Continued from Childhood’s End: A Bloodlines Story, Pt. 1…
Dirk woke from a nightmare where he’d found his parents in the kitchen, both dead and resting in a lake of blood which had settled across the kitchen tiling. Both had long bled out in the night from the stab wounds marking their bodies along the neck, chest, and torsos. As he stepped into the pooled blood his parents’ eyes shifted suddenly, lifting lazily, as if pained, until they met his gaze. They said nothing, only peered into him with their death-fogged stare, silently informing him that it had all been the result of his inaction, of his leaving them to their fate for the artificial comfort of his bedroom. They told him that their ghosts would haunt his footsteps for the rest of his days.
And he believed them.
It was just before Lisa’s urgent prodding wrested him from this nightmare that a long shadow fell across the sunlight slanting in through the kitchen window, blotting out all daylight and eclipsing his dead parents with a defiling aura of possession. The creature stood as if in defiance of the sunlight, its impossibly long and lanky form perverted beyond all things Dirk understood about human physiology. The creature’s fingers, like great talons of sun-parched leather, flitted about the windowsill as it prepared to lunge inside to claim him.
“You are mine,” the creature rasped, grinning in a hideous showing of razor sharp teeth that reflected chromatically in the incandescent kitchen lighting. “You are all mine. Shiver, mortal, recoil in your fear and wither in the presence of the Lord of Drones.”
The creature’s extremities tightened. It wriggled like a cat preparing to pounce. Dirk went to cover his eyes only to find urgent hands pulling them away as the tiny voice of his four-year-old sister poked finally through the dream.
“Steven! Steven wake up! Mom is so mad and I’m scared! Wake up, Steven, wake up!”
Dirk opened his eyes, peering through the lingering fugue of the dream as his surroundings assumed recognizable form. He was in his bedroom, and perched at the edge of his twin mattress was Lisa, her tiny face warped in an expression of panic Dirk was sadly all too familiar with.
“Just stay clear of Mom and Dad,” Dirk spoke, voice cracking with sleep. “Just stay in your room, Midge.” He narrowed his eyes at the digital alarm clock beside his bed. The red lights clarified. It was 6:07 AM, a full 45 minutes beyond the usual time Mom came through to wake them. He wasn’t left pondering this divergence in routine for long as Lisa’s urgent voice persisted.
“Daddy didn’t come home, and Mommy is acting weird. She was talking on the phone in that voice she uses with doctors. I think it was the police.”
Dirk was suddenly as wide awake as he’d been the time he and October Mills, his only good friend and fellow over-achiever at Eliot High School, had gone to that coffee place in Ogunquit and spent the day weaving among the beach-going tourists, riding their first espresso high. As he shot up in bed, Lisa was instantly clinging to him, nesting into him as she always did when Mom and Dad were too distracted or unwilling to comfort her. For some time Dirk only sat there, hands rubbing over her back and kneading gently at her shoulders.
Lisa began to sob.
“Mommy’s wearing her heh-headscarf, sh-she only d-does that when she’s re-really mad at Daddy, but she’s a duh-different kind of mad. She sounds wuh-worried.” Lisa’s speech was clipped and broken by her escalating sobs, but Dirk had gleaned enough to understand that his baby sister was unsettled, even disturbed, by this last deviation in their mother’s behavior. Of course Lisa would be terrified. Mom and Dad’s relationship was one of constant combat; for Mom to cast about with legitimate worry for a man she demonstratively hated was so outlandish it had shaken Lisa to her core.
Eventually the sobbing declined, though Dirk would have waited hours for his baby sister to gather herself. He wanted her to be as centered as possible for what would come next with Mom. Dad had never failed to come home at night. Something was most definitely wrong.
A part of Dirk hoped Dad had been arrested and was sobering up at the Elliot or Rollinsford Police Department, but as he carried his sister riding his hip into the kitchen, those hopes were hastily chased off. Mom was still in her jeans and housecoat from last night. Her handkerchief was stringing with new fibers of wispy hair, completing the ragged, insane image she had honed in the night. She sat doubled over the cordless phone Mimi had given them for Christmas last year, the receiver turned up so the finger-worn buttons faced the ceiling. Beneath it was an open phone book turned to the emergency numbers page. Mom was, at first, oblivious to their presence, her face buried in her hands. Wisps of hair fluttered about as long breaths were drawn in then expended through her slotted fingers.
