A New Friend for Darius {Part 1 of 4}

Crypts & Cannibals: A Collection of Short Horror Stories

A New Friend for Darius {Part 1 of 4}

"Do you have any questions about your son's prescriptions for Chlorpromazine or Prozac?" asked the pharmacist.

"No, his psychiatrist explained to me what I needed to know," the well-dressed woman replied without even a glance at the teenager by her side, "Theodore will take them as prescribed."

Theodore looked at his mother as she paid for the drugs. He knew the pills wouldn't make any difference. Darius wasn't in his imagination.

The drive home was even duller than the appointment with the head shrink.

"I don't want to take those drugs," stated the teen, as much to himself as to the woman driving the overpriced station wagon with the ostentatious hood ornament.

"Doesn't matter, you need them," rebuked Mother, "You're a teenager now, and it's past time to be done with imaginary friends."

"I don't have imaginary friends. Darius is real."

"That's enough of this conversation. If you can't be rational, at least be quiet."

Theodore watched as the mature oak and maple trees zipped past in a blur, partially obscuring the stone and timber houses set behind iron fences in his neighborhood. He wondered how many of the other homes contained someone like Darius hiding in their dark spaces.

Mother punched the code into the keypad, and the iron gate creaked loudly on its hinges as their vehicle idled in the long driveway. Theodore sighed knowing that it was nothing more than false security for a home filled with insecurity and danger. She parked the car on the curved path sweeping its way to the front door. Theodore opened the car's backdoor and stepped into the dreary mist that clung damply to everything that it touched.

"I'll be back before bedtime," his mother said expecting and receiving no response, "take one of each of those pills when you get inside." She drove away, leaving Theodore shivering by himself at the front door.

While adults always proclaimed their admiration whenever they first stepped into the house, Theodore didn't share their feelings about the structure. It was big and old with its own dark, lonely personality. The stairs creaked, even without someone stepping on them. The antique paintings watched everything with eyes devoid of emotion. Cold air brushed across your face and slid down your shirt, even while standing in front of the great room's gigantic, roaring fireplace.

Theodore closed the heavy oak door aggressively behind himself, and the ornate brass knocker clanked against its strike plate outside.

"I'm home," he shouted into the dimly light entryway, knowing that he was the only living soul in the house. The silence screamed back, but he ignored its endless empty reply.

He walked to the back of the house and kicked his shoes into the mudroom by the backdoor. Glancing back at the way he came, he saw the wet, dirty tracks of each of his steps on the polished wood floor.

"Shit," he said, realizing he should have taken the shoes off before he came through the house, "Oh well, she'll be pissed no matter what I do."

The pills slid down his throat easily as he gulped the last bit of milk in the jug. Rummaging through the refrigerator, he found some lunch meat and cheese for a sandwich.

"Another glorious family dinner," he announced as he sat alone at the long dining room table. He left the plate to remind the empty house that once again he ate alone, even though he knew it didn't care. The only thing that really paid him any attention here was Darius.

The cloudy sunset cast an orange tint on the well-manicured backyard and lake stretching behind their property. Theodore stood barefoot on the old bricks in the sunroom. They felt warm on his feet after the sun heated the red blocks of clay during the day. With so many cold things in this house, the momentary heat warmed his feet, but he knew that it wouldn't last.

His eyes followed the path of lights around the lake to 842 Oakstead Drive, Mr. Charles Patterson's estate on the far side of the lake. His mansion was even more pretentious than Theodore's family's extravagant house.

He knew that in that mansion is where his mother would be — pretending that the other parts of her life didn't exist. Father would stay at his apartment in the city, blindly assuming that mother would care for the child.

They both excelled only at caring for themselves.

Darius told him once that his loneliness called the boy out from the darkness, but Theodore believed that his anger called Darius too. Darius never refuted his supposition. He simply smiled with a coldness that only death itself can paint.

"Pills?" giggled Darius nefariously as the sun succumbed to the shroud of the night. Its blackness wrapping the world in secrecy and shadows.

Theodore held his gaze on the ripples of light reflecting on the lake from the stubby light posts tracing their way in an endless circle around the water.

"She thinks that pills will whisk me away?" laughed Darius coldly from someplace behind Theodore, "You can't hope me away. You can't think me away."

"I know," replied Theodore. He turned and looked around the room. The glass windows covering three walls reflected Theodore's image and all of the furniture and decorations of the room, but nothing else revealed itself in the dark panes.

To be continued...