Julia had been a young mother. Her son was born three days after her nineteenth birthday. For the past twenty-five years, she resolved to raise him well, to give him a good chance in life and not have him become an alcoholic or drug addict before he was thirty. So far, she’d succeeded. Her boy was twenty-five, graduating from university, with a seemingly bright future ahead of him. Now, she thought, she could build her own life. For twenty-five years er life had been built, and revolved, around Alexander, her son. She’d worked, with whatever help her distant father could offer, and now it was paying off. She’d done her duty, she raised him well, and now he grew up to be a responsible person, who could surely stand on his own two feet. Now, she was free to focus more on her life, after the long interlude her son’s childhood created.
Today was the seventh of March, Alex’s birthday. To mark the occasion, Julia and Alex went to see a film. The most appealing option was a horror film called ‘Demon in the Dark’. It was the usual shtick; idyllic family, perfect suburban life, serene environment, until one day some hell-spawn starts to destroy their wonderful little world. It kills their dog, it gives the daughter nightmares and red eyes, possesses the son, kills the son, the father kills himself, the daughter kills the mother, daughter hangs herself. Feel good film of the century, Julia thought. It finished with the screen fading to a singing bright red and then to black. Before the lights came on in the theatre, she could see a faint red glow to her right, where Alex was sitting. She turned, but the lights dispelled any glow she thought she’d seen. Alex was sitting very still and staring blankly at the seat in front of him.
“Are you OK?” She asked.
“Yeah, fine. Just tired.” Alex answered, rubbing his eyes.
The next day, Julia woke up late, but Alex wasn’t home. It was a Sunday, so neither of them had to work. He must’ve gone out with friends. she thought. Julia went about her day.
Her son didn’t come back for three days.
Julia called everyone she knew, his friends, the police, anyone she could think of that knew him.One third day she went out to look for him. Around that day’s dusk, she found a deep hole in the middle of a nearby wood. It was deep and freshly-dug, about seven meters deep and wide enough to fit a car. Julia peered into it. In the dimming dusk light, the bottom was completely black and invisible, making it look deeper still. She turned away and closed her eyes, hoping that the hole had nothing to do with her son. Just as she did, something large and metallic hit her full in the face, breaking her nose and knocking her unconscious. Her body fell limp, backwards, into the hole.
She woke up, her head pounding, many hours later. At dawn.
Her nose pulsed with pain at every slight move. She stood up and felt around. The smell was musty and dank, like earth after rain. She was in the hole she saw the day before. Panicking, she looked up and saw a figure standing on the edge, above her. In the dim morning light, she recognised her son’s face, staring down at her with eyes as cold as ice. She stammered out his name, but he made no reaction. Julia’s tired eyes saw a dim red glow around her son. He turned away and grabbed something from the ground. From below, it looked like a loop of rope. Alex put it around his neck.
“Alex, NO!” his mother shrieked.
He smiled mockingly and pulled the rope taut. It was tied around the trunk of a nearby old tree. The faint red glow about his body pulsed.
He let himself fall forwards, into the hole. The roped broke his fall, keeping his head just above ground level. Julia screamed with terror as she stuck her nails into the earthen wall of the hole, trying to get to her son. She was too short and the hole too deep. In her frantic panic, she jumped and grabbed his leg. She found no foothold in the side of the hole. Her nails broke and tore from her fingers as she tried to dig them in for stability. All she did was tighten the rope around her son’s neck. Still frantic, she let go and fell back to the bottom, powerless. The wood around them was quiet. Julia’s screams of anguish and Alex’s death gurgles were the only things to be heard.
After a while, the screams died, along with Julia’s voice. The gurgles stopped entirely, replaced by a low guttural growl. Slowly, that died out too. There was complete silence. Julia’s mind was blank and broken. She stared at her dead boy’s face, blue and swollen, eyes bloodshot and bulging and staring at nothing, white foam at the corners of his mouth. The mother reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver-gilded pen. Numbly, she removed the cap and drove the sharp tip into her neck with all the might she could muster. The pen tore through her jugular and windpipe. Blood began to spray all around her, staining Alex’s shoes crimson. She fell to the ground, blood invading her throat and mouth. Before her eyes, all was bright red. Dark figures danced at the edges of her vision and deep within the red. As her last drops of blood seeped into the moist earth beneath her, she heard a faint, deep laugh coming from Alex’s corpse. The red pulsed again.
It was the last thing she heard.