Bedtime V: Sleep Tight :
I am shaking as I write this. I was released by the police less than two hours ago and I am compelled to record the events of the past day and night as quickly and as accurately as possible. In some ways I want to forget, but I know that I cannot, I know that I should not. For my own sanity I must divulge what has happened, it is far too important. Should I ever allow myself to be swayed by the mechanical, rational nature of the world once again, these words should serve to remind me that what is unseen is both mysterious, and frightening.
After Mary left, I knew that I had lost her forever, but rather than be consumed by depression and inaction, I was invigorated by one purpose, by one thought, by one idea that I knew I had to carry out. I had to destroy that thing, for I could not allow the chance that it may one day hurt my loved ones, or desecrate the innocence of another child.
I also knew that I faced death, but feeling that I had already lost everything, that was a small price to pay. It is said that revenge is a dish best served cold but having waited my entire adult life to be rid of this thing, its memory and the shadow that it had cast upon me, I met the proposition of killing this fiend, this corrupt and perverted force, with a smile on my face.
That night it would be dead, even if I had to drag it to hell with me.
Busying myself for the next few hours, I packed a bag and wrote a letter to Mary and my family explaining what had happened and that they weren’t to blame. I phoned my mother and father, then my brother, just to hear their voices one last time, but I did not let on that I thought I may never speak to them again. My mother’s intuition led her to ask if everything was all right; I smiled and told her I loved her before reluctantly saying goodbye.
At about 7 o’clock I made my way out to the car. The sun had already set and the street seemed eerily quiet, as if the scene of an unattended funeral. I sat in the driver’s seat leaving the door on the other side open, awaiting my most unwelcome passenger.
By 9 o’clock nothing out of the ordinary had occurred, the place remained deserted and the cold night air flowing through the open door was beginning to bite. As I sat there, contemplation echoed through my mind. I ruminated on the nature of this cadaverous parasite. One question rose out of a sea of thoughts, towering above all else, unmoving, and continuous:
“Can you kill something which is already dead?”
I did not know if this was a thing of the grave, or some unworldly spectre which could be considered ‘alive’ in some way, but just as I was re-evaluating my plan, there it was. It was subtle at first, but there was a small, almost indistinguishable shift in the suspension of the car. Had it been any other circumstance, I would have put this down to a gust of wind pushing and pulling at the chassis, but I was all too familiar with that feeling from all those years ago, as the bunk bed would shift slightly with that thing climbing into the bottom bed. I knew its foul calling card. The air grew denser as if contaminated by some nearby corpse.
It was in the car with me, unseen yes, but there nonetheless. As I heard the slightest of whispered breaths from the back seat, I leant over and calmly closed the passenger door. I turned the key in the ignition and as I pulled out of the street, I could have sworn I heard a quiet yet distinctly malicious snigger, as of something mocking me.
Did it know what I had planned for it?
Our destination was not far, but the roaming hills through which our taken country road penetrated, rose up and diminished with regularity; a stark reminder of the ominous isolation of night. Occasionally on the way I could hear something from behind, but I refused to look for that thing in the dark. Patience; it would not be long before I would confront it.
The irony hit me, I was worried about scaring off the same thing which had terrified and tortured me as a child. I had to be resilient and so drove carefully and calmly through the countryside, swamped by darkness, hoping that my unearthly passenger would not suspect me.
The wheels of the car struggled and slid on the undergrowth as I headed off of the narrow country road. The landscape had opened up and as I looked at the broken and rotting trees around me, I felt that it was fitting to come to this bleak place in the cold night, to destroy that bleakest of things.
The land suddenly came to an abrupt end; a cliff etched out from an old quarry, looking deep into the black waters of the lake below. The cliff edge was relatively flat and had in fact at one time housed a road which had subsided into the lake decades earlier. The local kids would tell stories about the vengeful ghosts of those killed during the subsidence, but they were just stories. Or perhaps they weren’t. In the past I would have disregarded such tales, but who would believe mine if I told it to them now?
I switched the engine off and parked several metres away from the cliff edge, switching off any lights and composing myself for what would come. I sat in that car for what seemed a lifetime, the only company given to me by the occasional splash of water against the cliff below.
