Posted below is a segment from my first novel, INSIDE THE MIRRORS. I am posting this in honor of my father, Don Davis as he was the inspiration for this chapter.
INSIDE THE MIRRORS
JASON R. DAVIS
BREAKING FATE PUBLISHING
Breaking Fate Publishing
© 2013 by Jason R. Davis
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, without the written permission of the publisher, except where permitted by law. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic and print editions, and do not participate in or encourage any form of piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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Cover Illustration by: SnS-Photo (Jim Sorfleet)
Cover Model: Kat McGill Mayer
Cover Design by: Willy Adkins
Rob watched as the street in front of his new house went from a quiet small town dead-end street with hardly any traffic, to being filled with cars trying to find an open spot. Cars were even parking in other people’s driveways; the street was packed bumper to bumper.
Then there were the motorcycles. They were all parked in the neighbor’s front yard and at last count there were over fifteen.
Robyn was in the bathroom, putting on her makeup and getting dressed up. Rob figured that she would be another hour before she was ready to go next door. Only God knows why she was bothering, he thought to himself as he watched the people going to the party next door, no one arriving was dressed up.
Rob turned away from the window and saw Robyn as she bounced down the stairs. She had her make up on, but to his surprise, she wasn’t overdressed. She wore a simple top with just a plain pair of blue jeans. She looked great, and he couldn’t help himself and a smile crossed his face as he watched her.
“Jake knows we’ll be next door, right?”
“He’s already over there. He was playing in the backyard when some kids came, and he went over to play with them.”
Rob reached for the door and opened it for Robyn who was behind him.
“Do you have my inhaler?”
“Yes, it’s in my pocket,” he said as he followed her out, shutting the door behind her.
They hurried across the grass, and stepped into their neighbor’s backyard. Like theirs, the yard was huge, and easily accommodated the large group of people that were scattered about. In the far back was the fire pit with the trash can of stew cooking, around which, was a group of people already waiting with plates, ready to eat. In the corner of the yard was the methodic clank of metal on metal, there was a large group of people playing horseshoes. In the center of the yard were a couple of guys sitting on the top of a picnic table, both with guitars. They were currently just talking with people milling around them, but Rob thought he had heard music just minutes ago, and guessed they would be starting back up again soon.
Near the house there was a large tub filled with ice and there were two kegs of beer in it. Rob made his way there first and saw that Erika was behind the tubs talking to what looked like another twenty something girl. They were both laughing and chatting away, but stopped when Erika saw him walk up to the keg. Rob was already reaching for a couple of cups when Erika turned.
“Hey, you guys made it.”
“Yeah,” Robyn said as she made her way from Rob’s shadow.
Erika nodded at the two guys with the guitars.
“The one on the left is my dad.”
Rob nodded and after filling a plastic cup, he left Robyn to talk, and headed in the direction of the picnic table. He could already hear Robyn laughing as he walked away.
Rob approached the two men. A woman had brought both of them a full beer, and they were accepting them from her as Rob stepped up.
“Thank you my dear.” The man on the left was saying. He noticed Rob and gave a quick nod in his direction.
“Hey, glad you could make it,” the man said.
“Glad to have the invite.” Rob replied.
“So how was the drive?”
“Walked? You live in town here?”
“Yeah, we just moved into the house next door.”
The man paused for a second, and then his face lit up and he straightened his back so that he was no longer slouching over his guitar. The realization of who Rob was had caught up to him and he was quick to reach out his hand.
“Ah, yeah you’re the new neighbor. Glad you could make it. I’m Todd; you’ve met my daughter I heard. Thanks by the way, don’t know what happened yesterday. And then this here,” Todd said, as he nodded his glass toward the woman standing next to him, “This here is my wife Bonnie. And this hillbilly with a guitar next to me here is Steve.”
“Hey Brother,” the other man with a guitar said as he reached his hand out to Rob. Rob took it while he examined him. . The man’s hair was dirty and matted; his beard was long and had not been cleaned up in a long time. His clothes were well worn, with dirt and fish gut remains wiped on his thighs.
“Okay, well, I’m going to go check on the stew, see if we need to add some more water,” Bonnie said as she stepped away from the group, and heading the direction of the fire.
“Hey Hon, I got a song for you!” Todd called after her as she was walking away. Todd didn’t miss a beat as he sang, following behind with the guitar.
“Always marry an Ugly Girl,
That’s the only kind.
