Photo courtesy of Olivier Guillard
Author note: Still not quite sure where this one is headed, but my character has slipped over to a place I've ventured to in the past. The in-between first made it appearance in Legion of the Damned, books three of my post apocalyptic coming of age series. In it Window, who had been infected by a reaper, discovers he has the ability to slip behind the veil of reality into a place that is neither here, nor there. Just as the narrator in this story is able to step behind the curtains we imprint our reality upon. But there is a price to pay for doing so.
Read the story from the beginning HERE!
But that didn’t matter to her, she needed a target for her anger, and since her prince charming had abandoned her the year before, that meant I was next in line. It didn’t help that the moment she went down I laughed, assuming in my innocence that it was all part of the show. She turned on me so fast I had little time to react. Transforming from a tipsy, good natured drunk, to a demon from the depths of hell in an instant.
I still carry the scars from that day, both physical and emotional. It was the day I stopped being a child filled with innocent wonder, and took my first step into manhood as I endured a torturous night that would have left many others begging for an end to their suffering.
I had no choice, there was no one I could call, no one who really gave a damn about some stupid seven year old kid from the wrong side of the tracks. If I ran from the trailer to escape from her, where would I go? The neighbors? Hell they had problems of their own with their own kids without me adding to their troubles. I was trapped with nowhere to run, and I knew if I turned up dead no one would shed a tear. Sure, my mother might face the punishment she deserved, but when you stepped back and looked at the big picture who would give a damn?
That’s what I did that night. I stepped back. As the woman who had given birth to me, she had lost the right to call herself mother, expressed her anger with the burning tip of a cigarette, I escaped the pain by stepping back emotionally, and mentally. I slipped through a door of sorts, into a nighted world that made little sense.
To a place I call the in-between.
The walls of my bedroom were still there, but they carried an ethereal, shadowy, quality. As if one could just walk right through them, which I discovered later that night was possible when I left my bedroom. The few posters hanging above my bed had been transformed into gloomy caricatures. The friendly demeanor of the teen age mutant turtles had been distorted, twisted into enraged sneers that were so like my mother’s angry features.
Was that where she came from? The in-between? Cast out into our world to live among us. Was that why I could slip across so easily? Because the in-between was really my home?
Here the sounds of the night were amplified, yet muted. It reminded me of the time I went swimming with my mom and wandered into the deep end of the pool, the bottom dropping out from under me as I slipped beneath the surface. I didn’t know how to swim and sank to the bottom like a rock. I could hear the people around the pool above yelling, but it was muffled by the water.
As I grew older it became easier for me to slip across. In no time I learned that a few steps in the in-between, translated into a hundred feet on the proper side of reality. After that first night, when I fled from my mother’s wrath, I awoke the following morning in Mrs. Ankers flower bed, her gladiolas and assorted other flowers crushed beneath my weight.
At first she had been angry, yelling at me to get out of her flower bed, but then she saw the burns on my arm and her features softened. She glanced at the trailer my mom was in and her eyes hardened, her lips pressed into a thin line. Then she took me inside to care for my wounds. I only remember all this with such clarity, thought it happened nearly thirty years ago, because of the in-between. You see every time I step back into my realty the details of the world around me come into sharp focus. Everything becomes crystal clear, as if I’m seeing it for the first, which in a sense I am.
You see, there’s a price to be paid for everything. Stepping across into the in-between does not come without its share of risks. There’s things living on the other side that make little sense, creatures on the prowl looking for a way to slip through into our world.
To be continued!
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