Chapter 1

Finding his addiction freeing

Confronted with death, they’ll soon be fleeing


    I pulled at the lapels of my coat to keep out the early November chill, as I walked briskly down the sidewalk. My head felt muddled and my thoughts sluggish. I cursed myself for having no self-control and no way of getting home, besides walking—a terrible idea in my state. This wasn’t the first time that I’ve had to walk this late at night, but I had been hoping that I wouldn’t have had to do it again. I shivered as I remembered the man that had approached me just a few days ago. Thank goodness that guy had been just as stewed as me; maybe even more so.

    I groaned when I suddenly remembered the curfew my dad had given me. He had said that he wanted me home no later than ten, yet here I was walking about at one in the morning. If I was lucky, I could sneak in without waking him up.

    I began to slow my pace when I was hit with a heavy wave of nausea and I doubled over, clutching my stomach as if it were a lifeline. I stared intently at the space in front of me, as I struggled to keep my vision from going blurry. I must’ve had definitely way too much and I regretted not taking up the offer to stay the night. I was then struck with the thought that I may not be able to make it home and I might pass out right here—in the ditch. Please let it not come to that.

    Most of the nausea had worn off and I stood up to take a step forward, before a body fell from the sky and landed with a thud on the hard concrete sidewalk. I blamed my drunken state for the shriek that escaped my lips and jumped back in shock. I stared at the body, not sure if this was some drunken hallucination my mind had made up or something I was really seeing.

    I crouched down and gingerly extended a finger to poke the limp body. When the person didn’t stir, I poked it again, but they still didn’t move. I rolled the person over on to their back and held my palm underneath their nose to see if they were breathing. I sighed in relief when I felt short puffs of breath hit my palm. At least he wasn’t dead because I was definitely not sober enough to deal with a dead person.

    I fumbled for my cellphone and began to dial 9-1-1 with shaky fingers. I held the phone up to my ear and studied the face of the body that laid on the ground. The boy who was or was about my age bore a thin, angular face, with swept back raven hair that had a few loose strands that curled around his ears. I couldn’t tell what colours his eyes were because they were closed.

    I frowned when the automated voice over the phone told me I had no service and dialed again. This time I heard nothing but static. It was then that the boy’s eyes fluttered open, revealing a pair of unnatural blue eyes. His eyes were red and puffy for some reason and squinted, as they adjusted to the bright street light that shone overtop of us. For some odd reason, his face was stained with tears.

    I stared in shock as the boy stood up, like he hadn’t just fallen from the sky and dusted off his pants. His whole body showed defeat and I wondered what had made him stand like a broken statue that had been left to crumble.

    “Who are you?” the boy asked, his eyebrows knotted in confusion. “Where am I?”

    “Uhhhh… my name is Silas,” I stated dumbly, too shocked for words. “You fell out of the sky, so I was, I-I mean I was gonna call an ambulance,” I finally managed to say.

    The boy’s eyes widened in panic, as he reached for the phone in my hand. “No no, that’s fine! There’s no need for that,” he said nervously.

    I held the phone out of his reach, my face searching his for any signs that this wasn’t real or the boy was joking. “You fell from the sky! You should be dead!” I blurted out, as I pocketed the phone.

   He suddenly went stoney face and stopped reaching for the phone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “You fell from the sky!” I repeated, as I swayed to the side and almost fell to the ground.

    The boy reached out to catch me if I happened to fall, and smirked like he just had a realization. “You’re drunk.”

    “What does it matter?” I snapped.

     He didn’t respond, but diverted his attention to our surroundings and then turned to me with a puzzled look. “Where are we?” he asked.

    This boy was confusing me to no end. “Wallgate, Indiana, but what does that have to do with any-”

    “Indiana?” the boy repeated to himself. “I’ve never heard of this country.”

    “What are you talking about?” I asked, with a baffled expressions. “Indiana isn’t a-”

   I was interrupted by a howl that erupted not far off. The piercing noise was so loud, the boy and I had to cover our ears to muffle the terrible sound. Chills went up my spine and the terrified expression the boy wore wasn’t making me feel any better. I nearly jumped out of my skin when the streetlights began to flicker and a heavy sense of dread washed over me.

     “What the hell was that?” I shouted, my voice much higher pitched than I would’ve liked.

     “Barghests,” the boy explained, with gritted teeth. “They’ve already found me!” He seemed to contemplate something, before he turned back towards me with a pleading look on his face. “Please, you have to help me!”

     This guy must’ve been crazy. “Why would I help you? You seem to be just fine.”

