A Dream of Darkness – Chapter 6
Aleks stood over Keegan’s limp body.
From the moment he’d stood from the couch, it was like a switch had flipped in his new friend—like he’d shut off a part of himself entirely. Aleks’s cold, blue eyes locked on to his, refusing to break.
“What did you say?” Henry asked. He was pinned against the edge of the couch, terrified to move, but desperate to run.
“I said we need to talk. It’s best if we do this in your room.”
There was no misunderstanding Aleks’s tone. Henry would be going one way or another.
Flicking his eyes over to Keegan, Henry tried to search for any signs of life. A moment before, his brother had been jacking off under Henry’s compulsion, and his body had fallen unconscious the instant Aleks placed a finger against his brother’s forehead. The light snoring coming from his brother was the only thing giving him any remote sense of comfort.
“He’s fine, Henry,” Aleks said. “He’ll be asleep for a few hours. He’s fine.”
Aleks took a few steps toward him, but Henry held up a palm in fear.
“Don’t come near me! What did you do to him?”
A pained expression crossed Aleks’s face, but Henry didn’t care. Something bizarre was going on, and he needed answers right then.
“I didn’t do anything different than what you did just a few minutes ago.”
“I-I don’t understand,” Henry said.
“You do, Henry. The dreams you’ve been having. The arousal you make people feel. That voice you’ve heard whisper in your mind.”
When Aleks approached again, his hands raised in surrender, Henry didn’t squirm away. No, if anything, he felt like he’d been busted for a secret he’d been keeping inside.
“Take my hand, Henry. I don’t want to force you. This has to be something you decide for yourself.”
Aleks extended a pale palm out toward Henry, pleading silently with him. Henry still wasn’t sure. He was trying to process everything he was experiencing, but his mind couldn’t make heads or tails out of it.
“It has to be you, Henry. You can say no, and I’ll walk right out that door. I’m just asking you to trust me.”
Henry felt tears well up in his eyes. “What are you?”
Aleks smiled, his own tears brimming. He said softly, “I’m just like you.”
Henry took his hand.
Aleks helped him from the couch, and though his knees trembled, Henry led the two back into his bedroom where Aleks sat on the bed covers. He patted the space beside him, and Henry joined him. He didn’t know what he was supposed to be doing as he waited for Aleks to speak. The boy seemed just as lost in his own thoughts.
“I want to show you something, Henry. I could try and explain it, but I don’t think it’ll make much sense if I do.”
Aleks turned to face Henry on the bed and gestured for him to do the same. Taking Aleks’s open hand in his own, a comforting warmth spread from the boy’s palm and began to wash over Henry. If he had to search for a word to use, safe was what came to mind. He was safe here with Aleks.
“Close your eyes, Henry.”
Henry did, and Aleks’s forehead pressed against his own. The darkness behind his eyelids began melting away, and Henry found himself standing on cobblestone streets surrounded by high stone buildings bathed in soft sunlight. Aleks was to his left, his hand still clasped in Henry’s. Around them, the structures were painted in variations of pale yellow and beige, each complete with tall windows on every floor. They were alike, with subtle differences distinguishing them from the buildings beside them, yet they were all utterly unfamiliar to Henry as he spun around. It was all so different than anything he had seen; even the air was significantly cooler than what he was used to this time of year.
“My home,” Aleks whispered.
A basset hound huffed its way up the hill and sniffed the ground as it veered into a narrow alley. Henry took in the people strolling up and down the streets. They seemed out of place compared to the people of Misty Pines, but Henry couldn’t say exactly why that was. It was almost like they moved slower, without the hustle of people he saw at school or in town. And their clothes were old; clean and well-kept, but old.
“How are we here? Are we really here?”
Aleks shook his head. “This place is only a memory of mine. One of the last times I was here.” He squeezed Henry’s hand tighter as he took a breath. “It’s been nearly fifty years.”
Henry laughed hollowly beside him. “Fifty years…there’s no way. That’s actually insane.”
Aleks shrugged and nodded his head. “About as insane as being here with me in this moment. Seeing all this. Experiencing all that you have over the past few days.”
