This story is by Jackson Fuller and was part of our 2021 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
No windows, no doors, not a single crack in the wall as far as I could tell. I had woken in this white room minutes or hours before – time seemed to have stalled – and I hadn’t heard a sound. If this was a dream, it wasn’t like any dream I’d had before. No, this was very real. Suddenly, voices started rushing into the room. Why?!…. Stop, I’m sorry!…. PLEASE!..Shouts merging into a cacophony of incoherent noise getting louder and louder. I tried to cover my ears but the noise pierced through my fingers.
The single light in the room shrank until it was a narrow spotlight right on top of me. And then nothing. As quickly as it came the noise was gone. I looked up to see a crack in the wall across from me. A thin line of black that expanded from the center. As the seam crawled to the floor, I started to see the door that it was outlining. The door swung back to expose more white on the other side. In this white hallway stood a man in a white lab coat and white pants. The only color came from metallic silver glasses and his dark brown eyes.
The man met my gaze and walked into the room, the door closing behind him. Maybe there was someone on the other side, maybe it was automatic. I stayed sitting in the middle of the room. I hadn’t moved since I had woken up. Brown eyes stopped just a few feet away from me. His face showed no expression at all, but behind those lenses I saw a myriad of possibilities. A mixture of astonishment, disbelief and … what seemed to be a decent amount of fear that came with those emotions. He was studying me, analyzing me. Unlike myself, he knew why I was here but couldn’t seem to understand how.
Sharp pain flared in the back of my head. Flashes of memories I never had nor ever wanted. Black smoke. Bright orange flames mixed with dark red blood. We had just gotten back to the states moments ago, and we arrived to riots in the streets.
Johnson was leaning out the side of the helicopter as we hovered over DC. Two days ago the team had been deployed in Egypt to help find survivors of a massive sandstorm. A week before that we had faced terrorists in Moscow intending to kill everyone in the Kremlin with toxic gas. And now we came home to this.
“Brandon, what are we looking at here?” I asked the copilot.
“They started protesting about 5 hours ago. They have surrounded the White House and are threatening violence if we don’t show up.” Brandon had barely slept in two days and was still covered in dirt. He looked like hell. We all did.
Now I remembered. I was here because of him. Made the biggest mistake of my life and put my faith in that scumbag.
“Why?” the scientist asked in confusion.
Because I was desperate. Darkness had finally arrived and Death followed him. I tried to prepare. I tried to stop it. Bring all the money you have to the North Street warehouse or your boys are dead. Stood against the tides of opposition and hatred to try and protect the common people. Destroyed drug rings, took down corrupt politicians, and put away anyone who threatened my community. But it wasn’t enough. The darkness was too strong. A void of light and hope that consumed all.
“I must say I have never seen anything like that in all my years. What made you do it?”
People like you, I thought to myself. He had the same air about him that psychopaths did. Seemingly harmless, but no sane person would walk into this room with that look of admiration and start talking like they could be buddies.
“Where’s my family?” I asked him.
“I’m not allowed to tell you that, but I can tell you that they’re safe.”
“That’s why I’m here, Alex.” He kneeled down to my level. “What happened down there?”
They shouted in our faces. Screamed that our ‘helping’ only led to bigger problems. The world was better before you super freaks showed up. Shelby was hovering above our heads, trying to calm the crowds while dodging bricks. Devon put up a barrier in front of us to stop the projectiles but a rioter got behind us and hit him in the head.
“He betrayed us. Johnson had given up our families.”
“He made a deal to save his family by giving the rioters the location of your families” the scientist confirmed. “But he did try to make up for it, didn’t he?” There was a hint of excitement in that last question.
“What is wrong with you?” I asked him.
“I think that’s what I’m supposed to be asking you. How were you able to do all that?”
That bastard. Those I protected rose up and shackled my loved ones, calling for my blood. Desperate and afraid, I accepted that Judas’ help. He had given me the power to fight in the first place. That vial and its murky yellow liquid.
Johnson stood over our bloody bodies as the crowd surged forward. Devon was on the ground being kicked and beaten with sticks. He stabbed me with that vial and promised
The stronger I got, the harder it was to see what I was doing. My wife warned me about the darkness this job brings and tried to help me stop it. But it always found me in the end. It always crushed me until I couldn’t feel anything else.
I had trusted power to get me out of it. It always did. It always saved me from my suffering and kept me alive one more day. But buying time was expensive. A price that I wasn’t sure I could keep paying. That’s why I was here.
I stared back at the scientist.
He looked at me as if I was a gift from the heavens that he was afraid would be taken away if he turned around. What kind of depraved bastard was this? How could he possibly look at me with anything other than fear or disgust.
“Why?” he repeated
“Because I had to.” I said weakly. Liar, I thought to myself. You’re just a weakling who couldn’t fight for himself, a coward.
The wall to my left faded to reveal a wall of televisions behind the glass that I once thought was stone. The room was flooded with color as they all turned on. Each screen showed the same thing just in a different way. A brick building folding in on itself as the foundations tore apart. A red sports car sent flying into a busy store front as if it were a toy. Families covered in blood crying over the covered body of a loved one. Death and destruction on every screen. Screams started to enter my head, mimicking the horror on the screens.
No, please.I was in every single one. I didn’t do anything, I swear! I was flipping cars. Tearing down buildings. HELP! SOMEBODY PLEASE, HELP! Slaughtering by the dozens. Black clouds in the sky announcing my presence. Wherever the Darkness went, Death followed. I followed.
I had begged for life, and became a harbinger of pain and sorrow. My life was now watching in horror as I killed relentlessly.