The Sun to your Moon #7

Updated: Oct 25




Nightmare



Scott led John into his bedroom.


He gestured to the camp-bed set up in front of the TV. “I had mum put this out. You can have my bed.”


The king-sized would’ve easily fit them both, but John’s reluctance for physical contact led Scott to ask his mum for the camp bed. There were spare rooms in the house, of course, but it was no fun if John was on a different level from him, and he didn’t want to accidentally swing his arm out and catch John while sleeping.


“I…I can sleep in your bed?”


“Yeah.”


John perched on the edge and gave the mattress a tentative grope.


“It’s proper comfortable,” Scott said. “Sometimes I struggle to get out of it.”


Scott busied himself with the TV while John changed into his sleep clothes. He flicked through the news channels until he found one repeating the highlights from the game.


“I can’t believe we won.”


“You had better odds.”


Scott frowned and glanced back at John. He'd gone from perching on the end of the bed to tunnelling beneath the top of the bed.

Scott’s goose feather pillows and duvet set, swallowed him up.

A tentative smile appeared on John’s face.

It didn’t last long, but Scott smiled back at him.


“Comfy?”


John nodded, bringing the duvet close to his chin. He hugged it and let out a blissed sigh.


“Rub it in why don’t ya.” Scott rolled his eyes.


He grabbed his sleep clothes off the side and undressed while watching the football. Keane ripped his football shirt off just as Scott did. He swung it around in the air, mimicking his hero before letting it go into the crowds of books on the shelf.


“And Keane scoring the winner,” Scott shook his head then pulled on a well-worn football shirt. “What are the chances.”


“Pretty high. He’s a striker, Chelsea’s top scorer, has scored in the last eight games, and his stats against Everton are always good. If he isn’t scoring, he’s setting up a goal.”


Scott gaped. “How do you know that?”


“Statistics.” John picked at the seam of the duvet. “I don’t like football, but I wanted to learn just enough.”


“Enough?”


“To have a conversation about it with you. I didn’t want you to regret inviting me.”


Scott rolled up his sock and threw it at John. He ducked beneath the covers before sending it hurtling back and hitting Scott on the head.


“I wanted to invite you.”


John flicked his eyes down. “And because of me, you missed it.”


“Because of you, we watched the last fifteen minutes in a pub, surrounded by actual Chelsea fans. Not posh guys in suits. The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. I thought I would drown in the tension, then explode in the elation and I had my first beer.”


“Beer tastes awful.”


Scott laughed. “It’s not that bad.”


“I saw your face after your first sip.”


“Well…maybe it’s that particular one I don’t like. They can’t all taste like dirt.”


“I bet they do…Because of me your dad shouted at you on the way home.”


Scott scratched the back of his neck, but it didn’t quell the unease. Whenever his dad yelled at him his stomach turned to lead, and the instinct to run was never far from his head.

His dad had toned it down for John’s benefit, but he couldn’t adjust the darkness to his gaze, or the sneer tugging at his nose. His displeasure resulted in silence for the rest of the drive and once home, with one final glare directed at Scott, his dad stalked off in the direction of his office.


He'd yelled over his shoulder he had work to do, but Scott knew he had a cabinet in his office full of whiskey. That was his idea of business when he was angry, and he took it seriously.


“He was worried.”

Scott assumed.

“We both disappeared, and I didn’t reply to his texts.”

Too busy forcing a pint of beer past his protesting tastebuds.

“And when he finally found us, I guess he was concerned about the people with us.”

And angry at the smell of beer wafting off their clothes.

Scott looked back at John. “I had a great birthday outing despite my dad yelling.”


“Promise?”


“Promise,” Scott replied with a sigh.


"Four months in advance."


"I don't make the football calendar."


His phone buzzed and he snatched it off his bedside table. John watched him expectantly.


“It’s a message from Darren,” Scott said, unsure whether he wanted to open it in John’s vicinity. No doubt, John would wait for him to read it out after he’d announced who it was from. He’d not thought that through at all.


Scott exhaled and opened the message. It was a photo of Keane, the man of the match, winning goal scorer, Chelsea God, with his arm wrapped around Darren’s shoulder, both beaming at the camera. There was a smugness to Darren’s smile that Keane didn’t have, a subtle lift of his chin and a narrowing of his eyes.

