(I WOULD LIKE TO REMIND YOU, READER, THAT THIS IS A HORROR STORY WHICH MEANS THAT IT SURELY CONTAINS: GORE(blood, guts, this kind of thing, you know), STRONG LANGUAGE(mostly ‘fuck’s), STRONG IMAGERY(blood, death, murders, etc) AND OVERALL LOTS OF BAD THINGS THAT CAN BE DISTURBING, TRIGGERING, ETC, SO BE VERY AWARE OF THIS BEFORE YOU READ please)
Leslie laid the little Mitch down in his crib which was close to her mother’s side of the bed, the left one, and sank into her parent’s nest. “Time for another nap already! We’re becoming one, bro’!” Mitch laughed as if he could understand her. Leslie liked to think he did, but she believed in fact that he was just a baby human sponge, giving you back what you put in; he felt but did not understand, yet.
“Goddammit!” she muttered. Her phone was vibrating in her back pocket. She forgot it was here and it ruined the peacefulness she had achieved. It wasn’t a number she knew, so she hesitated before picking up – phone calls freaked her out. “Yeah?” she asked shyly. It was her mother.
“Honey, is everything alright?”
“Well…” She rolled on her left side. She obviously couldn’t tell her mom about the pigeon and certainly not about her nightmares or the nutcase label on her forehead would start to show again. She had to hide some parts of the truth just to make sure she wouldn’t have to endure the are-you-alright kinda bullshit conversation.
“Mitch is really nice to me! Like, really. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he’d bring me breakfast in bed one morning.” Her mother didn’t laugh; it seemed like she had actually stopped breathing. So much for providing comic relief. She cleared her throat. “I mean, we’re fine. We do everything together. We just eat and sleep all day. Nothing much. We survive without you. It’s fun.”
“Okay. But what about you?” she asked with a serious tone that took Leslie aback.
“Hmm, what about me?!” She was feeling it coming. Already pissed off, she wanted to hang up so bad.
“Are you alright, Leslie! Is everything fine with you?” She still had her usual alarmed tone but, it was different; Leslie felt some kind of distance in her voice, an unpleasant one. Her heart sank in her chest once again.
“Sophie! Leave the poor girl alone, for Christ’s sake and let’s go! We’re running late!” She heard her father yell from the distance. Probably standing at the doorway with his hand on his hip, tapping his foot to the beat of his impatient heart, while her mother would be barefoot on the bed calling her daughter with half her nails done. Funny, though, how he’d be the one to call out the Christ’s name, she thought.
“Alright, Leslie, I’ve got to leave now, cos your father is being very impatient and rude.” She really emphasized that last word. “I love you, okay? Remember that. And call me on my cell if you need anything. I love love love love love–” She was cut off by her husband again, but Leslie couldn’t make out what he said this time; probably just some angry dad growls. No matter the distance, Leslie could see that oh-you’re-so-gonna-regret-that-Nicolas frown on her mom’s forehead and it brought a smile on her face.
“I love y–” Her mother hung up. “–ou…” she sighed. “Hate it when she does that.” She lied on her back with a frown on her face and the mirror revealed a sweet truth that eased her mind: she looked just like her mom.
Leslie never liked mirrors, it only reminded her of the parts of her that she was hiding; she hated seeing the thin line separating her face from her social mask. She was fine with faking all day long even if it probably killed her faster than if she would have been true to the world. But she just couldn’t stand facing the ugly of her world of pretense. That, and the usual teenage lack of confidence of course.
But lately she had been feeling quite pretty actually, and it felt great. She was more true to herself and to others, which she thought was why her face looked better; the mask had fallen off and the peeling had given her back her fair complexion. She looked young and alive again. And right now, looking at her reflection on that creepy ceiling mirror above her parent’s bed, she realized how she was becoming a woman. She looked so much more like her mother. And that frown… “That’ll come in handy!” She joked.
