Stephen King Fanfic: "A Season of Darkness" Part 1

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marakirsht
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Stephen King Fanfic: "A Season of Darkness" Part 1

Post by marakirsht » Jan 9th 2005, 8:04 am

A SEASON OF DARNESS

CHAPTER 1:
CHAMBERLAIN

1.

A storm was coming.

David Henderson had known it the moment he’d opened his eyes that morning. He always knew when there was a storm drifting up from the south, just sort of sensed it brooding in the distance like an ugly black secret. His grandmother had been able to do the same thing; predict the weather, sometimes days in advance. She’d been a spooky old lady, his grandma. Eighty-nine years old with a mouth full of venom and a voice that could crack a mirror from sixty yards. The kind of woman who kidnaps little boys and cooks them into ginger bread. All the same, she was always dead accurate when it came to predictions (pretty scary in itself when he thought about it). Dave had secretly rejoiced when they’d finally packed her off to the nursing home last year, cackling like some geriatric hyena, but it later occurred to him that precognition might not be the only thing that ran in the family.

Be that as it may, Dave figured that dementia was still a long way off, and he had more pressing concerns for the time being. Despite the warmth of the day, he wanted to wear his waterproof parker; a dark blue rain-slicker with an adjustable hood. It was about three sizes too big and weighed like eighty pounds, but Dave knew it would keep him warm through an avalanche if need be.

Dave’s Mom had shaken a skeptical head when he’d told her; the skies were crystal clear aside from a couple snow-tops skimming the horizon. Wasn’t enough there to fill a tea-cup from what she could see. But Dave had been adamant: there was a storm brewing to the south, a big one judging by the ringing in his ears, and he wasn’t about to get caught in a goddam tornado without a slicker. Mom had shrugged her shoulders absently; he was fifteen years old, if he wanted to make a public jackass of himself, that was his affair.

She’d put her foot down, however, when little Janey said she wanted to wear her yellow raincoat to school (she was eight years old and viewed her brother as some kind of demi-god; if he’d suddenly decided to rumba down the main street with his ass painted purple, she would have wanted to follow suite, too). The forecast for today was mild and sunny; temperatures in the low eighties. No sign of incipient showers whatsoever, despite her brother’s remarks to the contrary. No, young lady, you need a raincoat about as much as a fish needs an umbrella.

When Janey had protested it wasn’t fair Davey got to be a public jackass whenever he felt like it, Mom had placated her by saying she could wear her new gingham dress, the one they’d bought at JC Penny’s a few weeks back. It was supposed to be kept for special occasions, but Dave suspected there wouldn’t be many ‘special occasions’ in their immediate future. They’d been treading water on Dad’s life insurance for the past four years, and the tide seemed to be rising higher every day.

“Could you pick Janey up after school?” Mom asked as they headed out the front door – more a reminder than a request. Roslyn Henderson worked part-time at Chamberlain Real Estate; she didn’t get off until four-thirty. It was Dave’s job to bring Janey home and get dinner started most days. Another boy his age might have objected to the imposition, but Dave accepted it with a sense of numb resignation. At the end of the day, it was just one more sacrifice he’d been forced to make since his father’s death.

“Sure, Mom,” he’d replied, ushering Janey down the front steps. He watched her scamper down to the sidewalk, pigtails whipping out in the slipstream. She was lucky; she barely remembered their father, had no real memory of his passing. Dave’s recollections were fading with at the edges, but he still recalled odd little details: the weary crescent of his smile at the end of the day; the ghost of his aftershave haunting the living room. In a weird, off-kilter sort of way, he was glad Janey only knew their Dad through old yellowing images in an old yellowing photo-album. At least the scent of Old Spice would never reduce her to tears of loss and regret.

“Is it really gonna rain today?” she twittered beside him, invading his reveries.

“Yep,” he answered without hesitation. It was going to rain all right, there was no question of that. It was a simple statement of fact, as sure as the rising of the sun every morning - although he wasn’t certain that ‘rain’ was the right word. ‘Downpour’ might have been closer to the truth. Deluge, torrent. Flood, maybe.

