This was written sometime in January of 2010 as I got a death threat for An Eye In Shadows from another classmate because she was aware of the preview for the five year memoir known as I Want To See You In Black. This is a rejection letter story and I am long overdue for a freebie on Codexed.com so I am letting you all enjoy this one as I am writing my new print only material and readying Issue 5 for re-introduction to CreateSpace.com and toying with the covers on the second namesake have them pass review. This one has a word count of 3,747 words. This was too offbeat for David Summers well you get to enjoy it.
The Discovery Of The Dark Side
Story by Nickolaus A. Pacione
"I don’t believe in the 'supernatural,' I believe in the 'supernormal.' To me there is nothing that goes against nature. If it seems incomprehensible, it’s because we haven’t been able to understand it yet."
--- Richard Matheson
I remember the evening fairly well when Tina J. took both Ryan K. and I to a Southern Baptist revival in Des Plaines, Illinois. I can't remember the exact place where it was in Des Plaines, but I knew it was in Des Plaines, Illinois.
It was the summer of 1994, and I was working at the convenience store in Bensonville, Illinois, with my aunt at one job. Then I would be working at truck garage with my uncle on Saturday mornings after working late with the aunt at the other job on Friday and Saturday nights. With the uncle, I would clean the truck ports. The pay was meager with both jobs, but it gave me some money to play around with on my days off. I was paid every week with the one and every two weeks with the other.
It was two months after all of us graduated from our respective schools. I don't remember every bit of the dialog between me and Ryan at that night. All though there was one part of the dialog I remember well and I will go into that later in the narrative.
Even when I turned to God, I still had disturbing nightmares about a former classmate that met his maker at a young age. The poor bastard died in a car accident when his brother was driving wasted.
Often standing at his open coffin. His cold gray skinned hand reaching from the open coffin up to my neck saying, “You killed me fucker!”
When I would have that nightmare, I wouldn't wake up screaming but I would wake up in a cold sweat.
I was a new Christian at the time, but I had the most metal job someone could have. That job happened to be stocking the beer cooler. I would go to church Sundays and Wednesdays, but contribute to people getting wasted on Friday and Saturdays (the fucking irony of that. I would confess my sins on Sunday and read the Bible on Wednesday, but contributed to the drunkenness of the party animals on the weekends. I had a hard time explaining what I did for work to the guys at church, and when I told them I would stock beer coolers. I got the funniest of looks. My job was a paradox to my faith. People making their beer runs was how I got paid. They bought the beer, I stocked the cooler with it. Supply and demand, pal.)
I was in culture shock when Tina J. came to Ryan's door. I remembered her prior to being the church lady, being she used to wear short skirts like a rock and roll groupie.
She looked like Southern Belle. All proper with her bright blue blouse, wide rimmed straw hat, and long wide denim skirt that went to her brown ankle boots.
Part of me wanted to make a sarcastic remark, but I kept my loud Italian-American mouth shut. Part of me nearly shouted, “What the fuck?!?”
Who's the damned Amish lady? I thought to myself when opened the door at Ryan K.'s Glendale Heights, Illinois, home.
“Nick? You can't be Nick Pacione, can you?” She said when I opened the door. Back then I didn't go by my long name. Everyone just knew me as Nick back then – that was before I was going by my full first name.
“Yeah,” I answered. Part of me wanted to say “holy shit. That can't be her!”
I couldn't believe it was her. The woman from Ryan's testimony told from the teen group. Here I am this rocker guy with a silver crucifix hanging around my neck and she had some Southern Gospel in her car, some late Ford model like the one my ex-room mate in Justice used to drive. Back then, I didn't have a license to drive so I had to rely on other people to get where I needed to go.
“You two are going to a service of mine up north. Take your hats off in the car, you're in God's house,” She said.
“No shit! Damn!” I slipped and tried not to laugh.
The look on her face was in horror when she heard that word slip out.
“We don't swear in this car,” she sternly responded.
FUCK! I thought.
I then thought, where the hell did this woman come from?
Part of me at that point wanted to crack up and slip her a Danzig tape. Even when I was born again, I was still a smart ass. I was trying to keep the quips to myself because I couldn't get over how polite she became. I remembered her when she wore really short skirts. Another friend of mine on the phone back at the house in Glendale Heights couldn't believe that Tina J. was a Southern Baptist.
