As I sat at the kitchen table with his family, we ate our eggs and bacon in silence. Eventually, I felt compelled to speak up.
“So… I said hi to Mr. Checks last night, and I think I met his girlfriend,” I said with a nervous laugh.
Edgar’s parents dropped their utensils. They stared at me with a look of horror. His mother finally spoke up.
“Yes Mr. and Mrs. Checks were very bad, and they had to be punished for it.” Her head sank downwards.
“He’s been very bad… He’s been a very bad little man…” His father put his arm around Edgar’s mother as she repeated that statement.
Before I knew it, I was unceremoniously ushered into the car and drove home.
Edgar and I remained friends for the next year or so. During this time, I never once was invited back to his house and the subject of Mr. Checks was never brought up again. We went to different schools shortly after and drifted apart.
So, last month the memory of this long forgotten incident came to me in a very abrupt way.
I was in my bed. I felt a hand grasp onto my leg. I stirred from my slumber to touch my wife in kind. I turned to see that she was no longer there. As soon as this realization hit me, I heard it.
Chains began to rattle. The sound was subtle at first, but then built to a crescendo. I slowly looked down. Mr. Checks was staring at me with those same dead eyes I had pushed to the back of my mind these long years. However, something was different this time. His mouth was agape. I stared into the blackness. A new sound filled the air. Emanating forth from his wide open mouth was a noise that I couldn’t place at first. It was a low growl followed by a hissing sound. Suddenly, I felt hands grab the flesh of my neck. I looked to my right to see Mrs. Checks. She appeared the same as before with one significant change. Her mouth was no longer pulled tight into a subtle (if ominous) grin. It was wide open. She began to growl as well. When she began to emit an ear piercing bark, I finally woke up.