Alone In The Dark by Mark Cusco Ailes
Johnny Brown spent a lot of time alone in the dark. It didn’t bother him or frightened him. He was a horror writer and being alone in the dark helped set the mood.
While ordinary people lived ordinary lives, he often sat in the dark, with black candles burning and the sound of a horror soundtrack keeping him company while he let his mind wander to dark places where most people wouldn’t dare to venture. It was all about his craft and how far his imagination stretched through the dark realm of imagination.
He felt safe in this realm. There he wouldn’t find people trying to force him off the highway of life or ridicule him for the style of clothing he wore on a late Saturday night.
Instead, he enjoyed the company of his ghostly companions and horrid creatures who helped fill the empty pages of his newest book.
He stared at the computer screen, the cursor flashing on and off, reminding him it would constantly mock him until he let his fingers caress the keys on the keyboard, letting the journey into his dark world begin.
His heart was standing in the way of his new creation. It was painfully reminding him of the girl of his dreams he had recently met at a horror convention. She was the one he often fashioned his characters around, giving them one or two of her traits. He remembered how he felt putting his hand around her waist as a friend snapped a forever memory on his camera. He felt as though he belonged to her, and having left her behind was harming his creative mind. It was now clouded by a storm cloud of both jealousy and confusion.
He had planned on telling her how he felt about her, but the words stuck in his throat like thorns on a blossomed rose. All he had to do was utter three simple words most people tossed around freely like it was second nature to do so. He stared at the screen wondering what it would have been like to pull her close and kiss her sweet, moistened lips, and to feel her warmth against his chest. Instead, all he felt was cowardice.
He heard the voice in his head remind him he had a deadline for his new book, and so far he had managed to refrain from writing one single word. He couldn’t even think of the perfect opening paragraph or even come up with the perfect character. All he could do was suffer with the thought of her and his missed opportunity.
His fingers slid across the keyboard and he wrote the first line to his story. He stared at what he wrote. He shook his head. The screen was blank. He obviously had hit the delete key in succession, keeping him from expressing how he felt.
He sat back in his chair and gazed at the dancing flame of the half melted candle burning dimly on the desk next to him. Its flame dancing left to right, laughing and mocking him. It acted as though it knew his suffering and it was dancing, reveling in his torment. He glared at it. How dare you take pleasure in my suffering. I can extinguish your life as easy as my creativity has been extinguished from mine.
He placed his fingers back on the keyboard. They were riddled with pain as if the keys were made of sharp razor blades ready to slice them open the moment he began his conquest across the keyboard.
His mind drifted back to her. He remembered her confident aura, her sensuous smile, and her sweet fragrance. He sat back in his chair. The very thought of her was clogging his senses. He tried once again to write the perfect opening paragraph to his story. Once again the screen was blank. Am I losing my mind, or is my body punishing me for my cowardice?
He slammed his fist on the desk and slapped himself several times across the face. He took a sip from his wine resting on the desk next to the mocking candle. Perhaps dulling his senses is what he needed to do to free his conscious mind. He swallowed the last drop and placed the glass back on the desk and let the alcohol slowly take its effect on his mind.
He looked around the room. The candle was casting eerie images across his sorrowful walls. They were swirling around, merging into one image, one that resembled her with outstretched arms begging him to feel her embrace. He smacked himself across the face and looked back at the shadow. Her image had vanished back into the mysterious world it had appeared from.
He thought about calling his shrink and explaining how his mind was trying to send him into insanity. He looked around the room once more. Another shadow was standing ominous, threatening to reach out and snatch him from his chair. He closed his eyes and stole a quick glance back toward the shadow. The ominous figure had vanished and was replaced by one of a hangman’s noose, swinging back and forth, as if a gentle breeze was silently moving it.
He cursed her name. He stood up and went into the bathroom and was about to turn on the light until he saw her image staring back at him through the mirror. She wasn’t the beautiful version of herself, but a cheap incarnation of evil staring sinisterly at him. He flipped on the light and looked at the mirror. The reflection of his haunted face stared back at him. He turned the light back off and she had left the mirror and was standing closer to him. He turned the light back on and stood there shaking from fright. His eyes were transfixed on the spot where she was standing when the light had been turned off. He wanted to turn it off again, but he stood frozen in place, cold chills running down his spine. He thought about turning around and leaving the bathroom but curiosity was getting the best of him.
