The Wake of Night by Caroline Lewis

“I-I can’t get out!” Fagan tried to pull his arm out from between the seat and the car door.

“Don’t move!” Mason grasped his little brother’s other arm, “Just lie still. Help’s coming.”

The oncoming traffic sounded their horns; their headlights lighting up the cracked windshield.

Fagan squeezed his eyes shut; tears dribbled off his chin. His head pounded, feeling as if someone were grinding a rock into his skull.

God Please! Please! I don’t want to die! his breaths came in heavy gulps.

Through his lids, Fagan saw a faint burst of light. Wailing sirens shrouded his ears, reminding him of his digital alarm clock at home.

I must be dreaming! Wake up! Wake up! He thought as he slipped into oblivion.

***

“Ahh,” Fagan shifted under the sheets.

His eyes cracked open. The penetrating light forced him to shut them again. Strings of glowing color stained the inside of his eyelids. He ached everywhere.

“Wheer amm I?” his words came out blended and slurred.

he tried to rise from the bed, eyes still screwed shut; his arm felt weighted down. “ge me outa heer!”

Someone pressed his shoulder back down into the mattress.

“Lemme go! Lemme go!”

“Ahh!” His head pounded forcing him to yield to the person’s touch.

“Calm down. No one’s gonna hurt you!” a low, gentle voice commanded him; the hand on Fagan’s shoulder let up.

“Fagan, it’s okay!” A softer hand stroked his forearm.

“Mom?” his muscles relaxed.

“It’s me! There you go. Just relax.” Mrs. Keleigh continued to brush his arm with her fingertips, “Now how’s your head feeling?”

“Ahh!” Fagan clenched his teeth while moisture gathered under his eyes.

He heard someone pacing the room, shoes clicking on the synthetic, tiled surface.

“He’s definitely concussed. His right arm’s fractured, a lot of bruising. Nothing permanent,” the pacing stopped, “Your son’s lucky, Mrs. Keleigh.”

“And we thank the Lord for that.”

Fagan’s head began to feel fuzzy. He felt himself slip into darkness as the rest of the conversation became inaudible.

***

“How’s my little bro?” Mason sat up straighter, the couch springs squeaking beneath him. Mrs. Keleigh came in from the kitchen with a mug of steaming coffee in her hands.

“He’s doing as well as can do.” She gave him a closed lipped smile, “he’s in bed right now. He wasn’t able to fall asleep last night in that uncomfortable hospital setting.”

Mason bit his lip. His green eyes darted around the room.

“I’m so sorry! I just couldn’t control the wheel,” his voice grew rich with grief, “I couldn’t control it!”

“It’s okay!” She sat down next to him.

“It’s my fault!”

He pulled away, tears leaking down his cheeks.

“I was so afraid!” He shuddered, “Seeing him all bloody and bruised.”

His mouth worked forming the letters he wanted to say, “I-I just can’t stop thinking of Dad!”

“No, no, no, we can’t think of that right now!” She pushed a light brown tendril of hair off his forehead, “Everything’s gonna be okay!” Her voice broke.

“I just can’t stop thinking that Fagan could have been dead too! He could ha-”

“He didn’t die!” Tears pooled in Mrs. Keleigh’s eyes, “He didn’t… die!”

Mason’s eyes flicked nervously around the room.

Mrs. Keleigh sniffed and arose, “I need to go check on him.”

“Mom,” He stiffly pulled himself off the couch, “I love you.”

“I love you too,” tears shimmered in her blue eyes, “Goodnight.”

One Month later

***

Morning’s light probed through the window, scattering the darkness of night away. Crisp autumn air wafted in, tousling the curtains that fluttered like the wings of a wren. The sounds of nature pleasing to the ear, rang out. Trees whispered to their neighbors and embraced each other with their many boughs. Birds of every kind called to their mates, their angelical warbling drifting up to the ornate ceilings of heaven’s throne room, their speech only audible to their own kin and to their creator.

Fagan bounded down the stairs eagerly awaiting his breakfast.

“Good morning!” Mrs. Keleigh set a platter of scrambled eggs in front of him, “It’s good to see that sparkle in your eyes again!”

“I’ve gotten this left-hand thing down, don’t you think?” he grinned as he picked up his fork.

She smiled and added more to his plate.

“Mom? Can I go see what Mr. Bryant’s working on?” Fagan asked through bites of egg, “I saw him go into his outbuilding.”

“How do you know he’s going to work on something?”

“Ohh, I just know!” He shoved the last of his meal into his mouth, eyes twinkling mischievously.

