The Storyteller tale continues. The people. The monsters. The Word and the Earth Man. In the sequel The Dream Rescuer, now in the final editing processes, the world once tortured by the revelations of fog is now plagued by nightmares and broken dreams. The chapter “In Darkness Lost” introduces Brandon Whistler, a young boy, and his family. For reasons unknown to Bran
don, his mother and father uprooted their home in Madison, Wisconsin, and moved to his grandfather Harvey’s isolated farm near Winthrop, a small town on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The family’s social life centers on each other, the grandfather, and Gracie and Sean Manning from the neighboring farm. Until this night.
By 7:30, neither Harvey nor Brandon’s parents had arrived.
Time ticked past.
At 8:00, Gracie sat on the couch and watched out the front window, searching the vacant driveway.
She walked to the kitchen and called Sean at the Legion Club. “Sean, you heard from Joanne and Don? They haven’t shown up.”
Brandon strained to hear.
“Yeah, I don’t know. Brandon is here. We’re okay, but it just seems weird. Yeah, okay. If you hear something, let me know. Okay? Yeah. Love you, too. Bye.”
Gracie hung up the phone and saw Brandon sitting on the couch, watching out the window for his parents. “Hey, Brandon,” she called. “To heck with ‘em. Let’s eat some cake.”
Brandon lip twitched and said, “Yeah, sure.”
She lit the candles and made him wish. Then she lopped off half the chocolate cake for him and piled it up on a large plate for him.
“You want some milk with that?” she asked.
Brandon looked over the large piece and said, “I think I’m going to need it.”
Gracie poured a large glass for him. “Eat up, buddy,” she ordered and tousled his hair. Then, she returned to the couch and her post at the window.
Brandon shivered. He had never noticed how dry––almost dusty––Gracie smelled, how thick her red lipstick caked her mouth, how awkwardly she had drawn her eyeliner.
He missed his mom.
He took a swig of milk, then broke apart the remaining cake and scooped up the crumbs with his fork. After he strained the fork between his teeth and finished his monster piece, he left the remaining half on the table and crossed from the empty kitchen to the couch. He kneeled on the cushion next to Gracie and gazed out the window. Avoiding her painted face, he struggled to see something, anything in the darkening yard. He leaned his head on the glass. She ruffled his dark hair.
“Where do you think they are?” he asked.
Gracie simply shook her head and watched. Brandon crossed his arms on the couch back and leaned his head on them. The two worried in silence. Outside, the yard faded to dark, except for the light above the garage.
The phone in the kitchen shattered the silence. Gracie scrambled from the couch and snatched the receiver from the wall.
“Hello? Yeah, sure. Hang on.” She called into the living room, “Brandon, it’s for you.”
Brandon jumped down and walked to the phone, watching the window as he trailed across the floor.
“It’s your mom,” Gracie told him.
“Mom? What does she want?”
Gracie shrugged and handed him the phone. Puzzled, he took the receiver. “Yeah?” he asked tentatively.
“Brandon, this your mom.”
“Yeah. I know, Mom. Where are you?”
The line crackled. Joanne sniffed. “It’s––It’s your grandpa. He––uh––”
The phone thumped, followed by muffled voices.
“Mom? Mom! What’s going on?”
The line rustled and snapped. More thumps. Finally, another voice spoke, icy and hard. “Brandon, this is your dad.”
“Brandon, your grandpa––Your grandpa died a few minutes ago.”
Brandon’s head lightened. His fingers numbed. He grasped the receiver with both hands.
“They think he had a stroke. There was nothing they could do. He’s dead.”
“He––I––” Brandon flexed a fist at his father’s hard voice and gagged back the last vestiges of his birthday cake. His dry mouth barely formed words. “What––What happened to Mom?”
“She’s right here. She can’t talk right now. Give the phone to Gracie.”
Absently, Brandon held up the receiver to Gracie. “It’s my dad. Grandpa died.”
“What?” Gracie gasped, taking the phone. “Don? Harvey died? What happened?”
Brandon simply sat down and stared blankly at the table. Gracie’s voice and light faded into the remaining hunk of his birthday cake as he fell to the floor.