Home of S. A. Tawks

Click here to edit subtitle

#BandOfStrangers

Check out my twitter/instagram serial: #BandOfStrangers at the following links 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/satawks

Instagram: http://instagram.com/satawks 

Don't be a stranger. Follow one or both of the accounts and like one of the instalments on instagram or retweet an instalment on twitter to show your support.

- Adam - 

Teetering on the edge of sanity and a mental breakdown, the man began to fidget with the rifle in his hands. He placed the muzzle of the gun in his mouth but did not move his finger towards the trigger. The strong-tasting metal was gone from his tastebuds as fast as it had registered. Adam had no intention of killing himself. Sure, it would be easy to blow his brains out, but Adam wasn’t that kind of person. If he were that kind of person he would have ended his life eighteen years earlier. The rifle had made its way into his mouth in a moment of frustration caused by an important decision. That decision was whether he should allow his son to keep on living his miserable life or murder him.

Even though he wasn’t proud of the fact that Thomas was his son, he couldn’t deny that the boy was indeed his son. When he and Paige had found out almost nineteen years ago that they would be having a baby boy, Adam had reached his height of happiness. His happiness had plateaued at such an altitude for a year and a half before taking a sharp plunge to rock bottom. For eighteen years that Goddamn line that represented his emotional state on the graph that was life had dragged him hard and fast along that rocky bottom, bashing and bruising his strong will. 

What he remembered most about the post-birth period was his and Paige’s optimistic projections of the future. They couldn’t wait to parent their child; care, play, teach and shape him into the best possible human being that his potential would allow. If he had to pick a word to describe that time he would choose ‘warm’. It was warm because it was as if the heart had a reason to beat. The future was bright and the heart wanted to pump the best damn blood it could so the body it worked for would be around to experience those moments. 

Now, the heart felt as if it couldn’t give a damn. It was as if it put in a minimal effort, just enough to keep the blood flowing. ‘Cold’ would be Adam’s number one pick to describe how life felt now. How life had felt for the last eighteen years. Sure, there’d been a little bit of warmth after the attack, a little optimistic hope that the future wouldn’t be as bad as it seemed. Though, that was soon extinguished when reality truly set in. That his wife was dead and his son had been deformed and his potential squashed down to that of a blind, deaf and dumb dog. 

After the attack the doctors had told Adam that the chances of Thomas living for more than a month once having been discharged from the hospital were slim. A nurse had been a great comfort throughout the whole ordeal and had told Adam to ring her when the dreaded time came and she would do all she could to help him through. But, defying doctors’ expectations, Thomas had lived past a month. Six months. A year. A decade. Eighteen damn years on and he was still kicking, with more life in him than before the attack. 

The doctors couldn’t explain it. They said that Thomas was severely deformed and had severe brain damage but his vital signs were as good as a normal kid his age. With each year that passed with Thomas’s growth and deformities not disagreeing with one another, all the doctors could tell Adam were things like ‘he’s a fighter’ and ‘it’s not usual’.

When the professionals couldn’t tell you what was going on, things just couldn’t be worse. Adam felt helpless because there was no help to receive; no help to better Thomas’s situation. He was just expected to carry on until he died or medical science evolved to the point where some light could be shed on his unusual condition. 

As for Adam, it was his purpose in life to look after him. Eat. Care. Sleep. Repeat. He didn’t have to worry about money because the government would always supply. They had been ordered by the court to pay any expenses related to Thomas’s care and Adam’s cost of living. The judge had said it was the least they could do for allowing a vicious, wild animal to attack a family while camping in a national park. 

But all the money in the world wouldn’t make Adam’s life better. All he wanted was to have Paige back, a usual eighteen-year-old son and a life worth living. The only thing that motivated him to get out of bed in the morning was the hope a new day brought. The hope that his son had passed in the night or that there’d been a medical breakthrough. 

However, each morning his son would still be breathing and there would be no news of breakthroughs. So, like father like son, Adam would carry on. 

What made the situation worse was that Thomas had become violent in his teenage years. A few months past his thirteenth birthday, he broke the arm of a nurse that looked after him twice a week. The two nurse visits were so Adam could have some time away from his son. Time that he could spend doing normal things. After the arm breaking, however, Adam didn’t want to put anyone else in danger. He knew there were nurses out there with the job description to deal with dangerous patients, but he just didn’t want to put the burden on someone else. He felt that it was his burden to carry and passing it off onto someone else made him feel ashamed. 

A part of taking on the full weight of the burden was caused by what a doctor had told him almost five years ago. The professional had said that Thomas most likely wouldn’t get too far into puberty. Adam had leapt and grasped onto this. Then five years passed and Thomas was closer to the end of puberty than the beginning. Five years that had felt like an eternity but had gone in the blink of an eye. 

Then, two weeks ago, the constant screaming had started. All day and all night, Thomas would moan and shout as if he were in agony. Sleep-deprived and just absolutely spent from the last eighteen years, the weight of the burden became too much. Adam just had to get it off his back. He’d be doing both himself and his son a favour. This is what he told himself as he dug out his old hunting rifle. The tool he had used to shoot wild pigs with his friends on the rare occasions he got to do so. The weapon had been out of action for more than five years thanks to the arm breaking incident.

Adam had cleaned the rifle and brought it back into working order. He’d fired a test shot into the air from his back porch to make sure it would be able to do the job. Then he had collapsed into one of the chairs by the railing when the truth of the matter struck him. He was about to kill his son. He was about to kill the helpless creature in cold blood. 