Henry listened close as two women passed by carrying small woven baskets stuffed with what smelled like warm, fresh bread. Their words were foreign to him, but the accent he thought he recognized.
“Are we in France?”
“Not too far from a city known as Marseille. These streets were my childhood. The first part of it, anyway.”
Off in the distance, the deep toll of a bell rolled down the street four different times.
“Henry,” Aleks said. “What I’m going to show you is not pleasant. I’m sorry for that. But for you to understand what I’m going to ask you, there can’t be anything hidden from you.”
Henry swallowed as his hands grew clammy in Aleks’s grasp.
“I trust you,” he said.
Aleks gave the saddest smile Henry’d ever seen.
In front of them, the front door to the building clattered open, and out stepped a small pale boy with wavy, blonde hair smushed under a cap. Apart from the styled hair and the modern clothes he now wore beside him, this boy was Aleks in every way. Behind him the boy shouted, “À bientôt, maman!” before pulling the door shut and waltzing down the wide, stone steps.
“My father was killed when I was young, and my mother had cancer, though I didn’t know it until after she had passed.”
Henry and Aleks walked together as they followed the memory of Aleks down the steep road. He leaned in to sniff a bed of pink and yellow flowers. Several shops down, Henry couldn’t read the sign, but the air smelled of brine and fish. The younger Aleks checked his reflection in the shop window. He pulled off his cap to adjust his hair before situating it back on his head in a way that Henry thought made him look dashing.
It was another several blocks of sloping streets before the two of them finished their journey. Another boy with a thick head of brown hair played with a rubber ball, bouncing it against the wall until he spotted Aleks. The two of them struck up an effortless conversation, the way only people in a deep friendship can. Beside him, the current Aleks smiled fondly, although Henry could feel a tremble in his grip.
“Nicolas,” Aleks said.
The two younger boys raced inside before Aleks closed his eyes and breathed in.
“It’s okay,” Henry said. “You don’t have to show me whatever this is if you’d rather just tell me.”
“Just don’t let go,” he warned, and the world evaporated in an instant, the vivid French town dissolving away before reshaping into a tiny bedroom with dark stained wooden floors. A thin brown curtain covered the window, blocking some of the fading sunlight. The room was mostly bare, save for a few scattered pieces of clothing, a nightstand with penciled sketch drawings on top, a single, twin bed, and the shirtless forms of Aleks and Nicolas as they held each other’s faces in a passionate kiss.
“By this time, I had been having the dreams for several weeks. In each of them, I stood alone outside of town, facing a darkness I didn’t know could exist. It kept telling me to do things, pushing me to give in to desires I barely had names for.”
Henry was struck with chills as he recalled his own encounters in the woods outside of Misty Pines.
“There was a priest in town who told me that demons worked in many forms to try and take my soul. He thought the voice was some kind of djinn, a dark genie that would give the illusion of wishes. I didn’t know what it was I was saying yes, too.”
The two on the bed continued kissing, but the younger Aleks began moving on down to Nicolas’s neck, and Henry noticed the blank expression on Nicolas’s face, like he was disconnected emotionally from his body’s feelings.
“It started innocently enough. I was eleven and didn’t have much of a wicked side. But after feeling some of the things boys do, I was hooked. And naturally I wanted to bring those same feelings to my closest friend. This is the day that it all changed.”
On the bed, Aleks continued exploring Nicolas’s body, kissing his undefined chest before pausing to take one of the boy’s small pink nipples in his mouth. His friend panted through that same horrifying empty expression that made Henry want to flee the room altogether.
“The djinn kept pushing me further, promising more, but of course there was a cost. I was too naive to understand that there might be someone out there that wanted to hurt me.”
On the bed, the younger Aleks began unbuttoning his pants and wiggling out of them. Henry heard Aleks whisper something in French to Nicolas who seemed to come back to himself a bit. When Aleks repeated the command, his friend turned to face him and briefly shook his head, a look of confusion and wariness on his face. Nicolas cast his glance down at the tiny bulge pressing up against Aleks’s underpants before retreating across the bed.
The next bit Aleks explained in bitter, icy tones as it played out in front of them.
