Through the Darkness
A Short Story Collection
Through the Darkness
By Emerson Quinlan
Published by Emerson Quinlan at Shakespir
Copyright 2010 Emerson Quinlan
Shakespir Edition, License Notes
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Dear Jess and Rachel:
Thank you is all I can say. Thank you for being there through my tantrums. Thank you for being there when I wanted to give up. Thank you for putting a stop to that nonsense. Lastly, thank you for just sticking with me through everything all these years.
This book wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
It was nearly time to dock the submarine. Vanessa stood at the tall desk looking through all of the paperwork to make sure everything was in order before the next great expedition began. According to her calculations, it would only take seven to ten days to disprove the bogus theories surrounding the mysterious shape under the ocean. Only one crewmember would make this difficult for Vanessa.
Leah has been working with her for years, but she was just as determined as Vanessa to prove that the shape was a UFO or at least part of one. This figure under the water has caused a rift between her normally perfect crew. Finally, it was time for everyone to board the submarine. Grabbing all of her paperwork, Vanessa made her way into the sub with the crewmembers. She nodded at Leah as they met up. “You ready?”
"Yeah, just, hang on..." Leah muttered, digging through her bag as she followed Vanessa down the docks. "Look, I found a bunch of reports from some fisherman that said they watched a huge flashing object fall into the water -"
“And where did you find these accounts, Leah?” asked Vanessa. “Which reputable publications?”
Leah cleared her throat and glanced across the water, avoiding Vanessa’s questioning gaze. “Well, I mean, I did my own interviews, and I found this one UFO website… But I mean, everything matches up!”
“I see. Leah, we have been through this. If you cannot find a credible site, it cannot be used. We’re scientists. It’s all in the proven facts.” Vanessa was determined to put her crewmember back in her place by the end of the week.
Leah's face fell as they reached the ship. She stared down at the folder of papers as Vanessa climbed onto the submarine. "If you'd just give me a chance to -" she began, giving Vanessa one last desperate look.
After a long sigh, Vanessa held out her hand for the folder. Once the yellow envelope was in her hands, she sat down and glanced through the transcripts of the interviews. “You definitely put time and effort into these. I will give you that.”
Leah scrambled down the ladder and grinned at Vanessa as she leaned across the table. "Six weeks," she said as the hatch locked and the engines roared to life. "And I have a lot more in my bag -"
Laughter sounded from behind the ladies causing Vanessa to look up at the man who was to dive the submarine down. “Come off this.” Jack said with a grin on his face. “You’re not still going on about these UFO myths.”
“Leave it be, Jack.” Said Vanessa. “I will handle this.”
She didn’t miss the way Leah’s head dipped down a bit in embarrassment. Before Vanessa could stop her, the younger crewmate had grabbed her file and disappeared further into the ship. Jack chuckled as he watched her leave, but the smile fell off his face when he caught Vanessa’s scowl. “What?”
Standing, Vanessa shook her head. “I would rather not start something this early into this voyage. Fix this and let’s get this expedition underway. I want to return home to my babies quickly.”
Jack let out a heavy sigh but gave the captain a curt nod and hurried back towards the control room. Instead of following him, Vanessa headed the direction Leah had gone. As wild as the girl’s theories were, she was the best navigator in the crew and they’d need her to wrap up the dive as soon as possible.
“Leah.” Vanessa said pounding on the girl’s door. “Come out so we can get going. If you wish to prove something to me, you need to be up top to navigate us to the site of the UFO.”
Leah cracked the door a bit, a scowl on her face. “What? So you and the others can mock me the whole way down?”
“I will take care of the others if they say something out of line. Now can we please start this mission before my children’s next birthday?”
The door opened a bit more and Leah poked her head out. “You’ll defend me?”
Vanessa tilted her head slightly. “I always do. It doesn’t matter if I believe you or not. You are part of this family, therefore I will support you.”
Leah sighed before grabbing a few of her things and opened the door fully. Finally, the two women were heading up the stairs and the expedition down to see what the mysterious shape was has finally begun.
Tori’s leg shook with every passing second. The tension in the courtroom grew thicker. Finally, the side door opened and the judge walked out. Everyone stood and any noise stopped instantly. Once everyone was seated, the judge looked above her small-framed glasses down at the teenager and her parents who sat at opposite tables.