     The boy looked over his shoulder, before turning back to me and stepping closer. “Please, we don’t have much time and it won’t be long before they-”

     Just then, something flew out of the bushes and stopped right out of the streetlight’s glow. All I could make out was a pair of terrifying, bloodshot eyes that glared at us hungrily, and seemed to glow in the dark. The growl that came from the creature seemed to resonate throughout my body and made me shiver.

     “That’s it! I’m out!” I shouted, as I threw my hands up in the air. I turned around and starting running. Much to my annoyance, the boy followed close behind me. “Dude! Leave me alone!”

     He looked as frantic as I felt. “Please! That thing will rip both you and I apart until we’re nothing but bones, since it has your scent. You’re in just as much trouble as I am now!”

     “You ass!” I hissed. “I don’t know what you did to piss off these creatures, but don’t get me all tangled up in whatever mess you’ve gotten yourself into!”

    I turned my head around to see if the creature had started to follow us, but rather than seeing one pair of bloodshot eyes, I now saw another three pairs. I broke out into a sprint as we neared even close to my house, the boy still following me. I sighed in relief when we turned left onto the familiar cul-de-sac and caught sight of the small, suburban house I lived in.

    “That one’s mine!” I yelled, pointing at the house.

    The boy nodded his head, before he abruptly stopped and turned around to face the way we had come from. “It’s my fault that the barghests are here, so I should take responsibility. I’ll hold them off until you get somewhere safe,” he clarified, giving me a coy wink.

    Now, you’d think I would be grateful that someone would risk their life to save mine, but he we just being a idiot. I mean why would anyone throw their life away for someone they just met?

    “That’s just dumb!” I shouted, trying to understand what he thought he could do against those unholy looking beasts.

    “Excuse me?” the boy frowned.

     I raised an eyebrow. “You heard me! You just said that those things could rip us both to shreds, but somehow you’re going to defeat all of them when you don’t even have anything to defend yourself with. If you even want to have a chance at living, then I guess you should start running.”

    With that, I turned and ran off to my house. I glanced over my shoulder to see the boy looking back and forth in between me and where the barghests were waiting, as if he was deciding which would be the better choice. In the end, he huffed in defeat and starting running towards me.

    Just as we made it to the end of the driveway, the barghests howled in unison, creating a noise that almost shattered my eardrums. We sprinted to the side door that lead into the garage and I flung it open. We quickly scrambled inside and shut the door.

    “Quick,” the boy said, frantically looking around the garage, “I need all the salt you have!” He ran to the workbench in the corner and started checking the boxes there.

    “We don’t have any salt in the garage and even if we did, what would salt do against keeping them out?” I asked, gesturing towards the door.

    “It’s one of their weaknesses. I remember reading about it in one of my papà’s books.” I noticed the grimace on his face when he mentioned his dad.

     My eyebrows raised considerably. “Why does your dad have a book on barghests?”

    He sighed exasperatedly as he rummaged through a box full of cleaning supplies. “Don’t ask stupid questions.”

    We continued searching for salt, until the boy stopped what he was doing at once and slowly turned to the large garage door, the fear evident on his face. At that exact moment, a loud bang was heard against the garage door and we could hear the snarling of barghests, as their claws scratched at metal. The creatures clawed against the door for a few minutes, until they eventually stopped and we couldn’t hear anything, except the sounds of our heavy breathing.

    “They’re gone!” the boy cried, “but why did they leave?” he asked himself before going rigid. I saw his eyes widening comically as the answer dawned on him.

    He turned to face me and slowly started walking towards me. I backed away, until I hit the edge of desk and tried to slap away the boy’s hands that tried to grab the sides of my face. He pressed his fingers to my temples and removed them quickly, like he had been burned.

    “What the hell was that for?” I shouted. I didn’t like people getting in my personal space. Especially someone I had just met.

    “Maybe it’s just a coincidence?” he muttered to himself. “What’s your middle name?”

    This guy wasn’t making any sense, although nothing that has happened so far seemed to be making sense. “Chance.”

    His eyes widened and he took a step back. “This isn’t good, I have to leave now!” I watched as the boy made a beeline for the door, but I cut him off before he could put his hand on the door handle.

    “What’s wrong? Why is this bad? You haven’t been making sense this whole time!” I pointed out, my voice rising in volume because of all my pent up frustration.

     I was tried, tipsy and frustrated, but something was nudging me. Something was telling me that there was more to all of this, that I had just stumbled across something big. I needed to know what was going on. Why was it me of all people that had run into this strange boy?

