It's a dark and rainy night. Gerard finds a rusty toolbox, which seems ordinary enough. But he is yet to experience the terrors and extraordinary magic that lies just inside. Originally, this wa...
Frank emerged from his bedchambers, feeling uneasy at best. Thunderstorms had always frightened him, and lead him to spend the evening shivering and silent. Attempting to receive some form of comfort, Frank had brought with him a thin blanket into the quaint living room. He sighed as he scoped out the house that he had lived in for four lonely years. All that was to be seen in this area was the grand, raven-black piano, the black-and-white television that was a bit on the small side, and the green velvet sofa, resting singly in front of the screen.
Taking care of each footprint he laid, Frank made his way through the perimeter of the living room. Not many items adorned the walls of his home. However, he was able to note the dried roses, three picture frames, and the candle-lit candelabra hanging from the ceiling. As he walked by the frames, Frank’s eye threatened a tear. The first two frames held photographs of his grandfather, smiling and alive. It was such a shame that that man had stolen his last breath. The remaining frame held a picture of Frank’s mother and father, now resting in Heaven as well. What a shame to happen to such young, full-of-life beings?
Thunder cracked once more and Frank let out a blood-curdling shriek. To his own horror, his left arm flew above his head and carelessly knocked one of the glass frames to the floor. As the dainty glass smashed to shards, lightning invaded the ground directly outside the window. Frank cursed aloud and knelt down on his knees to examine the mess that had been laid out before him. Attempting its repair would be fruitless, but this frame had belonged to his family: his family, so innocent, so fragile, and yet, so unfortunate.
Frank allowed a tear from his eye to escape and cascade towards the broken memories of each relative he had loved so dearly, and lost so tragically. No matter how desperately he tried to compose himself, he could not. Gathering his demolished heart and what teaspoon of courage he had left in his sorrowful soul, he brought himself to his feet.
He made his way across the wood-paneled flooring, taking care to hear the sound of each step on the way. Before long, he had found himself searching through the shelves of his basement with a simple, dull flashlight. The light provided barely any sight, if any at all, but Frank was thankful for even this. He frantically searched each shelf, looking for the old toolbox that he had never before used. However, the box was rusty and antique looking. It had sat upon the basement shelves even before Frank had moved into the house.
After only a few eerie minutes of searching, Frank had found the hiding place of the toolbox, and carried its cold, metal carcass up the stairs and back into the living room. He gingerly placed it on the cherry wood flooring and glided into the kitchen to fetch himself a beverage. Thunder crashed and spooked Frank, though he had attempted to calm himself with the familiar icy chill of water.
As he turned to walk back to the pile of precious, broken glass, Frank noticed something odd about the toolbox resting peacefully on the ground. The object had a bit of a violet glow to it, casting out a tiny shine of light. Intrigued, Frank grew closer to its suspicious colour. As he grew closer, the light intensified until it was blinding his eyes. He found himself to be shielding his eyes from the violent glare of indigo. Nevertheless, he was still pondering what could be inside the mysterious container. Allowing his thoughts to receive the best of him, Frank pulled on the lock.
To his own surprise, he found the lock to be open and in need of no key. Even more interested than ever, Frank pulled off the lock with eager haste and undid the latch. It was now that the box could be properly opened, and Frank did not hesitate to oblige.
Excitedly, yet cautiously, he lifted the freezing, metal lid of the toolbox, allowing the light to illuminate every wall of Frank’s bare home. If he did not know better, Frank might have mistaken it to be the daytime. Trying his best to see, he could make out a tiny silhouette standing atop the grape-shaded blaze. Afraid, Frank scooted back to the opposite end of the room to observe the situation.
The jet-black shadow soon turned into many random particles that were arranging and rearranging themselves at a rapid rate. The swirl of colours and shapes created a headache in Frank’s mind. He could not decipher all the whirling pieces placing and replacing themselves seemingly faster than humanly possible.
Before long, the particles began to take a certain shape: a human shape. The circular shape of a head was forming, followed by the neck and shoulders that spread out from the neck’s base. Perhaps it only looked human. Maybe a being of the supernatural was paying him a visit. He could only ponder the possibilities in his mind as he watched the pieces take their final shape.
The human-looking life was lowered from an unknown source slowly to the flooring. His chin was facing upwards towards the ceiling, not allowing Frank to view his pale, almost pure white face. Nevertheless, Frank gasped at the being’s features.
