I was 7 years old and at my grandparents’ house. Wayne was 9 and we slept in the same room but he needed only 15 minutes or so to fall asleep. Me, I would sometimes lie there, staring at the ceiling for hours. My bed was facing the window. It was deep in the country and it was usually quite dark, especially on those cloudy nights. But sometimes, I would see different shapes inside and outside of my room. Most frequently, it was a big, black dog, resting, gathering strength to come and shred my throat with his fangs. It was my most terrifying living nightmare at the time.
And up until now, I thought I was over it. But here I was, 15 years old, a teenager, lying in my own bed, staring at the window and expecting who knows what to happen. Scared of the darkness outside but too afraid to look away.
That night, just like when I was little, nothing happened.
It was Monday morning and the whole family was eating pancakes and chatting. I was doing my best not to spoil the mood, so I indulged in casual conversation. It helped me some, too. But the images of yesterday haunted me all the same.
Cayden and Michael came to visit later that morning, right after the band practice. Michael brought the Brass: Birmingham board game and we had loads of fun playing it, even though he only bought it because of the name. But yeah, it turned out it was complex and fun. And it was great that the boys thought about my disability. I'd expect Cayden to just start Soul Calibur and expect me to handle the controller with my mind.
It was 3 pm when they left. They had another gig the next day and some last-minute preparations to take care of. For a while, I didn't know what to do with myself. Throwing the tennis ball on my bed seemed like a viable idea.
I thought about calling Ryan. I liked spending time with him and the sexy stuff we’d done was the cherry on top. But after the last evening with Alex, I started feeling like it would be cheating. I really needed to decide about the black boy’s place in my life. He’d love me as a friend, I was sure of that. And as for Alex… I was hoping the next few days would bring some significant progress.
Thinking about Alex and his beautiful face, I threw an unwilling look towards the drum set. I reluctantly powered it on and sat on the stool, hitting the snare with my stick. That's when my phone vibrated.
A message from Alex. Magic.
“Hey man, how are you?”
“Hey Alex, I've been just thinking about you. Trying to play drums.”
“Awesome! I've been thinking about you, too,” he replied.
Oh. We're going all out, I guess. I held my breath and typed.
“Would you like to hang out? I kinda wanted to see you.”
“Me too! but I can't, I'm out of town ;(“
“Cool. Tomorrow's the concert, so maybe Wednesday?”
“It would be great, I'll come over in the morning after I wake up.”
I think I'm falling in love
This time I think it's for real
I took a selfie of myself sitting by the drum set, trying and failing to look manly and sent it to Alex. After a minute, he sent me his own. He was sitting in the back seat of a car, looking bored, with a dreamy expression on his face. It took me a while to figure out what I should respond and I only came up with: “Looking good!”
“I knoe. You too :)”
Feeling like a schoolgirl, I put the phone away and got back to drumming. I had to survive two days without seeing Alex so I could just as well do something productive.
It was a frustrating experience at first, as I had to fight against both my disability and my mental habit of using my right hand. In a way, it was worse than learning from the start, as first I had to unlearn my regular moves. After a couple of breaks and one rage quit, I finally managed the basic Roxanne beat. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to master it. It was impossible to play it exactly note to note but it was good enough.
Later, we watched TV with the family and I was feeling not so bad at all. I realised I had a constant look of bliss on my face and wondered how obvious it was. That I was in love. Because I was! It was stronger than any other crush I'd had in my life and I’d had a few.
And I really managed to push all the dark thoughts aside. At least until I was back in my room, alone. I could fool myself all I wanted but the things I'd seen were real. The puma creature was real. The shape on the tree was real. The dead bird in the park was real. And the fox. All of it was real. Either someone was executing an elaborate plan to drive me insane, or there were some dark forces in play. I wasn't sure which option scared me more.
I read a book for a while but around midnight I got pretty sleepy. If something happens again, I will seek help, I promised myself. For now, I'd just go to sleep. I stripped down to my boxer shorts and despite the warm weather, closed the window shut. Just in case.
Lying on the bed, I played with my phone for a bit and after a while without thinking, texted Alex “good night”. He was probably asleep because he didn't text back. I put away the phone and rolled on my side, trying just to fall asleep.
When I woke up, it was still pitch dark. I felt a light breeze on my face which felt nice. It was a cool night, just as I liked it. I rolled on my back and when it struck me, I felt only dread. And horror. The window was open wide and the dim moonlight cast creepy shadows in my room. I had closed the window before going to sleep, I knew it. There was no way to open it from the outside. No way.
The wind was howling and the leaves on the walnut tree rustled faintly. I was motionless, expecting to hear odd sounds but there was nothing.
Until there was.
At first, it was barely audible rummaging outside my window. A very faint sound, like a cat scratching a rough surface. Then it went completely silent.
