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.

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