Jump to content

The Phoenix Diaries

Recommended Posts

It?s two in the morning and yet again he can?t sleep. An insomniac since he was six Travis usually had difficulty falling asleep, but never more so than tonight. He?d been trying for the last three hours to nod off, but the thoughts bursting out of his head would not let him. He lay there while they mercilessly paraded behind his eyes in a nonsensical symphony of synapses. Locusts, they?ve devoured the night, leaving him with a few hours? rest before school. On nights like this his only refuge, save total exhaustion, is the rain: a precious talisman that drowns out all the voices in his head. However, its presence offered him no absolution this night. Flinging the blankets onto the floor, he throws on his favorite grey hoodie, jeans and Nikes and heads outside. Immediately the deafening roar of rain meeting concrete, metal and houses alike washes over him and he retreats to the dark depths of his mind:

?I?m such a freak and no matter how hard I try, that?s all I?ll ever be. No one knows how hard it is, how much it takes to get through the day. Everyone walks around so blissfully happy and full of life, taunting me with their stupid smiles. But what do I have to be happy about?nothing! They go about their lives so cavalier, but if any of them experienced the hell I have they?d wish they were dead, too.?

His thoughts drift back to the night he died almost eight years ago.

The entire staff of St Michael?s ER converged upon Travis as his father hurtled his frail, six-year-old body into the hospital. Barely conscious he was in a world pain as doctor after doctor poked and prodded and tried to stabilize him. Thinking them monsters he cried out to his parents, but no. He was too weak to utter a sound. Frantically his eyes searched until they found his parents and beseeched them to rescue him from these demons, but his pleas went unanswered. Silently Travis shed the first of many tears.

Finally a diagnosis was made: Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis. This severe allergic reaction causes flu like symptoms, a red rash, spiking temperatures followed by hives, lesions, organ failure, blindness and death in extreme case. In Travis? case the allergen was penicillin he received two days prior for strep throat. Several IVs were started and the attending physician administered epinephrine to reduce the rapid swelling that had begun in the boy?s throat, but it had little effect and they had to perform an endotreacheal intubation. One crisis adverted they cut off the boy?s clothes and quickly applied heart monitor leads, a pulse oximeter and got his vital signs. The inner ear thermometer harbingered further bad news for the boy: 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In an instant they descended upon him again, packing his petite frame with mountains of ice. The cold pierced Travis to his core, setting off a violent shivering fit. It seemed to him as if every cell in his body was frozen solid. He closed his eyes and wished for an end to this nightmare. The heart monitor let off an ear splitting wail. He was finally free.

Time held no meaning. He floated through an endless abyss, a perfect void uncorrupted by light or sound. Gone were the familiar beating of his heart; the rise and fall of his chest; the chattering of his mind: only silence. As he floated onwards, an overwhelming sense of peace cradled him in its embrace. Tears of joy streamed down his face as a bath of liquid warmth washed over and set him a blaze. Travis basked in the sublime majesty of the moment and never wanted it to end.



The serenity was ripped from Travis as the defibrillator poured new life into him. His eyes popped open as what felt like a sledge hammer pounded his chest. The discombobulated wailing of machines and a million conversations greeted his ears, but seconds later he flat-lined.




Tired, aching and confused the boy looked up at the people that surrounded him and thought, Will someone turn off that stupid light. Had he known the hell that awaited him, he?d gladly have given anything to remain forever in that perfect abyss.

In the coming months Travis lost over seventy five percent of his epidermis as it died and sloughed off. Luckily his sight was spared and after several skin grafts he began to recover was released home the week before Christmas. And for a brief while the Johnston family believed it was a Christmas miracle. Two weeks later he stopped breathing and for six months he lay comatose. The doctors said it was a lost cause, but his family persevered. His mother Elaine stayed at his bed side reading to him, only leaving long enough to wash up and check on her younger son and daughter. On his seventh birthday he regained consciousness, but whatever could go wrong usually did.

