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Part III - Rebirth
"When dreams come true,
you better make sure they're not nightmares!"
(The Red Book Of Fear)
The heavy wooden door slammed shut behind me, and I fell back to end end up leaning against it almost in sync to it's sound. My face was wetting with sweat, my heart racing like hell, and I felt like breathing almost as heavily as an astmatic steam train. The fiercest rollercoaster in the world was truly nothing compared to the stinging pain that relentlessly kept whirling around in my head as I slowly sunk to the ground, crying with both despair and helpless confusion.
>Do you want your boyfriend back?< My mind kept repeating Darryl's words over and over again, but I still didn't really know what to make of them. Darryl couldn't have been serious about this one! He just COULDN'T! Or... could he? He had seemed so damn determined and so... SURE about it. Was he really able to bring Danny back after all? Back from... well... from wherever dead people go? >Your roommate's kind of... scary!< Oh God, Tiff, if only you knew how right you were! Thinking of that fierce and in a way absolute determination with which he had instructed me never to tell anyone about tonight, that conspirative and most threatening look he had given me shortly before I had left the scene of whatever was bound to happen, made me frown with both horror and (now, that I thought about it) a sudden feeling of uncertainty.
What would happen if Darryl really WAS able to bring Danny back? What would it be like? Would it still be Danny, the boy I loved? Or would he be... darker?
I shuddered with the thoughts that all the scary movies I had ever seen in my whole life must have implanted into my head. But after all, bringing people back from the dead was said to be wrong, wasn't it? >...you definitely HAVE to be sure about your answer.< And in a flash, I realized that I hadn't. Hadn't even given one single thought to the possible consequences of the decision I'd been forced to make. >...scary!< What if Danny came back as some kind of... UNDEAD??? I mean, I didn't really know if I could anyhow deal with dating a zombie! (>Suck your dick? Nah... think I'd rather suck your brains out! Hehehe...<) Befor my inner eye I could clearly see Danny giving me that cute boyish grin of his, and my headache even increased when I imagined him grabbing my head to...
My head was swirling like a roallercoaster and I felt like going insane as I heard the echo of my sudden hysterical laugh linger through the hall. Danny... Darryl... I...
Oh God, please. NO!
My heart cleched with fear at this much too well known sound, and I hardly dared to move or breathe.
It seemed to come close by the second again, and my whole body shook with fear as the floor I was sitting on started to vibrate with it's sound. I was only too aware of the fact that Danny had died when I'd heard it for the last time, and I was far more than horrified by the thought of what would happen this time.
Weak sobbs I couldn't suppress made it hard for me to breathe, and my hands slowly lost hold of my knees which they so fearfully pressed together with all their might. And that was when the flames came back. Those frighteningly purple flames that I had already seen when... They surrounded me in a half circle, wildly hissing and dancing before my eyes like the beast around it's prey. I was trapped. Trapped by the flames in front of me and the heavy wooden door in my back. A meek cry escaped from my lips as the whole hall suddenly echoed from the sound of someone -- or someTHING -- fircely pounding against it from outside.
"OPEN THE DOOR!" someone screamed. Well, at least I hoped that it was someONE.
In shock, I realized that the voice of whoever was there on the other side of that door almost sounded like Danny's. Well... almost, at least. The only difference was that now, there was something dark about it. Something REALLY dark. Some deep and in a way growling undertone that made the hair in my neck stand up and terrifyingly ached it's way down into my very soul.
"LET ME IN, JUSTIN!" it yelled. "I'M YOUR BOYFRIEND, GODDAMNIT!!!"
My sight grew dim, and I couldn't really say if it was the tears that still relentlessly poured out of my eyes or because of the forthcoming unconsciousness that I creepily felt rising up inside me.
"OPEN UP, JUSTIN!!!" Whatever there was on the other side, it definitely seemed to be out of it's mind by now. "OPEN... THAT... FUCKING... DOOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Gathering all the strength my fear had left me, I let out a desperate, exhausted cry that filled the hall like a thunderbolt and almost deafened my own ears.
The last thing I realized was Danny howling out loud in surprise and pain as the flames that surrounded me suddenly took over the door and turned it into a brightly shining wall of ghostly fire. And then I fell, way down deep.
