voice, anymore. It was some defeated echo, spilled shakily from blanched lips that had stuck together for several days.

"Are you now." The silhouette disappeared. Eiael's eyes squeezed shut, a few tears sliding down his nose… It didn't matter. He'd broken the silence, the pain would come again, and he had nothing to show for it. No food. But it didn't matter.

The man emerged again some minutes later. A small, metal bowl found its way to the floor. It slid over splinters and clattered abruptly when a loose board stopped it. "Then eat."

Food. Food?? Eiael pushed himself up with a shoulder, staring at the bowl in disbelief. His arm swung instinctively to reach for it, before he realized it was still behind his back. Numb. Locked there. A sudden, horrid whimper climbed its way through his parched throat.

"I can't feel my arm," he whispered again, wincing as if the slash had already sprouted across his back. The man stalked across the floor until his boot was within inches of Eiael's face. He bent and unclasped the boy's wrists, whitened limbs falling limply to either side.

Eiael rubbed his arms sloppily until some feeling flooded back through them. It was a painful feeling, but it was feeling nonetheless. He gripped the bowl away from the floor with uncertain fingers, arms shaking with effort as it found his mouth. The cold mesh tasted wonderful for the first few moments. It slid down his throat slowly, thickly, and some of it slid down his chin. He couldn't even taste it; it was cool and sticky and thick with some indistinguishable flavor. Halfway through, the bland taste returned. He managed a few more gulps before he set it back on the floor. One arm wiped a bit more steadily against his lips.

"Now, are you going to behave, or do I have to hand-cuff you again?" came the steady voice, as if it were speaking to a dog. The boy nodded quickly, then shook his head. "Well, which is it?" The voice replied, handcuffs glinting against the stale light. He stalked forward.

"I'll be good!" Eiael nearly cried, though it came out as a frantic whisper. He scooted back quickly, like a dog cowering from its master. To the safe corner. The corner the Gurgling Thing never came from.

The man pointed toward the previous hole. Eiael's eyes slid toward the fist-sized darkness… they widened as the hole sealed itself. He scooted farther away, until he'd stuffed himself in the corner again.

"I can fix any hole you can make… I can also hear every word you say. Even when you don't say it," the voice lowered as it added the last part. He came closer. "Right now, you're wondering what that gurgling sound is… Why you can't see it now, when the light lets you see." The man's shape blocked the small square of light, towering only a few inches from the small child. "The light never lets you see. The light blinds you. Lloth is only seen when all this world's blinders are removed. Lloth is the darkness."

Eiael stared. The man stopped a few inches in front of him, towering over him ominously. "You see, boy… You're my blood. It means the shadows listen to you. Or they will, one day. But it also means you can feed them." The familiar hiss. The boy flinched, cramming himself against the corner. The silhouette yanked him to his feet, and pressed him against the wall again.

Three lashes seethed across his back, and the thin form collapsed as the silhouette released him. "If you think of escaping… I'll find you. If you think of finding Trevin… I'll feed him to the shadows," he added as the boy stared at him in disbelief.

The man stalked toward the door, slamming it behind him. Eiael gasped hoarsely, fingers digging into the wood beneath him as his mind lost all rational thought. He dug blindly against the safe corner, eyes pouring shakily to the other one. The gurgling sound again.

"Please go away…" he whispered. "Please go away…"

"You have a visitor."

The voice penetrated his dreams, spilling him into the nightmare reality again. It had been nearly a month. He'd spoken only in whispers, and only when he needed food or water… which hadn't been often. Once or twice a week. It was all he could stand - from the food and the pain. It was more peaceful to sleep, anyway.. He'd lost himself in dreams more times than he cared to remember.

A rough grasp pried him to his feet. The whip-scarred shirt fell off him in ripped shreds, and something cooler fell over his shoulders. It stung at first, settling against his back and sticking there with the blood. "You can say two things to him, and I won't punish you," the voice conceded. Eiael barely heard him.

