First chapter: here
Previous chapter: here
It was 11:30 in the night. Everyone was asleep; all but one.
Leslie was roaming the house. She had been for the past hour and a half, rummaging through cupboards, drawers and moving furniture around like she was looking for something. Nicolas came to her, moments before, angrily begging for a peaceful night. But all she did was groan at him. Admitting defeat, he went back to bed, back to his wife, and they resigned themselves to sleeping with earplugs.
She kept pacing up and down until something stopped her in her tracks. Leslie stood still, two feet away from the fireplace, on top of which was a golden picture frame. It was a family portrait; a fresh memory.
Three days before, Leslie and her family had gone to the big shopping center in the city, looking for some new colors for Leslie & Sophie’s palettes.
On their way to the art supplies shop, Sophie had spotted a photography stand. There, a charming middle-aged man stood, looking very pleased with his hand painted “nature background”. His face lit up as they approached him and, as much as they all tried to fight it, he talked them into having their picture taken. In less time than it took for him to say “That’ll be fifty.”, they were all sitting on the bench and actually having a good time.
The picture wasn’t so good; he didn’t manage to center everyone properly. Nicolas’ fingers were cut off as he extended his right arm to the side in a dramatic gesture. Sophie’s dress appeared blue,even though it was a bright yellow that day. And everyone’s shoes were cut off. It appeared, also, that the quality of the paper wasn’t as high as he had bragged, for the corners had already began fading when they got home. And it hadn’t stopped; slowly eating away at her father’s arms, her mother’s hair and Leslie’s fingers, tightly clasped on the armrest of the bench.
But they all looked so happy and relieved to be together as one again; wasn’t it worth the fifty bucks? No…
Leslie tried to remember her mother’s face when she heard the man say the price or her father’s laughter; it was all in vain. Those memories were fading, also; just like the pictures; just like reality…
Her restless pacing started again, this time with a clearer purpose. She closed all the blinds as she wandered through the house, trapping it in cold shadows. There was no moon outside that night; the world was made out of complete darkness, in and out. In and out…
Sophie and Nicolas were in bed, sound asleep. Twenty minutes had passed since they had been startled awake by Leslie’s late night lunacy. It didn’t take them long to sink back into their respective dreams.
Although the two lovers had started out in a warm embrace, their hearts almost touching, they had eventually drifted away from each other, as their minds melted together in a deep dream-reality. Synchronised breathing; symmetrical positions; they were never closer than when they were far apart.
Both bore wide smiles on their faces as they dreamt of each other. Sadly, with the earplugs on, they were trapped in that happy place, unable to help themselves, unaware of the shadows hunting for their smiles. They couldn’t notice the subtle sounds echoing in their quiet room; small clicks, small shifts in the air.
They couldn’t hear Leslie twisting the door knob and entering their room.
They couldn’t hear Mitch tossing and turning.
They couldn’t hear as, what they would soon painfully discover wasn’t strictly their daughter anymore, approached their bed; their tomb.
Something was burning inside of Leslie. An overpowering fire that was dissolving her muscles, breaking her bones; devouring her. She had lost all control over that bag of meat of hers. It wasn’t even possible for her to retreat in a quiet place in her mind like she had been taught to do when faced with darkness. There was no escaping, no more running away. This time, she had to face it all and there was nothing she could do.
She cried as her body climbed on her parents’ bed and kneeled over her father’s body. The peacefulness on his face filled her veins with rage. And with that maddening fire inside, she grabbed Nicolas’ throat. Father…
He woke up with a start to the scaly touch of her fingers. “God…”, was all he managed to whisper, with a faint gasp and a tasty look of terror in his eyes. Leslie pinned him down, using that strength that was not hers. Funny, though, how he’d be the one to call out the Christ’s name. He tried fighting back, but it was no use. She couldn’t fight it either. They both were powerless and losing hope for the end to come quick. Her hands squeezed tighter and tighter. The grin on her mouth was monstrous.
In his weak struggle, Nicolas’ left hand brushed against Sophie’s back. Albeit slowly, her body instantly reacted to her lover’s touch and she turned around. She opened her eyes and gasped when she saw her daughter there.
Using her elbows, she straightened herself up. “Leslie?” She was a little drowsy. But, it only took her a couple of seconds to put the pieces together and realize what was happening.
Before she could even protest, she felt her body hit the mattress, bruising her spine as it was stretched to parallel the bed. Leslie stared her down. Without even touching her, she had Sophie pinned to the bed. She couldn’t move away. You like to watch? Leslie laughed as her fingers were sinking into her father’s skin.
“Do you like that, mother?“, she said, her voice like an out of tune cello.
She wanted to feel sorry for herself, for her mother; to feel the horror and let the emotions take over her. But she couldn’t. All she could think of was the blood in which she was dipping her fingers. All she could take in was the terror on her mother’s face and the pain in her father’s dying eyes. She rejoiced.
“Oh my God, my baby girl… What have we done to you…” Sophie cried. She was ugly.
Leslie smiled at her as she ripped out her husband’s throat. Sadly, Sophie couldn’t scream. She was petrified by fear, or maybe was it something else. And all her whispers were in vain. Nothing could stop them anymore; it was all too late.
“God! No… Nicolas, my–” For the last time, he interrupted her as his open neck squirted out blood into her eyes.
Sophie choked on her own inaudible screams.
Leslie put one finger on her mother’s dry lips, shutting down her useless attempts at expressing anything. “Tell her the truth.“, she spoke again with that voice that wasn’t hers. Sophie discovered new extends to her fear as it grew beyond what she thought possible.
She thought it might have ended there as her brain would have giving up under all the pressure. But they wouldn’t have let her off so easily.