“Mom?” Dirk asked, feeling Lisa’s arms tighten with the force of a boa around his shoulders.
Mom’s face unanchored itself from her hands. Eyes shot with stark crimson webbings regarded the two of them with a resentment one might sling at a pair of murder accessories. Her lips trembled, the corners drawing downward into a frowning scowl that matched the energy in her unrested eyes. It nearly drove Dirk back a step as he submissively broke eye contact to study the tiled floor.
“Did your father say anything to you about running away?” Mom’s question left little to decode in where she stood on the matter. It would seem Lisa’s news that Dad hadn’t come home was accurate.
Dirk shook his head. “Dad doesn’t talk to me about anything.”
“Lisa?” Mom’s voice was bordering on accusing, and Dirk found in this moment that he could have killed his mother for the naked hatred it conveyed. Smaller people were an easier target for those whose vast insecurities drove them to needle at any perceived weakness. Dirk was beyond tired of his sister’s growing status as a target.
“Lisa?!” Mom repeated.
The four-year-old only nuzzled into Dirk, latched on like a parasite refusing to relinquish its host.
“What could she possibly know?!” Dirk was shocked to find a seething anger gusting out in his words. He stepped boldly toward his mother, gaze lifting to meet her own in a showing of defiance he’d never before conjured.
Mom’s entire face flushed, her teeth gnashing together and lips pursing to the point where all color drained from them. Those overworked eyes burned into Dirk’s, and for a moment he expected her to jump up from her chair and punch him in the jaw.
But something stilled in her. It had been something he’d said—or more appropriately the way he’d said it—that had disarmed her in an instant. Without a word Mom folded her arms atop the phone book and buried her face in them, shoulders heaving as she cried.
Lisa’s head lifted from Dirk’s shoulder in this moment, tiny eyes blinking away fresh tears as they settled with deep concern upon their mother. This kind of breakdown, helpless and defeated, was not a part of Mom’s bag of tricks. This kind of breakdown came from the complete surrender of all control, the hopeless acknowledgement that there was nothing she could do but wait.
Lisa wriggled her way to the floor and approached their mother alone, guardedly, seeming ready to withdraw in an instant from a sudden slap to the face. But Mom only sobbed over the phone book, not even acknowledging the tiny hand that came down on her shoulder.
Dirk grudgingly sidled his way to the other side of the table. He rested his hand on Lisa’s.
They remained there even after the chiming grandmother clock announced the 9:00 o’clock hour. Classes had started for Dirk nearly an hour ago, but for once in his life, none of the Evans family was thinking about school, about the idea of the future. Mom would eventually inform them that Dad wasn’t drying out with the police, that his last known whereabouts had been related by Stewie Parker at the fabrication shop. Stewie had watched Dad enter his Mustang alone before driving off in the direction of the Legion in Rollinsford. It seemed certain now that he’d broken his promise.
The last bit of news to arrive, coming just before the westering sun dipped beneath the forested horizon, worked only to escalate the worry that had long chased Mom’s rage and resentment away.
The police had found Dad’s car parked in an alleyway next to a florist in Rollinsford, abandoned. The windows had been smashed in on one side, and a trampled bouquet of roses was recovered amongst the glass garnishing the pavement. After interviewing the shop owner, the police had determined that Dirk Evans Sr. had purchased a dozen roses for his wife and been presumably attacked while returning to his car. Though the windows had been smashed, nothing, including the aftermarket stereo he’d installed, had been stolen.
From then until the moment full dark arrived, followed shortly by Dirk Evans Sr., Mom could do nothing but cry hysterically in her guilt. And after the last visiting policeman assured her (before rolling off in an unmarked cruiser) that the search would resume in the morning at first light, Diana Evans finally succumbed to sleep on the living room sectional, removed from her world of pain until the slow creak of the front door signaled the arrival of the monster Dirk Evans Sr. had become.