Evil and Darkness. These two beasts alone have ever incited fear, bravery, and madness throughout mankind. From the Stone Age to the Computer Age a fear of evil and of the dark has affected the human mind. These instincts can hurt even the greatest at times.
Eric Anderson's greatest fears have been evil and darkness since age 5. Ever since being traumatized by seeing his mother's coffin being lowered into a dark, dirty, mouth that swallowed her whole and hid her from him forever. He had known she was there, but her essence, beliefs, and love were locked away from him in a dank, dark hole. This event had sparked his fear of the dark. His fear of evil began when he saw his father beat the family dog to death after becoming drunk.
Eric's father was a good father and loved him very much. However, since his mother had died "daddy" began having trouble with alcohol. John Anderson never considered himself an alcoholic, but whenever he become completely consumed with sadness he drank to drunkenness. This had indefinitely started, Eric knew, with his mother's passing.
7 years after Laura Anderson's death a cool June night found her husband, John, locked in his room accompanied only by his recent good friends, the Bacardi family and the Sony television on his dresser. 12 year old Eric lay contently in his bed dreaming away about the summer days still to come. Stephani, Eric's 10 year old sister, tossed and turned in her bed, plagued with nightmares, nightmares of the horrors that were to come upon her family. A quarter to twelve chimed out on the grandfather clock in the hall. The last chime tolled along with a sound that sealed the Anderson children's' future. That sound, the police found out at 12:13 A.M. on June 23, 2005, was the sound of a .45 Magnum blowing John Anderson's brains onto his bedroom wall. The tragedy of the whole thing was that it was young Stephani who found her father's dead body hanging off the side of his bed. While the gunshot had awakened his sister's curiosity, for Eric it was Steph's scream. When Eric walked groggily into his father's room to tell his sister to be quiet he saw Stephani sitting beside her fallen father, tears streaking her face. Eric cried out and snapped, he grabbed Stephani's hand, pulled her out of the room, closed the door, and frantically rushed down the hall to the phone. The police arrived about 24 minutes later, and led the children out of the house.
Uncle Fred Anderson and his wife Matilda tried desperately to take care of their nephew and niece, but they just couldn't afford it. The California Family Court System put the brother and sister in the care of the state. Thankfully the children were put with a very wonderful foster mother who loved them like they were her own. Perhaps an even luckier thing for the children was the fact that they were able to stay together. However, neither of these facts could lighten Eric Anderson up. While Stephani was very resilient and showed great signs of recovering from her father's death, Eric kept to himself, hardly ever spoke, and remained morbidly depressed. Stephani was about the only one that Eric actually talked to anymore and especially the only one that he held conversations with. Even their foster mother, Harriet Thompson, couldn't get him to talk much; it worried her all the time.
That August the children went back to school, Eric to Richmond Intermediate and Stephanie to Kingdom Elementary. This was only about 2 months after their father's death and they hadn't seen their friends the entire summer, because of the shift in households, the funeral, and various other reasons. This caused even more trauma for Eric, because he now had to get used to a whole new school, of course he never showed any emotion anymore so no one could see how he felt about the year's events. Stephani, however, was happy to be back in school and she had already recovered almost fully from that horror-filled night in June. She had turned 11 on July 15 and the joy of her birthday had helped dispel most of her grief. However, she would've recovered anyway; she had a very astonishing ability of bouncing back after tragedy. Eric's sister had already passed through the shock, mourning, denial, and acceptance stages of the stressful event and adapted to their new life. Eric, however, had apparently only gone through shock; his emotional train had seemingly derailed even before mourning. Except for one tear that fell at his father's funeral, Eric had become stolid and numb to everything.
Since the Anderson siblings had moved in with Harriet Thompson, Stephani had slept without nightmares plaguing her anymore. This of course was a conversation topic between the children on nights when Mr. Sandman came to them late. They both knew that she had a gift, the gift of foresight. Eric had drilled her with questions about her dreams on the night of their father's death. Stephani tried her hardest to remember those dreams, but all she could tell her brother for sure was that she had seen their father's death. From the time Stephani was born she had had a special bond with Eric. The brother and sister duo had often had night conversations like this even when their father was still alive. So far Steph had predicted for Eric, 6 things: that he would get a bike for his 5th birthday, that dad would take them camping and they would have the best time of their life when he was 7, that their dad would buy a newer and better car when he was 8, that their dog would die when he was 9, that they would get a cat as replacement for their dog when he was almost 10, and that girls would start taking interest in him when he was 11. Between these bigger predictions she had also given him smaller ones nearly everyday. These small sights were less specific and usually just held a good or bad feeling about something. One thing was certain; Stephani had an extremely keen intuition that was never wrong about a person or thing.
