The following excerpt is unedited and subject to change.
Logan Grayson nearly jumped out of bed as the screams he had heard too many nights since his best friend moved in tore him so rudely from his wickedly naughty dream at the same spot as always, right before real fun began. Maybe next time.
He looked over at Rylan, who sat with his arms wrapped around his bent legs and rocked side to side and wondered if it would ever end. There had been many nights, more than Logan could count, that, right before sunrise, Rylan screaming or incoherently rambling and he was worried that nothing Doctor Alizid tried would help. Rylan was far removed from the happy boy Logan had grown up with and was quickly losing faith that he would ever be again.
“You okay, bro?” Noah asked, his voice hoarse with sleep. Rylan did not say anything; he just stared straight ahead as though unaware anyone else was in the room with him. Shit, another real bad one.
Some nights, Rylan woke up in a cold sweat but could calm himself and drift back to sleep. Other nights, he just argued with himself but did not wake. Then there were the real bad night; the ones that began with screaming before segueing into his perfected zombie-like stare into nothingness. Those were the nights that scared Logan the most.
“Ry-man?” He threw off the covers and slipped off the bed wearing his usual low cut black briefs and consecrated pentacle and stumbled over to Rylan’s bed beside the bay window. As he reached for his friend, he stepped on something small and hard and, with a squeal, fell against the edge of the mattress. “Fuck,” he hissed as the sharp pain spread. “Stupid Legos.”
Once the pain subsided, he pulled himself to his knees and reached for Rylan, shook him. “Come one, man, snap out of the crazy now, okay? You’re safe here, remember?” He shook him again. “Wake up.”
Rylan turned to him, blinked and broke down. Logan crawled onto the bed scooted next to him and wrapped an arm around his shivering form.
“Hey, hey, it’s alright. Nothin’ to be scared of, okay? I’m here. I’m always here.” No matter how many times he said those words, they never felt true – except for the last part. He would always be there. But how could there be nothing to fear when Rylan fought his inner-demons non-stop, even in sleep? How can someone heal when the damage is so deep even nightmares fear to tread? But he said them anyways, hoping that, somehow, one or two words would break through Rylan’s fears and spark something, anything, good inside to help fight back the darkness. “You. Are. Safe.”
“No, I…” Rylan’s voice was slowly returning to him. Logan knew that he would be okay. This time, even if he did not. “I’m not, I… I can’t do this any… I, I, I, I see him and…” Logan felt his heart rate begin to speed. “I can’t, can’t keep doing… this. I can’t pretend like…”
Logan squeezed his arm, pulled him closer until Rylan’s head rested on his shoulder. “I know, I know, man, but you can’t give up. You’re a fighter. You can do this shit.”
Rylan’s heart began to slow as his breathing inched closer to normal. “But what is he comes back?”
“He under guard, comatose, two states away. In prison. He’s not coming back.”
“He could wake up, break out and hitchhike back here. He’d kill me if he had the chance.”
“Not gonna happen. No way he’s hurtin’ you again.”
“Oh, shit.” Rylan pulled away and shook his head. “I did it again, didn’t I?”
“Yep.” Logan grinned. “Total space, heart poundin’ like a jackrabbit with a bit of hyperventilation thrown into the mix. Even started the whole episode with a scream to wake the bloody dead. All in all, pretty fucking epic.”
Rylan blushed. “Sorry, bro.”
Logan pulled him back against him. “It’s all good.”
“Nah, dude, really. I get it, okay? You’re dealin’ with some major shit and it’ll take time. So it’s cool.” Logan did not know what else to say. While being woken up before sunrise was killing his happy eight and a half hours, he would never complain. He would wait it and when Rylan’s nightmares stopped, like would be good and happy and normal again. Or so he hoped.
“Thanks. You’re too fucking nice to me.”
“Hey, what else would I be doin’ at,” he glanced over at the green glowing numbers on the digital alarm clock on the nightstand beside his bed, “three-fifteen in the morning?”
“Having naughty dreams about rah-rah girls?”
“Ew. Those cheer-skanks are overrated. Besides, I’ve got far more hot hotties to wet dream about.”
