Why doesn’t she care?
But it’s my birthday.
I’m so hungry, I can’t move. But if I called out, no one would come.
I cut myself. It hurt. And it didn’t solve anything. I need to do it again. Maybe it will be deeper, and it will accomplish something.
I’m so weak.
No one can see me out here. None but the trees and the sky. They look down on me, but they don’t judge.
Can’t trust anyone. That brings too much fear.
Why am I so alone?
I wish someone would be my friend, not because they wanted anything out of me.
Is everyone this way?
The river. Why won’t it flow? Why are the trees so sickly? Why don’t they care about the disease in their limbs? Don’t they know it would be better to die, than infect the others? Why don’t they care about them? Is this the way life is?
Why am I so alone? Is there really no one but me?
Does anyone really know me? Do I want them to? I would be better off dead.
But I can’t kill myself. I’m not strong enough. And plus, Mom say those that kill themselves go to hell. Would God really be so unfair to those in so much pain.
You’re not in so much pain that you can kill yourself. Maybe David can kill me. He will eventually. Why don’t you ask him to.
How come I’m so different from the other kids at school. How did they grow up? Did their parents love them?
If I can cut myself deep enough, this will all go away… all go away, like the falling autumn leaves. I’ll fall, turn brown and grey, and become one with the soil. Isn’t that eternity? Couldn’t it all be on this plane?
If God is real, why doesn’t he care? Is he cares, why doesn’t he do anything? I already asked him. Am I not good enough for him. Fiery rage flowed into my fingertips. F**k God!! He’s not good enough for me! None of them are. I would kill them all if I could get away with it. But I will never be able to.
Why don’t they get it over with and just kill me? Because they love you… That hurt. That hurt. I should kill them just for caring! How many times have you cared and done nothing? None! I’ve always done what I could! I put my life on the line! It happened more times than you realised. Inaction was fueled by fear, and weakness. What am I supposed to do in this body!!! I’m so weak… I’m so… hungry… One day, I’ll be strong, and I won’t run away! I’ll kill. Them. ALL!!! I cried out merely in my soul, but the birds still flew from the treetops. A wolf howled, chilling my blood and my bones. A wolf that would eventually try to eat me. I howled, putting all my rage and fear into it, and the very trees stilled. I could not die. I bit my cheek, the only blood I could taste.
Don’t go into the woods alone! We were so worried about you! Then why didn’t you look.
I tasted the hate, metallic on my tongue, for my father’s ineptitude. My mother cursed me. My brothers didn’t care. My sisters were nowhere to be found.
I closed my fingers around his throat, crushing his windpipe. I saw the light begin to leave his eyes. My father burst through the closet door, and tore me off him. I shoved him so hard from the fear shining through me, and he flipped over the bed. I ran. What happened? Like you would care except to damn me. I shoved past her too, and burst into the street. I didn’t get very far. My father found me. I was so hungry, living in that huge house. I hated it. I hated him. I hated myself. Why would I ever want to hurt Michael? He wasn’t the cause of this. Just a pawn in my mother’s game, turning us all against each other. My rage was just a symptom of my brothers wrath and masochism. I wanted to kill myself more than I could ever remember, but my life force was strong. Stronger than it had any right to be. So strong I hated it.
Another baby tooth fell out. Just another step closer to damnation. Immortality would only come after. My parents had forgotten about me, just like I wanted them to. Now God had forgotten about me as well. It seemed everyone had, except for their scorn.
God, if you’re real, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every sin, even if I can’t remember them all. I’m not testing you God, but I need to know, if you’re real. Mom told me that you hear all children’s prayers. So, if you’re real, make the wind blow. It was a calm day, a day almost without breeze. I waited, and waited, looking out at the trees. I waited until I gave up hope. And waited still. A small wind picked up the branches of the trees, not any bigger than the ones before it. How secular. But something pulled me in. The breeze continued to pick up. Maybe, I know for sure, it was the kindling of hope. The wind continued to blow, stronger, a strength that billowed against the windows, and tears filled my eyes, flowing freely. The wind, the wind blew in a gale and then a hurricane, and the trees were almost lifted from their roots, bending and swaying vertically with a fury and fear. I couldn’t understand it, but from that point on I believed, both unquestioningly and with question, that God existed, that his infiniteness grazed creation, and that he could hear my prayer if my heart was pure. From that point on, knowing was enough. I asked God about it in my mind, pushing the words and though out in a prayer only he could hear. If you’re real, God, why does mom do what she does?