He turned the light off once again and waited. She was no longer standing there. He looked left to right thinking she might have changed position when the light was on. She was nowhere to be seen. He took a deep breath and turned to leave the bathroom, and there she stood with a toothless grin. She opened her mouth and emitted an earth-shaking, high-pitched noise, bringing him down to his knees. He covered his ears and looked at her. She had vanished once again. He sprang to his feet and turned the light back on. He looked in the mirror. Sweat was cascading down his face in streams. He turned on the water and cleansed his face with warm water, trying to figure out a way to forget about her.
He sat back at the computer staring at the flashing cursor. It was now located half way down the screen. Above it were three words typed over and over. You will die!
He covered the screen with his hand and looked around him. The candle was smoldering as if someone had blown it out recently. He stood up and moved backward away from the computer. The keyboard sprung to life and kept typing the three words over and over until he cried out for it to stop. The keyboard went silent.
A chill shot through him like lightning. He shuddered and went to his bedroom to get under the covers. As he entered it his eyes bulged in fright. Something or somebody was lying in his bed completely covered with his blanket. He watched as it levitated into the air and hovered for several minutes before lowering itself back onto the bed. He had seen enough.
He turned and left the bedroom and headed for his front door. As he reached it, the door burst into flame looking as though it was breathing. Her face appeared through the flame, laughing menacingly and watching his every movement.
He went to his knees and covered his head with his hands. “Please leave me alone!” he screamed.
All went silent. He held his breath and looked at the door. Everything had gone back to normal. He slowly stood up and looked around the room. Nothing sinister was happening.
He sat back at the computer and saw that the screen was blank. He felt sick to his stomach, as if he had just come off a bad drug trip. He sat back in his chair, tired and parched from all the excitement he had been through.
The door opened and a young woman walked in and turned on the light. It was the woman from the convention. She was wearing a white lab coat with her long, brunette hair tied in a ponytail. She approached him at the computer.
“Mr. Brown, you’re not looking all that well tonight. Are you having the bad dreams again?” She handed him a small white cup with several pills inside. “Here’s your meds. The psychologist will be here in the morning to see you.”
“Will I be all right?”
“It all depends on you,” she said, taking the cup from him. “The judge told you that you were going to be with us for a long while. Now try to get some rest; it’s getting late.” She looked at the smoldering candle. “How do you keep getting these?” She picked up the candle and took it with her. “Now get some rest.” She went to turn off the light.
“Please don’t,” he begged.
She looked at him impatiently. “Don’t do what?”
“Turn off the light.”
“I have to. Don’t worry; once your meds kick in, you’ll fall fast asleep.” She turned off the light and left the room, closing the door behind her.
He lay there in bed, too scared to sleep. He kept looking around expecting something to reach out and kill him. He felt the effects of the pills starting to send him into slumber. He took one last look around the room. Everything looked normal. He slowly let his eyes close. Before he had a chance to enter the dreamworld, he felt something heavy on top of his body. He opened his eyes. She was lying on top of him with her mouth wide open. She screamed and grabbed his pillow and smothered him with it.
In the morning, the psychologist entered the room to check on him. He was lying there with his face covered by the pillow.
“Mr. Brown, it’s time to awaken.” He waited for a minute but there was no movement from him. “Mr. Brown, can you hear me?” He approached the bed and slowly removed the pillow. He took several steps backward and stared at Mr. Brown. He lay dead on the bed with his eyes wide open as if he had seen a ghost.
The morning nurse walked in the room and screamed. She dropped her clipboard and ran out of the room. The psychologist ran after her. The door slammed shut after him and a young woman appeared through the wall and snatched Mr. Brown from the bed, tipping it over. She grabbed him by the throat and threw him into the wall. It opened, letting his body pass through. He landed at the feet of the woman he had met at the convention while his picture was being taken by a friend. She stooped over him and turned his face so he could see her.
“I told you that you were going to die.” She dropped his head so it hit the floor. She stood back up and faced the man holding the camera, opened her mouth and screamed sinisterly. The lens of the camera shattered, causing him to drop his camera. He looked in her direction and watched as she vanished before his eyes.