Hello, hello, hellooooo! Welcome back to another posting of Left of Midnight, the newest novel I’m working on. I hope you’ve been enjoying it so far. Here we have the next two sections (well, micro-chapters) of the first section of the book. There are three sections all together and I think we’re moving along nicely here.
Alright, let’s not hold it all up any longer than necessary. Let’s just get right up on in there. Thanks for reading!
THE DAYS PASSED. And Avery felt better. He refused to think that he was grateful. He was still the Jap pilot’s prisoner, after all. A prisoner who was looking less and less well himself, he noted. The man had started having nightmares and kicking out in his own sleep. And when he wasn’t doing that, he was trying to feed Avery whatever grotesque concoction he’d dreamed up that day. In the morning, a wooden bowl of something that looked like soupy weeds dredged up out of the lake mixed with nuts and twigs. In the evening, nearly raw fish on a bed of moist vegetation. It wasn’t exactly the most appetizing meals he’d ever seen.
At first, he’d refused to eat, spitting at his warden in contempt. “Come back with some real food, you Jap bastard! And while you’re at it, learn to cook!”
That first angry glare, that first angry day, while in that first angry rage, his eyes had felt like saucers of hate boring into the pilot. The Japanese man hadn’t reacted in any sort of fright. Just gave some passionate nod and left the concoction nearby on a rock. For all the good it did Avery, of course, his arms were still bound (though now in front of him; Avery couldn’t imagine why that was) as were his legs. Even with his hands before him, his wrists were so tightly wound up that it was impossible for him to grip anything.
The following days, however, found him a little more amenable to the grievous offerings as his stomach was threatening to engulf him whole. He allowed the pilot to spoon feed him a few samples of the stuff and he almost immediately puked it up. The pilot gave up after a few moments and set the bowl down on the rock beside him once more.
“Oh, god! How can you eat that shit?” Avery spat leaning back against the larger rock at his back. “No wonder you people are so small. Surviving on that pittance of sustenance is wholly unacceptable.”
The pilot only sat down and pulled what was left of his flight jacket around his torso. He was shivering. Sweat beaded his brow and flowed down his cheeks. His flesh (a yellowish brown bordering on a tan) had a pale look about it. His eyes somewhat sallow, the dark irises seeming far away and nearly vacant.
“You ain’t lookin’ too hot, my friend,” Avery smiled and let his head knock lightly against the ragged edges of the stone slab rising up behind him. “Why don’t you untie me and let me finish you off for good? Save you the pain and misery you’re obviously going through?”
The pilot only stared off into the distance and shook a sudden shake. Avery watched him for a bit and sighed. There wasn’t much more for it than that. Stare, eat, piss and shit. He and the pilot had finally settled on a sign for when he had to hit the bushes. And it worked pretty well. So well that he intended to use it to his advantage.
On the fourth day of his captivity, Avery made his sign that he needed to do some business. He raised his bound wrists, gripped his left fist tightly in his right hand and grunted really loud. The pilot was on his feet instantly and tossing his jacket to the ground. He was still bare chested yet clean. He had a penchant for getting up early in the misty morning and bathing in the lake using whatever material he’d found as a bar of soap (sans bar). Never once had he offered to clean up Avery. The bastard.
“Yeah, that’s right. I have to shit. Let’s get a move on,” Avery grinned as the pilot neared, unbound his feet, and helped him stand.
He led him across the way and towards the bushes at the base of the forest interior some dozen feet away. Once there, the pilot held up a knife threateningly and then loosened his pants. This would allow Avery to yank them down to do his business. Though, he’d need help pulling them back up. For some reason, the pilot never seemed to make an issue out of that fact.
Wonder why that is, buddy? Let me guess, you like your men bound? Avery grinned at the thought as the pilot loosened his buckle. Hmmm. Do you like your men gagged too? I wouldn’t doubt it.
A laugh escaped Avery’s lips and the pilot stood fully to glare at him with a tilt of his head.
“Don’t worry, pal, I doubt you’d get it. Tight ass.”
Avery went into the bushes and just behind a tree and acted like he was pulling down his pants and making a tremendous effort of it. The pilot shook his head and momentarily looked away. Avery let loose a grunt as if he’d begun his business. The man turned to give him privacy and that’s when Avery bolted into the woods. He didn’t bother looking back as he heard a startled cry and the Japanese pilot giving chase. There was a sudden joy in Avery’s heart as he pushed himself through the brush and leapt over fallen trunks, clumps of vegetation, and dips into the earth. He wasn’t sure how far into the woods he was but he was pretty sure he was nearing the outer river ring. Giggles burst forth from his gut and he was really unsure as to why that was.
Lordy, lordy, Avery’s losing his gourdy! He laughed hard at this thought and pushed out of the forest and onto the tortured terrain of the cleaved turf hanging over the water’s edge. He paused momentarily to get his bearings. He wasn’t anywhere near that makeshift bridge crossing the way towards the great gorge’s cliffside base.
