PHANTOM BLACK – CHAPTER ONE

so i’ve decided to totally re-write my first chapter of this novella that i’m working on. Hope you enjoy. comments are most welcomed… also, do follow the blog for updates on the upcoming chapters!

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CHAPTER ONE

RAVEN BLACK

The ringing of the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand next to my bed caused me to jump out of my seat, my heart thumping at almost three hundred beats per minute. The sound had broken my concentration on the melody I was trying to focus on in my mind. Staring down at the table in front of me, I noticed a pencil line had found its way across the sheet of manuscript paper. Must have gotten itself there when I jumped out of the freaking chair in fright. Letting out a sigh, I crushed the paper and tossed it over to the side, where it joined others of its kind, the bin overflowing with balls of failure.

Putting the guitar which was straddled across my lap back to its stand, I pushed back the chair I was sitting on and stood up, making my way behind me to my bed and reached out, silencing the still ringing alarm. The alarm was supposed to have woken me up from my much needed nap, which I obviously did not take due to being too engrossed in trying to come up with some melody for the new album. I’d been stuck with this music block for a few weeks, and being on a tight schedule with inhuman deadlines by no means made my life easier. The band was due for recording of the new album in two weeks time, and we needed 7 more songs. Not good. Not good at all.

A quick glance at the clock told me that it was four in the morning. Being awake without sleep for thirty six hours straight could do wonders to your brain. For one, I failed to notice the sun’s setting or rising, and for another, my memories of the past days seem to be jumbled up. I tried to recall when the last time I had taken any food was. Was it at eight in the evening or was it at eight in the morning? Laughter from the living room filled through the cracks of the bedroom door and brought me back to the present. The guys must still be up. They knew better than to disturb me when I was in my composing mode, yet at the same time they were not the kind to leave me alone to do work while they partied away. The only time I had seen them of late was when they brought me food. And I still could not recall when that had been.

My eyes moved over to my bed, the fluffy pillows and soft comforter looks welcoming, and honestly thirty six hours of no sleep, not the longest that I’ve been awake, is taxing on both the mind and body. Shaking my head, I decided on an early morning run followed by a good cup of coffee from the twenty four hours café across the street. I knew that there was a melody that’s stuck in my head waiting to be discovered. Sleep was something that I could not afford at this moment of time. A few steps brought me to the mini walk-in wardrobe where I put myself into a grey zipped up hoodie, its hems settling nicely over matching cotton track pants. A run to shake the tiredness off and clear the clogs in my head before grabbing the coffee and returning here for more excavation on my brain.

I snatched my iPod and cell at the nightstand, before stepping outside and taking in the scene before me. The rest of the band was lounging casually on the sofa in front of the flat screen television. Ricks and Zack had game controllers in hand, concentration fully focused on the TV. AJ was watching the two killing each other cyberly, head turning occasionally to his phone, thumbs flashing across the screen, and Rei was at the other end, book in hand, brows furrowed, deep in another world. This was my family. The door behind me closed with a click, and AJ turned over in my direction, a smile slowly spreading across his face.

“Yo Rave, finally out of your cave?” He said lazily. Many of the fans had commented that he had a sexy voice. Something I never understood, since he sounded like the Cheshire cat to me. Hey, I’m just a guy, who could tell what those girls were thinking in their minds anyway.

“If you didn’t notice, it’s your cave too,” I replied sharper than I had intended, my mood wasn’t at its best. Put the blame on my lack of sleep.

Of course you could trust AJ to notice that. He was after all, my roommate, literally. We shared the same room. He was also my best friend since kindergarten. We went way back. The other two guys shared a room next to ours, and Rei had her own room across on the other end of the apartment.

“Chill dude, no need to get all pissy. You look like a zombie, by the way. I didn’t know it was Halloween today.” His lips curled up as he said that, but beneath that smile I knew he was worried about me in my current state of looking like an undead.

“Well, no sleep for me till I get at least two more songs down for the day. I’m just about to go for a run and then head over to the café across the street for some caffeine and bagels. You guys want anything?”

Our gaze turned to the remaining people in the room, all of them too busy to even bother giving a decent nod.