One day late in September Eric showed a miraculous sign of improvement. He wore some of his old brightly colored clothes to school one day and came home with a friend. When Harriet Thompson saw that her son (for that was how she loved him and treated him) with another boy she immediately agreed to the boy staying the night. Stephani witnessed her brother's first smile and first laugh since June that night. Later the next day when Eric's friend Chris went home, Stephani spoke to Eric. She told him she was happy that he was finally making friends and settling into junior high. Eric realized this fact himself and everything hit him like a brick. How he had been acting, what he had been missing because of this, and the truth of his father's death. For the first time in several years, Eric ran to his room and cried, September 21, 2005 was definitely a great day of improvement.
About a week after the 21 of September, Eric gone through the rest of the stages of loss and had nearly completely recovered from the incident that seemed so long ago during the summer vacation. However, his eyes kept their cold icy look in them, something he would keep forever. The only time Eric's eyes looked kind was when he was smiling or laughing, other then that his eyes kept a silent brooding countenance. His attitude may have changed completely but somehow his eyes hadn't. Stephani was a bright and observant girl and she didn't miss this, it frightened her, but she was glad to see that her brother was happy again.
Eric's grades jumped back to their old height and things almost returned to the state they were in before John's suicide. Harriet, Eric, and Stephani became a closely knit family. Things were wonderful and their days were full of happiness. Nothing could have foreshadowed the things to come except Stephani's forgotten nightmares.
Life went on in the small town in central California. The Anderson siblings thrived with their wonderful mentor, whom they had come to love as a mother. Halloween sailed by in a maze of candy and creepy costumes. Thanksgiving came and went and temperatures sank to the low fifties and mid forties. Christmas sounds and sights began appearing. Happiness and drowsy calm fell over the city just as the fog did. Any nightmares that tortured Stephan's nights were erased by Christmas cheer in her days. Eric helped Harriet put up the Christmas lights and then the family bought a tree at the Save-Mart down the street. Warm feelings all around seemed to take away the bite of the cold weather. Christmas was just around the corner and Eric was reminded of his Christian faith. Harriet was pleasantly surprised when he agreed to go to church again. Eric finally forgave God for his father's death. Children grew excited and energetic, there were just 2 days until school let out for a two week holiday.
Christmas Eve came and Santa was due to visit the Anderson's new home. In the few minutes before 2:00 A.M., and the second horror for the children, not a creature was stirring, except perhaps Stephani. Scenes of the next morning wracked her brain in nightmare. She tossed and turned as a shadow fell over the apartment they lived in, a shadow that would come with a turn of fate for the children. The floor-to-ceiling grandfather clock in the living room chimed 2 o'clock. Harriet Thompson's eyes wrenched open as her stomach was torn open by a cruelly serated knife. Intestines spilled, steaming, out as Harriet sat up in shock. Warm blood flowed uninhibited from her open abdomen.
Three seconds, three seconds it took Harriet to realize what was happening. Three seconds for shock to yield to pain. Harriet fell back, hands groping wildly on at her bedside table for anything to attack her assailant with. As her hand knocked over a lit candle she looked up and saw her attacker. The face she saw wrenched a blood-curdling scream from her throat and her heart did calisthenics in her rib cage. Fear gripped her mind as she looked into the eyes of her murderer. Later, autopsies would reveal that she had died from fear and shock, not of the wound that drained the blood from her body in torrents.
The Anderson children ran into their foster mother's room after the scream. Stephani's dreams all came back to her in a flash, she shrieked and fainted. The bedside table had ignited into flames along with the carpet by Harriet's bed. Eric took quick action after the shock of seeing Harriet's mutilated body. He dragged her body out of her bed and into the hall to save it from the fire, and then he dragged his fallen sister from the room as well. The fire quickly spread throughout the room and Eric shut the door. He looked at his mother's body and retched, puking onto the carpet, tears streaming down his face. He realized the rapidly growing danger of the fire as heat radiated down the hall. Bravery pulled him into action once again, he dragged his sister outside and then returned for Harriet's body. He fell several times and collapsed outside in exhaustion. Adrenaline alone had kept his muscles staining in his work. Sleep calmed his sobbing form and sleep was the state the fire men found him in when they had the fire out at 2:56 A.M. 12/25/05.