I watched as my daughter sat on the swingset. I’m worried about Sage. Since her father died, nothing has been the same. No one should ever have to go through a death like that, let alone a 12-year-old girl. Sam was the sweetest father and a loving husband. He created love and gave it out to everyone around him. I still can’t figure out who could hate him so much. Whoever it is, I wish them a swift trip to hell. Sooner rather than later would be preferable.
When I looked at my daughter on the swing set, my heart reached out to her. Today marks three weeks that I have spent my lunch break in the recess yard to check on Sage. Every day has been the same. She sits on the swingset, all alone, just staring. Her eyes look like lakes full of crystal blue water, just like her father’s. His eyes had kindness in them, as do hers. They were eyes that always told me “Ella, everything is going to be okay.”
All of that is gone now. The kindness in the world went away when Sam was taken from me. I just thank god that the monster that did this left our daughter. Sam would have been happy for that too. He loved Sage more than anything in the world. I just wish he would tell me how to help her. She hasn’t slept more than a few hours since his death. Neither have I. Everything just feels wrong in the house. Without Sam, there is just an overwhelming emptiness.
Sage doesn’t know I’ve been here the last few weeks, but I like to check on her during my lunch. It just comforts me to know that she’s safe. After what happened, I’ve been in a constant state of fear. I just want to keep everyone I love close to me. Checking up on her at lunch helps calm my nerves, plus its only five minutes from the office.
The teachers are headed to the front of the recess yard, so its time for the kids to go back inside. I watch them as they all get into lines and start to walk towards the school. They’re surprisingly well behaved for a group of sixth graders. It’s time to get back to crunching the numbers at the office. I just know I need to talk to Sage when she gets home from school. I can’t stand the silence anymore. Both of us haven’t said a word since Sam died. We need to try to be a family again. I think we just have to say something. At this point, it doesn’t matter what. I just miss my daughter’s voice.
I saw Sage walk down the bus steps and step onto the driveway.
“How was school, honey?”
“Fine,” she stated monotonously.
“Anything interesting happen?” I asked, trying to come off as casual.
“I talked to Dad.”
I froze, tears welling up in my eyes while I tried to compose myself. I expected to have a conversation, but I wasn’t prepared for this.
“Sage, I’m really sorry honey. I miss him too, but we can’t just pretend all the time. Your Dad is gone. You know that.”
I saw the fury in her eyes. A fire that burned bright. I had never really seen Sage angry before. She wasn’t an angry kid.
She yelled with defiance, “No, he’s not! You lied! I talked to him on the swings today at recess!”
“You didn’t talk to him, Sage. He’s dead. It’s hard, but it’s the truth. Making up stories won’t change that.”
She screamed, “Screw You! I talked to him! He told me he loved me and that he would always protect me! Why would you lie to me, Mom? He was right in front of me.”
I couldn’t hold myself back anymore. I cried and I cried. I didn’t want him to be gone. I wish I could talk to him just one more time but I can’t. Now my daughter is supposedly seeing him and rubbing it in my face. I wish I was seeing things. I wish this was all a dream and I could wake up next to him. I wish I could bicker with him and tell him to pick his clothes off the floor. I wish he was here, but he’s not.
Through tears, I practically babbled, “Go upstairs to your room. We put your father in the ground! He’s gone and he’s not coming back. Stop imagining things that aren’t there. He’s dead!”
Sage cried and screamed her way up the stairs and into her room, slamming her door so loud I thought I heard the hinges break. I can’t even have a conversation with my own daughter without both of us losing it.
I don’t know what I’m going to do about Sage. She’s obviously traumatized, as anyone would be. So am I. She’s a kid and she shouldn’t even really know about death yet. I just thank God she remembers her father for the man that he was, not how he died. It was awful seeing him lay there like that. The doctors said they had never seen anything like it before. They think that it must have been some sort of designer poison.
The doctors and investigators tested the poison to find out what it was but found nothing. It had no signature like anything else they’ve seen. I can’t even imagine who would hate Sam so much to engineer a death like that. I was the one who found him, but I wish I wasn’t. I was powerless to help him.
Sam looked inhuman. The poison turned his blood to a black ashen color. His eyes bled with it until all they were was black. His eyes were replaced with black lumps of coal that had turned into a gooey paste. The blue that once shone with such kindness and light was gone. There was only black. There was only darkness that glistened like obsidian.