“I thought if I broke the trance and suggested taking things further, he’d be up for it, especially after he felt how good the kissing was. He was my friend, so I’m sure it was hurtful and confusing for Nicolas. At the time, I was only thinking about myself, and so I broke through his mind. Forced him to do what I wanted.
“The only problem was that it was far from the first time I’d used that dark power. There is a limit to what each mind can sustain. I learned that the hard way.”
On the bed, Aleks gripped Nicolas by the shoulders and growled something in French at his friend. There was a brief, pained look of confusion and concentration before Nicolas’s eyes rolled in the back of his head. He began seizing and foaming at the mouth as his body broke out in a sweat all over. Aleks scrambled off the bed, his body striking the floor with a loud thump as he stared on in horror. Beside him, Henry’s Aleks was painfully quiet as he squeezed his eyes shut.
The shouts of panic that came next hurt Henry’s heart as presumably Nicolas’s family burst through the bedroom door. There was a flurry of scrambled words as the father went to scoop his son in his arms, and the mother fled for help through her sobbing.
“Je regrette, Je regrette, Je regrette,” the younger Aleks cried as he hugged his knees to his chest.
“Take me back,” Henry whispered, trying to stifle his own emotion. “Aleks.”
His friend was squeezing his chest with his free hand as the tears spilled through his closed eyelids. Henry broke the hand contact between them as he turned to embrace Aleks in a hug. Around him, the chaos of the bedroom dissolved, first Nicolas, then his father, then the room, and finally Aleks.
They were still sitting on the comforter in Henry’s bedroom, and Henry held Aleks tight in a hug as his friend sobbed and let his emotions go. Ignoring the snot drooling on his sleeve, Henry gave up on holding his own tears back. It was okay to grieve with his friend; for his friend.
It was some time before Aleks calmed down enough, and through it, Henry couldn’t help but think how utterly alone Aleks must have felt. Even though he had lived dozens of years, he was still a hurting eleven-year-old boy.
“I’m sorry I had to show you that, Henry,” Aleks eventually said, wiping some of the lingering snot with the back of his arm.
“Hey, you know it’s not your fault, right? What happened with Nicolas, you couldn’t have known.”
Aleks was still in his movements, and Henry could see that his words in that moment weren’t going to wipe away decades of self-inflicted torment.
“Everyone deserves to make choices for themselves, Henry,” he said with a meek smile. “Everyone.”
Henry reflected on all the people he’d manipulated with his power over the past week, most of all his younger brother. Had they been in just as much danger as Aleks’s best friend this whole time? Henry wasn’t sure how he would have managed to deal with the guilt Aleks had faced.
“But I’ve already taken that choice from so many,” Henry said.
Aleks shook his head and took Henry’s hands again in his own, this time for comfort. “You haven’t. Trust me. It’s not too late. For you. For them.”
Henry watched as Aleks’s blue eyes hardened. “I’ve spent a long time trying to hunt this monster down, Henry. It’s ancient, but it’s not immortal. It can’t be.”
“Wait, what? You’re trying to stop this thing?”
“From the moment I completely gave in, I was connected with it. I don’t have all the answers, but I can only guess it’s the reason why I’m still…like this. I think it wanted others like me to live continuously in exchange for destroying the minds of others. It feeds on the broken, Henry, like a psychic parasite. I thought maybe if I could find and kill it, I could free those who’d suffered like Nicolas. It’s how I found you…I’d been watching you before we met.”
“You were stalking me?”
Aleks had the decency to look guilty. “I wanted to see the type of person you were. Not everyone who has this power is worth saving, Henry. There are people I’ve come across that have done some truly horrific things. They crave the adrenaline and pleasure this power gives them no matter the cost.”
Henry chewed on what Aleks told him. He was afraid to ask Aleks what had happened to those people. The possibilities made him shiver.
“But what if this thing kills you once you finally find it?”
The emptiness behind Aleks’s gaze sent chills running down Henry’s spine.
“It wouldn’t matter. No one’s around to miss me.”
Henry’s heart hurt again as he shook his head. No, it wasn’t right. None of it. Not what was happening to Henry, not what was happening to Aleks, nor any person who had been affected.