“All right! as long as you shut his gate! He didn’t appreciate you letting Mixie out last time!”

“Okay!” he grabbed his jacket.

“Here!” Mrs. Keleigh pulled his cast arm through his sleeve, “now off you go!”

Fagan raced out the door not bothering to shut it.

As he neared the shed, he heard the grumbles and grunts that normally accompanied Mr. Bryant wherever he went.

“What on earth? That axle’s done n’ gone broke in half!” old Mr. Bryant said out from under the car.

“Whatcha doing with Mason’s car?” Fagan wiggled his way down next to him.

“Try’in to fix it up a bit,” Mr. Bryant mumbled.

“My lands! Would ya look at that!” He picked up the two ends and tried to piece them back together.

Something bright protruded from one of the pieces.

“There’s something in there!” Fagan propped himself on his bound arm and pinched the white corner of what appeared to be a piece of paper

He pulled it out.

He got to his feet and unfolded it. His eyes darted back and forth as he hastily read the lines.

In her tender voice she summons her subjects to rise. She reaches out over the earth with her great tendrils of radiance and kisses each head that’s bowed before her. Each creature, rock, and tree will sing. For the night is banished and light has risen. Perfect rule never remains forever. She rises again and again in vain. For the wake of the night is only gone until evening has come upon the world again.

“Wow! I gotta show this to Mason!” Fagan raced out the door, leaving poor old Mr. Bryant in a fog of confusion.

***

“This makes no sense!” Mason shoved his hand into his hair, “Wha- why in the world was this forced up my axle?”

He smoothed out the creases in the paper and scanned it again.

“Wait hold up, there’s an address on the back!” Fagan and Mrs. Keleigh crowded around his shoulders.

6892 Bellovine Ave. Sherill, New York 13461

“That’s the address for Dad’s old business!” Mason held the paper closer to his face.

“I’m calling the cops!” Mrs. Keleigh grabbed the phone off its base and walked out of the room for some privacy.

“Was the car flipped on purpose?” Fagan looked to his older brother, his eyes as wide as dinner platters.

A searing hot coal dropped into Mason’s stomach.

 There’s a perfectly normal reason for this. One of the welders accidently dropped his silly poem in the axle, which just snapped by chance, and was also working for Dad at the time? Well that’s a sure bet. Mason forced a smile upon his face. I can’t let him see I’m worried.

His smile faltered as another thought bombarded his mind and almost physically knocked him off his feet.

No! Dad’s accident can’t be connected! He didn’t want to believe it, but something in him pressed harder. Well, they both involved car crashes.

***

Lightning licked the dark sky like the tongue of a viper. Drops of rain beat against the southside windows, leaving their splattered bodies strewn about the windows. More drops pounded on the windows, each finding a grave nestled amongst their colleagues. The low hum of thunder rippled like a wave in the ocean that eventually crashed onto the seashore.

Fagan and Mrs. Keleigh stood up, tense as puppet strings, as Mason walked into the Kitchen. A dark shadow shrouded his face.

Mrs. Keleigh cleared her throat, “Well, what’d they find?” her hands trembled as she grabbed the table to steady herself.

A bright flash blinded their eyes.

“It was everything we feared,” The words tumbled out of Mason’s mouth, “the Axle was broken on purpose. The address on the paper, no one’s used that building for fifteen years. They can’t make any sense of that poem!”

Thunder rumbled, and the phone rang.

“Well what’s to be done about it?” She cut in.

“They said we- forgive me for saying this in front of Fagan, but I think someone’s trying to kill us!”

The lights flickered off, leaving the Keleighs in a stumbling darkness.

Mrs. Keleigh bit her lip as her eyes flipped between the two dark figures of her sons

The phone’s ringing grew silent.

A loud click let them know that the message machine was running.

All grew tense as static emitted from the phone. A man’s husky, monotone voice which seemed to conduct the very essence of suspenseful silence, filled the room.

“The day has no place in the night. She may try to overcome the shadows with her noble vessels of brilliance. Burn with fiery persistence they may. That the night will have its turn to govern and it will govern until its shadowy tentacles are dissolved, but only for a while.”

“Father, Jesus help us!” Mrs. Keleigh sobbed as she threw her arms around Fagan who looked as if in a trance of stupor, “Come my sons. We need to have a word of prayer.”

They huddled into a circle, mumbling words that only the Holy Spirit could decipher.

A shadowy figure emerged from the storm. He plastered his face and hands to the sliding door. His eyes, large and wild swept across the room, often drifting back to the little circle in the center of the room.

