Darkness Falls, by Brendon Stevens

SUNDAY 8:00am

The light’s reflection off the floor to ceiling bathroom tiles captured the light coffee tones, filling the space with a creamy and warm glow. Water, cascading from the tap into a ceramic basin the only sound in her head. Closing her eyes, and feeling the cold liquid seep through her fingers, she splashed the water over her warm flushed face.

Amy Russo opened her eyes, staring back at the smudged image of herself in the steamed up mirror. A smile formed on her lips. The happiest place on earth she thought to herself.

With a twist of a wrist, the flowing water stopped, leaving behind what seemed the be a deafening silence, only to be broken by a rough ‘clearing of the throat’ sound.

Amy, still leaning with both arms against the vanity top, turned her head enough to catch a glimpse of the figure standing in the doorway behind her.

“You’re eggs are getting cold.” Was all the man said.

Amy pursed her lips and blew a strand of hair from her face. Pushing away from the basin, a sweet smile greeted the man as she made her way toward him.

Putting up a hand, he stopped her before she could reach him. His fisted hand quivered.

Amy tilted her head to the side like a confused puppy, with eyes to match.

He slowly opened his fist to reveal…

“Oh Derek.” She gasped. 

THE DAY BEFORE: SATURDAY 3:00am

A loud smash of glass drew Amy Russo out of her deep sleep. Instantly snapped back to reality, without even a thought of what might have happened downstairs, she leapt from the bed and sped out the bedroom door.

Missing three steps per stride, Amy’s bare feet thudded on the hardwood floor at the base of the stairs.

“Mum!” She called.

Silence…

“Mum!” She called, this time more panicked.

Ever since her fathers death, Amy had nightmares of losing her mother too, due to the rare heart condition she had been diagnosed with, after the funeral.

Only a few days ago had her mother been emitted from the hospital, after suffering a heart attach at home. Memories of the past weeks events ran through Amy’s head.

Déjà vu.

A second smash drew her mind back to the present. A scuffing sound and a grunt, barely audible.

Racing down the corridor and fast approaching the open door at the end, Amy slid to a halt and poked her head around the corner into the kitchen.

Angelica Russo lay on her back in a pool of blood. Her body convulsed as she spat and gargled the blood in her mouth.

Amy dropped to a knee beside her mother.

Cradled in her daughters arms, Angelica struggled for her last gasp of breath. It didn’t come, the blood sank deeper into her throat, and into her lungs.

Amy’s tears fell to her mothers cheeks in mini explosions of water. She opened her mouth, but couldn’t hear her own cries.

She flashed back to the moment, a week ago, when she had found her mother in the same position on the kitchen floor after suffering a heart attack. This time something must have gone horribly wrong. Had she hit her head on the benchtop? But that thought was swept away by the breeze that came from the kitchen window.

Amy held her mothers lifeless body tighter, straining to see beyond the haze of her own tears.

Another puff of cool wind blew through the window, waving the curtains out the way to reveal…

Broken glass and a shoe.

Amy placed her mothers head gently on the wood floor.

Moving to the window, she collected the cordless phone and dialled 911.

No answer.

She tried again, before noticing that the phone didn’t have a dial tone.

At the window, it became clear that whoever had tried to escape, got their foot lodged between the window frame and sink tap. The empty shoe, stained with blood was still wedged tightly as Amy fingered it.

She looked frantically out the window, and that was when she saw him illuminated by the barns dim exterior lights.

“Derek.” She breathed at the same moment the phone hit the floor.

Steadying herself against the granite kitchen top, Amy pushed herself against a wall and lowered herself to the floor beside her mother.

SATURDAY 9:00pm

A siren jolted Amy upright in the seat of her fathers old pick up truck.

Where am I? she asked herself, confused and slightly dazed as the image of the speeding EMS disappeared in the distance.

It took a moment for her to notice the dilapidated and boarded up house beyond the curb, where she was parked.

“How did I get here?” she whispered. Last she could remember she was on the floor in the kitchen next to her mother, and then her memory went blank.

Focusing her attention back to the present, Amy barely recognised the house she was staring at. It was only three days since she had last been here. It had also been the first time she had spent a full night with Derek. Now it appeared to have aged a hundred years.

The windows and doors had been boarded up. The lush green lawns had died and been replaced by overgrown weeds. The gutters had rusted and dislodged themselves from the roof. Graffiti covered the walls, almost glowing in the darkness.

It was the police tape however, that drew her attention.

Had the police already figured out that her mother was dead, and that Derek had murdered her? Couldn’t be! She glanced at her watch.

The cold winter air intensified as the storm closed in. Amy slipped the hood of her parka over her jet black hair, and ducked under the police tape bordering the property.

