Sunday, October 23, 2011

"Peter Pan"

I'd had it.

The message had been sent - I wouldn't have anything to do with that man any longer. I was sick and tired to tending to him, money be damned. This last trip was for closure, nothing more. Despite the frustration with the old geezer that had welled up inside me I still wouldn't be comfortable with leaving him alone without so much as a goodbye.

The door opened with a creak, welcoming me to the dusty old home. It was tucked into the corner of a suburban neighbourhood, with neatly trimmed grass and flowers in full bloom. As always, there Toby was, staring at his frayed old copy of Peter Pan. He wasn't really reading it, of course, that was beyond him.

"Mummy?" he asked softly, raising a shaky hand to push what little wispy white hair he had left out of his eyes.

"No, Toby, it's Jen."

"Hello, Jen," he replied. Just like clockwork. He shifted in his wheelchair, closing his book and placing it on his bedside table to greet his crayons, which were perfectly sorted to match the electromagnetic spectrum.

"Is breakfast ready, Jenny?" he asked. "After, can we play?"

"No, Toby, we can't play," I replied, trying not to hiss. I try not to look at the toys, which were equally arranged. I gulped, and the thought crossed my mind of confronting him. He'd been living a lie, I knew it. In my six months as caretaker for him, I had never once gardened or trimmed the grass. I had never arranged anything of his, of course I cleaned up after myself, but not like this. The toys in his room were neatly stacked on top of one another, all of the nutcrackers and figurines on top of shelves where he could never reach. The model armies were even in perfect formation.

"Why not?" Toby asked, disappointed. He reached down to one of his wheels, giving a half-hearted attempt at pushing himself forward. "You're my babysitter, Jenny, you have to."

My eyes widened. He sounded...frightened.

"Please, please play with me," he pleaded.

"I can't, Toby. I'm not your babysitter anymore, there will be someone new coming in tomorrow."

My left index finger then split evenly in two, the bone splintering and falling to the ground to meet a pool of blood. The sheer shock of it kept me silent for a moment. Toby's eyes widened, the child in them vanishing. When he spoke he sounded so, so old.

"Please, please no, don't hurt her, she's done her duty, let her go--"

I started screaming as the shadows of the room lengthened and twisted into humanoid forms, but I was silenced as at least twelve flat, black - I don't even know how they moved past the walls and still stayed flat - stabbed forwards into my face, pinning me against the wall and choking me.

"Jen, please, just stay, I've been trapped here so long as a child, I don't..."

Then they punished him, snapping forward with the same impossible contortions, creating deep gashes in what was left of his stubby and bandaged legs. For a moment we were all silent, and then one of them, the Nightlanders, stepped forth from the wall and grabbed Peter Pan off of the table. It placed it into Toby's quivering hands.

I haven't left the house since. I'm Toby's caretaker, it's my duty. In an orderly world, everyone must have a duty.

"Sleep Walking"

I keep having these dreams. Night after night after night... It's gotten to the point where I'm afraid to sleep. I drink as much coffee as I can and I pop in a DVD and watch these movies, trying to stay awake, but soon enough I feel my eyelids fall and I feel myself slipping away.

The dreams began simply enough. I was walking around my apartment. Sometimes I'd sit down for a moment, and then I'd walk again. You know how, when you dream, you don't really think about what you do? You just do it and then later, when you wake up, you realize how strange your actions were? It was like that. I didn't think about walking or sitting or anything. I just did them.

Each night my actions in my dreams became more complex. I would jump and I would crawl around on the floor... I remember one night, I turned on the faucet on the kitchen sink, and I set to 'Hot', and I stuck my hand in the stream. Pain soon flooded through it, and I desperately wanted to jerk my hand away and set it against something cold, but I couldn't. I just couldn't. No matter how desperately I willed for my hand to move, it refused to obey me.

The dreams became more painful. Once I found myself unable to blink. I lay on my couch with my eyes wide open and soon they stung and I couldn't see through all the tears forming and I just couldn't blink. One night I stepped outside my apartment and walked down the street. I can still remember the feel of the cold pavement under my bare feet. The chill of the wind against my skin. How my body shivered under clothes too light and too thin for the weather. Suddenly I felt myself fall forward, as if forced down, and my knee scraped against the curb. I looked down at the torn flesh and I felt the stinging pain and the warmth of my blood oozing out and sliding down my skin.

When I woke up that morning, my knee was scraped.

I thought I was sleep walking. I became afraid of what I might do. That's when I started trying to avoid sleep. I did whatever I could to stay awake. Anything to avoid another dream.

The first night I tried to stay awake, well... the last thing I remembered was seeing a woman outside my window. She was wearing a red dress of some sort, and there was something off about her hair. It was too thick. And her skin was wrong, like it was covered in some kind of rash. A brown, ugly rash.

After I saw her, darkness took me, and I had another dream. This time I walked down to some woman's house. I'd never met her. An old lady. Lived alone. I just stood outside her window all night, shivering in the cold, watching her sleep.

It was like that for the next week, though I didn't see that weird woman again. I'd sleepwalk down to the old lady's house and watch her. Night after night. It began to become a routine thing for me. I started to expect it.

Last night I saw the woman with the rash a second time. Just like before, she was outside my window. Only this time I saw that face. Oh God, that face! Her eyes, so completely round, so completely white, with perfectly round, perfectly black pupils and no irises. Her smile impossibly wide with impossibly big, impossibly square teeth. Her nose jutting forth like a spear.

