It Escapes Me

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

After awakening from a strange dream, Tom's life soon becomes a nightmare. In the face of incomprehensible horror, he dives into his mind to find the truth. But what he discovers could be more terrifying.

This is still a work in progress. Any advice or constructive criticism is welcome. Thanks for reading!

Plunged into unfamiliar darkness, sweat splashes from my forehead as I sit up in bed. With heavy breaths I notice my palms perspiring; I wipe them on the comforter. The rest of my body is drenched with sweat. It must have been a vivid nightmare. I try to recall, but I can only see a white van driving into the distance as it becomes blurry, it escapes me. As my breathing calms I let loose a sigh and with no small amount of indignation muse, "Where the fuck am I this time?" One would assume my own bedroom. They would be wrong.

My vision adjusts to the darkened room allowing me to examine my surroundings. It’s a bedroom of modest size, too average for Beth. A nearby window reveals the starry sky. A similar window I’d made sure to close the night Beth had complained. It’s hard to forget considering it was the night of our 5th anniversary.

We’d had an argument to celebrate the joyous occasion. Well, not an argument per se; an argument denotes a two-way disagreement. It was more like Beth yelling about how incompetent I was. She’d harp on big stuff like my medical condition and small things like messy tabletops, open cupboards and when the dog went absent every other week.  I'd rarely escape ridicule although I would try to negate it by saying, yes dear, of course, dear, I’m sorry dear; But with each response, I'd die a little bit inside.

A thin beam of yellow exposes steam bleeding from the bathroom.  The burgundy rug leads to the open bedroom door. There's a darkness at the door so black it consumes the light. A soft melody echoes over the murmuring of rustling water. Beth does love to sing. Wait. What's happening here? Beth usually sings while showering. Unless she stopped? Her voice should have triggered something. What changed? Have I deteriorated? The thought sends a shiver up my spine.

I’ve been on a stringent regimen of antipsychotics for years. After years of “episodes” and more physicians then I can count, I found a doc I could trust. She prescribed a drug cocktail which could break my amnesia if taken daily. The only other way to get my mind right is too be reminded of everyday life. Such as the sight of my bed, my furniture or Beth's beautiful voice. Each a remedy to my sickness. Otherwise, I could lose hours or even days. Remission meant sinking back into a lost world.

Beth’s lovely hymns drown the worries. I decide to go to sleep, hoping Beth will bring me back in the morning. The room begins to blur from existence when a glimmer flashes from within the closet. I rub my eyes, sure I'd seen nothing, but squint to try and decipher the image, but for some reason, I'm unable to process. "What?" I whisper. Pushing myself to a sitting position, my hand grazes something to my left, and I freeze. Heart racing, I peer to my left to what should be a vacant spot on the bed. My heart sinks to my feet as I realize I'm not alone in bed. The woman lying next to me is facing away from me on her side. I recognize her shape and her smell. It's Beth. "Babe?" I whisper. With a trembling hand, I reach for her shoulder, and I stop. I can see what had caught my attention from the closet. Through the bi-fold of the closet door, a small, icy blue eye, glares at me.

Frozen in fear, with the world spiraling as though I’m standing atop a tower of incomprehensible stature. I'm seconds from falling into an abyss and in a desperate attempt to save my sanity; I close my eyes and imagine a safer time. Years ago when everything was fine; When my family was whole.

A car door shuts closed.

“Report!” I say in a mock Drill Sergeant’s voice.

Janet responds with a “Yes sir” as she gives her best attempt at a salute. Suspect Mary October Mary is reading a book! It’s a big book with lots of words!

I cock an eyebrow and say “And?”

“Oh and… A bee almost got me, but I was too quick!”

I sighed, “Good job soldier” as I ruffled her short auburn hair.

What was I doing? No, wait. It’s coming back to me. Janet and I had played "Spy Masters" since she had been old enough to talk. My father had taught it to me. Spy Masters involved snooping on family members and reporting useful Intel. This particular game occurred in the park during summer. My god, she was so young and such a precious skamp. The light of my life. And as Janet had keenly observed, my wife was reading a book at a picnic table. Most likely Stephen King. She’s a sucker for a good horror book. As I take in the bright summer day, this seemed familiar but still brand new. Janet sits in the passenger seat in my pick-up truck, pawing at her Nintendo 3DS.

Why was I in the truck? Was I stalking Beth? I’m not a stalker. Am I? A white van appears from nowhere. It parks ten yards from where Beth is sitting. A tall, pale middle-aged man with blonde hair exits the driver’s side. I reach for the binoculars in the glove compartment, when I notice Janet missing. Where did she go? A powerful vroom thunders through the park making me jump out of my seat. When I look for the van, it's knocking over a mailbox, as It exits the parking lot. Janet is crying as a bright light erases the world.

