I promised this blog would also be about my writing – which is sort of my sport.
Here’s some fiction vaguely related to parenting and kids. I currently write half sweet and half scary middle grade horror. In contrast, these two stories are exclusively for adults. Both lack anti-sports rants and neither one is the least bit funny.
The first is a link to a piece of dystopic fiction I published a long time ago about fathers and daughters. Baby Men would be different if I wrote it now. I’m not so artsy-fartsy these days..
I wrote something much darker a few years later. Two publications almost accepted Out from Shadows. But in the end they decided the content was too upsetting. The story deals with my anger about kids who are abused from the point of view of a monster sent to save them.
The editor of this really cool magazine passed because the nature of child abuse mixed with horror was too much. But he was kind enough to say “I’ll take a close look at anything you choose to send. You bought my attention with that submission.” Then the magazine went out of business.
If nothing else, writing Out from Shadows helped purge the need to tell the darkest and most pessimistic stories hiding inside of me. The language is more flowery than my current stuff.
OUT FROM SHADOWS
By David Emanuel
When Sara slipped in through the bedroom window, she should have gasped at what she saw. She should have sensed the tingle of excitement rippling in her chest and felt her limbs grow cold as her mouth crusted dry. She had searched for the child so long, Sara should have cried out loud when she finally found her.
But Sara didn’t have a mouth or chest or limbs that could feel the rush when blood flooded toward her missing torso. She slid across the cracked window frame where splintered wood clipped her sides. Slivers of paint sank into the silk shadow stretching from the top of Sara’s head down to the loose tatters that had once been feet.
At last, she had found Jessica. Nine years old with freckled skin and scrawny legs, the girl huddled against the far corner of the bed, her legs tucked within her arms and her chin nestled atop her knees.
Sara had heard Jessica’s cries. She’d followed the girl’s tears for more than a year, creeping slowly as the shadows let her. Years of black quiet had finally been interrupted when the voice called out to her in pain. She’d spent a month inching across sidewalks and crawling up light posts to catch the sound. At night, when shadows spread beneath a clouded moon, she’d moved as fast as she could, soaring over entire half blocks in a single evening.
If she could, she would have smiled at the thought that Jessica wouldn’t scream another night. Sara had spent enough time in darkness. It was time to let another rest.
She slid along the carpet, watching cuts of light reach out from the corner nightlight. She moved as best she could, but Shadows crept slowly, one hundred feet a night and seldom more. She pulled her black body across the floor and beneath the glowing stars pasted on Jessica’s ceiling.
There was not much time.
The door creaked open. Dim light silhouetted a man standing in the hallway. Sara knew the man. Not this man, but she knew the type: fathers, uncles, half brothers, and step things. Monstrous men with cold hands and bitter breath. Fat men. Old men. Young men. Cold men. Hot, sweaty men with beastly eyes who cuddled lonely mothers and promised to love their children as if they were their own. Love the young things as if they were owned!
Sara screamed in silence. There was not enough time. Shadows moved in fractions, and the man had already descended. He fell on Jessica’s bed with soft words and promises. If Sara remembered right, he was already stroking her hair and warning about the consequences of telling.
Sara would have flown if she had wings. She’d have soared down from the shadows at the top of the room and consumed the man. If she had legs, she might have bounced over the bed rail and beat him with long-lost human fists. She would have done anything she could, but Sara was only a Shadow, and Shadows could do just three things.
One of them was crawl.
She climbed a blanket dangling from the edge of the bed. Was it only touching or would there be more? Her own nightmares began with touching. Soft fingers squeezing her knees. Gentle touches turning sharp and cruel.
The black mass that had once housed her stomach twisted in pain. The scene in her memory could not repeat itself in the here and now. Not after she had worked so hard to rescue Jessica.
She slid up fast. Fast for a Shadow.
Jessica was already crying. Already muttering hushed “nos” and “pleases”. The others must have heard. Birth moms and half sisters hid in their beds. Step creatures and half things kept quiet so he wouldn’t come for them.
Sara slid along the fabric. If she had them, she’d have plugged her ears and raced ahead. But Shadows couldn’t stuff their ears or close their eyes. When awakened, they heard every scream and saw the lights from apartment windows where boys and girls pleaded for rescue.
She reached the top of the bed and spotted them both. The man pressed his hand along Jessica’s neck. He held her like a shallow cup. Her chin filled the curve between his thumb and fingers as if he might pull her close and take a drink. “Be good,” he said. “Daddy will come back tonight.”
Praise God, the abuse had not yet started. Sara had reached the bed in time. She climbed atop a down comforter just as the man was out the door and gone.
Jessica’s hair twisted into a nest between her head and pillow. She muted her cries and held still. Sara moved toward Jessica’s spot on the bed, wondering if this was how the Shadow felt when it approached her years ago. She remembered her own crying. Hiding as a Shadow in the darkness, she’d almost forgotten the sound. Her world had been dark and quiet for so long. Then, years later, Jessica called out from among the city blocks. The child’s pain stirred something in Sara’s absent chest. She knew it was time.
Jessica sobbed in gasps and stutters. “No more. Please.” Like some ancient mantra, the girl repeated lines Sara had uttered herself as a human child.
She slipped a black appendage over Jessica’s heel. She had to touch her. There was no other way, but she was afraid. Touching was the sin only a Shadow could hide.
If she could, she would have told Jessica how the offer works. Told her she could make the pain go away. Jessica would be a Shadow until she was strong enough. She’d face the world in quiet blackness where neither sound nor light could wake her. Not a sound until a child’s cry shook her missing heart. Not a noise until she was strong enough to take that child’s place.
Without a mouth, Sara couldn’t offer the child a choice. She could only touch Jessica with her own dark form and assume she understood what the girl needed the way her Shadow had known all those years before.
Shadows could do three things. One of them was crawl. Another one was take. No words. No choices. She’d take her one last time so the girl could never be taken again.
She touched Jessica’s ankles and toes. She stretched her black, silk body over the child’s belly, shoulders, arms, neck, and chin. Jessica squirmed as Sara consumed her, but the girl was tired. She’d fought before and lost and didn’t have the will to fight again.
Still, Sara would have screamed if she had a mouth. She’d have howled and spit at the thought of forcing herself upon the girl. Instead, she covered Jessica’s lips in blackness and hid her eyes and ears in darkness.
Then Jessica crawled away. A Shadow, she inched along the blanket and slid over the carpet toward the cracked window and the black night. Jessica was alone in darkness, a restful Shadow as Sara had been for years.
Sara’s dark appendages gave way to muscle and bone. Soft, silk flaps evaporated into freckled flesh and pink lips. She lay in Jessica’s bed and discarded body. She felt strong now. Years stronger since the step thing crept into her room. Years since she kept quiet and obedient, lest the man chose her sister on the bunk above her.
She felt the warmth of the blanket at her feet and pulled it to her chest. She ran her fingers through Jessica’s–through her own–knotted hair and then wiped her tears from her eyes.
The room hung dark and quiet, but light shone from the corner. Step creatures and half and natural birth things lived down the hall. One of them lurked in shame while the others ignored him. That one would come again.
Sara was older now, and, somewhere deep inside, still partly Shadow. The man would return, and that was fine with her. Shadows could do three things after all. They could crawl, take, and something more. Something nasty. Something sharp. Sara looked forward to showing the man, just as her own Shadow had surely done all those years before.
That’s it for me today. Just sharing the creep.
-And thanks to Creative Commons for the cool pics.