Tiff's voice was the first thing I heard when I woke up. But I had to admit that "hearing" was not really the appropriate word for the numb function of my senses in the state I was in. Man, my head felt like after some kind of nuclear breakdown, and I was still far beyond ready to open my eyes.
What had happened? Where was I? The last thing I could remember were the flames... the door... DANNY...
"Look, I know I shouldn't have..." And THAT was Darryl.
After all, it was easy to recognize the voice that had burned itself into my head. The one voice that -- I was sure -- from now on was to follow me wherever I went during the day and start haunting me whenever I would even dare to close my eyes.
"Oh, you KNOW something!" She snapped back at him. "Now, THERE's something new!"
She was furious, obviously almost out of her mind with rage at Darryl.
"Cool down, lady, will ya?!" Darryl barked back. "It's not THAT bad, isn't it?"
"Not THAT bad???" Tiffany laughed out loud hysterically. "And how d'you wanna explain all this to Justin, huh??"
"I... uhm..." His voice now sounded low and regretful. "I'll just tell him that..." He paused for some seconds, obviously to think about the right words to say. "I'll just tell him that it went wrong."
"Well, that's a start, isn't it?" She seemed to calm down a little, but she still sounded annoyed. "And what if Cathy..."
"Cathy are not the problem." He answered. "After all, they always talk in riddles, remember?"
"Yeah, right, but..."
"Tiff?... Darryl?" I didn't really understand what they were talking about but at least, I finally felt strong enough to speak, now.
"He's waking up!" Tiffany cheered with clear signs of relief in her voice while Darryl sat down on my bed and instinctively took me in his arms.
"Hey Jus!" He caringly whispered. "Man, we were SO worried about you. How d'you feel?"
I clinged to his body and buried my face in his shirt as I started to cry. It felt like some kind of barrier being broken down, like all my fear and desperation finally burst out with my tears.
Darryl held me tight. REAL tight. And suddenly, he didn't seem to be scary or mysterious at all. He was just there, attentively padding my heas and whispering soft words of comfort as he held me. I can't really find the right words to describe all the shelter and protection I found there in his arms, but the mere feeling of his presence was just what I needed to at least partly recover.
The, after what must have been more than half an hour, I felt strong enough to lift my head and look deep into his eyes.
"What..." I started. "What happened to Danny?"
And Darryl told me.
He calmly and almost even regretfully told me about how he had tried to revive Danny by use of first aid and how he had then called an ambulance, desperately hoping that it wouldn't be too late for modern medicine to somehow bring him back to life again. He stopped several times when he saw that his story became hard for me to cope with, before he finally got to the point at which the doctor had told him the sad but inavoidable truth and he walked back to the house to find me unconscious at the door and brought me up to our room.
No, he hadn't noticed anything unusual and no, it was definitely not possible for me to have heard Danny knocking at the door and trying to come in.
"But Darryl, I..." I wiped some tears away with the back of my left hand. "I really DID hear Danny outside that door. REALLY! He was... dark and... and... fierce and... You just HAVE to believe me, Darryl! Please?"
And he took a deep breath looking at me in concern.
"Justin..." he answered. "I really do believe that you're sure to have heard him. After all, you so very hard wished for him to be there, didn't you? And to be honest... maybe I shouldn't have set your hopes that high. I'm sorry, Jus."
"Hey, what do you..." I started.
"You were so full of fear... so desperate. I mean, sure... it's all been far too much for you to cope with, and under these circumstances, it's only more than natural for you to... you know, imagine stuff."
He and Tiffany exchanged a quick but serious glance when they realized the helpless confusion on my face.
"I'm so sorry, Justin." Tiffany involved. "I woke up when I heard the ambulance leaving and met Darryl outside."
She came a step closer to my bed and put a hand on my left shoulder.
"He told me. About Danny, I mean `bout his..." She paused. "...suicide."
"But Tiff, Danny didn't... you know... kill himSELF." My voice was trembling like hell, and dizzyness slowly crept in through the backdoor of my mind again.
"I... uhm... Darryl said that he jumped out of one of the windows..." She said questioningly.
"Yes, he did." I answered weakly. "But..."
"So, he DID kill himself, didn't he?"
