The Dark Window

The Dark Window

By Joyel Puryear

 

You have not known fear, until you have walked in the shoes of Sarean Landcaster.  He knows fear.

 

Sarean was twenty-three and had spent the last four years of his life painting. He lived in a small apartment downtown, with his fiancée of two years, Liandra. Sarean made good money from his paintings, but they chose to live frugal, preferring to save for their wedding and future kids.

 

His shoulder length brown hair touched the back of his leather studio chair as he leaned back to stretch, taking a break from his latest painting. His clothes were covered in paint. This is something Liandra always teased him about, that he wore more of the paint than he put on the canvas. At least once a week she would come in and say something about him painting more on himself, than on the canvas. He smiled as the memory washed over him.

 

He painted in a studio, which used to be the guest bedroom. He had all his previous paintings hanging on the wall in various places, and a few paintings from other artists to help give him inspiration. He always referred to this room as his studio. He painted with oils, which Liandra enjoyed the smell of, but most company found it too strong. He always kept the door to his studio closed, and had a custom air conditioning system built into his studio to help control the smell.

 

“What are you doing sweetie?” Liandra asked as she wrapped her arms around Sarean from behind. Her long blonde flowing hair fell onto his shoulder as she leaned in to kiss him. He was taller than most people, and she was considerably shorter, so she didn’t even have to bend down. Liandra was thinly built and was one year younger than Sarean.

 

“Just finishing up a painting.” He rotated in his chair and kissed her.

 

“Hmmm. You don’t taste like a painter.”

 

“How would you know what a painter tastes like? I’m the only one you’ve ever tasted.” He touched the tip of her nose with the paint brush. He leaned towards her, as he wrapped his hand through her hand, and grabbed the back of her neck. He pulled her towards him, sitting her into his lap and guided her head towards him. He drew in a breath, and slid his tongue into her mouth. They kissed, held in that moment for what seemed like an eternity

 

***

“SAREAN!” Liandra yelled down the hall as she entered the living room.

 

He came out of his studio covered in paint. “I’m right here. You don’t have to yell.” He said, smiling at her. He could see that she was bouncing with excitement, which could only mean one thing. She found more antiques to add to her collection.

 

Liandra had been collecting antiques long before they had met. She currently used their second bed room to hold all her antiques and collected items from almost any era. She specifically enjoyed old medieval antiques.

 

“Look what I found!” She pulled an ancient looking medallion out of her shopping bag. “I found this at the antique shop today. The owner didn’t know where it was from, and he couldn’t get an appraisal on it.”

 

It was a large round medallion, with a small hole for the chain. The chain itself was rusted and half broken, but the medallion was in good condition. It was gold inlay, and the back was smooth and shiny, like it had been recently polished. The front was covered with diamond inserts, and rubies. The symbol on the front depicted two spheres side by side, within each sphere was a castle. Each one identical. The symbol for infinity was etched at the top above the two spheres.

 

The medallion filled Sarean’s heart with dread, something felt wrong about it but he couldn’t put his finger on it. As he looked at Liandra he could have sworn she stopped breathing – her chest ceased it’s in and out motion, her partially open mouth, her unblinking eyes.  He knew she loved antiques, but he had never seen her react to one like this before.  He wrapped his fingers around her hand, which still held up the medallion, and pushed her hand down, drawing her attention to him.  She inhaled sharply as her eyes focused on him, once more. Dread rolled around in his stomach.  She seemed to change with just one look at the medallion, but he was sure it was all in his head.  If she was happy about the medallion, he would be, too. “It’s beautiful, baby.  How much was it?”

 

“That’s the odd thing.” She said with the smile getting even bigger. “He gave it to me. He said that I’ve been such a good customer these last few years that he wanted to give me something to show his appreciation. Anyway, I’ll put it with the rest of my collection. Go work on your painting, the sooner it’s done the sooner we can get married.” She winked, as she headed down the hall and into the other spare room which she called her antique room.

 

***

 

Sarean awoke in the middle of the night and rolled over to get close to Liandra. “Are you awake?” he asked, as he pulled his body up beside hers. She instinctively responded by sliding closer to him.