“I gave all creatures free will. Do with it what you will. She has fallen from her path, and her every proclamation is a curse. Remember in your heart that light will outshine the darkness.”
I remembered it. I remembered it for so long. But it seemed that the shadow in my life enveloped the light, saturating me. I forgot myself. I forgot God. I asked myself, why didn’t he remember me? And that’s when I realised, I forgot him too. I looked at the family, at the spiritual sickness there. Its seeds infested every part of us, even the weakness in my muscles. I was so… penetrated by it. That I couldn’t see a way out. It, was in the deepest part of my soul. I could taste it, like black lighting. Like an unbreakable seed crushing my teeth. And then I had the dream. I was so blind to it, to everything.
I had a dream I found a doll. It was my greatest friend, something I came to love more than any member of my family, just upon seeing it. It filled me with a happiness and wholesomeness that couldn’t be described, only experienced. Just before I found it there was an incident. An accident, really. Someone crashed their car down my street, almost died. I never found out what came of them though. I tore open the car door and they were bloodied, and she inside first cursed and sweared, then praised God and prayed for her soul and the soul of her family. I sighed, strangely shaken. I then rushed back for my father to call the ambulance. I remember passing the doll on my way back in, its button eyes reflecting emptily and following me, from underneath the mailbox. I rushed inside, and everything was for the first time I remember calm and serene. It sent a chill down my spine, but I didn’t question it.
“What car?” I felt like an idiot, but grabbed my father’s hand anyways, taking him outside. I took him to the edge of the street, to show him the car.
But the car wasn’t there. Just the tree, twisted and bent like a skeleton on the side of the road. No, he didn’t remember the tree being bent, and no, there wasn’t a car there, and I should quit making up stories, I was too old for this to be my imagination, and if I wanted attention, this was no way to go about getting it. He walked away down the driveway. I remember his back as he walked, indignant and huffing. I turned over my shoulder one last time.
Too see the car in the middle of the road in front of my house, tire marks and blood twisting in figure 8s leading to it. Backwards. “I’m dying,” she said. “I’m dying. Say goodbye to my sister for me. I’ll never see her again. She’ll miss me.” She was right next to her. I couldn’t look at its face. She suddenly gripped my shirt and stared into my face, into my eyes with a hunger. I thought she would eat me. “Stay away from the doll! Don’t let it into your home. It will take your soul, and then kill you.”
These words chilled something beyond my bones as the wind howled, making the car door bump and shudder. I looked back at the doll under the mailbox grinning feebly. I looked back at the bloody girl. She was gone, my shirt crumpled. I looked back at the doll. It was gone. There was a letter in the mouth of the box, sealed with red wax and an unfamiliar seal. Final will and testimony of… there was a man and a woman’s name there, which I recognized from nowhere in the family tree. I took a velvet bag from the box. It had a little booklet in it, and three seeds. Something shifted under my chest; I felt they were paramountly important. Naturally, I left them in the box, safe from the disorganization and clutter that so oft filled our house
My family was playing. The whole family, for the first time since we got to this house. Rachael and Mary were playing hopscotch with chalk, and the boys were playing catch with dad, while mom was holding a torch with her usual leering grin. Why the hell is she holding a torch? It was red and gold. I looked back nervously to where the doll used to be before joining the fun. It was gone, but I had to go over just to check, slowly going around the mailbox, thinking somehow I had imagined it. How could I imagine that?
Come play with us! It wasn’t below the mailbox, but the tire tracks and blood still were in the street, chilling my blood. It was lying in a depression in the asphalt, where a puddle normally was when it was wet. It grinned warmly. Mary and Rachael, noticed it, carrying with it their bucket of chalk.
“Did you bring this over? You’re such a girl Max!”
“Let’s play with it!”
“NO!” I ran over and grabbed it, throwing it into the street, where it flopped over, legs folded underneath it.
Behind me, Rachael and Mary had its arms in their hands, swinging it between them.
“NO!” I stepped over and put my foot on it, trying to rip its arm off, burning my hand on the rough fabric. How did it burn the back of my hand?
“Matt! What are you doing, trying to ruin you sisters’ toy?”