“Would you shut up already?” Henry blurted out.
Aleks blinked a few times. “What?”
“I said, shut up. You keep talking like you’re some worthless piece of shit. Like no one could ever possibly care for you. If you say something like that again, I swear to god, I’m going to punch you!”
Henry wasn’t terribly strong, but he didn’t hold back as he struck Aleks’s shoulder.
“You really hit me?”
“If you weren’t being so stupid right now, you would realize how much I care for you. You made a mistake, man! We all do. You learn from it, and you grow. This monster was the reason Nicolas suffered, not you, and if you don’t see that, then you’re the dumbest person on the whole planet!”
Aleks held a hand to his shoulder, wincing at what Henry hoped would be a lasting bruise to help remind his friend how ridiculous he was being.
Henry half-expected Aleks to punch him back or tackle him off the edge of his bed, but instead he laughed. Laughed harder than Henry had ever heard before. For a few brief moments, the Aleks he was used to seeing was back as he rubbed his shoulder.
“Okay,” he said. “Okay. I get it.”
“Do you?” Henry readied another fist just in case.
“I do. It’s going to take some time, really, but I’ll try to remember what you said.”
Henry’s stomach growled noisily and he rubbed his stomach to try and ease the discomfort.
“You want a PB&J?”
It was a surprisingly normal thing for them to do considering the surreal experience Henry had just gone through with his pseudo-immortal friend. While they slapped together their sandwiches, Henry asked Aleks what came next.
“That…kind of depends on you.”
“What do you mean?” Henry asked.
Aleks shrugged and spread jelly across his bread. “I can take your power. I can take all the memory you’ve had with it so it’d be like you’re back to your normal life. Once I do that, it severs the connection between you and the darkness.”
“Have…have you done it before? On others?”
Aleks nodded and bit into the top corner of his sandwich. “It’s painless, if that’s what you’re worried about. I made sure of it. In return, it helps me get stronger. I’m not stupid enough to think I can win yet, but I know every person I take from the djinn weakens it just a little bit more. It gives, but it can’t take. That’s how I’ll stop it. The choice has to be yours, though. I can’t take it by force.”
Despite all of Aleks’s warnings and the memories he had shown him, Henry was torn. Not over the morality of the decision. He knew it was right to relinquish every bit of the dark power he had to his friend. At least then it could be darkness molded for good. No, what he would miss was what the power offered him: the chance to explore his sexuality without fear of rejection. Without the hurt that came from how cruel people could be. It wasn’t fair.
But everyone deserved a choice. That’s what Aleks had said. Even now, his friend was giving him a choice.
“I’m scared,” Henry admitted.
“I know,” Aleks said in a way that Henry understood now to be filled with the wisdom only many years can bring.
“I want you to have it,” Henry finally said, “but on one condition.”
“I want to remember you.”
Not too long after the sandwiches, Henry noticed the time on the clock. His mom would be home in a matter of minutes. Aleks promised to return that night and told Henry to stay awake. Dreams were where the djinn prowled on its victims.
When Keegan awoke on the couch, he was confused as to when he had even fallen asleep. He didn’t appear to remember Aleks ever being at the house, nor the brief masturbation session Henry had forced him to have. It seemed Aleks had wiped his brother’s memory to protect him—perhaps to sever the connection to the djinn. After all, Henry still held that dark power for a few more hours yet. He wouldn’t use it. No matter what.
It was just past eleven that night when Henry heard a rustling from the shrub outside his bedroom window and the sharp tap of a fingernail on the glass. He peeked out the sides of the blinds and saw Aleks’s pale face smiling back at him. Henry raised the blinds, unlatched the window, and helped pull while Aleks pushed up. On his way inside, Aleks dragged in a few prickly leaves stuck to his blue jean jacket.
“Sorry,” he said as he brushed off the leaves.
“It’s fine, I’ll clean it all up later.”
Henry’s bedroom was on the opposite side of the house from his parents, but he still felt like they should be quiet in case Keegan woke up from the next room over. They sat together on Henry’s bed, facing each other with their legs crossed like they had that afternoon.