This thing was smart, of that there was no doubt. It had toyed with me, relishing the pain and torment it had caused as only something of a coldly frozen intellect could. For this reason I knew it would suspect me, and perhaps even flee if I brought the car too close to the cliff’s edge; I had to wait for it to attack, let it feed, let it revel and gorge itself on me, perhaps then it would not notice as I slowly plunged the car into that dark, icy water below.
I was going to drown the bastard.
I had appraised the potential consequences in my head and reasoned that there would be a moment, a singular moment where I would have a slim opportunity to escape from the car just before it reached the edge. Mary and I used to go there occasionally, a place to be together away from everything else and it did not look nearly as stark during a summer’s day. I therefore had the place in mind and knew it well. The drop was at least 30 feet to the depths below and I did not want to be in that car as it hit the water, nor trapped inside with that abomination.
Then I heard it. Slowly at first, and then increasing in rate and volume, a rasping, wheezing breath from behind. Strangely, it sounded more laboured than before. Each breath a struggle, filled with fluid, rotten and decayed. A shiver ran up my spine. A rank, foul smell began to fill the air.
The breath drew closer from behind.
My heart began to race, beating hard and fast as I looked up and saw the windscreen begin to ice up from inside. I could see my breath, a natural thing indeed, but what was unnatural was the breath visibly moving across my face from the side. I turned slowly, I wanted to cry, I wanted to leave, run into the night, but I had to stay, I could not allow it to escape.
It was sitting in the passenger seat.
I was staring at it, and it at me. Hunched over covered by darkness, contorted, gaunt, hands seized as if fighting rigamortis, it slowly moved towards me. One bony leg cracked and groaned as it slid over my lap and onto the other side.
Oh god, it was sitting on me!
It pulled itself in close to me and through a shard of light provided by the moon, I saw its face. Skin hung from its jagged features. Glassy eyes stared deep into me as its grin spread up through its face, unnaturally wide as the result of its half rotten flesh, exposing the rotten muscles, broken teeth and sinews of its rancid smile beneath.
Pulling closer it opened its mouth revealing a wet and putrid tongue which could be seen through part of its missing jaw. Wheezing, breathing heavily, a foul stench which stung my eyes and filled my mouth elicited a response from me as I wretched, my body attempting to expel its poisonous fumes, and as I did so it stopped for a moment, and then cackled to itself; happy, content. Staring into its icy cold eyes, it yet gave the impression of an afflicted and increasingly weak old man. It was still incredibly strong, but it seemed as though it had lost some of its potency.
Perhaps leaving that elongated room had somehow affected it?
Its long protruding fingers caressed my face and then, as a show of intent, it stuck one of them deep into my shoulder. I screamed as it bent and twisted inside of me, the rotting fiend moving its finger to cause the maximum amount of damage and pain that it could. As it did so its other hand slid down against my body.
It touched me.
It was time. With my free arm I turned on the ignition and though my shoulder was still pinned to the seat I managed to fight through the pain, put the car into gear and took off as fast as I could.
The creature flailed and screamed, it attempted to climb over me into the back seat, but I held on with all of my strength, the thoughts of what it did to Mary enough to fuel my rage. We raced towards the edge of the cliff and I eyed the driver’s door frantically. As we neared our icy plunge, I screamed in anger at its festering, rancid face and pushed it off of me.
It scrambled into the back seat for dear life as I scrambled for mine by unlocking the car door.
It was too late, the car careered over the cliff face and before I knew it, we hit the dark water, splitting the black glass-like surface with tremendous force. I should have died then, but an air-bag took the brunt of my impact, although I still managed to scrape my head across the door frame.
Dazed, I looked around. The sound that I heard coming from that thing was malformed yet familiar. The squeal of some demonic child soon gave way to the anguish and rage of an ancient intelligence which knew that it faced almost certain death.
The water was frozen and poured in through the now twisted open car door with such force that it winded me. I gasped for air as my unwilling prey now did. It writhed and twisted as it looked for an exit. Spying the open door, it pulled itself through the water towards me.
I curled up my fist and smashed it into that thing’s face. Pieces of rotten flesh flaked off under the impact as a dark black liquid oozed from the resulting wound.