“Here you go sweetheart!- Don’t be such a brute, Matt. Can’t you see we’re all trying to have a good time here?”
“Yea!” As they took it in their arms, its stitch re-sewed itself. My blood curdled.
“Can’t you see?! That doll is EVIL!!! IT KILLED SOMEONE.”
“Where’d you get that doll Rachael?” She swung it in her arms as she smiled, seeming much younger. As the doll bounced wildly between them, a third laughter seemed echo coldly.
“Goodwill! – Max, don’t you remember? We’ve had this doll for about a year now! We all play with it.”
My blood was so iced I almost couldn’t comprehend it. Horribly, horribly, I could remember playing with that doll. For more than a year. Then I heard a scraping, far off in the street. It was the bloody girl, trying to get up. I ran over, already knowing no one else could see or help. I grabbed her shoulder, pulling her up against her own weight, but she collapsed on top of my lap.
“Where is your friend?”
She looked at me, her eyes focused on nothing at all.
“Friend? Who…? I can’t remember her face… Who was she? Someone I know? She must have been someone I know… The doll! The doll did it, took her away from me, and now I can’t remember her face, or her name. Who was she? Was she my sister? No, that doesn’t seem right…”
I held her bloody face, listening to her mumbles. A great fear and nothing stirred inside me. She was bleeding from her head. I wondered if she even remembered who she was… Or if anyone would.
“The doll… will take everything from you. Everyone you love. And then it will claim your soul…”
Accepting her words were true, the first thing I felt was a grim satisfaction, and then immediately, shame.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered, “I felt it too. I wanted them all dead. But that’s nothing like it actually happening. You don’t want it to happen, do you?”
I shook my head feverishly, looking into her unfocused eyes. And for a moment she looked back into mine, too.
“Then don’t let it near your family. The seeds, and the book, are so important. Read the letter. It will explain everything. It is the light to its darkness. It’s the only thing that can destroy it. Goodbye, noble savior.”
Then her eyes left mine, no more unfocused than they already were. I saw her pupils relax completely, and was afraid. I shook her, but she did not move. Her weight was dead. Her pulse was dead. Her warmth was dead. I looked back at my house. And was horrified.
They all spun. Like a merry-go-round. Like a wheel, each figure floating as if they were underwater, hair and clothes strewn about their face. It floated in the middle. I remember seeing each one of their faces.
I walked up slowly, not needing to look back to know that the bloody girl was already gone. I wanted to be swallowed up in this blackness, the only way to escape this living nightmare. I looked at the doll, its hairs also floating as if it were underwater, and from it, a white light seeking in rays to escape the fiery blackness of its growing doll-hair. Its head snapped to look at me, its empty button eyes catching the light. Everyone dropped. Like dolls dropped by a forgetful and ignorant child. They bounce once and were still. The doll dropped last, and the powerful static pressing against the air dropped with it.
The signs were unmistakable. But like all the rest I decided, decided to ignore them. Like they were not reality. To go along with what the others saw. And I saw my first death. I saw my brother running, but saw that he had no face. It perturbed me to the depths of my soul, but I felt no alarm until I remembered the bloody girls words as he ran toward the railroad ties to jump into the yard below. Who is he? Then I remembered “The doll did it, took her away from me, and now I can’t remember her face, or her name! The doll will take everything from you, everyone you love, and then it will take your SOUL!!”
Joseph!!~ NOOO!!! I reached out for him, even going so far as to try and trip him before he could make the jump. But he jumped early, and it was all I could do to grab the back of his shirt.
But it snagged free, and he fell low, instead of far. I could hear the garden spikes sink tinily into my brothers flesh, but now his name too escaped my mind.
I felt a horrible guilt that he had died, but when I went back inside, Isaia, whose face was now blurred beyond recognition, did not remember Joseph.
“Who? It’s just us three, Mickey, Max, and me! Max, do you have an imaginary friend?”
Even beyond its blur, I could see his face breaking into an earnest grin, and my heart sank through my chest into the chasms of the earth, where no light shone. It will take your soul.
“Let’s have some fun Isaia. Let’s throw rubber balls at bionicles upstairs.”
“Sure man. It’s been a while since we did that.” We threw balls at the bionicles, watching their limbs get knocked off. I knocked off one’s head, and the ball smacked against the wall and rebounded down the stairs.
