The Darkness has claimed its home in the forest around Whitecreek. A God in its shadow awaits a prophetic young hero, Cyrus Harbringer. Brought into this world through tragedy and death Cyrus fears no God and seeks revenge for the death of his mother, but he won't do this alone. Luke Blackstone and Taylor White travel with Cyrus to the heart of the blackness to face the evil within.
I hate talking about this day. It forces my darkest and coldest memories to come screaming back into my life. I wish I didn’t hear her screams anymore. I wish I could tell you how hard I’ve tried to run away from them or how many times I’ve tried to wrap my head around all of this. I guess I should start from the beginning, but know that once you’ve read my story I can’t control anything that happens to you.
I was only 11 when it happened. I was playing with my friend Luke in the front yard. We were playing “kill the carrier”. We’d run at each other screaming as loud as we could and I would somehow always end up with the ball and...well, I’d get killed. Luke was much bigger and stronger than I was. He grew so much faster than all of the other kids in our town. He towered over me. Even then, he was never as quick on his feet as I was. He had lost his mother when he was just a baby and lived with his Dad down the road. I never see much of him and neither does Luke. No one is truly sure what happened regarding his Mother. What we did know is that his Father hadn’t been the same since.
My head smacked the ground hard as Luke speared me to the dirt. The wind was knocked out of my lungs, but I managed to play it off like I was okay. I lay there next to Luke in the soft grass staring at the cloudless blue sky with a grin on my face. Luke always found it fun to point out clouds and explain what he thought they looked like. He’d do this for at least twenty minutes every time. Thankfully, today there were no such clouds. Instead, he resorted to asking questions about my Mom and the always popular question “Where’s your Dad?”. I’d never been able to answer questions about him because my Mother never told me despite how many times I had asked. Eventually he asked a question I could answer.
“Where is your Mom anyway?” Luke asked, somewhat puzzled.
“Ah, I don’t care” I replied as I laid there, my eyes fixated on the sky.
Luke popped up and started walking towards my front door. I figured it was time to go. I ran past him as I punched him in the arm and yelled “Race ya!”. Luke almost flattened me after I had reached the door just a second before him. I turned the shiny brass knob and walked into our living room. My Dad had built this house with his own hands. The living room, like most of the house, had high ceilings and enormous windows. The best part about the living room was this leather couch we had found garbage picking one day. Surprisingly enough, it was nearly flawless minus the small hole under the middle cushion. I don’t think I’ve found a more comfortable piece of furniture to this day. God, do I miss that thing.
I looked around and couldn’t find any sign of Mom.
“Mom?” It came out a little louder than expected as it echoed through the house. My eyes followed the bouncing sound from the kitchen to the dining room and back behind me over the second floor landing.
“Mo-” I was cut off as I heard her scream in the distance. My heart fell hard as my adrenaline kicked in. This was no angry scream or anything playful. This was the type of scream that sends shivers through your spine and shots of energy to your arms and legs. I knew something was wrong. I exchanged a frantic look with Luke and took off through the house and out the back door. I could barely feel my legs propelling me through the tall grass. I’ve never run that fast in my life. My eyes finally met the tree line of the forest behind our house. My mother’s voice flashed through my mind.
Don’t you EVER go back there Cyrus. Please...please promise me you won’t?
I always listened to her. I always did what she asked; of course I promised her. I never set foot past that tree line. I would stand in the grass and watch her as she picked berries for our dinner, but I would never follow her in. I had always felt like the forest was forever deep and darker than darkness itself, darker than anything I could ever imagine. There was something in those trees that sparked a fear in me that I couldn’t begin to comprehend at such a young age. The darkness within it seemed to swell and recede if you looked at it for too long as if it was breathing, reaching and trying to pull you in.
Another scream. I tried to steel myself for whatever I would see. I finally met the edge of the forest with Luke right behind me. I screamed for her as loud as I could, but my voice seemed to die in the thick of the woods.
