“Mister Kilt,” Dr. Kernz said with a certain level of matter of factness, “Paul, if I may. This is our third meeting. I can’t prove it of course, at least not yet, but it’s clear that you are not being one hundred percent forthcoming regarding the reality of your injury.”
Kilt looked down at it right hand and stared at the way he ran his thumb back and forth over his finger tips in a soft circular motion. If he had his other hand, he was sure he would have clasped all of his fingers together to accommodate his thumbs tapping each other gently in assured defiance, but his thumb tapping days were over for sure. And with that, some level of his confidence.
“As I explained in our first meeting, we need to figure out what exactly led to your injury. Your insistence that it was a dog, sounds, as we agreed, unlikely to impossible. I surely find it implausible. So if you expect to head back to your home upon your release, instead of a cozy room in the Starkton facility, I suggest we try to explore some new ground. It’s for your own good and the good of the community.” The doctor paused, “I’m here to help.”
Kilt jerked his head away from the oddly calming and near hypnotic thumb movement as if the doctor made a loud noise. His breath quickened as he caught the other man’s gaze.
“Help,” he said, nearly spitting out the p. “How will you help?”
“You don’t believe my story. And if I tell you what I think really happened, at least how I remember it, I’m pretty sure you won’t believe that one either. So, it seems a stint in Starkton is probably inevitable. But since you’re so keen on ‘helping,’ I’ll give it to you, warts and all.”
The doctor silently leaned back in his chair, implying in part that he was happy enough to have reached this point. He waived his hand before him as a gesture to Kilt that he was welcome top proceed, please…go ahead.
Kilt swallowed hard, turning his gaze back to his thumb and fingers.
“It was a weird day to start with. I wasn’t feeling well and I’m never sick, but I was off enough to call off work for the day. The reports of a possible storm that evening started early as I recall, but I don’t think they had any idea what type of storm was heading our way.”
“What do you mean?,” Kernz broke in, “Type of storm.”
Paul nodded his head at the doctor as if to look, but kept his eyes trained on his thumb moving back and forth, back and forth. “Aren’t you from around here doctor? Couldn’t you feel it? This storm was going to be different. Different before it even got here. Most storms are stirred up by weather patterns controlled by Mother Nature to help her take care of her business. But this was no Mother Nature storm brewing. You could feel it in the air the closer it got. It wasn’t like electricity or anticipation. It was more like…dread.”
“Yeah,” Paul said, not realizing how much harder his thumb was pressing against his fingertips. “Dread. Like Mother Nature stepped away for a moment and something else jumped in to steer the storm machine that day.”
“What kind of something?”
“The clouds…the storm system didn’t just roll in like most storms do. It crept in. It changed the air. It, it, didn’t cover the sun, it was more like it…absorbed the light causing the darkness to increase. And when it got here, it seemed to lock this town down as if it meant to stay a while. Even when the street lights went on, they seemed to have to fight to share enough light to hold back the darkness, at least until the power went out. Even my headlights had a hard time cutting into that blackness.”
“You weren’t home then?”
“No,” Paul said, watching his thumb move. “I was coming off some double shifts, so the cupboards were bare as they say. Even though I felt bad, I would have felt worse with no food in the house and I tend to think storms are better when accompanied by the welcomed comfort of a twelve pack. My plan was to skip to the grocery and get back before things got bad. I left my house just as the winds were picking up and damned if I couldn’t tell something was off the moment I stepped out of that house.”
“Yeah…,” Kilt’s voice trailed off for a moment. “But not right away. Like I said the air felt…different. The moment I closed my front door, I don’t know if it was a smell or how thick the air seemed, but that first deep breath was nearly like a brick to the head. I had to steady myself for a moment before I moved to my truck.”
“What happened next?”
“Nothing, really. I brushed off the feeling because I didn’t really have anything to connect it to. I just wrote it all down as maybe being sicker than I thought. I got to Barner’s. I got what I needed. I paid and started to leave. In the short time that passed between entering the store to when I stepped on that pad to open the exit door, the light was gone. The darkness had taken over and it was just starting to rain.”