Scott's heart began to thump.

You shouldn’t have left.


“What is it?” John whispered.


Scott’s tight throat stopped him from speaking. He held the phone out for John to see for himself. His grey eyes soaked in the picture, the obvious gloat from Darren, and he stiffened before passing the phone back.


“Sorry.” He didn’t lift his gaze. His knuckles poked against his skin, growing paler the longer he throttled the duvet. “If you had stayed you would’ve got to—"


“Yes, I know.” Scott snapped.


His heart thundered along, leaving a sickness in its wake. Scott's skin flushed, and his stomach rolled, but despite his own body reacting to the photograph, he didn’t miss John's reaction to him.

He’d flinched.

The jealousy and anger in Scott melted away. He slumped, not noticing he’d gone tense all over until he let his emotions go and focused on John curling away from him.


“He means a lot to you,” John spoke to the pillow, but Scott still picked out his words.


Yes. He did.


Scott idolised Keane. He wore his number, and his name, he even imagined he was Keane when he was playing on the field and practising his signature curling strikes.

Not an easy feat.

But when he mastered a kick, he felt like the god himself.

Scott didn’t want to lie to John, so he waited until John braved to look at him and nodded.


“But you mean nothing to him.”


Scott frowned. “He values his fans.”


“But an important moment for you would be insignificant for him. Memorable for one and not the other. That photo means something to Darren, but absolutely nothing to the man he idolises. The man you idolise.”


“What’s your point?”


“Darren doesn’t have anything over you.”


“He met him. I didn’t.”


“But that meeting means nothing to Keane.”


Scott gestured to the phone, specifically Darren and Keane's proximity. "They spoke. Keane spoke to him."


"A few words. Probably small talk."


"I don't care how small the talk, and look, his arm is around Darren's shoulder."


"You're jealous that Keane spoke to and touched Darren, despite being obligated to do so and not finding it meaningful."


"You don't have a hero. Not yet. When you do, you'll understand."


“I’d want my hero to value me too. Otherwise, why have them your hero?”


“Is this you trying to make me feel better?”


“I don’t know, has it?”


Scott shrugged. “I’m not sure.”


John glanced at the door. “I might go check on Alex.”


“You’ve already checked twice. He’s fine.” Scott looked at the time on his phone. “Not to mention, it’s midnight.” He yawned dramatically into the back of his hand.


“That was so fake.”


“It’s got you yawning though.”


John hid the bottom of his face beneath the duvet, but Scott could tell by the stretch of the skin beneath his eyes, that he yawned.


“Gotcha.” Scott threw himself down on the camp bed.


“The front door is locked, right?”


Scott thought better than to tease John or question him over his insistence on the door being locked, instead, he spoke softly. “It’s locked, John.”


He flicked through the channels before settling on a B-movie action-flick from decades ago.

It was full of stupid one-liners, unrealistic gun fights and flammable…everything. At one point a swimming pool exploded. Even John snorted at that, and Scott smiled, rewound the moment and played it again.


Scott whistled at yet another explosion and waited for John to make a comment. His commentary had been getting fainter and fainter as the world’s most comfortable bed lured him to sleep. Scott risked a glance back, and found John in the centre of the bed, laying on his side. He had his head on one pillow and hugged the other.

Scott snorted, switched off the TV and settled down to sleep.

He dreamed.

Happy dreams.

Keane scoring the winning goal.

Chelsea lifting the trophy.

His first taste of beer.


In hindsight, Scott thought that was the warning. The first indication his dreams were about to change from good to bad.

His first ever beer bought for him in the rowdy Chelsea pub had been bitter.

Seeing Keane and Darren only increased the bitterness.

He shuddered at his dads shouts and the disdain in his eyes. He tutted, shaking his head, and muttered his disappointment under his breath.

Scott was a disappointment; Scott wasn’t turning out to be the son he'd longed for. He turned his back on Scott and left him to fend for himself and the world grew darker and more sinister and Scott struggled to see the light. His failure pressed down on his chest, making it hard to breathe.


He gasped as he woke up and blinked up at the ceiling. A narrow strip of light cut through the light shade, and he frowned before working out the source. The light in his snug was on and shone through the ajar door. He hauled himself upright, and looked over at John, wondering whether it was disturbing his sleep.


