I’m standing at my cash register counting change to balance my drawer. You walk up, a smirk on your old face. Hands shoved in the pockets of your worn out carpenter jeans. A toothpick hanging out of the corner of your mouth. I glance up for a moment and give my customer service smile. Back down I shift my eyes to the money I’m counting. Suddenly you start saying numbers.
“15, 2, 23, 67,9,13.” and you grin, clearly amused with yourself.
I haven’t lost count, you aren’t the first person to think it would be hilarious to shout random numbers at someone who is counting. But now I find myself focusing less on the change in my hand; now with each number I’m counting the number of your bones I’d love to snap. With the thought of each number I hear a satisfying crack in my head and I imagine your scream. It feels so good. It would feel so good.
Unfortunately I must come back to reality. Put on my customer service face and fake amusement at your idiotic joke.
Here I sit with my dogs at my feet. My knees pulled up to my chest and my arms wrapped tightly around them. I’m in the basement and I’m home alone. Just my two little schnauzers and me all alone in the basement. We are alone, well we are the only living ones in the house at least. I can see the dogs looking up at the ceiling, the floor above us. I can’t get myself to look up. I can hear them. I can hear them running across the floor above me. Back and forth, over and over. I just wish they would stop. I want to go back upstairs but I can’t. I don’t know who is up there but it isn’t my family. I’m alone in this house.
Five times. This car has been past my house five times today. I’ve counted. I knew the first time it drove by that something wasn’t right, so I counted. I’ve counted five times. I’m waiting by my window looking through the blinds because I know it will be back and I can’t miss it. I’ve written all of it’s info down so the cops know where to look whenever who ever is driving finally comes for me. I need to put this somewhere they will find it but whoever is coming for me won’t. I need to put it somewhere but I can’t leave my post. I need to see them coming. So for now I’m holding it tight. I’m trying not to sweat too much. They have to be able to read it when I’m gone.
Does the driver expect me not to notice? Of course I’ve noticed. I’ll wait because they will be back. I won’t move from this spot because I cannot miss it. Don’t let your guard down. When your guard is down you are vulnerable. That’s when the person driving will get me. They know that and I know that. Maybe it’s not just one person. Maybe there are two people and they are after me. I don’t know what I did but I know they are after me. That’s why they keep driving past. They are trying to wear me down. They won’t. I will keep watching and I will see them coming. I will be ready.
There is a wee little cat that does quite unpleasant work. For when you make a deal with the devil he will send someone to collect. The someone that collects isn’t a person like you might assume. The someone has four tiny paws and a fluffy tail. The devil’s minions are less terrifying with a sweet little meow. What happens when the cat comes to collect? Well that I can’t tell you. Cat’s have excellent hearing and we wouldn’t want it to over hear. In fact, we have talked too much already. Be careful and watch for shadows slinking around corners. There might be a pair of yellow eyes on you while you sleep. Be careful who you talk to in your dreams, the devil never makes deals in his true form. The only way to know it’s him is the tiny cat with piercing yellow eyes at his feet.
The first time I saw it I hoped it would be the only time…it wasn’t. I would continue to see it, in many forms, over the next several years.
The first time I was young, only about eleven. We lived in the middle of no where in a house my parents built. I liked to sit on the porch swing and watch the wood line disappear into an inky darkness as the sun set.
This evening was different. There was a strange smell. I had smelled it before but it was never this strong. It filled my nostrils and rushed its way up into my head. The smell made me dizzy and nauseous…that thick, dense smell of blood.
My eyes had started to water and I pawed at my nose, trying to get the smell out. The smell was inside me now. Blood that had been pooling around a decaying animal carcass, that was the smell. I could taste it and my throat burned…then I saw it and the smell made sense.
It was standing at the wood line in the fading light.
