Ghost Creek, Episode 4
I know it's been a little while since I've been down to the Creek. Other projects have been competing for my attention and creative headspace, which brings me to some big news and some little news.
First the big- give me a big whoo-hoo because I have actually completed a novel! Actually, one exclamation mark doesn't quite convey how earth-shattering that is for me. So here's a few more: !!! Yes, "The Black Monkey" now officially has a beginning, a middle and an end, and those three parts more or less connect. I would feel more of a sense of completion if this first draft wasn't quite so first-drafty. The vision part is over, and now comes a hell of a lot of revision. I actually enjoy the editing process, and I'm going to tackle it by copying the entire novel out by hand. (My fingers are cramping just thinking about it.)
The little news is that my evil twin, Christian Black (or am I the evil one? I can never remember) is posting a "shadow" version of "Ghost Creek" on the Literotica web-site. It is a parallel serial (with a lot more gettin' busy,) which might intersect with this one occasionally. (If you don't think parallel lines can intersect, you've never been at the corner of Gurley and Sheldon in Prescott, AZ.) His story is called "Dream Raider," and you can find it here. The sad part is that it's better written than mine (at least at the start.) CB's kind of a sick puppy, but that creep can write.
(Of course, if you think erotica is "ikky," just skip it. You won't hurt his feelings.)
So, without further ado (not that I don't love ado,) here's "Ghost Creek":
PREVIOUSLY: In the basement of the mysterious house in the woods, Sean and his friends found a man claiming to be Sean’s future self- from the year 1999. Sean-at-twenty-eight made an offer which Sean-at-ten found irresistible; to trade places. This was accomplished with a kiss. Sean-at-ten awakes to find himself in . . .
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS JUNE 1999
He awoke. There was an overwhelming shock of dislocation. It was like being turned inside out, upside down and backwards. Sean looked through eyes which had degraded over the years. His older self needed glasses, and had been putting off getting them for years. The sudden near-sightedness was only a very small part of the incredible shift of perception. His body was different. Older, taller, heavier, post-pubescent. Eighteen years fell upon him with a crushing weight. There were bad teeth in his mouth, and fingers on his left hand which had been broken years before. He needed to shave; the rough stubble on his face itched with a maddening insistence. These appalling sensations assaulted him all at once.
He sat up in his bed with a start, as if jolted awake from a dream. He became aware, horror gradually mounting, that he was naked and lying beside another naked person. A woman. Sean’s child’s mind shrank back from her terrifying adulthood. She was a black woman, short hair molded to the pillow, eyes swollen with sleep. Sean knew her name was Jubilee Bellefeur, that she was his girlfriend, and that they had lived together for almost a year.
“Make some coffee,” she mumbled into her pillow without opening her eyes.
Sean was afraid to answer. Afraid that if he opened his adult mouth, his child’s voice would betray him.
He crawled from bed and found rumpled clothing on the floor. Sweatpants and a t-shirt with a picture of a young man on it, over the word “Nirvana.” Sean knew that Nirvana was the name of a rock band, that the man in the picture had been its lead singer, and that he had committed suicide several years before. Without even trying to, Sean found that he knew the words to several of their songs.
Far worse than the new sensations of his body was this knowing. Suddenly he knew so much. Eighteen years of new memory, stored in the adult brain, flooded Sean’s horrified ten-year-old mind. He knew about sex. He knew about disappointment. He knew about shame. He knew about disillusionment and heartbreak and failure. Emotional wounds which had long been healed for the man were fresh and new for the boy, as if every scab he’d ever had in his life were torn off all at once.
Staggering from the bedroom, Sean found himself in a cluttered kitchen in a small apartment. He knew it was the best he could afford. He knew he worked as a pizza deliveryman, and the addresses of several regular customers spilled unbidden into his head. So much of the new knowledge was utter trivia. Nearly two decades of sit-com plots and commercial jingles accumulated in his head in a deafening cacophony of useless information.
Beside the front door was a terrarium on a stand. Inside was another misshapen frog. Fat and squat, bulbous and boneless as a jellyfish, with tiny wiggling useless legs and what appeared to be its brain oozing in pulsing white bubbles from cracks in its head. The amphibian sat in a pose of yogic contemplation. It looked at Sean with sharp, intelligent eyes. Sean knew the frog’s name was Jizo. He knew where it came from; where all the mutant frogs had come from. This knowledge would have been horrifying on its own, but it was drowned in the flood of all the other new horrors Sean was suddenly aware of.
Pressing his hands against his skull as if this could contain the explosion which felt imminent, Sean stumbled into the living room. He collapsed upon the couch. Imprinted instinct compelled him to pick up the remote control and turn on the television. The set was tuned to a cable news channel. Sean saw the date posted on the screen; June 12, 1999. A cease-fire had taken effect in Kosovo (Sean-at-twenty-eight had only the vaguest concept of this conflict, so Sean-at-ten was spared at least that much.) The governor of Texas, George W. Bush, had just announced his intention to run for President in 2000 (Sean suddenly held strong political convictions which he could not begin to understand.) The new “Star Wars” movie was breaking box office records (Sean had the memory of seeing the movie, and of being bitterly disappointed by it. He knew who Jar-Jar Binks was.) An alleged serial killer named Larry Jacobs had eluded arrest in Houston, Texas, and was now the subject of a manhunt across the Southwest. (They’re looking in the wrong place, Sean’s brain told him, though how he had come about this certainty was buried too deep for him to access.)
The newscast went to commercials, for cell phones and web-sites, and Sean knew what these things were.
He turned off the TV. It was too much. Sean had been in this new world for less than ten minutes, and he already felt as if he were losing his mind.
If I haven’t already.
It did occur to him that perhaps he was not really a ten-year-old whose mind had been thrust into the body and brain of his twenty-eight-year-old self. A far more likely explanation was that he was in fact an adult man who had just suffered a cataclysmic breakdown; a complete shattering of identity. These weren’t the words Sean used. In his mind, the explanation was couched in much simpler terms:
I’m crazy. I’m completely insane.
The bedroom door opened and the woman named Jubilee emerged. She had pulled on a t-shirt which fit her body tightly, without covering much of it at all. Sean simultaneously felt childish embarrassment and adult lust.
“I thought you were going to make me coffee,” the woman said.
She flashed Sean a look of annoyance, which turned to concern when she saw he was crying.
“What’s wrong, baby?”
She came to him, sat close beside him on the couch and touched his tear-streamed cheek.
“You all right? What happened?”
Sean couldn’t answer. He couldn’t even speak. He was torn between a desire to fall into the woman’s arms and a need to bolt and run from her.
“Did you . . .” Jubilee looked deep into Sean’s eyes. Understanding suddenly filled hers.
“You did it, didn’t you?” she said. “You son of a bitch.”
“Wh . . .”
She shook her head. “Not you. Him. He did it. Or it is you, just the older you. Damn. It makes my head hurt just to think about it. How old are you, anyway?”
“Ten,” Sean managed to speak through his tears.
“Ten? Holy shit. That goddamn coward.”
Sean knew then what his older self was running from. And how right he was to be terrified. More and more knowledge, burying him under his crushing weight.
“I want to see my Mom,” he sobbed.
“Oh, sweetie,” Jubilee’s expression softened, responding to the child within the man. “Your Mom died two years ago.”
And of course Sean knew that, too. He allowed the woman to hold him, falling into her warmth and softness. The man’s eyes closed, draping the boy’s tortured mind with blessed darkness.
NEXT TIME: The Frogwatchers. Chainsaw Moon. Hellhound on my trail.