Chapter 5 of the book Demons, Heroes and Fortune Cookies
There are curses, and there are choices
Background Finally, after accepting his reality, Eu El, armed with only the knowledge of his comic heroes, fights against both his inner fears, and the shadows from the other side.
The song continues inside his head, its lyrics rerouting his thoughts away from the distractions that could slow his sprint to less than what is needed to defeat the darkness. His mathematical nature calculates how anything slower than what he is already achieving could be fatal.
As the guitar solo fades into an angelic verse with that upbeat '80s flair where, through a simple lyrical message, he finds inspiration in a world he was not ready to face:
("Ooo, baby, do you know what that's worth?!
Ooo, Heaven is a place on earth!")
As every visible property engulfed within the darkness slows around him like a speeding car exiting a freeway off-ramp, he reaches his sister's crib; desperate for a breath of air that he dares not take.
The eerie shadow gently closes the cupboard door. She is ready to introduce El's sister to the violent, bubbling cauldron.
He peers cautiously over the crib's side, relieved to see his sister's developing smile. She extends a delicate acknowledgment with an uncoordinated motion of her infant hand.
Placing his finger over his lips, Eu El motions to her to remain silent. Gently, he touches her fingertip with his own to assure her that she is safe. His heart, expecting a rare victory, beats rapidly with the anticipation of failure, a familiar feeling he has carried since the day his brother stabbed him with the sharp end of a geometric compass for being just that...
The shadow growls. "Your heartbeat, boy. Your doubt. Your fear... it tempts me."
The shadow looks into the emptiness waiting for the perfect moment to deliver select words that would ensnare the boy with a message capable of paralyzing fear into a thousand souls with each sound.
"So much talent. Yet, that doubt pulsating inside you, boy...it beats a painful rhythm that convinces me it is my own suffering...if I could choose one heart, then I want yours!"
Within its desire, the shadow becomes distracted.
"I want it!"
Windcharger screams, "Grab your sister! Run!"
The shadow sees a swiftly moving object in the form of an electric blue bolt moving with vicious grace toward a light, her meal tightly hugged within the blur of its skinny arms. Below, she gasps at the empty crib.
A deafening wail of madness fills the darkness as the shadows begin to move.
*Approaching the light behind the door, Eu El hears another voice he has not heard since he was nine; it is the taunting voice of his fourth grade teacher:
"Get YULIE BURGER! He's hot like a patty on a grill! Yuuuuuulie Buuuuurger!"
As if a stop button had depressed, Eu El's sprint turns heavy with the weight of sadness; the light of salvation rapidly stretches farther and farther away.
Inside Eu El's conscience, Windcharger re-gathers his friend's focus with a simple, but relevant memory.
"Your cassette tape...side B. You recorded that new song. Play it!"
"No! The one after 'Wake Me Up Before You Go! Go!"
A stream of notes from a synthesized piano plays in his mind. It is followed by a new set of lyrics that recalibrate his concentration and transforms him into a sight faster than the sound of his own blurred steps.
("Out of the Blue!
Out of the Blue!
Like a dream come true!
Like a dream come true!")
"Of all the races you are to run," Windcharger advises the El, "this is the one you cannot lose. However, if you win, you won't have anything left to succeed in your world. Is your sister worth it?"
Maintaining his glowing streak, Eu El looks at his sister's innocent smile. He has no thoughts of yesterday, or any consideration for tomorrow. Within that simple moment of an embrace he smiles back at his sister as the gap of the door slowly begins to close, the width nearing half the width of his body.
The song continues:
("Suddenly, I see you there...
And everything's ok.")
Eu El, accelerating faster than the pauses between his heartbeat, squeezes past the gap before the door closes with a slam.
Stumbling outside, he checks, with genuine care, his sister, who is cradled safely in his tired arms.
He observes the blackness around him dissipating like a fog before the embrace of the sun in a warm afternoon. The dark hall turns into a comforting white glow that assures him they are safe. His sister gazes back at him with wide eyes.
"Well done, hero. From here on, the fight will be your own," echoes Windcharger. "Thirty years from now, when you hear this again, you will know this wasn't a dream."
Puzzled, but victorious, Eu El makes a comfortable sigh as the delicate giggles of his sister begin to calm his shaking hands. The moment diverts his attention, but not ours, to the door soundlessly opening behind him.
Unnoticed, a blackness from the door oozes below his feet like blood pooling from a fresh slaughter. With the quickness of a bear trap, a dark crooked arm clenches his ankle.
Echoing deep within the depth of darkness, the shadow again curses.
"Heroic and selfless you are, boy! You will accomplish great things with your gift. Yet, no one will ever notice. The innocence you cherish in your sister will be your demise! The day your newborn sister loses her innocence, I will feast on YOUR heart!"
A light flashes from inside the boy's mind. He wakes sitting upright in his bed.
Sweating, he breathes heavily; rethinking his understanding of what reality he may have lost and what fantasy he may have survived.
A digital clock clicks 3 a.m.
Beneath the moonlight, he looks downward at his collection of G.I. Joe and Transformers action figures sprawled across the carpet of his room like the aftermath of a futuristic battle between man and technology. Each figure lays either face down, or on their backs...
Like a silent survivor, a lone Transformers figure, Windcharger, stands perfectly upright staring toward him.
Looking beyond the crescent moon through his window, the boy gazes up to the heavens promising, "I'll never watch another Freddy Krueger movie again without permission. Cross my heart."
Slowly, he falls asleep unaware the doors of darkness have just opened, and his journey back into the light was just beginning.
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