 

“Yes, I can’t sleep. I keep having these same odd nightmares. None of them make sense. Some king and some castle, but that’s all I ever remember.” She tilted her head towards Sarean.

 

“Shh,” he whispered to her, as he caressed her hair. “Don’t worry, I’m here. You can always wake me up, you don’t have to lay there awake with nobody to talk to.”

 

“You’re so sweet, as always. I’ve not been awake long. Most of the time I sleep through them. So tell me, are you looking forward to our wedding? It’s only 13 days away, until we are officially Mr. and Mrs. Landcaster.” She smiled, and pulled herself closer to him.

 

“What, and permanently be connected to Mrs. Liandra Swanson. I don’t know, it’s hard to say.” He reached his right hand under the covers and tickled her side. She giggled at first, trying to fight back the laughter. Her body fell into spasms uncontrollable, as she let out a loud laugh. One that changed into a snort after she lost her breath for a second.

 

Sarean pulled himself closer to her, forming the contours of his body into hers. “In a few days I should be done with this new painting. I hope after that; we will have the rest of the money for our wedding. We’re almost there. Just a few thousand to go.” Sarean had an exclusive deal with a company already, and his paintings sold faster than he could finish them.

 

“I can’t wait.” Liandra giggled.

 

They cuddled that night. Longer than he had remembered in a while. He felt so happy and full of life around her, and he never wanted these feelings to go away. He never wanted to lose these precious moments he had with his lovely bride-to-be. Sarean drifted off into slumber, dreaming of the wonderful life he would have with her.

 

 

***

 

Late Sunday evening just after Sarean had finished a new painting, he went to bed and nodded off to sleep easily. Within minutes, he woke up. He noticed Liandra wasn’t in bed, so he setup and turned on the lamp beside him. He saw Liandra standing up staring out the bedroom window. She appeared to be in a daze. He walked up behind her and touched her shoulder. She jumped, and turned around.

 

“Are you OK?” He asked as she drew her closer to him.

 

“Yes. Just didn’t feel well.” She went back and laid down. Sarean joined her a few minutes later, and fell back asleep.

 

Again he awoke around three in the morning to strange gurgling and scratching sounds from outside his window. He arose quietly without waking Liandra.

 

He went to the window, but saw nothing but darkness. He had this ominous feeling that he was being watched. He looked from one side of his yard to the other. He scanned between the trees, across the street, and down the road. Occasionally he thought he saw strange shaped shadows moving, but when he trained his vision on the movement, it was gone. Finally, he turned and headed back to bed.

 

He lay in bed for several minutes, feeling goose bumps up his skin. The ominous feeling sank in worse throughout the next half an hour, then subsided, and he drifted off to sleep.

 

His sleep wasn’t long, before he was jarred awake by a strange gurgling sound at the foot of his bed. The gurgling seemed to be coming from something he could barely see in the darkness. As his eyes adjusted, he recognized it as Liandra. She was dancing.

 

Why is she dancing at this hour? He thought as he rose from the bed.  He turned on the light and shrieked. He felt his breath stop, as his eyes filled with tears. Words wouldn’t escape his lips as he felt his hearting beating within his chest. Liandra was hanging by the fan, her body spinning in circles as it turned.  Sarean fell to the ground, screaming and crying. Why, Liandra?

 

The police treated it like a typical suicide but Sarean couldn’t believe that. He felt as if he had lost his other half, his soul mate. He had so many plans with her. Plans that would never happen. He would never see her smile again, or hear her lovely voice. He spent the day staring off into space, crying until exhaustion led him into an uneasy slumber.

 

***

 

The last few days had taken their toll on Sarean. He had awoken every night from nightmares of Liandra dying in different ways. Each night worse than the last. He thought about moving into a new house, and getting away from all the bad memories surrounding her death. However, all of his good memories of her were here too, and the hardest part was that her smell still lingered in the air. He couldn’t bring himself to leave.

