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Kyle Brubaker And The Hairy Glifics - The Author's Author

 

Kyle Brubaker and the hairy glifics

The Author’s Author

 

by J. R. Freeman

 

 

 

When I first saw the boy it caused me to feel puzzled in a way I can’t recall having felt before. At least to that extent. I wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming, or simply in an altered state of consciousness that gave everything that followed that unreal, sticky sense that happens to you while dreaming. I finally learned it was something I would never again experience. Ever.

 

Copyright 2016 – J. R. Freeman

Cover art Copyright 2016 By J. R. Freeman

ISBN 9781310110092

Published by J. R. Freeman at Shakespir

 

 

 

This book is a work of fiction. With regret, any references to real people are used fictitiously.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles or reviews—without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

 

• • • • • • • • • • • •

 

Teen / Young Adult

 

When I first saw the boy it caused me to feel puzzled in a way I can’t recall having felt before. At least to that extent. To say it wasn’t a little unsettling would be a lie. I felt the skin on my face flush and a slight sweat break out. I wasn’t sure whether I was dreaming, or simply in an altered state of consciousness that gave everything that followed that unreal, sticky sense that happens to you while dreaming. What I did know was I have never experienced anything like it. And, as events flowed outward like an undercurrent of frothy sea water being sucked back from the beach, I finally learned it was something I would never again experience. Ever.

I was walking along a sidewalk. There’s no point in telling you where the sidewalk was. You wouldn’t know it or even be able to find it. I know, now, I could never find it again. The air was beginning to change, the summer heat gone, the sky these days more turbulent with clouds that seemed to hold darker shades of gray deep inside. Yet again, had I known then what I discovered later, I would have been able to identify it as a portent.

I was not being particularly observant—just walking and thinking—when, at the last minute, became aware of the boy on a bike. At that time he was almost upon me. He, too, was somewhat mentally distracted to what was happening around him. Maybe he was thinking of friends, school, anything that can fill the minds of teenage boys and cause the type of zoning out I remember from when I was that age. When he finally looked up and saw me—at the same time I saw him—it was too late to avoid the casual collision.

I say casual because I wasn’t knocked over, nor did he fall off his bike. He did, though, twist the handlebars to the left and sway precariously, the pedal on the right side of his bike grazing my calf. I knew as soon as it happened that the serrated edge had torn skin, that it would bleed. Also, that it was something I was not prepared for—would watch as the blood began a cascade in rivulets slowly down my leg, covering the top of my sock and shoe. How many times have you left the house in the morning thinking, I need to carry a small first aid kit with me today, just in case? I never have. Just like on those occasions when you absorb some terrible event that is presented on a television show. Then, in your mind, it’s you. You’ve been arrested and are being grilled by burly, aggressive detectives who pace threateningly around you in the confined space of an interrogation room. “You got someone who can verify where you were at 9:30 this morning?” Simmering below the fear of the place you’re in is the beginning of your own hostility, “No, unfortunately when I got up this morning it never dawned on me that I should have an alibi for every minute of the day. Can’t say I know of anyone who has considered that.”

The boy swung his bike in a full circle and came to a stop next to me before planting his feet firmly on the asphalt. He looked down at he blood on my calf.

“You okay?” he asked.

My attention had been drawn, once again, back to his face. There was something there, something I knew. Yet I also knew I had never actually met this boy before.

I watched as his top teeth grabbed hold of his bottom lip and thought I heard a slight hissing sound as he sucked air into his mouth. His eyes were squinting at the blood on my leg. He wasn’t repulsed by the sight of it, rather—maybe—a little intrigued at the thought that he had done that to me. Opened up my flesh and caused me to leak.

He broke his stare and one hand reached up and he pushed his fingers through his hair. I said nothing, just taking in his face and overall appearance. Sitting slumped on his bike it was hard to know exactly how tall he was—I guessed around five-six to five-seven. Slim. It was his face that left me with that troubled feeling that I really did know him from somewhere. Dirty blond hair with a hint of red showing through in the afternoon sun. Green eyes. And freckles. Not a lot but they were clearly evident through his tan, scattered across his nose and the tops of his cheeks.

Damn it, I thought. I’d swear I know you from somewhere.

“Damn it,” I said, a grin appearing on my face. “I’m sure I know you from somewhere.”