Nurse Jenny Adams had just gone down the hall to check on her other patient and when she came back she found Travis slumped over and nonresponsive; upon examining him she found tachycardia and bradypnea. She issued a code blue and began performing CPR as his chest stopped rising. Otolaryngologist Max Kennedy entered the room and took over from Jenny and ordered her to get a pediatric intubation kit. The tube enters two inches into the trachea then hits a solid mass. Doctor Kennedy sensing time running out, perform an emergency tracheotomy. Although it was eventually reversed after four years, subsequent scarring of his vocal cords has left Travis all but mute.

Since then life has been a series of countless surgeries, infections, and allergic reactions. While other kids were off playing tag and having sleepovers Travis spent months at a time trapped in a hospital bed. His only links to the outside world were books and DVD s from the library. More often than not his parents were busy working or taking care of Merry and Robbie. The staff of St Michael?s became his surrogate family. Nurse Jenny and the others would stop in and check in on Travis, making sure to gush over how much he grew since last they saw him.

?Yeah, pump a kid full of steroids and see if he don?t shoot up a few inches and pack on some pounds,? quips the voice in his head. This wasn?t the first time Travis? inner musings had been interrupted by the other presence in his mind. To cope with the isolation he created an imaginary friend he called Shadow. He and Shadow would spend hours having mental conversations together, until one day when he was 11, Shadow changed:

?Will you just shut up! Do you know how annoying it is listening to you all day long??

Since then Shadow has never stopped reminding travis how much he sucks.

'You know it really does suck out loud having you as an alter ego; you?re such a smartass who doesn?t know when to shut the hell up and let a guy chill with his thoughts. It?s a wonder I haven?t been fitted with a straight jacket years ago. All things considered, my mental state is quite adequate given the scope of my early childhood trauma. Granted this isn?t the optimal situation, but at least I haven?t experienced dissociative episodes or woken up covered in blood.?

?For the millionth time, if I have to listen to your bitching then speak English motherfucker. This aint no vocab lesson so cut the verbal masturbation already. And who says you aren?t pulling a Jekyll and Hyde? It aint exactly like you?re in total control of that colostomy bag you call a brain.?

?Not funny. Remind me again, why I put up with you??

?Much better douche nozzle, and you know I?m the closest thing to a friend your antisocial ass is ever going to have.?

As the forlorn youth wandered the rain soaked streets of Azure Plains, Michigan, memories of a life free of sickness came rushing back to him: when the least of his worries were getting to go out and play, and avoiding the nuns during Sunday school. Back to a time when he was just a normal kid who had friends and who was so carefree. He wonders, ?If we never moved to this pseudo suburb and stayed in Germany would I still have gotten sick. Would Marcus, Michelle and the others have stuck by me if I still did, or would they shun me like everyone else??

Try as he might, the tears wouldn?t be denied their due this time. Travis knew this would probably land him in hospital, but he just don?t care. Head tilted forward, he removed the hood and let the rain fall upon him until the tears and rain merged and fell as one. For the longest time he stood there, the entire world bearing witness to his tormented soul.


Tossing the black curls out of his eyes Travis clinches his right fist white-knuckle tight. The tears stop flowing and then he put his hood back on. Rage surges through him, and the cold March rain is forgotten: ?I know better than this, crying solves nothing. People come and go; all attachments are pointless,? he chastises himself.

Ripping the pocketknife from his pants, he hastily rolls up his left sleeve. Savagely he slashes the tan flesh. The blade bounces the pale moonlight across its surface. It travels back and forth, first the front and then back of the forearm. The metallic perfume of blood saturates the night air and the familiar warmth of inflammation overtakes Travis once more. Although a pale comparison, it reminds him of the abyss and he is at peace. He knows he should be feeling pain right now, and on some level Travis supposes he does. Yet only a dead emptiness fills him. Apathetically he calculates how gauze and Peroxide will be needed to treat the wounds. He runs his fingers along the cuts, surprised at the ferocity of his actions. The cold sensation of congealed blood intertwined with the hot searing skin intrigues him and he wonders if he should just end it all.

?Earth to shit-dick, are ya done with your period yet??

?Self mutilation, menses: ha, I get it.?

?Thank you, thank you very much. Now if you?re done being all emo can we go home already??