 

It was on a cold winter Saturday night when the horrifying events started happening.  He awoke, again at three in the morning, and heard gurgling sounds coming from the window again, the same sounds he heard on the night of her death. He went to the window and pulled back the white blinds covering the window. He saw Liandra’s head hung from a chain on the nearest tree branch. The head was blue and parts of the flesh were peeling off, as if it had been submerged in water for a long period of time. He stumbled backwards and fell on the ground. When he looked up again, it was gone.

 

From that night on, the dreams he had been having of Liandra dying, shifted into unrelated nightmares.

 

One night he dreamed he was in the woods, and an old man was getting viciously attacked by a group of thugs. The old man looked at him and reached out for help, before a baseball bat split his skull in two with a sickening thud. The thugs turned their attention on Sarean and advanced on him, and it jolted him awake. He heard laughing as he awoke, which brought chills to his spine.

 

Another night he saw a room filled with wolves. Humans were chained to the ceiling as they were lowered into the wolf packs, the wolves tearing into their flesh as their screams reverberated through the chambers. A flash of light shone throughout the room, and Sarean himself was hanging from one of these chains, getting slowly lowered into the wolves. He felt them dig into his leg, as he awoke. The pain in his leg stayed for several minutes after he awoke and the smell of wet fur permeated the room.

 

The next night it was a cult ritually slicing apart its victims which were strapped to a table. This nightmare was the worst. At first Sarean saw Liandra being ritually murdered while chained to a slab, after she died he saw himself on a slab and felt the blade cutting through his flesh. He felt half of his death, before being jolted awake again. He awoke and rushed to the bathroom and threw up. The pain in his abdomen where he had been cut in his dream continued for at least half an hour. There were no physical signs of a wound, but he still felt the pain. He was starting to realize that perhaps these were more than just nightmares.

This final nightmare had pushed Sarean into a decision. He didn’t want to lose all the memories he shared with Liandra in the house, but he couldn’t deal with the nightmares anymore. Something strange was going on within this house, and he wanted to distance himself from it as much as possible.

***

 

It had been almost two weeks since Liandra died. He heard strange sounds from the window again, as he had twice in the past. In the window he saw a vision of Liandra, she appeared as a ghostly image just beyond the window. As if he was looking through to another world. Tears filled his eyes, as the feeling that she was still alive crept into his heart. He didn’t know how, but he knew and he just didn’t know how to get to her.

 

Every night this continued; she was always there beyond the window screaming from another world and crying for help. It drove him further towards the brink of madness.  One night, he could not contain himself anymore.  He was in a daze, and rage consumed him; he tried to punch the window, expecting the glass to shatter. Instead, his fist went into the glass and disappeared. It just slipped into the void. He felt something touch his hand on the other side, something that filled him with dread. He pulled his hand, but something had him gripped on the other side. As he pulled harder, his hand finally came lose. This caused him to stumble backwards and slam into the wall behind him.

 

He slid down the wall and sat for a while sobbing. His hand shaking, he grabbed the desk beside him and dragged himself up from the floor and went to bed.

 

The next morning, he touched the window again, and the glass was intact.

 

Sarean sat in his living room for a while. He thought about Liandra’s death, the visions and the nightmares. He knew those things had happened, but wondered if perhaps he was going crazy and none of these things ever really happened

 

***

 

At three o’clock, he arose from his bed and went to the window, where Liandra had previously appeared.  He grabbed a flashlight, changed into his clothes, and headed to the window. He poked at the window with his finger, and it slipped through. A strange buzzing feeling covered his finger. He jumped into the window as his body disappeared into it.

 

He found himself in a dark room. He turned on the flash light and light flooded the room. Bodies of half mutilated humans hung from the ceiling. Each body had missing limbs, and a few had their skin peeled off. Their faces were disfigured in grotesque views, as if they were alive while this had happened. Blood covered the walls. The smell of rotting flesh and blood was so thick in the air, he had to hold his nose. Some parts of the wall appeared to have been painted with it, while others had satanic symbols written all over them. He couldn’t find a walking path due to the leftover chunks of human meat. He couldn’t hold back his vomit.

