The Loner is a late edition that I first added to the hardback version of Anarchy: Strange Tales of Outsiders and later to the paperback and e-book. It is a Lovecraft-style story that was written in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when I stayed there in 2012. Since the Halloween season is approaching fast, I decided to share the first pages of this.
The Loner is a dark tale of bullies and revenge. One October night, Gavin, an outsider in every way, is drawn to a cemetery to escape his tormentors. There, he discovers a rift to another world and a darkness that recognizes one of its own.
Excerpt from The Loner:
Gavin grabbed the wrought iron fence posts, pulling his small frame up one hand at a time. The metal was cold to the touch. He knew whatever lied beyond was less frightening than who he was trying to escape. At the top of the gate, his grey hoody snagged on a spike, ripping partway. His foot slipped. Frantically, he was stuck, hanging by his neck until the hoody tore free. Gavin plunged down, breaking the low lying fog that covered the grave markers.
The night was somber and eerie in desolation. Gavin clicked his tongue ring against his teeth, a nervous habit that he could not seem to break. He brushed back his black bangs, grazing the piercings along his ear, as he tilted his head to try to hear a sound of those giving him chase. There was none.
Above, the waxing October moon rode high. Gavin’s eyes adjusted to the gloom. Dark images cast in stone resembled angels and demons.
None of this matters, only escape does. I wish I never would have come to the city. Those jerks are always after me. What the hell have I done to deserve this?
Gavin walked faster, mindful of the graves underfoot, with cautious and silent steps.
So petty, it seems like all there is now is violence. I am so lost. I don’t even know who I am anymore.
The dead’s markers were in all shapes and sizes. Adorned with crosses and long forgotten symbols, they closed in until the faint path was no more. A sepulcher, an above ground tomb encased in smoothed-out stone, beckoned.
Maybe tonight will be different since I have never been this far in.
Gavin climbed on top of the sepulcher, his wallet chain scraping across its hard surface. The cemetery was vast and dark making it the perfect refuge.
What is wrong with me? I should have run away when I had the chance, before they sent me here.
The stars above calmed Gavin. His heart rate slowed to the familiar constellations of Aquarius and Pegasus. The blacks and blues of the heavens enchanted him as he recalled better times—ones before the dreaded move.
The farm was better. No matter how much I hate the woman and man, it was better. They said I was their child since they brought me into the world. I know I am adopted, because they are nothing like me. At least there I could escape from time to time. Cassie would have gone, if I would have asked. She understood me, with freckles dotting her soft pale skin, long gorgeous red hair, and green cat eyes that stared right into my soul. I should have told her a lot of things.
Gavin cracked his neck and felt his face. Skin warm and flushed, he breathed out, straining to see into the dark. There was nobody in sight. Thoughts crowded.
The farm was not like this hell. Now all I have is the Hope School, a home for wayward youth, and its worthless bullies. They torment me and call me a fag, but I am not. I bet Dillon is one. He is the instigator. Seth and Tomas do whatever he says. What is their interest in me? They must enjoy what they do. Why else would they harass me? Tomas, that little weasel, was probably picked on until they found me. It all makes me want to laugh out loud. I should learn to fight and show all of them.
Gavin pulled out his phone and saw that it was almost midnight. Eyes closed, a loud humming noise filled his head; it vibrated his thoughts away and left a metallic taste on his tongue. When he opened his eyes the world was different. The moon was gone and the stars seemed wrong—somehow out of place. Noise came from all around in a collusion of rustling of foliage and whispering of conspiring voices. Gavin checked his phone. The screen was dead. Sitting up, he looked around. The cemetery showed no signs of life beyond its gates. The trees seemed different, all with strange colored leaves. Gavin’s heart beat faster as fear slipped up his spine to tingle the back of his neck. Not sure where the voices were originating, he slid off the sepulcher and backed away.
A phosphorescent circle surrounded the area, marking it as a sacred site. Gavin stepped over the line of the circle and lost consciousness as he fell to the ground. The blackout was short. Gavin’s head hurt, and he found it hard to open his eyes. The moon and stars had returned to their rightful place. Gavin sat up and studied the circle. It faintly glowed, giving evidence to its otherworldliness. Delicately, he reached out to touch it. Passing through, his hand felt strange as it crossed an invisible barrier. Something, unseen and wet, was on the other side.
Gavin pulled his hand back, disgusted that it was covered with a viscous clear slime. He tried to fling it off but was surprised from a steel-toed kick from behind. The disheveled punk trio of Dillon, Seth, and Tomas glared down on him. Shock washed over Gavin’s prone body. They seemed unnaturally tall in the half-light and as unavoidable as the air he sucked in.
The picture is of an unused ad for Anarchy and Escape for the HWA StokerCon guide in 2017.