Kenneth was headed to the top of the world. His amateur hockey career was shaping up to be elite to say the least. Kenny “the goalie killer” had 35 goals in his last 18 games, a feat that had landed him invitations to the farming systems of many of the top teams in the NHL. Kenny was fifteen soon to be sixteen and there was nothing that seemed out of his reach. Saturday night was his birthday and his parents had made sure it’d be a bash to remember. The high school gymnasium had been rented out and every kid at Ferling High was invited.The big night arrived and it was everything he’d dreamed of. Banners stretched out on each wall with the words “Happy 16th!”, “Happy bday Kenny!”, and “The goalie killer!”. An ice sculpture of a hockey puck stood over the punch bowl. A massive three tiered cake sat on a table on the far end of the gym. Two big candles, a one and a six, stood on top ready to be lit up in celebration of him. Everywhere he turned there were friends and well wishers ready to give him hugs, handshakes, and fist bumps. Plenty of flasks were snuck in by buddies, and soon Kenny was feeling light as a feather and as pumped on his own soon to be legacy as he’d ever been. Hours went by and he needed a break from the constant attention. He ducked out the back door and breathed in the chilling night air. Kenny liked the cold, it always woke him up and made everything in him feel energized. He walked out into the middle of the parking lot and let his arms spread wide out beside him, soaking in the night. Then like a prize fighter showing off for the crowd after a big knock out he began to dance around in a circle letting out an elated cry. He never noticed the tall man behind him until he turned and smashed face first into his chest. Stunned Kenny backed away to size up this interloper that had come out of nowhere. He had to be over seven feet tall, he wore a black duster, and a wide brimmed midnight hat. Raven hair cascaded over his shoulders, and his dark eyes searched Kenny’s as if looking for something.
Kenny had met every opponent out on the ice with confidence and was intimidated by no one. Even if this guy was by far the biggest man he’d ever seen. “Another fucking weirdo from around town that is looking for an autograph that someday will be worth a fortune”, Kenny thought through a confident drunken haze.“Back up douche,” he spat as he went to shove the big man back. Suddenly a giant hand clapped around his neck, his entire neck. He was frozen with fear. Fear was something Kenny hadn’t felt in a good long time. What did he have to fear? A golden future, all the friends and girls he could ask for, plus parents that loved and idolized him so much that they let him get away damn near whatever he wanted made up his entire life. Now he felt helpless, like a child in his bed who was being stalked by all the dark creatures of the night. Every ounce of inebriation disappeared.
The man drew him nearer still searching Kenny’s eyes. Then a look of recognition crossed the big man’s gaze. Kenny looked on in horror as those dark eyes turned blank white, almost radiating from his skull. “This is not for you. This is not your purpose,” he said gesturing to the thunderous party going on behind them. Then his massive hand lifted Kenny off the ground. “You are but a tool, and the time for you to be of use draws close.” The dark man’s voice seemed to come from inside his throat and outside his body at the same time. The index finger of his free hand extended and a flame like a lighter being held outright spouted from the tip. He began to move it through the air and a solid line of fire followed forming a strange symbol. It was like an etch-a-sketch from hell. Kenny tried to scream but everything including his lungs were frozen in terror and awe. The flaming symbol floated in front of him for a second or two before slamming into Kenny’s chest. The hand on his neck suddenly released and he collapsed to the ground grabbing his excruciating chest. He looked down and his brand new shirt was torn to shreds with the symbol sticking out from his skin as if it’d been carved in with a dull knife. Somehow it wasn’t bleeding. The man was gone, Kenny hadn’t seen him run away or heard steps. He was just plain gone. Frantically he stumbled back into the gym. The instant the door opened he realized there was more wrong then his assault in the parking lot. The banners which once praised his name now read “Spring Dance 2016”. There was no cake, and no ice sculpture.
“Help!” he screamed out. The few people that heard him over the loud music looked at him with shock and fear. His drink must have had something really messed up in it. This was all in his head and he just needed to get home. Through the crowd he saw his parents standing by the stage chatting with some other adults. He pushed and shoved his way through the crowd crying desperately for them. He hadn’t wanted to be near his mother so much since he was five and got lost at the supermarket.
Finally, he was there and reached for his mom crying, “Help me, I don’t know what they gave me but I need to go home!” She gave a quick scream and scrambled away from him. Kenny’s father stepped in between them and stoutly stated. “I don’t know what you’re on kid but you need to get away from my wife right now.”
“What? What the hell are you saying dad, it’s me Kenny,” he exclaimed. “Please help me!” He ran forward with his arms open pleading. His dad actually looked like he was going to punch him when multiple pairs of hands grabbed him by the shoulders. He looked up to see Principle Sheperd and few other chaperones pulling him away and were forcing him to lay down. The pain in his chest surged and he began to black out. The frightened looks of his parents where the last things he saw as his vision faded into a cone of darkness.
Hours, maybe days passed, before consciousness found him again. An elderly woman sat next to him washing his still very sore and horridly cut up chest with a wash cloth.
“Who are you?” he croaked from a very dry throat.
“I’m Dorthy Herald, your attending nurse at the South Baptist hospital.” She replied with a concerned smile. “Can you tell me who you are? Where you come from? How you got these strange wounds on your chest?”
“My name is Kenneth Epstien, I live at 11742 Serama drive,” he stated without really thinking. His chest just hurt so damn much. Where were his parents, and how much of what he remembered from last night actually happened?
“Honey, the police interviewed the Epstiens when you were being taken in. They claim they never had children and had never saw you before. In fact, you really scared Mrs. Epstien when you tried to grab her at the school dance. According to their story they were at the dance volunteering as chaperones as a favor to the school principle who is a friend from church.” she finished with true pity in her eyes.
“That’s fucking nonsense! My parents haven’t spent a day in church my whole life,” Kenny shouted so loud the nurse jumped back. “If I’m not their son then how in the hell would I know their address, their full fucking names, and the name of our god damn dog!? I can even tell you about my great, granddad on my moms side in detail. I did a report on him in the fifth grade! His name was… was.” Kenny suddenly stumbled on his words. Why couldn’t he remember?
After a few moments Dorthy asked with a caring tone, “What is your dogs name?” Kenny could picture the blonde lab but the name was ripped from his mind as soon as he started to recall it. Then he couldn’t picture him at all.
“I don’t know, I can’t remember,” he began to sob, “ I’m Kenny, The Goalie Killer, I’m the greatest thing to hit the ice in the history of the sport. I scored… I scored… I scored a bunch of goals and the pro teams really want me.” He couldn’t remember his stats. Those stats he’d worked his ass off to achieve! Countless hours on the ice with coach screaming at him to push harder. Coach, what was his name!? Every specific memory he tried to bring to mind seemed to be stripped from him as fast as they came.
“What’s your dads first name?” Dorthy asked growing more irritated than concerned.
“I, I don’t know,” Kenny said as his father’s name was snatched away.
“So you know your name, and an address but nothing else? How about the cuts on your chest, where did they come from?” she asked.
“I, I’m just confused, this can’t be real.” Kenny gasped as he suddenly was more exhausted than he’d ever been in his life. His head collapsed back onto the pillow. The darkness was setting in again. He felt more things being pulled from his mind. Who was he and why couldn’t he remember more? He kept repeating in his head, “Kenneth, 11742”. It was all he had left from before that giant demonic freak grabbed him. Then sleep overtook him.