He remembered the marathon make out sessions she used to have with the older brother. The woman in the car couldn't be Tina J. that I remembered; or at least I remembered. When she rebuked me for swearing, I thought who are you and what the fuck did you do with Tina? You're not the Tina J. I remembered. Holy Crap! Someone switched your mind!"
I took some medicine because my sinuses were acting up before the service.
On the ride there she was mentioning that she was courting someone.
I wanted to quip saying “it's okay to say you're dating someone! It's the damned 1990s. No one says courting anymore! You could even say you're evenly fucking someone.”
I was trying not to make fun of her. Part of me really wanted to, and make a few disturbing jokes – it was a full moon that night so you know what they say about full moons.
“What no Black Sabbath?” I would quip.
I was tortured with Contemporary Christian music by the neighbors because they refused to let their kid touch a Black Sabbath tape. (I actually took him to a KISS show early in 1994. Around the time when Ryan K. tricked me into going to a Bible study. The neighbor's kid thought Metallica worked with Amy Grant, that's entirely untrue.)
While they did that, my parents were actually getting me my Iron Maiden cassettes, Metallica tapes, horror books, and Ray Bradbury books. Ryan's kid brother introduced me to punk and some alternative. I remember doing CD trades and he was playing in an alternative band.
“We don't even touch hard rock here,” she would quietly say.
I would just love to imagine if she walked into my old apartment at Justice – she would feel like she'd entered the den of Leviathan because of the room mate's collection of horror movie posters, horror films, The Vampire Chronicles, and Clive B. novels (personally, I don't read him. I don't agree with the fact he takes it up the ass.)
I think she would have a heart attack if she saw my Stephen King collection and the books that were signed by friends who are also authors. Back then, I read a lot of Stephen King and had many horror films – my collection grew back then. I think she'd freak at the fact I listen to Industrial Metal.
Well going back to that night, I took my seat in the front of the pews (well they weren't pews but chairs lined up in front of the altar.)
The medicine I took earlier that day started to kick in as the hellfire preacher was telling everyone to repent. I couldn't get over how many people knelt at the chairs and prayed.
It was all culture shock to me. Especially since I read lot of books ranging from Ayn Rand to Stephen King. I would remember how some older Christian woman gave me all sorts of devotional books two years later after this revival. Back then I didn't know what the hell to make of it, and back of the times of Christ; he actually mocked religious leaders.
The revival was full of dry bones and I didn't feel like I quite fit in there. Hell, I didn't even fit at Christian metal shows because I wore Metallica shirts. Sometimes I feel bad for dragging Jay H. to those shows now – and now I am thinking exactly why he wrote the essay why he wasn't religious for his college composition class.
Seeing how Ryan was back then; my parents couldn't even believe it at times. He was very generous and that is true. Everyone in my circle thought he would actually become a preacher because he used to go on missions trips. He though on the pure and lovely, I had a hard time thinking on that because I thought about all the people I contributed to getting drunk. It was very hard working in a place like that when you're a Christian because you have to imagine how much beer they would buy before a party or when they made a beer run. Each beer they bought I had to restock that one with another case of beer. That was half the reason I wasn't preachy because I knew I was contributing to another person's sin – the guilt of that always weighed in on me. It was beyond fucked up, and sometimes I couldn't sleep – there were times where I wanted to sit in the diner and drink a shitload of coffee.
I thought when I was in there, I need to get the hell out of here. I am starting to fall asleep. I need coffee damn it.
So it was about seven-thirty when I entered the chapel where the meeting was held. The guy preaching was quite loud, but not as loud as I would get when I would be on stage. Tina J. would get on her knees and prayed, while she did that I was getting ready to walk out of the building because I was starting to fall asleep. Much as what my uncle claims to do when he goes to church, he sleeps. There was a part of me there that was sleeping inside of me, something breathing and waiting to be awakened. I didn't know it at the time but that was the inner madman.
It was about eight o'clock when I walked out of the chapel. The service was going on for a good half hour. I found a cabin that served coffee and entered. There was an elderly man there manning the coffee booth.
