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December 4th, 2012

Under Cover of Darkness

Deep in the thick of night, Marco was curled into a tight ball beneath his sheets. Silently, so as not to wake his brother, the boy checked his Superspy wristwatch and saw that it was just after midnight. His eyelids were so heavy; if something didn’t happen soon, he might not be awake to witness it. And boy, he sure didn’t want to miss whatever trick Darkness had in store for his brother. An opportunity like this simply couldn’t be missed. So though he was long past the point of being able to suppress his yawns, though it grew harder and harder to keep his eyelids apart, and though he had to fight hard from slipping comfortably into slumber’s seductive arms, Marco would not sleep. He could not.

It was hot underneath the covers. If he lay completely still he could hear the whir of his ceiling fan spinning above him, gently rustling some school papers that littered the ground. Marco was very neat, but Alejandro was a pack rat and a slob. The sound of the papers moving was driving Marco just a little bit crazy, but at this late hour, he dare not come out from under the covers. Beneath the covers, he was safe. Nothing could get him under the covers. Not even whatever monsters lurked in the darkness.

Marco chewed nervously in his lip. Speaking of darkness, where was that demon, anyway? The boy stifled a yawn. He wasn’t going to be able to stay awake too much longer.

Minutes ticked by like hours. Marco’s yawns grew longer and deeper. His blinking grew slower until his eyelids fluttered peacefully closed. His breathing came slow and even. The boy tucked his knees close to his chin. Curled into a fetal position, Marco fell fast asleep.

In the thick of darkness, Marco was dreaming a familiar dream, something about a rabbit and a warrior whose meaning was just outside of Marco’s comprehension when the boy was startled awake. His breath caught in his throat. His immediate inclination was to sit up and survey the room, but something stopped him from bolting upright.

The temperature in the room had significantly dropped. Marco felt his skin pimple over as the cold invaded him, penetrating into his bones. He shivered, the hairs on his arms and the back of his neck rising up. Marco drew in a sharp breath.


Butterflies fluttering wildly in his stomach, Marco opened his eyes wide beneath the sheets, all feelings of sleepiness having evaporated into the night along with the room’s warmth. Slowly, careful not to make too much noise, Marco adjusted the sheets over him so that he made a small opening through which he could see his brother sleeping soundly. Marco had to bite his lips to keep from smiling. Alejandro was gonna get it. Oh boy, was he ever gonna get it good.

Preternatural stillness settled over the boys’ bedroom. The sound of rustling papers quieted. Marco poked a toe out from underneath the sheets, and though he could hear the fan whirring overhead, he could feel no breeze. The room grew steadily colder. Marco drew his knees closer to his chest to keep his teeth from chattering.

That was when he heard it.

On the far end of the room, near the bedroom door that was always pulled closed at night, Marco could hear a low, crackling moan. It sounded like nothing the boy had ever heard before. Even though he knew this would happen, even though this was what he’d waited for all night, stark terror gripped Marco’s heart. His stomach froze up, his breath catching in his throat. He strained his ears, waiting for the next moan.

The unearthly noise was louder this time. Louder and closer. Marco shuddered at the sound of it.

In the other bed, Alejandro rolled over so that he was now facing Marco. He was still asleep, his brow creased. His mouth twitched, a pink tongue licking out to moisten sleepy red lips. He fidgeted a moment, then his face relaxed, his mouth parting.

Marco felt his feet grow ice cold. He knew that the demon must be at the side of his bed. He couldn’t see him, for the opening he’d made in the sheets was only the size of a nickel, just large enough to spy on his brother. But the change in temperature was a dead giveaway.

Marco heard something like a whistle as a thin, barely visible wisp of blackness fluttered lightly across the ridge of Alejandro’s nose. The boy twitched in his sleep, his nose wrinkling before he brushed a hand over his face as his eyes fluttered open.

And that’s when the next moan came, a sound so horrifying Marco had to bite down on his tongue to keep from crying out.

