He Wanted The Nightmares To Stop

Flickr / Adriano Agulló
Flickr / Adriano Agulló

It exited through his right ear in a room with no lights; he didn’t like lights. Still, he could see those bright white lights emit through its eyes as it stayed in a corner, saying nothing, doing nothing; it merely smiled.

He stayed in that one room, given the bare minimum of living conditions and music. He had many violent nights with no music, and those who kept him there finally relented and gave him whatever music they could muster in a very old CD player that sat on his bedside table. He sat on his bed, his knees against his chest and staring at it. It looked like a flesh-ridden jack-o’-lantern, its eyes bright and shining toward him. In contrast with its eyes, its mouth was a black, gaping void that was so dark it could be seen in that room where no light was allowed.

He tried to tell the thing to turn off its eyes, but it did nothing. It merely stood in its corner that he allowed it to stand, mostly because he dare not find out what it would do otherwise. It did nothing but smile at him for hours. Every once in a while, when the ladies came into his room to give him his medicine and food, it disappeared, only to reappear back in that exact place.

Over time, he tried to return to his daily routines, to stay awake as long as he possibly could. Even when it did nothing but stare and smile, he did not trust it. However, when there was nothing to do but sit and listen to rock from the early nineties, his body had to submit to the pressures of the human weakness.

He slept. He dreamed of that godawful place, that bridge. He even dreamed of that plant and that machine. When he woke, he looked over to the ladies who sat his tray of breakfast down beside his bed and then left the room. This time when they shut the door, it was about two feet from the corner, closer to him, and he backed up against the wall, pulling the cover around him and kicking toward it.

It kept smiling, its round form framed by two long arms, with four fingers and black claws that nearly reached the floor, if it weren’t for its long, skinny legs with two stubby toes. Its eyes still glowed toward him, and this time it was very lightly swaying to the sound of the music the people brought him, as if he liked it. What was that thing doing here? If it really came from him then shouldn’t it be trying to help him escape? Or at least trying to find itself a way out? What did it want?

He tried talking to it. On occasion he would ask it if it wanted water. Over the hours of staring and smiling, he began to wonder if it just wanted him. If it wanted him, why didn’t it grab him by now? When he got up from the bed, and walked across the room, its gaze followed him. Its legs didn’t move at all, its entire body turned toward him without any extra movement at all. After a while, he started to sing to it, usually singing to it with whatever came on the CD Player, and sometimes just singing row-row your boat or twinkle twinkle little star. There was still no reaction from the thing.

That was when the ladies walked in again, one standing by the door, and the other bringing him his medication and meal. When they exited again, he looked over at the thing and there it was, not but two feet from his bed. This time he reeled a little bit, but ended up eating in front of it, sometimes throwing little pieces of bread at it. He couldn’t see if it actually hit it, or if it just went through it. At this point, he didn’t care. Before long, it really didn’t matter to him at all.

The man started to talk about these kids he knew on his street block. The ones he saw crossing the streets to get to class, or sometimes going to hang out at a store, or at one another’s houses. To his surprise, the thing tilted its head, which was more or less its entire, round-shaped body, as if it were interested in some strange, inhuman way. When he saw this, he kept on talking.

They were classmates in middle school and had some of the foulest mouths little children could possibly have. They were the types of friends that would stand up for each other, even go so far as to defend one another by any means possible. How did he know this? He watched them. From the seat of his living room, out the window, from the schoolyard, even from the windows of their houses. Why did he do this? He envied them, everything about them was what he wanted, he wanted the nightmares to stop, he wanted to forget everything, and watching them gave him a peace of mind that TV just couldn’t give him. He wanted to be them in every way shape or form. While their lives were not perfect, they were happy.

To his great surprise, the thing began to laugh. There was no sound, but he could tell it was laughing. He was somewhat relieved; in fact he was so relieved, he even started to laugh himself. He was still laughing when the girls walked in once again to give him another pitcher of water and more paper cups.

When they left, it was on top of his bed. It gazed deeply into his eyes with those now-blinding lights emitting from its gaping, empty sockets. That’s when it began to pull on his head from right above his ears. It was a different sensation when the top of his head rose up, attached to his brain. Very slowly, his brain brought up his spinal cord as he could only watch, frozen in a stasis that he knew would end very soon.

It was interested, all right. Without the man, it had no one else to play with. TC mark

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