The Mysterious Light
Nikki witnessed his mom's murder.
He was eight when it happened. Eight and hungry and rebellious at the time. Whenever his mother whispered to him gently, commanding him to stay by the car, he disobeyed. Which turned out to be the worst mistake any eight-year-old could make, forced to watch as their mother was murdered right in front of them.
But he soon learned that life moves on rather you want it to or not. He mourned, of course, with his dad but eventually the world came back and kicked him in the butt, which was painful all things considering.
His first mistake, however, was when he became more detached and distant from his father. His second mistake was thinking he could replace the woods outside their home for his mom.
His dad hates the place- probably for good reason- but he didn't see anything wrong with his only son going out there- lots of kids play in the woods and, after the death of his beloved wife he's tried everything to get Nikki to be like most of the other kids. Not that he thinks that there was anything wrong with his, he truly did love him very deeply, just ever since the call informing him he was now a single dad there's always been this haunting shadow lurking in Nikki's eyes. A shadow that the woods seem to be able to cover.
So he allowed his boy to venture off at hours at a time in the woods, leaving an empty shell of a home behind. And whenever the boy came back, there was always a lighter hop in his step and Howard often marveled at the world's tiniest miracles. And it got the man thinking that maybe, just maybe, time really does heal all wounds.
Up until Nikki's accident.
No one is 100% what had happened. All they knew was that one night Nikki didn't come home and, when Howard went looking for him he found his son unconscious and unresponsive in the woods. He doesn't think he's ever felt so much fear before in his life- the only thing coming close was when he got a call informing him of Melina's death. And even that wasn't the same because, although it was true that he loved Melina very much, Nikki was his son, his precious little boy.
The only comfort he truly drew from the whole situation was from Judy, who somehow managed to convince him to marry her despite the fact that Nikki was still in a coma somewhere in a sterile white room (Room 1123B) surrounded by apathetic people in scrubs. And, shortly after that, Nikki woke up and Howard could breathe again.
He could have gone without Nikki's miniature freak fest once he caught sight of Judy but, other than that, everything appeared to be smooth sailing from there on out. And, whenever Howard banned his son from venturing back into the woods, he was really only doing it for his own protection.
Nikki disagreed, of course.
The boy had been twelve the day of his accident so he had already been precariously sitting upon his hormonal change. Matter of the fact was, the boy was growing up and changing into a man- Howard just could have done without all the hormones. Not that they had the best relationship after Melina's untimely death- she had always been the sort of glue that held them together- but they were getting there. Then Nikki had his accident and everything went downhill from there.
He grew distant from the world, having only two true friends: Jamie and Malcolm, who would die for his son Howard knows. And something inside his boy changed, he started dressing entirely in black (not the creepy type of black, just black) and he either stays up in his room all day or is in a yelling match with either him or Judy.
At one point, Howard was even afraid his son was cutting himself, pondering suicide. So, one day, he burst into his boy's room and defiled any sense of privacy the kid once had only to come out empty handed. Needless to say, it put a bigger strain on their relationship.
After that little incident, Nikki figured that his father didn't trust him anymore. That every time he looks at him, all he could see is his wife's beautiful blue eyes and dark raven hair. And that, every time he gazes upon his son, all he could see was the failure he was as a husband and all that was left was his failure for a son.
So he separated even further, away from his father and Jamie and Malcolm who still try so hard to ensure his happiness making him often wonder what he's done to deserve friend's like them. His father, on the other hand, didn't try very hard to patch up their relationship and it just got to the point Nikki often finds himself awake and wondering if it was beyond repair now.
And that's about when his defiant streak set in.
The woods was his only sanctuary- away from school, bullies, his father and, most of all, Judy. Every moment he could, he was slinking down from his balcony allowing the safety and warmth of the woods surround his every fiber. And he would often sit by a rapidly running river and wonder if this was as good as life got- an eternal staircase of torture and failures that never ended in anything good.
He was wrong and his life was about to change, forever. He just hadn't known at the time.
It all started off normal enough; he was sitting on his rock in the woods by the river he often found himself drawn to. He isn't sure why that is yet but doesn't bother to think much of it. He had been glaring down at his reflection, hating how much he resembled his mom. He missed her too much to be reminded of her every time he looks in a mirror.
That's when he heard the voice.
"Nikki," a sweet voice that sounded suspiciously like his mom's whispered somewhere in the wind, "Nikki, come closer. Let me hold you."
He figured at that moment that he must have finally snapped and this must be what it's like to be insane. Except the voice was so luring and he no longer had any control over his muscles. He obeyed blindly and found himself tumbling into the icy water below him. It immediately shocked him out of whatever trance he had been in as he climbed up on shore, shaking his head like a wet dog. Or a drowned rat, either one he supposed. Water droplets flew from his black hair before it all resettled back in his face. Using pale hands, he managed to shove the wet strands back behind his head as he rose to his feet only to fall back on his knees shivering.
The night was warm but the river water seemed to have a special way of soaking all the way to his bones, making him shiver and quack violently. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he was aware that if he didn't seek out warm clothes then he was dangerously close to hypothermia.