But then it resumed. There was a barely noticeable change. Now it was like scratching and climbing up the house wall. I started trembling, unable to move an inch, afraid to make any noise.
Suddenly, there was a louder scratch and a thump. Like if something fell off the house wall and hit the ground. I realised I've been holding my breath for at least a minute and risked taking a few slow breaths before I suffocated.
After a minute, the scratching-climbing sound resumed. I was ready to piss my pants and when it got really, really close to my window, I knew I had to act. I screamed and jumped off the bed, shutting the window with a slam. I was about to run downstairs in panic when the door to my room opened. It was my brother.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Wayne demanded.
Fortunately, I didn't wake up anyone else. He looked angry but I knew he was worried about me. I told him everything that happened since the first night we saw the red-eyed creature. About seeing the fox right before my accident. About the black shape on the tree the other day. About the headless crow in the park. About what happened today.
"This is serious! Why didn't you tell me?"
"I don't know, I thought I was imagining things!" I was on the verge of crying.
"I saw it too the other day, alright? Did you see it today?"
"No, only heard something climb up the wall."
I was sitting on my bed and Wayne was walking back and forth in front of me. He was just in his boxer briefs, like me. Suddenly, he looked at me like his mind was made up.
"Come one, we're going out."
I opened my eyes wide.
"W.. what? In our underwear?"
"You can take it off if you want, follow me."
I decided to keep it on and followed him. More than anything, I was afraid of him leaving me alone in the room again. Wayne rushed into his room and emerged back with his baseball bat. I was terrified but followed my brother downstairs, trying not to make any sound. We silently left the safety of the house right into the dark night. I didn't even care that we were almost naked anymore.
Wayne led the way around the house and stopped directly beneath my window. He looked at me, pressing his finger to his lips, telling me to be silent. Then he pointed on the ground. The grass was damaged and there were grass clusters scattered over the place. His finger moved further to point at barely visible scratch marks on the wall. I had to look closely but they were there, no doubt about it. We started looking around for any other signs but there was nothing out of ordinary. Whatever had been here, was already gone. Or so we thought.
We were about to head back home when I got a weird feeling we were being watched. I slowly looked up the walnut tree and it only took me a few seconds to notice it among the branches. Moonlight had no access through the leaves but the large red eyes were glowing in the darkness. The shape of their owner was barely distinguishable from the surroundings. It was the puma. I felt unspeakable terror and grasped Wayne's hand.
But before we could do anything, there was a rapid rustle in the hedge just next to us and another black shape darted out of it. I backed off instinctively but stumbled and fell on the ground. It seemed like it tried to dodge us but Wayne was faster. He swung with the baseball bat and hit it in its head directly. It let out a sharp screech and landed a few yards away, dazed. Wayne leaped to finish it but it avoided the swing at the last moment and escaped through the yard. It was the fox. I knew it when it entered the light of the nearest street lamp. The black fox.
I looked back up to the tree. The red-eyed creature was gone.
We waited a minute or so and when the monsters didn't come back, Wayne helped me get off the ground and we hugged.
"There, there, it's gone."
"You were amazing, bro."
We went upstairs in silence. I went straight into my room and Wayne followed me inside. I looked at him, questioningly.
"Want me to stay with you until the morning?" He asked.
I nodded. I had no idea when I fell asleep.
When I woke up, I was cuddled into Wayne. I felt a little weird and when I stirred, I realised he was awake. He ruffled my hair and said good morning. I looked him in the eyes. He didn't seem like he got enough sleep but at least he was smiling.
"Thanks," I whispered. The baseball bat was on the floor with a bloody stain on its head. It was not a dream, then. Despite the gruesome sight, I felt relieved. The thing was bleeding just like any other creature. There was nothing supernatural or demonic about it. But the red-eyed puma… it was gone before Wayne could even see it. I told him about it later and he frowned. It wasn’t over yet.
I stood up and stretched.
"You need a shower, Junior," Wayne said. I looked down at my body. There were dirt patches here and there and there was dirt underneath my fingernails.
"You're right," I smiled, "I'll go now."
"Yeah, and do it before parents start asking questions. Need me to help you?"
"No," I dismissed him, "but I do want you to go with me." He raised an eyebrow, so I added, "you look like you came out of a swamp yourself."
We went into the bathroom and took a shower together. Boy, I was barely ever showering by myself anymore. We scrubbed each other a little bit without crossing the border. I finally saw Wayne's dick, too. I haven't seen it for a few years. Just as he said, we were almost the same down there but he was a tad thicker. Or maybe just getting hard, I wasn't sure.
