Strangetown Gothic: Prologue

 

title2

PROLOGUE

Name is subject to change.

No warnings apply.

dirkbrandi6

Dirk: I’m sorry, Mrs. Broke. For everything.

dirkbrandi2

Brandi: There must be something, Dirk. Please. You were there with him. You had to have seen or heard something. He didn’t say anything?

dirkbrandi3

Brandi: Please?

Dirk looked away, no longer able to bear eye contact now that hers were brimming with tears.

dirkbrandi4

Dirk: That town… did something to him, Mrs. Broke. He was fine the first couple of days there, and then suddenly, he wasn’t. He started talking to himself, sneaking around, avoiding me.

jro

Dirk: Hanging out with these other kids, the locals. They seemed nice, but…

jro2

Dirk: There was something not right with them, either.

Brandi seized on it, this tiny sliver of information.

dirkbrandi5

Brandi: Do you know their names? The local kids?

Dirk shook his head, a little too quickly. Brandi wanted to push him, to make him tell her everything, but the tremor in Dirk’s voice told her that it wasn’t obstinance that kept him quiet, but fear.

Of?

She supposed that was now her burden to uncover.

Realizing that Dirk would not be able to help her further, she slowly stood to leave.

dirkbrandi7

Brandi: Thank you, Dirk. I appreciate your help.


dustinroom1

Going into Dustin’s room that last time was like scratching a scab off of a slowly healing wound.

She’d cleaned most of it up in the weeks following his death, putting all the different little pieces of her eldest son’s life into boxes and bags. Carting him off, bit by bit, to the various charity shops that would collect him at the curb.

She’d kept the furniture for Beau, a cold practicality that even grief couldn’t obscure; Beau was still growing. He’d need those things eventually.

dustinroom2

And then there were the things she’d kept for herself.

dustinroom3

An old green and white tin box, filled with a peculiar assortment of trinkets, and a battered binder, blue, clean but slightly ragged. Old long before it had come into Dustin’s possession. Inside of it, page after page of scribbles.

strangetown

Strangetown, he’d written.

Strangetown, again and again and again.

Smudged and scrawled, one word buried beneath another, Strangetown, it said, StrangetownstrangetownSTRANGETOWN.

That name had knifed into her, eviscerating her. Time had disappeared as she’d stood there, the room spinning and dripping, and Skip’s face puddling into Dustin’s, and the smell of chlorine and the cold wind on her face as memories writhed and hissed and gurgled, inescapable.

For one fraction of a second, she’d been angry at him, betrayal overriding the grief.

Angry, furious at her son

He had promised he wouldn’t go there

And at herself

Why on earth had she believed him?

And at everything in between.

dustinroom4

Now, on hands and knees, she crawled beneath his bed and found the binder and the tin, pulled them back to her.

dustinroom5

She might need them in the days to come.


brandi1

Brandi: I don’t know if you can hear me, Dustin. But I’m leaving tomorrow. Catching the train first thing in the morning.

brandi2

Brandi: I have to know what happened there. No… that’s not it. I need to know. There’s a connection, somehow. There has to be.

dustin1

The calm surface of the water rippled gently as the freshly restocked fish searched for insects. She and Skip used to bring the boys here for fishing tournaments. They’d never won anything, but it had been nice, their time as a family. Had she known how brief it would be, she would have done so much more, savored it so much more deeply.

dustin2

Dustin: Don’t do it, ma.

dustin3

Dustin: That town is 2 for 2. Don’t try to break its streak; you won’t win. You can’t.

skip1

Skip: He’s right, honey. Think of Beau. Of Junior. They need their mom more than she needs answers.

brandi3

Brandi turned to face her late husband, angrier with him than she could have ever imagined herself being when he was still alive.

Brandi: Do you think it’s been easy? Living like this?

brandi4

Brandi: First you, and that was bad enough, but Dustin…

Losing Dustin had sparked something in her. Something ancient and primal, a deep, insatiable bloodlust that she could not – would not – control.

brandi6

Brandi: Beau and Junior… What if they… they’re only just babies now, but someday they might…

The thought of it was unspeakable. That town would take everything away from her, if she didn’t stop it. Skip had to know that.

brandi5

Brandi: How can I just ignore it?

skip2

Skip: Do you think adding yourself to the body count is going to change anything?

Good ole Skip, that placid, dependable asshole. Mr. Be-Reasonable-Honey, Mr. Think-It-Over-Brandi.

skip3

Skip: You want answers, Brandi? I don’t blame you; we wanted answers, too. But honey, so will they.

It hurt, then. Almost as much as finding him facedown in their tiny, pathetic little pool.

Almost as much as opening the door for the uniformed officers, with their badges and their pitying eyes, with their gentle request to come inside and talk to her about her son.

He expected her to fail. To follow him and Dustin into the darkness, lighting yet another torch to lead Beau and Junior down the winding path. Destiny.

dustin5

Dustin: Stay here, ma. In Pleasantview. It’s safe here.

brandi7

Safe.

Stay.

brandi8

Don’t go.

Stay.

Safe.

But she had to go.

They knew that.

broke

They had felt it, too.

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One comment on “Strangetown Gothic: Prologue

  1. medleymisty says:

    Ooooh!!! I like this a lot and it is relevant to my interests and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

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