“How do you know?” She asked after a few second’s contemplation. There was no real doubt in her question, just open, childish curiosity. Dave glanced down at her, shrugging his shoulders. He used to get that question a lot, back when they lived in Junction City. Even now, he was never quite sure how to answer it.

“I dunno. You can smell it in the air sometimes.” It was true: storms often carried an acrid, mineral scent. Strange that no else ever noticed it. “Rain has a kind of metallic smell, you know that?”

“No,” Janey shook her head, regarding him with wide, serious eyes. Believing that Dave to be the fount of all knowledge, it never crossed her mind he could have been wrong about anything.

“Yeah,” Dave continued solemnly, “and if it’s an electrical storm, it smells like ozone.”

“Really?” Janey asked in disbelieving tones, even though she hadn’t the faintest idea what ozone was, “is it gonna be an electrical storm today?”

“Yeah,” he nodded, a vague frown touching his features, “a big one.” His eyes scanned the skyline unconsciously: for a moment, he thought he heard a dog howling in the far reaches. Dave figured he might pick up his sister a little earlier than usual this afternoon. No parks, no playgrounds, no strawberry malts down at the Kelly Fruit Company. Just straight home as fast as their feet could take them.

They crossed over into Threadmont Avenue, making their way up a footpath littered with leaves and hopscotch grids.

“A really big one?” Janey wanted to know. Like most kids her age, the sound of thunder terrified her, but she found the possibilities fascinating nonetheless. She trotted along in David’s shadow with her nose to the air, trying to smell the ozone.

“You betcha fur,” Dave said, adjusting his backpack. That was an expression he’d picked up from his father; everything was You Betcha Fur and See Ya Later, Alligator and Twenty-Three Skidoo with his Dad. Used to drive his Mum crazy.

“How big?” Janey fluted excitedly. Her face was positively beaming at the thought of all that destruction descending on Chamberlain, “bigger than a cyclone?”

I hope not, David thought uneasily, looking towards the south again. Gooseflesh was humming up and down his spine like static. He’d never felt it this strong before, not even during the big storm that lifted the roof off Junction City Public Library. Truth be told, he was starting to hope he was completely wrong this time, even if he ended up looking a bigger fool than usual.

“No,” he answered without any real conviction, “smaller than a cyclone.”

Jaeny’s eyebrows furrowed with disappointment. What use was a storm if it didn’t flatten every house in the neighborhood (except theirs, of course)?

“Well, bigger than …” she paused, searching for the right word, “. . . a gale?” Dave was impressed.

“Yeah, bigger than a gale,” he replied, throwing her a bone. Janey’s eyebrows immediately smoothed; a minor cataclysm was better than none at all. She skipped ahead several paces, raising her hands and performing a point-perfect pirouette beneath a spreading elm. She’d been getting pretty good lately, Dave observed. Dance lessons were the one luxury Mom indulged her daughter, mainly because it was about the only thing she showed an aptitude for.

“Do you think it’ll blow down the tree in the front yard?”

“Yep.”

“Do you think it’ll break the big window in the living room?”

“Yep.”

“Do you think it’ll carry the house away, like in The Wizard of Oz?” She said it all in one word: thewizardofoz.

“Yep.”

“Goodieee!”

A hopscotch grid was scratched onto the footpath up ahead, the lines marked in purple chalk. Hiking her dress up to her thighs, Janey tap-danced through the squares almost without conscious thought. For some reason, she always raised her skirt when she hopped a scotch or practiced her routines around the house. Dave supposed it was so she could watch her feet moving, despite the fact that she could do it with her eyes closed. She suddenly halted in mid-step, turning back to Dave with her ‘serious’ eyes, as if something slightly unpleasant had just occurred to her.

“Do you think Mommy’ll let me sleep with her tonight? If there really is a storm, I mean?”

Yeah, right, David thought to himself, knowing what she was really worried about. Janey still found her room a little unfamiliar, and crept into her mother’s bed at least two or three times a week. Mom had been trying to wean her off it for the last three months, even threatening her with a spanking a couple of times. Dave doubted his mother would actually punish the girl over something so trivial, but Janey wasn’t willing to risk a sore bottom unless absolutely necessary.