The male had the skin of a vampire. It had a cold, yet welcoming glow that intrigued Frank’s eyes. The figure was wearing a simple outfit, consisting of black jeans and a button-up shirt that matched the shade of the night. A white tie hung regally from his neck, complimenting the dark, tousled hair that almost reached his shoulders. Frank could not help but stare for a number of understandable reasons.
The man lowered his chin, almost unsurely, and revealed his magnificent eyes of chocolate and jade. He had the lips of a liar, but they were wrapped up in a bow of light. He wore a button nose and soft cheeks that blushed ever so slightly. Frank, despite the turmoil inside his head, reveled in his beauty and spectacular enchantment.
There he stood, the figure, looking onto Frank silently. Frank knew not whether to ask him of his name. After all, he was still attempting to put together the confusing and mysterious entry he had taken into his living room. However, it was undeniable that he was interested. This seemed to be from a science fiction novel and it was completely and utterly exciting. What was left for Frank to live for anyhow? A situation like this occurred once in once million years, maybe more. This was an opportunity that Frank would not let slip through his sweaty, unsure palms.
Mustering all the courage that Frank had left, which was close to none, he took a miniscule step towards the figure, hoping that he would stay. The rain echoed throughout the hollow home from the windowpanes. Frank felt a chill wash over him as if the water had broken through the ceiling and was water-falling over his back.
“Who are you,” he spoke, raspy and afraid.
The figure traced his gaze to the Converse-brand tennis shoes that he sported on his feet. He inhaled a single breath before turning and walking with hushed steps towards the wide window on the far wall of the room. Frank watched his guest’s every step with deep fascination. The man appeared to swiftly glide to the clear glass, perching himself on the window seat.
The guest shivered uncomfortably and drew his knees in to his stomach. Carefully, he wrapped his arms around his clothed legs, taking caution as he leisurely lowered his head onto them. Countless seconds passed as the man sat, appearing so broken and defeated. When he had composed himself properly, he lifted his head back up and wiped a shining tear from his snow-white façade.
“Gerard,” the figure whispered. He then cleared his throat and answered more defiantly, “My name is Gerard.”
It took Frank a minute to realize that his question had been replied to. He shook his head, attempting to clear it of unwanted thoughts. This proved to almost no avail. Deciding that it was only polite, he responded, “Frank.”
Gerard nodded, but in a way so small that the motion was unrecognizable. He sighed heavily and looked out into the dreary and chilly night. All that was to be seen was rain and darkness. The only light was emitting from the toolbox, which had dimmed a bit.
Frank walked three steps forward and abruptly stopped, gathering a breath. He looked upon Gerard’s body, huddled up in the window seat. He looked hopeless and damaged, as if he were a porcelain doll that had fallen to a ballroom floor. Hesitantly, but led by curiosity, he took two more steps towards Gerard.
Halting his footsteps, Frank firmly asked, “What are you?”
His guest lifted his head from the worn jeans that they had been resting on, and focused his eyes on Frank. The host wondered what Gerard could be doing. He looked as if he were searching for something: a sign? A spot of friendship hidden in the glowing cheekbones of Frank’s countenance? This man was a mystery that could not be cracked easily.
Gerard smoothly unwrapped his arms from his legs and slid the limbs off of their resting place. Finding balance, Gerard steadied himself on the hardwood and began to saunter towards Frank. When he had arrived, the guest locked eyes with his host, attempting to discover hospitality in its purest form. When he had found at least a glint of kindness, he came up with a reply.
“Human. What are you?”
Frank grew more and more perplexed with Gerard. He spoke this as if it were so obvious and customary, when only minutes ago the male had arrived in his sitting room via toolbox. Blinking a number of times, Frank promptly answered, “Human. But, you aren’t a ghost?”
“There are no such things as ghosts, only the remnants of elder nightmares.”
Frank took this answer and stored it in the front of his mind. “How did you get here?” he quizzed.
After witnessing Gerard flinch rather violently, Frank felt instant regret for asking such a personal item. However, he knew that he could not be blamed. He could not just ignore the fact that a handsome figure had arrived on such short and particular notice. But the guilt remained prominent as a crystal tear rolled down Gerard’s cheek.
“I’m sorry…” Frank began, unsure of what to do or say. The last thing on his mind was to frighten his new guest. It became rather lonely being alone all of the time.
The beautiful man held up a shaking hand, signaling it to be all right, despite his heartbroken look. Gerard slammed his eyes closed with intense speed and shook his head with a mighty blow. Wiping another tear, he settled and made his way towards the grand piano centered in the middle of the area. The velvet of the piano bench sank into Gerard as he took a seat.
