Pillow Fort Part 3

Monsterous Memories Short Story Series

Story 1 Part 3

Nel`s mother did not return home that day. Most days she remained out and about doing who knows what. Nel spent her day cleaning the tiny space that could never be fully clean while her father slumbered away. Like most residents of the apartments neither leave their house for anything more than a quick trip outside for some unavoidable reason, in this case smoke from the stove chased them out. Despite all of Nel`s scrubbing and dusting the layer of grey remains and the scent of cigarettes and alcohol linger in the apartment like the complex`s own, natural scent.

Nel`s father leaves late that night. It took him hours more than usual to search the apartment in its barest respect of the word to ensure the safety of his only child. Has he not spent most of the time drinking the last of his stash of liquor or simply turning in circles to pretend to scope out the apartment he may have left closer to his normal time. Nel smashes her face against the window which smells heavily of Windex still to watch her father stroll down the street. In the sallow light of the streetlamps he appears more of a stranger passing through in his scrubs. A dental assistant in a very small practice does not make enough to pay for her parent`s habits and their bills. Due to her father`s late departure she is not invited upstairs for dinner again and pulls out her bed with a growling stomach.

The blinds are in ruins, dust streaked slips of plastic bent, torn, or caught, and the curtains rest in the dirty clothes allowing yellow light to seep into the room. The hideous glow stretches across the floor to brush against the edge of the bed as Nel finishes making up her place to slumber. The apartment is clear and has not been left unattended and unlocked. The real monsters that lurk the late night streets have had no chance to enter. For once Nel heads the short distance to the door and locks the deadbolt with a reassuring, metallic click. She turns to face the yellow and grey apartment before her.

Shadows rest in pools thinned by the deep yellow light and a lot of the clutter sits in organized piles though most are ready to burst. The empty, hollow feeling echoes in the frameless walls and pictureless tables, but comfort comes in the form of crying and shouting in other rooms throughout the complex. The night is not as still as the last and the thrum of light, as weak and unpleasant as it may be, shivers through the building. Nel`s gaze snags upon the stables still glittering in silver bends upon the floor where carpet still lay, but is slowly tear away.

The soft clap of Nel`s bare feet hitting the floor is accompanied by the sharp shatter of glass alerting Nel to the fact her next door neighbors are finally home. All the ruckus they make only adds to the ease and comfort. Nel crawls onto the creaky old bed, springs digging deep into her side, and collapses upon the thin pillow and scratchy blanket. The fighting of her neighbor`s works as a lullaby to lull her into a deep sleep that chases out the discomfort from her previous night spent curled up on the floor.

A loud clatter reverberates between the tight apartment walls. The echoing sound jolts Nel from the depths of her peaceful slumber. The female`s spine becomes rigid as she quickly tosses in the bed to look at the source. The loud groan beats between the walls and rings in Nel`s ears causing her to pull into herself against the commotion. Silence ensues as a plastic cup rolls off the tile of the kitchen until the carpeted floor of the dining room halts its motion. The yellow plastic stares back at Nel mockingly from the shadows.

A new layer of darkness befalls the room. The light returns for only a moment before dying out once more snuffing out the remaining fragments of yellow comfort gliding into the room. Heavy shadows swirl and twist, rapidly flooding their newest play area. Only minute streaks of glow from more distant lights break the darkness in creaks. Thick clouds drift over the moon and stars in tendrilly twists that take all of the silver glow. Nel`s eyes grow increasingly wide as she attempts to find some shape piercing the darkness rather than the undistinguishable blobs of large forms throughout her line of vision. In her desperate scanning a silver twinkle shimmers momentarily in the far corner then a sharp buzz claws through the walls before the remaining lights pop off making the staples invisible once more.

Nel sits in a pool of fabric as her heart thuds with increasing intensity against her chest. The twists of cloth constrict against her skin digging deep into her soft flesh and restraining her body heat to gradually bake her. Cool sweat already starts to bead upon her skin as the darkness encroaches. She keeps her movement sluggish as her eyes wander around the fuzzy blurs and large, dark shapes. Nothing is distinguishable. Her alarm escalates when a flicker of movement draws her attention.

Honey colored eyes dulled by dreary conditions and fear find a long coil of cloth that seems to slither in the darkness to the world beneath her bed. Momentarily Nel`s heart stops then starts once more with a bubble of light laughter. The twinkle of a sound is a wave of joy in the dreary apartment complex that no one else but the young female gets to enjoy. The source of her terror is a measly little blanket that she surely knocked off the bed herself partially in her sleep then more in her panic.