“So, listen,” Henry said in a low voice. “I was thinking about what you said earlier. I know you should take this power, but I want to help you somehow. Two of us together would be much stronger, right?”
Aleks sighed. “Henry…”
“You shouldn’t have to do this alone,” Henry said, his voice cracking in betrayal.
“I’m not alone. There are others like you who believe in me. A part of them is always with me.”
Henry lunged forward and wrapped his arms around his friend in a hug, squeezing him for all he was worth. There was only a brief hesitation before he felt Aleks’s arms hug him back.
“I don’t want you to go,” Henry said softly.
“I know. Me either. You helped me remember what having a friend was like. But if I stayed—anywhere—then nobody would be there to fight for the innocent. More people would be lost. I have to go.”
Henry pulled back from the hug and hovered inches from Aleks’s face. The boy’s blue eyes were like a well into infinity, and before he knew what came over him, Henry ignored the heavy thump in his heart as he leaned in to kiss Aleks on the lips. It was his first kiss and all too quick as he mashed his lips against the boy, but it was spectacular.
“I—I’m sorry,” Henry said in a rush. “I should have asked first if you were—”
Aleks kissed him this time, his technique much softer, and the boy gently guided Henry back against the bed. Henry wasn’t sure if this was a normal thing guys felt when kissing, but he had sprung rock hard inside his pajamas almost instantly. He was just about to reach down to adjust himself into a more comfortable position when he felt Aleks’s hand squeezing his cloth-covered erection instead.
Henry gasped far louder than he intended as the kiss continued. Aleks broke it off only to ask if should continue.
“Oh, hell yes,” Henry answered as he began to let his own hands explore.
He helped remove Aleks’s jacket from his body, leaving him in his black t-shirt. Aleks let go of Henry’s penis and leaned back so he could pull his shirt over his head. The boy’s pale chest and torso were bathed in the warm light of Henry’s table lamp. Henry ditched his own white t-shirt and threw it on the floor.
There was a momentary pause as Aleks considered what to say.
“Henry, I don’t want to push things too far. If you’re not ready for anything, just tell me. It won’t hurt my feelings at all.”
“I’m ready,” he told him. “I trust you.”
Henry grabbed the waistband of his pajamas before shoving them down to his ankles. He kicked off the first leg, and had to pull the second one away, leaving him completely exposed to his friend. Aleks drank him in from head to toe before unsnapping his own jeans. There was no denying the tent pressing against Aleks’s briefs, and Aleks pulled them down his legs, his erection slapping back against his stomach. It was everything Henry could have hoped for; perfection on a human body.
Aleks’s foreskin was slightly peeled back, the head of his penis a dark shade of pink. His balls were tiny in their sack, with only the slightest droop to them. The lamplight showed no pubes that Henry could see, though this wasn’t much of a surprise based on everything else he knew about him.
With their clothes removed, Aleks swung a leg over Henry’s midsection and straddled his waist. Henry could feel his friend’s lean ass as he rested on top of him. Their erections nearly touched, Aleks’s thin four inches standing straight up while Henry’s fell against his body, bobbing in time with his heartbeat. He’d already started to pool a small strand of precum down to his pubic area.
“I’ve always wanted…to do something like this,” Aleks whispered.
Henry was stunned. “You haven’t? But you’ve lived so long…”
“I didn’t want to get too close or hurt anyone again. I didn’t think I deserved it.”
“How do you feel now?”
Aleks didn’t answer but smiled and leaned forward to kiss Henry again. This time, the boy’s boner pressed against his stomach while Aleks rested his weight on top of him.
Henry chanced sticking his tongue between his lips to see how Aleks would respond. Immediately he felt the strangest sensation of another tongue against his own, firm but pliable as they twisted and danced together. They held the kiss another minute before Henry was forced to break for air with a heavy gasp.
“You’re supposed to breathe through your nose,” Aleks said with a laugh.
“Well how was I supposed to know?” His chest heaved up and down, and Aleks took the chance to explore Henry’s chest. There was little definition to it, but Aleks appeared satisfied as he brushed a thumb over one of Henry’s nipples, making it harden under his touch.
