Welcome to part Eleven of the current long story cycle (Cracked Windows). The links will be laid out in sections to cut down the total number we see on each post. You will be able to follow from week to week as needed when new sections appear.
A Spark in the Darkness
Darkness swam at the edge of his vision as he lost focus on the world outside his window. But it was at the edges of that black space that he remembered Ariel dead on the floor of the garage and why he needed to fight back. This thing of evil would not win.
Jerome stumbled to his bedroom. His fingers numb as he grasped at the ceiling light’s switch. He threw several boxes out of the closet as he searched deeper inside for a box he remembered putting away after his father died.
After several minutes of searching he pulled out a strong box. Grey metal with black plastic-coated edges, it wasn’t pretty to look at but that hadn’t been the intention of the box. The lock wouldn’t break under force and the metal had been engineered to deter the casual thief. Of course, all the safety protections were defeated when he taped the key to the underside of the box.
Aside from a few small trinkets he couldn’t part with, the box also held his father’s old Remington service pistol. He hadn’t looked at it in years, not since his father passed away. Even then it had only been to ensure it was locked in the box, safe, away from his life.
It wasn’t that he didn’t care for guns. They were just never a part of his life. When he didn’t follow his father into the force, he never felt the need to maintain a license or go to the range. The pistol smelled faintly of gun oil, its action smooth, after all this time. He set it aside and searched the rest of the box for rounds.
None were found in that box. In fact, he had gone through all the boxes in his bedroom closet several times and could find nothing to load into the pistol. Useless metal, a piece of the life he never lived, and the life he would lose.
Deep inside he knew that the Remington wouldn’t be enough anyway, but it was something. A symbol, if nothing else, to ward away the demons he would soon face. Jerome realized that his trip across the street in the middle of the night was a fool’s errand at best. He felt lucky to be alive, though he counted the hours of his life with each passing breath. If he couldn’t find something, anything, to fight back her death would be meaningless.
The mess around him swam through his exhausted vision. There had to be a pattern. Something that would give him a clue to fight against the horrors. His view fell to the pistol, again in his hand. He couldn’t remember picking it up. He had pulled back the slide and his gaze locked on the empty chamber.
The explosive power of the hammer when it struck the priming cap at the end of a round of ammunition. It wasn’t the gun, a simple tool. In this case a useless tool without the ammunition to use in it. He needed something more. In that moment, he found the edge of hope. Just out of reach, he couldn’t quite grasp the thought and a part of him hugged tight to the fear that if he let the thought form complete in his mind, he would lose it all.
Jerome threw the Remington into the bottom of the closet. Thoughts of it fading away as his mind skirted the edges of a plan. He raced into the bathroom and pulled a few rags from the shelf as well as a bottle of hair spray. An old, half-filled bottle Ariel hadn’t used in years. She never threw anything out, not if it could still be useful.
In the garage, he couldn’t look to where he had found her body. Jerome fought against the image that burned itself into his memories. He wanted to scream, to rage against the horrors, of the hell he couldn’t escape. The rage burned its way deep inside him and fueled his need to end the evil across the street.
He grabbed the gas can, filled and ready to gas up the mower. He also dug around and found a bottle of charcoal lighter fluid. Both would serve his purpose. He knew he couldn’t beat the thing across the street directly, but fire, could do what he lacked the strength to do on his own.
The box of ammunition he found in the tool cupboard gave him pause. Ariel’s pack rat nature reassured him that she still watched over him. And the fire inside him raged to white hot. The beast wouldn’t survive his coming storm.
He had never made fire bombs, never had a need for such a thing. But he had seen them in movies. It couldn’t be all that hard, just some bottles with gas and strips of cloth to light it all. Right or not, that’s what he did. The gas and flames would spread out on the house. Burn it to nothing, a simple plan. He chambered a round in the 45 and slipped it into the pocket of his heavy coat. He still had daylight, still had time before evil would awaken.
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