Always thinking :)
Anyway... I'm going to lay out the opening of this tale for you now, just to get through it. Forgive me if my writing seems forced or convoluted at times... as I said, I'm no writer. And I apologize if this bit is long (because it will be)... but just take a moment and sink your teeth into this, 'cause I guarantee you're about to learn some stuff about me that you never even dreamed of. Speaking of dreams... without further adieu, let's get this bad boy rolling... I call this story 'Jaded'
Part 1, the Dream
Even now, after so many years, it's never the sickness that motivates me to continue forward... keep pushing toward what any "sane" person would consider an insane pursuit. As bad as the sickness gets, it's always been the dreams. The nightmares that kick me in the ass and remind me that quitting isn't even an option I can pretend to entertain. And I can't help but wonder if my dad suffered the same way. Was he also motivated by sickness and the ghosts of a past lost to time?
Whether he was or wasn't is an answer I'll never get any more. These days its way too late for any of the questions I'm still totally clobbered with whenever I think about that night. That night at the core of all the nightmares. That night with the rain soaked windows and cold flashes, lightning exploding pale blue across the ceiling of my bedroom... and thunder so loud it was like every ion in my room was retreating faster than the speed of sound.
The dreams all start the same way... the familiar scent of my dad in the apartment mixed with the smell of my clean sheets. The details are always impeccable, down to the last detail; the sound of the wind whistling through the worn weather stripping around the front door, the hum of the refrigerator, the tick of the living room clock, seeing the warm glow from the night-light in the hallway. These things always fill me with a sense of comfort and safety... then the next flash from outside brings to life, briefly, the minutia of my young life, sprawled throughout the small room.
The night, and the storm it carries, wakes me and I sit up. I'm not afraid at all. I never am. I know right away that my dad isn't home, like most nights, and like every night I never once question if there is anything he couldn't protect me from. I push the blankets aside and dangle my legs over the edge of he bed and look past the tree that almost touches the second-storey window above my desk and out into the dark and wet. My foot brushes against the front end of a toy truck that's poking out from beneath my bed as though hiding from a fear I have no sense of. Even now, all these years after the actual events, I can still feel the cold plastic beneath my toes... like I'm perpetually ten years old... alone in my room... waiting for a future I could never have anticipated.
I stand and walk to the end of my bed then pause. Another flash shows me my reflection in the glass that frames the only picture and the only memory I have of my mother and I together. Even though I was only three years old at the time, the sense of knowing that picture always brings me is unshakable. My dad had told me a lot about her and the love she had for me, her only child. He loved to tell me how, after their first meeting they just knew that there was something unique and special between them. As the story goes, they loved each other from that moment on and nothing was ever going to take that away. "Unfortunately," he used to say, "even the strongest love can't protect you from fate"
I open the door and walk down the hallway, the soft pads of my feet barely making a sound on the cool hardwood floor. The creaking of the cupboard door sounds epic in the still night as I pull it wide and reach past the mugs my dad used to make his tea in to grab my favourite old glass from Burger King with the faded picture of Lando Calrissian on it, and again as I gently close it. Pulling the milk from the fridge, I turn in time for another flash of light to strobe to memory the crashing open of the front door... and the changing of my life forever.
It's the blood that always stands out most in memory. The slick, sticky stuff splashed down the left side of my dads face... painting his clothes in a red so deep it's almost black. SO much blood. The next memory is the ferocity in his eyes, so red themselves it seemed impossible. And really, maybe it's just time that's made me remember these things this way... but I've never seen anyone or anything since that ever looked remotely that inhuman. To see it on the face I had looked to my entire life with care was absolutely terrifying. He made a sound as he exhaled that I'll always remember as the sound a steam engine makes as it slows an immense load... then he fell to the tiled floor at my feet with a sickening thud... and the slap of blood-soaked flesh. for whatever reason, I have no memory of dropping the milk and my favourite glass, but I will never forget the mixing of the milk and the blood, that poured out from my father like a fountain, as it swirled around my bare toes.
"Dad" I remember hearing myself plead, weak and distant... almost like it had drifted into the world between the whispers of the wind outside.
"Son," he replies. Hoarse, but deep and warm. Now his familiar scent is mixed with something else... the acrid tinge of spilled life. "I got them"
"Who, dad" I barely manage to get out. Broken. Pained. Cresting the sobs building just under the surface.
There is SO much blood.
"Promise me" he coughs... bubbles. The terrifying ferocity just a sickening memory now. "Promise"
"I promise, dad. Just be okay"
"Promise you'll follow in my footsteps"
"I promise... I promise... please... don't die"