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The Darkness Within

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"Here you go, have a great day!"

You handed the drinks to the couple, giving a small wave at their retreating forms as you leaned over the counter and sighed. It was one of those days where it wasn't too busy, but it wasn't to the point where you had nothing to do. 

Lounging back in your chair, you stretched your tired limbs after standing for a while.

You were in charge of serving beverages to thirsty guests at the Hawkins community pool, a job you recently got accepted in for the summer. It wasn't exactly thrilling, but it was definitely better than your days at the Hawkins Post. You've been trying to save up money for college in the fall and getting your own place, so you went for working two jobs until then. You liked your job at the small newspaper company. You wanted to be a journalist one day, writing and creating your own stories. Your family always said you were a great storyteller and encouraged you to pursue your dream. 

But it was hard. Really hard. Sure, Nancy Wheeler and Jonathan Byers made it more bearable as you have been longtime friends with them throughout high school. But with Bruce slinking around the halls and berating you with comments here and there... well. It was something else.

You remember at one point he “complimented” you on your usefulness. 

"You're a great asset around here! The company definitely needs more people like you."

"Really?" you blinked.

"Sure," he chuckled, sending a sickly smile your way. "I mean, who else would grab our lunch for us besides little miss Nancy Drew over there?" His thumb jutted over to the brunette, who you could see burning a hole at the back of his head. You wished she really did, though.

You never wanted to kick someone so hard in the balls. 

So, days here at the pool were nice breaks from that hellhole. 

Besides, it just also gives you an excuse to spend some time with your boyfriend and quietly ogle him from your little shack. 

A minute after that thought, you heard the doors to the changing rooms open and you went back up to poke your head past the counter. 

There he was, slightly flexing his muscles and ruffling his golden, curly hair. Your eyes flicked lower. You'd be lying if said you didn't like checking out his ass in those red shorts.

Your heart fluttered when his eyes met yours and he started strutting your way, flashing a smile that got your knees weak for days. 

You couldn't help but smile right back at him and put on your best server voice. "Hello sir, what can I get ya today?"

Billy pretended to think, tapping a finger on his chin and glancing at the skies above. "Hm, I dunno. What can you recommend for me, dollface?"

"Something sweet, maybe?"

"I'd definitely love to go for one of those right now." His eyes sparkled before leaning down to capture your lips in a quick kiss. "Mmm, that's definitely sweet".

You giggled and softly nuzzled your nose against his. 

You and Billy had been going strong for almost a year now. You have seen him change from being the hot-headed, bad boy Californian womanizer to someone more genuine. Someone more happier. 

He got into less fights with Neil since he started showing more responsibility with Max and actually finishing up high school with you.

He became the big brother his younger sister needed, and even accompanied her and her little gang to make sure they were safe before leaving them on their adventures at Starcourt. 

His hostility towards Steve Harrington even lessened considering he was now seen as the group's "dad" and "secondary baby sitter", though they still were far from liking each other. But it was still progress that was welcomed anyway. 

He was in the process of getting a second job at a nearby mechanic to help pay for your college, even though you insisted plenty of times he didn't need to. 

Overall, you proud of him in more ways than you could count. 

He peered at you with those baby blues that seemed to shine under the summer sun. 

"I was thinking maybe we could catch the movies later, and maybe go to dinner and take a drive after?"

You sighed.

"I can't, babe. I gotta be up early tomorrow and see Shitty McGee again..."

Billy hummed. He took in your tired features at the mention of your second job. He knew how much you wanted the experience of being in the journalism department. Hell, he's read some of the papers you've written in high school and there was no doubt in his mind that you'd make incredible articles in the future. 

But he absolutely hated your environment. He wanted to make a cup of boiling coffee for each encounter in the office that you told him and throw 'em at all of their faces for each insult and belittling moment they put you through. Maybe rough Bruce up a little afterwards.

But he quickly pushed those thoughts aside to avoid getting angry in front of you. 

"Tell you what," he squeezed your hand. "How about just a quick bite over at Benny's, then?" He kissed you. "I'll buy you all the strawberry milkshakes you want." 

He smiled when he saw your features light up, pride swelling in his chest at how he can easily brighten your mood. 

"Yeah, I'd love to. I have to drop off Nate first though," you chuckled. "Guys' night at the Wheeler house again."

"That's fine. I'll meet up with you, say, around 7 tonight?"

"Yep.", you replied, popping the 'p'. 

"Great." He kissed you once more. "God, I can never get enough of you." 

"Well, you better. 'Cause your fans are blowing steam my way." Your eyes gestured over to where Mrs. Wheeler and her mom friends hung out. You swore their glasses could melt off their faces with how much heat their glares sent your direction. It was really awkward too, though, since you’ll be seeing Mrs. Wheeler tonight when you drop your brother off at their place.

"And you're holding up a line. Now chop chop, go guard some lives." You fanned out your hands in a shooing motion, laughing as he spun around and wiggled his bottom at you before flicking his shades on.

"Love you!" you called out. 

"I love you too! See you at 7, doll!"