"If he asks why you look tired, say you were sleeping. If he asks how you are, tell him you are okay. Say anything else, and I'll punish you. Say anything against me, or about the last few weeks, and I'll kill him on the spot." Eiael gulped softly. The man shoved him out the door, and he stood blinded for a moment, before the light settled into his eyes again.

"Hey, Ei!" the voice called from the door. Trevin stood in his liesurely pose, hands tucked in his jeans and a bright smile over his face. Eiael struggled to mimic the smile, stumbling forward slowly.

"How've you been?" he asked. Eiael found his voice after a few seconds, parched and awkward and wavering with hunger.

"I'm okay," he mumbled softly, a backward glance given to the man watching him. He reached the door and fell into his brother's arms, wrapping his own tightly around his waist.

"Hey… what's going on?" A first flicker of concern passed over his brother's face as he hugged him. "You don't look so good…"

"I was sleeping," came the echo of a voice, muffled by his brother's shirt.

"I see…" Trevin turned his gaze to the man, who was leaning against the far wall in the living room.

"He hasn't felt too good, lately," the man offered politely, coming a bit closer. "I think it's just the new surroundings.. He's not used to them yet."

Eiael shuddered violently, fingers curling into his brother's shirt as if he would never let go. Trevin's gaze fell again, watching him carefully. His own arms had wrapped him completely, hands rubbing softly over his back. "Would you mind if I took him to a movie? We'd be back before dark."

"I wouldn't usually, but he's been pretty sick the last few days. He needs to rest." Eiael clamped his fingers even tighter… He buried his head farther into his brother's shirt, squeezing his eyes shut to keep the tears from dripping on the fabric.

"Yeah, alright… Maybe next week." He scrunched down farther, until he was nearly level with his brother. "I'm sorry you don't feel well, Bud."

Eiael cried softly against the shirt, keeping his sobs behind his clenched teeth. "I'm okay…" came the small voice again, in a tone that meant he really wasn't okay. He couldn't say it any other way.

"Come on, Eiael. You need to get back to bed." His father's hand clamped around his shoulder, prying him away from his brother slowly. Trevin stood quietly, arms falling to his sides.

"…Did you take him to a doctor yet?" he asked softly, worry flooding his face as he watched the boy stumbling slowly through the living room.

The man nodded. "They said he's got a pretty nasty cold… they're afraid it'll turn into pneumonia. He was out too late in the rain a couple weeks ago, I guess that's what did it."

"Oh… Well I hope he gets better.. Let me know, okay?"

The man nodded again, shoving himself away from the wall. "Was good seeing you, Trevin. Talk to you later." He shut the door quietly behind him.

Trevin trudged down the steps, treading slowly toward his car. It wasn't really like his brother… He'd never gotten sick before, especially not from being out in the rain. Reaching for the door handle, he froze as he stared at his hand. He brought the fingers closer to his face, studying them a moment as some form of dread poured over him. Blood? Was he bleeding somewhere?? He searched down his arms and pant legs, rubbing the blood between finger and thumb.

"You performed very well… Although I could have done without the tears. And your 'I'm okay' wasn't that convincing," the father admonished as he guided Eiael back to the room. Eiael let him quietly until a few feet before the door.. Then his body spasmed in a panicked rebellion, fighting against the grip.

"Please… please let me go, please," he cried hysterically, gasping as he tore himself away. "Please, I don't wanna go in there, please… It's dark, please I can't… Please Father…" He scrambled a few steps backward, collapsing and sliding until he thumped against a wall. It brought another bout of hysteria over the small figure. "Please, I'll do anything… please, just don't send me back in there, I can't…"

A hand calmly clamped around his shoulder again. He lifted the child to his feet, forcing him forward until the darkness enveloped him again. "That was uncalled for," the voice reprimanded lowly.

A soft wail escaped the boy's lips, and his knees buckled, cracking against the floor.