"No! I mean... yes, but..." I was confused. So confused and burned out that I started crying again. Desperately. Helplessly.
"See what you're doing to him?!" Darryl fiercely snapped at Tiffany and took carefully took me in his arms again.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..." she defended herself.
"Let's just give him some rest, shall we? He's been through hell, you know."
"Not even close." She breathlessly whispered.
But Darryl had already turned back to me again.
"It's alright, Jus." He tenderly kissed my forehead before he slowly pushed me back on my pillow. "You'll see, everything's gonna be alright again."
I wearily closed my eyes and tried to believe him, tried to inhale the meaning of his words, more than anything else wishing that it was true and that REALLY everythings was going to be alright.
"I'm so glad that you're here, Darryl." I mumbled before my mind drifted away and I fell asleep.
Just a little too early to see his eyes fill with tears and hear him whisper "Don't be, Jus. Please don't."
I spent a long and calm night without any nightmares. In fact, I didn't dream at all. Well, lucky me!
The next few days went by without further incidents, thank God. The only remarkable thing was the sudden return of my missing suitcase. Actually, the recent events had pretty much kept me from concentrating on taking any actions to get it back, so I was more than please when one morning, it just stood outside our room as if it had never been missing. Of course, I still wondered who had taken it -- and why -- but I really had other things on my mind to recover from.
Darryl was unbelievable! He always found the right words at the right time and gave me just the attention and comford I needed, never even trying to ask me questions I could possibly feel ueasy about. He was just there to hold me tight whenever the demons of loneliness and fear went after me and one night, when the flow of my tears didn't seem to stop and the nightmares seemed to get back to me from out of the overwhelming darkness, he had even slept in my bed with me, holding me until I was asleep.
It was early Sunday morning -- a bright and beautiful morning, indeed -- when I finally woke up from what felt like having been a year-long numb slumber and decided to live again. I hadn't seen the raven for several days now, and the friendship between me and Darryl had become closer by the day. I had really learned to rely on and trust him.
"Morning, big boy!" He once more grinned that sexy grin of his. "How d'ya feel?"
"Don't know." My eyes hurt from the sudden penetration on the brightly burning morning sun that shone through the window. "Still a little Stephen King, I guess. But I'm okay."
"You better." He answered. "This is gonna be one hell of a busy day for you, sweetie!"
"Busy???" I asked disbelievingly. "Darryl, it's Sunday!"
I wearily let myself fall back into the softness of my pillow again and demostratively pulled the sheets over my face, annoyedly mumbling "Takes a lot more to get me busy on a Sunday!"
"Remember." He laughed. "Water beats sheet!"
"Grmpf..." I answered as I finally drew back the sheets and sat up straight. "Wanna tell me whoever's supposed to make be busy today?"
"Well, I am."
"Hehehe." I chuckled with a mean boyish grin on my face. "You and what army?"
"Watch your mouth, mister!" He joked, insecurely balancing the water heater and two coffee pots in his two hands, at the same time. "Actually, it's just me... well, and Cathy!"
"Who the fuck is Cathy? And why can't I just meet her tomorrow... or maybe next year?"
"Don't get bitchy, Jus!" Darryl had finally managed to pour us some coffee and smilingly came over to hand me my pot. "Cathy are cool. You're gonna like them."
"Them???" My sixth sense about singularity and plural turned to `language on the rocks'. "Is she so fat that she just turned plural?"
"Big no, man!" he laughed again. "There's three of them. Cathy "the cool one" James, Cathy "the classy one" Brewer and Cathy "the easy one" Chambers... hehehe... but don't tell her, okay? Actually, she preferres being called "sexy" instead of "easy"..."
"Okaaaay." I slowly nodded my head yes in a successles attempt to shake down the still missing pieces in my mind to fall back into place. "And why on earth am I supposed to meet Cool, Classy and Sexy?"
Darryl gave me the mysteriously knowing look that would have been best located in an old gipsy's eyes in some kind of trashy carnival tent.
"Just wait and see, Jus!" He promisingly answered. "Just wait and see."
And there I was, sitting on my bed with nothing more than my briefs on, anxciously waiting for what Darryl had promised me to be seeing. Himself, he had rushed out of the room as soon as he had finished his coffee. Obviously, there was "that thing" he had to take care of which, in his own words, was "a thing I gotta hurry to." But then, his sudden disappearance didn't really take me by surprise. After all, Darryl had already proved earlier that he was a true genius when it came to leaving at the top of the climax.
