After Dark: The Hollow King
Jeremy Wright woke up with a start.
His wrists were bound to the concrete wall with what looked like long, flat bits of metal. The room was small and the walls may have been white once. Now, they were a sickly shade of yellow with ruddy brown stains all around. The floor was a rusty metal along with the ceiling. It looked almost like being on the inside of an old refrigerator and just as cold. The only dim light came from a thin horizontal slit in the heavy looking wooden door.
He heard them whispering as they approached. A raspy and endless whisper. Random words seemingly strung together like a verbal car crash, meaning nothing. Jeremy knew that these were the servants of the Hollow King. The door opened slowly and the room became filled with the sounds of the whispering. The servants entered the room with their heads down. They were getting him ready. The Hollow King would be there soon.
The Boy woke up with a start.
Had he been asleep? The boy looked around but couldn’t remember if it were night or day nor how long he had been in his prison. He knew that he wasn’t always in the prison. The boy knew that once, he had a home and friends. Once, he had a family and a mother who loved him and told him all kinds of stories. The boy thinks that maybe she told him a tale about the Hollow King. A tale that thrilled him and kept him up all night until the rays of the sun made his fears seem silly. He shook his head to free himself from the tears.
“Stop crying” he told himself, “someone will find you. Then you’ll be safe.”
But the whispers returned as the door crept open slowly. The servants of the Hollow King shuffled into the room. He kicked and screamed at them. He hoped that his mother would forgive him but he even swore. The little gray people ignored him as they went about preparing him for the Hollow King’s arrival. Their slender fingers and cracked, yellowed nails checking his bindings, brushing his hair and wiping the tears from his eyes. The Hollow King was returning.
He woke up with a start.
He tried to think about anything outside of the dull room. He slowly whispered as he spoke to himself about the outside. He talked to himself about baseball and weather and bullies. He talked to himself about anything that he could think of other than the terrible room. He didn’t think that he’d ever be saved. Who was there to look for him? He had no friends or family. He didn’t even have a name.
“I won’t die here. I will go out and I will see the sunshine again.”
He tried to lie to himself but was too weak to even raise his voice. His throat felt dry and his lips were cracked. He didn’t even cry when he began to hear the whispers again. Their whispers overpowering his own voice. He felt like there were no more tears left in him. The door opened and the servants of the Hollow King entered slowly. They were about his height and moved clumsily. Their bare feet making smacking sounds as they prepared him. The Hollow King was hungry again.
It whispered endlessly as it said whatever jumbled words entered it’s addled mind. Anything to keep out the silence. Anything to fill the emptiness. It’s hair had become thin and stringy. Matted to it’s head with sweat and grime. The eyes were dull and looked down at the ground.
The door opened and the servants of the Hollow King released it from the wall. The thin strips of metal opened and slid back and away. It fell to the ground with a dull thud and joined in on the whispers. Together, they would serve the Hollow King. It stood slowly and looked at it’s slender fingers and yellow, cracked nails. It would need to learn to hunt. The Hollow King would be hungry soon.