They’ll never ever leave you,
And if she does you won’t mind”
Rob nearly lost his beer through his nose as Todd sang. He quickly turned to see how Bonnie was going to react, and was surprised to find her laughing, as she walked away. Both of her middle fingers were raised high in the air as she walked backwards. Todd smiled as he turned to Rob and gave him a cheerful nod.
“What the hell had they gotten themselves into?” Rob thought, as he turned and tried to find Robyn in the crowd. There were more people filing into the backyard, and it was getting harder and harder to see through the pack.
A thundering roar tore through the chattering crowd of people talking throughout the yard. It vibrated in the wind, rumbling and shaking the windows in the panes both of their house and their neighbor’s. Everyone turned to look where it was coming from, but with the echo along the street, the sound reverberated, and made it hard to tell.
Then suddenly a bike exploded into view from the side of the house. It was a small Harley Davidson Roadster with a large burly man leaned back and comfortable in the saddle. He zigzagged his way through the crowd, skidding back and forth in the grass, and tearing up large chunks. His large dark sunglasses clung to his face as he looked around the crowd running to get out of his way. He had a large toothy smile on his face, and a big cigar hung out of the side of his mouth. The way he was racing around the yard, it wouldn’t be long before someone was hurt.
Rob was quick to react. Well, he was quick to try to react. As he turned to run and catch the bike, his leg buckled, and he leaned heavily onto his good leg, reaching out to the picnic table to keep himself upright. Trying not to lose stride, he pushed off of the picnic table and quickly limped in the direction of the bike, trying to keep ahead of it so he could cut it off. Out of instinct, he reached behind his back to pull out his back up revolver, only to find it not there. He was no longer a Chicago Street Officer, no matter how hard it would be for him to get used to that damn fact.
Rob looked around at the crowd in chaos as they scattered, and he calculated the bike’s path so he could plan another tactic, and he saw Bonnie rush at the bike. She was waving her hands back and forth, trying to get the driver’s attention; however, Rob didn’t think it was working as the bike was not slowing.
“Get out of the way!” Rob called out to Bonnie. Pain was shooting down his right leg like electric shock, and he could barely keep his eyes open. The pain ripped through his spine, and made its way up to his skull, where it grabbed the nerves behind his eyes and pulled them back into their sockets.
His legs were fighting against him, starting to buckle.
Bonnie heard him call out to her and turned to look just as the bike neared her. It didn’t show any sign of slowing, though she had stopped, and now her eyes were locked on Rob like a deer caught in the headlights.
Rob’s legs finally gave out. In a flash, a scorching pain went through his entire back and his legs gave under him. His vision blurred, and then went to black as he landed on the soft ground. The last thing he remembered hearing was the roar of the motorcycle, and screams. The screams had seemed to be getting closer, but yet they also seemed to be getting farther away. He realized it wasn’t them getting farther away; it was him moving deeper into unconsciousness.
* * * *
“Do you need an ambulance?” Rob heard someone ask. His head felt like a brick and his entire body felt like it was locked in position. He didn’t think he could move. All his senses were numb, yet he could feel something cool against his back.
Damn it, he thought to himself. The coolness on his back, made him sure he was back in the hospital. The whole time he thought he had gotten out, the whole last twenty four hours suddenly seemed like a dream. The beautiful house, everything, just a dream that he had conjured up.
A twinge of pain shot down his back, making his toes curl.
His eyes fluttered open. The light was bright, and at first all he could see were shapes hovering over him. Their colors ran together.
Slowly, his eyes adjusted, and he could see his wife was one of the people standing over him.
“No. Hell no. No more doctors. I’m fine.” Rob said. He tried to move, but his body was stiff. He was barely able to move his head, but after resituating himself, he was able to turn and see that he was no longer lying on the ground. He had probably fallen hard, but someone or a group of someone’s, must have picked him up and carried him to the picnic table. The wood was refreshingly cool against his skin, but was rough on his back. Above him, Robyn and Bonnie were both over him, with half of the party all gathered around.
“Are you alright?” Bonnie was saying. A ringing started in his ears and it sounded like she was at the back of an auditorium yelling to him.
Rob eased himself to a sitting position carefully, as his back tried to fight against him. His body creaked as he moved, and he could feel everyone’s hands on him, helping him, which was probably a good thing, since the world had begun to feel like it was on a spindle and swirling around him. He thought he might pass out again; he could feel his lunch moving through him quickly, and everything wanted to fade out on him again.