?Fine,? replied the boy and he trekked home. For once luck is on his side as his parents and siblings were nowhere to be found on the way to the bath room. He went about cleaning off the coagulated blood mechanically, only stopping occasionally to get more Q-tips and gauze. He flinches as the Peroxide fizzes in the lacerations and shooting pain races up his arm. As the crimson peroxide and water rinses down the drain, like a crack of thunder out of the blue it hammers into his ears:

?Blood shall rain from the heavens.?

?You say something??

?No, and on that note let?s get to bed before this night gets any weirder.?

Quite confused, but tired none the less Travis cleans the bathroom and hides the bloody hoodie under his bed, then crawls under the duvet. Almost instantly a dream like none before filled his head with macabre images:

The sky is pitch-black, barren of any light. A sea of flames stretches out as far as the eye can see and all around islands of bone and corpses in ever manner of mutilation are piled high into the sky. The stench of rotten flesh and death hangs in the air, cloaking everything in an atmosphere of despair.

?Blood shall rain from the heavens, ash shall consume the air, death shall cover the land and none will he spare. Water shall turn to fire and the sleeper shall awaken to sire the end of??

The landscape changes and Travis is running for his life through a desert. Sweat is flowing from every pore, dripping into his eyes stinging them and continues downward into his gaping mouth. The salty taste fills his mouth, gagging him as his feet pound the rocky terrine. The harsh sun beats down upon him as he continues onward. The ground steeps upward. Travis pushes forward with every ounce of his energy his 4?11 and 130 pounds can muster. His lungs are starving for Oxygen as he takes massive gulps of air. The hammering of his heart and his aching muscles scream for Travis to stop. No, ever forward he moves, pulled by some unknown force to the rock face in the distance. So close now, just a little bit more and he has done it. Frantically he claws at the craggy cliff, his fingers reduced to bloody stumps. He finally gets a footing and hoists his onto the plateau and then: ?Travis Malik Johnston if you don?t get your high-yellow ass out of bed this instant you?re grounded for a week!?

Heavily sleep deprived and soaking in sweat he checks the clock and sighs seeing that it?s 6:45 AM. No time for a shower he gives his armpits and genitals a cursory wash and discovers he?s fresh out of deodorant. Can this day get any worse? This is me we?re talking about. Of course it can get much worse, he bemoans to himself. Rolling out of bed, he checks the aftermath of last night?s ?little mishap? and stops dead in his tracks.

Not a cut was found and only the faintest of scars remained. Too tired and pressed for time to delve further into this latest development now, he races around his room popping pills and pulling clothes off and on until he?s somewhat presentable in grey slacks and a charcoal hooded sweat shirt. Grabbing his backpack and keys, he?s out the door before his mom has a chance to nag at him again.

Ten years previous residents from North West Detroit, Southfield, Old Redford and Oak Park joined together and the charter township of Azure Plains was founded. With a combination of philanthropic and corporate donations from the Big Three Azure Plains Preparatory Academy was established for the wealthier residents and Coldwater Community School for the lower Middle class. Robert and Merry Johnston attended Coldwater, fifteen minutes their house, while Travis was forced to attend Azure Prep. They make a huge performance about academic excellence, yet all Mummy and Daddy have to do is make a ?donation? and junior is guaranteed a passing grade. At times he doesn?t know who are worse, the teachers or the spoiled brats that walk the halls. It?s Casual Friday so they will be sure to wear their best and rub Travis? face in it as usual.

Mr. & Ms. Johnston aren?t poor, but they aren?t exactly rich either; his father is an electrician at General Motors and his mother is a nurse at Botsford General Hospital in Farmington Hills. Elaine?s parents didn?t approve of her marrying an African American man; however they endowed Travis a hefty trust when they learned of his birth. But as with most things in life there was a catch. He had to attend a private school and was limited to $200 a month until his eighteenth birth day.