Before long, Aleks spread his hand out and ran it down Henry’s stomach, stopping once he reached the few pubes Henry had growing on either side. He teased a few between his fingers, smiling.
“I always wondered what these felt like. Mine never got to come in. Obviously.”
“They’re cool,” Henry said. “Kind of itchy, sometimes, though.”
Henry gasped again as Aleks wrapped his fingers around the base of Henry’s erection. The nerves on his cock felt like they were being charged with electricity. He hoped he wouldn’t cum right away, but he knew it wouldn’t take much at all to reach his trigger point.
When Aleks lifted Henry’s penis, another bead of precum burped out and drooled down to his stomach.
“I can make a little,” Aleks said. “But only when I cum. Not like this.”
“Can I see?” Henry asked.
“I’ll do you one better.”
Aleks shifted his hips again and leaned forward so the underside their erections connected. He couldn’t quite reach all the way around with one hand, but he had enough of a grip to hold them in place. If Aleks’s hand on his penis was electricity, then feeling both of them together was lightning from heaven. Henry loved feeling the weight of another person’s body against his own.
Henry ground his hips against Aleks’s boner, feeling his velvety skin slide back in response. They started to hit a rhythm, a couple times snagging a bit of precum as they leaned back in together. The sliding feeling of dick on dick was too much for Henry. He’d never imagined being able to have a moment like this with another boy so soon in his life. And this put his fantasies to shame. This was tactile. This was real. And this was sending him to the edge quicker than he’d ever felt.
“Aleks, I’m close,” he breathed out, feeling a tightness in his balls as Aleks rocked again.
“Me, too,” Aleks said, squeezing his eyes shut while his mouth hung open in pleasure as he rocked against Henry.
Seeing Aleks’s face twist in bliss along with the rolling sensation across his dick was enough to do it. Henry squeezed Aleks’s thighs as he felt his orgasm strike. Unlike the previous times he’d cum, this wasn’t the typical burps of cum that shot from his dick but rather a sprinkler of watery jizz that arced up his torso and neck. He wasn’t even sure he’d seen it shoot out of him, it had been so fast.
“Oh, yes, yes, yes,” Aleks whined and trembled as his pale skin became blotchy and red. Aleks’s boner twitched against his own as he had his own orgasm. His penis streamed out a single, tiny jet of clear cum while the rest of his pulses were dry.
“So good,” Aleks sighed and fell on Henry. Their warm cum squished between them, and even though Henry knew they’d have to clean themselves later, right now he couldn’t give two shits.
“That was…” Henry said at a total loss for words.
“Fucking awesome?” Aleks suggested with his face buried in Henry’s shoulder.
Henry laughed. “Yeah, that’ll do it. Fucking awesome.”
They stayed together at each other’s side, neither wanting to move as they talked to each other about random little nonsense. Words that meant nothing. Words that meant everything. In that time, Henry asked whether or not Aleks was sure the djinn, or whatever darkness haunted him, would truly leave him be.
“That seems to be how it’s worked in the past. You and anyone else he’s bridged a connection to while he’s been tempting you.”
“Others I’m connected to?”
“Your friend, Aiden,” Aleks said. “People tend to use their abilities on those closest to them. For you, that’s your brother and Aiden. This will sever their connection as well.”
“But they don’t know about the monster, right?” Henry pointed out.
Aleks had his head propped up on his arm as he teased a few fingers across Henry’s chest.
“You’re right,” Aleks agreed, “but…”
Aleks darted his eyes away as if he were considering what to say, or whether to say anything at all.
“It’s fine,” Henry said, “You can tell me.”
“Last night you had a dream where the djinn took you into Aiden’s bedroom and Keegan showed up, yes?”
“How did…you were there?”
Aleks shook his head. “Not in the same way you were. I can’t break through directly, not yet, but I can still experience them. The thing is, it wasn’t your own dream the djinn used to tempt you, it was Aiden’s.”
Henry sat up and looked down at Aleks. “But that doesn’t make any sense at all. Aiden’s not gay. Why would he have a dream like that about Keegan?”
And more importantly, Henry thought, why was the dream about Keegan and not him?