Fagan turned around and screamed as those seeking eyes honed in on him. Mason and Mrs. Keleigh inhaled sharply and stood, dragging Fagan up with them. To their horror the man pulled out a crowbar from his pant leg and began to drive it into the glass. Each thrust sent an arrow through their hearts.

For a moment they all stood, sheathed in a layer of solid fear. Mrs. Keleigh broke free and ran into the sitting room to retrieve the phone.

Her sudden movement aroused Mason.

“Fagan, move!” he said, trying to unplant his brother’s feet.

He jerked Fagan’s good arm and led him behind the counter. Mrs. Keleigh joined them, phone still in hand.

Their hearts were engulfed with dread as the door shattered and glass crystals showered the floor.

The man stepped in. The crowbar he clasped in his hand clattered to the floor, his eyes wondering insanely about the room, his breathing like that of a wild beast.

The sounds that enveloped the room warped together to create a nightmarish melody that no one could ever forget, Mrs. Keleigh screaming into the phone for help, the small voice on the other side of the line urging them to be calm, the mad man’s breathing, the rain, the wind, the thunder… their own hearts hammering in their ears.

The man wondered about the room for a while, sucking his saliva through his teeth, and his hands working into a fist. Rainwater dripped off the tips of his wild, gray hair and the tip of his nose.

He pivoted and glared right into Mason’s eyes.

Mason dove his hand into the drawer behind him, slicing his fingertips on the edges of sharp metal. He grasped the handle of the biggest knife and pulled it out.

As the man advanced toward him, he scrambled out of the floor and almost fell back on his brother and mother, who were cowering on the floor behind him. Mason held the knife in front of him like it was some sort of magical device.

“Why! Why my dad’s work address and the poems and the car! To what purpose!” Mason’s voice wavered, gradually getting higher until it was a shriek.

“Ah! Confusion is the incubator for fear!” The man said in the same husky voice that was heard over the phone; a smile that seemed to summon death crept upon his face, “Your father was arrogant!” He spat, “too proud to stoop down and help men with the likes of me. He turned me away without a job!” He sucked air in through his teeth, “So you know what I did about it? I killed him!”

“What?” Mason’s hands shook violently, and he dropped the knife, which landed at the foot of the man.

The man sneered and grabbed the handle, looking it over and testing it in his hand.

Then, like a raving animal, he threw the knife behind him and a roar erupted from his throat.

“I will kill you with my bare hands!” the man raised his fist, about to crash them down above Mason’s head, when they all heard a metallic clang.

The life suddenly drained from the man’s face as he toppled into the floor, sending the shattered glass in every which direction. Where the man once stood, there, with crowbar over his shoulder, was Mr. Bryant.

“My lands! I came ta hook up the Generator and look what I found!” Mr. Bryant set the crowbar down and scanned each of their faces.

Mason’s eyes were alight with horror, “He- he killed Dad!” tears gathered in his eyes and he didn’t bother to wipe them away.

“Ohh,” Mr. Bryant’s saw that Fagan and Mrs. Keleigh had tears in their eyes as well, “W-well he’s gone now! That’d be sure encouraging.” He never was one to be able to come up with a comforting word on the spot.

“It doesn’t matter a bit to me.” Mason whispered as the three Keleighs gathered together in a family embrace.

Blue and red flashes lit up the room.

“Well thank the Lord I fixed myself to come here,” Mr. Bryant said quietly, smiling faintly, “Yall’d been done in by now.”

They all closed their thoughts to being “done in”.  They had had enough to agonize over at that moment.

The sound of silence tinkled in their ears like distant fairy bells. The rain had slackened until it was only a drizzle, and no longer could they hear the heavy breathing of the man.

The quiet then shattered as policemen burst through the front door and flooded in.

***

A merry flame popped in the hearth, sending glowing sparks into the shaft above. Mr. Bryant sat in his chair, slippered feet propped upon the ottoman. He surveyed through the frosted window, two boys playing in the knee-deep snow, shoving chunks of powder into each other’s faces. A snowman laying in ruins behind them.

“Well if that don’t beat all!” Mr. Bryant cackled, “Life will go on!”

He shuffled through the newspapers that had accumulated from the last few months and pulled out one near the bottom of the stack.

“Lunatic Attempts to Murder the Family of his Previous Victim” He read aloud.

He looked out the window again in time to see them wallowing in the snow, racing to reach the door.

“Aye, they’re good kids. Hai’nt met none better.” The article he began to reread was forgotten.

Mr. Bryant continued to watch as the sun, in its rightful place, rode upon the feathery wisps of clouds, showering joy and luminescence on the thick glittering carpet below.