Scott scrunched up his face when he realised the bed was empty. Then he slumped, rubbing his face. He hadn’t lost his mind. He had switched the light off before they went to bed, and John must’ve turned it back on when he went to the bathroom.

Except.

Scott couldn’t hear any noise from the bathroom.

The extractor fan didn’t whirl, and no taps ran. Scott held his breath to listen more intently but heard no evidence of John in the next room.

He did hear a creaking step, which could only be the third one down his set of stairs. Scott knew to miss that one on the nights he got hungry, and the fridge called to him from afar.


Alex.


He must’ve been going to check on Alex. John had proved himself to be hypervigilant when it came to his sibling. Scott stumbled to his feet and went in search of John before his dad could yell at him for sneaking about.

Despite the whiskey, he'd proved himself to be a light sleeper however intoxicated.

Alex was on the first floor in the same room as Albie, opposite Scott’s mum and dad, but when Scott paused on that floor, he didn’t see John, but he did hear noises coming from further down the steps.


Scott carried on and when he caught sight of John, he paused on the staircase. He’d fetched a chair from the dining room and pushed it up against the front door. Scott watched as he faded into the darkness of the dining room before returning with another chair.

Flick used to sleep-talk.

Scott had found it funny at first until he’d recorded a disturbing stream of dialogue about her desire to burn down the house. He didn’t snort at her sleep-talk anymore, he made sure he had a fire extinguisher in his room.

Sleep-walking-John was satisfied with his two-chair barricade and turned around. He leapt into the air when he spotted Scott standing on the darkened stairs.


Shit.


He rushed the final steps. “Just me.”


“Scott? "John panted, clutching his chest. “What the hell are you doing?”


"I thought you were sleep-walking.”


John shook his head. “I don’t sleepwalk.”


“Then what’s this?” Scott gestured to the two chairs pushed up against the door.


“An alarm.”


“The gates alarmed.”


“Someone could climb over.”


Scott strode over and tested the door. “It’s locked, John, like I said it was.”


“I know, it didn’t seem enough.”


“Who do you think will try to get in?”


John shrugged. “I don’t know. I just…I need the ground floor to be secure.”


“It is. Doors and windows are all locked.”


“Are you certain?”


Scott averted his gaze. John had him there. He wasn’t certain every window had been locked, but both doors had been. Probably.


“I’ve got to put the chairs back. Dad will flip out in the morning if he sees them like that.”


“What if the door doesn’t hold?”


The raw fear in John’s voice ached Scott’s heart. He took a step closer to John, squinting to see his expression in the darkness. His downcast eyes were fixed on the floor. He rubbed one bare foot over the other while his eyebrows twitched. Scott wanted to place a comforting hand on his shoulder but knew he couldn't.


“No one’s getting in. You’re safe here.”


“This isn’t about me.”


Scott glanced at the stairs. “Alex is safe here. Let’s make a deal.”


“What kind of deal?”


“If you put these chairs back in the dining room, I’ll go around the ground floor, checking every window and door is secure.”


“Okay,” John whispered.


Scott tiptoed into the living room and rushed over to the windows. Someone had locked the first one, but the second was still open an inch. Scott hurried to secure it before John came to find him.

He carried on through the house, checking the windows in the kitchen, reception room, hallway, dining room, utility room, music room, and the three bathrooms on the ground floor.

At some point, John had joined him, but he didn’t speak, he hovered behind Scott like a shadow.


“All done,” Scott announced.


John pointed to the final door. “What about in there?”


The one Scott had avoided. The dark walnut door with the gold handle. Even in the dark, the gold letters of the keep-out sign sparkled. Scott always thought it odd his dad had bought a sign for his office. He could’ve equally told them to keep out, or put a lock on the door, but instead, he opted for the formal sign.


When Scott ran his eyes along the two words, he heard his dad's angry voice speaking them.


“I can’t go in there.” Scott blurted.


John stepped up beside him. They both stared at the sign.


“I can,” John whispered.


“No way.”


“I only want to check the windows, that’s all. I won’t look at anything I swear.”


“I’ll go, but if you hear any movement on the stairs, you get me, right?”


John nodded. “Right.”