Arched shoulders with arms that ended in long fingers grazing the earth. A body covered in thin spikes that reflected the waning sunlight. It didn’t have eyes but it was staring at me. Staring at me and breathing heavily. I could see it’s chest rise and fall with each deep inhale and exhale as it took in deeply the smell of death. It shivered with each inhale, as if each breath was more painful than the last. With each shiver small droplets sprinkled onto the ground around it’s feet. Dark droplets that spread when they hit the grass.
My head was spinning. I might fall off of the swing. My eyes were watering but I squinted hard and tried not to close them. I was terrified what might happen if I closed my eyes. What was it waiting for? Why was it just standing there? Just breathing and staring…at me.
I couldn’t stand it anymore and my eyes closed involuntarily. Terror wrapped around my soul. Where would it be the second I opened my eyes? I’ll keep my eyes closed, it must just be my imagination. These things don’t exist, right? This thing can’t be real, right? It can’t hurt me…right?
It was gone when my eyes opened. I coughed violently for several minutes and the smell of death left my body. Soon I would learn that these things do exist, they are very real, and they can hurt me.
I wonder…what do I sound like? What does my voice sound like as I speak to you through writing. Do you even hear a voice at all while you read my thoughts? Do you hear your own voice echoing these words in your mind?
Maybe my voice is taken from someone you know. Hopefully someone that you like or admire even.
Possibly my voice is completely new to you. One that your vast imagination has created to fill the gaps.
Could my voice be a combination of all the voices you’ve enjoyed hearing throughout your life. I suppose it could also be a conglomeration of voices you’ve hated.
Is my voice pleasing? Does it make you smile that little smile that you want no one to see as you stare at your screen? Does it make your blood feel warm and your mind feel safe?
Or do you dislike my voice? Does it make the tiny hairs on the back of your neck curl and crawl? Does it give you an itch deep into your bones that you can’t reach? Does it make your ears ring with a low, constant buzz?
I guess I’ll never know what I sound like to you as I speak silently from the darkest, most twisted depths of my mind. For you, my friend are my confidant. I know I can tell you anything and you will not judge me. No. You wouldn’t judge me because you, my darling, you understand me. Maybe…just maybe you are me. We are one as our voices intertwine. Which voice is you and which voice is me? Oh, my dearest. My voice was always yours and yours was always mine. We are one, you and I, and I am so pleased to not be alone. We, my angel…we are just me.
Sometimes I can still hear it’s voice. As clearly as when I was there, when I lived in that house. I know it’s just a memory now. I’ve never heard anything like it since.
Thinking about the voice makes my spine stiffen. It makes me dizzy. I can’t remember what it would say. I don’t know if that even mattered. The room would spin and it looked like there were sequins floating just beyond my eyes. It was like my mind could only process the voices and had to shut off everything else.
It was so many voices.
So many voices all at once.
The all sound like they are coming from different directions, from different distances. Some are louder and some of them I can hardly hear.
But they are all at once. I don’t think they all are speaking English but I can’t really tell. They all speak as one but with echoes upon echoes upon echoes.
You don’t hear this voice with your ears. Not like you hear other sounds. These voices seem to come from behind your ear. That hard bump right behind your ear…it’s feels like bone. At the very bottom of that, right behind your earlobe. That’s where you hear it. That’s how you know the voice isn’t coming from someone alive. It probably isn’t even coming from something human.
I know there’s something at the foot of my bed. Each night I know it’s there. I can’t see it, I don’t need to see it. I can feel it. I can feel the corner of the bed pushed down by it’s weight. It’s just there. All night. Lingering in the dark. Watching me. I have my head buried in my blankets. It’s so hot, I can hardly breathe, I’m so sick of the smell of my own breath, I just want fresh air. I don’t want to see it. Every night it sits there. And every night I burrow into my bed wishing I could sink lower. Down into the mattress and away from it…the thing that sits on the corner of my bed. Every. Single. Night.
On more than one occasion did myself and my brother see a man, dressed in very old clothing, run down the stairs into the basement and disappear. He never cast a shadow, never made a sound, and had no reflection in the window above the staircase. We never saw him anywhere but running down those steps into the basement.