Then he was up and sitting. The unease was passing and he again focused on everyone around him.
“I’m fine. Really.”
“Damn that was the craziest thing I think I ever saw,” said a guy at the back of the group. And with that, the group broke up around him.
“What the hell was all that with the bike about? Rob said, looking up at Bonnie, who was rattled, but said she was okay as well.
“That was Roach. He’s one of Todd’s friends from the Hell’s Angels.”
Rob’s eyebrows perked up of the mention of the Angels and the color seemed to fade from his face. He remembered having an issue a couple of times with some Angels in Chicago. They were not people that a person wanted to mess with.
“No, no,” Bonnie started saying, seeing Rob’s reaction, “They’re not all that bad, not all of them. A lot of them do good things for the community. But, some of them can get rowdy. Roach, he’s always been one to make an entrance, but he’s getting older, so his entrances often come across more and more as desperate cries for attention.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that, Hon,” said a big burly man dressed mostly in black and sporting a biker’s vest. Rob couldn’t see the back of it, but he was sure that if he could, it would have the large emblem of the Hell’s Angels on it. The man looked down at where Rob was sitting.
“I’m Roach,” the man said, as he walked up to Rob, holding out his hand for Rob to shake. Rob waited a long time, his heart racing, and his whole body filled with heat and anger, and he wanted nothing more than to hit this man for the agony he had caused.
Rob wasn’t sure where this new found anger was coming from, as he had been a peacemaker for a long time, and proud of the fact that he was always the one to keep a calm head while he was on the force. Yet now, there he was, and if he’d been able, he would have run his fist through that smile and left the man a bloodied mess.
After an uncomfortable amount of time, Rob reached out and took the man’s hand and shook it. Bonnie had been talking to Roach; Rob finally paid attention to what she was saying.
“I can’t believe you did that. You sure as hell know there are kids here. You could have seriously hurt someone! What the hell were you thinking?”
Roach turned his attention to Rob, and looking like a scared little mouse huddling into himself as he backed away from this woman, that was half his size.
“I’m sorry Bon-Bon, it won’t happen again.”
“It sure as hell won’t!”
* * * *
Roach backed away from them, and Bonnie turned to look down at Rob. Robyn sat down next to him, and put her arm around him. He suddenly felt hemmed in. This was made worse by the fact that they both wanted to mother him.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Robyn asked, as she nuzzled his shoulder.
With a long sigh, he turned and looked her in the eye.
“Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
Todd, who had stood silently behind Bonnie, finally stepped up and patted Rob on the back. He said, “Yeah, he’ll be fine, we just need to give him some room and stop babying the poor man. First time at our house and we’re trying to smother him.”
Todd walked back to the picnic table where Steve was waiting to hand him his guitar.
“You son of a bitch!” was heard loudly throughout the party before Todd could strum his first cord. Everyone turned, and was just in time to catch a small, thin, black haired woman slap a slightly taller, silver haired man.
Bonnie quickly turned back to Rob and Robyn.
“I gotta take care of this. I’ll be right back to check on you.”
Bonnie hurried over to the couple, the man now struggling with, the woman, and he had both of her arms in his hands, holding her by the wrists.
Rob was out of ear shot, but he watched as Bonnie walked up to them and separated them both. He was be amazed by how this woman handled things. She had taken charge of everything so far, and her husband for the most part, stayed on a picnic table, making fun of everything with his friends, as they played their music. They didn’t care about any of what was going on; Bonnie, however, was in the middle of all of it.
She was talking to the couple, and the woman was very upset, screaming at the man. Then they were done. Rob could tell that the tension was dying, their shoulders slumped, and some kind of resolution seemed to have been reached. The woman turned away, and stalked out of the backyard, heading to the next house over down the street.
“Shit, please don’t tell me that kind of crazy is one of our neighbors.” Rob said under his breath.
Bonnie was talking to the man, who kept shrugging his shoulders. Rob watched him intently, trying to get a read on him. He could tell even from across the yard that the man was putting on an act. His stance was all wrong, and he was playing the part over the top, trying to gain Bonnies sympathy, hoping she’d take his side. Rob’s days as a Chicago cop had trained him well to spot the truth or deceit. The way the man moved, and how he stood, said far more than the words he was saying to Bonnie.
But why would he care, why would he try so eagerly to get Bonnie to sympathize with him? Usually a man only does that when he cares deeply about what someone thinks about them. He obviously had feelings for Bonnie.