He dropped his hand which met the other one on his lap. His eyes probed mine and narrowed a little. He gave a quick, jerky shake of his head.

“Impossible. I’ve never seen you before,” he replied.

The way he said it made me believe he could be right. But then why was the feeling so strong? I had experienced similar feelings; possibly those times were more déjà vu. This time it was trying to slither beyond that intuition of having been somewhere or done something that was almost identical.

I rubbed my fingers across my mouth, my eyes looking over his shoulder at the quiet surroundings of the neighborhood. I thought I had been here before too, and I didn’t understand that because I wasn’t entirely sure of where I was.

“You want something for your leg?” he asked, breaking into my addled thoughts.

“What?” I asked.

“Your leg. You need something for that? Some peroxide and a band-aid or something?”

I looked back down at the gash on the side of my leg. The blood flow had all but stopped, leaving a raw, red slash that offered barely an ooze, the blood coagulating in a jagged line.

“Umm, I don’t know,” I said. “It looks like it should be alright until I can get home and tend to it.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yeah, it’ll be fine.”

“No, I meant about you getting home. Do you know where it is? Where you live?”

Why would he ask such a question? Did he think the collision with my leg had damaged my head?

“I would hope so,” I answered with a trace of irritation. “I just have to keep walking that . . .” I looked past him then swiveled my head to look behind me. I recognized nothing. I could have been in any city anywhere in the country. “I don’t live far from here,” I finally muttered.

“My mom could take care of it.”

“Your mom,” I spoke the words, listening as they left my mouth before I realized I was even going to say them. What was there about his mother I should know? The thought, I knew, was completely random and I couldn’t, for one second, justify it.

The boy’s brow formed creases and his eyes partially closed. “You don’t know my mom.”

“No. Yes. Well,” I paused. “More just . . . I think . . . I’m . . . not sure.”

“You shouldn’t,” he replied.

“What do you mean?”

“You shouldn’t know her. It’s not possible.”

“Whether it’s possible or not I know something. Exactly what, I can’t say. And you’re . . .” Again, thoughts and a shimmering recollection grasped like the fingers of a rock climber, seeking a purchase that had to be there but remote, out of sight. I couldn’t finish. The syllable I was about to stutter stopped as if it had struck some invisible barrier.

Internally I felt like a non-verbal autistic, his name failing to solidify into words unfamiliar on my lips—struggling to leave my mouth as my tongue twisted and rolled—trying to put shape to them. And betrayed me. A tendril of fear latched on and began to wrap itself around my consciousness. Where had the briefest snatch of thought began? Why did I know names but not know them?

“You shouldn’t know that, either. Who are you?” he asked.

“Who?”

“Yeah. Who are you?”

“I’m . . .” And that was as far as I got. It was as though someone had pulled a plug on the only light that was my memory. The inside of my head went dark. The gray matter, neurons, all the chemicals that allowed me to complete even the most simple of thoughts and tasks that any child could perform, ceased. I attempted to search for an answer, my arms outstretched within the inkiness of my skull, answers I should have been able to offer with the quick certainty of self-awareness. And I found nothing. There was no recall. No spark of identity. The space I was searching for the answer in became blacker and, inexplicably, colder. I thought the shiver that blossomed in the center of my chest was just within me until I noticed the slight trembling of my fingers.

“I’m . . .” I stopped again, unable to continue.

“You don’t know, do you?” he said.

I dropped my sight to the sidewalk and watched the expansion crack shimmer and waver. I didn’t know. The beginnings of panic began to form in the pit of my stomach. What had happened? Why was this boy asking questions I had no answers to? Worse? How did he know to ask the right ones? And were there right and wrong questions? It was almost as if he knew, had some secret that he was holding back on. I sensed no submerged glee to his knowledge of the dubiety I was experiencing. He wasn’t being mean; chiding. The questions were honest with not a hint of objurgation.

He climbed off his bike and laid it down on the sloped bank of the front yard adjacent to where we were. He sat on the grass, knees up and his arms wrapped around his legs. His eyes studied me and within the depths I thought I could see a faint glimmer of understanding. Just great, I thought. He’s getting to where I need to be.

We remained that way for several long moments; him sitting and staring up at me. Me, standing, feeling like a complete ass. Albeit an ass who couldn’t seem to remember even the most basic of life’s little facts, like my name or even where the hell I lived. I found I was becoming angry. I took a small pleasure from it because it let me know that somewhere, lost in the darkness of my mind, there was something palpable I could understand. Almost the first real thing I had felt during the past few minutes.