"And I lost count of how many times you spoke. So you'll just be punished until you stop crying." The familiar hiss again. It ripped across his back, and he screamed. The wall hadn't braced his body this time, and he curled quickly within himself… The snake ripped across his side and arm, and again over his back, and against his neck, and coiled around his knees. Hysteria lost to pain; and after half an hour of the painful things streaking across his skin, the pain lost to a horrid unconsciousness.

"What's on your mind?"

The familiar voice, and a few chips clicking in the middle pile brought Trevin's eyes away from his cards. "Hm? Oh… nothing," he replied blandly, contributing to the small pot.

"Come on, don't lie to me," Alan prodded. "You look like someone ran over your dog."

"…Just worried about my brother," he mumbled, laying his cards down in a slipshod manner. "I can't play this anymore."

"Why, what's up?" Alan collected his chips, smearing the cards into a single pile again as he watched his friend curiously.

"He just… wasn't doing so well, when I went to see him."

"You mean he wasn't happy?"

"No, I mean… I mean he was ill. Physically ill." Trevin rubbed his finger and thumb together again, as if they were still covered in blood. "I went to leave, and I looked at my hand, and there was blood on it… Not my blood. At least, not that I could see. The only other person I touched was Eiael."

Alan stopped shuffling the cards. For a moment, he eyed his friend carefully. "Describe it to me. How was he acting?"

"He was.. staggering. Almost like he was drunk. He stumbled toward the door, and fell against me… God, Alan, he was so thin, like he hadn't eaten in awhile, and he was shivering. He kept saying he was okay, but it didn't sound like it."

"Did you ask his father? What did he have to say?"

"He said he'd taken the boy to a doctor… That it was some kind of cold, or border-line pneumonia."

"Umm… how was his breathing? Did you notice anything strange about it?"

"No, not really…"

"Then it wasn't pneumonia." Alan stuffed the cards back in his card box, dropping the chips into a smaller box beside it. "Does your father work at all? Any time when he leaves that house?"

"Yeah, he has a job at the bank downtown. He works from nine to five, usually."

"So why don't you go to his house then, and ask Eiael what's going on?"

"…Wanna come with?" Trevin offered with a rueful smile. Alan rolled his eyes, returning the grin. "Yeah, whatever."

The house was dark, even in broad daylight. It was a rustic gray color, somewhat set away from most of the houses on the street, and farther back in the country than Trevin would have cared to drive. If it weren't for Eiael. There weren't many neighbors this far out. A couple of houses at the beginning of the street, and nothing until this house. It was set somewhat back in the yard, nearly blocked from view by two large trees that swooped over the carefully plodded driveway.

He climbed the steps again, slowly, as if a heavy weight rested on his shoulders. He was just coming to visit… Of course he was. He'd forgotten his step-father worked today. Or something. He waited until he'd built up enough courage, and finally knocked on the door.

Alan climbed the stairs beside him and waited. Another few knocks, a bit louder this time as Trevin grew braver. He wasn't home… Maybe Eiael wasn't, either.

After a couple more knocks, he rounded the house, looking in the various windows. Everything was still. The light barely poured through window-cracks, everything polished and carefully placed inside. "Alan, help me with this one," Trevin whispered roughly as his friend rounded the corner. They pried the back window open after several minutes, managing enough space to squeeze through.

Trevin tumbled quietly onto the browned carpet, pulling Alan in beside him. The living room was small, and a bit uncomfortable. Random junk crowded bookshelves and tables. It was expensive junk… Or at least, it looked expensive. And it was all in some sort of haphazard order. Gargoyle statues, small pieces of clay, jade spheres on a few wooden stands, some old, weather-worn books lining the bottom shelf of each of the three book-shelves.

Across the living room was another doorway, leading to a small kitchen. It was brighter in here, though not much so… And bland. Hardly decorated. A plain, tiled floor, and white walls lined with cabinets. A refrigerator and stove. A small door leading to the basement, and another door with steps that crawled into the backyard. On the opposite side was another doorway, and a small hallway that ended at the front door. A stairway to the left. Two closet doors to the right.