“There’s still the whole sleep thing. It’s what normal people do.”
“Sleep? Sorry, I don’t think I’m familiar with that.”
“Not since I moved in, at least.”
“Shit, man, don’t.”
“Beat yourself up over shit that ain’t your fault. I just got through telling you how okay it is, remember?”
“I can’t help feeling bad. I have been a pretty big burden to shoulder.” Rylan slumped down and Logan knew he was heading back to that bad place. “It’s been a fucked up year of non-stop fucking up.”
“You’re not a burden, so don’t even think that shit. And you’re not fucking up.”
“You’re being too nice again. Can’t you let me wallow in my self-pity?”
“Sorry, but no. You’re my best friend and helping you comes with the territory. So tough shit.” Rylan laid his head on his shoulder again. “So, you wanna talk about it? Tonight’s feature presentation, I mean.”
Rylan stretched out his legs and stared at his toes. He seemed to go off into his own world, a frequent occurrence that was sometimes helpful but almost always the opposite. Logan did not know what to do and could only sit there quietly until he regained his senses.
“Nope,” Rylan said finally after what felt like, to Logan, an eternity. “Not really. Why can’t I dream about consensual sex like a normal teenager?”
Logan took his hand. He wanted his friend to be open with him and talk about what had happened in his basement but he could not even bring himself to say rape much less admit he had been raped. It was always unconsensual sex. He knew it was the same thing but felt the word choice was telling.
He had yet to really let anyone inside, aside from his doctor, if he was to be believed. He refused to talk to anyone else about anything besides the nightmares and him opening up even that much was rare.
“I’ll listen, you know. I’ll listen and I won’t judge and I won’t tease. I’ll still love you just the same if you decide to talk or rant or whatever you need to do. I know it’s not easy for you, to even think about what happened but I hope you know that when you’re ready, I’ll be waiting.”
“I know,” Rylan whispered, his gaze still on his bare feet. “I do, I really do. And I really appreciate the effort; it’s more than I think I deserve, to be honest. It’s just…” He swallowed hard and shuddered. “I don’t know how… or if I even can… What Logan did… I’ I just don’t wanna think about it, y’know? I wanna forget it. All of it. And move on. But I can’t. I think about it all the fucking time, I fucking dream that shit every night…”
“I’m sorry. You’re right, man. I shouldn’t push.”
“No, you should. Trust me, you constantly reminding me you’re still there… it actually helps more than you realize.”
Logan smiled. “Alright then, I’ll remind you again. I’m here when you’re ready. When you wanna talk, I’ll be right here waiting for you.”
“Nice one, Richard Marx. Any chance you two fags could be any gayer?”
Both boys turned their gazes to the bedroom door and saw Lukas, Logan’s older brother, standing there with a teasing smile on his face in his low-hanging drawstring pants. He was on the swim team, like Rylan had been before the attack, and had a slim, tight body he loved to show off even when there was no one around to impress.
“You’re a real asshole sometimes.” Logan cut his brother a nasty look. “The fuck is wrong with you?”
Lukas’ smile faded and his entire demeanor dropped. It was not often he wore shame but when he did he always looked as hurt, or even more so, than the wounded party.
“Sorry guys, just tryin’ to lighten the mood is all. Guess I did a shitty job.”
“Uh, duh,” Logan spat as anger ripped through him. “Why don’t you just-”
“No, it’s okay,” Rylan said, his voice small. “I know I’m a fucking nut job.” He looked to Logan and smiled weakly. “And asshole or not, he’s got a point. This is at least a little gay.”
One year ago, Rylan Sinclair watched as his world collapsed. Since then, he has struggled to come to terms with the savage attack he suffered at the hands of the psychopath who murdered his mother before his eyes. Every night, his dreams go back to the real life nightmare that changed everything.
And now, there's someone who wants to finish what started that fateful night...
In the small town of Cliff's End, there is a blood thirsty murder on the loose and Rylan is the last name on that killer's list.
Can Rylan survive another brutal lunatic? Will anyone survive the massacre that threatens to flood the streets of his small hometown with the blood of innocents?
Can lost innocence ever be reclaimed?
Coming in 2017.