     As opposed to answering me, the boy shoved me out of the way, knocking me down to the ground. When he placed his hand on the handle, I wrapped my arms around his waist and pulled him down to the ground, so he couldn’t open the door. He tried to pry me off, but I held a firm hold and made sure that he didn’t get to the door.

    “Get off me!” he yelled, trying to worm his legs free of my tight hold on them.

    “If you go out there, then you’ll be ambushed by barghests! Why take the chance just because of something I said?” I asked, still clutching tightly.

    He sighed in defeat and stopped struggling to get to the door. “You don’t understand-”

    “You’re right, I don’t understand!” I let go of his legs and stood up. “So why don’t we just settle down and you can explain to me what’s going on?”

    The boy opened his mouth to respond, but he was interrupted by the door suddenly swinging open, revealing my dad standing in the doorway. From the look of him, he was definitely not in a good mood, from the way he had his arms crossed and how his foot tapped impatiently.

    “Silas Chance Garrison,” he said to me, emphasising each word. His voice was unnervingly calm for someone who had just been woken up at one in the morning. “Explain to me what you are doing out past curfew and why you’re in the garage making so much noise?”

    I’ve always seen me as an almost carbon copy of my dad physically―much to my displeasure. We had the same bright green eyes that apparently seemed to spark with life, and lanky build. However, I got my mom’s curly, chocolate brown hair, instead of my dad’s bleach blonde hair.

    “Uh….you see, we were being chase by these dogs, big dogs and we just got away from them. They were super fast and we had to outrun them,” I lied flawlessly (not). My brain was still muddled and the pressure was making it hard to form sentences. At least what I said was true. I had just….what was the word? Embellished it a bit.

    “We?” he asked, as his eyes narrowed. “Were you with those drinkers again? Are you drunk?”

    I crossed my arms defensively. “I’m not drunk! I’m telling the truth!”

    He raised an eyebrow. “Then why are you getting home so late?”

     I opened my mouth to respond, but I knew that he would never believe anyway, so I shut my mouth and stomped up to my room; the boy following close behind me. I slammed the door shut, not caring if I waked up the entire house and flopped onto my bed. As the moon shone through the window, the boy and I stared at each other in silence. He stood there awkwardly, not sure what to do as I gave him suspicious looks.

    “What?” the boy asked defensively, finally getting tired of the staring contest.

    I reached over to my nightstand to turn on the lamp that was there. “How come my dad couldn’t see you?” I asked, leaning back on my hands.

    The boy shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly. “Beats me, that’s the first time I’ve ever been that close to a gatekeeper.”

     “What’s a gatekeeper?” I asked, as I walked over to my dresser to fetch my pyjamas. I pulled out a plain t-shirt and shorts and walked into the bathroom that was connected to my room.

     “You’re full of questions, aren’t you?” the boy chirped as he sat down on my bed.

    “I’m a curious person,” I yelled from the bathroom.

    “You see, my papa was planning on explaining it to me after my ceremony but that was until he….” the boy trailed off.

    I reemerged in my pyjamas and tossed my other clothes in the hamper that hung on my bedroom door. “Until he what?” I froze when I saw he was getting teary eyed.

    “Why do you need to know?” he asked, showing hostility all of a sudden.

    “It was just a question,” I said, holding my hands up in defense. Although, I think I could guess what had happened to his dad.

    “Anyway,” he continued, wiping at his eyes, “what did your dad mean when he asked if you were hanging out with drinkers? You’re out this late often?”

    I immediately tensed up at the sudden accusation. “So what? They may drink, but I certainly don’t!” I added, avoiding the boy’s gaze.

    “Whatever,” the boy sighed tiredly. “It’s pretty late anyway and I’m too tired to figure you out.”

    “I guess you can stay the night since those barghests may still be out there, but if you’re going to be staying over, then I need to at least know your name.”

    The boy paused to think and after a minute of silence, he came to a decision. “Sebastian,” the boy said holding out his hand.

    “Nice to meet you,” I responded as I shook Sebastian’s hand.

     When he withdrew his hand, Sebastian gave a big stretch and laid down on the bed. “Well, it’s time for me to get some sleep, so nuapte bună!”

    I was left gawking as I watched Sebastian turn onto his side, so his back was facing away from me and closed his eyes. It only took a few seconds before his breathing became even and was fast asleep.

    “How the-” I mumbled to myself, amazed that someone could fall asleep so quickly.

    Figuring that Sebastian wouldn’t wake up, I rolled him off the bed and he fell to the floor with a thud. It didn’t come to a surprise that he stayed asleep and I rolled my eyes. I took my place on the bed and turned off the lamp, so I could drift off to sleep.


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