“What will it be sir.” he said with a polite tone.
“Coffee pal.” I responded.
“I take it you were starting to fall asleep during the service.”
I thought, how did this fucker know?
“How the hell did you guess?” I asked when I haded him the five dollar bill.
“I just never seen a rocker type before. Seems like you never been to this kind of church,” he said.
“Oh really how did you guess?” I asked.
“I know it by your voice, do you sing in a heavy metal band?” he asked.
“Not yet. I've been trying to form one,” I responded while taking the Styrofoam cup full of hot liquid. While taking that sip I was thinking about the inner beast in me that wanted to come out.
I had nightmares about him looking at me in the mirror saying, “HEY FUCKER! GUESS WHAT ASSHOLE! I AM YOU! You just don't know it yet. I am the madman waiting to awaken. I am the one who haunts your mind and the one who watches you.”
He in the mirror had long black hair, black clothing and a long goatee – a dark complexion. Resembled me sixteen years from the time of going to the revival. I had no idea that madman would eventually become me – the inner demon that saw the torments of mental instability. The shadow of the future that was there, the thing that would become the damnation observing me. Now back in the summer of 1994, I was just starting to witness to people and leading them to Christ – but there was a part of me waiting to awaken and the thing I feared the most back then.
I was at the coffee hut for a good fifteen minutes shooting the shit with the old man.
“Did you come here alone?” he asked.
“No some schoolmate brought two of us to her church.” I answered as I took a sip of the coffee. I was starting to wake up a little bit at that point, starting to be a little more relaxed.
“Really?” he added.
“Yeah it's true, she called another buddy of ours and I was at his house at the time so I got dragged along.” I answered, “I was reluctant because I contribute to people getting wasted on the weekends. I work I in a beer cooler, and often would go to heavy metal shows.”
“Really? You're actually from the heavy metal community? I remember when some kids of mine went to see Therapy,” he added.
That night did feel like something out of a Bradbury story. Just everything about it seemed eerie, one of the classmates dying of AIDS was still on my mind. How he died was disturbing. The same way that Asimov died – blood transfusion. Neither of them were homos or did drugs, the kid had a bleeding illness.
I was told to think on the pure and lovely, but my mind was dark and distorted even back then. I had nightmares about him scratching at the inside of his casket as much as I had nightmares about Brian Wallace grabbing me by my throat while standing at his coffin. Deaths of the young always got to me for some reason, that was why I didn't go to the wake or funeral.
“Look man I have to get back before they wonder where the hell I went,” I responded,“Thanx for the coffee. I needed something to get me awake for the next half of the service.”
“No problem kid!” He smiled back.
It was about fifteen minutes when I got back to the location of the service. There was something looming in my mind, the thoughts about those nightmares about seeing a figure in black pointing back at me saying he was me.
“Shit!” I said to myself. I knew they were going to be a little upset about me taking off like that, upset wasn't the right word. Pissed was a little better.
“Nick! What happened to you? You know it was rude of you walking out like that,” Ryan welcomed me back.
“Man! I was falling asleep. That medicine was making me too tired to pay attention so I needed coffee,” I replied.
I was trying to keep it clean when I was there, though there was a part of me that wanted to say that the fucker of a preacher was boring me to death. I was new to the whole church thing at the time. I still had a hand with the fingers bent to just the middle finger sticking up for a key chain. Everyone thought I was giving the pastor the finger when they saw the key chain. Some of the other friends from church tried to break me of the swearing but that greeted them with epic failure.
“Well at least you came back,” he answered.
“Yeah, true to that.” I responded.
Some of the others didn't realize that I left but Tina J. did.
“You actually left,” she looked at me with a shocked look. That look was if I actually spit in the face of the preacher, but it was something beyond my control. If I didn't leave I would had passed out on the floor because of the fucking medicine. That nightmare about Wallace was on my mind at that moment, and the other nightmare about the kid that died of AIDS still clawing in his coffin.
“Tina, I was falling asleep while you were talking to the man upstairs. I needed something to wake me up,” I answered. I didn't want to say I was thinking about the nightmares I had about Brian Wallace.