“I have read through the file,” The Judge said. “But I would like to hear all sides to this. Why the sudden battle for full custody?”
Tori’s father, Tony, stood. “I believe my daughter is being physically and mentally abused by her mother when she is left in her care, Your Honor. There are pictures and statements from her school providing additional proof on this.”
Fear accelerated through Tori as her father spoke. She could feel the anger in her mother. She could feel the worry in her older brother. With every passing second, Tori grew more anxious of the outcome of this trial.
The Judge moved her eyes to Michelle. She was a tall, lanky woman who had a breath of confidence about her. “I would never put a hand on my daughter, Your Honor.” Michelle said strongly. “I believe it’s her father. He is trying to keep her from my safety.”
Tori’s leg shook more as she felt her mother’s words cut through her like acid. The judge looked at the fifteen year old. “I would like to hear from your daughter now.” Slowly, Tori stood up. “Victoria?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Tori said. She could feel her legs shaking as she played with her black cardigan sleeves nervously.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?”
Tori looked at both of her parents before closing her eyes. She took a deep breath and started speaking. “I uh…I spend the week with my mom and weekends with my dad. But lately he’s been wanting me all week since Zack found the bruises.”
“Bruises from who?” The Judge asked.
Feeling eyes on her, Tori looked at her mother and instantly felt terrified to speak. Michelle clenched her hand in a tight fist as she watched her daughter. A snap came quickly from the benches causing Tori to look up at the judge. “Mom. Their from my mom.”
“Can you show me?”
Slowly Tori slid the cardigan off her shoulders as she raised her arms in the view of the judge. Bruises covered her arms up to her shoulders. “The bruise on my shoulder isn’t from her. I…I wrestled with my brother. I thought I could beat the Hulk.”
The Judge smiled down at the girl sadly as she looked at the bruises. “You’ll have to be more careful next time.” She looked at both parents. “I hereby grant full custody to Tony Campbell. Court is dismissed.”
Journey Through the Darkness
The room was casted into darkness while I waited for someone to come back for me. I knew they didn’t have anything on me. Only a fake name and information I had given them. My leg bounced impatiently as I waited for the door to open. I knew the longer I was stuck in here, the longer it would take for me to hunt the thing back down and hunt it.
My hand rattled the chain of the handcuffs as I moved to brush my bangs out of my eyes. The officers were taking their sweet time. They didn’t have anything to hold me with. I was in the abandoned hospital waiting for the thing to show when the police came first. Finally, the door opened.
The officer walked in and sat down in the chair across from me. He opened his file and started shuffling papers around while staying quiet. I raised an eyebrow at him and sighed waiting. “This gonna take all day?” I asked. “I was in the middle of something.”
He looked up at me briefly before going back to the papers. “I don’t think you realize just how much trouble you’re in here,” He said, shaking his head. “Breaking and entering, vandalism, possession of a weapon, and false identification.” I looked up at him. “You think I don’t know who you really are Maddie?”
I leaned back in my seat. “Who? I told you. My name is-“
The officer leaned across the table. “Lets stow the crap for a little while.” His eyes flashed black causing me to swear under my breath. “We need to have a talk.”
“Do we? I don’t believe we’ve met before.”
Looking at me, the demon moved over the table more. He smirked as he appeared at ease. “I was sent to find you Maddie. Someone is very interested in you and your partner.”
“Tell him the answer is still no.”
The demon laughed. “You think he’s giving you a choice?” I stared at him. “He gave you time to think about it. Now you’re agreeing to his terms or else.”
“Or else?” I asked. “Or else what? He’s never around to do anything. All I ever see are his monkeys.”
He smirked at me. “You’ll do as he says if you want your friend’s soul to stay intact. After all, this is all your fault, isn’t it?”
I stared at him as I breathed harder. I knew he had me where he wanted me. I knew Stanton had me where he wanted me. I had no choice. I would do whatever they wanted. “Fine.”
“I’ll do it.”
The demon smirked and stood grabbing the keys to the handcuffs. “Atta girl.” He unlocked the cuffs and moved away so I could stand. “We’ll be in touch.”
