Free Read Friday: Billy, The End

Read the entire story from the start:  BILLY


Instantly they were transported to the black depths of that gloomy forest, Sarah was clinging to his hand as he ran through twisted branches that reached out to snatch at his clothing. Ahead of them, in the distance,  he saw a square of soft yellow light that offered safety from the creatures of the night that crashed through the forest all around them.

His path was lit by a soft glow that seemed to be coming from him and he held up his free hand to look at the splayed fingers, each glowing with a soft luminescence that emanated from his flesh.

“Keep going,” she said from behind him as his feet faltered and he slowed in awe at the light that was coming from his own body.

The sounds of trees being torn asunder came from the forest around them, the frustrated thrashing of those shadowy beasts that could do nothing more than keep time with his flight.

“Hurry,” she said and he looked back to see she had nearly vanished into the shadows. Fear blossomed in his heart and the effervescent glow of his body flickered. As it did the night intruded upon the small circle that around them, ebony claws piercing the illumination, adding to the terror thundering through him.

His steps faltered as the glow diminished and the night, filled to overflowing with those ancient things, pressed in close around them. So close they brushed against the bare skin of his arm and he was overwhelmed by a calming sensation that sought to lull him into a more relaxed frame of mind.

That was how they go into you. Not through terror, or fear, or even the promise of respite from all the bad that was going on in your life. No, they slipped in when you least expected them to, when you were drifting in the featureless void between the light of vigilance and the shadowy realm of your dreams. When you were off guard was the most dangerous time of any night.

But once they got their hooks into you it was all over, unless.

As the night pressed in all around them he looked into his sister’s fading eyes, fear battling the sorrow that was once more welling up from that bottomless void. He felt their touch on that deep primitive level.  They were coming for them and there wasn’t a damned thing he could do about it. More claws cleaved the fading light as his terror swelled to overwhelm him.

“I’m sorry,” he said, reaching out for her with one hand. A shadowy appendage caressed his fingers, leaving a chill in it’s wake as she slowly faded into the shadows that now surrounded them. The light of safety was too far away, on the other side of a vast gulf of nothingness that seethed with the creatures of the night.

“It’s okay,” she whispered in his mind, “I will always love you,” the words were so alien coming from her. Words she had never once in his memory spoken, and the realization struck him with the force of a physical blow. He loved her too, as only a younger brother could love an older sister.

The light that had been waning suddenly flared as his love for her infused him with renewed strength and a desire to save her. Those shadowy things were overwhelmed by the pulse of light, several becoming trapped in its glow, their misshapen figures devoured by the light that turned them to ash upon its touch.

She came back to him, gaining more substance, fed by his love for her. Her grip tightened on his hand as he turned and ran through the shadowy depths with her in tow, straight for the small opening that offered them an escape from this place of shadows. Around them the forest crackled as those shadowy things fled in the wake of the light that burned from him.

Reaching the opening he dove through, into he light and the safety if offered. At the last moment her hand slipped from his. He bounced onto her bed once before rolling off the side onto the floor.

“Sara?” he called out as he scrambled to his feet and looked around her empty room, his gaze coming to rest on that poster.

“No,” he screamed as he attacked the poster on the wall. Jamming his hand into the shadows, coming up hard against the unyielding surface of the wall behind it. He had failed and the shadows had gotten what they wanted. Sara was still trapped on the other side, and he couldn’t get to her.

“Sara,” he screamed as his rage was deflated by the helplessness of a six year old. He had been crazy to think he could do anything to change what had happened. Sorrow overwhelmed him as he dropped to her bed and cried into her pillows that still carried her scent.

From outside came the sound of a car door closing and he pushed himself up from the bed, climbing down he crossed to the window and saw his father walking up the short walk to the front door. Turning from the window he crossed her room to the hallway, and took the stairs down to the first floor. His footsteps heavy with sorrow and bitter disappointment.

“Hey sport, let’s go, Sara’s awake, she wants to see you,” his father said and he stopped to state as him, his mouth hanging open.

“Don’t just stand there catching flies with your mouth hanging open, let’s go, Sara’s waiting. I wanted to call but she insisted I bring you to the hospital.”

“Sara’s okay?” Billy said as he slowly approached his father who stood by the front door. From outside came the sound of Mr. Winslow cutting his grass, and the Baker kids still playing.

She was okay? They had made it? But what happened at the end, when he lost her hand?

“She’s not one hundred percent yet, and she’ll have to stay in the hospital, but she woke up this morning.”

Then he remembered the poster still hanging over her bed.

“Hang on a second,” he said before he turned and raced back up the steps. In Sara’s room he crossed to the poster and pulled it from the wall, rolling it up as the sound of thrashing came from the shadows around the base of the tree. Once he was done he raced down the hallway to the attic doorway. In the attic he searched through the old Christmas stuff piled in the corner until he found what he was looking for. A cardboard tube from a roll of wrapping paper. Sliding the poster into the tube he crossed to the darkest part of the attic and hid the tube behind a pile of old boxes.

As he walked down the steps from the attic he heard a faint clicking coming from where he’d hidden the cardboard tube. It would be safe for her to come home now, and he promised himself that once he got home he would sneak that tube out of the house and bury it somewhere deep in the forest behind their house.


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