That one was disturbing, way too disturbing for words or the one I had of seeing myself sixteen years from now screaming in my face saying he was me. That was when I saw the moon was full, and they say the strange things happen during a full moon – and later in life that full moon became a real inspiration.
The next thing she said to me rung in my mind for a good number of years, and back then I had no idea what she meant by that either.
“Nick, you know there is something about you that disturbs me. I can't put my finger on it but you do have a dark side,” was what she said.
I sometimes imagine her saying that sometimes give her nightmares about if she saw me sixteen years from that day as she saw me in 1994.
Something dark, something lingering in my mind – and that person lingering was an older much more tormented version of myself. The man in the mirror the eighteen year old saw was the tormented and troubled man that he became. The person that Tina J. had no idea that I would become was lingering, waiting to be awakened. That real life version of what H.P. Lovecraft called The Haunter In The Dark.
Tina J. might have seen the future that day and I didn't know it; at the time I had no idea – she might have been a damned seer.
“How do you figure that I have a dark side?” I asked with a little bit of surprise.
“Just something about you; something you don't quite know yet,” she added.
That revelation haunted me for the longest time, even after I led Carrie B. to Christ before leaving for basic training.
There was a shadow that was casted upon me – the words that Tina J. said those months earlier rang in the back of my head. They stood there for almost sixteen years when the memory she had of them left her, I got fucked with having a good memory. I didn't mention this to Carrie B. but it was because of her I picked the pen up.
That car ride home was silent.
No one spoke and she had a tape player silently going as we drove into the darkness from the revival. Back then, I had no idea that the person I would become would end up creating things so unnerving that some people would do a double take. It was firmly rooted in my DNA to create monsters and sometimes I was the monster of my own creation.
God kept me safe at times, but sometimes my madness became the forefront – the things that I would imagine came from the nightmares I would have as a teenager. Orion had locked me in, and the monsters that I had in me needed to come out and not by being driven out. Neither Tina J. or Ryan knew what was lurking, crawling silently in the back of my twisted intellectual conscious. The crawling and lurking inside my mind was the dark side wanting to awaken and wanting to wander as an entity all its own.
They say when darkness comes, run from it – some things you can't exactly run from and those are the things wandering inside you. The very things that drove Edgar Allan Poe and Lovecraft to create the horrors they've penned but they died -- both young, penniless and scorned!
Sitting in that back seat of the car, silence was my companion. All the still, the damned nightmares I had over the past few weeks were the ones stirring in the back of my head.
The dark side was wandering, waiting as it was wanting to awaken. That thing waiting to awaken was a doppleganger of some form. The man from the future staring back at me in the reflection of the window with his long black hair and soulless eyes repeating the words, “I AM YOU!”
I had no idea that Tina J. realized those nightmares wandered in me, but her turning to God might had been an effect from Brian's death. His death had cast a shadow on all three of us in that car, but we had different ways of dealing with it. Ryan and Tina J. would both pray. I was just haunted by the endless nightmares about the wake because I never went to the wake or funeral.
I just stared aimlessly into the darkness thinking about those nightmares of him grabbing my throat while standing at his open coffin. Sometimes asking God why the fuck did I get those nightmares. Usually the Bastard upstairs doesn't even answer and responds silently with his sick sense of humor. In my nightmares I could still feel Wallace's cold, lifeless fingers grasping tightly around my neck, and could hear the one who died of AIDS clawing within the walls of his coffin – almost if he was buried alive.
I could still hear the one who died of AIDS screaming, “Dear Jesus, I am not dead yet! Take me out of this motherfucking tomb! IT'S NOT MY TIME TO DIE DAMN YOU!”
I couldn't tell either Tina J. or Ryan K. about those nightmares because they would be laying hands on me at the time trying to ask God for him to take them away. Honestly, they would have tried to do something strange to drive the demons out. I knew the nightmares weren't something of Satan or God but they were something entirely different. I haven't spoken or written about them until quite recent.
Tina J. would have said that Satan had a foothold on me in some way, but I knew otherwise.
I knew that I had to get those demons out in my own way. I had a lot of inner torments and the monsters wandering within the inner surfaces of my mind. The nightmarish wanderings that would be the making of the discovery of the dark side – the night-gaunts of madness taking their cold fingers upon my dreams and sanity.