Reopening my eyes, making sure to avert them from the sentry dwelling within the closet. This wasn’t like the sensation of being watched. It was like the irrational feeling one experiences while wandering in the dark. Why is Beth in the closet? Yes, even though I can only see her right eye, I could never forget my wife’s striking cobalt pupil. I do my best to steal glimpses. But a voice inside tells me if I peer for too long, Beth will emerge from the closet to reap my soul.

A soulless reaper, in the form of my wife occupying my closet, is Irrational, I know, but my goosebumps, hammering heartbeat and accelerated pulse aren't listening to reason. How is it possible? Beth is showering, in my bed and in the closet? It’s madness! As reality warps a thought comes to mind, “Nudge bed Beth” and this nightmare can come to an end.

Moving slowly, I peel down the comforter to my feet, making sure not to make a sound. Beth did not move besides the expanding and contracting or her body as she inhaled and exhaled. As I once again, reach for her shoulder; a sound rises above the shower causing an electric buzz to cascade through my chest. A grating sound of something scraping the bed spring dust cover. I lay back down and refused to move a muscle, hoping it would stop. But the scraping continues; the vibrations of each scratch tickle my neck as it traces down to my upper back. My body winces as though an unseen blade were piercing my flesh.

Reflexes took over, I look over the side of the bed to see if I can discern what the fuck is tormenting me. Crimson footprints from the bedroom door lead to bed. The accustomed hue of my lovely wife’s autumn locks, splattered with red, lay peaking from under the bed. I jolt my head to my pillow with such speed I experience whiplash. As fight nausea, and try to focus on breathing.  I think "I need to run" But instead, I'm slammed back in time, like a dam inundated with unbearable pressure. The roaring applause of a crowd is all I can hear as the world goes black.

Beth looks uncomfortable as she fidgets on a metal chair. She’s among many other parents in a cramp Middle School auditorium. My view of Beth becomes obstructed by a teacher trying to get my attention. We had been watching a hilarious school play based on the classic film; Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. A Rube Goldberg machine is halfway done. According to her teacher, Janet had constructed it. I don't think I could have been prouder. But I'm suddenly hit with a tidal wave of confusion. The pale man from the white van is here. The bastard is staring at my daughter with his cold dead eyes.

The pale man is left of the stage. His face looks tense with frustration. Why the fuck was this creep here and why does his presence earn my attention? After thanking the teacher for her work with Janet, I walked towards the pale man. He gives me a nod as he makes a turn to the exit. When gets there he leans against a locker as he waits for me. We know each other. How?

When we meet, I begin yelling at him, but I could no longer hear words. It’s like viewing a silent film. The pale man turns bright red as he stands shiftily, tears beginning to well up in his eyes. I grabbed him by the collar, slamming him against a locker. The music was loud in the auditorium, so I doubt anyone heard.

What could have been my motivation for this assault? I’m not a physical man. Did Beth ask me to confront him? I could never say no to her. Our therapist said I have APD, acquiescence personality disorder. I can’t remember what it means.

The pale man seemed to concede to whatever I was saying; Closed his eyes as he raised his hand to point past me. I turned from him to look at Beth, she was leaving in a rush, Janet in tow. Janet is yelling with a pained expression on her face. Why can’t I remember? When I bring my attention back to the man, he's down the hall opening an exit. He turns back to me and says “She shouldn’t be calling the shots.” and everything goes dark.

Returning to conciseness, I'm unnerved by the absence of Beth's song. I want to call out to her, but I don't want to risk it. What if Beth is not the bathroom? Is this hell? I've never been a religious man, but could my lack of faith brought me here? Images of Fire melting the flesh from my face reach my mind’s eye. But the twisted imagery shatters like broken glass as a bone-chilling scream erupts from the shower.

Throwing off the covers, I jump from the bed causing mild nausea. As I take a moment to gather myself the bathroom door slams shut. Beth’s screams grow louder several bangs crescendos in concert with Beth’s pleas for help.  But with a thud and a sharp fissure of glass shattering ends the pandemonium.  I advance on the door, but footing fails, with a sharp crack, I hit my jaw on the carpet. Adrenaline dilutes the pain as I scramble to my back to view what had tripped me. A slender, blood-soaked hand, vanishes into the darkness, beneath the bed.

The darkness dissolves revealing a white-walled waiting room. I’ve been here for hours, but it feels like days. The therapist says we needed to take turns. Were we getting a divorce? We don’t have a perfect relationship, but we love each other. We make it work. Through the fire and brimstone, we find a way. Even now I believe I can save what we have. I just have to decipher this insanity.