It was a low, dark rumble, a grainy, sucking sound that twisted Marco’s guts. In the darkness, Marco watched as his brother’s eyes grew impossibly wide, his face contorting with confusion and fear  as he pulled his own covers to his chin, scrambling backward toward the wall, away from the sound. He was swallowing furiously, his mouth now hanging open.

The sound came again, louder, and Alejandro stretched his mouth to scream.

But just as the boy’s jaw grew wide for the scream, thick tendrils of blackness shot from somewhere just outside Marco’s field of vision. The sinewy arms of darkness bolted into Alejandro’s gaping mouth, stifling his screams. The boy’s face was kaleidoscope of emotions — terror, confusion, fury — as  he struggled to release the scream, to let his fear find a voice, but nothing came from his mouth. The scene was terrifying. Marco watched in horror as his brother screamed soundlessly, the veins in his neck and forehead straining with the effort. The boy reached for his throat, fingers scratching fruitlessly at the skin, trying to free himself from the preternatural silence that invaded him. Marco could see the terror on his brother’s face. And though he knew — or, at least, strongly suspected — that the Prime of Darkness would not actually hurt his brother, the boy began to feel that perhaps this joke had gone too far. Perhaps this trick was too cruel even for a devil like Alejandro.

But even as he thought to himself that he should put a stop to all this, even as the guilt found its way into his heart and brain, Marco found that he was frozen in fear. He couldn’t speak up for his brother even if he wanted to.

The moaning sound was moving, and now the demon had entered Marco’s field of vision. For the first time that night, Marco could see what Alejandro was seeing, could see what was torturing his brother, and what he saw sent fear all the way down his spine into the tips of his toes. The demon, who usually looked so resplendent in his fine armor and silky red cape, was invisible. Instead of blue skin or gleaming armor, a violent storm of black and gray shadow writhed in a form only vaguely humanoid, twisting its sinister way closer and closer to Alejandro’s bed.

Marco had invited a demonic tornado of blackness, cold, and fear into his bedroom, and even now it was hovering over his twin brother, groaning its terrible groan and stifling his brother’s screams with its icy black tendrils of shadow.

Oh, God, Marco thought. Oh, God, what have I done?

And then, in an instant, it was gone.

The room suddenly grew warm. A breeze moved across the room as though the walls had suddenly exhaled. Gulping, Marco twisted his body, turning his back to his brother, eyes squeezed shut as tears trickled from beneath his lashes. He didn’t want to see the look of agony and fear on Alejandro’s face one second longer. And he certainly didn’t want Alejandro to know that he had witnessed his terror. After all, just as he and Darkness had agreed, they would pretend none of this had ever happened. Alejanadro would think he had just had an awful, dreadful nightmare.

And in a way, he had. In a way Marco never would have wished on anyone if he’d truly understood the implications of the wish, he had.

It was a long, terrible while before Marco was able to fall asleep.

In the morning, long before the sun rose, Marco awoke silently to find his brother, tear-stained and shivering, removing soiled sheets from his bed.

Marco had never hated himself more than he did at that very moment. He shut his eyes, pretended to be asleep as Alejandro dragged his sheets from the bedroom and into the hallway.

And as Marco lay alone in the darkness, a dawning horror forced fresh tears from his eyes.

His friend, the Prime of Darkness, truly was a monster.

And possibly, so was he.


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3 Responses to “Under Cover of Darkness”

  1. Laurie says:
    December 5th, 2012

    Love little Marco. He is my favorite GDL character.

  2. amber fisher says:
    December 5th, 2012

    Don’t tell Gracey, but he’s my favorite, too.

  3. Poor Marco — if you were to keep a tally between him and his brother, despite the strength of PoD’s visit, I’m sure there would be a massive tally one side and 1 incident on the other.

    I did feel sympathy for Alejandro, despite myself, and I’m not an eye for an eye sort of person, but I feel for Marco more in his fear, horror and hate for himself.

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