Scott took a deep breath and unlatched the door. He willed the hinges not to creak, and they listened to his silent prayers all until the last inch, then they wailed. Scott stiffened, sharing a look with John.

They stared at each other but were both focused on the floor above. Scott swore he heard footsteps, but John didn’t react. His calm presence forced Scott’s brain to stop tricking itself.


“I think it’s okay,” John murmured.


If Scott’s dad found him sneaking into his office, things would never be okay again.

He tiptoed inside, choosing his steps carefully in case his dad had planted tripwires on the floor. The first window was unlatched. The second was secure. Scott exhaled and fixed his sights on the exit, but the open laptop stole his attention.

Scott frowned at the post-it note stuck to the edge of the screen.

Jane Klune.

John’s mum, beneath her name, was a scribbled-down phone number.


“Scott, what are you doing?” John hissed from the doorway.


“I’m not sure.” He tapped his fingers on the keys, bringing the laptop out of standby mode. The pop-up asked for a password for entry, and he slumped. The steadily building adrenaline vanished. Scott’s investigation had ended before it had even begun.


“What’s important to your dad?” John asked.


“Power, money, status.”


John stepped into the room and stayed on the opposite side of the laptop. “A date? A name? A place?”


“I don’t have a clue.”


John took a deep breath. “For example, I know the password to your phone is Keane’s birthday.”


Scott blushed, lowering his head. “And?”


“And the password for your social media accounts are all the same. Chelseachampions12.”


“How the fuck can you know that?”


“The number was harder to work out, but Chelsea have won twelve trophies since you’ve been alive.”


“Thirteen now.”


“You’ll have to update it.”


“I’m a little bit freaked out now,” Scott admitted. “Don’t hack my phone.”


“Think of something similar for your dad.”


Scott sighed. “The date he married my mum?”


“Does he value that?”


“I’d like to think so…but,” he shrugged. His parents weren’t affectionate towards each other unless they had an audience. Unless it was staged.


“Gordon Lennox.”


“The prime minister?”


Scott gestured to the wall and the photograph of his dad with Gordon, sharing a staged handshake with fake smiles. “And my dad’s lucky number is eight.”


“It’s worth a try.”


He didn’t expect it to work, but a pinwheel appeared in the middle of the screen, showing the system was loading.


The screen opened on what his dad had last been looking at, and Scott stared until his eyes stung, and his mouth hung open. He whipped his gaze across the screen, taking in as much information as he could, growing sicker by the second.

John skirted around the desk as Scott slammed the lid down.


“What?” John asked. His grey eyes searched Scott’s.


“Nothing.”


“It wasn’t nothing,” John said.


“Political stuff.”


Scott didn’t see John flare his nostrils, but he heard the jet of air that left them. “You’re lying.”


“Fine…” Scott folded his arms. “It was a woman.”


“A woman?”


“The kind that you hire and take to some sleazy hotel room.”


“Oh…”


Scott wiped his hand down his face. “I’ve checked all the windows and doors. They’re all locked. Let’s go to bed John.”


Not that Scott would be sleeping.

He ushered John out of the office and eased the door closed.


“Your dad's cheating on your mum?”


Scott’s gut twisted. “I think he might be.”


“Are you going to confront him?”


He tried to control the shudder at such a thought. “He’ll deny it.”


“But you found proof, right?”


“I found a website. There’s no proof he’s met the woman in the photographs for…that reason..”


They were very revealing photographs. Scott shook his head, dispelling the images. John’s eyebrows pinched as he studied Scott.

He couldn’t maintain eye contact with John and powered up the stairs, wishing that webpage had been the climax to his nightmare, not a reality.

Scott pinched himself to be sure and cursed when it hurt.


John waited until he was curled up in bed before asking. “What did she look like?”


"Who?"


"You know who."


Scott shrugged. “Brown hair, brown eyes, big,” He gestured to his chest and tried again at

John’s clueless expression. “Big breasts, long legs, wearing very little. I don’t…I don’t want to talk about it anymore. I don't want to think about the woman my dad might be cheating on my mum with.”


He lay down on the camp bed, facing the TV.


He hadn’t lied to John, but he hadn’t given him the most crucial piece of information either.


The woman on his dad’s laptop was John’s mum.



Chapter eight: https://www.louisecollinswrites.com/post/the-sun-to-your-moon-8