The voice

            “...keeper of the GATES!’

Richard threw his blankets off of his body and they crumpled at his feet sadly. He looked around the dark room, terror shearing through his mind like sharp shards of glass. Where the hell had that voice come from? His dark room was completely motionless. Richard couldn’t make out much just lumps and shadows. He reached over timidly towards his lamp, wondering if something would jump out and grab his arm before he could make it to the safety of the light. This agitated him and he turned the tiny knob on the lamp. It clicked and clicked but no light came on.

Richard felt himself go cold and his stomach heaved. He retracted his arm quickly before the thing in his mind could grab him. He realized that he had removed the bulb from that lamp. He chided himself for being so stupid and then looked over at the door. The light switch was next to it but that was at least a four foot walk. Whatever was in his room could grab him at any time.

He shook his head; there was nothing in the room. He was being silly. He needed to just get up and turn on the light so he could calmly check the room for maybe a mouse or something. But then again there was that voice, so loud and real.

Richard shook his head again. He needed to block that thought out of his head, get up and turn on the light. He slowly brought his feet around to meet the floor and he felt himself jump a little as the bottoms of his feet made contact with the cold hardwood. Putting his weight on them he pushed himself slowly out of bed and now was standing in complete darkness. Nothing moved, he heard nothing, it was just stillness. Richard for a split second wondered if he should calmly make his way over to the light or should he make a mad dash for it.

Again he chided himself on being so ridiculous. Making a mad dash would be agreeing to the fact that there was something in his room which was an unrealistic idea. He slowly made his way to the light switch his feet quietly padding on the hardwood floor. A light shuffling sound came as his flannel pants swept together. Although he believed the idea of something being in his room ridiculous he still stared around his eyes wide in their sockets and that familiar fear was coming back.

Richard could not remember the last time he was scared of the dark, having grown out of the ideal when he realized Santa and the Easter bunny weren’t real, it was only natural to realize that the Boogey Man wasn’t real either. But now he could almost feel eyes peering at him from every dark corner of the room. His investigative mind wanted to venture towards them to prove their inexistence, but his gut told him to get to the light, the light was good and it would protect him.

As he was reaching the light there was a groan of floor boards off to the other side of his room, close to his bed, and then the springs of his bed depressed with small creaks as though someone or something was putting a lot of pressure on them. Richard dared a look over his shoulder and could no longer see his bed in the dark, he could see nothing, but he heard the springs depress still along the bed as whatever it was, was slowly making its way over the bed. Then floor boards on the other side of the bed groaned with pressure as it made its way off the bed, Richard felt the white heat of fear take over his body he nearly paralyzed before he felt the cool plastic of the light switch and threw it on.

Light flooded the room and as Richard’s eyes adjusted he saw a shadow sling across the room from where his bed was and disappear to where he couldn’t see. Then there was nothing but brightness.

Richard searched the entire room turning it upside down, always with the light on, until the shining of the morning sun began to play on his window sill. Richard went back to his bed and sat down.

Sweat had accumulated on his forehead and he wiped it away breathing heavily. Despite the sweat it was freezing cold in his room, but he hardly noticed the temperature. He stared around his room at all the dark corners, wondering what could have been hidden there. Had all of it been a hallucination brought on by fear? Richard didn’t know the scientific premise behind hallucinations. But he knew he had heard that voice as real as the groaning of his floor boards and the creaking of his bed springs. There had been something in his room.

He felt sleep overtake him, he was exhausted from searching, and he lay back as the sunlight began to fill his room. He knew he’d be safe in the light but the coming night, he’d need something to keep the entity away again. He’d have to buy a night light. Sleep finally swept him away softly as in one dark corner of his room a shadow quivered and then was slowly pushed into nothingness by the brightening sunlight.

 

            The toaster buzzed loudly shaking Richard out of his daze and annoyed he got up and pushed it around until the toast that was caught in it dislodged from the side. It popped all the way up black. Richard finally realized that the air stank of burnt toast, he had forgotten completely about it.