The front door wasn’t an option, and neither were the window, so she made her way down the side of the house and into the back yard. Weeds had taken over this section too, but how is this possible in only a few days?

At the base of the three steps up to the houses rear entrance, lay a sheet of plywood, broken and splintered. Somebody had clearly found a way inside.

Beside the steps, she noted the doghouse and discarded chain and collar used to secure Dozer, the Rottweiler to the backyard limits. Where was he?

Amy inched closer to the door left ajar.

Closer.

A growl and echoing bang stopped her in her tracks.

Spinning around, Amy’s thoughts raced through images of the Rottweiler pouncing at her, out of the darkness..

There was nothing. She realised then, that the sound had been the Shed door, slamming shut in the wind. The wind itself, continued to growl as they rain began to fall.

SATURDAY 11:30pm

Amy could feel herself fighting off fatigue, she had already explored every room in the house and found nothing but old dusty furniture, mostly used by vandals or maybe even the homeless, to make fire.

Amy stood over a spot in the living room where a pile of ashes lay before an old TV unit. The unit was empty, all drawers had been removed bar one. Amy slowly pulled back the drawer and it opened with a gritty crunch as the rollers fought the dust.

Sifting through a few sheets of paper, Amy stopped at a black and white portrait photograph. It was a photo taken of herself last spring. She had given it to Derek as a birthday present. Something he could look at for warmth, when she wasn’t there to provide it.

Amy thought back now and realised she had fallen too fast for this boy. But it wasn’t her fault, he had allowed it to happen, dragging her in deeper with his charm and his constant overuse of the word ‘love’.

She wondered how things had come to this. What was happening? It was clear that Derek had a thing for her mother, but he’d promised that his love for Amy was far to strong for him to pursue that avenue. She had caught him once, with his hand on her mothers’ breast and leaning in for a kiss. He swore it to be a misunderstanding.

Then it struck her.

Maybe it wasn’t her obsession with him. Maybe it was his obsession with her.

Derek had once told her that he loved her so much, the only thing that could separate them would be death.

Amy drew a breath and thought about his feelings for her mother.

If he couldn’t have her, Amy thought, then maybe his only escape was murder.

She shook her head. Tears formed in her eyes, and the days events took hold. Amy sat on the floor of the living room, staring at the portrait.

A streetlight outside flickered, then burnt out. Drowning the room in complete darkness. A place where Amy felt at home.

SUNDAY 7:30am

A stream of light filled the room. Birds sang beyond the window and sounds of children laughing and playing in the street.

Opening her eyes, Amy noticed she was no longer on the living room floor. Instead, she was in a bed.

Amy sat up straight, almost hitting her head on the overhead reading lamp above her. She recognised the room instantly, which added even more confusion to a situation she thought couldn’t get more confusing.

It was Derek’s bedroom, before it took on the abandoned appearance it had the day before.

Alone in the room, she stood and walked to the window which was no longer boarded up. The lawns were cropped short and lush. No sign of police tape.

She rubbed the temple of her forehead and shut her eyes, but when she reopened them, she was in the same room. This definitely wasn’t a dream.

But last night felt so real! She thought to herself.

BEEP! BEEP!

Amy raced over to the bedside table and opened the drawer. It was her cell phone, and it just received a message.

Amy tried to remember whether she had brought a cell phone with her, tried to remember if she even owned one…

She clicked ‘open’ on the message and the screen lit up:

        Happy Birthday princess, we love you! Mom & Dad.

“Good morning, sleepyhead.” Derek said from the doorway.

Amy dropped the phone and backed herself against the wall. Panic mixed with fear and confusion rendered her speechless.

What’s going on?

She tried to cry, but the tears didn’t come.

“What’s wrong Amy? Another nightmare?” Derek said.

Amy nodded, still trying to grasp which was reality and which was a dream.

Looking down, she noticed the clothes she had been wearing the night before were replaced by a pair of pajamas.

Maybe this was just a dream?

She felt moisture on her cheek, the tears were now flowing.

“Are you okay?” Derek said, a perplexed expression replacing the warm smile he’d been wearing, as Amy sped past him and into the bathroom.

SUNDAY 8:00am

The lights reflection off the floor to ceiling bathroom tiles captured the light coffee tones, filling the space with a creamy and warm glow. Water, cascading from the tap into a ceramic basin the only sound in her head. Closing her eyes, and feeling the cold liquid seep through her fingers, she splashed the water over her warm flushed face.

Amy Russo opened her eyes, staring back at the smudged image of herself in the steamed up mirror.

Maybe it was all a dream. She thought. Thinking of the text message from her parents. Thinking of the night before, when she stood in this same bathroom and stared into the same dusty and cracked mirror.

