Thank you for the comments on the last chapter, I hope this continues to be an enjoyable read for you all.
The Orphanage Of Lost Souls
By: Dementia’s Knight
Part I: The Long And Winding Road
Chapter II: Fort Knox
“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.” - Nelson Mandela
The dream was always the same. Running up the stairs after getting home from school, his backpack rolling off of him and tumbling lifelessly down the steps, the far away nagging feeling that something seemed off. His footsteps thumped slightly on the wood floor as he approached his parents bedroom door, he reached out and grasped the doorknob and turned it slowly. As the door opened he smelled a coppery and unpleasant aroma, then he saw them.
His father was laying on the bed, his face all but obliterated, looking more like a mess of raw hamburger than the man that raised him. The wall above the headboard was spattered with blood, that looked nothing like the blood he’d seen on the late night horror movies he watched without his parents knowledge. His father’s arms were stretched out in a sort of crucifixion pose, and the boy noticed his father’s hand dangling limply off the side of the bed, a hand that had once seemed so strong was now so weak and useless.
Somewhere to his right he heard sobbing. He pushed the door open a little further and saw his mother sitting at her makeup table facing the bed, staring at her husband and sobbing heavily as she held his revolver in her hands.
“I didn’t want to Max.” she said without looking up at the young boy.
A shiver went down his spine and he felt a warm wetness trickle down his leg as his bladder gave away from fear. “Mom.” he said, unable to collect his thoughts enough to form a coherent sentence.
“I’m sorry.” she said as she raised the gun to her opened mouth and cocked the hammer back, she place the barrel in her mouth and pulled the trigger.
The gunshot always woke him. He sat up with gasp, his breathing hoarse and ragged. He looked at the clock and lay back down with a sigh. “When is this going to end?” he wondered to himself as he kicked off his blankets and padded to the bathroom. He turned on the light and wet a washcloth in the sink and wiped his brow and face. Then he stared at the mirror, he saw himself, Maxwell Henry Knox, the captain of the football team and all around big shot of his school, but as he stared longer he saw that scared little boy that had walked in on his parents murder/suicide all those years ago.
“Fuck.” he said simply as he sighed and left the bathroom to try and get some more sleep before school.
“So I thought maybe you could, I don’t know, like prescribe something or something.” Max said.
The woman behind her desk smiled and took off her glasses. “Max, I’m a guidance counselor, not a shrink.” she clarified.
Max sat down in the chair in front of her desk. “I know that Ms. Bellows, I realize that the kind of crazy you deal with here isn’t the same as the kind real doctors deal with.” he said mockingly as he glanced at her medical school diplomas.
Ms. Bellows bit her lip and sat forward, brushing her dark black hair aside. “Look, I know that you’re angry with me for not helping you the way you think I should, but that’s no reason to lash out at me.” she said calmly, her bright blue eyes staring a hole into him.
Clearing his throat Max muttered an apology and promptly left the office. He decided to take the rest of the day off from school to clear his mind and made his way to his car. He sat in his car for a long time, trying to get his mind off of the memories that haunted him nightly and onto the normal thoughts an eighteen year old boy should think about, his progress was halted by a tap on his window.
Ms. Bellows stood next to his car gesturing for him to roll his window down.
“What?” he asked rudely as he complied with her request.
“I just wanted to tell you that I’m sorry for what happened in my office.” she said with a warm smile as she stuck her arm into the window to shake his hand. “Still friends?” she asked.
Max shook her hand and nodded. “Yeah, we’re still friends Ms. Bellows.” he said unconvincingly.
“Sarah.” she corrected him with a smile. “Friends use first names Max.” she said.
“Alright, Sarah it is then.” he said with a smile to match hers.
Sarah sighed and looked at him for a moment. “Let’s take a walk.” she said.
The two walked together from Max’s car to the park across the street where Sarah took a seat on one of the swings and gestured for Max to sit next to her.
“I was seven when my parents were killed.” she said suddenly.
Max looked at her and then quickly turned his attention to the ground. “I’m sorry.” he said. “What happened to them?” he asked.
“We were on our way home from my grandmother’s house.” she started. “It was raining really hard, I remember them arguing about something, and then everything went white.” she said, wiping a stray tear from her eye as she told her story. “The umm police officer that rescued me from the wreck told me that another driver had come into our lane and hit us head on.” she stopped and chuckled. “He said I was lucky to be alive. Lucky enough to see the two people I loved most in my life erased from this world forever. Lucky enough to be bounced around from foster home to foster home because of my “inability to let people in”.” she said with another half sob half laugh.
Sarah looked up at Max and put her hand out for him to hold. “What I’m trying to say is that I understand how hard it is to lose your family, your whole life, in one fell swoop.” she explained.
Max took her hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze. “Thank you.” he said. He sighed heavily and looked back down to the sand below the swing. “I thought about killing myself last year.” he confessed quietly. “I was in the tub holding the razor, staring at it for the longest time, trying to think of reasons not to slide it across my wrist. I remember being in there for so long that the water got cold and my hand started shaking to bad for me to hold the razor steady.” he said with a small chuckle.