Alan crept his way through the thin hallway. There wasn't anyone here… But some instinct kept the stealth in his walk. Something different, here. His hand fell against the first closet door, clicking the handle and peering inside. Coats, emptied shot guns, a few boxes on the top shelf. He closed it and slid to the next one, jiggling the handle. After a moment, he stepped back and stared at it curiously.

"Trevin… Who locks a closet door?" he called out. His friend tromped up the basement steps again, slowing as he reached the door.

"This guy's got a lot of weird stuff…" he mumbled. He bent to inspect the doorknob, jiggling it quickly a few times. Pulling out his wallet, he found a credit card and slid it through the crack. The door clicked softly, sliding forward with a quiet creak.

The scent of blood greeted them first. Trevin's eyes poured around the small room, from the hidden closet door to the boarded up window… But all they found was a thick puddle of blood on the floor.

Alan stalked forward, kneeling by the pool and sliding his finger across the surface. "This blood isn't even cold yet," he muttered, rubbing it in his fingers. He grabbed a small handkerchief from his pocket, letting it lap up the blood until half of it was soaked. "Eiael!" he finally called, snapping his gaze to the small closet.

"He's not here," Trevin finally replied. He pulled the closet door open. Nothing but darkness greeted him. "…Alan, where's my brother? Whose blood is it??" He turned his back to the closet door, shoving it closed again.

"I don't know, but I'm going to find out," came the soft mutter. A softer sound froze them both in place for a moment.

"It's one o'clock… what's he doing home?" Alan mumbled as he rushed through the hall, running for the window. Trevin was at his heels, and both of them squeezed out, knocking the wood chip out of place. The window fell back with a harsh thump, and both men stood panting, eyes fixed on the front of the house.

"Our car's out there, he knows we're here," Trevin mumbled. Trudging around the side of the house, he gulped softly and tromped for his car.

"Trevin?" The man stopped halfway up the steps, briefcase in one hand, keys clinking in the other.

"Hey… I didn't know if you were home. I went around the side to peek in a window, but I was just about to leave… Is Eiael home?" Trevin rounded the bushes with Alan close behind, heading for his car.

The man studied them both for a moment in silence. "…He's at his friend's house."

"Ahh…" Trevin studied him back, opening his car door nonchalantly. "He's doing better, then?"

"Yes, much better. I'd invite you to come back later, but I think he planned on spending the night tonight."

"That's alright… I'll come by sometime this weekend. See you later." Trevin shoved himself in the front seat of his car, holding his breath. Alan squeezed in the side, and he drove away as calmly as he could.

"You're just a popular guy, aren't you."

The voice again. Eiael shuddered violently, scooting away from the door. The silhouette emerged, towering over him a moment.

"They didn't see me…" Eiael mumbled deliriously. "Just like you s-said… I did… Can I eat now… Please, I'm hungry…"

"You didn't hide the blood, did you." A sharp kick sent him reeling into the wall. He slid down the wall again, vicious trail of blood clinging to knotty boards.

"I tried… please…" the voice grew softer, almost breathless.

"Yeah. You can eat. As soon as you learn your next trick."

"But I'm tired…" the boy stared up blearily, swallowing a stream of blood that managed to run through his lips. A cold grip slid around his wrists, and the man yanked him quickly to his feet. His knees buckled, but the man held him there relentlessly.

"You remember why you're in here?"

"The s-shadows…" he replied softly.

"What about the shadows?"

"They-y…" the boy gulped painfully, falling forward again as the man held him up. His head hung against his chest, every once in awhile bobbing up to stare at the blurred shadow in front of him. "I-I… feed the s-shadows…" he whispered shakily.

"Well at least your memory's intact. Show me your last trick."

The boy shuddered a moment, straining to keep his head up. He closed his eyes softly, and the shadows slowly crept forward… They drank the pool of blood he left on the ground, and followed it up his legs. They crept over the torn back, sliding through the open wounds and into his veins as he winced. His skin slowly began to darken; the air around him breathed thicker, until he was completely engulfed in shadows. The man held up nothing but darkness.

