Read Nowhere Blvd: A Horror Novel Online
Authors: Ryan Notch
By Ryan Notch
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Copyright 2011 Ryan Notch
Cover Art by Wojciech Zwoliński
Based on characters created by Edward Ayala
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Thank you for purchasing
I hope you enjoy it. Well actually I hope it scares the hell out of you. If you did enjoy it, please consider posting a review. It's the best way to ensure you keep getting access to indie books, instead of just what big house publishers think you should be reading. And you'd be surprised how much stock a stranger puts in your opinions.
The boy didn’t look at the camera, but rather at the door. At least, the doctor who was watching him on the monitor thought, he
like he’s looking at the door. The doctor had begun to suspect the boy slept with his eyes open.
“How long was he missing,” asked the second doctor. A man considerably younger who was currently reading through the boys chart.
“Two years, went missing when he was nine years old.”
“How did they finally find him?”
“That might be the strangest part. They didn’t find him, he just showed up in his old bedroom.”
“An interesting mystery,” said the second doctor as he looked up from the chart to the boy on the monitor, staring at the door to his padded cell. “Why would the kidnapper return him after all that time?”
isn’t really the mystery. The mystery is
The second doctor shot him a quizzical look.
“This boy disappeared from his bedroom two years ago, with no sign of entry, forced or otherwise. The parents had a second child only a few months later, a daughter. They built up that house like a fortress. Alarms, deadbolts, bars on the windows. Then, five days ago, they hear a noise coming from the boy’s old bedroom, which had by this time been turned into storage. The father goes in, gun drawn, and finds his long lost son. Barely recognizable, completely feral, but no doubt about it.”
“There must be a simple explanation,” said the second doctor. The first doctor had been a psychiatrist for at least two decades longer than the younger man, and didn’t have much faith left for simple explanations. No theories he could come up with began to explain the case.
“How far gone is he,” asked the second doctor.
“He hasn’t spoke a word since he got here, only snarls and growls. I’m only half convinced he even still understands English. His nails are torn ragged. Teeth rotten, skin covered in sores. The pediatricians say he’s suffering from multiple vitamin deficiencies. Their best guess is that he’s spent the last two years living off of candy and raw meat.”
“I can’t imagine the horrors he’s been through. So what’s he doing here? Shouldn’t he be in pediatrics?”
“He was, at first,“ said the older doctor. “The police took him there as soon as his parents called them, standard procedure. The staff down there made the mistake of dimming the lights in his room after giving him a shot to make him sleep. When they came back to check on him a few hours later, they found pillows under the covers in his shape. As far as what happened next...well there’s a two hundred pound orderly who is going to need physical therapy if he ever wants to regain full use of his right leg. As far as the nurse, she had the good sense to run.”
“So they sent him to us,” finished the second doctor. “It’s going to take a long time to put some humanity back in that kid.”
“We won’t get the chance,” said the older man. “The parents got a court order to take custody of him. Spencer Williams is going home tomorrow.”
* * *
Spencer remembered his parents. He hadn’t at first recognized them, with the madness of the return and afterward being dragged off to imprisonment in the hospital. The truth was he’d given up on them long ago. All fond memories had faded as he’d realized they were never coming to rescue him. But he was glad to see them when they came to take him home. The hospital wasn’t secure. Drugged, restrained, kept in tiny rooms. There would be no where to run if Smiling Jack came for him. And running was the
thing you could do if Smiling Jack came for you.
They left the hospital on a bright summer day. Spencer looked up at the sky, so much higher than he remembered. His mom pulled up in a minivan. She looked a lot older than he remembered, as did his father. He hadn’t seen a car in a very long time (with the exception of the police car ride to the hospital), and was excited and nervous to ride in one again. He sat in the back next to someone his parents said was “Baby Suzie, your sister.” He
remember her, except as a faint impression of a roundness in his mother’s stomach he had been convinced would be a baby brother.
Contrary to what the doctors thought, Spencer did understand English. He sometimes listened in when Smiling Jack gave orders to the Hollow Men, so he would know how to avoid their patrols for the night. Understood it, but hadn’t spoken it in a very long time. There wasn’t any point in talking to the half-things he lived amongst. They only understood hunger and pain.
Listening to Baby Suzie, though, he thought he might have forgot some of English. Half of what she said didn’t seem to make any sense at all, and she babbled all the way home.
When they got there his parents bubbled over and over about how happy they were to have him home, and how he was safe now. They showed him his room, newly restored to nearly the way he remembered it from before he left. It was completely unacceptable. Neither the closet nor under the bed had independent lights, and could serve as entry points for Jack’s “friends”. Plus with the bars on the windows, the only escape point was the door, which was easily blocked. As they showed him the rest of the house he picked out the best hiding spots, made escape plans from each area. His first thought was to just sleep in the tree in the backyard, but then remembered there was no threat of the Rejected Things coming up on him in his sleep here.