I ain't gonna lie, I was pretty horny myself, so once back in my room, I hopped naked on my bed and texted Ryan to come over. It wasn’t like me and Alex were married, right? Ryan wasn't online, though. He wouldn’t answer my call, either. But I did get a message from Alex saying “good morning”. “Have a killer gig, champ,” I replied and went back to playing with my dick. God knows I wanted to wank and type at the same time but I couldn't. I opened Alex's barechested photo I saved to my phone earlier and continued masturbating. The only drawback was that I had no lube; I left it at Ryan’s. I'll skip the details but let me just say it was one of the best solo sessions ever. And it felt out of this world, just like pretty much everything that happened over the last few days.
Later, I knocked at Wayne's door but he wasn't home anymore. The boys were on tour. Ryan still didn't text me back. I was by myself. Well, my sister was home but I wasn’t that desperate. The feeling of dread was gone for now but I regretted I couldn't spend some more time with my brother. He was the only one I could talk to about what happened. There was nobody I could hang out with, isn't that sad?
I decided to practice drumming for a couple of hours. And I was glad that I did because it paid off. I was really getting a grasp of it and before I had too much, I could play three of our songs almost without compromising the sound.
The rest of the day was uneventful. Except at around 10 pm, Alex sent me a selfie he made with the boys on the scene. A spike of jealousy. In return, I recorded a video of me playing for several seconds.
He replied with “awesome!” I was only a little sad we couldn't meet today. Because we'd see each other in the morning!
I went to bed earlier, just to make it come faster. Like a little kid waiting for Santa. But then I felt fear again. Five minutes later, I was in my undies, knocking at Wayne's door.
"Let me guess Junior, you want me to sleep with you tonight," he said, his muscled arm resting on the door frame. I nodded. "Be there in five, Junior," he smiled at me.
We both got ourselves a good night's sleep.
After taking a shower, I wore my favourite blue shirt. It fitted pretty well if I can say so myself. Alex was coming in 30 minutes and I was dying to see him. In the meantime, I got a message from Ryan. He was sick but told me he'll see me later this week. I felt sorry for him but I wanted to spend as much time as I could with Alex anyway. I considered sending Ryan a dic pic but decided against it. Instead, I went outside and played some solo basketball to kill time.
After one of the shots, I felt small hands covering my eyes from behind and I went blind.
"Um… grandpa?" I guessed.
Alex chuckled and let me go. And I was grateful to regain my sight because he seemed to be looking better every day.
"That's my favourite hoodie you’re wearing," I said, inspecting him.
"Really? I had a feeling you liked it.”
"I do. Wanna play some ball with me?"
He did so we played for a while. 15 minutes later, I saw dad's car pull over. Guess he was early from work.
"Hi boys, you're having fun?"
"Good morning Mr. Davies." Alex was such a polite kid.
"Yessir!" I added.
We played for another 10 minutes and my hand got a little tired.
"I need a break. Want to go for a walk?" I asked Alex.
"Sure, let's go to the park."
And we did just that. I asked him about the gig yesterday and he asked me about my drumming progress, so I told him.
"I owe it to you, actually," I looked at him.
"Stop it Owen, I did nothing," was all he said.
“Yes, you did. I was really down after the accident but you gave me hope.”
We walked through the park for a while, chatting. In daylight, the place didn't look terrifying at all. The darkness was gone. It was the season of love.
Speaking of which.
I accidentally brushed Alex's right hand with mine as we walked and started counting seconds in my head. His hand accidentally brushed mine exactly eleven seconds later.
I took a deep breath and grasped his hand. He didn't pull back. What's more, his grip tightened. We looked at each other but he quickly started staring at his shoes.
"Let's sit here for a moment," I said nodding at a bench nearby.
We sat there, holding hands.
"It's crazy, isn't it?" I asked.
"Yes, it is." Alex was breathing heavily, clearly nervous and excited. After a while, he added, "I'm sorry Owen, I'm a little jumpy."
"That makes two of us. But you're great, I liked you from the first time I saw you, you know?"
"I liked you even before I met you," he muttered, looking up into my eyes.
"I guess you did," I laughed, "um, Alex, remember when you asked me how I knew which house was yours the other day?
“Well, I may or may have not spied on your Facebook profile the next morning right after we met."
"Spied on me? Why?"
"Well, I kinda wanted to find you and I was too stupid to just text you. You are the cutest boy I've ever known."
"Oh," he blushed, "you're really cute, too. And the truth is, I wasn't only looking at you for your drumming," he added, squeezing my hand.
I let his hand go to brush his hair. He smiled and placed his head on my shoulder so I could embrace him. We sat there in silence, listening to our breathing. We were seen by at least a dozen people but they didn't seem to care. I knew we didn't.
"I really, really like you, Owen."
"I really like you too, Alex."
Thanks for reading! Let me know what you think so far. Chapter 7 is on the way.