"Good. Now you learn a new one." The shadows slid down his legs again, and he breathed in quickly as if he hadn't gotten any air. Hands shoved the boy's arms behind his back, and clasped the handcuffs around both wrists. "You can eat when you get out of those."

The boy whimpered miserably, falling back to the floor when the man dropped his support.

Help me…

Trevin started forward, grabbing at shadows. "Eiael!" He stared around the room, eyes widened from the nightmare, chest heaving as he stumbled out of bed. It had been nearly four years… And he'd seen his brother a handful of times. Most times he visited, the boy was at a friend's, or too sick to come out, or at school, or just not available. The court order didn't hold the father responsible for visiting rights. And each time he saw the boy - a bit paler, a bit sadder, a bit more reluctant to let go of Trevin when he had to leave - he gave him no more than two or three sentences. Nothing. He'd lost his brother forever.

So why was he haunting his dreams?

He'd seen him… In a room, a room like the one with the large pool of blood, holding himself up against a wall. It almost looked like a ghost… Translucent, and the wall behind him wavered as if it were water. Help me… Please help me… The words didn't even look like they came from him. His lips were sealed. And then the shadows came…

He shuddered, remembering it. Alan had accessed the labs where he worked, and gotten a blood test back… The blood was Eiael's. But it was just a handkerchief. Alan's handkerchief. And when the police visited him on probable cause, the boy seemed fine.

"Alan I saw him in my dream… It wasn't a dream, it felt so real, but I saw him… He asked me for help…" Trevin sat on his friend's couch. It was nearly two in the morning, but Alan had just gotten home.

"What, are you trying to say he's appearing in your dreams now? Some sort of telepathy?"

"That blood," Trevin protested. "You said it was his, but they looked, they didn't find a mark on him. How??"

"…I don't know, Trevin," Alan replied in a more serious tone. "I wish I could meet him. I haven't even seen him, maybe I could tell you something if I did."

Please help me.

"What?" Alan turned his gaze sharply to the couch. "Did you say something?"

"…No, why?" Trevin turned around, staring at his friend.

Please… It hurts, please help me…

"…Then who just said that?" Alan glanced around the room. Trevin stood slowly. "Eiael… I told you it was real." His face had shifted dramatically, into an expression of torture and frustration.

"Alright… Calm down. I believe you," Alan replied incredulously. "…We have to find him."

Alan drove. They reached the man's house at ten, just as the sun erupted from behind the large trees, and parked a few hundred feet away, behind the underbrush. They climbed the dark steps again… Trevin knocked impatiently, fingers itching to break down the door. When nobody answered, he tromped around the side again, shoving against the window. It relented easily, as if it had been expecting him.

"Eiael… Ei, where are you?" Trevin hoisted himself agains the pane, straddling the window and pushing himself all the way through. He stormed through the kitchen, finding the small hallway and jiggling the second door's handle again. It had to be in there. At least… something was in there. "Eiael…"

Alan swept through the kitchen, finding his way into the hallway, and handed Trevin his credit card. "Go on, open it." The card slid between wall and door, and the door made a loud squawk as it slid off its hinges.

The faint smell of blood greeted him… But he didn't notice it at first. It was the smallish figure in the corner that caught his eye, and his feet sprang toward it. "Eiael!"

The form didn't move. It rested against the wall, head propped up by the baseboard, thin limbs spread out limply on either side. Trevin knelt quickly, sliding a hand beneath the wet back and drawing him slightly up. His head fell back, eyelids closed and wet with tears.

"Alan…" Trevin managed to choke out, fingers beginning to shake. The white flesh felt hot and sticky against his grasp, blood tickling through his fingers as it found new paths to the floor. "Eiael, speak to me. Open your eyes… Please, it's Trevin, …please wake up…"

"Lay him back down, it's okay… Trev." Alan rested a hand on Trevin's arm. "Lay him down, let me look at him. You can hold his hand, okay?" Trevin reluctantly lowered him to the floor, keeping his head away from the wall.