The bus arrived and Travis took his normal seat towards the middle and drifted off to sleep for the forty five minute ride. Again the dream of running along the desert path comes, only this time it feels so much more real. Seeing the cliff in the distance he charges forward, the only sounds are the steady cracking of rocks and the murmur of blood humming in his ears. In an instant he scales the craggy ledge and then hoists himself on to the plateau above. Exhilaration drenches the boy to the core. He surveys the surroundings: the scorched earth, barren of all vegetation, drinks in the high sun?s rays and lays untouched by the hands of man. Curiosity draws Travis further to the cliff?s edge where the acrid wind swirls around him, violently whipping his hair around. Lowering his head to shut out the wind, his eyes lock onto great abyss below and he knows this is why he has been pulled here. Its depth, so vast that the mighty sun?s rays are but a ghost on the void?s outer most edges, calls to him. He has no choice but obey its siren call. Deeper and deeper he plunges into the infinite oblivion. Then the liquid warmth and supreme peacefulness wraps around him. Finally he?s back home.

However, this bliss is not to last. His tranquility is broken by an intense inferno encasing him in its blue radiance.

?No. No. No--o,? he screams. Bewilderment consumes the helpless boy as he tries to free himself from this hellish nightmare. He grabs his head and shakes it helter-skelter trying to wake up. He tries to tell himself that is only a dream but is of little use. Travis feels the flames lapping at him, flamb?ing him alive. All looks lost and just when it seems he can?t take anymore the blaze recedes and realization dawns on him. He was never in danger for the inferno came from within him. Coursing through every fiber of his being he feels the flames strengthening, purifying him.

The scene changes again and he is back in the ghoulish land of death, blood, and fire. A lone structure in the distance catches his eye. Edging precariously closer, it comes into view and what lies before his eyes stops him cold. Towering above him is a throne of bones and rotting flesh upon which he sits. His doppelganger?s dead eyes bore right through him, chilling him to the core. He turns away, not wanting any further part in this, but halts as the demonic him begins to speak.

?The sleeper shall awaken and sire the end of the reign of men. The dark prince shall sit on a throne of despair and all will know your pain.?

?That voice, you?re the one from before, but how? I wasn?t even asleep then.?

?Child anything is possible if I will it so. Fool, you think this but a mere dream? This is all quite real and I?ve brought you here to this end retched existence I?ve been exiled to.?

?OK you Voldemort wannabe if you?re so powerful why haven?t you destroyed the world already? Why in the hell do you need me? And that trite prophecy of yours doesn?t even rhyme that well half of the time.?

The ground shudders and cracks wide open as black tendrils burst forth and pursue him. His feet piston to put distance between them, but running proves almost impossible and soon the boy succumbs to their grasp and is pinned to the ground. He struggles to get free, yet only succeeds in strengthening his imprisonment. Strolling luxuriously towards him, demon Travis? once stoic profile now exudes smugness and triumph.

?Silence insolent whelp. You speak of matters far beyond your station.?

God, could he hurry up already and get this over with, thinks Travis.

?You make me sick. You?re better than this and you know it. The path we walk is paved by our hands alone. No douche bag prophecy is going to change that. Now stop being a little bitch and get up!?

A cataclysmic explosion rocks the landscape as an ever expanding azure inferno obliterates everything in his wake. The tendrils retreat back to their master like scared puppies and the discombobulated look on its face brings a smile to the boy?s face. Travis lets lose a maniacal laugh and charges forward, determined to show him just how ?weak? he is. A yard separates them, and then he is flung backwards. Catching himself with his left hand he rolls forward and blasts him with a wall of fire. Stupefied it drops to one knee and erects a black shield around him.

?I chose my vessel well, perhaps too well. However, your valiant efforts are futile. Playtime is over.?

Spurred on by the creature?s challenge, the boy unleashes every ounce of power he has in a torrent of fire and fists. Undaunted the shield remains intact and Travis is effortlessly tossed aside. He struggles to regain his footing; every part of him aches and just drawing breath is a herculean exercise. His knees give out and the boy collapses onto the scorched earth as convulsions rack his broken body. Sensing the eminent defeat at hand the shield lowers and he is impaled by the tendrils. Unbelievable pain floods his body. He knows this is the end. With every second he feels his life flowing out of him as this monster takes him over. The bitter taste of blood saturates his tongue and he feels the coldness in his chest spreading ever faster. I

?Ah,? he can?t help but let the scream escape his lips.

?Yield and your suffering will end. Resist: and your agony will be legendary. Either way, you will submit and be my vessel.?

