Archive for June, 2014

Evil Angel

Sleep used to be his only solace, and now he had nothing. Little Tommy stood outside, scraping a twig he had found into some wet dirt by the house. He didn’t know how to write anything yet, not even his name. He was supposed to start school in three months, and his father sneeringly said they would never take him if he was that stupid. Tommy tried to learn, but his mother was just too scattered to really teach him that well. So he scraped his twig back and forth, pretending that he was writing not just his name, but whole sentences that would tell the world exactly what he was feeling. They would be amazing sentences, full of big words and so intelligent even his horrible father wouldn’t understand. And then everyone would laugh at him for being stupid, and Tommy would laugh along.

The day was already hot and humid, and Tommy was feeling drowsy. His mother would be calling him soon, telling him to eat some lunch—leftovers—and then to take a nap. But he didn’t want a nap today. He hadn’t wanted one for at least a week now, because he was having dreams…and they weren’t the good kind.

“They’re called nightmares, little baby,” his mother had whispered to him one morning when he tearfully told her he had been scared in his dream. “Everyone gets them now and again, but I bet you won’t have anymore.” Tommy had opened his mouth to tell her more, but then there were heavy footsteps on the stairs. “Now shush, child, your daddy won’t want to hear none of this nonsense.” And that was the end of that.

But when it was finally bedtime again, he had no choice. He was exhausted from the day, and staying up late with his parents was never an option, especially not when his father started popping open more and more of those awful smelling cans, and so Tommy trudged upstairs. He took his time in the bathroom, for once finally paying a lot of careful attention to his teeth, taking a full five minutes to brush and rinse. He even started sticking that weird string between his teeth like he had seen his mommy doing sometimes, but he had to stop when blood filled his mouth. He hated that taste. He spat and rinsed with water, used the potty, and changed into his bed clothes as slowly as possible. But then it was time. The little boy stared at his bed distrustfully and then climbed in. His mother crept up, having heard the toilet flush and figuring he was ready to be tucked in.

“Quiet, now,” she whispered. She said the same thing every night. He barely even listened anymore. Her voice was like a little mouse, there but too quiet to really even notice. “Your daddy won’t like it if I’m up here too long, but let’s tuck you in nice and tight.” She tucked the sheets in under his body and made sure the tops were up to his chin. He didn’t have the heart to tell her that he loosened them the second she left. “You sleep good, little baby boy.”

He wouldn’t.

He didn’t.

The setting was his house. No one was home except Tommy…and something else. Tommy sat up in his bed, holding his breath. He couldn’t hear a thing, but he could feel it. It was just like when you were walking down the street and some stranger decided to stare you down for no reason. That weird twisting in your stomach that made you wonder if something bad was going to happen. Tommy flipped off his sheets, swung his legs over the side, and dropped to the floor. He marched down the stairs, no longer wondering what was awaiting him. He paused in the kitchen and stared up at the top cabinet above the old stovetop. Then he shuffled into the living room, his sleeping body tensing in anticipation. In his father’s rocking chair, ripped with age and stained with anger, something sat waiting for him. Tommy came around the corner and walked over to fully look it in the eyes. Dark hair that came in and out of existence. Black eyes with no whites around them. Pale, pale skin that reminded him of his grandpa when he died and laid in that long brown box. And red all around its eyes, red like the lipstick that his mother sometimes wore, red like the blood he had spit from his mouth when he dug the string stuff too far down, red like his father drew when he wanted to hurt someone, anyone. It looked sticky and dripped down from the bottoms of his eyes, smearing across his thin cheeks.

The first time, dream Tommy had screamed. He didn’t scream anymore when he saw it, because he somehow remembered that it got worse. The thing stared at him, silent. Then in one swift motion, the thing leaned forward, lifted a sword that was never there until that moment, and stabbed him right through the shoulder. And then the boy screamed, howling in pain as everything turned very, very bright.

Tommy didn’t feel like scraping fake sentences into the mud today. He hadn’t gone back to sleep after the dream last night, and he was more tired than usual. Today he just stood over the mud pit, blinking slowly and wondering if the world was really duller today or if he was falling asleep. Would that thing come to get him?

“Tommy, baby, come in here and eat something!” his mother called. Angela only spoke in normal tones during the day, when her baby daddy was away.

Tommy dragged his feet the whole way, feeling more queasy than hungry. Last he checked there was barely anything in the house, so he wondered what she had managed to throw together for a lunch for them. Probably not much; yesterday he heard his father comment how fat his mommy was getting.

As predicted, Angela had laid out two small plates, each with a modest salad of mostly lettuce and a few pieces of carrots and a bite or two of cheese. “It’s not much, baby, but we need to start cutting back a little,” she said with a sigh.