“I…” he started, interrupted by the frustration of his past. “I came from a nightmare.”
Frank furrowed his eyebrows in both confusion and concern. Gerard’s body was shaking with violent shivers. “Let me… let me get you a glass of water.”
His guest only nodded and choked back more salty tears. He did not seem up to par for talking, and Frank most certainly did not blame him. It was not known what strange land, or perhaps parallel universe, Gerard came from, but if it were described as a ‘nightmare’, then it would definitely not be of the pleasant sort.
Frank hurried through the kitchen to retrieve Gerard’s water glass. He did not want to keep his recent guest waiting, and he was also highly interested in the story he was about to hear. It is quite amazing how quickly excitement can turn to carelessness. Frank discovered this as he tripped into the living room, sending the clear glass flying effortlessly through the air.
With a loud crash, the glass spread to pieces across the wood and spilled the liquid as well. The sound of the shattering material led to a scream given by Gerard. Frank’s head snapped up to look at his guest and observed that he was tightly pushing on either side of his ears. He appeared almost childish this way, but Frank ran to his side no matter and attempted to comfort him.
“I… I’m sorry,” Gerard choked out, obviously ashamed of his outburst.
“No, no. It was my fault,” Frank reassured.
With the debate settled, Gerard tried to recompose himself on the piano bench and ran a single hand through his jet-black hair. Next, he bit onto his lip and drew in a thick breath before attempting to speak.
“Where I came from, is not like it is here. It is a place full of dark magic hidden safely and securely behind a padlock and key. No matter how hard you try, though, you could never find it. It chooses its own victims, and chooses well,” Gerard murmured grimly. There was a hint of a distressed vacancy in his eyes that he was desperately trying to cover up.
When his guest did not continue, Frank brought it upon himself to select another question to prompt him. “How did you get there?”
Gerard spoke slowly and Frank took in every word. “It was twenty years ago on this date. I was home alone one night. I believe that my parents had gone to watch my brother play the violin in the school’s orchestra program. My brother was a very talented musician.”
“What happened to him?” Frank asked, not realizing the he had butted in.
“I don’t know,” Gerard recalled sadly. “The night was oddly enough like this one; black and rainy. I remember sitting at home on what my grandmother’s old chair. I always chose to sit there. It comforted me in the way that it smelled like her. There was a table lamp that I had switched on to read with. It felt secure, you know? I was painted with the illusion that she was still here with me. Of course, it was only an illusion, and those are not real, no matter how badly we want them to be.”
Frank nodded slowly and with melancholy remembrance of his own parents. If he could have just told them goodbye before they had left him so upsettingly. Instead of dwelling on this subject, Frank nodded to signal Gerard to continue. And he did.
“The night was quiet, almost kind. As I was arriving upon a new chapter, I heard a knock on my door. Assuming it was my parents who had forgotten their key, I went to open the passageway for them. However, as I approached my destination, I noticed that a peculiar shade of violet was erupting from the cracks in the old wood of the door. Interested but slightly afraid, I inched closer to the door, listening for anything that sounded suspicious. When I decided that it was safe, I opened the entrance. Immediately, the light illuminated my entire home, accompanied by an uncomfortable and eerie wind. Awestruck, I stood there, incapable of movement. I watched in horror as orange tentacles appeared out of what seemed like a vortex, and wrapped themselves around my body, squeezing me until I could not breathe. The tentacles pulled me in and gripped me. The last thing that I was able to see before I arrived in my Hell was my front door closing ever so slowly.”
Frank took in this information and almost did not believe it. He was not one for science fiction or ghost tales. But this seemed all too real. What more evidence did he need besides the proof that he had seen with his own eyes? Gerard was here, and was that not evidence enough?
Still placing puzzle pieces around in his mind, Frank watched as Gerard made his way over to the destroyed picture frame that still lay shattered and broken. Frank felt a punch in his heart as he recalled his regretful actions.
Gerard stood over the pile of now rubbish and snapped his fingers once. The pieces scattered around in the air and reassembled themselves in a timely manor. In a simple matter of seconds, the frame was reconstructed and perfectly built once more. A sort of magic lifted the photo and its home back to its place on the wall.
Frank was speechless, but managed to repeat, “What are you?”
Gerard replied with the same answer, “Human,” but with a twist. “But what have I become?”
