Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Tales of the Amulet (Back Stories Volume I)


As the breathless man clung to his terrified children -holding them closer and wrapping his goose-fleshed arms around them- he loudly prayed, hoping beyond hope that His ears would hear. The four of them huddled beneath the stairwell in the basement, the man doing his very best to soothe his inconsolable children as they wept sorrowfully between hitching breaths and flooding tears. Their home was dark now, though the power had been cut out for several hours it was only over the last few minutes that the sun had set below the tree lines and its light no longer flooded in the windows. And it was this feeling -this feeling of eminent dread- that now crept over them like a nightmare; no lights, no calming effect of the last of the dwindling sun, no more safety. Though the man's sanity was rapidly fraying, he was a father first; and to his children a hero, and so he began to sing to them through his quavering, shuddering voice. He slowly rocked them; his big boy eleven-year old, his fiercely independent middle boy, and his little baby girl, rocking them and trying valiantly to assuage their escalating fears. 

But the knock came anyway. The pounding was so deafening and intense that it felt like it could blow the basement door of its hinges.

The man caught his voice in his throat and his singing turned into a temporary shriek. The children (for the moment lulled into what was for them an unknown false sense of security) recoiled in horror and each began crying anew. Their father did his best to shush them soundly and appease them, but no solace was to be found in his words.

The knock came again. The four of them jumped and began begging out loud for the intruder to go away. The man finally lost his composure. A man of strength; a man that never showed emotion to his children, and a man who withstood all adversaries finally succumbed to the horror that overfilled his life, and he screamed at the top of his lungs. No words, just an explosive yell, long and overflowing with alarm and panic and release. The children stared at him in unison, momentarily too stunned to cry. But the moment was fleeting and as soon as they realized that their own father was just as frightened as they were, their sobs were even more wracking.

The long moments ticked away into what felt like little eternities. The man strained to hear any more sounds while the trio of children mewled in his arms. His limbs, he felt, were growing numb. He'd been sitting squat for ever and the weight of his horrified kids in his arms had begun to feel like lifeless sacks. But he knew they weren't and he knew they'd only protest with stronger constrictions if he made to move. He was trapped for the moment in every way; both down stairs in his own home and in the death grips of his terrified offspring. But he also knew that he had to see if the thing was gone. It had been far too long since any noise at all was heard. And it was only now that he realized his youngest had cried herself to sleep.

The silence was deafening. The man slowly released his youngest into the arms of his oldest, placed a calming finger to his lips and began to methodically stand up. No one stirred, no one cried out, and the man knew now was the time to climb back into the turmoil and assess the situation. He stood, creaked a little and angled his tight joints so he could move without wincing in agony. He glanced with tireless anticipation and a heavy heart toward the wooden stairs that led into the proverbial belly of the beast...

The stairs that lead to the beast he dreaded the most: The woman he loved.