She could see her brother’s reflection in the mirror so she didn’t have to move to check on him every minute. And this bed was so comfy. She closed her eyes and let herself sink into the sheets while holding her breath; it seemed she could have sunk further and further deep into the mattress without ever returning. She felt as if her body had disappeared beyond the horizon of the bed sheets and drowning never appeared less scary. She felt at peace, almost as if on cloud nine; so relaxed for once. And she fell, deeper and deeper; losing ground and giving herself over to this intense bliss. The world exploded but she could barely hear the sounds as the heavy waters filled her body and drew her away from her misery. And she sank further and further and further and further…
Her brows, like a life-belt, dragged her out of her free diving when Mr. Harry’s wife popped that frown right back on her forehead. She was yelling and quite loud for it to be heard from inside Leslie’s house. She opened her eyes and gritted her teeth. “Really?” she said with frustration stabbing her throat. Mrs. Jane was quite the quiet neighbor but she sometimes got really jealous, screaming like a siren. Leslie always assumed she had some serious self-confidence issues because Mr. Harry was at least ten years younger than her; how sad. Poor Mr. Harry though. He was probably getting yelled at for helping her out earlier, she thought.
“I hope they don’t wake lil’ Mitch up…” She grabbed her phone to see at what outrageous time that old lady had decided to wake the whole neighborhood up but only to realize quite the log she had become. “Two P.M….” she said with a bitter face; her new sleeping schedule had definitely wrecked her body clock. “What a waste! Mr. Harry’s such the handsomest man ever!” She lied back down so she could see if Mitch was fine in the mirror. “Pretty sure that’s not even a word. But whatever… I’m so tired.”
She heard a door open then be slammed shut; and angry footsteps followed. She played the movie in her head of Jane going all “Alright? Just, you know what? Fine!”, slamming that door as angrily as she could and walking down the street with tears streaming on her not-so-ugly-after-all face. She had seen it all happen three or four times while painting in the garden; it was rather funny to watch, she couldn’t lie. She sighed. “Back to our deadly silence. Me likey.”
She kept staring at hers and her brother’s reflections and didn’t even notice the weight of her lids being lifted away by sleep.
– I wake up, facing that huge mirror. What I see is proof that I’m asleep. It isn’t my reflection in the mirror. It is rather that cartoon character I dreaded as a kid. An overtired sandman in his pajamas. He’s floating where I should be in that glass surface. He’s staring at me. I’m not afraid. Just a bit shocked. I smile and wave at him. He waves back. He doesn’t look so scary to me anymore. It seems we’ve made our peace. His mouth moves in slow-mo. It feels like he’s trying to tell me something. But there’s no sound coming out. He seems scared. I’m not.
I get out of bed and walk towards my brother’s crib. I stare at him – for a while. I spend at least fifteen minutes standing there like that. Then, I smile, but it feels cold inside. A dead smile. I smile and leave the room. I slowly walk down the stairs. I head out, straight to the basement…
My heartbeat increases as I make my way to the basement door. I don’t want to go in the basement! I can’t help but walk. I open the door with one hand, it weights nothing. I take the stairs down. And, there, I see it: the body of my neighbor, all torn.
He is like an open book. A book written for my eyes and mine only. I can see every little thing that once formed the man I knew. I can see every part of him. He looks like the distant cousin of my science books’ “Muscle Man”. Except he gives more insight to the human engine. His bones are visible as the muscles have been put on the sides. There are pieces of flesh scattered all around each bone. And it’s all soaking in the bitter juice of his organs which seem to have been ripped open one by one.
Again, I stand still staring at whatever has Mr. Harry become for a good fifteen minutes. Inside of me, nothing is happening. I am not disgusted, scared, nor panicked; I am just simply standing there – like a rotten tree.
Then, I get out of the basement only to find my neighbor’s wife knocking at my front-door. She greets me and tells me her concern about her husband. “He left this morning,” she says, “to help you out. He’s not come back home yet. I’m starting to worry. Did he tell you something?” I am listening, but not exactly. There is this sort of veil making everything sound dull and far away. I am like a simple spectator. I don’t control anything; I just watch. “Leslie, did he happen to tell you where he was headed? This is important, please, focus!” Who does she think she is to speak to me like this?
The face of the woman is so ugly. She wants to cry– I can feel it. It looks like her eyeballs could easily slip off her skull if a single tear was to be shed. I talk to her in a – fake – tender impulse. “Oh, don’t you worry, ma’am, he cleaned my window this morning, because a pigeon collided with it”, I say, with the hollowest voice I’ve ever heard. “To thank him, I made him have lunch with me.” What? This isn’t true! What the hell am I saying? “Don’t look that lost, ma’am. He spent the whole afternoon here. Something needed to be fixed in the basement and he gently offered me his help. I couldn’t refuse.”
What the fuck? I know it is not the truth, but I can’t help it… These intentions are not mine; can’t be. I feel something boiling in my heart. Maybe it’s just one of those first-person dreams where I’m in someone else’s shoes? But it can’t be, she said my name… But it’s just a dream so it doesn’t really matter anyway. This lie is part of the fiction. Mr. Harry’s not dead. I feel I’m gaining control over my dream now!