I slowly stood up from my bed and - a little weak in the knees from last night's sleep - stepped over to the widely open window. My naked, hairless chest immediately shuddered from the sudden penetration of the comfortably warm sunlight, and I had to pinch my eyes to look down onto the crowded college park.
The green grass was almost glowing brightly, and the roses, that surrounded this side of the building majestetically, peaked out of the earth to silently tell their freshly blooming stories of true love, ultimate passion... and death! It was truly hard to imagine, but somehow, behind all this pure and innocent beauty of nature, I sensed the dark and diabolic influence of something evil. Something REALLY evil! The same kind of evil, eventually, that Danny had literally been scared to death by.
I dreamily closed my eyes and let the sun's warmth take over my face. My mind wandered back to the days when Danny and I had been together, back to when none of the horrors, that had started to haunt both our lives recently, hadn't even seemed possible to ever be taking place. And suddenly, as I finally felt my conscience switching to stand-by...
... we were both there. Danny and me, back home in the grass of the park in which we had first kissed, safely lying in each other's tender and loving arms. The mere sensation of his sweet lips on mine made me schiver with both excitement and overwhelming emotions. His beautyful, slim body extatically pressed against mine, and my hands slowly caressed the smooth skin of his naked back.
"I love you, Justin" he whispered, his perfectly white teeth still carefully teasing my lower lip, and I closed my eyes to let myself fall into that wide ocean of my own feelings. Especially at this point, it was more than hard for me to make him stop, but as today was his birthday (he turned 17), no time could possibly be better than this special moment to give him my present.
I tenderly kissed him once more, before I slowly pushed him off of me and got up to my knees to fumble a little heart shaped box out of my rucksack.
"I love you, too." I said as I handed it over to him. "Forever."
And I meant it. Danny opened the box, and I could clearly see emotional tears forming in the corners of his eyes when he saw what was inside it.
"Oh Justin... really, you... you shouldn't have..." He looked at me with an expression of more love than I had ever seen on anyone's face and quickly whiped away his tears with the back of his right hand, before he attentively picked up the silver necklace I had got him. Attached to it, there was an amulet (silver, too, of course!) that showed the "lying eight", the symbol of eternity with both our initials, the letters "D" and "J", displayed in the centers of its two circles. Danny slowly liftet his head until his eyes met mine.
"Yeah... forever!" he repeated before his lips closed up on mine again, and we both sunk back down into the grass, his hand tightly cleched around all my love for him, which from now on he could carry with him wherever he would be...
... My whole body shuddered with surprise, and my eyes immediately sprung wide open, just in time to catch a short glimpse of something black zoarring in through the window, passing my head in a distance that could hardly have been more than a few millimeters, and finally, coming to a halt on the book shelf above my desk.
The moment I recognized him, I felt a cold and uncomfortable shiver creeping up and down my spine, but him, he didn't seem to care at all. He just carelessly tossed his head, before he sat down and froze, right on my copy of "Edgar Alan Poe - The Complete Poems And Stories" I had just bought for my literature class.
"YOU!!!" I hatefully hissed through my teeth.
But he still didn't seem to care for my presence. All he just did was sit on that book and blamingly stare at me in silence.
"Now, whatta you think you're lookin' at?!" I shouted. "Whatta you want from me? Wasn't it enough for you to kill my boyfriend?"
He just sat there. Motionless. Wordless.
"Fine!" The rage inside me was already boiling below the surface of my still almost naked body, and, for a second, I realized how hard it was for me not to attack him right away. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for me to just grab one of my dictionaries and kill him. Just like he had killed Danny. And I wanted it. God, how much I really wanted to smash his feathery black body and watch the blood run out from underneath the book.
