IV. ILLUMINATED

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THERE CAME SEVERAL KNOCKS from the front door of the Byers household. Cursing, Joyce came marching out of kitchen drying her wet hands from a rag. She retrieved the door with her slightly damped hands and crossed her arms when she saw her youngest son standing outside the doorway.

"You're thirteen minutes late." she tapped her watch on her left wrist. "Where were you? I was about to call the cops."

"Sorry, Mom." Will shrugged. "I was at Mike's helping out with our History report for tomorrow."

"And you could've called to let me know."

"Yeah. I forgot. Sorry, again."

Joyce sighed. She smiled lightly and led her son into the house.

When Will closed his bedroom door shut, he dropped his school backpack and took off his blood-stained jacket before slumping down onto his bed. He forgot to take his shoes off but he felt too tired to get them off right now.

He stared at the ceiling for a very long time, slowly slipping out of reality when images off what happened back at Mirkwood starting flooding up his mind in short flashes. He can still hear the man's scream and his bloody finger pointing at Mike...

No. Not Mike. Him.

"You..." the boy started recalling his last words before dying. "You're too easy to get. They will bring you back to the place where you belong."

Chills ran down his spine as the words kept replaying inside his mind. His heartbeat began to increase. He was unable to push the moment out from his head. He kept seeing the lampposts going out, the body, the blood, his friends looks of disbelief when they all stared at him when crimson liquid came out from his nostril.

He whimpered quietly, tugging his light brown hair into fistfuls really hard to get the horrific thoughts out. He didn't want to go back to the place where that 'thing' took him and left him there to die. The dead man said that they will take him back to where he belongs. He does not belong there, of course. But who's 'they'?

Will decided to close his eyes shut, hoping they will disappear once he falls asleep. It was effective when he felt his heartbeat slow down and his mind became quieter.

Suddenly, he felt the environment around him change. The temperature began dropping down that made him shiver as the scent of flesh and blood filled his nostrils. Coughing, he fluttered his eyes open to see the ceiling of his bedroom, only with the lights down and the area covered in black vines.

The boy gasped and immediately sat up from his bed. However, he was still inside the exact bedroom he was in before he dozed off. The lights were still on and the black vines were nowhere to be seen.

There came static noise coming from the corner of the bedroom, causing Will to jump.

"Will? Will! Are you there? Do you copy?" a voice came from his supercom perched on the brown shelves of action figures and old books. It was Mike's.

Will just laid back on his bed and stared blankly at the ceiling again, urging himself not to sit up and respond to one of his best friends.

"I know you're there, Will." Mike finally said when he didn't receive a response. "I know you don't want to talk, and I know that you're listening to this right now. We don't know what you did earlier, alright? We're all super confused right now. We need an explanation to how you or what did it. So, please pick up if you need to."

"If there's anything wrong with you, just let us know. We'll help you." Mike continued. "We won't tell anyone what-"

Will had already sat up from his bed and stomped his way to the shelves. He grabbed the supercom and took out its batteries until Mike's voice went down. He took a sigh of relief, rubbing his temples as he sat back on the edge of the bed.

He placed the device and the batteries on the nightstand near the bed. His eyes traveled to the small lamp resting on the table. He found himself involuntarily focusing on the illumination of the light bulb.

The more Will focused on the light, the more the luminescence began to grow. The lamp shuddered as the light shone brightly. His temples were aching but he kept on focusing on the light, letting the fear subside and replacing it with anger.

Once the bulb's brightness reached to its higher level, the light burned out and shattered into pieces. Not did he only broke his lampshade, but all the lights in the house.

Darkness surrounded him for a complete minute until he heard his mother and older brother, Jonathan, calling his name around the house. As the two barged inside his room, they found still sitting on his bed, staring blankly in the dark and didn't move a muscle.

"Will, oh my god!" Joyce ran towards his younger son and hugged him tightly as she could. Jonathan appeared behind her with a flashlight at hand.

"Please don't let them take you! I don't want to lose you again!" cried Joyce.

"Mom, calm down. It's just a blackout." Jonathan blurted out.

As soon as Joyce pulled apart from the hug, her eyebrow furrowed when he examined Will's face. She lifted her finger and touched a trickle of dark liquid under his nose.

"What is this?" she examined the substance on her finger. "Is this...blood?"

Will didn't answer.

"Will, did anyone hurt you?" Joyce shook his shoulders. "Answer me."

Will's eyes met his mother's and began to sob, drowning out the silence around them. "Mom, I'm sorry." he sniffed. "It's my fault. It's all my fault."

"What? No! No, what are you talking about?" asked Joyce.

"It should've killed me. It should've killed me when it wanted to."

"Will, what-"

"I'm the reason why it's still there. I'm the reason why the gate's still open.

Joyce found herself lost at words. She instead looked at her son in dread.

"The Upside Down, mom." Will mumbled. "It's still there. It's coming back."

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