"Awesome," he murmured sarcastically as he took in his new surroundings, "Just what I need, another thing for Judy to drill me for."
Judy's his step-mom. He hates her, he really does, but keeps that to him because he's sure his dad would disown him in a second if he ever spoke a single nasty thing about her. Which really wasn't fair considering Nikki's the man's son and deserves the benefit of the doubt. If only the old man knew the truth…
Darkness started to encompass the woods now and Nikki realized how late it truly was. Any second now, Howard would be getting home from work only to discover his son had deliberately disobeyed him and would probably end up getting grounded forever, which did not sound pleasant. Not even the slightest bit.
Glancing down at his useless legs he discovered a gash- minor overall but reached from his knee to his ankle and would probably hurt like the dickens if it hadn't been from the numbness that now settled over him after his nighttime swim. It was also bleeding sluggishly which, along with the cold, could be detrimental to his health.
"This is just great. Thanks a bunch, you stupid rocks," he grumbled to himself as he used a nearby bolder to help him gather his feet underneath him. He took a cautious step forward and just barely managed to catch himself before he fell again all the while hissing under his breath "At this pace it'll take forever."
And he'll be grounded forever.
Still, he's stubborn, which is one of the few things he inherited from his father. And that stubbornness is what kept him as he continued to put one wobbly foot in front of his other then he would repeat over and over again until he finally arrived home.
He breathed a sigh of relief when his old Victorian looking home finally appeared into view. It was a tall building, made some time in the 70's, he thinks, and looks really creepy whenever the full moon is out and causes the shadows to dance along its side. Nikki's found to ignore such thoughts as this was his home and always will be.
If only his room wasn't on the second floor, connected to a small balcony. When he was younger- before his mom was killed and briefly afterwards- he used to sneak out all the time and soon discovered an easy path off the balcony on the wall. He only used it if the back door was locked though, which it was.
Taking a deep breath, he started climbing, which is normally an easy feat for his small yet athletic body but this time his hands were wet, his leg was starting to ache, he was drenched and freezing to the bone, and he was starting to feel lightheaded. At least the bleeding has finally stopped. And, by some miraculous miracle, he finally managed to gather his weakened body on the stone floor where he immediately drifted off.
It was the impact that woke him up.
One second he had been dead to the world and the next there was a bright light and a sudden booming sound that seemed to echo throughout the woods and into his room. Something obviously crashed into the woods but Nikki's suddenly sluggish brain couldn't comprehend anything other than the fact that his father was now sprinting up the stairs in a pace that was amazing considering the large man's stature.
"Great," Nikki growled as he rose to his feet so he could meet his dad at the door.
"Nikki," Howard's thunderous voice shouted as the man banged on the wood once he discovered his son's locked door, "What did I say about locking your doors."
"Uh, sorry dad," Nikki apologized weakly as he pressed his small body against the wood, "I don't like Judy going through my stuff during the day. How was work?"
"I'm not playing this game," Howard warned in his no-crap voice. Nikki's fingers brushed against the lock before he took a shuddering breath and flipped the switch. His dad barged in surprised.
"Hey dad," he murmured hoping he didn't look as bad as he felt- thanking the stars that the cut on his leg was on the backside and not the front. Apparently he didn't because his dad eyed him curiously once more before turning to leave. Nikki marveled at how Howard appeared to be such a big man with such an itty bitty temper and how- despite the fact that Nikki inherited his cheek bones and stubbornness- the two of them couldn't be bigger opposites.
"You need to go to bed," his dad informed him in a clipped business-like voice that had Nikki bowing his head and stomping on even the slightest tickle of teenage rebellion, "You have school in the morning."
"Sorry sir," Nikki apologized refusing to move from his spot because he knew that would have him spiraling on the floor and busted for sure, "the light woke me up."
Which was only sort of a lie; the light had woken him.
And he had said it as merely an afterthought, his guilty conscious forcing something out of his guilty mouth. He just hadn't anticipated Howard suddenly freezing mere inches from his doorway as the man turned to glower him again.
He spoke slowly and deliberately as if Nikki was too dumb to comprehend even the simplest concepts, "Don't go out there searching for that ship. I'll do it in the morning."
Nikki nodded, mind reeling at his father's slip- as blue eyes watched his now content father turned to leave and he was almost out the door when Nikki's sluggish brain decided to speak again, "Night Dad. Love you."
Nikki could have slapped himself at how small and vulnerable he sounded just then. Surely Howard would know something was wrong now.
Howard just froze though, not turning around as he whispered softly, "Goodnight son," and then he was gone like the last fleeting glimpses Nikki always seems to have every time he confronts his father. Nikki watched him go, listening and waiting until he heard Howard's bedroom door slid shut. Only then did he move again.
He limped back out to the balcony as he easily slipped down the wall. Some rational part of his brain was screaming at him now, yelling at him to because he barely made it home once already and did he really want to push his luck? Then the rebellious teenage side of his brain took over, squashing those thoughts almost immediately as he set out to find this so-called ship.
Just nothing could have prepared him for what he was about to find or how it would change his life forever.
And, finished with chapter one. Yeah. Anyways, I guess suspect more for tomorrow.