Aleks seemed to read the same question from his facial expressions, because he said, “You know people don’t have control over what they dream, right? It was the same for Aiden.”
“You were connected to his thoughts?”
“His thoughts. His mind. His personality. Even his desires.” Aleks let the last suggestion hang in the air for Henry to interpret.
“Your friend needs your support, Henry. You may have things figured out for yourself, but we all accept who we are at our own pace. It may not be as hopeless of a situation as you might think.”
Henry leaned back against his pillow as he stared up at the ceiling. The whooshing of the fan blades was almost hypnotic as the cool air drifted through the room. Aiden was gay? Well maybe not gay, he figured, but maybe not fully straight either. And if it was something he was trying to wrestle with by himself, then what a nightmare that could be in its own right. No wonder he’d seemed so off lately.
He turned to face Aleks who gazed at him with a steady poker face.
“Thank you for telling me,” Henry said. “You can trust me. I won’t abuse what you said.”
“I know, Henry.” Aleks leaned forward and gave him a lasting kiss on his forehead. “You’re going to make a great boyfriend one day.”
Henry gave Aleks another hug. “I really wish you didn’t have to go.”
“You sure you want to keep your memories of me?”
“Oh my god, yes,” Henry blabbered. “Are you kidding me? Tonight was incredible. I’ve loved every second of being with you. And not just the sex stuff, either. I think you’re genuinely one of the coolest people I’ve met.”
“You’re pretty special, too, Henry. Well then, I think it’s time.”
Henry stepped off the school bus at Misty Pines Middle the next day, and damn it all, if people didn’t think there was a bit of extra pep in his step that morning. Despite the fact that he only got about five hours of sleep, he had slept deeper than he could ever remember. On the bus ride to school, he didn’t feel the need to even test the power that had been given to him. He could sense the instant Aleks had taken it from him. The boy had been right—it hadn’t hurt at all, and strangely, he sensed a part of his supernatural friend with him in his mind. It was comforting, like a hand on his shoulder guiding him along. Somewhere out there, that amazing boy was fighting to bring others out of the dream of darkness and back into light.
Aiden was waiting for him in the courtyard as usual and offered him a weak smile as he approached. Henry smiled back and bumped fists with Aiden.
“You look happy today,” Aiden said. “What gives?”
Henry looked around and breathed in the fresh morning air. “Just…happy to be here, I guess.”
“Where’s your friend?” Aiden asked, scanning the courtyard, half-full by now with students from the morning drop off.
“I don’t know,” Henry lied. “Maybe just hasn’t gotten here yet. Hey, so yesterday, remember when I was going to tell you about what happened at the swimming hole?”
“Well, guess what…”
Henry started spilling about how Jake had been filming himself jerking off in the woods, which naturally made Aiden lose his mind for a minute before he slapped him about withholding secrets for so long. Their conversation became filled with hushed comments and whispers, and Henry noticed, there were quite a few questions about Jake. When the morning bell rang, and the middle school students began shuffling inside, the two walked together, giggling to themselves as they passed the red-headed boy with his popular clique.
It wasn’t the time, Henry thought. Time was what he had, and one day soon, he would share with Aiden about how boys made him feel. Maybe it would lead to something, maybe it wouldn’t, but when time brought them to that point, it would be Aiden’s decision. The ball would be in his court. What was most important to Henry in that moment was having his best friend by his side through all the wild, unknown chaos of middle school.
Copyright 2023 – Levi Holland
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Author’s Note: Thank you to everyone who stuck it out through the end of the story. Obviously there is more to tell beyond this chapter, especially for our friend Aleks, but for Henry’s story, this is where we have to leave things. In life we take chances, we discover, we explore, and we never promised the knowledge of what comes next. So it shall be for our boys as they prepare to walk their next steps in life.
Though this story is complete, there is more to share from the town of Misty Pines that will be on the way soon (sooner if I’m struck by more writer’s block, damn you!). Some are longer stories like this, some are one-shots where we dip in and out of peoples’ lives and the interactions they have. Hopefully they all have the kind of depth that I think every story and character deserves.
Until then, feel free to reach out with overall thoughts on the story or ideas for future stories!