Chapter 1: Chapter 1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 418

5,000 babies were born in town this year. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of kids. More kids to hog the bathroom and steal my hairbrush. I can’t find it anywhere. Bet Emily took it again. Bastard.

I put down the newspaper and go downstairs. Toby’s putting on a brave face, sitting dead still on the sofa. Almost robotically, he picks up a glass of water and holds it to his lips. He stares straight ahead at the TV.

He’s trying to fool us into believing he’s watching it but Peppa Pig just started, so I call his bluff. I don’t go near him though. Best to leave him alone for now. I haven’t seen him move in over twelve hours, and it’s 2:00pm now. Jake went to the hospital during the night. He’s taken a turn for the worst. I heard him down the hall the other night, crying. His broken sobs and muffled pleas. He was breaking. The boy who played football and lifted weights. Who could pick up even Ben, (when, being polite and that, weighs a tad more than the average elephant). I swear, once I saw him nearly snap a tree in two when he ran into it. He was the strongest in the house. But his body was breaking. And no amount of strength in the world could fix it.

They came in the night. Dark figures running down the hall. Faceless, calm, calculating. The Carnifices. I hid under the covers. I heard Jake whimper like a sick dog. I could see him now. Blond hair plastered to his face with sweat, bloodshot eyes sunken into his skull, yellowing teeth, a swollen tongue, numb hands, feet, toes, no feeling, just numbness. A wall of nothing.

“A wall I’ve only gone and bloody run into.” I’d laugh weakly and sit at the corner of his bed, staring at his Manchester United posters covering the wall; Rooney, Pogba, Rashford. Toby closed the blinds. ‘The light hurt’s’ Jake said, or more whispered. They’d let me sit with them for about an hour at a time, until we all silently, but mutually agreed it was time for me to go. Jake and Toby were friends. It was always Jake and Toby. They’d watch football, screaming bloody murder, swearing at the top of their lungs until one of the nurses told them off. It’s them I’ve learnt most swears from. I cut my hair off and wore baggy tops, desperately trying to fit in with them. I remember standing in front of the mirror with some kitchen scissors in one hand, and a heap of brown hair in the other. Because ‘Football is for boys.’. And hair is for girls. I’d inch into the living room when the football was on, and start imitating them like a parrot. Jumping when they jumped, yelling when they yelled, swearing when they swore. I wanted to be in their gang. I was sick of the other girls. They were too old and in their own, exclusive gang. They close the door and set the fire alarm off; sniff the bathroom sink and vomit in the morning. Some lock themselves in their room together, and I can hear their squeals from outside. They prance around the house with thick lines on their eyes, and smears of red on their cheeks. One girl, Kate, wears bits of string instead of knickers. I saw them when she bent over to grab something. Normally a book or a hairbrush (my hairbrush probably) and somehow always in right of a boy. Jake seemed to be a favourite target, but sometimes it’s Mark who smoked five fags before breakfast, or Liam who never says much, but leaves the house at 5:00 pm to return the next morning. The girls closest to my age are boring. They play with dolls and empty plates and cups. There isn’t many younger than me in the house. The age range is 10-17. You’d leave one way or another at 18.

They quietened Jake somehow. His panting could still be heard, but quick and shallow. I shook in my bed, tears threatening to leak out my eyes. A thump, a groan. And then nothing, silence. Like the few moments of quiet after music is switched off. A sense of emptiness. A silence slowly filling the gaps were there should have been Jakes grunts and moans. My eyes wide open in the dark, wanting to see, but blocking my view with the covers that threatened to suffocate me.

Because you can’t see a Carnifex. Or at least, you can, but you shouldn’t try. We all see our own Carnifex one day. And Kate say’s they’re the last things you ever see. I don’t believe her, but they are real, and your time is limited once you see one. You see one and the countdown has begun. Some agree with Kate and say everyone’s final glance at the world will be of a Carnifex. Some say they appear in your dreams first, and your fate is shown. You then try to avoid death, but it finds you all the same. Some are driven into madness, it reappears again and again and again and again, constantly reminding them of their death, they will die they will die they will die. They kill themselves before the Carnifices can get their hands on them.

A few think they are demons from hell, come to begin judgement day and murder those who broke God’s law. I don’t know what to believe. But I’m not about to go tempting fate.

There was a slight movement to my left, shortly after the silence had come. I cowered, wrapping myself into a tight ball, my knees bruising my chest. I felt the air move above me, I had a heightened awareness of my surroundings. Prey-like instincts. I froze. Not a muscle moved. I even focused my eyes on the same patch of dark so my eyelashes wouldn’t flutter.

Then there was nothing. No moving, no figures, no noise. No Jake.