The medic's fingers worked their way over the boy's flesh, quickly finding their way to his neck. He listened carefully, and brought his hand down one arm, wiping away a few trickles of blood. "… Okay, now you can worry. He's in shock… We need to get him to a hospital now."

Trevin's arms slid under the boy again, one of them around his knees this time, and lifted him to his chest. "Be very careful.." Alan mumbled, watching the boy's limbs dangle limply toward the floor. "We don't want to hurt him any more than he already is…"

S-staiirs… The soft voice brought them both to a halt.

"What about the stairs…?" Trevin peered to the boy's face, gritting his teeth as he watched a few tears slide into his hair.

"He's probably just delirious… Come on," Alan mumbled, holding the door back. Trevin slid through the door, starting down the hall.

"Trevin, stop." Alan braced his hand against his friend's arm, pulling him to a stop. "He's bleeding everywhere." His coat slipped from his shoulders, snaking its way around the boy's back. Trevin waited until he was certain the blood was no longer dripping down to the dark carpet. Then he stalked forward again, faster than before.

"Go-o up… the s-staiirs…" The small form convulsed in his brother's arms, shivering violently. Another soft gasp. "He-e'll fiin-nd y-youuu.."

"Don't talk, bud… It'll be okay…" Trevin shifted a disturbed gaze toward the stairs. After another moment's thought, he walked slowly to the base, climbing the first few steps.

"What the hell are you doing??" Alan stopped dead… He finally darted after them, running up the wooden steps.

"He said to go up the stairs, I'm going up the stairs," Trevin determined, biting his lip. Both men froze as the front door clicked open beneath them. Alan glanced down… He watched the small door shut of its own accord.

"There's something you don't see every day," he muttered quietly, sliding out of view of the front door.

"Yeah… so… how do we get out of here now?" Trevin echoed his friend's voice, watching the light spill over the stairs below as the door opened.

"W-waiit…" the whisper came again. A small stream of blood slid from his lips as he spoke, and the wince across his features became more apparent.

The two men waited, poised on the edge of the stairs. It was nearly five thick, quiet minutes before the boy whispered again. "W-window… three-e min-nutes…"

"In three minutes? Or we have three minutes?" Trevin blinked impatiently. "Well, here's to hoping it's the latter," he mumbled as he crept down the stairs. Alan followed him reluctantly, edging across the living room, his eyes trained on the kitchen doorway.

Trevin glanced over his shoulder before sidling the window. He motioned quickly for Alan to take the boy; lighter arms slid under him, and Trevin released him quietly, sliding through the window. Alan lowered him carefully out the frame, and Trevin cradled him again as the medic slipped out.

"You still with me, bud?" Trevin murmured, stalking quietly toward the car. "…Eiael?" His pace quickened, Alan finally catching up to him. They reached the car, and Alan opened the door quickly, lowering the front seat. Trevin lowered him carefully, slipping off his own coat and resting it over the trembling frame.

"Drive the car Trev, let me deal with him," Alan said lowly, climbing into the back seat. Trevin reluctantly pulled himself into the driver's seat, speeding off. "Eiael…" both hands slipped around the boy's arms, holding him to the seat as the car swerved down the long, abandoned road.

"He-e knows-s…" It wasn't so much the voice that disturbed Alan. It was unnatural and weak, but he expected it; the boy wasn't quite there at the moment. What disturbed him most was the pain it seemed to draw across his features… as if each word were another bloody slash across the shaking frame. The trembling turned into a violent convulsion, and Alan held him as best he could to the seat as his body writhed rigidly. Eyes slit open, staring blankly at the car's roof; teeth bit through his lip as another convulsion streaked through his limbs.

"Eiael, calm down," Alan commanded. Reaching the seam of his shirt with one hand, he ripped a strip of cloth away. Both hands stretched the cloth quickly, sliding it through the boy's teeth and tying it around the back of his head.

