Relics – Chapter Three

Charlie took two trains, a bus, and walked seven blocks before finally arriving at Darkmoon Drive. The street itself was very short, connecting two other much more prominent streets for no real reason other than possibly some ill-conceived shortcut.  There were precisely four buildings on the street.  A derelict convenience store, closed due to reasons undisclosed by the city health inspector, a building that might have once been an auto repair shop or possibly just someone’s glorified garage, also closed. Darkmoon Drive sat between these two abandoned buildings on the same side of the street. Another abandoned building stood on the opposite side of the street. This abandoned building looked the worst of all of them with its broken out windows, spray-painted brick walls and crumbling awnings.  Darkmoon Drive itself wasn’t much better off.  It wasn’t necessarily a tall apartment building, coming in at just seven stories. And though it wasn’t much to look at, it was the only life on the whole street.

Each floor of the brown-stoned building had five windows visible from the street.  A few of the windows were boarded up, while others glowed with lights from the inside.  One window had a pair of jeans and a button-down shirt hanging from it, most probably to help them dry.  Though the clothes seemed to have worn on the window sill, having cycled past clean to dirty once more. Moss and ivy snaked their way in all directions up the exterior, not in a fashionable cottage-core way, but more in a ‘why has no one shown this building any sort of care’ kind of way.  The whole structure was protected behind an obstacle course of potential hazards.  A sharp, jagged, tilting, wire fence and gate opened to a broken pavement walkway that progressed to three suspiciously crumbling cement stairs that ascended up to a large dark blue doorway, complete with a door covered in chipped paint, which looked as though it might give you a splinter just by thinking about it or fall off its hinges altogether. One side of the building had a fire escape from the second floor up to the seventh, connecting several landings on which sat a variety of potted plants.  All of which were dead and brown. 

“Yikes,” said Charlie under his breath. He reached out and carefully grabbed the gate, pushing it open to walk through, but rather than swing inward, the gate simply separated itself from the fence and toppled to the walkway with a terrible crash. “Shit!” he yelped, stepping across the threshold, reaching down and haphazardly attempting fix the gate. His back to the building, he glanced around frantically to make sure no one else had seen his mishap. He placed the gate back in place how he thought it was supposed to be and then stepped away, eyeing it suspiciously to see if it would fall again. 

“Not to worry,” called a voice from the doorway. Charlie jumped in surprise, which in turn caused the gate to topple with a loud clang all over again.  He whirled in place to see an elderly man tottering down the stairs, leaning heavily on a black cane with a silver moose-shaped grip on top.  

“Likes to do that sometimes,” said the man. He wore a black peacoat over a maroon shirt, slacks, and a navy blue scarf, which hung loosely around his neck. He had pale, wrinkled skin, wavy gray hair, a thin frame and incredibly kind cerulean blue eyes, which caught Charlie off guard. It was rare in New York City for a stranger to look upon you with absolute kindness and empathy in their eyes. Usually, they looked at you with fury because you happened to be standing in their way or simply not walking fast enough.

“I’m sorry,” said Charlie, pointing at the gate on the ground. “I was just trying to—”

“You were just trying to come through the gate,” said the old man. “Which makes perfect sense. Gates are meant to be gone through. If anyone’s at fault, it’s this darned gate for underperforming on its designated duties.”

What an odd thing to say, thought Charlie, giving a slight grin. “Yeah, I guess so.”

“Now let me see,” said the old man, bending over shakily and picking up the gate. Charlie reached down to help him and together they propped the gate back in place. “Alright, now stand back young man, and I’ll see if we can’t make this right.”  

Charlie took a small step towards the apartment building. The man stood in front of the gate and eyed it, chewing thoughtfully on the inside of his lip.  Then, like a wizard placing his staff before him to perform a powerful spell, he pounded the cane into the walkway. 

“Listen up!” he commanded.  Charlie perked up, listening intently. “You stay there and be a good gate,” continued the old man.  “And don’t go falling off your hinges again.  It’s bad form. Ya hear?” 


Charlie wanted to laugh, out of shock or embarrassment for the old man, he wasn’t sure, but he stopped himself. Was this guy seriously talking to this gate as though it were a misbehaving child?  But then, to Charlie’s great surprise, the gate creaked and squeaked out a sound in response. 


