The Filling

It took months for Scottie Powers to realize something was attempting to communicate with him through the lights. Though he was embarrassed to admit it, Scottie felt the disruptions had to do with the energy growing inside him. It felt supernatural, but perhaps he had an overactive imagination and simply watched too much anime. Certainly, Scottie was no Super Saiyan and would never harness the world’s energy like Goku, but something tangible was happening. It was as palpable as the growing despair he’d felt since his father’s breakdown. When the tingling built inside him, TVs, radios, and cell phones abruptly shut off, lightbulbs burst, and all manner of electronics shorted out with pops, fizzes, and crackles.

At other moments the shadows seemed to come alive around him, and his nights were filled with incredibly vivid dreams involving grandiose battles between darkness and light. The hardest part was that Scottie had no one to talk to about his experiences; he was terrified to end up in an institution like his murdering father, drugged into a drooling stupor, relegated to spend the remainder of his nights strapped to a bed under close surveillance. His mother would never understand. Teenagers were susceptible to volatile moods, yet Scottie’s emotional variants were far from ordinary.

It all came to a head during Thanksgiving vacation. At dinner one night, Scottie became restless while focusing on the empty chair his father used to occupy, his limbs jittering, his insides full of pins and needles. His mother noticed what she took for anxiety, and Scottie told her he would go for a walk to find his equilibrium. It was as black as midnight in the chilled evening air, and as Scottie walked, he began to feel as if he was being followed. The shadows seethed with movement in his periphery, and he began hearing deep, rumbling voices, whispers calling his name, beckoning him to some dark unknown. He walked faster, trying to outrun his own conflicting thoughts.

Ahead along the dark road, the street lamps began to flicker, and as he reached them, they shut off, one by one. “Scottie, come…” The voice was in his ear, and he turned suddenly to an empty street of inky, swaying shadows.

“Who’s there?” Scottie demanded, his heart racing. The night wind whispered in the trees and bushes, dead leaves danced across the blacktop. Anger began to take him over, like a black cloud of ink suffusing into crystal clear water. His palms began to sweat.

Suddenly, Scottie was distracted by a light strobing behind him, and he turned away from the darkness. A hundred yards ahead, a street lamp nestled near an apartment complex stopped flickering on and off and steadily became brighter and brighter. A soft, familiar voice seemed to call to him from the light now beaming like a brilliant blue star. “You must stay out of the shadows, Scottie…”

Scottie advanced, mesmerized; with every step forward, the ache of restless energy dissipated, transmuting to something indefinable. On every side of him, dark figures seemed to gesticulate violently, wailing in horrid voices for him to cease and turn from the light. Reaching the lamp, Scottie stared into the blinding beam. It spilled upon him, filling him with a perfect peace for the first time since his inner-turmoil had begun.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Scottie…” Scottie couldn’t tell if the voice was coming from inside his head or from everywhere at once.

The lamp light rose to an impossible intensity, and as Scottie squinted from the glare, something appeared to fall from the light; directly before him a figure slowly congealed. Quickly, Scottie’s eyes adjusted, and he looked upon the form standing across from him.

“What are you?” Scottie asked.

“I am you,” the being of pure light replied.

Scottie stared, confused. “You don’t look like me,” he said.

“You are not your body…”

“What is happening to me?”

“You have reached the time of The Filling...”

“What does that mean?”

“You come from a line of those able to harness the energy around them, and now you must choose…”

“Choose what?”

“Between fighting for the light or succumbing to the darkness…”

As the sibilant faded into the night, Scottie’s irradiant projection abruptly blinked away. Scottie was surrounded by an infinity of writhing black figures and assaulted by petitions to forgo the pressure of taking the noble path. “Come, Scottie, come…”, “Join us… join your father…”, “Why work to be good when it feels so good to be bad?..”

Scottie clenched his eyes shut and relinquished a scream from deep within. “NOOOOO!! Go away!” His body was again full of pins and needles; wave upon wave crashed upon his spirit’s rocky shoreline. Like finding a long lost treasure revealed by the receding waters, Scottie discovered the deep-seated fear that had been poisoning him for so long. He opened his eyes, and the endless sea of shadowed figures rushed together to a single form. Scottie blinked in amazement at the familiar face before him.

“Hello, son,” Duane Powers said. His ghostly body was awash in a cloudy light, his figure in grayscale, showing no hint of color.

“Dad? I don’t understand; how are you here?”

“I’m everywhere. Did you really think I’m confined to the asylum? They cannot contain us within physical walls. Come, son. Join me. I will show you all you are capable of…” Duane raised a gray, flickering hand and beckoned Scottie forward.

Scottie remained, and his body began filling with a burning rage. “No! I know what you did. I am not like you!”

“Of course you are, son. We are one and the same. I am the only one who understands what you are going through. I am the only one who can explain…”

Scottie looked above the gray, flickering apparition of his father, and tears began streaming down his face. He stared at the street lamp that had shone like a blue star moments before, clenched his fists, and filled his mind with images of the sun rising over distant horizons. “I choose the light,” Scottie said under his breath. “I am not my father, and will never become like him.”

The wispy, grayscale form of Duane Powers began fading into the growing light radiating outward from his son. With a grimace, Duane screeched a final plea for his son to join him in madness. “Shadows fill the world, my son; you are meant to join me, to explore the secret wonders of the dark void…”

“Never!” Scottie yelled, and without realizing what he was doing, Scottie’s body burst open with white light, turning his world to a blank, snowy canvass. Scottie’s fears dissolved as he surrendered to the feeling of infinite bliss. While he’d yet to gain a full understanding of who or what he really was, shedding the curse of becoming as his father changed everything. He would never escape the death penalty for heinous crimes with an insanity plea, and he would never hurt others as his father had. He would use whatever this was to be a force for good, no matter what that meant.

In moments, The Filling was complete, and Scottie found himself gazing up at the blue glow of the lone street lamp. He looked around him as the surrounding darkness was now utterly mundane. As Scottie began walking back home, savoring the feeling of power pulsing inside him, he looked upon the world with new eyes and realized the responsibility he had taken on. 

“Mom?” he said, opening the apartment door.

His mother, shoulders drooping over the kitchen table, quickly sniffed and began wiping at her face. “Hi, honey,” she said, regathering herself.

Scottie rushed into his mother’s arms and held her tight. “I love you, mom,” he said.

Sighing, she soaked up the warm feeling of her son’s embrace. Slowly, the heavy shroud of sadness began lifting off her shoulders. “Are you feeling ok?” she said.

“I am now… I am now…”

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