"What are you doing?" Trevin glanced from his brother to the road in growing anxiety.

"Making sure he doesn’t hurt himself," came the frustrated reply. His hands once again held the boy's arms to the seat, even while the small back arched rigidly against a wave of pain. Face had twisted with agony, both eyes squeezed shut again as his teeth clamped against the small cloth. The wave died slowly… his body collapsed back to the seat. A small stream of blood soaked into the cloth, slowly pooling through his lips and down his left cheek.

"Has he woken up?" It seemed like a redundant question. Trevin trudged through the whitened halls again… He'd only left this place a few times in the last week, to get some things from his house. But every time he came back, he asked Alan the same question.

And Alan was tired of giving the same reply. "No, Trevin. He's been in a coma for seven days now… I don't know if he'll ever wake up." He usually left it with no. They had done what they could for the boy, but it was too little too late… Four years too late. The larger wounds were stitched… He'd been bleeding internally, and when they operated, they found puncture wounds riddling his stomach and kidney. They couldn't explain how. They seemed to have been placed with the utmost precision, in a disturbingly methodical pattern. There was nothing but machines holding him to this life. Blood poured into him through an IV, and another one fed water through his veins. He'd been dehydrated… starved… Alan hadn't gone into many of the details with the boy's brother. It was enough just to look at him.

Trevin's walk became slower… Still, he managed to pull himself into the room and sit down in the familiar, blue chair. At least it was cushioned. It wasn't like the metal-and-plastic pieces they called chairs in the waiting room. "…Come on, bud." Warm fingers slipped around the boy's limp hand, rubbing it gently. "Come back to me…"

He stared at the wan face thoughtfully. It was almost impossible to look at him, at first… Half his face was discolored a violent purple, lips cracked and bloodless, tape covering them now to keep the breathing apparatus in place. He wasn't even breathing on his own. That hurt Trevin when it finally settled in… "I'll take you back to my house, when you get better… I won't ever leave you again. I swear." His eyes fell down the light blue covered chest that rose and fell when the machine told it to. "I'm so sorry, Ei…"

Alan trudged in the room a few minutes later, laying a clipboard and his briefcase against the far desk. He sighed heavily… the way he sighed when he didn't want to say something he was about to say. "…They don't know if they have a case."

"…What??" Trevin looked up from the small boy, keeping his fingers clasped over the cool flesh.

"They said without his testimony, they don't know if they have a case. They couldn't find any traces of blood in the house again… He told them Ei had run away."

"You know that's not true… We found him in the house!" Trevin nearly yelled it. He calmed himself quickly.

"I know that… You know that. But that's breaking an entering… And they'd have to disavow anything they found in the house, because it wasn't rightfully gained information." Alan sighed again. "Without the boy's testimony, we have nothing against him."


The cool air shifted somehow, as if an invisible weight had lowered itself around the room. Alan blinked faintly. The soft blips on the monitor shifted into a more errant rhythm. "Come on, Ei…" Alan muttered under his breath. "Don't leave us yet."

It was another three days before those fingers twitched softly in response to Trevin's touch. The boy's eyes had finally opened… But to say he was awake was a bit of an over-statement. They traveled to the blurs around the room, each in turn, never quite resting on one long enough to see it. And if he could hear, he didn't respond…

"Eiael… Look at me, bud," Trevin commanded, squeezing the boy's hand gently. "Please…"

The breathing tube had been replaced by a thinner tube just beneath his nose. His eyes slid toward Trevin for a few seconds. They rested there, and flickered to the ceiling again.

"Ei… can you even hear me? Eiael," his brother raised his voice slightly, hoping for any kind of response. The small body shuddered for a moment, and fell still again.

Trevin. It sounded like him… Maybe… Tears returned to the boy's eyes, and a soft echo emerged. A mechanized recording. Something planned, planted, quiet and unnatural.

"I'm-m okay…"

Trevin squeezed his hand a bit harder. A harsh frustration stung his own gaze. "No, no you're not okay. You're very ill."