There! I saw her running East through the forest. I immediately took off, digging my feet into the firm ground as I ran. As I swiftly moved across the forest floor I could feel tree branches whiz by my face. “I’m so close” I thought. My body felt lighter, I felt like a feather being blown through the trees. Maybe another 30 or 40 yards before I had her within arms reach. As I ran, pumping my arms and legs as fast as they would go, my eyes darted around the forest looking for what made her scream. Far to the left is where I saw them. Six hooded figures had materialized in the forest, surrounding my Mother. I stopped dead as if I had hit a stone wall. My head flung against it and left me staggering. My eyes felt as if they were spinning, but I looked ahead of me to see nothing but thin air. I could feel a strong force that prevented me from getting any closer. A rush of blood in and out of my head caught me off guard as I stumbled backwards again. I regained my vision and balance and I heard Luke come to a stop behind me. I could only watch as two of the figures forced my Mother to her knees as another approached her slowly. She screamed again, this time louder than before. The figure in front of her waved his hand left to right in front of his chest and my Mother gasped as if she had been hit in the gut. The world around me grew silent. No birds, no leaves crinkling; nothing. I couldn’t even hear myself breathe. My mind had been wiped blank and I felt cold…helpless. Slowly, the hooded figure approached her. They were grander in stature than any man I had even seen. Their black robes draped over their bodies like a dark shadow in the dead of the night. No different physically than any other man other then their massive size. I could see her body strain like she was screaming, but nothing came out. My ears rang; a piercing sound that almost hurt. The figure’s head tilted upward so I could see his eyes. Lightning-blue and piercing. He stared at me as he put my Mother’s head between his hands and twisted her head violently. It turned nearly 180 degrees. His eyes still locked with mine, he took one step back and all six of them faded just as quickly as they appeared.
The force in front of me had vanished and I was free to move. I could hear again, but the cold remained chilling my body to the core. I sprinted towards her body on the forest floor. I slid to my knees and nearly fell as I cradled her in my arms. My tears were flowing down my cheeks, searing through the sweat. Luke walked up behind me and sat down, too shocked to react. He was silent. I sat there with her in my arms for hours, never once did I loosen my grip. I felt fear and anger, but the cold was the worst. I looked down at her. Her deep green eyes had lost their light. Her dark hair lay perfectly still on her shoulders. A cold mix of emotion began to flow over me. I became a fragment of myself; a shattered shell. I felt like I just lost a part of me. The forest remained dark and still. Even more still than it had been before if that was even possible, then again I didn’t know what reality was anymore.
It wasn’t until several hours later that Luke had gone to get my uncle David. The days that followed were a blur. Uncle David prying me from my mother’s body. The White Creek police had questioned me and I vaguely explained though it pained me. I knew they wouldn’t believe me. All I knew was Luke had seen what I had seen. He was the only one who knew. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t sleep. I could only exist. At the time that was all I could bear.
At the funeral, several of my Mother’s dearest friends and what remained of my family mourned, but no one felt what I had. I remember seeing a man I did not yet know at the service. He stood quietly and kept looking over at me throughout the whole process. I figured he knew my Mother and was matching a face to my name.
We stood silently as her casket was lowered into the grave. Every inch farther she was away from me, the colder I felt. Both my Uncle David and Luke tried to get me to come to the car afterward, but I refused. I stayed by her grave alone. Uncle David told me he’d wait for me whenever I was ready. I didn’t look at him, but nodded. He understood and walked away. Aunt Rose left with him. I could feel her look at me with hopeful eyes, but I couldn’t bear to look at her. As their footsteps trailed out of earshot I took a deep breath and relaxed. I dropped to my knees on the grass. I sat there slowly drifting away trying to remember her smile. I cringed and shook my head as I found it difficult to find her in my memories. All I could see were those hooded figures cast in the shadow with their blue eyes burning through the darkness and into my mind. I tried to open my eyes, but I couldn’t. I felt as if I was being held down. One of the figures spoke to me, though his mouth made no such movement. I could only hear it in my mind. Tearing through my thoughts and dominating my consciousness.