“Are you mad at me?” he asked.

“You?” I almost snapped. “No. What should I be mad at you about?”

He shrugged. “Cause of what I did to your leg?”

“No. The leg will be fine. Not entirely your fault, anyway,” I answered.

“Then you’re mad because you don’t remember,” he said. “Because you think you know something, or should know something, but you have no idea what it is.”

“Well there’s a fucking understatement!” I almost shouted.

The boy’s face blanched and he seemed to withdraw in on himself a little. I immediately felt bad. He had nothing to do with what I did, or did not, remember. For some unknown reason our meeting and my memory loss were coincidental. Right? I mean, I didn’t plan it so how could he?

He spoke softly. “You don’t frighten me. You can’t. But I think I know who you are,” he began. “If I’m right, something really weird has happened.”

I suddenly felt very tired. This boy, someone I had never seen before yet believed I knew, somehow—this kid who couldn’t have been more than fourteen or fifteen—was, hopefully, about to reveal something which I suspected would shatter me to my core. Not that I was hoping for that. Core shattering had never been anywhere near my list of Things To Do Today. What I needed desperately right then was the dawn of understanding.

I had to sit down, and did. I collapsed onto the grass next to him and fell onto my back, closing my eyes. My heart was beating with a rhythm I figured should have been reserved for a marathon runner at the end of a 25-mile sprint. After a minute—it seemed longer but couldn’t have been—I became aware of what I wasn’t hearing. A contradiction, I know, and given all else I was dealing with right then, couldn’t for the life of me know why something like that should blossom to the front of my consciousness. But it did. And for all I wasn’t hearing it was deafening.

I opened my eyes expecting to see the blue of the sky which had covered us earlier. It wasn’t there. Instead was a grainy mist of a neutral gray that hovered at what seemed to be a thousand feet above. But I knew it wasn’t. I knew that if I were to stretch my arm up, reach as high as I could, my fingertips would brush the base—disappear inside. I kept both my arms at my sides, afraid that if I inserted a hand into the fog it wouldn’t let go. It would, in fact, make every effort to drag me up and into it where I would be lost forever.

There were no birds chirping. No sound of traffic, near or distant. The silence of the street, the neighborhood had been sucked from the very atmosphere in which we sat. There have been times, I’m sure—at least I think I’m sure—when I’ve said that I heard nothing. Because at those times, whatever it might have been someone was trying to draw my attention to, I just didn’t hear. But this silence I could hear. It invaded my ears. It thundered around inside my head. It consumed every scintilla of every cell that lay dormant inside my brain. And it was the most frightening quiet I had ever heard.

It was more than just losing one of my senses. I felt as though it had been forcefully ripped away so it was a shock when, in that thunderous, muted quiet, I heard the boy speak.

“I should probably be heading home,” he said.

His voice was isolated, just the words which were compressed and devoid of any white noise that would normally have accompanied them.

“I wish,” I began, my head rolling slightly to the right, away from him. The street I had been walking along was slowly disappearing from sight. In place I saw the mist was settling. The end of the street was obnubilate, melting into an arc of damp, wispy filaments. I quickly turned my head to the left and looked past the back of the boy seated next to me on the grass. The other end of the street was the same. We were sitting under a dome, the sides and top gradually drawing in upon us. I knew that within just a few minutes, possibly less, we would be shrouded in the gray murk. In some part of my brain—the part that was embedded with millions of years of survival—I knew that when that occurred, something would happen that I had to avoid at all costs.

The boy stood then leaned over and picked up his bike. He looked up then around him at the fog. It was closer. I could see dribs of moisture floating, catching an unseen light and refracting into multiple colors. My heart, I noticed, was beating faster. The boy was leaving. I couldn’t allow him to leave me here by myself. There was a horror waiting; in the mist or the mist itself, I didn’t know which.

“Wait,” I said.

He looked over his shoulder at me. “I have to go,” he said.

I pushed myself to my feet, a hand brushing abstractedly at the back of my pants.

“Let me walk with you. I’m not sure where I am and possibly you can show me the way out.”

He shook his head. “I can’t,” he said.