The ripple of peace melds with a soft chortle of noise high in pitch and bubbly in nature. The disembodied sound forms tangles around the room weaving in and out of every doorway. It makes hiccupping squeaks that disrupt the rumble of a sound on the occasion, growing in frequency and volume. Nel`s only giggles are stifled by the sudden and unexpected noise. Her throat constricts and her eyes bulge from her head. The sound dies shortly after Nel`s laughter fades and is replaced with a soft, steady clicking like a metronome swaying in the darkness and ticking off counts. Click, one, click, two, click, three, click, four. The duration and pause between each click screams in the back of Nel`s mind with a daunting swell of possibilities over coming her.

The coils bunch beneath her hands, screeching against the clicks as Nel launches herself off the old bed. She leaps over the floor landing with an unsteady thud. She grips to the wall separating the kitchen from the living room for only a minute feeling an ooze of slim gush down the wall before she darts down the hall. The shadows are heavier in the narrow space blinding her completely to her surroundings. She fiddles with the door to her parents` room, the knob ringing with mocking laughter as it refuses to turn. Her chest heaves with the force she puts in achieving a single, worthwhile breath, but the air barely brushes her lungs before it is once more forced free.

Nel whips her head from side to side, but the unrelenting darkness refuses to reveal another escape route. Head spinning and body on fire with the adrenaline pumping through her the girl dives towards the closet. The door yanks free with ease, thumping softly against itself. She nestles herself between bunches of clothes on top of piles of ratty shoes all smelling utterly foul. The pungent air drifts into her nose and mouth growing worse as she pulls the door shut. Trembling with the force of a personal earthquake her arms presses the door against the wall to hold it shut tight. Sleep evades her for many hours as she holds that position, but eventually she falls to the world of slumber when remaining conscious is far beyond her control.

Morning crashes into the apartment through a hazy of smog. The yellow light trails along the dim grey mist that chokes the air, laying heavy upon the Apopto. The inhabitants remain locked behind their doors lingering in the world of slumber in hopes of missing the mixture of pollutants ghosting through the mostly ghost town. A warmth seeps over Nel replacing the chill she departed consciousness in. Her bed of shoes is stiff upon her back and their stench clings to her body like an undesirable perfume. She rolls along the lumpy resting place to feel fabric shift along her skin. A blanket. The soft knitting pale pastels resting over her is like none of the other blankets in the house and rang with the faint blur of a memory.

Nel took her time folding the cloth into neat squares before tucking it upon the top closet shelf. A milky light slips through the blinds and into the apartment tracing gently across the hall walls. She follows the glow to the living room where she hears the coils of her bed curl and whine once more. Assuming that either her mother or father has returned the girl rounds the corner with eager hope at receiving at least a minimal brush of comfort.

Rounding the corner, the young female is met with an entirely different sight. Resting in the middle of the sofa bed is the miniscule resemblance of some creature. It is a purple lump of a shape with blue polka-dots and tufts of stuffing popping out along the seams. The toy seems once to have resembled a cat or rabbit. It has two long blanket like, grey ears that disappear into its back only to come out in a twisted tail. Fragments of broken colored pencils create a rainbow of claws jutting from bottom and top paws, visible clearly as it rests in an upright position. One eye is big and glassy with a yellow pupil and red lines darting across the edge as if bloodshot, while the other is a little blue button like those upon Nel`s favorite nightgown when she was very little.

Nel is frozen by the sight. After her eyelids flutter a few times she settles down believing the thing to simply be a hideous toy, that is until the creature smiles. Crooked baby teeth dangle in its jaw. Some are hooked and jagged like those of a kitten or puppy, but most are those of a young human child. The creature dashes under Nel`s bed and slips away in the shadows. The girl runs over crashing to the floor and falling to her knees. She jerks up the blanket hanging over the side of the bed, but all that hides in the grey world beneath her bed is a blanket and a few pillows set up to make a tiny pillow fort.

 

Nel`s mother drifts into the house around noon. The smog has been swept away in a gale that rattles surrounding, weaker buildings. Gusts of the chill creep into the drafty apartment wrapping around the willowy woman. Even under a heavy daze she notices the bed still pulled out in the middle of her living room. Kneeling down and peaking beneath the blanketed entrance she finds her daughter fast asleep, clinging to a pillow with a single jagged scratch running along her right collarbone.