 5,000 babies were born in town this year. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of kids. More kids to hog the bathroom and steal my hairbrush. I can’t find it anywhere. Bet Emily took it again. Bastard.

I put down the newspaper and go downstairs. Toby’s putting on a brave face, sitting dead still on the sofa. Almost robotically, he picks up a glass of water and holds it to his lips. He stares straight ahead at the TV.

He’s trying to fool us into believing he’s watching it but Peppa Pig just started, so I call his bluff. I don’t go near him though. Best to leave him alone for now. I haven’t seen him move in over twelve hours, and it’s 2:00pm now. Jake went to the hospital during the night. He’s taken a turn for the worst. I heard him down the hall the other night, crying. His broken sobs and muffled pleas. He was breaking. The boy who played football and lifted weights. Who could pick up even Ben, (when, being polite and that, weighs a tad more than the average elephant). I swear, once I saw him nearly snap a tree in two when he ran into it. He was the strongest in the house. But his body was breaking. And no amount of strength in the world could fix it.

They came in the night. Dark figures running down the hall. Faceless, calm, calculating. The Carnifices. I hid under the covers. I heard Jake whimper like a sick dog. I could see him now. Blond hair plastered to his face with sweat, bloodshot eyes sunken into his skull, yellowing teeth, a swollen tongue, numb hands, feet, toes, no feeling, just numbness. A wall of nothing.

“A wall I’ve only gone and bloody run into.” I’d laugh weakly and sit at the corner of his bed, staring at his Manchester United posters covering the wall; Rooney, Pogba, Rashford. Toby closed the blinds. ‘The light hurt’s’ Jake said, or more whispered. They’d let me sit with them for about an hour at a time, until we all silently, but mutually agreed it was time for me to go. Jake and Toby were friends. It was always Jake and Toby. They’d watch football, screaming bloody murder, swearing at the top of their lungs until one of the nurses told them off. It’s them I’ve learnt most swears from. I cut my hair off and wore baggy tops, desperately trying to fit in with them. I remember standing in front of the mirror with some kitchen scissors in one hand, and a heap of brown hair in the other. Because ‘Football is for boys.’. And hair is for girls. I’d inch into the living room when the football was on, and start imitating them like a parrot. Jumping when they jumped, yelling when they yelled, swearing when they swore. I wanted to be in their gang. I was sick of the other girls. They were too old and in their own, exclusive gang. They close the door and set the fire alarm off; sniff the bathroom sink and vomit in the morning. Some lock themselves in their room together, and I can hear their squeals from outside. They prance around the house with thick lines on their eyes, and smears of red on their cheeks. One girl, Kate, wears bits of string instead of knickers. I saw them when she bent over to grab something. Normally a book or a hairbrush (my hairbrush probably) and somehow always in right of a boy. Jake seemed to be a favourite target, but sometimes it’s Mark who smoked five fags before breakfast, or Liam who never says much, but leaves the house at 5:00 pm to return the next morning. The girls closest to my age are boring. They play with dolls and empty plates and cups. There isn’t many younger than me in the house. The age range is 10-17. You’d leave one way or another at 18.

They quietened Jake somehow. His panting could still be heard, but quick and shallow. I shook in my bed, tears threatening to leak out my eyes. A thump, a groan. And then nothing, silence. Like the few moments of quiet after music is switched off. A sense of emptiness. A silence slowly filling the gaps were there should have been Jakes grunts and moans. My eyes wide open in the dark, wanting to see, but blocking my view with the covers that threatened to suffocate me.

Because you can’t see a Carnifex. Or at least, you can, but you shouldn’t try. We all see our own Carnifex one day. And Kate say’s they’re the last things you ever see. I don’t believe her, but they are real, and your time is limited once you see one. You see one and the countdown has begun. Some agree with Kate and say everyone’s final glance at the world will be of a Carnifex. Some say they appear in your dreams first, and your fate is shown. You then try to avoid death, but it finds you all the same. Some are driven into madness, it reappears again and again and again and again, constantly reminding them of their death, they will die they will die they will die. They kill themselves before the Carnifices can get their hands on them.

A few think they are demons from hell, come to begin judgement day and murder those who broke God’s law. I don’t know what to believe. But I’m not about to go tempting fate.

There was a slight movement to my left, shortly after the silence had come. I cowered, wrapping myself into a tight ball, my knees bruising my chest. I felt the air move above me, I had a heightened awareness of my surroundings. Prey-like instincts. I froze. Not a muscle moved. I even focused my eyes on the same patch of dark so my eyelashes wouldn’t flutter.

Then there was nothing. No moving, no figures, no noise. No Jake.


Submitted: September 29, 2016

© Copyright 2020 marcyhey. All rights reserved.

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