You shook your head smirking to yourself. 

That kid was gonna be the death of you. 




You just dropped off your younger brother at Mike's place and were now heading towards the diner you and Billy agreed on.

You were excited to meet up with him since it's been a while you two had gone out on a date. Especially with how busy both of your lives had been. So it was a good breather to spend some time outside of work. 

Maybe one day you wouldn't have to rely on these few moments to spend time with him, you thought. You reveled in the idea of sharing an apartment with him one day. Maybe you could ask him once you saved up enough money if he wanted to do that. You reveled in the idea of doing domestic things with him. Waking in the morning with him beside you, cooking some breakfast, maybe watch some movies over the weekend, or even picking out some furniture with you. It seemed perfect.

Your thoughts came to a screeching halt when suddenly something hit your windshield, leaving an angry spider-webbed crack on it. Panicking, you pulled on the steering wheel hoping to swerve around whatever thing or being you hit.

Your head whipped to the side, hitting right on the side window. Your ears rang as blood and adrenaline rushed through you. 

Then everything stopped. 

You opened your eyes and groaned softly, faintly aware of the distant throb resonating in your skull before it started to really settle in. A small trickle ran down the side of your face where you hit the window, but you didn't bother wiping it. 

Your nails bit against the steering wheel, knuckles white from gripping on to it for dear life. 

You looked around your surroundings, but with the crack on the windshield it was hard to assess where you were. Only the shine from your headlights greeted your vision, but you were surrounded in darkness.

Where were you?

God. As much as you didn’t want to, you knew you’d had to go out sooner or later to check. 

You slowly peeled your hands away from the wheel, fingers aching as you opened the car door. 

You stumbled out the car and onto the ground, wisps of cottoned air blowing out with each breath you took. 

You got up on your feet, going around your car to see the damage. 

Besides your windshield, a huge dent with several scratches marred the bumper. 


Normally you hated cursing, but tonight was already starting to take a toll on you. 

Well. There goes part of your savings. 

You glanced around and saw you were parked in front of an old, rusty building. 

Brimborn Steel Works.

A low grumble met your ears.

”Hello?” you called out. 

Whatever it was, it continued to let out that low grumbling sound.

Your mind was screaming to run. Get out. Pretend this never happened and just go to your date. Get away as fast as you can. Never look back.

But the more your mind told you to leave, the more that unseen entity held a pull on you. 

Without you realizing, your feet carried you to the inside of the old mill.

It was colder inside than it was out, which you thought was odd.

The quick patter of small feet scurried in the corners. In the dark, you could make out as rats seemingly scampered down a set of stairs. With only the moonlight guiding your steps, you followed them.

The low rumble started getting louder as you approached the basement.

”Who’s there?”

Your heart stopped at the sight before you. 

A large, burbling mass crept in the dark. You could smell the stench of rotten meat from where you stood beneath the stairwell. 

Your eyes widened when a long, hulking limb stretched towards you. Gunk and flesh oozed out of the bulging mass, and chipped bones stuck out of its appendages. 

This time, you ran. 

Faster, faster, faster. 

Tears trailed down your cheeks.

"Terrified" was an understatement in the situation you were in now. 

You panted as years of track training in high school kicked in coupled with the intent to survive whatever the fuck this was. 

You wanted to be home. You wanted to be with your mom, your dad. Even your annoying ass brother.

Hell you'd take a hundred more years being tormented by Bruce than to be chased by this- this thing

You wanted to be with Billy. 

Anywhere but here. 

You mentally cheered when you saw the outline of your car, shining under the glade of the moon like a small beacon of escape. 

God please, you needed to make it out of here.

You collided against the car door and tore it open. 

Fumbling for the keys, you scrambled to get the car started. 

The noise got louder and you sobbed as you continued turning the ignition over and over again. The car sputtered and coughed, but wouldn't budge. 



The noise stopped. 

The only sound that pierced the air was your harsh panting. 

Eyes wide and shoulders quaking, you tried once more. Your heart leapt when the engine sprang to life, and the low rumble of your car resonated around you. 

But before you could back away, the door yanked open and an invisible force took hold of your ankles and dragged you back, back, back to the dark abyss. 

The sound of your shrieks lasted for a moment. 

And just like that, you were gone. 




Billy chewed on his dinner quietly, taking small sips of his shake every now and then. His eyes bored on the empty spot across from him, your share of a burger and fries coupled with your strawberry milkshake untouched. Your favorites. 

He glanced at the clock again. 


He sighed. 

You've never been late to any of your dates before, much less bailed on him. Doubts here and there started rushing in the back of his mind. 

Were you bored of him?

Were you mad?

Did he do something wrong?

Was everything okay?

Were you seeing someone behind his back?

He shook his head. That really couldn't be any of those. Aside from the upcoming shift at Hawkins Post tomorrow, you were fine today. Plus, in the year he'd known and been with you, you proved time and time again your honesty and loyalty to him whenever his insecurities would come creeping in. 

But... something felt wrong in his gut. He knew it. 


Where the hell were you?