            “Richard, what have I continually told you about setting that toast lower, why do you need to set it so high?” his Dad complained, coming down the stairs while putting on his tie.

            “Dad it doesn’t toast the bread right if I set it below that,” Richard explained trying to scrape off the blackened parts, but realizing his efforts were futile he threw it in the trash.

            His father eyed him warily.

            “That’s a big waste of bread Richard, please be more careful next time,” he said.

            He then looked around.

            “Have you seen my briefcase,” he paused to think, “and my keys?”
            Richard motioned to the family room.

            “I think I saw your keys on the coffee table, you must have dumped them there when you came home yesterday,” Richard answered.

            His father left the room in search of his items while Richard threw some more bread in the toaster setting it up to full power again.

            He looked out the window at the shadows in the yard. The sun was still low in the sky and casting a lot of shadows across the yard. Richard felt his mind wander back to last night. He didn’t think telling his father about his experience would help matters much, so he had made a mental note to keep his mouth shut for now and he’d head down to Ned’s Hardware, to pick up a nightlight later on after school.

            He shuddered at the though of Kristin Chaste, finding him at the hardware store buying such an item. The buxom cheerleader was also one of the most attractive girls in his school and during his fifth period math, he found himself drooling on his desk at her pert body from behind, as she played with her hair and chatted with her friends next to her, making no effort to understand the equations on the board.

            With a body like that, thought Richard, she would never need to use her brain for anything more than what dress to wear to social occasions.

            And then he thought of her boyfriend, the school badass Derk Anderson finding him buying a nightlight.

            Richard heard told that last year Derk had tapped some kid’s ass cheeks together after finding out the boy slept with a teddy bear still. Richard couldn’t even imagine what cruel and unusually punishment Derk would plan out for him and his nightlight.

            Derk never used his brain either, unless it was to crush beer cans or smash some poor weaker kid’s face in. Derk liked to headbutt a lot, it was his thing.

            The toaster buzzed loudly again and the musk of burnt toast filled the air.

            “Richard!” his father yelled from the family room.

 

            School was uneventful. Except for his regularly scheduled drool session during math, Richard didn’t find much joy out of the day. He was like a teenager displaced. He could never find a place in the world of teens and the different groups and talents they had. He liked skateboarding but almost always fell on his face, as he had no balance. He liked sports but he couldn’t seem to get himself into enough shape to make it onto the A squad for anything. He was into music but couldn’t hold a tune or beat to save his life. He liked the idea of writing but his grammatical and spelling skills didn’t have much going for them.

            The only person that ever seemed to understand him was his lifelong friend Andy. Andy had moved into town with his rich parents, they owned a large computer company. Richard took a liking to Andy instantly as he seemed to be displaced too, the town was made up of mostly factory and construction workers. There wasn’t a large amount of rich families in the area, so a rich kid coming into a small town didn’t impress a lot of the crowd.

            Richard would always remember when they were kids and they would let their imaginations run wild playing dungeons and dragons with sticks around the woods outside the town. He would be the young knight and Andy would be the evil wizard holding the imaginary princess captive. They were good times, and Richard sometimes wished that they could go back to that kind of simplicity. It might have been why he had taken such a liking to his new door now.

            Whenever he saw it he got a warm feeling and smiled while in his room, even today as he walked in holding his new night light, he seemed to even forget why he had purchased it almost. Although he still plugged it in. It was a sensor light so if the sensor was covered in darkness the light would turn on.

            Andy tested it by shutting all the blinds and closing the door and turning the light off. Instantly the room shone with a healthy glow of light, enough to keep the shadows at bay in the corners of his room for the night.

            Andy felt satisfied with the results and went to open his blinds. Only when he was reaching for them something on his desk chair caught his attention. There was a glint of movement. When he looked he saw a small coin, larger than a dollar coin and brassy colored. Richard reached for it.

            Suddenly there was a hiss and a sort of growl and something caught a hold of his arm. Richard tugged back hard in panic, but was able to notice it was like a tentacle. It led to below his desk where the dark was ample.