You didn’t save her, Cyrus. You’re worthless. She died because of you!
This was the deepest, most distorted and mutilated voice I had ever heard.
I snapped up with a scream as I pulled myself backward on my elbows kicking my legs trying to catch my breath. I felt a grip release from my neck, though I could see nothing there. A rush of air entered my lungs as I tried to calm myself down. I frantically searched the area around me and saw my uncle was much farther away than I thought he would be by now. I tried to clear my head. I buried whatever had just happened because it wouldn’t matter if anybody knew. It wouldn’t matter if anyone but Luke knew.
After what seemed like a forever-long car ride home, I was finally shown to my room as my Aunt and Uncle told me goodnight and shut the door I quickly fell asleep. They had tried to get me to talk about it and do something “fun”, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do much of anything let alone socialize. All I could do was lay in my bed and pray for some shut-eye. I know they mean the best for me, but I was just too fragile at the time. I had so many dreams that night, but only of my Mother. I dreamt of a time when I was much younger. I was about 9 just sitting in the living room watching my favorite TV show as my mother talked to David. I never paid attention to her conversations with my uncle, but now for some reason I could hear her as if I were standing next to her.
“No, David I’m not kidding, he has to be” she said in a strong whisper.
“You can’t honestly believe that, Lorin. You know that can’t be possible...not as long as you’re here” David seemed worried as he said that last part, looking away from my mother and down at his drink.
“No, no. I guess you’re right. I just thought...well I don’t know. He’s just shown such promise in the tests. He’s shown me everything and it just lines up too well.” My mother said as she looked over at me and smiled. I smiled back. I always loved her smile.
The world around me started to dissolve as my dream shifted. This time I was watching myself. I looked about the same age, maybe a little older. I stood behind a thick white line made in the grass by a can of spray paint. The aluminum can lay past the line in the grass. I watched as I took off from the line hurdling obstacles, scaling small walls, and covering massive distance at insane speeds. Was I really moving that quickly? It never felt like it. Of course now I knew what my mother had meant when she mentioned the “tests”. These were rigorous tests that pushed my body to and over its limit every day. 8am to 2pm everyday just…training. I never knew what for, but I never questioned my Mother. Why didn’t this seem odd to me as a child? I vaguely remember that these tests started as soon as I was able to do them. I never understood how seriously my Mother took these tests and 6 years later I’m still not sure why they even existed. I mean, I was just a kid what kind of life am I being prepared for?
Luke went through these tests too of course. His father trained him when he could which ultimately made it much harder for Luke to keep up. I was always the more agile, faster one. Luke always had me beaten fairly in any sort of test that involved tremendous strength. Whether it was javelin or splitting wood, he always beat me. The dream continued as I witnessed myself complete these courses in record time. But my attention was not on me, rather on my Mother. I already missed her so much. I watched as she picked me up and hugged me, congratulating me over and over. I made her so proud and I hadn’t even realized until now. The crows feet on the sides of her eyes, the laugh lines by her mouth. She was an angel.
I wish I could be with her now, just to hug her one more time. As she set me down I looked around my dream world as it suddenly felt different. I could see the forest in the distance. It seemed to be growing; swelling almost. The trees seemed to sway in unnatural ways. The vision of my Mother and I didn’t notice. They continued on as normal. They began to walk toward my point of view, smiling, laughing. Violently the forest erupted into a plume of blackness as it hurled toward my mother and I. I was screaming and screaming but the images of my mother and I didn’t budge. I was helpless...again. The blackness swarmed over both of them as the images swept away into the enormous cloud. They… I was gone. The grass and tress were now still. Silent. I stood there, rooted to the ground as the darkness hesitated for a moment before it swallowed me as well. It halted like it had seen me in the dream. Did it I know I was there? I woke quickly in a sweat with the screams of my Mother fading in my ears. I took a deep breath and laid back down. ‘Hopefully I’ll dream of you again’ I thought. Little did I know how that alone would greatly help me. I turned over in bed and pulled the covers to my face as I drifted off once more.