Her finger still resting on her lips, Leslie spoke with Sophie’s voice.
“… the ghost of a sunken friendship…”
“She’s sick and broken…”
“I never wanted to be a mom.”
Sophie was filled with shame as she heard her own voice speaking those terrible thoughts. And the guilt struck her even harder when she realized that she really meant them all.
“No more broken children.”
“I don’t see my little girl anymore. Maybe I don’t love her, maybe I’m just scared of her. She’s a curse and I hate her.”
Leslie was still here. In the back of her own mind; only more useful than she had ever been. She wanted to feel the pain as each of her mother’s words resonated in her chest. But she couldn’t. Her tears dried as soon as they reached her eyes. Nothing was hers anymore.
Sophie couldn’t bear any more of it and attempted to retreat in her own head.
She imagined a better reality, where they would look at the security footage and what they would see be nor dark, nor bloody. It would be colorful, loud; happy!
The video would show Nicolas with his throat sewed back on and his hand in hers. He would smile at her and she would smile back. He would wrap an arm around her waist, his lips pressing against hers, and he would never let go.
You would see Mitch, sitting on the mat, building small towers out of wooden cubes with his big sister, Leslie. They would giggle as it would fall apart. And they would keep building it, over and over, always aiming for a humongous tower because they loved to dream.
You would see a smile on Leslie’s face and a familiar light in her eyes. And she would sing a happy song and fill the room with that familiar warmth. They would all join in, even Mitch, and sing together into the day.
She tried imagining a better reality, where you would look at the security footage and see anything but this.
But, running from reality wasn’t an option anymore that night, for it had come tearing down their walls and it wouldn’t let them get away with denial anymore.
This was the night where all had to be stripped of their masks. The curtain fall. The book’s last five pages. It was the night they would all stop running, as a family, and face their real state of decay.
Sophie’s eyes were filled with emotions. Too many of them to tell one from the other. Leslie gouged them out using her thumbs while the rest of her fingers pierced through her mother’s skin.
Then, she let her hands run down to her throat, following the faint stream of blood tears. She didn’t squeeze it this time. At all. There were no more patience left for teasing; it had to be straight to the point.
She ripped out the filthy gear that once spread out lies in bulge. Blood squirt out. She licked her lips to taste it as it painted her face a hopeless red, mixing in with the salt from the few tears that had finally abandoned her eye sockets.
Leslie was scared or maybe she was excited. She couldn’t tell anymore. She wasn’t even sure if she hadn’t wanted her parents to die. Somehow, she had found herself longing for more blood alongside the entities owning her body. She wasn’t even aware that she was crying. She couldn’t feel it. But she could feel everything else.
The anger; the rage; the passion; the pleasure; the pain; the remorse; the sadness; the happiness; the relief; the guilt; the love…
She had lost track of which, out of the thousands of thoughts and desires flashing through her, were her own and which were theirs. She felt everything but there was an unsettling distance between her and what she recognized to be the “good” ones.
Leslie looked at her fists. They were relentlessly punching her parents’ bodies. She prayed they would stop. Nobody is listening. But they never did. They punched and punched. And then, they dug and dug. Her nails were filthy with bits of fabrics and flesh and whatnot. She didn’t want to think about it. She felt her body thrilled. This isn’t a dream… She couldn’t stop digging. Her hands kept at it until they reached the mattress.
She sat up.
She stared at her mother’s corpse. Then her father’s. There was nothing else but a void right where their hearts used to be. Where’s the difference?
She panicked for a brisk second when she felt her body falling backwards. But an immense relief took over when her back hit the mattress and she saw a familiar face in the ceiling mirror. Her face; only, it barely looked like her anymore. A faint warmth briefly pulsed through her heart as she realized she still had her mother’s frown, even through the cracks and the blood.
She watched as her hands caressed her lifeless mother’s legs. She smiled.
She was now completely surrendering to the entities, like her body had already, many hours ago. And she never felt so good. She allowed their darkness to coat her completely and she felt lightweight, almost as if she was floating with them. She looked up in the mirror, where those scaly arms and that sooty smog were surrounding her, like a broken aura.
In that moment, she was blissful.
When Leslie blinked, she was standing right next to Mitch’s crib.
She looked at him for a moment. She could’ve sworn she felt her heart react to his sparkly eyes. But she couldn’t tell anything anymore. She was like a painting on the back of her own mind.
Her little brother’s face was fading. Everything was. She knew what was coming; she knew it all along. But she didn’t care anymore.
She brushed her hand on his cheek, staining the pearly white of them with burgundy handprints. She cried as she whispered to him, “This is what a last time feels like…”
There was a sharp pain in her heart. She hit the floor.
The deafening silence was broken by Mitch’s laugh, echoing in the night.
As she lay motionless on the floor of her parents’ bedroom, Leslie’s body now bore the wounds of her soul. Her body already had its fair share of scars and bruises, self-inflicted for the most part, but carrying these entities inside of her had damaged it furthermore.
All that was left of her on that early Monday morning was her flesh envelope.
By dawn, her body would have progressively turned a sooty shade of black. And when the first rays of sunlight would hit the house, breaking the darkness that had been sealed by the night, Leslie would turn to ash as faint blue flames would devour her tarnished body. And there would be nothing left of her.
And, it would only be a matter of time before what was left of her, the incomplete versions of her in the friends that shared her life and every single soul that she ever touched, the incomplete portraits, worthless memories… It wouldn’t be long before it all faded out of reality.
2386 words! That was much shorter than I expected for an ending! But there just seemed to be nothing more to say at all.
Yeah, you read that right, it is the end. BUT, there is still one chapter left! Watch out for it! Coming at the end of this week!