I fell into sleep, and I walked down to the old lady's house. I broke through her window, climbed into her bedroom. I remember bending down and picking up one of the shards of glass. I remember how cold it felt in my palm, and I remember how carefully my fingers held it to keep from being cut to pieces. I remember walking to the old lady's bed, just was beginning to stir. I remember how her eyes opened and how terrified they seemed when she looked at me. I remember driving the glass into her throat, how there was some resistance at first, and then suddenly it all vanished, and the point of the shard fell forward completely.

I woke up in my own bed, still holding a bloody piece of glass.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Doctor Foster"

The man runs in the rain, hoping against hope that he can make it home without getting soaking wet. But no: the torrent of rain manages to drench him after only a minute. If he had a ride home, this wouldn't have happened, but he had never been able to make friends well and certainly not at the workplace.

The man stops at a red light and waits, wishing he had not forgotten his umbrella, when he hears the sound. It sounds like laughter. He turns, but there's nobody around, nobody near that could be laughing. The light turns green and he starts on his walk again.

At the next light, he hears a giggle. The hairs on the back of his neck rise. The light after that, he hears footsteps skipping behind him, but again there is nobody, just the rain. He starts ignoring the red lights, rushing past them in an attempt to get back to his apartment.

Finally, he reaches his building and punches in the code, opening the door. He fumbles with his keys, but manages to get into his apartment. But his apartment, which should be warm and toasty, is instead achingly cold. He hears another giggle and then a voice, soft, like wind through a broken bottle, starts to sing: "Doctor Foster went to Gloster, in a shower of rain. He stepped in a puddle, right up to his middle, and never came out again."

The man turns back to the door, but the doorknob is so cold it hurts to touch it. The man backs away from the door, then hears another laugh that makes his blood run cold. He turns and sees: there is a boy standing in the middle of the room. The boy looks no older than nine or ten, but when the man tries to focus on his face, it looks strange, distorted, like an overexposed image. "Doctor Foster went to Gloster to try and escape the rain." The boy smiled and his teeth looked like icicles.

The man can feel his heart beating in his chest, the beats slowing down. He can feel the cold climbing in his veins. The last thing he hears before the cold overtakes him is the boy singing, "He tried to be bold, but he caught a cold, and was never seen again."


"Sorry, I forgot we were dressing up for this session." I plopped down on the couch beside William and rubbed my tired eyes. Honestly, we weren't such huge nerds that we dressed up to play D&D every session, today was just our special Halloween game. We'd mourned the fact that we were too old for Trick-or-Treating, so this seemed like the next best thing.

"I'm going to head upstairs and change quick, okay?" Will wasn't answering. I don't think he could, not with that beak. "It's a cool costume." It freaked me right the heck out. "But maybe the full face thing is a little impracticable, you know? Geo's bringing pizza." What was he supposed to be anyway? A dapper bird? I reached up to pat him on the shoulder, but couldn't force myself to make contact. "Right, be down in a second..."

I headed upstairs, listening to the stomping of my own feet. I swear, I have the weirdest roommate. I opened the door to my room and began searching frantically for a costume.

I finished up in time to hear the delicate girly knocking coming from our front door. "Open!" I screamed at it. I staggered out into the hallway, feeling a little lightheaded with the effort of the yell. Will's room was still blasting the spooky Halloween sounds he'd been researching. Molly, our mutt, was adding her own sounds, whining and scratching at Will's door. I leaned against it, not liking the way I could hear her wheeze through the closed door. "Don't worry, Pup-pup," I cooed, "once all the chocolate is gone, we can let you back out."

"Oooopeeen," I called to the door again. The knocking had stopped, but no one had come in. I pulled open the door aaaaaaand...

I was promptly attacked by a shadow creature. Don't worry, she was a cuddly shadow creature.

"Went with Shadar Kai, huh?" I wrapped my arms tight around my girlfriend and kissed her on her pale forehead. Geo, her brother (dressed today as a VW bus, instead of my inspired '92 Geo Storm idea) pushed past us with his arms full of pizza. Following him again was Will. Honestly? His costume was just making me mad now.

"What are you supposed to be anyway?" Amy looked up at me, smearing her makeup on my shirt. "Confusion," I answered, proud of this one. "You look like a pirate zombie," her brother offered helpfully. We headed down the stairs, a somber foursome heading into battle. I felt something warm spreading across my shirt.

"What the...?" I touched my hand to my nose and it came back bright red. The siblings looked at me in confusion. "Is that not part of you costume?" Amy asked, pulling away from me a little. I looked at my hand, dumbfounded, even under the bright red blood, it almost Black and green. I stumbled down the stairs and into the bathroom. Amy, Geo, and Will crowded around the bathroom door. I could see the spot where I kissed Amy starting to turn. This wasn't happening. This couldn't be happening.

I pushed past them, Will's mask seeming to smile at me. Will, who had been planning to come as a Hooter's Girl. Will, who couldn't go five minutes without saying something stupid, who would already be getting into the pizza. "Who...?" The siblings looked confused, then followed my gaze.

They hadn't seen him. They do now. I left a trail of blood as I ran up to look in Will's room. Molly was blocking the door, the fur I'd combed lovingly yesterday was matted with blood. Her own, and Will's evidently. He'd died at his computer, a page open to PLAGUE DOCTORS. No... to one PLAGUE DOCTOR. To HIM.

Amy, Geo, and I hugged each other as we waited for the end. HE stood over us, the mask looking happier as the room grew darker. I held Amy when she slipped away, her broken body wracked by whatever it was HE had given us. I decided not to fight after she left. I embraced the DOCTOR and followed my beautiful shadow creature into Nirvana.