I Didn’t Have The Heart To Tell Him.
How could I? Who would have the heart to tell someone that their old man was dead. That you were the person who found him and OH–You forgot to mention that to begin with. I mean it’s almost understandable, considering everything surrounding the situation. But still, it was his old man–his Pa.
“What, Albany? What?”
His voice now taking on the reedy quality I had sensed in my own. Fuck me. Fuck! I didn’t want to have to do it, like I said, I didn’t have the Goddamn heart. But, still. Fuck–and pardon my French, but fuck–someone had to. “Listen,” I said, trying to buy myself time, but my head was swimming. I was swimming–more like drowning–with everything that was going on.
“Listen.” I repeated.
His face was every bit impatient as it should be; spit it out, it screamed, there’s a fucking demon or some shit after us, it screamed. “I–” Fuck a duck. “Your old man is–” I blew a ghastly breath of hot air out of my mouth. “He’s de–he’s gone, Deacon. Your old man is gone.” I swallowed again, waiting for his reaction. Waiting for him to tell me I was wrong, to scream to the heavens, to laugh at the outlandishness of my statement, to holler or cry or slap me, even.
Instead, he stared.
He just stared right through me, as if I were a window looking out on a horrific storm. “Are you okay?” I asked, gently, still waiting for the fall-out. He blinked slowly, I could hear his lips part, but no sound followed. “Deacon?” I continued. Then he said something, that still sticks with me, something that has been crawling its way into those violent seconds before I fall asleep every night. Something that, to this day, I still don’t understand.
“I forgot.” He said.
I forgot. He forgot? He forgot what? He forgot what he was about to say? He forgot to take the toast out of the toaster? He forgot to wipe his fucking ass? He forgot what? That his old man was dead? I wanted to ask him, I needed to ask him, but I couldn’t because that’s when the next bad thing happened.
The worst thing yet.
It was so loud, my initial thought was that it was coming from inside my head. My second thought was that it was another hallucination, but within seconds I knew it wasn’t. I knew it was real. It felt different, but not too different, not different enough for me to think it was unrelated. Of course it was related. All the bad things circle back to It.
The screams started next.
Deacon grabbed my arm and instead of running away from them, like everyone else seemed to be, he charged towards them. With me in tow. I had no idea what had happened at first, and from an outside perspective anyone would have thought it was just fireworks gone wrong, but the closer we got to the them, the clearer it was. It wasn’t fireworks that set them on fire. Not even close.