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Within the Cracks: A trip into Silence
There is a world that intersects with ours, filled with a suffocating darkness that dares the faint of heart to tumble into its midst. Sometimes, without even knowing, we catch a glimpse of it. We sense it lurking in the shadows that crawl along the objects around us like scattering arachnids searching for a hiding place. Yet, even though we can sense it, it is forgotten by all but a few in our world and even fewer understand what it is. Steven Markel is not one of these ill-privileged few. Steven is just very unlucky today. He should have just stayed in bed and waited until tomorrow to do anything but then we wouldn't have a story, now would we? So without further ado, please prepare your fuzzy bunny slippers for a trip into Silence.
Part One: Sick of the Mundane
He wakes to the sound of his smart phones alarm. It's chiming away to the theme song from that popular 1980's time travel series, not the one from 1989 with the two guys and the air guitars, but the one with the kid and the crazy haired guy who built a time machine from a car. Grabbing his cell phone from the table on his left, he swipes the alarm off and promises himself to change the ringtone later, it was cool for a little bit but the novelty has worn off. He then lays back and looks to the off white ceiling above him, his eyes scan a crack that veins out from his direct line of vision to a small water spot in the far right corner. Great! He shouts in his head while he throws his hands up and grunts a disgusted "Ugh" sound. "That's just what I needed to start my morning. Now all I can think about is how much it's going to cost to fix the freaking roof". Usually, this wouldn't affect him in this way but life has thrown him off balance and has been pretty hard the past few months. His father passed away in May, his girlfriend of 3 years decided to move out two and a half months ago and to make matters worse he lost his job soon after. Admittedly, he hated the job so this wasn't a huge loss but it left him without a paycheck. His frustration grows to thoughts of his Unemployment running out and the hundreds of job applications that haven't panned out. It's keeping him right above tipping point but it just doesn't cut it. He thinks to himself that with the way prices on almost everything seem to be on an upward spiral into oblivion, a cardboard box is probably in his future. But hey, the mortgage isn't in foreclosure yet, so that's something.
Hopping out of bed and walking over to the closet, he looks in. It's full of polo's, dress shirts and rock tees. He looks them over, immediately dismissing almost everything in it and settles for grabbing a Rival Schools tee, mostly because he has no real plans for the day, and why not be comfortable, it's not like he's Mr. Jolly Super Christian on his way to Sunday school. Moving away from the closet he stops at the dresser, looks out the window to see a sunny day with a slight breeze blowing at the trees, and grabs a pair of boxer briefs, socks and black shorts. He throws on some music and leisurely enters the bathroom to take a shower. Flowing through his morning bathroom routine without much thought, he finishes his shower, gets dressed and then heads downstairs to grab some breakfast to go. He locks up the house and hops into his jeep, all the while thinking to himself, that Suburbia needs to be a couple hundred miles away from him before he loses his mind entirely. But before backing out of the driveway, he calls his friend John. When he connects, John answers in a gruff but chipper voice "ello!" He asks if John wants to go to the cabin. There is a slight pause before John replies "Ah man, I'm sorry Steve but Sarah and I are going to the lake house. We need some alone time without the kids, if you know what I'm saying?" Sarcastically his mind replies that, no, actually, I don't have any goddamn idea what it means to have to get away from the kids. But I do know how it feels to want to get away from my shitty life. Although, instead of triumphantly repeating his first answer to the question, he just gives the required (Hi, I'm not a crazy loon waiting to blow my head off) answer "Yeah, Sure it's alright. Some other time I guess." and they say their goodbyes with Steven feeling a little bit lost. "Whatever, Screw it" he jams the phone into the glove compartment, throws the car into reverse and pulls out of the driveway.
Rather than call anyone else to go with him, he decides that some time at the cabin, away from people and away from civilization, would do him some good. Leisurely, driving along he remembers he didn't bring anything "Shit, I drove off without even thinking! Crap!" he drums the steering wheel with his fingers " Well, I'm not turning around now, I'll just have to grab some stuff on the way" he pulls of the highway at the next exit, pays the toll and back tracks to the closest sporting goods store his GPS can give. While at the sporting goods store he picks up some camping supplies and some small survival kits, making sure he is at least prepared for some small scrapes and bruises. Upon leaving, he drives a couple blocks further down the road finding a local supermarket. He pulls into the parking lot, parks his Jeep and runs in to grab some basic food items and water. Coming out of the supermarket, he brightly assumes "If I need anything else, there's always Hanks place". Looking forward to being away from all this noise for awhile, he lets a small smile of relief catch his lip. He hurries over to his vehicle and gets everything packed in the back. He then hops into the driver's seat, puts a Bad Religion/Pennywise mix CD in the player and sets off.
Up to this point, Stevens trip has been pretty uneventful, with little variance to his course. So far, he's only stopped to relieve himself and grab some coffee once or twice. But as he is passing through this particular town, in which he doesn't remember seeing a sign for, his eyes become dry and he feels a little lethargic. He tells himself he is just feeling a little bit car lagged and needs to stop and stretch, but as he pulls deeper into the town something changes around him and he allows himself to look about. Inspecting the landscape, he notices that the buildings seem thinner somehow and there is a sickly look to them. Not believing what he is seeing, he shakes his head to clear his vision. The air is overly oppressive as it wraps itself about everything it falls in contact with, and it seems all too thick to be just a dry sunny day in the afternoon sunlight. A pin drop of fear trickles into his mind. He thinks to himself "It is as if the air itself holds tiny invisible chains against the buildings passing me by, making sure their reality is firmly set in place and all is well". Nearing the end of the town, a trailer park comes into view. It isn't a remarkable piece of land. It looks like every other trailer park found in the run down, forgotten parts of America. But as he goes by, the cars on the other side of the road slowly pass him turning their heads in his direction. And they take notice of him and he of them, he thinks "they are floating in time to a slow, soft, drum beat which only they can hear". There are questions in their eyes but he has no answers. The fear sinks deeper now, chewing a little further into his subconscious. He sees faces upon faces, all with no discernible traits that he can hold on to. No longer able to look, he pulls his eyes from the passengers allowing for some semblance of focus. His heart beats a little faster as he is passing the trailer park, "just a little further" he mumbles. A bead of sweat hangs on his brow and his grip tightens around the steering wheel until his knuckles are white with stress, he is doing everything he can to hold himself from breaking into shear panic. In the air, there are flutters of movement, it is something unseen but rising to the surface. Ignoring the movement, he steps harder on the gas pedal, willing it to move, pushing the jeep through the rest of the town. He tells himself again "Just a little further, Steve. Just a little further and I will be out of this freak show town."
© 2014 Warren Curtis Daniels Jr