is a collection of stories including a supernatural tale of disease and revenge; a story of runaways leaving suburbia behind to find the terrors of twisted street kids in the Montrose; a story of a hitcher who takes a ride with some coeds into the woods and discovers the secrets of pleasure and pain; the tale of a feral boy who roams the back roads and is hunted by another; and the story of three goth teenagers opening the gates of hell with dark rites.
The doubts whirl again. All the others, was he sure? Had there been another moment of weakness or drunkenness when he wasn’t safe? No, it was Dean. He had met him when he first came out after the increasingly prohibitive straight world. It was freedom and he would have done anything for him. Now all he had was fading memories and a new found aversion towards sex. Daniel leans in closer to his reflection, the anger igniting within.
His jittery hands explore his complexion looking for more faults. The three day old damp shirt comes off and there is an as yet unexplained rash. The faucet is turned on and Daniel splashes cool water on his face roughly trying to make it go away. He opens the medicine cabinet and sees all the pill bottles glaring back: AZT, Videx, Viramune, Bactrim and so on, just too many. Daniel slams it back shut and pills of different sizes rattle inside the closed space.
In the other room a quilt panel lies innocuous amidst the debris. Hand stitched, it has a jagged rainbow over a roughly sewn intersection representing the ‘gay-boyhood’. Montrose and Westheimer street signs are prominent, showing this as the Houston scene. Daniel stares at it and feels a cold hatred. Is this what it all comes to, being a piece of cloth in a tapestry of disease?
In the antiquated bedroom, Max and Sandy are getting hot and heavy on the freshly stripped bed. Max is bare chested and Sandy sits on top in a pullover shirt.
Sandy reaches down, “all the trouble to get away from this place and you bring me back here.”
“Ugh,” Max reels from her deft touch. “I always thought you were so hot.”
Why do I always find the confused ones?
Darrin walks out of the lake feeling self conscious of his nakedness. Sandy lies basking on a large rock with her eyes closed to the world at large. He dries off with a towel from the heap of scattered belongings and clothes, setting aside a black bra. He wants to say something to Sandy but cannot find the words since they have been failing him more and more lately. He admires the beauty of her breasts that slowly rise and fall with her steady breaths and wonders what is wrong with him. He wraps the towel around his torso and sits on the edge of her rock in time to see Daniel walk forward dripping wet and rough. A word is not spoken between them but in the moment Darrin half smiles and the favor is returned. Copping a look at Sandy, he returns his gaze to see Daniel pull his pants on commando style and with clothes bundled under an arm walk away along the path into the woods. Darrin exhales sharply and leans back, closing his eyes in the warmth of the day.
Bird sounds faintly echo across the lake and the sound of falling water is softer with distance. Alice takes in the soothing nature realizing that Max is gone. Turning this way and that, she cannot see him below the surface for the reflection of the sky. A different fear grips her, the fear of being watched by unseen eyes from the surrounding woods. Shivering, she knows they are not alone. Max playfully comes up from behind, startling her.
“Max, you scared me.”
“You are so cute, baby.”
“I saw something,” Alice says as she scans the trees.
“What did you see?” Max looks around trying not to catch her paranoia.
“Somebody is watching us.”
“There is,” Alice continues in a lower voice, “something out there.”
Max feels a little spooked. “Come on, let’s go back.”
Branches on the far shoreline move a little. Someone watches them, following them in the darkness of the trees. The pine needles are soft and soundless underfoot and there is an uneasy quiet in the air. The sun, low in the sky, shines a fiery amber as the day grows late.
“Dark Lands,” a collection of supernatural and dark fiction by David Sharp, is available in the Apple iBookstores, B&N, Sony, Bookstrand, OmniLit, and coming soon to Amazon. Our website is http://www.beautobeau.com.