 

He staggered out of the room, stepping carefully over bones and human flesh. He entered an oriental-styled hallway. Along the walls were ancient Chinese and Japanese symbols, and he recognized one of the dragons they used in some of their festivals hung along the top part of the wall.

 

The hallway led into a room full of creatures. They weren’t moving, they were just staring at the wall, as if they were in a daze. They looked very similar to humans, but had a variety of different colored hairs on their backs. Each creature had hair covering it’s back, which had a variety of different colors. Each creature had a different color patterns, and they resembled a group of peacocks. They were hunched over. As he entered the room, one of the creatures looked up at Sarean briefly, then went back to starting at the wall. They appeared to be non-violent.

 

He tried to avoid them as he tip-toed into another room, then he saw Liandra. She was flickering in and out of view. Her face contorted as she laughed, and it echoed throughout the area. The laughter subsided and was replaced by the sound of distant crying. As he tried to approach her, she backed away, then ran.

 

He chased her for what seemed like hours, even though he knew it had only been a few minutes. He always seemed to be just a few feet out of her reach. Every time he got within grabbing distance of her, her body would vanish in a puff of smoke, and reappear just slightly out of his reach. He kept running, and then he was suddenly struck with dizziness. He grabbed ahold of the nearest wall to steady himself. The dizziness got so bad he had to set down, and the room went black.

***

 

He woke in the morning to find himself in his bed. It was as if it had been a dream the entire time. Then, he noticed that the battery in his flash light was going dim, and that his clothes and shoes were still on from last night. He still had the smell of rotting human flesh on his clothes, and blood stains on his shoes. He decided to try again the next night. He had to find out about Liandra.

 

Like the night before, at three o’clock he jumped through the window, again determined to find her. He found himself in a different place this time. He felt the hard concrete under his feet, and the smell of city air flooded his nose. Skyscrapers were all around, and he found himself in a small alley beside two large buildings. He heard rustling around, and turned to look. A group of thugs were about to attack a human couple. Without thinking, he drew his pistol and yelled for them to stop.

 

The thugs stopped, and turned to face Sarean. The human couple vanished into thin air and the thugs began to change. Their back’s started to hunch over, as extra legs formed beside their original ones. They started to form claws and fangs, as their eyes turned a bloody red.

 

Sarean backed up into the wall behind him, and slid down it. The beasts descended upon him with their fangs elongated. He closed his eyes and emptied the clip. The sound of bodies slamming into the ground echoed throughout the alleyway, and then all went silent. When he opened his eyes, the human couple lay dead in front of him. The bodies of the creatures were nowhere to be seen.

 

He heard sirens off in the distance, and tried to run. Before he could he was overcome by dizziness, and again everything went black.

***

 

When he awoke the next morning, his face was scratched and bleeding from the previous night.

 

As he made his way through the day, time seemed to drag.  He was filled with a new fear. He had no idea how to get Liandra back.  He happened upon a newspaper late in the day that startled him. A man, in a nearby city had shot a couple to death in an alley.  Witnesses had identified the man a few miles away, and he had been arrested.  He was proclaimed to be the South Paw Slaughterer; he was on America’s Most Wanted for over three years. He had been wanted for several murders across the country, including three cops and two children. He had been shot four times before dropping his weapon and being taken into custody.

 

The news shook Sarean. He knew he had seen that murder through the South Paw Slaughterers eyes. What he didn’t know was how. What other connections did the window have to the real world? What was the truth behind the window?

 

He spent the rest of the day trying to decide whether to go through the window again. He missed Liandra and desperately wanted to try to find her. The last few times he went into the window; he did not see her. This was leading to frustration, and he finally decided it was time to move. There was nothing else he could do.

 

When he went to bed that night he put on earplugs and swore to himself he would stay away from the window; he was going to start packing the next morning and move into an apartment

 

Again, the sounds started.  He did not hear them at first due to his earplugs, but as the sounds got louder he began to stir. Suddenly a screaming sound in Liandra’s voice jolted him awake, and he ran to the window. Crying he jumped in, despite his promise to himself. He didn’t even have time to change clothes this time.