"Trev…" Alan slipped beside him, laying a hand on his shoulder. "He'll be okay…"

"No, you don't understand… That's all he would say, when I visited him. 'I'm okay.' 'I was sleeping.' 'I was at Pete's house.' No details, no truth, it's like a bad recording. Like… like…" He released the hand carefully, realizing he'd been squeezing it too hard. The soft wince over his brother's face slowly settled into numb surreality again.

"I was-s… sleepin-ng…" came the second response, to nothing in particular. Trevin shot Alan a glance, and the young medic's expression grew troubled.

Alan bent slowly, until he was at level with the boy's face. He waited for the eyes to finally focus, that brief instant before they would turn away. "Eiael, how old are you?"

Glassy gaze slid down Alan's shirt, to the metal bar that separated them. It fell to the sheets, and followed them, resting finally on a far point. They steadied a bit, lips parting as he determined something. "N-nine…"

"No, you're twelve… Eiael. Where are you?" Alan's hands clasped the metal bar carefully, eyes locked to the boy's. Eiael's eyes kept themselves trained on the far point, losing their purpose for a moment.

"…S-shadows." The response was clipped, steadier than the last, and almost a whisper. A soft trembling started over his limbs… Right hand shifted slowly, traveling up the small body until they reached his face. His gaze refused to waver. The thin fingers touched against his cheek, shaking as they found his hair, and tugging against it softly. "..S-sh… He-e'll he-ear.. y-you…"

Alan slid his hand beside the boy's, pulling the fingers away from his hair carefully. "Eiael… who will hear me?"

The voice had switched to an almost sing-song nature, notes dancing as if there were a strange melody linking his words together. The fingers twitched in Alan's hand, still making the soft, tugging motions as if they were tangled in his hair. "S-shh… he-e's he-ere…" A soft chill spread over Alan's back. The medic's free hand lifted until it was just over the boy's face, waving back and forth. Eiael's gaze remained fixed on the distant point.

"Eiael," Trevin finally piped up, a bit louder than Alan. The boy's eyes jerked slightly, and fell back to the same point.

"I'm-m okay…" came the same, automated response... as if it were trained to Trevin's voice.

"Trev… He's really done a number on your brother." Alan sighed softly. He laid the boy's hand back by his side. "… I don't know if you'll ever get him back."

"Eiael," Trev replied, with a bit more determination. He lowered himself as Alan did, fingers clasped around the boy's other hand. "Look at me."

The boy's gaze remained unfocused. "Ei, what the hell did he do to you??"

"I'm hungry…" the reply was softer, almost as if the boy had switched conversations entirely. He curled as much as he could to the side, falling back when his body had no more strength. "F-father… please, I'm hungry…"

Alan and Trevin exchanged a glance, falling a bit closer to the bed. Neither one spoke… They watched the boy carefully, waiting for anything else.

The unfocused gaze wavered as pools slowly formed over them. "Please… please help me," the whisper came, and Trevin heard it in his mind again. "Please, I can-n't… Lloth…" The pools spilled slowly down the side of his face, and one streaked over his nose. His limbs had taken of a soft writhing, as if he were in pain… The blips on the monitor jumped again into an erratic pattern.

"Ei, calm down," Alan finally broke the silence, resting a hand on the boy's chest.

"S-shadows…" came the soft voice, filled with exhaustion. "I-I feed-…" His hand once again slid up his chest, falling softly just beneath his neck. The fingers curled together; Alan watched them closely as the shadows against his flesh-creases grew darker.

"Trevin…" Alan peered a bit closer, sliding over as his friend leaned forward. The shadows poured down the cracks of his fingers, falling over his knuckles as thick as blood.

"They-y're in-nsiide me-e…" came the sing-song notes, dark eyes shifting slightly.

Alan backed away slowly.

+ Back to Menu

Sitemap: Contact: About: index
Artwork index
Poetry index
Muted Faith
Wicked Alchemy
Onna Chance
Jessica "Cherie" West