I found him in the woods behind our home. We live on a plot of land totaling about 40 acres, most of it being woods. We always enjoyed our privacy and enjoyed nature even more. That day, Sam came home from work but never came inside for dinner. It was a little unusual for him. I figured I would go to what he called his “thinking spot” in the woods. He used to go there sometimes when he had a bad day at work or had something on his mind.
His thinking spot is actually an old abandoned altar that someone must have built before we lived here. It’s made out of some sort of black stone. It’s reflective, and shines almost like the surface of a lake in the moonlight. I found him dead in the middle of the altar. It must have been shock. I really hope it was shock, but when I found him I heard a buzzing. It was so deafening I had to cover my ears. I walked up to his body and I collapsed with grief as what seemed like a swarm of locusts buzzed all around me. I know it couldn’t have been real, but I will never forget that sound.
It had to be shock, but to me it was the sound of death. Death as I stared at my husband’s lifeless body. I only saw darkness staring back at me. His limbs were made of black rotting flesh. His nose, ears, eyes, and mouth all bled that awful black blood. Whatever he was poisoned with was the stuff of nightmares and nothing less. That was the worst night of my life.
Laying in bed, just thinking about it makes me shudder. I just tucked Sage into bed without a single word between us. I have no idea what to even say anymore. Drifting off into sleep, I still just wish I could talk to him one more time. I just want my Sam to come back.
Suddenly I was back at the altar where Sam died.
“No! What the hell?”
I swore to myself I would never go back here for as long as I lived. I never wanted to see that smooth black stone or anything here. This is the place that the light in my life went out.
Buzzing. No, not again. All I can hear is the buzzing of locusts. I hear a thousand locusts but see none. I put my head between my knees, just wanting it to stop. The sound of locusts is filling my head and it feels like a thousand pounds of metal just weighing me down. I just want to die right here. I could die right here as long as that awful buzzing stops.
I look up for a moment and see the swarm around me. It’s nighttime, and there are rays of moonlight shining through the black, writhing cloud of death. The locusts are in a frenzy and seem to move as one angry mass around my body. They just get closer and closer as my breathing only gets faster. I feel like the world is collapsing and I’m at the center.
All of a sudden the buzzing stops.
The black mass of locusts disappears and Sam is standing right in front of me. It’s the real Sam. It’s my Sam. He’s the man I fell in love with and everything I have wanted to see for the past three weeks. He looks so full of life, but there’s a terror in his eyes. It almost looks like he’s running from something.
He exclaims, panicked, “There’s no time for that now! Just listen to me. You have to protect Sage. She is the only thing that matters. I made a deal 12 years ago and now she’s coming to collect it. We wanted a child 12 years ago and she made sure we got one. I thought she was doing me a favor.”
“Sam, what are you talking about? Why are you so worried about Sage? What deal? Who the hell are you talking about?”
“Ella, I love you but you have to goddamn listen! It’s not a who it’s a what. She’s coming for Sage. It’s — ”
Then, he wasn’t Sam anymore. His eyes turned to black and the cloud of locusts began to scream above the two of them. Sam screamed into the night as blood began to drip from his eyes, down past his chin and onto his body. His skin turned to ash and it started to crack at his joints. Through all of this, a black sulfuric smoke emanated from his body.
I found that I was completely frozen. I was once again powerless to do anything. I couldn’t move and I had to watch him die again. Am I in hell? If there is a hell, this is what it would feel like. I have to watch Sam die over and over.
Through my sobs, Sam is doubling over and crumpling to the ground. He’s falling like a burning piece of paper shrivels up and eventually goes out.
With his last breath, he hissed, “Protect Sage. You don’t have much time.”
Then he exploded like a grenade, his blood spattering my body.
In his place was what looked a shadow. It was a dark outline of what looked like a woman’s body. She had an inhuman quality to her. I was terrified to look at her, but I couldn’t look away. She was terrifying and awe-inspiring all wrapped into one. She was a contradiction that frightened me to the depth of my soul. She had no mouth, yet I could hear her clearly.
She whispered, “I am God’s first daughter. I am plague. I am death. I have waited for your daughter since the dawn of man. I am darkness eternal. Your little Sam owed me a debt and it’s time to collect. Stay out of my way Ella, or you too, will perish.”
The entity disappeared in black smoke and I woke up to screaming.