James Grey and The Song of Fear

James Grey and the Song of Fear is the tragic tale of a young boy coping with the loss of his family and the monster living inside of him. With each word the separation between boy and horror begins to fade, leaving you to wonder where the nightmare ends and the child begins.

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"Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands." ~Anne Frank

 

 

"Life out of the ordinary is no life at all."

This was the mantra of Mr. Grey, an ordinary man living in an ordinary house in an ordinary town in Indiana. He wanted nothing more than to live out his ordinary life without ever breaking routine. Fortunately, Mr. Grey was a librarian, a perfect job for a man in such desperate need of order. Every day, he would wake up at 6:00 a.m. precisely, have two pieces of toast and exactly ten ounces of high-quality black coffee (using sugar and cream was only a way to mask the taste of bad coffee, he thought). After finishing his cup, Mr. Grey would prepare an omelet, which he would leave covered on the dining room table for his eleven-year-old son, James. He would then drive the thirty-five minutes to the library, arriving promptly at 7:10 am where he would spend his day organizing and cataloging countless books, only to return home, prepare dinner and go to sleep.

As you can see, Mr. Grey did not spend a great deal of time with his son and most certainly not with his wife.

Allison Whitney, before becoming Mrs. Grey, was an extraordinary woman from Charnwood England. From the time she was a little girl, her courage, and love of exploring had led her on the most outstanding adventures, from the mystery of Mrs. Rosewood's pie thief to Charnwood's own buried treasure. However, it wasn't until she traveled to Tibet that she began the greatest adventure of her life. She had been searching for a secret collection of scriptures said to contain ultimate knowledge and hidden wonders beyond imagination, or so they say. It was while she was exploring the mountains that she came across John before he was known as Mr. Grey. And from the moment they met, no two souls ever matched so perfectly.

Until James was born, Allison and John traveled the world, searching for lost treasures, quenching their thirst to live a fulfilling life of wondrous experiences. Blindly walking into danger and mayhem, they lived to the fullest, until Allison became pregnant. Then the Greys returned to America and settled in Indiana to await the birth of their own personal treasure—trading in magic and adventure for the family life.

On April 24th, Mr. And Mrs. Grey gave birth to their son. When Allison held James for the first time, she could almost hear a beautiful melody playing. She knew that she loved him with all her heart. However, one night, not more than a few months after James was born, while her family slept, Allison arose from her bed and gently kissed her husband's forehead and whispered, "Goodbye, my love."

Silently, she moved through the house to her sleeping son's room. She stood over James' crib and admired her precious boy. She caressed his cheek, and he unconsciously nuzzled her fingers. She dared not pick him up for fear that she might wake him.

"My sweet boy," she whispered tenderly. She lingered in the beautiful song that was filling her heart, an unnatural melody that invaded her very soul. Then slowly stepped out of the room and out of John and James' lives.

It was that moment that changed Mr. Grey. Losing the love of his life with no explanation affected him more than he could ever comprehend. Allison was gone and despite having a newborn son, he had never felt more alone.

In the following months, he replaced the emptiness in his heart caused by her absence with routine and mundane things. Blaming her burning desire and infatuation with mystery and adventure for her departure, he vowed to remove all unpredictability from his and his son's life to ensure he wouldn't lose the only person he had left. Little did Mr. Grey know that despite his best efforts, magic would still find his young son at a great cost to himself.

The sound of glass smashing against the floor ripped John from his dreamless sleep. Reaching for the clock on his nightstand, John squinted at the glowing red numbers and groaned.

5:45 am. "Great..." he muttered as he tossed his sheets aside, unaware of the havoc that awaited him downstairs.

As he dragged into the kitchen, John's green eyes widened at the sight before him. On the table sat two plates, two burnt pieces of toast on each. Two glasses, which had almost no orange juice in them at all. Atop the stove, what he assumed were once eggs were now black ash, and standing on a chair surrounded by coffee grounds and broken glass, was his son, gawking like a deer in the headlights. John could feel his blood boil; he had no time for this. His morning routine had been obliterated.

"What are you doing?!" John said, stepping carefully over the broken glass to grab the burning pan off the stove.

"Trying to make breakfast," James said.

"Is the toaster broken?" John eyed the blackened toast, wondering how James had achieved such a dark char.

"No... It just wasn't done the first time and we are out of juice..."

John dropped the pan in the sink and turned to face James, who had sunk down in his chair. Feeling his aggravation begin to fade at the sight of his son's embarrassment, John took his seat at the head of the table, grabbed a piece of the blackened toast and took a large bite.

"Mmm... what's the occasion?" John asked, trying to hide his displeasure in the burnt dry bread.

James looked up bright-eyed, "It's my birthday!"

John sat frozen in his chair. He had forgotten James' birthday, and this was not the first time. "Shouldn't that mean I make you breakfast, Jim?" He asked, masking his forgetfulness with the most confident smile he could muster.

"Well, I want something different this year," James said, playing with his food sheepishly and staring down at his toast as if waiting for it to respond in place of his father.

