My Cousin Is Really Into Practical Jokes, But His Last Prank Seems More Sinister Than Usual

Christian Guthier
Christian Guthier

When I was growing up, my favorite person in the whole world was my older cousin, Spencer.

He’s exactly the kind of guy you like to hang around with when you’re little. Even though I was a good ten years younger than he was, he never treated me like a kid. He talked to me like a regular person and listened – actually listened – when I told him something. He would always make time to play with me when the family got together, and he gave me all of his hand-me-down toys. Plus, he was funny and had a big, red beard.

Actually, I think what I remember most about Spencer was his sense of humor. He would make the most ridiculous, off-the-wall statements and deliver them deadpan. Sometimes, I’d almost think he was serious… until his stoic façade cracked with a smile and he started howling with laughter.

My first thought was how much I’d miss those jokes, when I got the call about his accident. I was about twenty years old by then, and I hadn’t really talked to Spencer in a few years, but I still looked up to him and remembered him fondly. It was a terrible tragedy that he’d had an asthma attack alone in the woods. He was helpless without his inhaler, and by the time someone found him… well, they were a few hours too late.

My aunt and uncle were devastated.

As such, my parents called me down from school for the weekend and our whole family helped with the funeral and other arrangements. It was a terribly depressing affair, but the worst part was that we had to drive out to Spencer’s house with them and help package his things.

Since looking at me was upsetting my aunt and uncle – which is fair, I mean, they had just lost their own child – I was relegated to the shed out back, which I was to work on cleaning out until my mom and dad were ready to go.

Now, Spencer was a real outdoorsy type of guy. He worked a construction job and spent almost all his time either building things or fixing them. As such, he spent a lot of time out in that shed. I had expected it to be neat, if well-worn.

I was a little surprised when I opened it and found everything in disarray.

There were tools and materials strewn all over the floor, including a very rusty-looking chainsaw perched precariously on a few cinderblocks, while his worktable was a mess of fast food wrappers, crumpled up papers, and dirty rags. Most of the place was taken up by a half-finished car he’d been working on, and the floor was a smeared mess of oil and dirt. A rank smell alerted me to the fact that he also used the shed to clean and skin his game during hunting season – Spencer was an excellent marksman.

I decided to start with the worktable, clearing away the garbage so I could see if there was anything worth keeping. As I lifted away an old pizza box, my eyes fell on a ragged composition notebook that was simply labeled, “Diary.”

I was intrigued, as I’d never pictured Spencer as the kind of guy to own a diary. After I threw the pizza box into the garbage bag, I grabbed the notebook and sat on Spencer’s workbench. I knew it was wrong, looking through his personal things, but his death had hit me surprisingly hard. I thought that, if I read it, maybe for a moment it would feel like he was still alive. Like I could still talk to him.

I opened the notebook and read the first entry.

*

Diary of a Toothbrush

I spend my days under blinding lights, listening to the rush of water, aware that it is both a warning and a taunt.

I dread the moment they reach for me, holding my head under the frigid water, waiting for me to drown. Only once I am completely drenched do they bring me to their stinking maws, rubbing me against their filth. They like it. I think they secretly get off on it.

Then, they put my back in my cell, and leave me to shudder and wait for the morning.

Unfortunately, there will always be a tomorrow.

*

I blinked and reread the passage, not sure I had understood what I was reading. Then, I closed my eyes and pictured Spencer narrating it to me, his deadpan voice giving away no hints. I pictured his smile at the end and I started to crack up.

Spencer. Fucking Spencer. I swear, the guy had the weirdest sense of humor. But he never failed to make me laugh. A notebook full of the mundane experiences of inanimate objects? I was looking forward to reading the rest of them.

I turned the page and found the second entry.

*

Diary of a Sock

I spent the night rigid with anticipation. They leave me alone for those quiet, dark hours, but I know they’ll be back. They want me. No, they need me. They can’t get rid of me, not matter how hard they try.

And then, it happens. First, they stretch me out – oh God. Then, they nudge their toes into my insides – I’d pant, if I had lungs. Finally, they force their rigid flesh as deep as it can go. I quiver with barely-contained arousal.

They spend the whole day walking on me, in me, rubbing against me like the filthy little sluts they are. They make me come until I can’t anymore.

Then, the next day, they do it again.

They’re sick fucking bastards… and I can’t get enough of it.

*

I was howling with laughter, tears springing out of my eyes. Oh, yes, we were definitely keeping this notebook. In a few months – well, maybe a few years – his parents would probably get a kick out of it. Oh man, his mom would be horrified, though.

I moved on to the third entry.

*

Diary of a Gun

It’s cold out, the fall wind kissing my metal with practiced ease. The air is ripe with dead leaves – I wonder, should death smell so sweet?

He aims me at a buck – majestic and tall, its antlers imposing and regal. It belongs in a painting, but it will end up in a shed, its skin tattered to ribbons and its insides consumed with dispassion.

I fire. It drops.

One eye is destroyed, the other is glassy.

It’s hard being a pacifist when you’re a gun.

*

My giggles started to fizzle out and I stared at the entry, puzzled. That one didn’t feel like a joke. It seemed almost introspective, philosophical. Maybe there was more to this than I originally thought. Filing that conjecture away, I flipped to the fourth entry.

*

Diary of a Chainsaw

When Master comes for me, he does not come alone.

He drags her behind him by her blonde hair. Well, blonde with a few blotches of red. She screams, but he does not hear her. Or perhaps he does not care. Master is impervious.

He chooses me, and I am grateful.

The sound of my engine rips through the night, drowning out her terrified cries. After a few moments’ work, her cries turn painful, and she screams in agony. I like the sound. It fuels Master.

By the time Master is finished, I am drenched in red. He likes how I look, covered in humanity. He lets it dry on me as I sit on the cinderblocks, watching his work.

He wiggles under the car, pulling open the secret door. Only he and I know that it exists. I hear him shove her body into the hole. I hear a thud as he hits the bottom of the basement. When he emerges from beneath the car, he smiles at me. I want to purr in return.

Master is pleased, and that pleases me.

*

I had stopped laughing by then, my face twisted in disgust. The tone of the passage was worshipful, sexual, even. It echoed somewhere inside me and made me feel sick, as though I had been infected by the words. There was something nasty in them, something viral.

On impulse, I threw the notebook in the trash bag and began to drag it out of the shed. That journal was a joke gone wrong and I felt that nobody really needed to see it. Spencer would probably prefer it if I threw it out, anyway.

As I headed for the exit, I kept my eyes pointedly averted from the chainsaw in the corner of the shed. As I reached out and opened the door, I took one last breath in the shed and frowned, before practically running out and leaving it forever.

Man, it smelled really bad in there… TC mark

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