So here is part 5! and my first time using the beta for uploads so fingers crossed!
Duke was running headlong into the wood before Kyle could even register exactly what had just happened. The big lug was a freaking child, "Son of a bitch..."Kyle breathed out, taking up a steady jog in a straight line towards the firework. Kyle wouldn't put it past Duke to take the win way too seriously, and despite all the frustration and the voices telling him to run the hell away, Kyle knew he was going back. The real question was whether or not he had the flag in hand.
'What are you doing you idiot?' He chided himself, 'The crazy literally just left you to your own devices and you are going BACK?! You already have your answers; he's a new kid, get over it!'
But despite the volume of his common sense he was jogging with full intention of reaching the flag and returning to the swings. He just hoped the over competitive nut didn't hide it up a tree of something stupid.
Kyle also noted the comfort he felt re-entering the woods and re-joining the unseen world. Granted he could plainly be heard and thought of as an animal to any passer bye's he was hidden away in the shadows, shrouded in the familiar comfort of being a ghost to average folks...if he switched his light off...
The flashlight in his grip dimly lit the area in front of him, but it was shaky in his hand, indirectly illuminating either unimportant things, then directly ahead of Kyle and shakily back to somewhere equally unimportant as the first. Finally after much aggravation Kyle clicked it off and continued is jog. That night was eerily similar to the last, running in one of Duke's games, even if he was more aware this time.
In all actuality, and Kyle would never admit it too Duke, all this craziness was kind of...fun. The thrills of doing something different and crazy, stupid even seeing as somehow Duke had a firework launched on call...That was still a puzzle, how the game was set up and Duke had people in the woods presumably with fireworks and waiting at the flag.
Despite himself, Kyle smiled and laughed a bit in pure joy. As hard as he tried he couldn't get the smile off his face for more than a few seconds.
After a few minutes longer Kyle felt he was soon approaching the flag, or at least the firework launch site. It was quite the run for a single game, and by that time Kyle had given up jogging. It was far too slow. In a dead run through the woods he finally saw a dim light in the distance. He course corrected, quite proud of himself for staying in the general direction the entire time at night.
Then he stopped. Panting was the only sound in the world that wasn't crickets. He felt his heart thumping in his chest and throat like a drum. The source of the light was about fifteen swaying lanterns hanging by little threads from a large hollow tree. The light cast down from the ancient candle lanterns hung in the air in a dim glow, creating almost a dome of illumination around the dead husk of the rotting bole.
Kyle felt a shiver run up his spine as one of the swaying lanterns creaked an almost comically cliché horror movie sound effect. And there lay the flag in the mouth of the stump. It was so close, it for some reason seemed so important, and Kyle wouldn't make a move for it. He looked around from the darkness of the woods trying to find who had fired off the fireworks; six more were left unused at the base of the ancient tree, its gnarled branches and hollow insides casting forever moving shadows around the flag with the help of the gently swaying lanterns.
It all added up to a scene from a horror movie. All Kyle had to do was reach his hand for the flag and some kind of un-dead spawn of Satan or something would grab him from the tree. It was that feeling everyone gets when they read a scary story or hear of a horrific tale, that foreboding, like everything is instantly more dangerous and evil. Those little noises are plotting demons; those stray thoughts are calling demons just for you. Fear made anywhere a personal hell.
"Bullshit, this is bullshit!" Kyle stated. Why the hell would Duke go out of his way to make the flag un-nerving to retrieve? It was more reason Kyle thought he was irritating, this was something a six year old did to try and win the game, what did he win in the end? A pat on the back, if that? Still, it was a very effective plan.
In a last ditch effort to get someone to respond Kyle made his approach very loud, scanning the trees for signs of some asshole ready to jump out and scare him shitless. Nothing in the bushes moved, no one spoke or made themselves known. That was worse.