A smile formed on her lips. The happiest place on earth she thought to herself.

With a twist of a wrist, the flowing water stopped, leaving behind what seemed the be a deafening silence, only to be broken by a rough ‘clearing of the throat’ sound.

Amy, still leaning with both arms against the vanity top, turned her head enough to catch a glimpse of the figure standing in the doorway behind her.

 “You’re eggs are getting cold.” Was all Derek said, confusion and worry still dominating his expression

Amy pursed her lips and blew a strand of hair from her face. Pushing away from the basin, she smiled sweetly as she made her way toward him, finally glad to be out of the nightmare. Out of the life she thought she had before waking up to this.

Putting up a hand, he stopped her before she could reach him. His fisted hand quivered.

Amy tilted her head to the side like a confused puppy, with eyes to match.

He slowly opened his fist to reveal…

“Oh Derek.” She gasped.

SUNDAY 9:00am

“Oh Derek.” She gasped. “Please, don’t make me!”

Amy’s world spun out of control. She thought her head would explode as she tried to process what was happening.

This was reality now. Amy remembered everything, and the reality seemed harsher than the nightmares.

“You have to take them!” James yelled.

“NO! Derek!” She screeched as he grabbed her by the hair and yanked her head back, forcing dry pills the size of quarters down her throat.

“Swallow!” James yelled “It’ll make it better.”

Amy resisted, closing her eyes and thrashing in his arms.

Suddenly, footsteps pounded loudly as a second pair of arms wrapped around her.

“Jesus Christ, John. What the hell took you so long?” James said.

Amy opened her eyes to see the second male, and at the same time, gasping for a breath, causing her to swallow the pills.

Still resisting, the two men picked Amy up and carried her out of the bathroom into the bedroom and dumped her onto the bed.

James held her down while John fastened straps around her arms and legs, securing her to the bed.

“Derek Noooooo!!” She cried.

Once secured the men turned around, kicked her breakfast tray aside and left the room, not looking back at Amy once.

At that moment, the medication kicked in, filling her body with relaxation, and the thrashing stopped.

Amy lay on the bed, staring at the white ceiling… watching it transform before her eyes into a gun metal grey colour. The colour washed over the cream coloured walls all around her. The doorway to the bathroom disappeared in a wash of grey and was replaced by a small hand basin and toilet, mounted to the walls of the bedroom. The windows disappeared, replaced by the hard steel walling, and darkness fell over Amy.

Her screams would only be heard by her own ears.

SUNDAY 9:30am

The two men walked down a long corridor, lined with doors similar to the one on Amy’s room.

“So Johnny.” James said. “You’re new here kid, and if you plan on keeping your job, I suggest you get back from lunch on time. Things can get dangerous around here, and we need to know we can rely on each other.”

 “Yes Sir” John replied.

James stopped at an open door and peered inside. A uniformed man appeared.

“Hey Carl, what’s going on?” James asked.

“Franko killed himself last night” Carl replied. “Crazy old bastard bashed his head against the steel bunk until the frame dented. Must’ve cracked his skull wide open.”

James shook his head, and continued down the corridor, John still at his side.

“So… why does she call you Derek?” He asked, still thinking about Amy.

James looked at the young man, and exhaled.

“Amy Russo is a special one Johnny.” He said. “She was my first patient here.”

James opened the door at the end of the hall and led John through a maze of hospital wards.

“She had been physically abused by her father since birth. You’d be lucky to find a bare patch of skin between all the scars on that girls body.” James shook his head.

“Three years ago, Amy decided to fight back, taking her fathers life whilst he was beating her mother. Stabbed him sixteen times.”

“Is that when we got her?” John asked, eyes wide.

“No… Her mother covered up for Amy. They buried the father out on their farm, and gave the cops some bullshit story.” James opened the door to the rear exit of the hospital and lit a cigarette. “It was only after she caught her boyfriend… Derek, sleeping with her mother. That’s when things took a turn for the worst.”

“What happened?” John was entranced by the story.

“She hacked off Dereks balls and slit her mothers throat. Cops say she even made the trip up to his house in suburbia and trashed the place. Even killed the damn dog.”

James finished.

John just stood there, mouth gaping.

James slapped him over the shoulder and offered him a smoke. “Haha, don’t worry kiddo… its just a story.”

***

The Australian Literature Review

www.auslit.net

This entry was posted in brendon stevens, short fiction and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Darkness Falls, by Brendon Stevens

  1. Frank Ince says:

    The story is a little implausable but immensely intriguing and exciting. There was tension from the beginning and built layer upon layer to the very end. The ending was as surprising as it was satisfying. Well done!

  2. Your feedback is greatly appreciated Frank.

    Thanks,

    Brendon

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