Perhaps worst of all the rooms for defense was Baby Suzie’s. As their parents proudly let her show Spencer her room, she spoke a few words of nonsense about it and began bouncing on the bed. Not only was there an entry point under the bed, but there was a closet sized wardrobe right by the door, where an intruder could easily arrive from to trap her. Not that she could outrun even the slowest of the friends of Smiling Jack.
Good fucking luck kid,
he thought, mentally crossing her off the list of possible survivors.
* * *
Spencer didn’t remember every day he had spent in Nowhere Blvd. A lot of it was fairly boring, in a never ending terror kind of way. But he remembered the
day. A day which started out at night, in a dream.
He'd dreamt that a giant living teddy bear came walking out of his closet while he lay in bed. Spencer stared out at it from beneath the covers, unsure of whether to be excited or terrified. It looked just like the teddy bear that his father had thrown away months ago, saying Spencer was too old for such a thing. Covered in soft looking brown fur, a sewn up mouth, and buttons for eyes. When his old teddy was taken from him he’d felt like he’d lost a friend, but his old teddy wasn’t real. It didn’t move and talk, not like this one, which was taller than him but not as tall as his mother.
“My name is Mr. Buttons,” said the teddy without moving its mouth. “And you’re having a wonderful dream. Want to come to a magical place with me?”
That cinched it, because Spence loved good dreams. So he took Mr. Buttons’ hand and walked into the closet. Only it wasn’t his closet anymore. It was crowded inside somehow, thick but not solid. They kept walking and walking until they came out the other side. It took Spence a moment to see anything, it was so bright after the darkness of his room.
But he could hear, and the first thing he heard was children laughing. When his eyes cleared he saw a room full of children playing in their pajamas with all kinds of toys. Bright sunlight shone through the high windows, though it had been night only moments before. The room itself was long, like a grand hallway. The door they came through was at one end (and looked like nothing so much as another closet door), the only other door was at the far other end. In between the walls were painting with images of children in ecstatic play at all kinds of wonderful places. Places like amusement parks and forests filled with mystical creatures and real animals alike. Their smiling faces and wide eyes imploring you to abandon yourself to fun.
Some of the children in the room looked up at him in curiosity, but most of the others stared and smiled at Mr. Buttons as if they knew him. A couple of the younger ones even ran up and hugged his fluffy legs. Twins boys, Spence saw, probably kindergartners by the looks of them. Mr. Buttons returned the hug with his big bear arms. Spence thought it must be pretty nice to be hugged by those arms.
The kids were all kinds of ages, though probably only a few younger than the twins and only one or two older than Spence. The toys themselves looked like lots of fun, if not very new. In fact they looked like antiques. Old toy guns and rocking horses and four-square balls and ventriloquist dummies. Exactly the kind of toys that he had never been allowed to play with for fear of breaking them. He stared at them all open mouthed and thought that Mr. Buttons was right, this
a wonderful dream.
“Go on Spencer,” said Mr. Buttons, as if reading his thoughts. “Go have fun.”
Spencer did just that. Making new friends with the other children. All of which spoke English. As the hours went on he began to doubt this was a dream, it was too real, too long. Which was fine with him, he’d always known in his heart there were places like this, that magic was real. And here it was, proof. Mr. Buttons alone was proof, who went away and came back through the closet door at the end of the hall a few times bringing more surprised children, until the room held a few more than his classroom at school.
And then, just when Spencer was beginning to wonder if they would play forever in this magical place,
arrived. If every magic trick must have a magician, than this was clearly him. He walked in from the door at the other end of the grand hall, tall and skinny and with the biggest smile Spencer had ever seen. He wore a black coat and tails with top hat, almost like Willie Wonka but more graceful and deliberate in his movements.
“Hi everyone,” he beamed, spreading his arms wide. “I’m Smiling Jack! Welcome to my home. Welcome to Nowhere Blvd!”
* * *
The day in Nowhere Blvd started like this. First, Jack lead them out like the Pied Piper himself. Out of the hall, down the sweeping black staircase of the high ceilinged main room, out of the mansion, into a sun filled day atop a high hill overlooking a wonderful town. They could see the shops along cobblestone streets, the friendly looking houses, even a Ferris wheel off in the distance. The whole scene reminded Spencer of Candy-Land.
Jack said how it was all for them, a place of fun and play for as long as they wanted to stay.
“I’m going to show you everything,” he said in tones of delight, still with that never ending smile. “But first there’s someone I want you to meet.”
Jack lead them down the hill and to the right, a direction Spencer arbitrarily associated with west. The sun was too high in the sky to navigate it that way (the way his dad had taught him), so Spencer figured Jack’s mansion was at one end of the place and a landmark that could be seen from anywhere, so he called it north. Spencer didn’t want to get lost, his dad had taught him how never to get lost. You especially didn't want to get lost in a dream, you never knew what might happen in one.
Jack went before the line of children and Mr. Buttons trailed it down the winding path. And at the end they found themselves at the most warm and inviting looking house Spencer had ever seen. Old red brick and slanted roof with a neat little chimney pointing out of it. He couldn’t quite put his finger on why, but it just seemed to smile at them somehow. Comfy looking, but also big. Big enough for all them. He noticed some of the children were skipping along and singing as they went.