Memories are real shit.
When they’re all you’ve got going for you. All you’ve got to pin-point, to connect the dots to, to make sense of something in the present. When memories are the only thing you have standing on your side of a losing battle. Memories are fallible. It just is what it is. But they are all I have.
That Fourth of July was when everything changed.
But you know that already. It came back. Deacon’s dad killed himself and by the end of that summer a hefty handful of kids at the beach that day were either dead or in jail. It was no coincidence. It was shocking, sure, but was it actually surprising? No. But could it all be tied back to It? Could any one person–aside from myself–look at that day and say, ‘yah know what? I think there was some real fucking evil force at play there.’
Not any one person, no. But there was one person. One person who I had never expected to be the person, the only other living soul who knew, who saw, who was there when it happened. He strode up beside me and handed me a cold beer, “who the fuck was that?” he asked as if we were best friends, as if talking to one another were a regular occurrence. “That kid?” I responded, my voice felt thin and reedy.
“No. That fucking dude.”
I heard myself swallow, like a key turning in my throat. You saw him? Was what I tried to ask, but couldn’t. A flood of vindication followed by the horror of that vindication rendered me frozen. “Dude.” He said, now addressing me, as he grabbed my shoulders. The sunlight was reflecting off his eyes like water, “It’s happening again, isn’t it?”.
I cleared my throat.
“Yeah. I remember.” He said, before I had a chance to open my cemented mouth, “course I fucking remember.” He looked down the beach, scanning the faces, looking for him again. Him. He could be anyone. Anywhere. “I’m a go get my Pa.” My stomach dropped, “Deacon… Your old man–” I began.
Thunder suddenly clapped overhead.
We both looked to the crystal blue sky, not a cloud in sight. That unbearable chill rushed down my spine again. Then the whistling started, blotting out all other sound. Deacon’s hand gripped my wrist in a protective action meant to cover his deep terror. He swallowed over and over, as if something was caught in his throat.
The whistling grew louder.
I felt Deacon pulling me away. “no.” I whispered, “that’s what It wants.” His fingers dug into my tendons, but I couldn’t feel the pain. I was rapt by what I saw coming down the beach–not what was coming–but what was happening. People were lifted thirty-forty-fifty feet off the ground as if an invisible wave were carrying them, then thrown to the ground with such force we could hear their skulls popping as they hit the hard sand.
“Albany!” Deacon shrieked.
The wave grew closer, shattering ever body in its wake. “It’s not real, it’s not real. It’s not happening. This isn’t happening.” The wave of humans rose around us, and I felt Deacon pull away. I swung around and wrapped my arms around his body, “wait.” I closed my eyes as the helpless bodies popped and cracked around us.
I could feel my heart in my throat.
My heart felt like it was made out of static. I could feel Deacon’s heart rapping on my forehead too. It’s not real. I reminded myself. “Open your eyes.” I heard myself say. When I did the beach was back to normal and the soundtrack of people celebrating, laughing and playing had replaced the whistling.
“Jesus. H. Christ.” Deacon said, breathless.
We were silent for a moment, catching our breath. “What happened?” He shook his head, “it was the same as the–as before–like, what? A mirage or some shit?” He asked, not looking at me. Or some shit, I thought. “I’m going to get my Pa.” He finished.
He stopped and looked back at me. “What?”