 

When he entered, he was in a hallway made of brick. It appeared to be ancient, as the ceiling was falling apart, and most of the walls of the hallway were torn down. He saw Liandra right across from him on the other side.  He looked at her in disbelief. Her clothes were tattered and torn, and she was covered in dirt. He had no idea what to say.

 

She began to speak, but it was not her voice. “Say nothing. Follow the path and you will see me.” She pointed in the direction of a long dark hallway, and with a sudden gust of wind and smoke, she was gone.

 

He paused a minute before heading down the hallway. He needed answers. This is my only chance to find out what’s going on. If I don’t now, I’ll never know what’s truly going on. He thought, if he didn’t find out now, he would never know the truth behind all that had happened.

 

As Sarean walked down the hallway and approached the room at the end, he saw Liandra standing at the end of the hallway, and her skin appeared to be hanging off. “Who are you, and what have you done with Liandra? I know you are not her.” he called from the other side of the room.

 

The creature shook himself, and the fake skin fell off. Before Sarean stood a horned creature with an exo-skeleton, that stood tall on two legs. It had the same limbs as a human, but was almost triple the size. At first glance, the creature didn’t look violent.

 

The creature looked directly into his eyes with a fiery red gaze. With what sounded like a thousand voices mixed into one, overlapping all at the same time, the creature spoke. “You have no idea of the harm she has caused. Come closer, and I will show you.” The creature reached his hand out, and waited. As if beckoning Sarean to step forward.

 

Sarean walked towards the creature apprehensively. The creature leaned forward and touched Sarean’s head. Images started flooding Sarean’s mind, as he heard the thoughts of the creature in his mind.

 

Return my medallion.

 

As soon as the creature let go of Sarean, images flooded into his mind. It showed Liandra sitting in the bed, playing with the medallion. Somehow she activated it. The medallion glowed, and her eyes glazed over. She got out of bed, and walked over to the window. She jumped into the window, and disappeared.

 

More scenes flashed incoherently into Sarean’s head, and the final image ended with Liandra hanging herself at the foot of their bed. Sarean snapped back to reality, “Yes. The medallion. That must have been what caused all of this. How do I return the medallion?”

The creature didn’t respond, and disappeared with a puff of smoke and the smell of sulfur. Sarean started getting dizzy, and passed out.

 

***

 

He awoke the next morning, and started looking for the medallion. The last thing he remembered was Liandra mentioning about putting it with the rest of her antiques. Sarean searched the antique room, the rest of the house, and the last place she died. He found it nowhere. Then he remembered the vision of her walking through the window. He checked around the window, and then had a thought. He went outside and found the medallion laying in the bushes beside the house, right under the window. He sighed with relief, as he reached down and picked it up.

 

As Sarean started to head back inside, he paused. A sudden thought filled his mind. He recalled the images that flashed through his mind when the creature touched him. Liandra had the medallion in her hand when she passed through the window. However, the medallion ended up outside, below the window. Which means it must not be able to pass through the window. This realization filled him with dread. If he was not able to return the medallion, this nightmare would never end.

 

He went upstairs and set on the bed, as he examined the medallion. Then he noticed it. There was a small button behind the top part of the medallion. It was well hidden, and it took him a minute to find it. He pressed the small button, and the medallion started lighting up.

 

Now! He heard echoing throughout his mind. He ran to the window and tossed the medallion through. This time it disappeared in a flash of light. The window fell from the wall, and landed on the ground below, destroyed. Where the window used to be, he saw a puff of smoke. Written in the smoke, the words “Thank you for saving my kingdom.” The smoke dissipated. The feeling of dread he had been carrying felt lifted. He sat on the bed, not sure what to do next.

 

He began to get dizzy, and laid down. Within minutes he had drifted off to sleep.

 

As he awoke the next morning, the first thing he saw was Liandra’s smiling face. He grabbed her and hugged her, knocking her breath out. “My god it’s good to see you.”

 

“What, I’ve been here the entire time? What’s gotten into you?” She pulled away from him slightly and gave him a funny look.

 

He smiled at her. “Nothing, I’m just glad to see you.”

 

There was no more waiting as far as he was concerned. It was time they got married that very same week.

 

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