            The hissing had stopped and Richard could only hear his own gasps in struggle, as everything fell silent in his room. Richard tugged harder, although he was loosing the battle, whatever the entity was it was stronger than him. He looked below the desk but could only see darkness.

            Suddenly Richard had an idea. The curtains were close at hand, he just needed to get some leverage on this creature so that he could reach them. He grabbed the chair and shoved it into the desk without thinking twice. There was a gruff gasp as though someone had been punched in the stomach and the grip on his arm loosened.

            It was enough, Richard took the advantage and slipped his arm from the tentacle grabbing the curtains and ripping them open wide. Bright sunlight poured in and there was another furious hiss again and then nothing.

            Richard fell to the floor with his back to the window, staring at the underside of the desk. The sun now fully shone brightly into the once dark area, and Richard saw nothing at all to suggest that anything had been there. With the exception of a small glint, the brassy coin was shining happily in the light.

 

            “So the tentacle came out from under the desk and grabbed your arm?” Andy threw Richard a skeptical look over his shoulder while bending down to look under the desk.

            Richard sighed. He had called Andy about five minutes after the incident had happened. His father was on the late shift and he didn’t feel like being alone in the house when it started to get dark.

            Before Andy came over he had turned on all the lights in the house and opened all the windows. And he had stayed clear of his bedroom and the coin.

            “Andy if this was some kind of trick don’t you think I would have told you by now?” Richard groaned. Andy had been there for over an hour now. And he had not believed a word of Richard’s story.

            Richard had been known to pull the wool over Andy’s eyes before but this time Andy was having none of it.

            “Richard, I know you have a great imagination, my dead wizard self can testify to that, but when your childhood goes so do these childish games. Seriously, did you actually think I would believe this?” Andy scoffed.

            Richard stood up and glared at Andy, he’d had enough.

            “No Andy, I expected that my so called best friend would believe me no matter what,” he yelled in anger.

            Andy pulled back from the desk and sat in the chair looking hurt.

            Richard grabbed the coin off the floor from where it had been laying and shoved it into Andy’s palm.

            “Explain this Andy, its real aged brass, where would I get something like this?” Richard grumbled.

            Andy brought the old coin to his face and he examined it. The coin featured a dragon’s head on one side and a jousting knight on the other. The brass had dark blotches in some areas indicating the age of the coin itself. Otherwise it was in good condition.

            It was as though someone had polished this coin with a brass polish everyday of its lifespan, which for all Richard knew was centuries.

            Andy continued mull over the coin examining every blotch and etch. He rubbed it with the flat of his thumb and then sniffed it.

            Richard rolled his eyes.

            “Andy what the hell, are you doing? It’s a coin not a well aged cheese,” he grumbled.

            Andy shot him a look.

            “You’re lucky I’m still even here to listen to all this nonsense so just shut up and let me do my thing alright? My dad owns a coin collection, he taught me how to age coins,” he said.

            Richard bit his tongue and put up with five more minutes of Andy doing everything but licking the coin. He was quite sure it was coming too when Andy suddenly put the coin on the desk and looked out the window, a serious look coming over his face.

            He put his arms behind his back and looked out the window, Richard rolled his eyes, the only thing that was missing was a smoking jacket and a snifter of brandy and the illusion of Andy’s father would be complete.

            After a moment of this Andy finally turned and looked Richard in the eye.

            “Richard where did you get this coin?” he asked with all seriousness.

            Richard sighed.

            “I already told you Andy, I’m not going to explain it again,” he groaned.

            Andy looked him over.

            “The coin is at least fifteen centuries old, which would make it medieval,” Andy said, still all seriousness.

            “So what does that mean?” Richard asked.

            Andy stared at him for a moment, than suddenly looked at his watch.

            “It means I’m late for dinner, we can talk about this tomorrow,” and before Richard could protest Andy was out the door and down the stairs.

            Richard sighed and turned to the coin on the table, staring at it. He wasn’t sure but he thought he saw some movement underneath the desk. He flicked the light on in his room; it was starting to get dark.

 

The End

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