“Yeah, I think she’ll let you,” he replied in his most offhand tone, mainly to quell her fears, then added thoughtfully: “won’t Smokey get lonely, sleeping all by himself?” Smokey was the family cat, an aging silver tabby they’d owned since before their father died. Another luxury they could ill afford, but Dave supposed Mom wasn’t willing to lose another family member right now.

“No, he’ll come sleep in Mommy’s room too,” Janey answered brightly. Young Janet Henderson was no one’s bunny, she had it all worked out. She could curl up in Mommy’s arms, and Smokey could nestle between the two of them, purring them all off to sleep, just like they used to back in the Junction. Janey guessed it was pretty cool having her own room and everything, but she missed waking up enveloped in her mother’s warm, subtle odor.

And anyway, if worse came to worse, the cat could look after itself.

They walked on for another fifteen minutes, Janey warbling away in a high canary voice that would have driven any other boy to infanticide. Dave had phased her out three blocks before, although her incessant chatter had never really bothered him. He’d endured much worse over the preceding four years, and he’s been quietly grateful for her presence on more than one occasion. Crossing the bridge at Braithwaite Canal, they found themselves on Memorial Drive, maybe four hundred yards from Chamberlain Elementary. Traffic was heavier on the Drive, particularly this time of morning. The sidewalk was swarming with herds of children, laughing and squealing and darting through the autumn windfall. The kids were arriving in droves, calling out to each other in the cool morning sunshine.

“Janey! Hey, JanEY!!”

A tribe of wailing munchkins appeared out of nowhere, sweeping Janey off in a shrieking blond stream. She’d made like a hundred friends on her first day, and seemed to make about a hundred more every week. This hadn’t really surprised Dave, his sister had always been more gregarious than he, but he couldn’t help feeling just a touch envious. He sure wasn’t winning any popularity contests out at his new high school.

(give me a break youre jealous of a little girl)

Re-adjusting his backpack once more, he walked behind the wildly chattering group, watching his sister immediately dominate the conversation, hands fluttering wildly at every step. From this point on he usually followed at a distance, although he always saw her to the front gate as per his mother’s wishes. He figured nothing was going to happen to her in the meantime, but his mother wasn’t taking any risks . . . and neither was he.

Dave checked his watch, reassuring himself that he still had plenty of time to make his first class. The day was a lot warmer than he’d been expecting; he could feel a thin sweat forming on the back of his neck, trickling slowly beneath the heavy rain-slicker. Up ahead, the girls had almost reached the school’s driveway. Janey swung back to catch his eye, calling his name and waving goodbye as she always did. Dave lifted a tentative hand, glancing around to make sure no one was watching (how could you look cool walking your little sister to school for chrissake?). She flashed him a smile that would have shamed the sun, and just for a moment he managed to forget the apprehension he’d felt all morning – the fear, the foreboding, the growing sense of imminent disaster. Then she was gone, carried off in a flurry of plaid skirts and Nike juniors.

And strangely, in the weeks that followed, the memory of that perfect smile would break his heart in a way that his father’s death had never touched him. The storm was bearing down on them, betraying not a hint of the havoc it would wreak in their lives, but even then – somehow – Dave had known. In some dark, subterranean level of his mind, Dave understood that he was going to lose her, that her sweet, brilliant light would be extinguished, leaving them all in a twilight from which they would never completely emerge.

And although he didn’t realize it at that moment, the shadows were already falling over Chamberlain. A season of darkness was approaching, swiftly and inexorably, bringing with it a horror beyond all reckoning – and beyond all resistance. Of this, David Henderson had no real idea; his fears were too nebulous, too abstract to put into words. All he felt at this point was a nameless, insubstantial dread, same as he’d felt everyday since they arrived in Chamberlain.

And being a boy of fifteen, that could have been practically anything.

To be continued

Email: marakirsht@yahoo.com.au

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Sascha (sab)
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Post by Sascha (sab) » Jan 10th 2005, 4:21 am

While it is an interesting story, our "fanfiction forum" is meant for fanfiction stories related to the tv show "My So-Called Life". I moved it to our "Books and Stories" forum.
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