The reason for the collapse wasn’t the fact his son would no longer be alive. It was because, once the trigger had been pulled, the last eighteen years had been for nothing. All the pain and suffering had just led to Adam putting a bullet in the head of the thing that his son had grown into. But to Adam it also seemed like a remedy that would end all that pain and suffering. 

This last thought was what allowed Adam to regain his motivation. He took in a large breath and grabbed a single bullet from the ammo box on the ground. Like everything in the house, the pain and suffering, which the air was thick with, had deformed the box into something unattractive over time. 

Adam fed the bullet into the chamber of his rifle as he entered the house and made his way for his son’s room. Thomas had been asleep when Adam had gone outside. Now he was awake and screaming, most likely brought out of sleep by the test shot. 

Adam never shut the door of his son’s room so he was able to walk straight through the open doorway. Maybe if the door had been closed he would have been deterred. However, Adam wasn’t deterred and he stepped up to his son’s bed and tracked his thrashing head with the rifle’s sights. 

Thomas’s four limbs were secured to the bed with chains so Adam need not worry about his son attacking him. As much as the eighteen year old struggled, he wasn’t breaking free of his restraints.

Adam muttered that he was sorry as his eyes began to water. Vision blurry, Adam pulled the trigger and witnessed a censored version of the kill shot. He then wiped his eyes and saw the violence he had created.

The gunshot throbbed in Adam’s ears and made the silence deafening. He couldn’t even hear the pounding bass of a nearby party that had polluted the air out on the back porch. Shocked, Adam just looked at his son’s lifeless, deformed body. His first thought after the kill shot was that he should turn the light off. The darkness would swallow and hide what he’d just done. 

Adam moved for the light switch on the wall near the door but a noise halted him. A slow clicking was coming from his son’s bed. He took a few steps closer to his son and realised it was coming from Thomas‘ throat. A perplexed look took control of Adam’s face as his feet brought him closer to his son. Had Thomas survived the bullet to the head? Had he again beaten the odds and survived? 

Adam edged closer and closer as the clicking grew louder and louder. He was just about to reach out and touch Thomas when both his son’s arms jerked skyward with such strength that he broke the chains securing him.

The sudden movement caused Adam to jump back in fright. He tripped over something on the floor and toppled. He landed in an awkward position on the hardwood floor with his back against the cupboard. Adam had lost the rifle in the fall and it landed just out of reach of his left hand. From this position he watched as Thomas sat up in bed. However, it wasn’t his son. Adam could be sure of that. The thing that now sat in his son’s bed was a stranger. 

The stranger looked across the room at Adam with three terrifying eyes. The first eye was the bullet hole that Adam had placed between Thomas’ eyebrows. It oozed a trail of blood and the bullet that had created it had pushed most of his son’s brains out a larger hole at the back of his head. 

The other two terrifying eyes were a pair. They were the pair that had replaced Thomas’s human eyes. The eyes that belonged to the stranger contained no white. They were the blackest night sky littered with thousands of twinkling red stars. As terrifying as they were, Adam also felt calmed by them. Looking into them was hypnotic.

The stranger didn’t break eye contact with Adam as it broke the chains binding its legs to the bed. Because of this unbroken eye contact, Adam didn’t flinch an inch as the stranger did this and got out of Thomas’s bed. The stranger controlled Thomas’s body with autonomy in comparison to his son. 

It stepped towards Adam with the clicking sound issuing from its throat and the red stars in its eyes twinkling. As the stranger neared Adam it raised one of Thomas‘s hands. The hand’s fingernails had grown rapidly and they appeared to shimmer with a green, grey goo. Adam didn’t see this, though, because he was lost in the galaxy of the stranger’s eyes. 

The stranger bent down next to Adam and grabbed one of his hands as he kept the man in a trance. Adam didn’t feel any pain as the stranger placed the tip of a sharp fingernail in the centre of his palm and it pierced his skin. The fingernail grew rapidly and protruded through the skin of Adam’s backhand. The stranger’s act had introduced Adam’s insides to the green, grey goo. Its fingernail then retracted and the stranger fled from the room. 

With eye contact having been broken, Adam regained full control of himself and pain become apparent in his hand. He could have just sat there in disbelief and let the physical and emotional pain overpower him. However, his will was too strong to allow this. He could hear the sound of the stranger’s feet fleeing through the house. If he didn’t stop it, the stranger would escape out into the world. 

Adam snatched up the rifle and chased. He heard the back door slam open and he ran in that direction. If he were to receive any good luck tonight, this was it. The rifle’s bullets were where the stranger was fleeing. 

The stranger hadn’t stuck around to study the back porch. Instead it had jumped over the railing and down onto the back lawn. In the moonlight Adam could see it fleeing toward the bushland that his house backed onto.

Wasting no time, Adam found the box of ammunition lying on the floorboards and snatched out a single bullet. He fumbled this and dropped it. He could hear the bullet rolling along the floorboards as he quickly picked another, loaded it into the rifle and took aim. He sucked in a deep breath, ignored the sound of the rolling bullet and tracked the stranger on his run. Just before it reached the start of the bushland, Adam fired. The bullet made contact, knocking the stranger of its feet and sending it sprawling into the thickness of the bush. 

A few seconds of silence followed and then Adam saw the twinkling red stars look his way out of the dark bushland abyss. He looked away before they could take control of him. He may not have been able to see the stranger, but the thing made sure he heard it. It issued a loud groan. The noise was the opposite of a roar. Instead of expelling air, it sucked it in. And what created the groan was the sound of the air not having a big enough channel to pass through.

It then ceased groaning and the noise that followed was the stranger crashing through the thick growth of the bush. Adam could only listen, rifle in hand, as the stranger escaped out into the world. 

Read the next instalment as soon as it's released at the twitter and Instagram accounts linked above