Contin. of Black Edge "short story", which is a test prologue. Read & Review, good or bad.
~ * ~ CHAPTER ONE ~ * ~
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED
He was being dragged, non too gently, over a hard surface that was lifting his shirts and scraping the skin off his back. His head was throbbing and his throat felt oddly constricted and he struggled to swallow. Disoriented and in pain, Derrik managed to pry his heavy eyelids open only to immediately clench them shut as he was assaulted with his surrounds spinning rapidly out of place and his stomach contracted sickly.
A sound must have escaped his lips for he was abruptly dropped onto cold, hard tile. Despite the nice feeling of it against the new open wounds on his back, dread settled over him like a suffocating blanket.
Derrik hadn't had time to look up before the sharp end of a boot was punted into his ribs. He cried out wordlessly and reflexively curled in on himself.
"Look at me when I'm talking to you, boy!"
There was no strength in him to move as he realized where and who he was with. Derrik went limp on the kitchen tile floor, practically feeling the familiar engulfing sense of helplessness slip over him. When did he get hear? Memories flitted through his mind and a piece surfaced. He remembered using his bedsheets as a makeshift noose.
Idly, he wondered why he waited so long to take that route. It was a so much simpler, so much more efficient and sure way to escape the hell he found himself once again shackled into. From the morning he woke up throughout his school hours to the walk home, he teased with the idea, played it out it in his mind.
It took one second of comprehension for him to decide his fate: He would be free.
He had prepared himself, shut out his consciousness and let the pure thought of what he wanted control his actions. It was so surreal to him, as if he was having an out-of-body experience. In those moments of him ripping those sheets and tying them, Derrik was at peace -- ready to rest eternally.
The loop laid around his neck, not a single drop of trepidation tainted his conscience. Until he nearly took his first step over the edge, a voice called out to him and brutally tore him away from his security.
A cold, soul-shaking chill swept through his entire being and before he could register what he heard, his head whipped to the base of the tree. His eyes widened in alarm and a foreign emotion he could only label as guilt ripped open his heart.
The little girl on her knees glaring up at him with tearing, open-wide, blue eyes and screaming her plea was the last he saw before he lost his footing and the noose choked tight. In the moment of his death (had-been death, he corrected humorlessly), he witnessed a soul pleading for him to live when not even his own willed to stay on this plane of existence.
Getting no reaction from his son, Derrik's thoughts were cut short as he was wrenched up off the floor by his neck, feet dangling. His neck popped in protest and Derrik sealed his lips shut. A big rule in this house: Never scream, whimper, or cry. If this rule is broken, he will be punished. It was an unspoken rule Derrik learned in his early years of life.
He was carried limp down the hall despite the incredible pain shooting up and down his spine. Like a dirty rag doll, Derrik's father threw him into his room, aiming for the edge of his bed. The teenager practically folded around the bedpost, the breath knocked out of him as he gagged.
His father loomed over him like a demon spector revelling in his pain and in its own fury boiling beneath the human-skinned surface.
"That was a stupid move, Derrik," he spat, saliva spraying over his son's quivering body. "Suicide? A fool's way out. It won't be that easy, son."
He reached down and grabbed Derrik's hair and forced him to meet his eye. "If you try to something like that again," he slapped his son's cheek soundly, "I'll put you on the edge. You'll be begging me to kill you, but I'll just laugh and watch you bleed." Another slap. "Comprende?"
Derrik managed a noticeable nod and his father shoved him back. His skull missed the bedpost by inches and bounced on the springy, bare mattress. The man gave one last cruel look upon his shell of a son before slamming the door behind him, leaving Derrik to his pain and tormented thoughts.
Now, more than ever, he wished to die. He wished to die and see that single being that wanted him to live. Of course it would be a child, he thought as he struggled to his feet. They gave underneath his shaking weight so Derrik settled for hauling himself onto the mattress with his arms. Only a child would be ignorant enough to cherish a life as pathetic as his.