“Just get the usual for us. They’d appreciate it later. You sure you’re good for a run? You look like you need rest more than expensing energy.”

Before I could respond, a haunting chant sounded from my jeans. Prodigia comploratus silens oro regnet exitium.

“Rave, you should seriously change that ringtone of yours. No one uses a requiem for this purpose,” his solemn expression moving as he shook his head at me.

Chuckling, I swiped the screen before placing the cell to my ear, not bothering to check caller-id. It was four-freaking-am. It can only be our manager at this kind of unearthly hour, no doubt checking in on the progress of our songwriting.

“Hel-”

“Hey, dearie. When will you be coming down to pay me a visit? I miss you.” A sultry female voice cut through my thoughts and I froze. The voice on the other end never failed to make my skin crawl and palms sweating with an undeniable sense of fear.

From the corner of peripheral vision I could see AJ looking at me curiously with raised brows. Moving as though nothing was wrong, I stepped out of the apartment, shutting the door firmly behind me before speaking into the phone again.

“Carolyn,” I spoke slowly, trying to get the words out through my pressed into a thin line lips. “Why are you calling me? I thought I made it clear to leave me alone.”

I could hear her giggling on the other end, probably drunk and wasted. “Oh, come now, don’t be such a shy boy. You know what we have can’t be broken off that easily right?” She giggled again.

“No. I don’t know what you mean. Don’t bother calling me again.” I hung up before her slithery voice could get through again.

Taking deep breaths, I tried to calm down. I didn’t realize that my hands had clenched into tight fists by my sides. The few seconds of her voice had caused memories to invade my mind. Unwanted memories. More like a freaking nightmare. When one was young, one tended to do things without thought, and develop regret in the future. I was no exception to this rule. My naivety used against me, my innocent and trust broken. I shook off the thoughts, trying to channel my pent up angst to breathing, I pushed the lingering images of my past away, eminent in trying to get back to the present timeline. I didn’t have the time to have my mind preoccupied by such baggage. I needed to focus.

By the time I reached the last flight of stairs down to the entrance where Tim, the night shift security guard, smiled and gave me a wave, I had almost all but regained my control. Stepping out onto the concrete pavement, I took a deep breath of early autumn’s night air. My eyes closed at the welcoming comfort of the cool wind. I plugged in my ears quickly, and set the volume to close to maximum on my iPod. I needed to shut out all those bad thoughts while I run so that my mood would not be affected by what happened earlier. I needed to keep my sanity in check.

I started with a slow jog, warming up, trying not to burst my energy right at the beginning. It didn’t take long before I was running in a comfortable pace past the balding trees on the sidewalk, the empty and streetlamp lighted streets. My breathing was constant, my heart pounding in my chest as I continued along my usual route, turning in towards the park. There was not a single soul in sight and I mentally let out a sigh of relief, finally able to enjoy some alone time.

Upon rounding the loop to head back towards the café, a movement from the side caught my eye. My curiosity getting the better of me, I slowed to a stop and turned to my left. The sight before me nearly knocked me back off my feet. Under the pale lights of the lamps that lit up the park, a lone figure was standing in the middle of the empty square. Well, to say that the figure was standing, would not be an accurate description. The figure I saw was poised with one leg arched beautifully above the head, supported by a hand, back bent slightly forward, for equilibrium no doubt. The beautiful grace did not escape me, and the dim illumination only enhanced the surrealistic image before my eyes.

As though aware that someone was watching, the figure suddenly turned its head to face me. Still panting from the run, I moved closer towards the stranger. It took me more than 15 steps before I was four feet away from her. Yes, her. She was staring back at me, cautious of my every move. Not that I blamed her, it wasn’t even dawn yet. Her gaze never left mine as she straightened herself, slowly with fluid grace. Her dark hair was knotted in a neat bun, and under whatever light there was, I could barely make out that her almond shaped eyes were dark green, wide with surprise.

“That was a nice pose,” I blurted out in a raspy voice before I could stop myself. My throat of dry from the run and I had barely managed to catch my breath.

I paused and waited for her reply as stared shamelessly at her. Now that I was closer, I could see her features clearly, and I found myself drawn to her angelically beautiful face.