Everything (rough draft)
It was under his bed. It was in the closet. It was in his computer, and behind that door.
It was beside his crib as an infant, and at his bedside each and every night of his childhood.
Throughout his life, it was there.
But always at night… only in the dark, it was always there.
Whatever ‘it’ was…
It was there, under the car, during Billy’s first accident at the age of one.
It was there the night his dad almost killed his mom.
It was there every night he experienced sleep paralysis, standing right there… right next to him.
Sometimes, it looked him right in his eyes, as he couldn’t move a muscle… not even in his skull.
It was there every visit to the emergency room, looking at him from inside the television, or the screens they used to remotely ‘stabilize’ their psychotic patients.
Whatever it was, it was there…
For the past twenty-eight years… he’d never had any idea what it could be, never saw what it really looked like… except for its eyes. Those hideous spirals of every face he had ever known and will ever know instead of pupils. He studied the Golden Ratio, both biocentrism and the ‘biocentric universe’ theory, and even conspiracy theories – trying to figure out which ones could possess the kernel of truth he was searching for – and the darkest and deepest corners of the most secret and hidden parts of the dark web, known only as ‘the Abyss’.
All led to dead ends.
The answers, for the most part, would present themselves to him in time.
And only when he wasn’t looking for them.
Billy first noticed one of them when his computer started turning itself on at night.
A corresponding lightbulb went off in his head, and he instantly forgot what he’d been dreaming about.
He shot up from his bed one night and began fastidiously researching the North American ‘electrical grid’ and ‘groupthink’.
We used overall more of the power grid during the evening and into the night, beginning when we’d get up to make our morning pot of coffee, turn on the television or computer… etc.
Whereas solar power was the virtual antithesis to the way we used electricity from our electrical power grid as a society.
This ‘entity’ only emerged in his house – and the house of others – when it was night out, when there were shadows, or when darkness was around.
It made perfect sense.
Billy spent more and more time cooped up in his apartment, drowning in conspiracy theories, delving to greater and lower depths… darker corners… of the dark web.
He’d constructed a blueprint of the connection between the various obscure and creepy websites he’d stumbled across. Strange compilations of short videos, most of them seemingly recorded on phones and in abandoned urban spelunking, and photos thereof. Most of them were from places unrecognizable to Billy, but a few of them were eerily familiar.
And he even recognized one as the old playground on the outside of town.
Shot at night, the swing set in this video appeared to move on its own, and upon watching a second time he recognized a hulking dark form in the background.
It appeared to be the silhouette of a man shrouded in darkness, wearing dark clothing, but perhaps Billy was just seeing things.
Billy deduced it was time to investigate… or do something, anything, other than what he’d been doing for weeks straight…
Had it been weeks now?
Upon leaving his apartment, Billy noticed the few people he passed by that evening giving him strange looks, as though he had sign taped to his back stating, “kick me,” or an offensive aphorism on his shirt – which was a simple brand logo shirt he’d gotten from the homeless shelter three years ago.
Billy stopped by the store to pick up a small bottle of vodka, first alcohol he’d felt compelled to get in over six months, and see how Edgar was doing.
“Yo, my man Edgar around,” Billy asked the cashier, who seemed to be new.
He also didn’t seem to hear him.
“Yo,” he began to ask again.
The cashier stopped counting the change in his drawer and disappeared into the employee lounge, leaving the door slightly ajar.
Billy was confused for a second before the door started opening again.
Edgar, his snow white hair almost beaming through the threshold, appeared in place of the cashier. His usual equally-effervescent smile was no longer present, however. A broken, weak and dim one had replaced it.
“H-hey,” he nearly wheezed. “H-how you doin’?”
Billy was almost stunned.
“N-not bad. I guess… more worried about you there, old timer.”
He wheezed a pseudo-laugh, that just barely escaped before the man began coughing so hard Billy though he was about to regurgitate an entire organ system.
“Just a bit of a cough, what can I do you for son?”
Billy sighed and produced an ID. “I’ll just get one of those five-dollar vodkas. Got a bit of a hair up my ass lately about all this virus stuff.”
Edgar didn’t reply as he fished around for the vodka on the back shelf.
“At least we don’t need masks anymore, since they got rid of the airborne strain a few months back, like Smallpox,” Billy added as Edgar returned with the drink, feeling a sudden urge to leave that convenience store as soon as humanly possible. He turned as Edgar fished for change for the twenty-dollar bill he had just received, feeling like everyone, even the inanimate products on the shelves, were staring right at him.
“Here’s your change,” said Edgar, dropping it into his hand.
