Hello. I suppose that’s a good place to start, right? Yeah, why not?
My name is Sidney, uh, obviously. Sidney Blake. I’m the guy who wrote this novel you just read, The Face of Fear. I hope you liked it. I won’t lie to you, I don’t particularly care if you didn’t, but uh… sorry. That probably comes off as rude.
What am I even supposed to write for this thing? I don’ow. I uh… I guess I’ll talk about the story. That’s not bad form, right? I recently read a book by a dude from across the pond and he said it’s generally considered bad form for someone to open up about where stories came from, but I don’ow. Doesn’t seem like such a bad thing to me.
I never used to do a lot of reading. Still don’t, really, but I’m getting into it. When I was younger there was only one story I liked to read, and that was Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. I was obsessed with it in my own right, and still sort of am, which you could probably tell from all the homages I paid to it in this book. You see, I came up in a small town waaaay back in the woods, the kind’a place where if you didn’t find something to do, trouble would find you. My friends and I, inspired by the other worlds than these, created an other world of our own. That other world was called The Hillside Commons, an endless wood of sorts, and we made up characters for ourselves so we could go on adventures together. My friend Carl was Ram’rl the Unfallen, my friend Keaton was Iuqon the Mage, and I was Albey the Poet. I still had yet to go Mad back then; that would come a bit later, after I gave the college thing a whirl, but… yeah. We made up this world when we were just kids, and a great many braud strates later, I turned it into a novel. A novel about bigfoot, sure, but a novel nonetheless. And here we are at the end.
Yeah, ‘man. Here we are at the end.
I don’t want this to go past one page, so I’m’a just say this will not be the last book I write. Not by a longshot. The next few pages are a short story I wrote a while ago, included because I wrote my novel.
Yeah, ‘man. I really wrote my novel. And here we are at the end.
Say thankya, reader. ‘Preciate ya. Long days and pleasant nights~
An Hour Before Sunrise
Every morning an hour before sunrise, Sylas sits in his chair by the window. It’s a black chair, leather skin, with a reclining back and a protruding footrest when it’s plugged in, which it isn’t this morning. Well, it is, but the surge protector is turned off. The red light from the button is too distracting for Sylas. He likes to spend his mornings in a certain way – they’re very important to him, like a spark is to a fire – and he cannot tolerate any distractions.
Silhouetting the bony branches of the old oak tree outside Sylas’s window is a brooding indigo sky. It may be overcast with gray clouds – it’s been scorching hot as of late, the ground is beginning to crack for goodness sake – or it may be quite clear. Sylas is staring both into infinity and at a finite point at the same time, all the while he stares at neither of them, just staring for the sake of not keeping his eyes shut as the outside world imperceivably grows lighter and lighter yet. Everything is a silhouette under that sky, just bent and jagged black shapes… but there are shapes. Inside Sylas’s bedroom there is only darkness, only a formless lapse of light, and Sylas is plopped right in the middle of it. Just like he was yestermorn an hour before the sun rose. Just like he is an hour before the sun rises every morning.
Sylas’s left hand comes up to his slightly opened mouth, then returns to the arm of the chair. A marijuana cigarette sits clenched between his teeth.
Waking up in the dark hours of dawn was never Sylas’s favorite thing to do. It’s still not his favorite, doesn’t even crack the top ten list, but it’s become instinct for Sylas at this point. Every morning, an hour before the sun rises on the dot, Sylas wakes, rolls his joint, and sits in his black chair in the dark. He couldn’t stop if he wanted to, which he doesn’t. Life should be pleasant – on the whole it should, at least – but some evils are necessary.
Like parties in college, for instance; those great deep cesspools of experience and hedonism, of blurry sex and wine so cheap you decide to acquire the bitter taste for beer. Sylas never went to college, but he knew a ‘man who did. That ‘man was quite a good ‘man. Kindhearted. Generous. Forgiving. Sylas knew him well, but hasn’t seen him as of late. Nobody has. At this point, there’s not much left of him to see.
A long family line of good ol’ boys convinced Sylas to walk a path along which he could follow in their footsteps; a high school diploma represents the highest in academic achievement, the first DUI a rite of passage (a grossly forgivable one, at that), the cashing of a meager Friday paycheck a varsity jacket denoting your worthiness of respect and basic human decency. Sylas never went to college, but he went to a few college parties. Some started early in the afternoon, a few got busted up by the cops, one even lasted until an hour before sunrise. The last party Sylas went to was that one, he wound up crashing on the sofa of that stranger’s dorm because when his ride left earlier in the night, he was far too blitzed to leave with it.
Crickets chirp like endless iron bells, their shells black as the early morning forest. There are still a few stars in the sky, but they’re dimming. The moon’s long gone. Sylas rolls a white lighter over and over between his fingers, a white lighter that’s catching what little light falls from that sky and glows like a glowstick near the end of a rave. In an hour the sun will rise and he’ll be able to see it all, but for now there’s only the black forest and the indigo sky above it. And the white lighter, glowing dimly like a spent lightbulb.
Sylas’s ‘man who went to college had a woman. A fine woman. A good woman in her own right, in her right mind. Most folk are good when they’re in their right mind; hell, maybe even all folk are. The trouble is when the right mind starts to go wrong, when the evil starts to leak in and turn the white to gray so it can make itself white again.