I looked at him and sighed walking out. I grabbed the envelope with my stuff and opened the main door. The car waited for me outside. She threw the door open quickly and I sighed waiting for the speech I knew I was about to get. Anger radiated off of her as I moved towards her. “If you ask me,” She said kicking off the side of the car, “They should’ve thrown your ass in a cell for the night. Teach you a lesson.”
Biting the inside of my cheek, I moved towards the car. “I know you’re angry Avery.”
She stood taller than me at almost six feet and shook her head. “Angry doesn’t even cover it.” Avery pushed her black hair out of the way as her silver eyes narrowed at me. “You know I spent the last six hours looking for your body in that damn hospital? I thought you were dead.”
Rubbing the back of my neck, I muttered quietly. “They wouldn’t let me call you.”
“So what, you couldn’t wait for me last night? We were supposed to go together, Maddie!”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. I just-“
“You just nothing, Maddie!” Avery said, cutting me off. “You were careless!”
I shook my head. “I thought I could handle it! And you were finally sleeping! I wanted you to get some sleep!”
Avery’s eyes narrowed at me as she shook her head again. I could see the anger in her eyes. Growing up with the White’s, Avery had always been a member of our family. She had become our sister quickly. After mom passed away, she stuck around to glue my brother and I back together. Thankfully, she stayed with us after that. “I can sleep when I’m dead. You know better than to go off alone like that! I know you were raised better than that! I’ve taught you better than that!”
“I’ve already caused enough damage to you. The least I can do is let you sleep, Avery.”
She grabbed my shoulder tightly. “Don’t say shit like that. You know it ain’t true. And besides, that’s no reason to go after this thing on your own and put yourself in danger. You’re lucky it was the cops that found you!”
I bit the inside of my cheek again. “Yeah. Lucky.”
“Nothing,” I said. “They asked me questions and I lied through my teeth, like always. They knew they didn’t have anything and let me go.”
Her eyes narrowed more at me. “If you’re hiding something-“
“You always find out. I know.”
Avery nodded. “Good. So anything you wanna fess up to now?”
I frowned and shrugged. “Not really, no.”
She rolled her eyes at me. “Alright. Get in the car, pipsqueak.”
Smirking, I looked up at her, “Hey, can I drive back to the hotel?”
Avery laughed at me. “Yeah. Right. In the car.”
Rolling my eyes, I climbed into her red Mazda and leaned back into my seat. She started the car and drove away quickly. I glanced at her as I bit the inside of my cheek. I knew that if she had known the truth of the deal I had just made, her anger would be through the roof. I also knew that it wouldn’t take long for the truth to come out. After all, Avery does always find out.
I walked with confidence through the large, black double doors despite the fear that grew in my stomach. I knew he would be behind hose doors waiting for me. Once I walked in, there would be no going back. Although I doubted the men behind me would allow me to turn around either way.
I walked into the large office and looked straight at the man who sat behind the mahogany desk. Andrew stood up when he saw me. The one girl who had managed to escape his grasp. He would make sure that never happened again.
“Welcome back,” Andrew said. I could hear the anger in his voice. The anger that I had been on the receiving end once before during my years of training. “We have a lot of catching up to do.”
I winced slightly feeling a hand press down on my shoulder forcing me into a seat. “I suppose we do.”
Andrew continued to stand before he walked around the desk to stand behind me. His hand ran through my hair. I closed my eyes knowing what was next to come. Andrew’s hand wrapped itself in my long black hair before tugging hard. “If anyone else had tried to do this, I would have them killed instantly.”
“Aren’t I special then?” I asked.
The sarcastic remark didn’t go unnoticed as he tugged harder. A hand wrapped around to the front of my neck. “What is stopping me from doing it now?” He asked.
“You wouldn’t have gone through all the trouble of looking for me if you’re only planning to kill me, Andy.”
I felt the slap across my face before I saw his hand. My eyes met his. “You will be reminded of your place,” He said. “And I know someone who is itching to teach you again.”
My head turned quickly to the door and I watched as he walked in. Standing at 6 feet tall, with a snake tattoo wrapping around his arm, I watched as Maxwell walked further into the room towards me. It instantly felt as if I were 15 years old meeting the man for the first time. The only difference was the anger I could feel radiating off of him. Andrew was angry someone had escaped him, his company, and stayed hidden for four years. Maxwell was past anger. I knew by escaping that I had broken his rules, disrespected him, and tarnished his name. Something that was always important to him.