Again it attempted to get passed me and I knew that to keep it in that car, long enough to drown, that I would have to die with it. I felt numb as the frozen water slipped over my chin, my heart struggled against the cold and with a sudden surge I was submerged and had breathed my last.
I held my breath, but only to compose and ready myself for an icy, suffocating death. I hoped that it would not be painful. My thoughts returned to Mary and my family, a all consuming sense of sadness and despair overwhelmed me, but as I struggled with that thing trying to get passed me and through the door, grabbing and flailing with its arms, I looked down and saw it.
Its leg was trapped between the dashboard and floor of the car by the impact of the fall, and although it could move, it could not leave.
I turned immediately for the door, I could barely see but a foot in front of me in that black water, but there was enough moonlight to light my way. Just as I got to the door, the wretch grabbed hold of me and pulled me back to it. It had given up all hope of escaping, but it wanted to drown me with it.
We fought for what felt like an age in that cold bitter grave as the car slowly sank deeper and deeper into the darkness. I could now feel my body pleading with me to take a breath, to exhale my last gasp of air and then inhale the frozen water.
I am happy to say that I used my wits to get out of such a horrible fate. Orientating my body , I pushed my feet against the dashboard with enough force to at last escape its slippery grasp. I do not remember much else, bar the anguished and hate-filled scream that my tormentor let out as I left it to die at the bottom of that icy lake.
I found myself walking through the wilderness, cold, wet, but alive. The wound in my shoulder slowed me down, but I kept the bleeding at bay by applying pressure to it with my other hand. It took me two hours to walk home, and I am amazed that I did not collapse from exhaustion or hypothermia. When I saw the familiar sight of the street that I live on, I was filled with a sense of accomplishment. A sense of pride and triumph.
I had beaten that thing once and for all!
That is until I went inside my house and found a trail of large, wet footprints leading from the front door to my bed.
Disbelief took me. Despair so sharp and so overwhelming that I am unable to convey it with mere words. It was lying in my bed, waiting, a white sheet covering its emaciated body from sight.
The human mind is a wonderful thing. Just as you believe your body has reached a level of exhaustion that it cannot recover from, that your emotions are so frayed that you feel you cannot continue, a thought springs as if miraculous from a weary mind.
Let it rest, for now.
I quietly crept through the dark and picked up my wallet which I had left on a small coffee table in the centre of my living room. Leaving the door unlocked, I left to attend to a new plan and returned an hour later. With a moment’s preparation I slipped into the spare room. There I lay in that unsullied bed, waiting. I was sure that this was the end game, that instead of toying with me, it would come for the kill. How it had escaped that watery grave I did not know, but I would be damned if it would escape again. I could only hope that it would sense me from the other room.
I closed my eyes, pretending to be sound asleep. Time lumbered onwards and although I fought it, exhaustion finally took me, sending me into a deep slumber.
I woke with its hands around my neck. It coughed and spluttered on top of me, a rancid black liquid dripping on my face as it oozed from its facial wounds. I struggled, gasping for air and hoping that I had the strength in me to escape its grasp, but it was too strong and my hands could not grip it with any sense of conviction, as it seemed to be dripping wet from its plunge into the lake.
It may not have seemed rational at the time, but as my vision dimmed and the last light of consciousness extinguished within me, I did as so many animals do in their last moments; I played dead.
Lying motionless, holding my breath, it shook me violently by the neck and then released me. I waited for my moment, my last chance to destroy this thing. Its laboured breathing relaxed slightly and seemed to stare at me almost quizzically.
I waited still for a shift of weight which might have let me throw it to the ground.
Leaning down close to me, its wide, crumbling sneer puckered. Gathering its putrid saliva in its mouth and in what was left of its cheeks, it then showed utter contempt for the living, and the dead; it spat its festering fluid onto my face, the remnants dripping down onto me through a hole in its jaw.
I wanted to scream, to do anything to remove such a vile smear on my skin, but I dared move; the time was not right. Leaning in closer, it prodded and scratched at the wound in my shoulder, the pain sheering through my body. With all of my resistance, I remained motionless.