Damn, Rob hoped they didn’t just move themselves into an episode of Melrose Place or some day time soap opera.
The man suddenly turned and looked over at Rob, sending a painful shiver through his body. He could feel Robyn’s eyes on him, and wanted to turn and look at her, to let her know he was fine, but his eyes were locked with those of the other man, who just stood there, smiling, no longer paying attention to Bonnie as she continued to talk to him. He just watched Rob, with a large tooth filled smile. Rob recognized that smile. It was the broad smile of the man who had been staring back at him in the mirror.
Rob’s skin became hot, as though liquid fire engulfed him.
Bonnie walked back to them, and Rob turned to watch, finally able to break his gaze from the man. “Sorry about that,” she smiled.
“This is becoming quiet an interesting party. Are they always like this?” Robyn asked. She had rubbed Rob’s shoulders and he wondered if she had felt the heat as well.
“No, typically there’s more blood. Just kidding, typically we never have any problems until everyone leaves; which probably won’t be until late tomorrow for some of these people. They’ll just crash where they can find soft earth. Its funny how this is my birthday party, but they’re all Todd’s friends.”
“They going to be okay?” Robyn asked, nodding toward the couple that had stormed off to their own house.
“The Pacifico’s? Yeah, they’ll be fine. In all the years I’ve seen them together, that is the first fight I’ve ever seen them have. They’re your stereotypical perfect couple, always the happy ones. Ron and Terry are usually inseparable, and to see them fight like that surprises me. Who knows what’s going on? Maybe Terry got laid off, I don’t know, but she was all in a huff, screaming that he’s gone all the time now, and she thinks he’s having an affair. Money trouble can turn a normally loving couple into a pair of vultures fighting over the same piece of meat.”
Rob thought about how the man, Ron, had been looking at Bonnie. There had been some deep connection there and he wondered if maybe there was some truth to Terry’s worries. Something was up between those two.
Todd was starting a new song, and Bonnie looked over at him disapprovingly. Todd didn’t care as he belted it out.
“She’s gone, gone, gone,
Gone, gone, gone,
Crying won’t get her back.”
“Hey Hon,” Bonnie called out, “I got one for you. Bonnie then yelled out over Todd’s singing,
“Were you born an Asshole?
Or did you work at it your whole life?
Either way it works out fine,
Because you’re an Asshole tonight!”
Robyn couldn’t contain herself and buried her face into Rob’s shoulder to keep from laughing. Rob couldn’t help himself either, and let out a small laugh along with a large smile. Where the hell did they move to? He couldn’t help but wonder as he shook his head? Where the hell did they move to?
* * * *
A gunshot echoed through the night, and Rob sat up, quickly wide awake. It was an automatic reaction; he reacted even before he even heard the sound. A cold sweat streamed down his face and he could feel its chill. He’d completely soaked through the sheets again, and he was surprised that Robyn hadn’t wakened to complain.
Rob looked around the dark room, searching for some sign of where the shot had come from. His eyes seemed sharp and his senses were on edge, just as when he’d been in the fiery depths of that hallway,. He could almost smell the smoke, but wasn’t sure if he was imagining it or if it was just traces of the nightmare.
His breath was quick, and his chest heaving with excitement. He tried to calm down, to let the tension flow away, and calm his breathing. He just couldn’t do it, his upper back hurt from the tension, and his shoulder blades wouldn’t release, no matter how hard he tried to relax.
He looked over at Robyn; she still slept peacefully beside him. The last thing he wanted was wake her up; she deserved a good night’s sleep.
Rob pulled himself out of bed and navigated the room, planning to go downstairs and maybe sit and relax on the couch. He was starting to get used to the feel of the place, and that made it a lot easier to navigate through what was left of the boxes. Robyn had done well getting everything unpacked and situated. The house was already beginning to feel like a home instead of the empty shell they’d moved into.
Rob stepped into the hallway and had the feeling that he was no longer the only one awake in the house. He took a quick look back into the bedroom, but Robyn was still asleep. She looked so peaceful as she slept, in the quiet, dark room. The little light in the room from the street light outside made her skin glisten. . He didn’t see anyone but he still couldn’t shake the feeling someone was there.
Rob eased the door shut behind him, gently settling the door into its frame so that it barely made a sound in the silence. The only thing he could hear was his own breathing, but he felt he was being watched from somewhere.
He turned and looked toward Jake’s room. The door was open a crack, but Rob could see that Jake was till in his bed asleep, his nightlight shining from its home in the wall.