But John knew better; this was not the first time that James had asked for something "different." Several years ago, when James was barely old enough to read a book, the nightmares started. They weren't much at first, just a few creeps in the darkness of his mind, but it didn't take long before they were full-blown horrors that not only tormented the boy in his sleep but followed him out of his dreams when he woke. James had night terrors.

"I don't want to to take my medication anymore," James said, straightening up in his chair and held up his head confidently.

"James, we've talked about this..." John checked his wristwatch, 6:08 am. He was behind schedule. He took another bite of the toast and washed it down with what had made it into the juice glass before taking another large bite.

"But, this time's different!" he protested. "I haven't taken anything in a few days and I haven't had bad dreams at all!"

John immediately began to choke on the toast he had attempted to swallow, coughing hard. Reaching for the empty glass, he rose from the chair and rushed to the sink, slicing his foot on the broken glass in the process. Letting out a growl of pain, he filled his glass and drank the water greedily, washing down the dry toast that had caught in his throat.

"You what?!" He yelled, angrier at his now bleeding left foot than James.

"I haven't!" Despite James' efforts, the large dark circles forming under his eyes said otherwise. They said that he hadn't slept well at all, they said that his nightmares were worse than ever. "Nurse Cassie says that..."

John cut him off, "Who's Nurse Cassie? What happened to Ms. Rollins?"

"She's new, I told you about it two weeks ago... But she said that she thinks I've got to face my fears sometime. And I don't like how they make me feel, I keep forgetting things and the other kids make fun of me..."

"Face your... No, absolutely not." John had completely missed the point, which if he had been paying attention, was blatantly obvious. The frustration and sadness could be seen on James' face as his eyes drifted to the table as if behind the reflection on the dark wood was a memory he wished he could forget. But as per usual, John didn't see it.

"Why not?!" James snapped back, angry that his father could possibly have a reason to say no.

John turned and glared at his son, "Absolutely not."

"Why not?!" James snapped back, angry that his father could possibly have a reason to say no.

"BECAUSE I SAID SO!" John was done with the interruption of his morning.

"But that's not fair! It's my birthday, and you didn't even remember!"

"Go to your room!" John said.

James stood from his chair and swiftly moved passed the broken glass, gritting his teeth as tears rolled down his face.

John watched as his son stormed away and turned his eyes back to the wrecked kitchen. He sighed as he grabbed a broom and began to clean the mess James had left.

By the time John had finished sweeping the floor, scrubbing the pan, wiping the table, and wrapping his foot it was already 6:45 am. He would absolutely be late. John felt a moment of regret. Maybe he had been too hard on James. He decided to go upstairs and talk to him. He made his way up the stairs and down the hall, to James' door where a freshly drawn sign had been taped. KEEP OUT! Had been scribbled in large black letters. He knocked anyway.

"Go away!" James yelled through the door. John tried to turn the knob, but it was locked from the inside.

"Son, I just wanted to say that I'm sorry," John said through the door. "You have to believe me, this is for the best..." He waited a moment, hoping for a response. "I'll call the school and talk to Nurse Cassie so that she'll understand... She just doesn't know how bad it really is..." John was interrupted by the door whipping open, James stood eyes full of tears, glaring at him.

"You don't know anything! You're not brave, or adventurous. You're boring and a coward! I wish you would have left instead of mom!" James slammed the door hard in his father's face.

John stood, staring at the door. He had never felt so small in all his life. "Happy Birthday, son... I love you," No response. Fighting back the tears in his eyes, John checked his watch, 6:54 am. He carefully removed the leather timepiece and hung it on his son's doorknob. John sulked down the stairs and grabbed his coat.

Maybe James is right... maybe Allison left because I'm boring, he thought to himself, getting into his car.

"Okay, I'll fix it tonight," he said out loud. Starting the engine, he pulled out of the driveway and began his trek to the library, forty-five minutes off schedule.

The traffic didn't help his case, but he managed to pull into the Indiana State Library parking lot at 8:10 am.

Stepping out of the car, John winced in pain at the cut on his foot. Placing both feet out of the car, John stood and all too suddenly sensed a familiar feeling—the feeling that he was being watched. His senses on high alert, he searched the empty parking lot. But there was nothing, just the building, and the surrounding trees. Staring into the tree-line, John waited, though, for what, he did not know.

"What took you so long?" a voice said from behind him, suddenly breaking the silence. John almost jumped out of his skin. He hadn't even heard anyone walking up.

"Sorry, there was some heavy traffic on the way." John lied, trying to slow his racing heart.

"No worries, Fred told me to tell you to just tack the extra time to the end of your shift." The man patted John on the shoulder, handed him the keys to the library and walked toward his parked pick-up. Fred, being John's boss, was usually strict with other employees on tardiness, but with John Grey it was different. He had not been late once in the last fifteen years. If he was late, there was obviously a good reason.

"Alright, thanks, Chris. Sorry again!" he yelled. Chris stepped into his truck and waved in acknowledgment. Chris worked the night-shift, and spent his days sleeping and taking classes in criminology; he didn't mind being able to come into work an hour later that night.

John watched him drive away, leaving him standing alone in the parking lot. Taking one last glance at the tree line, he turned towards the library's double glass doors, writing off his paranoia as nothing more than a lingering feeling from this morning's disaster.

He had never been so wrong.

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