Though Andrew had stepped back, it felt as if someone’s hand was tightening around my neck. I gasped and scratched at my neck as I looked up at him. His dark eyes glared down at me as I gasped for air. “On your knees.” Maxwell said.
Still gasping, I was shoved forward off the chair and landed on my hands and knees. Whimpers escaped my lips as I tried to break from his magic anyway I could. I knew it was futile while I was attached to him. The day I became his was the day my magic stopped being able to hurt him.
I knew I was at his mercy till he decided otherwise. My head stayed down as another set of feet walked into the room and came to a stop next to Andrew. I looked up to see my older sister, Salice looking down at me with a blank stare. “Your sister was strong willed too,” Andrew said. “Till I broke her. Just as Maxwell will break you again.” Maxwell smirked down at me as Salice stayed by Andrew’s side. I continued to look up at my sister as I gasped for air.
“No freedom. You are at the bottom again. You will be living with Maxwell until further notice. When you are allowed back home, you will be escorted. No privileges.”
“I’ve got her,” Max said. “Don’t worry.”
I could feel Salice’s eyes on me and I looked back up at her. My eyes begged her to snap out of Andrew’s control, but I knew she was too far-gone. I watched as Andrew pulled my sister to him when he leaned against his desk. His hand roamed up and down her back in a possessive movement. “I’d like to see this punishment.”
Andrew nodded while holding Salice tightly to him. She tilted her head watching me but I couldn’t tell if she was able to sense my fear. “Do it.” Andrew said.
My eyes stayed glued to the ground until I saw Max’s feet in front of me. His hand reached down to grab my face in a harsh grasp. “Why are you giving her the time?”
Andrew looked down at my sister as he raised an eyebrow. Normally she wouldn’t speak out like this. “Go on.”
“She’s useless,” Salice said. “She’s not only good enough, but she’s not worth the effort. Just lock her up.”
With those words I could see how much had changed for my sister in the four years I had been gone. She had devised the plan with Simon to get me out of Blackheart. I begged her to come with me but she assured me that nothing would happen and someday soon she would be with me. A promise she was unable to keep. After seeing her with Andrew, it was easy to see that he had broken her. Salice was the strongest person I knew. If she was broken, who knew what would happen to me.
“Take her Maxwell,” Andrew said. “Do with her what you will.”
I didn’t look at anyone as Maxwell grabbed my arm tightly. I knew better then to struggle against him as the tightness finally left around my neck. “Fucking pathetic. Maybe Salice was right.”
Clenching a fist, I felt myself tap into my magic before kicking him away from me. “I got away once. I’ll get away again. If it took you four years to find me the first time, imagine how long it’ll take you again.”
The look on his face was enough to tell me that it would be much harder to leave Darkheart again.
Emerson Quinlan is a short story author who is currently working on her first novel. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Full Sail University and works as a ghostwriter. She enjoys writing in the fantasy, action, and thriller genres of fiction for young adults. Emerson can be found out .
In this collection of short dramatic stories by Emerson Quinlan the main protagonists are psychologically tested and tortured both mentally and physically. The first story â€œExpeditionâ€ centreâ€™s around a submarines crew who are on the brink of a scientific discovery. Uncertainty and distrust between crew members proves a test for the main character but will team work and determination pay off with the find of the century? The second short story â€œFinal verdictâ€ develops a darker and more futile situation that revolves around a very emotional and isolated individual stuck in the middle of a heartless custody hearing, surrounded by her broken family. The third story â€œJourney through the Darknessâ€ plunges our imagination into a strange reality that dabbles into supernatural themes. A girls troubled past coming back to haunt her, catching her off guard when she least expects it. Her wits are strong but how much longer can she lie to her friends and family about that night in the interrogation room? And can she admit to herself that she needs help? The Fourth story â€œReturning Homeâ€ finalises the collection with a complex and violent ending. A seemingly unescapable antagonist tortures her victim both physically and mentally returning her to the suffering she once endured during her childhood. But this time the life of her sister is also in the balance, controlled and in imprisoned the protagonist must think fast and talk her way out of this desperate situation before itâ€™s too late, once again tapping into her supernatural powers.