Again... I want to hear her voice again. Just once.
Derrik's eyes scanned his room, searching. He caught sight of his backpack laying uselessly on the floor and his dresser where a few little figurines were placed. Nothing worth his attention. He forced his body to a sitting position and his back burned in response. His scrapes were beginning to scab and it hurt to stretch them.
Would she bother begging for his measely life again?
He hoped, he admitted guiltily. Derrik remembered the look on her face and the simple memory of it tortured his conscience. He had not considered the effect his passing would have on people because, quite frankly, he knew none that would care. Friends -- he had isolated himself from his fellow students. Family -- all he had was Mason, a man he was cursed to call his father. Derrik was sure he had some cousins or other realitives, but he was more sure Mason had taken them far away from them.
Yet, despite these facts, for a split second he witnessed a child-stranger care.
His fists clenched in his lap as a light ingnited in his eyes. He threw his legs over the side of his bed and hobbled over to his dresser. He searched through drawer after drawer, sifting through useless clothes in search of something else. His fingers enclosed finally around a length of leather and pulled it forth from the nest of socks.
"Just once more," he whispered pleadingly to the air then put the belt around his throat, slid the end through the buckle, and just as he was about to pull, his heart lifted.
There she was, a flicker of her sorrow-stricken image.
He pulled the belt a fraction.
"Stop it, Derrik!"
Another flicker before she faded once more and Derrik was elated, suddenly filled with a strange sense of morbid giddiness. This time, he pulled hard at the belt and felt the pressure around his airway. Blackness surrounded him like an excited wraith ready to take him and he vaguely felt his body crumple.
His grip went slack. The darkness receeded. She was there, kneeling over him, tears flowing down her flushed cheeks. He stared at her, drinking in her image. She was there and she was beautiful. He, of all people, had an angel at his side, crying for him, worried for him, wanting him to live.
Derrik blinked, slowly and fearfully, afraid that when he opened his eyes she would be gone. But she wasn't. Still feeling the uncomfortable leather of the belt resting against his throat, Derrik moved to remove it.
The angel's eyes widened in panic and she reached out to stop him. Her little hands collided with his and she jerked away with a gasp. Derrik flinched, wounded by her sudden revolsion and readied to tighten the belt once more and end it for good, despite Mason's threats, but little hands once again moved to stop him.
She placed them over his hands, shyly at first, then she settled them fully, fingers brushing over his knuckles soothingly. A choked laugh chimed from her and it fascnitated him. Next thing he knew, she was laying her head on his chest, crying against him, actually soaking his shirt with tears, real tears. He could feel the wetness seeping through.
"I can touch you," she murmed against him, sounding so happy he felt his heart quicken. He could feel her shaking and Derrik lifted his hand, realizing he too was shaking, perhaps for the same reason as she. Slowly, gently, he laid his hand on top of her head.
Her hair was soft and curly beneath his palm. She was real, he marveled.
The girl continued to cry, occasionally hiccuping, and fisted her hands into his shirt. Derrik decided to lay there and revel in her relief and happiness. It was oddly contagious, her emotions. He felt relieved to be alive, to be here in this moment, a moment he had never expected, never even dreamed of. It was surreal, so surreal.
Should it be wrong to feel happy now? Knowing how he had come to this moment -- risking his life, ready to take it -- was it wrong to feel happy that someone was crying over him?
To him, this meant everything and he couldn't find it in him to feel guilty by the fact that it was his suicidal attempts that made this angelic child shed tears for him and fear for him.
His eyes flicked upward, catching her blue with his own. It wasn't enough for her.
"Derrik, can you hear me?" Her tone was desperate.
Shock still in his system, he managed a weak nod then licked his lips. "Yes," he croaked.
At his answer, her face lit up. She laughed, still crying despite the furious rubbing of her eyes. "It's about time," she said. "I've been trying to talk to you for years."