The two grew silent. Each wondered about the last presented question. Gerard broke the quiet first with, “A monster? What are these hands capable now? What could these lips tell you? What could this mind conjure? That Hell has a way of changing people, Frank. Once you go in, you never come back. I could never tell you of all the things that I’ve seen. You could never know.”
“Tell me,” Frank wished aloud, stepping closer to Gerard before he was right in front of his guest’s face. Gently Frank lifted a hand to wipe away a newly formed tear from Gerard’s pale cheek.
“I can’t,” Gerard said almost inaudibly and with a hoarse throat. “I’ve… seen people die. I’ve seen them suffer. I’ve felt their pain in the most literal sense that you could ever imagine and then some. I could never describe the pain that I’ve been through, the horrors that I have witnessed and been through. I was seven years old! They took me when I was only a child! I had to kill people, Frank! And I don’t even know if they were real! I don’t know if any of this really existed!” Gerard was shaking harder with each word. He was falling apart and fell to his knees on the floor, holding his head between his knees.
“I could barely multiply or divide and they had me holding weapons and watching people die and there was nothing that I could do about it. I couldn’t save them. It was like I was drowning. I never became accustomed to anything because each day would bring a new terror that I could have never previously imagine, no matter how scarring yesterday’s sights were. I can’t ever sleep because they haunt me everywhere I go; everywhere I turn. The thoughts twist around in my mind and drive me insane. The worst part was that I was alone. I’m crazy. I’m psychotic. I’m mental. My thoughts eat me alive every second of every day. I can’t escape, and they know that. I’ll never escape.”
By this time, Gerard was a mess on the floor. He was huddled up in a ball and housing rivers of flowing saltwater tears leave his eyes. They were glossy and bloodshot, and everything in between. Frank kneeled down on one knee to look into his distraught guest’s eyes.
“The hardest part… is the awful things that I’ve seen,” Gerard whispered before he grabbed on the Frank’s shirt for dear life and sobbed heavily into the material.
“Shh, I’m here,” Frank cooed, even though he knew that there was nothing he could ever do to save this poor man.
“But I can’t even be sure if you are real!” Gerard yelled between sobs.
“Here, come here,” Frank took Gerard’s hand in his and guided it towards his chest. “Do you feel that? That is my heart. It’s beating. I’m alive. I am real. I promise.”
Gerard let go of Frank’s shirt and brought himself to his feet. He started towards the toolbox and gazed into its purple glow. He smiled, but not in a pleasant way. He looked… destroyed.
“You’ve been so kind to me, Frank. Thank-you. I will never forget you when I go,” Gerard promised.
“What-what are you talking about?” Frank stuttered, trying to make sense of the conversation.
“I can’t stay here, Frank. It’s not just going to have twenty years and let me go. It’s only a matter of minutes before the tentacles arrive out of this indigo glow and pull me back inside for the rest of eternity. I told you, I can never escape.”
“But, but you can’t go!” Frank wailed, he being the one in tears now. “I won’t let you!”
“There isn’t anything you can do. It’s fate.”
“But why you?!” Frank yelled, desperate.
“Hell preys on those who are different.”
Frank, unsatisfied with destiny, exclaimed, “But you don’t deserve this, Gerard!”
“Let me go, Frank” Gerard whispered slowly.
“No! I’m coming with you!”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You don’t come out of there alive, whether you think I can still bleed or not.” Gerard scolded.
“I don’t care. You aren’t going back alone. I won’t let you.” Frank declared finally.
He grasped Gerard’s hand firmly in his own and met his eyes. Either of their pairs was glossy and threatening buckets of tears, but shined with dedication and determination. Even the thunder did not break their contact.
Within this moment, the vibrant, amber tentacles sprouted from the toolbox and waved themselves around in the air. The flamboyant limbs were there to pull them back into the nightmares that had only just been escaped. They would be pulled into a world of treachery and tyranny and would never leave again. This was a world of horrors, inescapable and unavoidable, and they were entering it at will.
As the tentacles wrapped themselves around Frank and Gerard’s fragile bodies, the room seemed to dim itself to an uncomfortable blackness. The only thing left to remind them of the world was the crashing lightning that flashed in the darkness and the booming thunder that sounded above their fears.
The men were lifted up against their own will and pulled deeper and deeper into the small, rusty toolbox. The last thing that was heard before the blackness took over was the sound of Gerard’s voice speaking aloud and with shaking empowerment, “I won’t go down by myself, but I’ll go down with my friends.”