Sarah took his chin in her hand and guided his head so he was looking at her. “Do you have a reason now?” she asked.
He nodded and smiled at her. “Thanks.” he said simply.
“What are friends for?” she asked.
The pair sat on the swings next to one another talking until well into the evening, their friendship growing stronger and moving past teacher and student to genuine feelings of friendship.
“Alright love birds, let’s see some wallets and jewelry!” a gruff voice shouted from behind them.
Both of them stood up and turned to face a tall man in all black with a ski mask over his face pointing a gun at them.
“Now!” he shouted as he flicked the safety off.
Max reached slowly into his back pocket for his wallet, he pulled it out and tossed it to the mugger. Sarah did the same with her earrings and watch and then let Max guide her to stand behind him.
“You got what you wanted, now just leave us alone.” Max said.
The mugger started to turn to leave and then turned back and fired two shots into Max’s chest before running off.
Max fell backward onto the grass, the metal in his chest burning his insides. He groaned through gritted teeth and looked up at Sarah as she stood above him looking down.
“Breath Max, you’re gonna be alright.” she said as she knelt down beside him and stroked his cheek.
He couldn’t be sure, but Max thought he saw her smiling at him as he lost consciousness.
Max climbed the all too familiar stairs up to his parents bedroom as he’d done every night for the past nine years. He willed himself to stop and yet he continued on, a passenger in his own body. His hand gripped the doorknob to his parent’s room and turned it, the door opened and revealed the familiar scene of death and gore he’d seen hundreds of times. This time however something was different, a woman was in the room with his parents now, a woman dressed in all black.
The woman stood next to Max’s mother, her hand resting on the crying woman’s shoulder. Max tried to see the woman’s face but found it to be just a blur.
“I didn’t want to Max.” he heard his mother say.
He watched as the faceless black clad woman reached down and gripped his mother’s wrist and guided the gun up to her open mouth.
“I’m sorry.” his mother said as the woman in black got the gun up to his mother’s mouth and put her hand to the sobbing woman’s forehead, moments later the gunshot came and Max watched his mother die again.
“Who the fuck are you!?” Max shouted and tried to run at the woman in black, finding that he was stuck where he stood as if he was lodged in cement.
The woman walked toward him slowly and raised her hand up to him. “Awaken.” she said, her voice sounding like rustling leaves.
Max tried to back away from her, but found that too to be impossible.
The woman kept repeating the word “awaken”, her voice growing louder and louder in his head. When she finally touched him the whole world went white and he fell into nothingness.
“He’s waking up!” a young girl’s voice called out from somewhere in the fading darkness. “Sarah, Callista, he’s waking up!” she called out again.
Max opened his eyes and saw three blurred figures standing around him. As the blur focused he saw Sarah, a young girl with a pink bandana covering her hairless head, and a beautiful girl about his age. “What happened?” he asked.
“You were shot.” Sarah explained. “You’ll be fine, you just need to rest for a bit.” she added.
Max looked around. “Why didn’t you take me to a hospital?” he asked as he looked around at the small bedroom he was in, it’s pink decor clearly meant for a small girl.
“You don’t need a hospital Max, you’re right where you need to be.” Sarah explained.
Max sat up with a groan, his chest aching. He looked down and saw blood stained bandages covering his wounds. “What the fuck are you talking about!? Where are we!?” he shouted.
The younger covered her mouth with a gasp at Max’s utterance of the “F word”. “You shouldn’t swear mister.” she scolded him quietly.
“Come on Alicia, I think Sarah and Max need some time to talk alone.” Callista said, putting her hands on the young girl’s shoulders and guiding her to the door.
“Are they gonna do it?” Alicia asked, suppressing a giggle.
Callista sighed. “We’re gonna talk about the right and wrong time to say things missy.” she told the young girl as they left the room together.
Sarah watched the pair leave and then turned back to Max, a smile still on her face. “Cute, huh?” she asked with a chuckle.
“Answer my question Sarah.” Max said.
Sarah sat next to Max on the bed and reached up slowly to his chest and carefully removed the bloody bandages revealing his completely unmarked chest. “You don’t need a hospital because you’re fine.” she explained calmly.
Max looked down at his chest in disbelief. “What? But he shot me, I felt it.” he stammered.
Sarah nodded. “He did, two in the chest, you should be dead, but you’re special Max.” she told him, resting her hand on his leg.
“I don’t understand, what’s going on?” he asked.
“You have a gift Max. Nothing can hurt you.” she explained. “That’s why you’re here, with others like you.” she added.
Max sighed. “Alright, enough with the cryptic cloak and dagger bullshit, tell me exactly where the fuck we are and why you brought me here!” he shouted.
Sarah scoffed at him and stood up and headed for the door. “As soon as you’re calmed down and ready to hear it.” she told him before leaving the room.
Max lay back down with another groan and a heavy sigh. “What are friends for?” he asked himself.
To Be Continued…