I step forward. “I’m…” I still can’t tell the truth. It just won’t come out of my mouth. All I can say is a faint “I’m sorry” but, the woman is no longer listening to me. She is mumbling whatever horrible things about him. I overhear some words. Basically, it is just a jealous rant about how he’d rather help me out than garden with her. In the same outburst of madness – no, it smells more like rage this time; she heads to the basement. I lift my hands in hopes of catching her wrist and stopping her but it doesn’t work. My body stays still. And my heartbeat increases.
I look around as if looking for witnesses. I see no one. I then proceed walking in the same direction as her. My heart is racing. I think I’m scared. But then I realize I’m not at all. I’m excited; galvanized. My God-soaked engine is pumping excitement through my veins. I feel like a kid walking to the living-room with that intense urge to open my presents on X-mas day. Was that what happened to Mr. Harry? Did I eagerly open him like a present? I sense a grin slowly grow on my lips.
I reach the opened basement door and then, in a blink of an eye, we are there. I am standing right behind the fifty-three-year-old woman’s back, a shovel in my hands. I knock her down with it; abruptly. I put her on her back so she will be facing me when she wakes up. I go to the back of the room and trade my shovel for hedge shears. There is so much going on in my head, so much thoughts. I seem to know so many things; so many details about her and about… So many things. I’m lost and have no control over what I’m doing.
“Harry…” I hear Jane mumble. I turn around sharply. She is awakening; in a daze and weak. I walk fast to her while she’s still lying on the ground. I’ve got to be quick. She opens her mouth, ready to call for help but I don’t give her the chance to utter a single vowel. I violently shove the hedge shears that I was holding tight in her throat. “Try and scream, now!” I think to myself.
Then, I take the meat knife that was in my back pocket – how did it get there? – and let the Christmas spirit work his magic. Beginning from the bottom of her rib-cage, I open that second present. The helplessness in her eyes is disgusting. And she is staring at me with those all along my labor. I can feel her pain and I – I like it?
This is the weirdest dream ever but it feels so good. I’m having so much fun. My mind is boiling with sheer pleasure. I stop and stare as the life leaves her bulging eyes. I sense a tear roll down my cheek. “Can I still claim my humanity back after that?” I think as the sponge inside my brain sucks all the pain of her dying body and fills me with guilt. “No time for tears, Leslie.” I say and then get back to my work.
When I am done, I take the hedge shears off of her dry throat. Then again, I stand still and I stare at my latest work of art. I feel something inside. It is just like when I looked at the face of my little brother for the first time… But even stronger of a pride. I feel like a mother looking at her newborn child. I feel strong. I feel powerful.
Some vicious pity fills my lungs as I am looking at the butchered body of what was once a friendly, though hypocrite, middle-aged lady, who despised me in spite of all her displayed kindness. “What are your words worth now?”, I thought. Somehow, she looked younger, laying there, with an open heart and an open everything else. I let my knife fall to the floor, then turn around and stare at a bucket that is in a corner of the basement. Then, I walk towards it and I–
She opened her eyes, lying on her parents’ bed, like glued to it. She could hardly breathe. In the mirror above her, her eyes were red. Not bloodshot; it looked more like there were flames dancing in her skull and she had no eyeballs left. “What…?…No, what’s happening?” She couldn’t move, she was pinned to the bed and had no choice but to watch the horror in the mirror.
It was shifting now, the reflection; her eyes were slowly draining out the devilish color, leaving them white and empty. The flames were melting like jelly beans and dripping down her cheeks; it smelled like burning candle wax and it hurt. She closed her eyes as tight as she could, hoping that she would wake up when she’d open them again.
“Is that it?”, she asked with a shaky voice while slowly opening her eyes. She screamed at the sight of the abyss replacing her eyes. There were just two gaping holes, as dark as the sky that holds the moon at night; her eyes were gone.
She blinked again, striving against that fear that was taking over her and making her reconsider whether she was dreaming or not. A sigh of relief. “Back to normal. My green eyes. My beautiful green eyes, how I love you.” She whispered. She sat with her knees pressed against her skin. “That’s it, I’m awake”. She smiled.
Thanks for your time, I hope you’re enjoying the story (if you’ve read this far I guess you kinda do! 😉 ). Chapter V is here !!