Surely, to think that the gate spoke was absolutely insane since gates were incapable of replying to the demands of crazy old men with moose canes.  The old man gave the gate a knock with his cane, and to Charlie’s astonishment, the gate stayed firmly in place. 

“That’s more like it,” grumbled the old man and then turned back to look at Charlie with a warm smile. “Sometimes you have to put these things in their place.”

“Sure,” said Charlie, laughing nervously. He was beginning to suspect that this old man was completely insane. 

The old man held up the cane, eyeing it conspicuously. “That’ll be the last of it though.  Was barely anything left in the ol’ thing to begin with. Now, I reckon it’s fully dried up.” 

“Right,” said Charlie mindlessly, realizing only after he responded that he had absolutely no idea what the old man was talking about. 

“Oh, but where are my manners?” said the man, holding out a wrinkled hand.  “Fen Pentacoster.”  

“Uh, Charlie, Charlie Cole,” said Charlie, outstretching his hand.  As their hands clasped in greeting, a knowing look filled Fen’s eyes. 

“Well, well, well,” said Fen. “I knew I felt the breeze of a storm brewing when I woke up this morning.” His voice was shrouded in mystery like some old sage doling out a prophecy. “I knew something was about to begin. Didn’t know exactly what, but knew it all the same. Something’s coming, I said to myself.  Something that’s happened before.  Something that’ll surely happen again.”

“I—” started Charlie.  “I don’t…”

“Arthur Cole’s grandson,” he said with a wry grin. “As I live and breathe.  I reckon I knew it the moment I saw you panicking over that gate.  I said, that boy could be a young Arthur. And wouldn’t you know it? I was right.” 

“You, uh, knew my grandfather?” asked Charlie, swallowing the sudden inexplicable emotions that welled up inside him. 

“Oh sure, everyone who’s ever lived here knows everyone o’course.  But Arthur owned the place, built it even, so we all knew him more than most.”  Fen eyed Darkmoon Drive, and his mind seemed to wander off somewhere far away.  “Not been the same since he passed.”  A chilling breeze brought Fen back to the present and refocused his eyes on Charlie.  “I’m very sorry for your loss, young man.” 

“Oh, I barely knew him.” Charlie shrugged. “But you mentioned it hasn’t been the same? Didn’t he just pass?” 

“Who, Arthur? Oh no, he’s been gone for going on six months now.” 

“What?!” exclaimed Charlie, pulling into himself.  He was suddenly very confused. “But … My mother and I just found out last night.” 

“Yes, well, some things do take longer than others,” said Fen.  “I wasn’t really involved in the arrangements but it is my understanding that finding you was quite difficult.  Took some time.  Almost as if Arthur didn’t want you to be found. Or … maybe the other way round.”  

This did not answer any of the many questions Charlie now had about his grandfather and the nature of his passing.  “If he didn’t want me to be found, why would he leave the building to me?” 

Fen thought for a moment, sighed and then perked up.  “A mystery to be sure. Perhaps you ought to go on up and see his old apartment, er, your new apartment that is,” said Fen. “Imagine there will be more answers in there than out here.  You’ve got the key?” 

“Uh, yeah,” Charlie dug in his pocket and pulled out the large key ring, grasping the red key in his hand. 

“I thought as much.  Apartment 303.  That’s you.  Just head on in, take the elevator to the third floor, and you can’t miss it.” 

“Okay,” said Charlie, turning to look at the building and suddenly feeling very overwhelmed.  He wanted to ask Fen more questions, but he was also a little bit terrified of the man.  He wanted to go up to the apartment, but that was terrifying as well.  Every single thing that was happening to him at that moment was less than comfortable. 

“And don’t worry about the others,” said Fen.  Charlie turned back towards the man.


“Other residents.  I’ll let them know you’ve arrived, and I’m sure they’ll make themselves known to you in their own time.” And with that, Fen walked through the gate, which stayed fully upright, and started down the sidewalk, humming to himself. 

“Can’t wait,” sighed Charlie half-heartedly. He took one last look at Darkmoon Drive. Without further ado, he took one step forward and then another until he met the stairs which he climbed up to the door. He expected to have to unlock the front door but it was already open, so he walked through into a small lobby with mailboxes built into the wall, brown laminate flooring, and an old-fashioned, gated elevator. 