“I’ll get it!” Isaia leapt over me, and it was then that I forgot his name. NIIOOOOIOIIOIOIOOIIIUUH.
All my unearthly scream did was make him look back and lose his balance. He looked back right near the bottom, and leaned back towards the far banister, the crack I heard was more than just wood, and he twisted, hitting the far wall of the landing upside down and twisted. His whole spine bent, but there was an extra snap, and the figure before me shuddered… For so long. He wouldn’t stop moving. He just kept moving, and moving and, moving. I jumped down the full set of stairs, landing next to him, and I grabbed him, but he twisted, and shook me off, and I was horrified when he had no face. A sob sucked the life from within me, and I hit my head so hard out of grief. And kept hitting it over and over again. I didn’t stop till I hit my face on the banister and it knocked my big tooth out, the one that nameless figure had never been able to knock out in life. Who was he?
I went down to the kitchen, hungry for my last meal. Things seemed, colder in the house. Even more empty. Who knew I would miss all the yelling and anger. All the hate. I walked up to Mom, whose back was turned, chopping vegetables.
“Mom, what are you cooking?”
I heard the slit of something that was no vegetable. F*****G. GOOOOWWD. My mother wheeled around to look at me, knife whirling in her hand and blood on the other. Her face was completely livid, unnaturally livid. A witches face. It yellow eyes looked into mine for no more than a blink and I ran, far from the kitchen and into the living room, where Mickey, Mary, Rachael and Dad were watching the news. The doll was with them. I could see their faces, so decided all was safe for the moment. I sat on the couch and watched TV with them, though not as close as dad as I liked, the farthest away. Finally Michael elbowed me and I just moved over, and I sat on the other couch, where I could see into the kitchen too. Mom looked at me with piercing yellow eyes, a bloody knife in one hand and a bloody wrist in the other. Just like that, she whirled around and started chopping vegetables furiously, CHOP! CHOP-CHOP! CHOP-CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!
I could see the blood rolling off the counter, and soaking the food. As always, the hunger inside me roiled and came to nothing. I turned my attention back to the TV. A massive car pileup of the highway filled the screen, thirty four already presumed dead. The camera went right up into one of the cars, and I could see my cousins’ faces, mangled unrecognisably in the back. In the front and bleeding to death, was my uncle and the remains of his wife. They put the microphone right up to his face.
“The doll. The doll did it. Just to get us. It doesn’t care how many others it kills. It will consume anything and anyone in its path with glowing black hellfire and disappearing blood. You watch. You won’t remember us.” His head nodded forward to the wheel and it blared. The channel changed.
“What the hell are you doing?! That was uncle Barney!!! I’m pretty sure he just died!!”
“That’s not appropriate for young eyes. Not yourself, but least of all Micky. Think about him for once in a while.”
“Dad, that was Uncle Barny and his whole family!”
“No it wasn’t!”
“Well who was it then?”
“Switch the channel back then!”
“No. Maximus– Don’t you even think about it–!”
I went to the TV itself and switched through the channels.
“That was Uncle Barney! Who else would it look like???”
“I don’t know, Max, I couldn’t see his face, the camera was too blurry.”
My heart drained as I flipped through the channels. I would only have seconds… There! I found it, with the camera still on uncle Barney’s face in the rerun, while he was still talking. His name was on the screen.
“About that…” My heart dropped three paces. “Who is this Uncle Badny you’re talking about? I can see his name right here, but Maximus, your mother was an only child.” Something snickered in the far corner of the room.
“Don’t you all notice? That doll moves on its own. It’s been possessing us, one by one, killing us all horribly. And then, everyone just forgets that person ever exited. Except me! It’s going to take my soul!!!!”
“I moved the doll!”
“We all play with it! *Pshht!*”
Dad gave me a strange look like he was concerned for my sanity. “Maximus. I need to talk to you.” He took me to the stairs. Behind everyone, the doll waves, rolling its fingers.
“Is everything all right? First you take the doll out from your sister’s arms, then you try to rip it. We all love that doll Max. It’s been here forever. It’s like a member of the family.”
“In your imaginations?”
“In our imaginations, yes, but sometimes the things we poses are more important than blood.”
My blood chilled, deeper, deeper, every time. Dad would never say something like that, would he? I looked into his eyes, and they were black. Not just the pupils, the whole eye, in a glossy darkness that reflected and shined light so that none showed through past it.