But then again, I was pretty much aware of the fact that he had warned me about this place right from the first day on, and, most of all, that he was probably the only one who could tell me what was going on here... and why Danny had to die. What was I to do? And why did the raven all of the sudden refuse to talk to me? I mean, he COULD talk, couldn't he? After all, he had talked to me on the day of my arrival. `I am not yourr enemy.' he had said. `They arre!' I had seen him on my second day, too, outside the cantine window, staring at me closely as if he had some kind of special interest in me. And then, of course, I had seen him shortly before Danny had jumped out of that window. I had seen his huge, diabolically burning shadow in the staircase, had heard the pounding of his wings before the most important person in my whole life -- the one and only boy I had cared about, even more than I had ever even cared about myself -- had been taken away from me.
Oh God, Danny! It was so unfair, so god-damn unfair! His life -- just like mine -- had practically just started. He was young. He was a good person. A REALLY good person. So, wasn't he supposed to live? He was 17, for heaven's sake! 17!!!Why did he have to die, before he was even allowed to see x-movies or go to college? The words that he had said back then in our park suddenly came back to me, making his sweet and loving voice sound from deep within my head, my bones and my very heart. `Yeah... forever!'
I sobbed. If he had been right, then forever had stopped 6 days ago.
The back of my hand caught some of the tears that silently fell from my eyes and wiped them away, but I certainly knew that the river would never run dry again. And even if I would stop crying over my dead boyfriend one day... way down below the surface, my heart would never stop hurting, painfully bleeding with the thought of what my life could have been like with Danny inside it.
"Danny..." I hoarsely whispered.
And through the dense wall of my own tears, I saw the raven shake his head. He was still sitting on my bookshelf and hadn't moved an inch since he had landed there -- except for the head-shaking that is -- and as his head slowly turned from left to right, I saw something strange that I had already witnessed down in the cantine: He was crying. Just like me. I slowly made a move in his direction, unbelievingly staring at him. Why was HE crying? What for? Was he making fun of me? Or was he... somehow like...more than that black feathered little bird that he seemed to be?
"Who... who are you?" I carefully asked him.
His head stopped shaking and he seemed to look straight into my eyes now. No blinking. No moving. Just the intensified stare of his little black eyes. And then, he slowly bowed his head and finally said that one single word:
For just a second, my eyes widened with a mixture of both surprise and fear. But not for long, really.
"Aw... come ON!" I said aloud. "Can't you do better than that?! I read Poe, too, you know... `His soul shall be lifted nevermore!'... very pathetic. Now, don't play that one on me, will ya?!"
"Nevermorre!" he said again, sternly. "That iss the only ssuitable name forr me, Jusstin."
Now it was my turn to shake my head, though more in disbelieve than negotiation. How stupid did he think that I was? I may have been only 17 years old, but I already had been betrayed and lied to, and, most of all, I had pretty much learned to tell when someone tried to take me for a fool!
"Okay then." I dangerously hissed before I quickly jumped towards him, streched out my right arm and finally grabbed him. My fingers tightly clenched around his little black throat, and I couldn't really say if it was his surprise or my fiercely determined look that hatefully burned into his very eyes, which made his whole body shiver as I raised him up before my face. "And now, you're gonna tell me everything you know, or your soul shall REALLY be lifted nevermore!"
I was out of my mind with rage and the extatic feeling of holding the answer to all of my questions, the solution for all of my problems right in the palm of my hand. Ready to squeeze it shut. Ready to kill him. My eyes started tearing with tension, and my breath was going heavy. Not quite as heavy, though, as I would have if I had known that, at this very moment, deep down in the secret catacombs below the college building, someone's hand slid through a tiny creak in the wall and opened the large secret door that led to a much more secret dungeon. Only very few people knew that this dungeon even existed, and, of course, I was not one of them. The stone walls were solid and humid, and the only sound -- except for the entering person's footsteps -- was the fierce and brutal rattling of the chains with which the handsome young boy was bound to the wall by his hands and feet. His slim, naked chest was covered with scratches and his head hung down, letting his longish blond hair clumsily cover his eyes.
But, of course, I didn't know about that. And neither did I know about the blond boy's whole body wincing in pain and fear as the other person approached him and finally touched his shoulder to slowly let his fingers slide down the contours of the boy's breast and belly. He gave a dangerous growl -- not unlike that of a wild beast -- and tried to break free from his chains even more furious, as the other person slowly bent over and seductively whispered:
"It's alright, Danny! Everything's going to be alright!"
Stay excited, stay stunned...
... BUT STAY AT HOVERTON COLLEGE!
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