The pale man from the Park. He’s the key. I’m so close to remembering the truth. The door opens and Beth exits “Doctor Danvers is waiting for us. “No,” I say in the sternest tone I can muster. “Tom,” she replies. I try to stand my ground against the inevitable.  “It’s not going to happen,” I say under my breath. She sighs. “ Get over here,” with hesitance I stand and walk into the office. The office door closes. The world goes red. Next thing I know I’m home in the kitchen holding a serrated knife.

I’m cooking dinner. I think. Riggs won’t stop barking. Time seems fluid with each passing moment. Like I'm being carried away by rapids. I let it take me.  I stab the knife into the cutting board, leaving it impaled in the wood. Little barking bastard. Is it Riggs? This could be Murtaugh, a spunky brown Maltese Shih Tzu. A slam resonates from upstairs, causing my heart to skip a beat. Pulling the knife from the board I yell, “Beth!” After a moment I follow Murtaugh as he trots up the stairs.

When I reach the top, I notice through the dark hallway, the bedroom door ajar. My memory had failed me again because I could have sworn I’d closed the door. But of course I had also thought Beth might be up here; I was mistaken. She wouldn’t be in the dark; not even for a nap, which she rarely took. Before I reach the handle, the door slams causing me to jump. With a degree of fear, mixed with anger I grab the handle and throw the door open. I could feel a gust of wind. Who left the window open? "Are you here?" I whispered, not sure why I was whispering. A scream from behind caused me to jump again in surprise.

Beth is dialing her cell as she’s crying. Why is she crying? “Babe, what’s wrong?” She doesn’t respond. The closet to the right of Beth opens, a shadow emerges. My gorgeous wife’s tear-filled face begins to glow red. Beth's skin flakes, becoming dust until nothing but her blue eye remains.

Supine on the ground, eyes closed, I whisper “Beth needs me.” The words do nothing to subside my horror, but with concentration, I rise. I’m shaking like a newborn fawn when I reach for the golden handle and twist.  I’d half expected the door locked, but it opened with little effort. Hot air hits me causing me to violently cough. It’s tough to see through the steam, but the closed shower is visible. I slam the door closed.

I'm only able to manage a soft cry “Beth!” A touch louder than the shower, but receive no answer. The fog dissipates revealing more of the scene, causing my goosebumps to rise. The mirror above the sink is shattered, mirror shards glazed with red, dress the tile floor, The sight resembles a reflective tempest. I carefully step over the glass and move towards the shower curtain. When I grab the curtain, the only thing I can hear is my heartbeat bumping at a frantic rate.

I see my eyes reflected in the broken shards. Jesus. I grab a shard; holding it to my face. There are small scars on my forehead, cheeks, and chin. I can’t recognize this disfigured monster. “God no, Why?” I plead. My eyes return to the shower. As I lay my hand on the shower curtain; I look away and with one swift moment, slide the curtain to the left. Using my last ounce of courage, I gaze into the tub.

To my disbelief, there’s nothing. What the hell? With a twist of the wrist, I shut off the shower. Am I losing it? Beth is safe, asleep in bed. This much I know. But what could have done this? Who's blood is on the floor? As I rest my arms on a towel, rack I notice a dark red stain on my left forearm.

There's blood across the left side of my body. It couldn’t have been when I fell. There was a small amount of dry blood on the ground. The moist feeling had been with me since I’d awaken. Oh my god, have I been sleeping in blood?  A muffled scream reverberates from the bedroom. What? I make a run for the door when red mist devours me.

In a lukewarm office, I’m standing before a thin black table across from our therapist. Doctor Danvers, sits with our social worker. My god. It’s the tall man! Jared? I don't even have to read his badge. They both seem to be waiting on us to respond to question. My wife’s expression is pale and sullen; she’s sitting on a small brown couch to my right. Tears are flowing from my eyes because I know the truth and it’s killing me.

“I’m very sorry,” Jared says. His words taste like ashes. “When do you have to take her?” I say with a sniffle. Social services will arrive at your house tonight at 7. I grip my wife’s hand and take a deep breath. OK. This was the first moment of relief in months. With a blink, I’m back in the bathroom with my hand on the doorknob.

Before turning the doorknob, a miniature grey device seizes my attention. Its taped to the back of the sink. Kneeling down, I grab what feels like plastic. There's a sketch of a unicorn on the back. I’m holding a small grey and pink tape recorder. With my pulse racing, my finger presses rewind. When the tape stops, I press play. The sound of my wife’s voice, humming a soothing melody. She's preparing the shower. This doesn't make any sense. Why would someone want to make me think that my wife was showering?