He found himself hurtling through the air as the pilot rammed into his side, tackling him to the ground and wrestling with him for several long moments. As they rolled along the ground, Avery pulled his legs up towards his hips and managed to get his feet onto the Jap’s chest and thrust outward. The pilot was flung off but he didn’t go very far (Jesus! For such a small guy he’s made like iron!). Instead, he rolled backwards into a tight ball, came to his feet, and rushed towards Avery again as he struggled to find his footing. Once more they went rolling around on the ground. Laughter burst forth from Avery’s gut once more as the pilot managed to hog tie his calves to his waist.
“What the shit!?” Avery looked down and was amazed to find himself completely immobilized. He looked up at the panting pilot who was now standing fully erect his hands on his hips and his chest heaving for breath. “Are you a rodeo star!?”
The man sucked in a mass of air and let it out in one rush, his lips first ballooning out before fluttering under the exhale. He waved his right hand through the air and rambled his strange litany of angry sounding babble. Avery laughed again and the man stared at him for a long moment, his chest heaving in the effort as he replaced his right hand and shook his head. Then, after a moment watching Avery laughing as hard as he could on the ground (tied up like a hog), started chuckling himself before a good forge of laughter belted out from himself as well.
They went on like that for a few minutes then the pilot mumbled something that Avery took for, ‘Okay. We had a good laugh. Now behave yourself, goddamnit, so that we can get back to camp.’ Avery wasn’t hard pressed to disagree. He was exhausted from his short flight and realized he’d been letting himself grow complacent ever since coming to this sunken valley of forests and lakes. Since that day, Avery had made an ‘attempted’ escape every three or four days. If only for exercise’s sake. The pilot didn’t seem to mind so much after the fifth attempt.
SHŌTŌ SHIVERED COLDLY despite how much warmer it’d been getting. He wasn’t even certain what day it was anymore. The last he’d tracked, it’d been early May or so. Now he was certain it was either late May or early June. Either way, it was smoldering in the valley. And he was freezing. He was sure he was sick but the illness brewing was taking its sweet time taking him. He was sweating profusely and his nightmares growing ever more dire. His meditations weren’t even keeping him sane anymore. If anything, they were proving ever more dark and frightening. The shadows within threatening to swallow him whole. Their dark blue eyes glowing maliciously in the dark like sentient shadows seeking souls.
He leaned against the cold stone of the rocky formation that was the tiny alcove of his makeshift home. On the other side of the campfire (that had long since gone out), the American rolled slightly in his sleep and his lips muttered some unintelligible sound. The grunting, bearish language of the man seeping into the air and laying over the environment like a lush carpet of mad utterings. Only the steady wind kept the sound from driving Shōtō insane. It was like the voices were everywhere now. In the pilot’s mouth. In his head. On the wind and in the leaves that rustled ever so slightly in that steady breeze.
He looked up into the sky. There were few clouds crisscrossing the darkened skies above. The moon was full and bright with a few of those elongated vaporous emanations crawling across its face as if it were wearing a silky shawl. And here he was staring at its bright surface reflecting the sunlight of a star still hours away from peeking over the horizon. The night was hot and muggy. It was why he hadn’t bothered keeping the fire going. Yet, he found himself gripping his arms tightly and rubbing ferociously trying to drive away a chill that had settled across his bones. His face was hot, his body shivered, and he had his flight jacket tightly wrapped around his shoulders.
Oh, you’re a mess. You’re a mess. It doesn’t feel right. It’s there… that… thing clawing at your mind… He breathed heavily never taking his eyes off the moon slowly drifting across the night sky. Stars twinkled brightly in the billions beyond it. Beyond its influence. But he could feel it pulling on his soul. Struggling for dominance of his very thoughts even.
‘Why don’t you just kill him and be done with it? Then, you know where to go…’
No! No! Shōtō pulled the jacket tighter his eyes drifting back down to the now snoring American. His skin cut a dark figure despite the moonlight cast across him. He looked a phantom. An enemy that would strike him down any moment. The urge to leap up and grab his blade to plunge into the man’s chest was greater now. More urgent than ever. And he hated it. He pushed that urge back down. Ignored its incessant nagging. Like a creature on his back speaking vicious nothing’s into his ear. I won’t do it… you hear me!? I won’t. Not now. Not ever.
‘If you hope to survive this pit of despair, you will sooner than later. You know it…’
He shivered harder then and took in a deep breath and closed his eyes against the maddening thoughts. He was going mad, he was sure of it. He let loose his jacket and brought his hands to his temples and pressed as hard as he could. He wanted to scream but he dared not. That would only be giving the voices exactly what they wanted.
I hope you enjoyed that selection and come back next week for more Left of Midnight. In the interim, check out the latest writing I’ve published down below. I’ve been Timothy S Purvis, and I appreciate your continued presence here on my site. Read to you all again soon.
~Timothy S Purvis