Rob crept down the hallway, walking lightly to prevent himself from waking up the household. Maybe the comfort of the couch down in the living room would release some of his tension, and he might be able to drift off to sleep.
He was halfway down the hall, when the cool night air went sour. A strong odor quickly began to fill the narrow hallway and the room turned instantly hot. Smoke billowed out of vents, streaming around him. He could barely breathe, as sulfur and the smoke weighted the air, and with every breath, he fought a coughing spasm. . He could taste smoke and soot covering the back of his throat.
It quickly filled the hallway, burning and filling his eyes with tears. It came at him from all directions, till he couldn’t even see the white walls around him. He was forced to drop to the floor, searching for breathable air. The smoke moved toward him, and when he looked up, it felt like the grey cloud it was reaching down and grab him. Rob looked around, trying to see where the fire and smoke were coming from. His eyes were burning and he could barely breathe, but below the smoke, he could see clearly. At the end of the hallway, where Jake’s room was, where just moments before the door had been slightly open, it was now closed, and smoke poured from the space below.
Rob quickly stood and ran as fast as he could, ignoring the pain that jolted down his leg. He made it to the door and without any thought to his training, reached for the handle and ripped it open.
Flames shot out, surrounding him as he stood there, but he was no longer in his son’s room. He was no longer in his own house. He was back in Chicago, at 4000 N. Milwaukee, in the sleazy confines of a hotel room that had been used as a Meth lab, and flames were everywhere. He could hear the screams from the people that had been working in the lab as well as the rest of the people who’d been just hanging out and getting high off the process. They were all just victims now, screaming and dying in the flames.
Rob fell to the floor, sure that the flames were finally going to take him and he’d never see his wife and son again. The last two months had all been just a dream brought on by smoke inhalation poisoning,. There was no house, no new job, just this. He was living his last moments, all in a fire.
Rob looked up into the flames, his eyes burning, and the last of their moisture evaporating from them; to see that the skull faced man was there. He was standing in the fire, but though the flames danced around him, they never actually touched him. His smile was as broad as ever, dirty teeth exposed while he watched Rob. His eyes reflected the fire’s flames, looking straight into Rob, and he could feel the intensity of them more than the fire burning around him. They reached into his head, burning in his mind. Rob had to close his eyes; the pain was excruciating.
“Kill them all, kill them all and make the pain go away. KILL THEM ALL and make the pain go away. KILL THEM ALL AND MAKE THE PAIN GO AWAY!” The voice inside Rob’s head spoke directly to him. It was a dry rasp, pushing at his skull and his head felt like it was exploding.
And then the pain was gone.
The heat and the smoke disappeared.
He could breathe the air again, and he took it in, in large gasps, trying to catch his breath.
He opened his eyes and found that he was no longer in the meth lab. He was back in his house, back in Jake’s room.
He looked around, and saw Jake in his bed, his throat cut. Blood was throughout the room, covering everything. The bed was a red mess with a puddle at its center. On the wall, written in blood was, “Kill them all and make the pain go away.” It was written on every wall, throughout the room. It repeated, both in large and small lettering. The only place untouched was the mirror on top of Jake’s dresser; not a drop marred its surface.
Rob heard a scream pierce the silence, waking him from his shock filled daze. He turned to find Robyn behind him, her face pale and ghostlike. She stood, in the hallway, staring first into Jake’s room, and then at Rob. Her eyes reflected something he had never seen before. She looked at him, truly terrified. She shook her head, whispering “no” as she slowly backed away toward the stairway. Rob reached out to grab her, to catch her before she fell down the stairs. He reached to pull her to him, to comfort her, to save her, but stopped dead, when he saw his hands.
In Rob’s right hand, he saw the knife, a large butcher knife, covered in blood. Both of his hands were covered as well, and when he looked down at his clothes, he discovered they were completely drenched in it.
He looked up in shock, and saw the horror in Robyn’s eyes as she looked at him. She continued to back away from him though he tried again to reach out to her.
Then suddenly, without even knowing what he was doing, he lunged, plunging the knife deep into Robyn’s stomach. The shock in her eyes turned to horror as she looked down at the knife. She looked back up at Rob as the pain reached her, and slumped against him.
Slowly she fell to the floor, sliding off the knife as Rob stood frozen in place.
Rob turned to look at the mirror, at the skull faced man who stood where Rob‘s reflection should have been. . He was there, holding the knife, and he was laughing.