I gather my resolve and guide my hand back to the doorknob and twist. The air causes the hairs on my neck to rise. The bathroom light castes my shadow as a thin elongated black shadow. The bed is empty, save for sheets soaked in red on Beth’s side of the bed. The closet now wide open, showing no one inside. Only clothes and small red footprints, leading to the bed. I'm shaking and can’t feel my hands. Everything becomes blurry.

I hadn’t seen Riggs for at least three hours. His bowl was never full for this long. Something felt wrong. I searched the front and back yards. Beth's going to kill me if we lose another dog. A faint noise draws my attention to the kitchen. I imagined I'd find rigs scratching one of his toys. But there's no one there. Now it sounded like a cat was scratching up a couch. But I didn’t have a cat and Riggs was not on the couch. I checked twice.

I could tell It was coming from the pantry. A giggle erupts from with-in with each accompanying scrape. The door creaked open, Janet was sitting alone in the dark. Riggs’s paws lay a few feet away from Janet. Separated from the rest of his body Janet held in her hands. Patches of hair where missing. Janet didn't seem to notice my presence as she began to dig into Riggs right eye with a butter knife.

Janet finally acknowledged my presence with a wide grin which made my skin crawl. She tossed Riggs' away from her without a second thought. His body slid on the ceramic floor until it hit my boot. As I wiped my mouth, Janet made her way by my side. The butter knife still held by her left hand, dripping with white fluid. She said “Riggs wouldn’t stay still. I just wanted to shave her.” Shadows swallow the room until only Janet's smile remains.

I tiptoe my way around the bed, noticing the comforter on the ground covering something. With a numbed hand, I reach for the blanket. When I grab the cover, whispers echo from the dark. “Are you all there yet?’ My hand stops shaking. I can feel my heart slow as her familiar voice begins to bring it back.

With a harsh whisper, I say "Who's there? What did you do?" A raspy voice responds from under the bed with "Why don't you check?" I remove the blanket.  A shallow red splotch makes up her empty eye socket. Her eye gazes at the sky as though she’d been praying to the heavens. A light voice rings out from the darkness. “I’m no boy scout but the binding held well. Have to say I wasn’t sure it would. This was fun” I grab my head as the painful memories flood forward.

I pull into the parking lot behind the abandoned glue factory. Getting out, I notice the white van parked at an odd angle in front in the middle of the parking lot. I can’t see Jared or Janet in the front seat. My heart stops as I can hear the tearing of something from the back of the van. With urgency, I swing open the doors to the sight of Janet straddling Jared at the hip as he lay on his back. I couldn’t help but scream.

A pair of clippers pries at Jared’s tongue. With a swift tug,  the pink muscle is ripped from between his lips. Blood spits out like a broken faucet, creating a small puddle by Jared’s head. Janet is so calm and collective. She's a remarkably patient girl. I jumped back when Jared’s eyes blinked.

A spilled drink is near Jared. It's white contains mix with Jared's blood. “Did you know Jared love smoothies?” Janet whispered. Very Interesting, I've never seen her use poison before. They grow up so fast. I’m sure people would think me a shitty father for enabling my child. But who am I to stifle a beautiful mind? As he lay bleeding like a stuck pig, a small part of me wants to help Jared. His body twitching and his mouth agape, he makes a feeble attempt to scream. But he only gurgles, spattering saliva and blood.

I didn’t help him of course. “Hey dad, we have to go,” Janet says as she pockets Jared’s detached organ in a paper bag. She jumps into my arms, burying her nails into my shoulders. “Dad?” said Janet with a sly grin. Yes, pumpkin? "I’ve been thinking about your dumb brain." I’ve seen that look before. It’s as if she’s found a new toy.

As I sit against the bed; Janet crawls into view past and sits by the body, revealing her blood-soaked features. Janet looks 16 years of age. She’s thin, but not malnourished. Her jeans worn and she’s wearing a Dark Side of Moon shirt. Janet blurts out “It took you 20 minutes to figure it out this time, Sergeant!” She cocks a bloody salute my way. I salute back with a shaky right hand. Janet begins to poke at the open eye wound.

She looked so much like Beth, and for once, I insisted. Janet accepted the new target but under one condition. We had to make it special. I’d have to stop taking my medication. I don’t remember why my daughter loves playing these games. I’m sure there’s a clinical condition or some sort of explanation. When this began, I did everything I could to research what could cause these cravings. For months I poured over studies and medical journals. Did I find the answer? I'm sure I did. But every time I try to search the recesses of my mind for an answer, it escapes me.

Submitted: August 09, 2018

© Copyright 2021 Ricardo Mojica. All rights reserved.

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