I started writing a novel roughly six years ago. At the time, I was 16 years old and unsure of where this story I had created was going to go. In the Summer of 2017, I finished the rough draft. After three weeks of editing and picking apart of every aspect of my work, I started work on the final draft, which has been a prolonged and frustrating process, but I’ve been creeping ever so closer to the end of this meticulous journey.
So, that brings me to this post. In anticipation for its impending completion and the encouragement of those around, I’m releasing the first chapter. Admittedly, I’m doing so to confront my own fears of making my work public and to improve upon my own abilities as a writer. Hopefully, I’ll have some more information about it soon as I get closer to finishing it. Thank’s for taking the time to read this and I appreciate any feedback!
The Night: Chapter 1
Zach’s lungs burned as he ran through the brush, the needles carving microscopic cuts into his bare arms. His arms were sticky with sap, the oozy liquid making him shutter even more so than the bitter cold that nipped at him.
He wasn’t sure how he got outside, nor what he was running from that scared him with such intensity that the thought of looking behind him caused his body to seize up and stumble. He threw his body and flung himself behind a tree before he smashed onto the hardened ground. He pushed himself against the base and peered around the trunk.
He saw nothing in the ink-black forest that surrounded him, but he knew it was still out there, watching him. He closed his eyes and thought hard, how did he end up out here? He remembered lying in bed, sound asleep, and then he heard something, scratching on his window. His eyes had adjusted enough to the dark that he could make out a faint shape peering at him. He walked closer, going against his brains natural action to get further from the unknown. Something was drawing about the shape, something so familiar he could’ve sworn he knew whoever looked at him from the other side.
Whatever the shape was, it now stalked him with killing intent. He swore he could hear it out there, moving with such grace he could only hear small blips arising from all around him. He covered his mouth to try and stifle the breathing.
He heard a twig snap just behind, and he slowly and cautiously made himself smaller, trying to avoid the gaze of the predator that stalked and watched him. He heard a rugged grunt erupt from behind him, the beast just on the other side of the tree. The woods grew silent once more, the silence driving Zach insane as the chatter of small woodland creatures had all but stopped in fear.
He felt a firm grasp paw at his throat, tearing him from his hiding spot and off of the ground. He saw no features in his tormentor, only a pair of dark eyes that watched him with sinister eagerness and familiarity.
Zach closed his eyes and tried to fight back, but the hold was too strong. He thought long and hard, retracing his steps. Lying in bed, awakening, seeing the figure, they all flashed across his mind. Everything seemed too real, except the window. Zach opened his eyes in sudden realization. Zach always kept his blinds close, preferring artificial light to its natural counterpart.
“This is a dream! This is all just a dream!” he shouted at the featureless face before him. He noticed the lack of pain in the grip and felt his body relax as reality took hold. “You can’t hurt me,” he said breathlessly.
The figure stared at him, its featureless black eyes observing with silent curiosity. Zach felt calm looking back at it, the fabrication his mind had woven from bits and pieces of memory. His body had just eased as the manifestation lunged forward and sunk its jaws into Zach’s collarbone.
The nerves jumpstarted, and the pain pushed through the walls of imaginary and reality. Zach tried to cry out but found the words stuck in his labored throat. The figure released his throat, and he fell to the ground, gripping his shoulder as he felt warm blood ooze from the wound.
Zach looked at the faceless figure, as its dark eyes transitioned to a warm yellow. Terror rose in his gut, the pressure maddening and he felt perspiration forming on his forehead. He tried to scramble away, but he found his arms and legs less than cooperative.
The bulk of its figure turned and walked away from him, every step quaking underneath its monstrous feet. “Wake up,” it voice boomed through the woods.
Zach shot up, his lungs aching for air and his body soaked and shaking. It was dark, the ink black room bringing a sudden familiarity with it. He was in his room; the blank walls and the dark gray carpeted floors provided comfort, but the ache in his shoulder kept the anxiety resting in his throat.
He slowly lifted his arm and touched his scar, relieved to find that no blood seeped from it. He stood from his bed and walked over to his bathroom. The light was blinding as he hit the switch, the white light causing him to stir and wince. He allowed his eyes to adjust before he looked at the mirror attached to the wall.
It was dirty, fingerprints and smudges decorated it like paint on a canvas. Zach peered at himself, his skin was an unnatural pale, and he could see his chest heave as his heartbeat nearly pushed its way out of his chest. His skin was soaked, sweat covering him from head to toe.
He exhaled and leaned against the granite countertop. The nightmares had always started up sporadically, he’d have good stretches without any sinister dreams, but they always managed to rear their wicked heads. His parents used to take him to a shrink; unfortunately, he could provide little help. Despite his probing into Zach’s mind, he never found the source of what caused his tormentors to appear.
Zach went back into his room, only the alarm clock on his nightstand providing any light in the darkness. 5:30 A.M. Zach groaned, exhaustion forcing itself on him. It had been well over a week since he’d last gotten a good nights rest. He walked over to his desk and basked in the remaining darkness.
His mind wandered back to the beast, to its yellow eyes watching him with a sense of familiarity. Zach couldn’t explain it, but he felt it too. He knew whoever the beast was, and he knew it well.
He opened one of the drawers on the right side of the desk, retrieving a black notebook. His therapist one mentioned that a dream journal might help him find the source of what troubled him. It didn’t do much to help, but the habit had become ingrained in him and even helped to provide a little comfort in the darkest and most violent ones. He flipped his lamp on and opened the notebook, removing the black pen he kept tucked in its metal spokes.
December 4th, 2017.
It was back tonight. The one with the yellow eyes. It was different this time though, and it was as if it didn’t want to hurt me. He wanted me to do something for him; he even spoke for the first time. That voice, it sounded so familiar, but I can swear I’ve never heard it before. Maybe I’m just going insane.
Zach looked back at the past entries, the theme of yellow eyes making regular appearances, night after night for almost a month. He couldn’t ignore the pit in his stomach that had taken up residence somewhere in his organs. It called to him with a warning tone, trying to alert him that something was wrong.
Zach shook it off, his anxiety enough to cause any thought to appear dangerous and waiting for its moment to strike. He stood up and threw the notebook back into its drawer. He removed his towel from its hook on the wall next to his door. He walked back into his bathroom and turned his shower, steam quickly filling the room. He got the water to the point it almost burned before he got in, enjoying the warmth it came with. He found himself lost in his thoughts as he stood under the water, but no matter how far he went into his mind, his thoughts always wandered back to those yellow eyes.