Tommy pushed around the lettuce, wondering if she had just gone out and picked rotting grass. It was clearly days old. “What’s the matter, honey? You seem so glum anymore.”

“’Member I told you…’bout those dreams?” Tommy murmured hesitantly. His mother frowned for a moment, thought, and then stared at him blankly.

“Uh, sure, hun… Are you having bad dreams?”

Tommy nodded his head, his eyes still glued downward to the plate. “Yeah…”

“Well, it will be okay, baby boy. They will go away. Everyone—“

“No.” Tommy shook his head, trying to fight back tears. “They keep comin’. The same one. Over and over ‘gain. I want it to go ‘way.”

“Oh, baby. What is it about?” Tommy stuttered his way through his dream, describing the thing as best as he could. Angela sighed and scooted her chair closer to her son’s. Putting her arm around his shoulders, she leaned in closely and whispered, “Listen, hun, I know this life isn’t the best. I know it’s not how a little boy should be raised.” She began to fight back tears of her own. “Sometimes it’s just hard, you know? Sometimes…well, sometimes, when things are bad or scary and I don’t know how much longer I can take it, well…I just close my eyes and say, this isn’t real. This isn’t real. This isn’t real. Do you think you can try that? You just tell yourself it isn’t real, and then it won’t be. Not right then, anyways.”

Tommy wasn’t sure about that, but he nodded his head and tried to take a bite to eat. He would try anything at this point.

Evening-time was bad. There were too many opened cans, and it all started too early. Tommy brushed his teeth and tried not to think about anything, especially tried to not think about why he had felt like he just had to tell his daddy about the thing they were watching on TV.

-No kidding, stupid! I’m sitting here watchin’ it, too!

Why hadn’t he stopped talking? Tommy splashed his face to hide the fact that he was crying, and he was extra gentle around the black skin.

As usual, after about an hour of lying awake and trying to tell himself that he could stay awake all night if he had to, Tommy fell asleep.

He woke up in his bed. The presence was there, but it really was just routine at this point. He threw his blankets off, slide off of his bed, and padded down the stairs. After all of this time, he didn’t even try to be quiet. He knew nothing else would happen other than what was to happen.

But maybe he could stop it this time.

He paused in the kitchen and stared at the cupboard and then continued his nightly trek into the living room. Around to face the chair…and there was the thing. The red blood-paint was darker this time and looked thicker. Tommy was ready. He stared right into its flat, dead eyes, and he closed his eyes and said,

“This isn’t real. This isn’t real. This isn’t real.”

Even though he wasn’t watching, the pain came, just like always. Tommy started howling…

The next morning, he could barely pick up his feet. His shoulder, in sympathy of his dream shoulder, had ached and felt funny all night. Tommy turned around to throw his blankets up around the pillows in some semblance of a made bed. And that’s when he saw it.

A tiny red circle right below his pillow on the dirty mattress. Tommy stared at it for a long time, swallowed, and hurried into the bathroom. A quick examination of his shoulder in the mirror didn’t reveal anything, though. The pain stayed with him all day, dull and throbbing.

Tommy huddled outside all day, too numb and tired to do anything. And then his father was home early. Too early. There were slamming doors and shouting. He tried to stay out of it, but his father didn’t need any encouragement tonight. Both he and his mommy were shoved around and slapped. It didn’t take long for mommy to stop yelling, There are no other jobs ‘round here!

Tommy decided going to sleep early was better than dealing with this any longer. At least the dream left after a while. Bitterly, Tommy wondered why his father couldn’t go away, too. His mommy could take care of him all on her own. Glaring into the bathroom mirror as he scrubbed his teeth, Tommy felt more anger than sadness for the first time.

Sleep overcame him quickly, soothing his pain. Dream swooped down afterward, unlocking Tommy’s future with a twisted, ancient key. Tommy awoke and sat up. He flipped his blankets off and slid off of his bed before hurrying down the stairs. This time, he stared at the cupboards for a long time. All was quiet. Then, the pattern churned. No thinking… Tommy slid a chair over against the old stovetop so he could climb up on top of it. His little hand found the cold metal that he vaguely remembered seeing there.

It was almost too heavy, but he knew this wasn’t real. Tommy dragged it into the living room where he rounded the corner and came face to face with the thing. It stared at him, no emotion, just void, horrid eyes. Tommy managed to raise the gun. Remembering his mommy doing it once, one time when she said she was all done with this damn shit, he pulled the piece back at the top until it clicked. Then it was easy to pull the trigger.

This isn’t real; this isn’t real; this isn’t real.


Tommy’s eyes shot open. His back hurt; his head hurt…everything hurt this time. Immediately his mommy was standing over him, her face a little blurry but he could see the worry.

“It’s okay, hunny. It will be okay, I promise,” she whispered frantically. She sounded tearful.

Sirens started screaming in the distance.


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