Nothin’ ever stays the same, ‘man. Nothin’ really wants to. Things don’t like to last forever. The indigo sky only holds its hue for an hour before the sun rises, and it only gets lighter the longer it lasts. Then, it just up and changes into blue; things can’t stay the same, they’re just not capable. Either the world will change them or they’ll change themselves before the world gets the chance. Is what it is, that’s just the way it goes.
That’s what drugs are for, as far as Sylas is concerned. Emotions, ‘man, feelings are hard. For every down there’s an up and every up brings a down. Booze can bring ya down before the world can get the chance, and weed can bring ya up in just the same way. Use both at once and reset your whole system from scratch… once you wake up, that is. Until you fall asleep the goods and bads will be bad and good, and vice versa. It’s not a good way to live, it leaks evil into the mind, but every once in a while the evil’s got’a flow. Otherwise the good wouldn’t feel so right.
Hell, sometimes the good don’t feel right anyway. Sometimes the good feels downright unnecessary, feels downright bad. Sometimes what feels right don’t correspond with what is right, and sometimes mistakes are made. Glorious mistakes, mistakes truly worth making, lessons that must be learned through blurred, hazy experiences that may never get the chance to happen when it feels right to do what’s right. Sometimes to do right you need to do what’s wrong first… and sometimes, you do what’s wrong just to keep on doing wrong. It’s hard to tell in the moment, ‘man. Nobody knows what we’re doing here. Life’s a miracle, the sun’s rising is little more than a quirk of perception, a glitch, a mistake, but it’s so necessary for so much and so many. Necessary just like a white lighter is, like the white lighter Sylas is holding in his hand, a dim ingot of pale lapis lazuli afloat in an ocean of twilight, gripped by tendrils of darkness. One spin of the flint and God shall say Let there be light! It could light a joint. It could light a campfire. It could light the way home, but it’d probably burn your fingers.
See, but that’s just the price some must pay. Everything’s got a price, but the prices are different for everybody. Some don’t need any help to find their way home. Some can just navigate, some can see through the darkness without the need for an indigo sky to tell them the light is coming out soon. Some can just feel things out and know what move to make. The ‘man Sylas knew was one like that. He was a good ‘man, wore his heart on his sleeve like a badge of honor. Or a military metal – god knows that ‘man’s heart took a good beating, was probably bruised a permanent purple by the time all went said and done.
They say it hurts more when you’re hurt by someone close to you, but Sylas has never agreed with them. Hurt is hurt, plain and simple. Don’t matter who’s doin’ the hurting; otherwise, forgiveness just isn’t possible. Nobody’s perfect, we’re all just here doing our best in the moment, and sometimes, we get caught up in the moment. And that’s all right. That’s forgivable. That’s what makes us human, goddamnit. Sylas’s ‘man knew that, he understood that. So did his woman. That’s why her ‘man forgave her. That’s why he forgave Sylas. That’s why he lent Sylas his white lighter and didn’t ask for it back, because sometimes, you get caught up in the moment and you forget. That’s why Sylas crashed on the dormroom couch instead of going with his ‘man when he left to walk his woman home. The air was hazy with smoke, the booze was flowing like water, the vision was blurry like looking through a pair of drunk goggles. Someone had a cache of blow in the bathroom for god’s sake; it was a wild ride for everybody, a ride that couldn’t just end with grace, a ride that had to crash like a car through a guardrail over the side of a cliff.
And sometimes, when that car finally does crash, sometimes the driver doesn’t have to die. Sometimes the ‘man who crashed the car can survive, sometimes he can get out of the wreckage and wander for hours, even as the blood’s flowing out of him like cheap wine out of a box at a college party. Sometimes he can wander all through the night, and sometimes a rescue helicopter will be flying over the forest looking for him. Sometimes he’ll need to get the helicopter’s attention for it to save him, so sometimes he’ll build a little circle of stones and gather up dead leaves and twigs and pine needles and such and stack ‘em up in a pile, and sometimes he’ll reach into his pocket and find a white lighter there, and sometimes he’ll light the fire and signal the rescue helicopter. Sometimes, he’ll be saved.
And sometimes… sometimes he won’t. Sometimes a good ‘man will give his white lighter to a lesser ‘man, one who doesn’t deserve the warmth of the white lighter’s flame, a ‘man who only deserves to get burned. Sometimes a good ‘man will die alone in the dark forest under a brooding indigo sky. Sometimes the rescue helicopter will fly away and just wait until an hour before the sun rises so they can see what they’re looking for. Sometimes… sometimes flying in the dark just don’t feel right… and sometimes, because of that feeling, the pilot decides not to fly.
Sylas relaxes his grip on the white lighter. The color returns to his knuckles. He brings the white lighter up to his joint and flicks the flint wheel. The sparks reflect brilliantly in his eyes. The joint goes unlit, as the white lighter is empty. Been empty for years now. Sylas breathes deeply and lets his hand fall back to the arm of the chair. Sometimes Sylas has a second lighter, one black and featureless like his bedroom in the darkest hours of dawn, but sometimes he doesn’t. Sometimes Sylas sits alone in the dark with the marijuana cigarette clenched between his teeth and the white lighter gripped tight in his right hand. Sometimes it feels right to smoke the marijuana cigarette, and so he does. Sometimes it does not, and so he doesn’t.
Every morning an hour before sunrise, Sylas sits in his chair by the window. Sometimes he smokes, and sometimes he does not, but he’s always holding the white lighter.
This has been the Novelwriter’s Note and Addendum of The Face of Fear, a novel about bigfoot written by the writer in the book Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~