Quickly Kyle walked through the site, eyes resting on his objective. It was so stupid, he ran all this way for a stupid piece of cloth. Still, that cloth would make him the winner... The boy froze in place thinking about it.
He...cared? About a stupid game of capture the flag? Duke's enthusiasm must have been contagious because Kyle had not fled home yet. He tried to rationalize that Duke would just return to his house, but he knew somewhere in his head that he wanted to beat Duke at the game he annoyingly pushed Kyle into.
Kyle reached up to the opening in the wood that held the prize. He smiled as his fingers clasped the fabric.
The boy didn't move a single muscle.
He sat there, frozen in time for what felt like a lifetime. Branches had snapped in the forest too his left. He had his fingers around the flag but he didn't dare pull it free. The snapping of branches continued just a moment longer and then stopped entirely.
Kyle waited longer still, desperate for a hint that the...whatever it was was gone. 'Probably just a deer,' he told himself, not even halfway convincingly.
IT took a solid two minutes of just standing there until Kyle finally yanked the flag from the tree and took off in the direction he came from at a dead run. There was no way he was going to look back, deer or no deer he didn't want to look back in the dark and see a set of eyes staring back into his.
Red cloth in hand he squinted into the dark, the lanterns having destroyed his previously claimed night vision; he clicked on the flashlight and guided his way back.
Kyle broke the tree line without looking ahead, his legs were tired and his eyes still had not re-adjusted to the night's blanket, but he had made it. He allowed himself a triumphant smile and a decent pace. The area looked lonely, he didn't see Duke on the swings or at the rest of the playground, Kyle halfway expected the kid to have bragged about his getting back first by now, he expected more of a fight then winning on his first attempt to be perfectly honest. Duke had told him himself that he wasn't the type to be okay with losing.
Kyle allowed himself a steady walk to the swings sitting carefully upon his space, it was nice and calm now that that crazy, loud, oaf wasn't around. It was refreshing, but something about his not being there seemed almost...lonely. His personality took up a lot of room, its absence seemed hallowing to the place, even if it was so open, it seemed less empty by a lot.
"So didn't you run?" Kyle asked himself quietly, recalling the almost ghostly feel of that tree and the events of the night before. It was a bit surprising that Kyle could remind himself of Duke's knife now, how it had been so close to his bare flesh, how life had never been so close to ending, and he didn't fear the boy anymore. Still that healthy respect of power, but not scared.
In his abnormality he was so normal. It was his kindness that seemed strange now, his natural pep. He had just casually left his knife on Kyle's bed as if it had all been a big game.
"Why don't you join me down here?"
Kyle almost fell out of his swing the sound came so close and loudly, shattering the peace even though he hadn't spoken any louder than he had before. Kyle turned around after he stopped the swing, eyes meeting Duke's, who smiled and lay in the grass behind the swings. His hands were crossed back over behind his head in an improve pillow, and his dopey grin laughed at Kyle's shock.
"Did you think you'd won? I wouldn't let you win so easily," Duke informed him in a sarcastically cocky tone dragging his attention back to the sky as he reclined in the dewy grass. "The stars are really nice tonight," he mentioned, patting the grass beside him.
"I'll pass," Kyle said simply, a bit peeved he hadn't won, even if originally he was a bit frustrated that he had. He shrugged off the impossibility of loving the outcome and lay back in the swing looking up without getting his back wet in the grass. The stars really were nice, the moon was even clearer. Kyle heard from some of the kids who got the luxury of traveling out of Sweeton for vacations how they could never see the stars and the moon looked far away and sad without the little twinkling lights around it. It made Kyle smile, even if the time was making him yawn, he didn't realize how tired he was until that happened.
"So I guess I should take you home then huh?" Duke said quietly, obviously disappointed.
"Probably, I do still have school all week; this is going to fuck me over sleep wise," Kyle grumbled, but sighed, "I...I guess I did have fun though, even if your freaking shrine around the flag freaked me out."