?No, it can?t end like this. I won?t let it. I don?t care how long it takes or how painful it is. I don?t care if this is just a dream. I will defeat him. All my life I?ve let myself be a victim, let others dictate how I should live my life. I always did what I was told to, was always a good little solider. Never once did I stand up for myself. If I die here then it will not be on my knees.?

?Aw, is baby about to cry??


Searing tears stream down the boy?s cheek as he rips himself free. The creature?s tendrils evaporate into plumes of smoke as he lumbers forward, fueled by an ever rising fury born of a lifetime of repressed emotions. Travis no longer sees the creature. He sees the face of all those who ever made him feel weak. Everyone who ever picked on him; everyone who ever made him feel left out; everyone who every made him feel like a freak. He sees them mocking him. He feels something in him fall away and then he sees them: countless faces screaming for justice, for vengeance, for him. And at long last he answers them.

The creature?s domain is ripped asunder as the boy?s scream explodes from his lungs, bring with it inconceivable energy. The demon?s throne crumbles and is consumed by the boy?s golden inferno. Louder his voice cries until it changes into a primal bird?s screech. The creature attacks him again, but it is too late. The sleeper has awake and he will not be denied.

The creature?s tendrils aren?t enough to satisfy the flames, they hunger for all of it. It raises the shield, but it shatters into a thousand shards. Smiling darkly, Travis laughs and his body turns into a sea of black flames that engulfs the creature.

?Fool you haven?t won anything. I am that which is ageless, the darkness which lurks in the hearts of all. The dragon who borne the eternal sea of evil. I am Oblivion.?

?If you?re quite through with your vagina monologue, it?s time to die.?

?You are mine through and through. Even now I feel your hatred growing, your soul calling out to maim and murder. We will meet again and you will yield,? he says and is consumed by the flames.

?Bring it on.?

Link to comment
It does what a good beginning is supposed to do: make me wonder what happens next. :icon13:
Thanks the idea for this story has kinda been stuck in my head since I was like 16. Well once again thanks for the feed back.
Link to comment

Hi Mike Johnson! My name is Mark Singer and I work for Brody Levesque.

You asked for some feedback, so I thought I'd contribute because part of what I do for my employer is edit articles and journal pieces.

I know there is a huge big difference between Mr. Levesque's work as a journalist and say an author like James Savik or John Francis(Pecman), or Aussie Graeme. (Yeah, I'm a fan of these guys!)

Look, I am not gonna comment on the context cause its your story dude. But the contents structure is kinda rough. For example, you keep jumping between tenses which makes it hard for the reader to keep track of the moment. Also, your narrative floats between first person and third person so some of your ideas get screwed up.

You've got conflict, but its not clearly defined. The great Kurt Vonnegut once said that the key to any good story is use of conflict. The 4 basic types are: Man V. Man, Man V. Self, Man V. Nature, Man V. Society. You can always mix the conflicts Mike, but its kinda important to be clear to the reader which one you're using at that moment.

Also, Feelings are coming thru, but you're not setting the stage too closely which makes it confusing.

Oh, and settings, the transitions aren't there so like one minute you have your guy running to a cliff and then wham, he's on it?

This might help too Mike. Write an outline before you jump in and write details. It doesn't have to be a book by itself either. Just jot down notes of Settings, Actions, characters, and how you want each Chapter to go. Also, that way when you're writing and get lost in the chronology, you can look back and go "oh yeah, that's what I wanted to say or note."

Mr. Levesque actually outlines each article before he writes it and then when he gives them to me or even Lins, he gives us the outline & notes. It helps us edit. But! Mike! Dude, Mr. Levesque is a journalist so he writes from a specific formula. [Who What Where When Why & How] which prolly won't help you cause its different. I'm just saying that an outline helps though.

Well, I dunno if this helps but there you go!

Laters & Good Luck with your story Mike.


Link to comment

Thanks for the critique. I took what you said into consideration and re-edited the first chapter putting everything in past tense, also I edited the hospital scene way down. as for the transitions I made them a bit clear but they are suppose be jarring. Well once again thanks for the advice Mark.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...