There is a possum that sits on my husband’s chest at night. I can reach over and touch it. I can feel it’s coarse fur and sharp teeth. It looks at me and smiles, sinking lower into his chest. It isn’t real. It isn’t there. And yet I see it’s eyes shine. It isn’t real. It isn’t there.
It isn’t real.
It isn’t there.
Close your eyes.
It isn’t real.
Close your eyes.
It isn’t there.
Close your eyes.
Breathe slower. In. Out. In. Out. In…it’s still there. Staring at me.
Smiling at me.
Once upon a time there was a clever witch. This clever witch had come of age and was preparing to sign her name in the coven’s grimoire. In doing so she signed her soul away to the dark lord in exchange for the gifts of a witch. This clever little witch wasn’t sure if she was quite ready for a such a commitment and she devised a very clever solution. She would sign her name in goat’s blood and claim it as her own. When the dark lord came to claim her soul his claim would be void and he would instead claim the goat. Such a clever idea from such a clever witch.
The special night came and the clever little witch signed her name in the goat’s blood. Her coven was none the wiser. Her plan had worked and she silently applauded her own wit and cunning.
The dark lord is not to be tricked. The dark lord is not to be tricked by a clever little witch.
A lunar cycle passed and the clever little witch enjoyed her new gifted power from her dark lord. As the next full moon approached the clever little witch began to experience pain in her soft little feet.
The full moon grew closer and closer and with each night the clever little witch’s feet swelled more and more. Her scalp began to itch and ache. Her lovely little hands burned with pain. Her spine began to curve and hunch her pretty little frame over. Each night it was harder for the clever little witch to straighten her back and move her fingers and toes.
The full moon appeared high in the sky. The coven gathered in the grove to soak in the moon’s light and power. The clever little witch; now bent onto all fours, unable to move her toes and fingers, with a bursting pain in her scalp, let out one long, sad scream. The long, sad scream of the clever little witch turned into a bleat. Her sisters screeched in confusion as their clever little witch writhed and twisted. A goat. The clever little witch was no more. Now a clever little goat took her place in the coven’s circle.
The dark lord will not be tricked. The dark lord will not be tricked by even the cleverest of little witches.
They walk into the movie theater. He is so excited to go out for once with her, usually she is such a homebody. She prefers to stay at home, something he just doesn’t understand. She turns heads. All attention is on her when she enters a room. It doesn’t surprise him, she is so beautiful. He smiles proudly as they buy their popcorn and take their seats. She is so statuesque. He wonders how she can always look so perfect and poised. The movie ends and he helps her into the car like the gentleman he is. The people at the theater are left to wonder about the man with the doll that he calls his wife.
The old woman smiled that sweet, warm smile. The one that made me feel warm and safe.
She said “I’d catch a little mouse and one by one I would cut off it’s tiny toes with my dull pocket knife. When it’s screaming started to irritate me…I’d snap it’s furry neck with just a quick flick.” She chuckled softly.
“Now a days they’d lock you up for doing things like that.” she whispered.
I sleep on the floor at the foot of my bed. I can’t sleep in my bed anymore. My bed just vibrates all night long. It shakes and shakes and shakes and never lets me sleep. I just want to sleep. In the morning my body is so stiff I can hardly move but I can’t sleep on the bed. So, here I am sleeping on the floor listening to the faint vibrating of my bed. I don’t think I’ll ever sleep again.
We were driving home from a small craft show, just my mom and I. It was getting late and the road was winding. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep. Suddenly my spine turned to ice and I felt sick. The overwhelming feeling of confusion dominated my mind. I opened my eyes and there was a man. Standing alongside the road, blood splattered everywhere. He was looking down at the road and looked so confused. As we drove by he didn’t flinch. He just stared down at the road, so lost and confused.
My mom said, in almost a whisper, “he was dead wasn’t he?”.