Then, it slowly and patiently slid two of its long, distended fingers into my mouth. The taste was overwhelming, rancid, rotten, dead. The arthritic clicking of its knuckles shook my resolve. As it arched its back in glee, it suddenly pushed its fingers deep down into my throat.
I gagged, an instinctive reaction.
Instead of being shocked, a garbled laugh emanated through its broken teeth as it thrust its fingers deeper into my mouth. I felt its cold, hard flesh scraping against the inside of my throat pleading without words for it to stop.
In our darkest of moments, we sometimes find our true strength. I rolled to my side using its weight against it and finally, managed to break free. I fell onto the floor. Its long reach grasping at my feet, I kicked and screamed and at last was free. It stared at me, only for a moment. Rising up on top of the bed, its brittle bones cracking under its own force, it now towered tall and gaunt ready to pounce.
Since I was a child I had been a victim. It had terrorised me, taken my innocence, attacked Mary and broken my life.
I would not stand for it any more.
Sometimes the most dangerous prey is the one who can out think you, the one that lulls you into a false sense of dominance or superiority, the one who has conquered any fear of you with a sense of anger and betrayal. It had fallen into my trap, one conceived by logic, reason, and an understanding of the world through the eyes of a scientific mind.
Fire cleanses all.
As it groaned, shrieked, cracked and contorted, readying itself to pounce, in one swift motion I removed a blanket from the floor revealing a bucket filled with gasoline which I had bought in that short time of preparation. I threw it as hard as I could, the liquid splashing all over that horror and the bed.
It grinned at me, mocking my very existence, making light of my pain and the agony it had caused.
From my pocket I pulled out a lighter, lit it and through it onto that wretched thing. It writhed and screamed in agony, parts of its flesh crumbling away, searing into nothing in front of my very eyes; I almost felt sorry for it.
Let it burn.
The fire got out of hand, thankfully a neighbour heard the screams and saw the smoke, calling the fire brigade. I remember nothing of how I escaped.
I spent several hours in hospital being treated for light smoke inhalation and painful burns to my hands. It still hurts as I type, but as with many superficial wounds, they will heal. Perhaps there will be a few scars, but I can live with that.
The police arrested me shortly afterwards, believing me a murderer. They suspect that I killed someone in that fire and find it entirely suspicious that I have a deep wound in my shoulder, and scratches over my body. I’ve been told not to stray far in case they wish to ask me further questions, but they can ask away, I doubt they’ll believe my answers. They found no remains, nor any evidence that someone else was there, bar a strange outline of a figure etched deep into the bed and wall. It looked as though whatever had been there attempted an escape, but I do not think it accomplished this.
A weight has now been lifted from my shoulders, one which I now realise was always there, since I was a child in fact. I believe that thing had an affect on me even from distance, and now that it is gone, I feel whole again.
I am devastated that I’ve lost Mary, and my house can be written off as I’ll probably be charged with arson after they realise I started the fire, which means I can kiss goodbye to any insurance claim.
My hands ache, as does my shoulder, but my spirit does not. I am writing this from a hotel room, it’s small and unassuming, but it will suit my purpose. Tonight I intend to sleep and dream, as I did as a child, before that wretch invaded my life.
I believe that it was my rationality which saved me, my logical thought which allowed me to destroy such an evil, but I will never escape the conclusion that there is much more to life beyond the veil, out there in the darkness. It is a world I have seen, and do not care to revisit, but tonight I will rest and tomorrow I will build my life again with the confidence that my unwelcome guest is gone forever. I can feel it, I know it!
It will take time for me to adjust and perhaps my mind will play a trick or two a long the way, it is difficult to abandon the paranoia of a lifetime. I must learn to accept my safety once again. I refuse to be looking over my shoulder for the rest of my days, but I will always be cautious, as I was when I was in the hospital this morning lying on a bed in a quiet ward, I thought I felt the bed shake for the briefest of moments, but I know that it was just my imagination.
I am glad I have written down my experiences, it has illuminated much about myself to me, and most importantly should anyone ever, God forbid, find themselves in a similar situation, then maybe you will know what to do.
Now, it is bedtime and I must rest for I have never known a weariness such as this.
Good night, and sleep tight…