"Shrine?" the big kid asked, looking up, "What do you mean?"
"Didn't you place the flag?" Kyle asked, still confused on how it was all set up, "There were a ton of lanterns like dangling from the tree and...wait a minute, if you placed the flag then you knew where yours was!" Kyle burst, turning to face the other boy, "Cheap!"
Duke smiled a bit, obviously finding something funny, "I didn't know where mine was I swear," he said, "Believe me or don't I had to search for this freaking thing," he dangled a blue flag in the air, "I thought for sure you were going to win."
"Then who actually set up the flags! The same person who set off the firework right? Where did they go?" Kyle asked, "Not having answers is annoying me!"
Duke shrugged, "My family."
Kyle gave him a look of total disbelief, "No seriously."
"I'm being serious, you don't have to believe me, it's the truth and my answer won't change because I have a no lying policy," he stated simply, standing up and walking over to sit in the other swing, "So any more questions before I take you home?"
Kyle shook his head, "I don't think I'll believe any of your answers anyway, and you don't need to walk me home, Winter street is in the other direction."
Duke threw his arm around Kyle, his body a bit too close for Kyle's liking, "I couldn't leave you alone at night little buddy."
The lanky boy shook off the arm taking a few healthy steps back as they started walking, "Too close, and really its fine, like I said we don't even lock our doors."
Duke laughed, "Sorry about that, and it's not that I think you'll get hurt or something, it's just that I kind of need my knife," he pointed out, "You did want me to leave it there after all."
Kyle had the suspicion Duke left it there on purpose but didn't say anything, Kyle didn't like Duke's lack of knowledge on personal space.
"I'm glad that you warmed up to the idea of games," Duke admitted when they were at the park entrance and walking up Kyle's street, "I hate it when my...friends are not happy. I tend to make new play things uncomfortable with my pushiness and intensity."
Another strange disconnected choice of words, "Playthings?" Kyle asked pretty offended, "I'm a person, saying 'friends' and me telling you not too is better than you just saying 'plaything'."
"Right...I'm sorry about that it was just a slip of the tongue."
He walked in silence, somehow it wasn't awkward even as Kyle had Duke wait outside his door when he entered his house. Kyle quickly ascended the stairs to his room and retrieved the knife, the blade not seeming dangerous in his own hands.
It was strange how that sort of bias worked on even inanimate objects. The silver and surprisingly intricate handle held no reason to fear, Kyle didn't try and click it open for fear of pushing his luck but still, he was holding the very object that had his life in its clutches the night previous.
Kyle returned the blade at the door, getting a thankful nod from Duke who put it in his pocket quickly, "Thanks, so umm, I guess I'll see you around then?"
"I guess so, next time though how about you don't just barge into my room uninvited, okay? Your lack of any boundaries is so weird."
"I'd rather be weird than normal," Duke smiled.
"But you have to be a little normal or you'll just be singled out dude," Kyle re-iterated for the awkward boy. How Kyle was so casually talking to him was beyond his understanding, but he didn't question it. There was still something both off and fascinating about Duke, Kyle couldn't quite place his finger on.
"I guess," Duke shrugged, starting to walk away from the door, "I'll see you in school tomorrow."
If this kid got any more frustrating Kyle felt he'd have to punch him in the face. He knew the kid just wanted to walk him home, Kyle could have just returned the knife the next day, even if it was in school, "Fantastic," he managed, "You suck, see yah later."
Before Duke could reply the door was shut and pressed his forehead into the wooden frame trying to get his head on straight and adequately wrapped around what the hell just happened that night. The slasher had just walked into his house, pulled him from it, walked him to the park without a fight (that was by far bugging Kyle the most) Introduced him to a game he miraculously had his family set up for the sole purpose of his own fun. Had fireworks on hand to assist Kyle and STILL managed to win AND leave a good impression. To be honest, Kyle was both annoyed and excited to see the kid again, he had not had that much fun in a long time.