“Thanks, you have a good day, sir,” Billy replied, swiftly exiting the store and power-walking down the strip.
Billy had stopped at the Whammyburger a few blocks down to get a sprite. He’d mixed it with his liquor after getting halfway through it, the mixed drink itself half gone by the time Billy had reached the outskirts of town.
The playground was a few blocks away, but Billy was beginning to have regrets about this decision. Yet, he knew that it was far too late to turn back now, and with nobody being out due to the pandemic... this may be his one chance to find some answers without interference.
He noticed the profile of the monkey bars and swing set against the approaching nightfall, recalling his childhood and trying to swing the highest of the children to get the longest jump, and the day he twisted his ankle doing just that. The pain almost seemed to return from his past, if only at a fraction of its original intensity.
As he got closer, he noticed another silhouette… in the shape of a man.
He froze, for the man did not see him, but sat impossibly still at the base of the steps leading to the jungle gym.
Billy approached him slowly, he appeared to be muttering something.
He stopped. Sluggishly, the man appeared to stand, and then he started ranting again. Louder.
“Don’t look at them, never look at them,” he said, just as the streetlights flickered on. “It’s the only way to get them to go away.”
The man didn’t answer, at first, but his one response was hoarse laughter a moment later.
And then, he said, “run.”
Billy was about to ask another question, when the light from the streetlamps began to flicker.
He decided the best course of action was to do so. Billy ran for about a mile, almost vomiting at the first trashcan he saw about halfway to the burger joint. Just thinking about it wrenched a few dry heaves from his gut.
Out of the corner of his eye, Billy could’ve sworn he saw movement. But, that was impossible, as he looked up to see only his thin shadow stretching roughly a hundred feet out across the street. And there were no cars, no pedestrians, and no wind.
Billy zipped up his coat as the temperature dropped, took a deep breath, and looked up to start walking again. This is when he noticed a second shadow approaching his own from behind. Thinking this was a pedestrian, the first he would’ve seen in over an hour, he turned to see…
Yet the shadow was still there.
Billy felt chills envelope him from behind, as his hair stood on end. Billy ran until he threw up, mostly pushing himself so nobody would see him vomit in front of the restaurant. After taking another breather, Billy noticed the shadow was gone. He walked the rest of the way home in petrified silence.
By the time Billy got home, he’d seen several shadows he never noticed before. The shadow cast by the streetlamp against the pile of trash bags and lamppost outside his door looked ominously like a tall man accompanied by a much shorter and misshapen humanoid friend. Billy intentionally ignored it as he fumbled with his key, failing to get it into the lock before glancing back to see the shadows were further to the left than he remembered, almost ‘standing’ directly across the street from him.
Looking at him.
Billy practically fell into his apartment building as the lock slid away from its threshold and the door gave way. He immediately whirled around, slamming the front door.
After fumbling with the lock to his own apartment for almost as long, Billy immediately locked the door behind him, something he never did as he trusted all the tenants in this building. It was the only real reason he still lived there, he thought.
Billy flipped the light switch, but nothing happened. He tried it again.
Pitch darkness greeted him, only the dull glow from the streetlight outside greeted the edge of the entryway into the main room. As he edged closer, Billy noticed the tingling on the back of his neck had returned, only now it had grown into pins and needles. He felt this goosebumps sensation enveloping his entire body, also slowly escalating into numbness across his entire body, emanating from the back of his neck.
Once Billy noticed the shadows on the floor were slightly moving, and the sensation in the back of his neck was becoming painful, Billy rushed to get his charging cellphone. He ripped out the port without even checking the battery, and immediately called the one person he could think of.
“Edgar,” Billy shouted once the phone picked up. “I-I dunno what’s happening, all the power is out here, there’s… I think there’s someth-someone followed me home, and they’re inside the house.”
Billy noticed his words breaking up, like he’d developed a stutter in the past few minutes alone.
“You… too… huh,” Edgar replied weakly. “Check… your neck.”
Billy froze, and slowly he edged his hand to the back of his neck.
What we felt was warm to the touch…
And it was burrowing inside of him.
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ChristianWallis (talk) 11:19, 14 January 2021 (UTC)
So reading through this there are bits and pieces that you should look into reading over in terms of wording etc. But I think you need to re-examine the actual story itself. I love the ending. I like the overall moody vibe. It reminds me of Laird Barron in a lot of ways. But I think you should strip out the fluff and give us something with more teeth. Nothing really happens. It doesn't really start, at all, until he leaves his house about half-way through. The rest reads more like generic fluff.