He opened the elevator and stepped in, then closed it loudly behind him. Following the old man’s instructions, he pressed the button for the third floor and then immediately grabbed onto the side of the elevator as the whole thing gave a sudden jolt upwards. Riding the elevator felt like a test of faith as it shook and rattled all the way to the third floor where it came to a jarring stop. He quickly pulled the gate open and stepped into the adjoining hallway, fearing the elevator might fall out from under him if he stayed on it a moment too long. 

And there it was: a crimson door with gold numbers: Apartment 303.  Charlie approached it slowly, taking deep breaths as though he were approaching a wild animal.  He shakily brought the red key to the doorknob and pushed it in. With a twist to the right, the other keys jingled merrily and the door popped open. 

He gulped loudly, squeezed his eyes shut and took a deep breath. When he opened his eyes again, he pushed the door open and the light of the hallway spilled into the room. 

To his great surprise, there was virtually nothing in the apartment. The room ahead was bare of furniture or decorations save for a single wooden chair and a small round dining table, atop which sat a very normal looking bright red backpack, placed so that the straps were facing towards him.  Other than this, there was absolutely no sign that anyone had ever lived there.  

He’d expected to step into a room filled with a lifetime of memories for a man he barely knew. He would begin the arduous task of going through all of Arthur’s earthly possessions, piecing them together like a puzzle which would eventually lead to Charlie finally understanding who his grandfather really was. But seeing the room stripped bare made him feel no less distant than before.  It felt almost unfair. Not only did his grandfather not connect with him in life, but now it was as if he’d closed himself off to his grandson and their family in death as well. 

Charlie’s shoulders slumped in disappointment as he stepped fully into the apartment.  He reached over and flicked a light switch on the wall by the door, illuminating the empty room, then closed the door behind him. An overhead light blanketed the room in cold luminescence.  With nothing else to draw his attention, he walked over to the table to examine the backpack.  Hopefully there was something inside it that would help explain everything; a filled journal, or a photo album or an old film reel which, all of which combined would reveal the life story of Arthur Cole.  Knowing Charlie’s luck though, the backpack would probably be empty.

He turned it around on the table and found a small rectangular black screen joined seamlessly with the lower front compartment.  It reminded him of techy backpacks he had seen with built-in monitor screens so that you could watch TV or hook up a video game system on the go. 

He tapped the screen, causing it to suddenly light up with words, which sent goosebumps running down his arms as a celebratory jingle played from it.

Welcome New User
Charlie Lewis Cole

The backpack knew his name. He immediately released his hold on it and stepped back. This, however, did not deter the backpack. 

Level 1 Unlocked! 
User Input Required
Please open backpack using the attached zipper
to begin system-wide reset.

“What the actual fuck?” asked Charlie to no one in particular.  The prompt flashed on the screen again.

Please open backpack using the attached zipper
to begin system-wide reset.

Charlie blew out all the air in his lungs as if this might help him find clarity. “Okay,” he said.  “Okay, okay, okay,” he repeated, attempting to psych himself up.  The screen flashed again.

Please open backpack using the attached zipper
to begin system-wide reset.

“Okay!”  He had never met a backpack that was quite so pushy before. He stepped back towards the table. Gripping the backpack with one hand and the zipper on its side with the other, he closed his eyes and began to pull the zipper upwards along the serrated mouth of the backpack.

At that exact moment, a gentle gust of air swept through the halls of Darkmoon Drive.  It was as if the building itself was taking a deep breath for the first time in a very long while. The walls felt it. The floor felt it.  The lights, and the doors, and the metal, and wires within the walls felt it.  The residents, both inside and outside the building, felt it.  Something was waking up from a very long slumber.  Darkmoon Drive was coming back to life. 


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We have officially arrived at Darkmoon Drive!!! I often say that I imagine the stories I write as movie trailers first. Well, in the past five years this scene has played out about a million times in my head as I’ve imagined this story over it’s many different forms. I’ve also imagined this scene happening on a farm, but that draft has been lost to the ages.

From now on Chapters will be posted twice per week on Monday’s and Thursdays. How are you feeling? Ready for more? I do hope to see you all next week as the story continues and we finally get to meet some more of our main cast!


11 thoughts on “Relics – Chapter Three

  1. Pingback: Relics – Chapter Two | Darkmoon Drive

  2. I don’t know how you did it but all three chapters gave me unexpected twists. I thought one thing was happening but then another thing happened that changed the tone and now THIS happened!!! I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait for each Monday and Thursday 🤯 I am in love with this story!!!!!

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