But he was seriously tired as all hell. He turned to get to the stairs and had him-self pushed back against the door by a large meaty hand, "You turning queer on me boy?" Scott's voice grumbled in that slurred way a drunk has. His breath seemed to roll out like a fog and hover around Kyle's nostrils. His eyes weren't even all the way open; it was a bit pathetic, if only he wasn't man handling Kyle. Scott was a creep, a drunk and a dick, but he could do some serious damage when he wanted to.
"Excuse me?" Kyle asked, "What the hell are you talking about?"
Kyle felt his head snap to the left from Scott's hand, his cheek and temple stung from his rings. "Language you little shit, don't talk to me that way I want...I want your respect when you speak to me in my own...my own house." He was waggling his finger as he said it, trying to remember now why he was angry, "And you-you know what I mean yah little weirdo queer! Seth said you were wearing make-up!" That fact was followed by Kyle being slammed back into the door.
Kyle had his hands at Scott's wrists all the while trying to free him-self. He could never do it, he cursing himself for being so weak.
"Why the hell do you think it's okay to be a make-up wearing, prancing fairy in my-in my house? Seth shouldn't have to see a little bitch removing make-up unless it's his girl or mine."
"Don't you dare talk about my mother that way you fucking creep!" Kyle snapped. Scott then drove his fist into Kyle's face snapping the lanky boys neck back so his head slammed forcefully into the door behind him.
He instantly tasted blood flood into his mouth, the familiar metallic yet sweet taste that somehow sickened you after the fact and not during. His entire head hurt, his bleeding nose, his no doubt split lip, the concussion running through his skull from impact and the ache in his jaw that was all too familiar with these fights. Well, these very one sided fight.
"Don't talk to me like that!" Scott roared, "God damn it deaf, retarded, ungrateful embarrassment! I took shit all night from the guys about my queer blood; you're not even fucking mine! Stop ruining my life!"
"You're one to talk!" Kyle spit, blood dripping onto his clothes from his open mouth. It hurt to even try and keep it closed so it dripped periodically and flew off his lip, "We were just fucking fine without you and you come here and treat my mom like shit while you complain about how we could fucking improve! How about you grow the fuck up and get..."
The massive fist connected to the side of his head this time, "Don't you fucking talk to me like that!"
Kyle couldn't help it; he started to cry angry tears. He was in his own home. Scott was a resident. His mom wasn't even paying attention; she was mostly likely trying to ignore their screaming.
"And more! You fucking leave the house first time I've ever seen, and it's with some boy AFTER you fucking removed your make-up! When I was your age I wouldn't have to be asked by my old man to go get some you sad waste of space!"
Kyle wanted to yell again, he wanted to keep fighting about how Scott wasn't his father, but he hurt too much. He didn't even want to stand up from the door; he just wanted Scott to stop yelling so his head wouldn't hurt as much.
Scott actually spit on the defeated child, "And you're a god damn quitter...Pathetic just like own dad most likely."
Kyle felt his face burn up in rage. He was so mad and just wanted to lash out but he couldn't even stand up without falling over, the room seemed to spin. Kyle's mom finally walked into the room, eyes clearly meeting her sons, but they went to Scott's.
She put her hands on his arm and asked if everything was okay. The hulk of a man pushed her off and she smashed a picture behind her and fell over. He looked down at her with the look a man gives a dying animal, pity, "Damn it Vikki...Pick this shit up." He waved around the living room. He didn't say it loud, he almost sounded sad, but he left her on the floor in a pool of broken picture frame and shards of glass, and went off to bed.
The two sat on the floor defeated, Kyle's eyes tried to meet hers but there were on the ground. Scott didn't flip out this bad that often, but it still made the world feel like a terribly lonely place when he did, "It'll be okay Kyle," she said with a smile, standing herself up and wiping glass from her dress.
How could she stand there and lie to his face? How could she...?