“You can’t? What, why not?” Once more I felt a sense of anger flash through me.

“There’s nowhere for you to go.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Below the small burn of peevishness at possibly being abandoned here was the panic beginning to swell again.

He began to push his bike along the sidewalk. After three or four steps he stopped and looked back at me.

“Where would you go?” he asked.

“Where? How about ho—.” The last word remained unfinished as the thought that began it fled my mind. Where? Where would I go? I didn’t know! The ire I had felt abated suddenly, dropping away like a body off a cliff, and was replaced by the panic. My hands rose up and covered my mouth. I could hear my breathing, ragged, as it was sucked in through the gaps between my fingers.

The boy turned and walked a few more paces. I could see that he was almost at the edge of the mist which was still clawing slowly toward us.

“Please,” I said. The sound of my voice had a ring of pleading that danced miserably around the edge of the word. “Please? All I’m asking is that I walk with you to get out of this.” I waved a hand around me and I could feel the damp of the encroaching air. The minute drops of water that clung to the opaqueness of the mist were icy cold and I was aware of them stinging the skin on my hand. The somatic sense was one of death. Panic now reared tall and raged in my gut. It was as cold as the air around me.

The mist was now slipping around the boy, swirling past the bottom of his legs and over his shoulders like a shroud.

“I think I know who you are,” he said, “and I can’t take you. Anywhere. You are no one and you are nowhere.”

I took a faltering step forward, my arm coming up, palm upraised almost in supplication.

The quiet in the now confined space of the dome pressed down on me, its weight crushing. The fog had started to move past the boy giving him a shimmering, almost translucent appearance.

“I am someone,” I croaked. My throat was dry and my voice was so soft I was momentarily confused as to whether I had actually spoken the words out loud. “But who are you?”

“My name’s Kyle,” he said. “Kyle Brubaker. Does that mean anything to you?”

Other than my feeble try, one that had produced no sound several minutes ago—or was it several weeks?—it meant nothing. Since the blood-letting that had occurred on this sidewalk before the dome of mist began to settle and the day became a living nightmare, I realized I no longer knew my own name.

“No,” I replied. “Who are you?”

He shrugged. “It’s not that important.”

“I think it is,” I said. I didn’t know why there would be any relevance to it, I just knew that right then there was nothing more important that I needed and that was to know!

When he spoke next his voice sounded far away. I could still see his outline in the gloom, his features taking on a moment of clarity before they would fade in the diaphanous, moisture-laden air.

“I’m just a kid,” he explained. “Nothing special. Hang out with friends, go places, just kid stuff. In my spare time I write.”

“Write?”

“Stories. Like, books, you know? My friend Hilly and I, we go places and after we get back I write about where we went and what we did. Who we met. Stuff like that.”

My breathing was harsh as it left my mouth, my throat dry, and the fear that had been climbing up inside of me from my gut and through my chest was now close to erupting from me in a scream of denial.

“You write stories?” I panted.

He nodded. “A bunch of them. Like a series. I call it Kyle Brubaker and the hairy glifics.” I heard a chuckle force its way across the damp air that enveloped him “But,” he paused, “I had to keep part of it secret.”

“Why.” Given that I was almost losing control of all my senses, and bladder to boot, why I needed to know why was one of the silliest questions I thought I could have asked. I could feel the press of the mist up against my back, tendrils caressing my neck. I think I knew, right then, that I would be lost forever in this cloud of gray, but there was another question that drove me to ask, “What part?”

The boy was now almost swallowed by the closing of the dome of vaporous air, his image now just a dark shape outlined with sparkling drops of moisture.

“A name. I made up a name for the author of the series. J. R. Freeman. That way no one would ever be able to trace it back to me.”

“You made up a name?” Suddenly I was struck speechless. And I knew.

As the mist finally closed around me and I felt the biting cold seep through my skin and attack my organs, his voice drifted toward me. “Yeah. So you see I can’t help you. You don’t exist anywhere but on the covers of my books. By name only you’re simply the author’s author.”


Kyle Brubaker And The Hairy Glifics - The Author's Author

  • ISBN: 9781310110092
  • Author: J. R. Freeman
  • Published: 2016-06-14 01:40:07
  • Words: 3794
Kyle Brubaker And The Hairy Glifics - The Author's Author Kyle Brubaker And The Hairy Glifics - The Author's Author