Devil You Know

Kodi and Nyx. Nyx and Kodi.

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7. s e v e n

 

         I stepped back from my father’s desk with a kind of reverence. This was it—the crux. Nyx, before the night began, had been some kind of idea in the back of my mind that twisted with suppressed glee and little else. Now, the ink dark as a sunless ocean before me, Tom’s blood staining my hands, the reality of my situation slithered, snake-like, into my mind and sat there with blue skin and yellow eyes that glinted with iniquitous light.

         I turned to my father and watched as he sat down heavily in his desk chair. His work was not entirely ruined—he could recreate it eventually—but the first time in four months that he’d tried hard to connect with me had ended in disaster, and I well knew that it could be another four until he managed to pull himself up again. I backed away, eyes fixed on the back of his head.

         Just before I shut the door behind me, he turned and looked me in the eye for seemingly the first time since that blistering abstract day. He opened his mouth as if to say something, and I often wonder what would have happened if he had—would I have stayed in that house and fixed both him and myself, or would the events of that night simply have started with him and ended up where they did as though the fates were fixed in a straight-run track?

         I pulled the door shut before he had a chance to say anything. The corridor silenced, and I retreated to my room with something gleeful ringing in my ears. I shook my head, trying to ignore it, but I felt Nyx’s leathery hands on my face, my neck, tugging at my clothing, until I felt as though my bedroom were a chamber in a heart—pulsating, throbbing.

         I swatted around me with a jacket that I then zipped over myself. The outside called, and the moment the cold air hit my face from outside the window I was off, running away from my house, away from my room dripping memories, and into the un-tainted dark of night. Houses rushed past me like paintings on a smeared canvas, and I could hear a thudding from behind me as though I pulled a heart that wasn’t my own. I ran past Tom’s house, speeding up as I did so, past the school, and to an area of the neighbourhood I rarely came to. My feet thudded on the pavement, but I felt like I was flying, albeit with a deadweight securing me so that I did not fly too high.

         I skidded suddenly down a turning I’d never before explored, dodging between bins and loose rubbish as I descended further an further into a place I didn’t know the way out of.

         It could have been five minutes or an hour before I stopped, breath ragged, distortions dancing behind my eyes. I stooped, hands on my knees, breathing hard enough to scratch at my throat. Over the throbbing of my blood, I could just hear measured footsteps behind me. I stood, eyes taking in my surroundings.

         I’d ended up in what was usually fondly dubbed, ‘The Junkie’s Yard.’ The place was famous at school for its nefarious dealings and dangerous substances, and I could see why it had this reputation. Surrounding me like man-made mountains were cars that drooped off one another, hollow metal tubes with mangy blankets folded at the bottom, old kitchen stoves and ovens that wilted in the night air that was illuminated only slightly by the lights from the houses that were near the yard. I perched on the edge of one of the car seats, head in my hands.

         “Looking a bit downtrodden there, Kodi. A bit…squashed? Sorry, was that too soon? Although—” Nyx—for there was no one else this pair of feet before me that were spaced out as though the owner was on the edge of a cliff, or preparing to dance, could belong to anyone else—gave a laugh. “Nothing could really look very squashed compared to your brother. I seem to recall…what was it? Oh yes—they had to get the old scrapers out, didn’t they?” Nyx’s feet left my field of vision, and I lifted my head to watch him as he paced around the circle of dilapidated junk we were surrounded by. “I wonder what your brother would think if he saw you now?” He counted off on his fingers. “Got your favourite teacher arrested, attacked your best friend slash scandalous secret crush—he’s probably called the police on you, by the way—wrecked your father’s work…golly, could I go on.” He let his hands drop and shot me a malicious grin. I watched him with shadowed eyes.

         “Leave me alone.”

         Nyx snorted. “Oh, okay then. I’ll just pop away then shall I? Never bother you again?” He walked over a plank as though it were a tightrope, balancing with his arms, chuckling to himself.

         “What are you?” My voice sounded weak even to my own ears.

         “Oh Kodi, please don’t insult your own intelligence. You know perfectly well what I am.”

         I thought, then, about the story I’d written, the character I’d created, the negativity and feeling that I’d suppressed and squashed down, not realising that it would one day spring back at me as I lay at the bottom of Marcus’ stairs, unconscious. The scene flickered before my eyes like a puppet show.

         The masses stopped swaying and gathered around the fallen body lying on the floor like mourners at a funeral. Someone breathed a curse word and poked it with their foot.

         “Marcus, what the hell’d you do to him? Jesus, what kind of trouble are we going to get in?”

         Marcus held his hands up in defence. “Chill guys, he’s just unconscious. Someone can just take him home and leave him on his driveway. Where’s the ginger guy? Get him to do it. Jeez, talk about a party pooper.”

         Marcus drifted away into the crowd, and no one registered that the shadow of the person on the floor switched from black to blue for just an instant, and no one could have seen that, under his eyelids, his eyes flickered amber-yellow.

         “You’re me.”

         Nyx jumped to the top of a car with the agility of a cat and clapped me, teeth glistening in the light from the houses. “Bravo, little Kodi. Now that you know what I am, what are you going to do with me? Oh, because there’s so much we can do! Marcus—you hate him, don’t you?—so desperate for that sports scholarship…oh how quickly that could change. Your father?” Nyx approached me now. “That good for nothing lump of uselessness could very quickly learn that his son can do things he could never dream of. Everything you’ve ever wished for, Kodi.” Nyx placed his hands on either side of my face and knelt before me, yellow eyes boring into blue. “We can have it all.”

         I opened my mouth—perhaps to reply, perhaps in desperate pursuit of air—but jerked my head to the side as two police cars roared into the Junkie’s Yard, sirens just beginning to blare. When I looked back in front of me, Nyx had disappeared, but he had not gone. I felt him twisting inside my mind, fingers caressing my thoughts and memories. His presence sent a wave of something that felt like calm through me, and suddenly, what I had resisted so blatantly seemed like a gift. Kodi and Nyx. Nyx and Kodi.

         I smiled at the police officers as they approached me, politely held my hands out to be handcuffed. They couldn’t know that two hearts beat inside my chest, or that the eyes I fixed them with were eyes to two people. Kodi and Nyx. Nyx and Kodi.

 

 

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