Devil You Know

Kodi and Nyx. Nyx and Kodi.

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3. t h r e e

 

         I woke to the sensation of of dampness against my back. My head throbbed with the incessant pounding of fiery rods against my skull and I groaned, hands hovering above my hair in an attempt to dull the sensations. Strange to think that under all that pain, under all that though and those memories was a simple mound of soft tissue that contained the very essence of what made me myself. I squeezed my eyes shut then opened them with slight plucking noise. Before me, the familiar bricks of the bottom half of my house swum before my eyes, growing in the cracks miniature civilisations of moss that I could destroy with a single movement.

         I rolled onto my front and pushed myself into a kneeling position. I could smell the spiked drinks from the party on the front of my now-damp sweater so pulled it off, over my head, where it lay on the ground before me like some ghastly Christmas failure. My shoulders ached at the movement, and I almost felt the phantom arm of Marcus squeezing my shoulders, crushing me like a truck that hurtled out of the invisible pits of Hell—

         I pushed myself to my feet and staggered, only steadying myself by leaning against my window. No other memories came back to me. I checked my watch. It had gone nine. I’d been unconscious for an hour, and everything that had happened during it was non-existent to me—it was almost as though some celestial being had flicked the universe’s clock out of pure boredom.

         I heaved myself into my room and landed in a heap. My head throbbed, my shoulders ached, and my eyes and nose were stinging with unshed tears. I pulled myself over to my desk and slumped on the chair, head lolling like some grotesque mimicry of a bobbly-headed dog.

         As much as I would have liked to switch myself off, as much as I longed to float into ethereal darkness like a foetus in the womb, I still had school the next day. I glanced at the pages in front of me, wondering whether I should call Tom to see if he knew what happened to me after I knocked my head.

         That train of thought, however, was stalled by what I saw. My papers, previously fanned out like a deck of only four cards, were laid out neatly in a line from one end of my desk to the other. I tapped my finger on each one, wondering if my father had remembered me and come in, but I knew my chair was still against the door.

         Yet again, my thoughts were distracted by a realisation. Five pieces of paper were laid across my desk, and one of them—the last one— was covered with handwriting nearly identical to my own, albeit in pen. I felt cold air wash through my spine as though it were hollow and some bodily creature were standing at the top dropping ice down it. I leant closer, squinting to read the unfamiliar words.

         Nyx watched as Kodi moved in the garden. His eyes were closed, and he didn’t see Nyx as he crawled to the window and dragged himself through it. He didn’t see Nyx as he sat at his desk and only just began to notice Nyx’s beautiful addition to his stilted prose. He didn’t notice as Nyx crept out from his wardrobe and stretched his hand towards the nape of his neck. Hello, Kodi.

         Something brushed my neck and I let out a screech of terror that never made it past my mouth. I simply moaned and swatted at my back involuntarily, scattering the paper, head snapping round so fast that the vertebrae in my neck clicked and protested. I fell from my chair doing so, landing ungracefully on the floor.

         The room behind me was still dark, but it seemed to shimmer with a dark, eerie gas. My brain searched for the heat that my eyes told me was there, but the room remained as cool as the outside air. I blinked, bones refusing to move, and an after image of a face nearly identical to my own, but grinning with a fiery glee, glowed green and purple under my eyelids. I crawled further back and huddled under my desk, heart beating.

         Some wild, insane thought pervaded my head: that in the hour I could not remember I had travelled further than from the party to my house—that perhaps the weariness in me came not from damage but from exposure to some iniquitous force. That perhaps some small part of that evil had stuck to me like a thread of silvery cobweb and now wished to haunt me like a grim parody of my brother’s ghost.

         I dropped my head onto my knees and scrabbled in a drawer for my phone. Tom was my last called number, so it was a matter of only a few seconds before his voice sounded in my ear.

         “Kodi? Is that you?”


         I opened my mouth to speak, but only dry air came out. I squeezed my eyes shut until my room was reduced to mere specks of light. Some atmosphere passed, and a more earthly silence descended once more.

         “Kodi? Are you at home or are you at the party? I kinda left with Gretchen, but I figured you’d be fine…are you? Kodi, seriously dude.”

         “I’m at home.”

         Tom let out an audible rush of air. In the stillness of my room it shivered and rung like a bell formed from exhaled oxygen.

         “Tom?”

         “Yeah? Listen, I have to go soon. Gretchen, you know.”

         “Sure. It’s just—do you know what happened?”

         “When?”
   I glanced around my room once more. There was nothing but the silhouetted lump of my schoolbag and the scattered papers on the floor. The moonlight poured through the window like silver gas. “I knocked my head and woke up in my driveway. I don’t know how I got there, and there’s something…I just wondered if you knew.”
  “Sorry dude. Someone probably just carried you.” There was a scrabbling, the sound of the phone being pressed to cloth, then a high-pitched giggle. Tom spoke again with the voice he didn’t usually use for me. “I gotta go, buddy. See ya tomorrow.” A click.

         I let my cell phone dangle from the tips of my fingers. It stuck to the cold sweat there for a while before finally falling towards the floor. I swept the papers into a pile, refusing to let my eyes wander. Perhaps I was more like my father than I thought. Ignorance is bliss, after all.

         I pulled myself onto my bed, the covers cool against my skin. They felt like they had been infused with the night air, and I pressed my face into them, breathing in, falling into the escape of sleep.

 

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