Taking in the things I’ve learned recently, and the advice of an incredible writer, I re-wrote the prologue of my writing project. Feel free to let me know what you think!
A bare bulb burned brightly overhead cutting a swath of light around him. The room, similar to the millions of tool sheds built by dads across America, was shrouded in darkness. Mementos of his childhood, stacks of journals, instruments, toys, took exaggerated and haunting forms in the shadows. Behind him a door stood open to the outside. An endless field of grass under a starless night sky beckoned him to its safe embrace.
He was suddenly aware of a heavy wheezing breathe struggling before him just beyond the reach of the light.
“Echo…E-Echo…” Raspy and sputtering a familiar voice called to him from the darkness; desperation saturating every forced word. “Please. You must…come home.”
Echo considered the door behind him. Dragging footsteps pacing in the shadows, dark skittering forms darting back and forth in his peripheral, cemented his legs in place.
“W-who’s there?” His mind was alight with nightmarish images. He imagined a horde of monstrous creatures poising to strike. A chill ran down his spine.
“There isn’t time. Come home.”
Mark. Echo had called his father by his first name ever since he left home. The man had been less of a father and more an absence interrupted by moments of violence. Every bruise, every word uttered to tear him down, every act of cruelty which led to his mother choosing to leave this world at the end of a smoking gun remained present in his mind.
Bitterness ignited within him burning down the growing fear. “No.”
A trembling form crawled into the light. The old man gazed upon son. Vomit clung to his beard; blood stained his face from a gaping wound in the back of his split skull. He was frail, sickly thin, and wasted away from years battling alcoholism and drug addiction. There was a desperate terror in his pleading eyes. A far cry from the once large and imposing man he had once been.
A battle waged in Echo’s mind. Hatred and pity fought hard for dominance. The old man was no father. He had been little more than an angry adolescent trapped in a man’s body. A sadist satisfied in the suffering of those closest to him. Now he was a scared little boy crying out for help plucking at the strings of Echo’s compassion.
The old man reached out for his son. Echo stumbled back staying clear of the weak outstretched hand. His mind raced, heart aching with sadness.
“Please! If not for me, then for her.”
A thick black tendril shot out from the darkness wrapping tightly around the old man’s throat. He grunted and cried in protest as he was dragged flailing into the shadows. His screams suddenly cut silent.
The room was still. The air felt thick and heavy. Echo’s eyes darted back and forth, vainly trying to see what stalked beyond the light. Clattering, like claws on stone, shuffled just out of sight. He turned towards the door urging his reluctant feet towards the only hope of escape.
The door slammed shut. The light overhead flickered and dimmed. Between he and the door a creature stepped into the light. Its body was that of a great cat covered in thick black scales, its muscular legs ending in cloven hooves, and a venomous scorpion like tail whipped wildly behind it. A chiseled torso of a man rose from its body; an eyeless alien head with a gaping shark-like maw filled with row upon row of jagged teeth held Echo’s unflinching gaze.
The thing stepped forward, toxic ichor dripping from its pitch black flesh. A hungry snarl issued from its menacing jaws. Tendrils stuck out from the shadows wrapping around Echo’s limbs and waist holding him in place. The creature raised up on hind legs snapping shut its jaws around his neck.
Echo bolted upright in bed, heart pounding, a hard cold sweat trickling down his body. Static played through his ghost box, a small handheld radio device used during his paranormal investigations. It scanned through radio airwaves at break neck speeds. He listened intently to the white noise a moment before powering down the device.
Moonlight spilled in through the open window. Rain tapped softly on the glass. The alarm clock next to his bed displayed 3:45 a.m. in ominous red numbers. He stared out into the quiet of his room relieved that it had all been just a bad dream.
The antiquated ringtone of his cell phone shattered the uneasy silence, ringing and vibrating somewhere on the floor. His heart caught in his throat as he fumbled in the dark to find his phone. He found it with relative ease. He recognized the area code of the number displayed on the caller ID, and with trembling hands he answered.
“Echo.” The voice on the other end was thick with static, a bad connection.
“Hello? Who is this?”
“It’s Pastor Lucas.”
His heart sank. He had spent years avoiding home and the people left behind. Especially his father and this pastor. First the nightmare, and now he was on the line with a man he prayed would die in a fire.
“How did you get my…”
“Listen. You have to come home.”
“It’s your father. He passed away a few hours ago.”
“I don’t know how to say this, Echo.”
“Spit it out!”
“It was an overdose. Doctors aren’t sure of what yet. He was in his garage and fell. He hit his head hard.”
“Who found him?”
“The police. Neighbors called complaining about loud banging coming from the house.”
“Shit. An overdose?”
“I’m sorry. When can you get down here?”
“I can’t. I have work and plenty of things to keep me busy up here.”
“No. You have to come.”
“No. I don’t.”
“He’s your father! You have to come home!”
“I don’t have to do shit! Kinda like when he didn’t have to do shit for me because he was my father.”
“Don’t start. This isn’t the time…”
“No! Fuck you! You don’t start. That son of a bitch beat the hell out of me. Tormented me and my mother. Drove her to suicide. Remember that? No? I do. Every fucking day, I remember. So no, Josh, I don’t have to come home.”
“There are legal matters that only you, his only living heir, can put to rest. His car. His house. His funeral!”
“Put him in the car, drive it into the house, and then set the whole damn thing on fire. There! Settled!”
“I can’t believe you’re…”
Echo ended the call and set the ringer to silent. He laid back replaying the conversation and the nightmare in his head.
What the fuck is going on? He wondered.