“Go to your room now, and think about what you’ve done…”
All hope is gone. I can’t remember when I felt it last. Hell must be better than this.
I have to kill myself before it takes my soul.
But… will that be any better?
Hollow, I headed up to the stairs to my room abound locked the door. I tried, the cut grazing and superficial. No matter how hard I tried, my arm was strengthless, held back by itself.
Maybe this is all a dream. Maybe, if I go to sleep, this will all go away.
I slept then, feeling safe in an unsafe world.
I awoke. You are never safe. The sun outside the window in the same spot that it ever was. The house was utterly quiet. A dead silence.
I went downstairs and looked, looked in the kitchen, the living room, the centrifugal halls, and the garage. The cars were gone, both of them. Maybe everyone went on and trip without me. But I couldn’t fool myself. Not really. I went back inside and stood in front of the basement door, sweat dripping down my body. I took a breath in, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t check. The basement was the last place everyone could be, and I couldn’t check there. To do that would be to give up hope. I had to check there last. I could hear the TV on down there, bussing in static.
I checked the yard, first the front, then the back, and then the front again. The doll was in the window, in my room. Maybe they did leave. Left forever. Maybe they were safe. I didn’t fool myself. But I remembered something. The mailbox. The letter and the booklet and velvet bag were still in there. I opened it, feeling like I was awning into a reality so deep. The sun was setting. I read.
And I read. And I read.
I burst back into the house. Light and love, that was what the seeds needed. Seeds with heat would grow and shine light and hope in the purest darkness. But they needed love. My room door slammed open, and it was empty. Like no one had even lived there. I went to what was the warmest place in the room, the vent, and put the seeds in the soil at its corner.
Grow! I threw water in it, and a tiny leaf poked through, and the hint of a stem. Love! It’s stalk grew, and I stoked the love in my chest, like a fire. This plant was everything. It would save me. The sun descended behind the street, perfect red and gold. Light! I turned on every light in the room, including the bathroom, then the closet light. I was walking past the door, when it bowed inward, a swirling, black tempest behind it, sucking the light from the room. Light! I locked the door, with the feeling of plunging my fingers into a whole nest of vipers, pulling it back too quickly. It wasn’t locked all the way, but it held. The blackness consumed the light from the door’s corners, I could feel it sucking on my soul, apart from my body, the darkness grew, awning in the room. Light! I did the last thing I could think of, I found my lighter and held it next to the plant. I could see it curling as it grew, the holy white light from it growing tenuously stronger. The sun set. I looked back towards the door, and it was calm, but its fringes were still darker than ink. The whole house was.
Then I heard the door slam. The other door. I heard the second door slam, inside the Jack and Jill bathroom.
The lighter burned in my fingers. Love! Love! Love!
I love you. I love you. I love you. I tried to make their faces fill my mind, of the few precious times we had together, tried to remember the joy of having a real family, but they slipped through my fingers like ethereal grain. I couldn’t remember their faces. I couldn’t remember the good times. I couldn’t even remember who they were. The final door slammed open, but I didn’t look. Love! Love! I love you! Please love me back… I tried to feel love, but the only thing I felt was fear. Cold, cold sweat ran down my back, from a radiated cold and darkness and fear. A wind snuffed out my light. I looked. It was there. Had it always looked so demonic? Its stitched smile was hamshackle, as it floated, its eyes crooked, one reflecting the light from the little plant as it moved closer. Darkness emanated from it so powerful it snuffed memory. It was… cold… its hair floated on an invisible breeze, like it was underwater, and black fire radiated from the floating strands in a nimbus. It grew, and grew, pulling me in. I cowered. I could see something behind it, as tall as the room, a living shadow. My mouth fell open.
The light was snuffed out.
I awoke. It was all just a dream, disappearing from the fringes of my mind. The door was open, and the light from the hallway spilled in.
I went over to close it… but just kept on walking.
I put my hands on the banister, with an iron grip I couldn’t unleash.
I couldn’t unleash it!
I vault over and plummet down, my face against the stairs.
I awoke, for real this time, in a freezing, dark room, drenched in sweat. I must have left the window open. And so I did, but I was too afraid to close it without the light on. I flipped in on and walked over to close the window when I saw the pale girls face in my own reflection. A few days later, my neighbor crashed into that tree down the road from my house.