Here’s a pre-Halloween present to celebrate the horror!
I woke once to the sound of running water. The sun was high overhead. Melody was sitting on my chest doing her best to clean my wounds. Her rough tongue scratched at the torn flesh. But inch my meticulous inch, she worked, stopping only to dip her paw in the water. She rubbed the water over her face, cleaning herself from the blood.
Managing to lift my hand, I slowly touched my face. The skin, and some muscle, was gone all the way to my cheek. All I felt were teeth when I searched for my lips. When I realized my nose was gone too, I gagged and vomited; snorting out blood till I passed out.
The next time I woke, I was lying in a field of grass.
“La, la, lalalala,” a little voice sang.
“Meow, meow, meow meow,” Melody sang back.
The little girl, Cynthia and Melody were sitting next to me singing together. They both saw me stir and turned their attention.
“I’m glad you made it back, Jacob,” Cynthia said. “Are you feeling better?”
I was in fact, strangely well. And for a moment I thought it had all been a dream. I touched my face to find it wrapped in bandages.
“We played doctor,” Cynthia informed me.
“You saved me from Brutus?” I questioned. “You knocked.”
“I knocked, and you came,” she said. “I knew you would.”
“Why did you help me?” I asked.
Cynthia frowned. “Brutus and I used to be best friends,” she said. “We used to play all the time. Then he got hurt, and he didn’t want to play anymore. He grew, and now he’s just a bully.”
“What is this place?” I asked, hoping she was ready to explain.
“Oh, Jacob, you’ve been gone too long,” she said. “We can’t have that.”
“But…” I started.
“But you’re still missing your pretty wife,” Cynthia finished for me. “All you have to do is find the right door at the right time.”
I struggled to sit up. “How do I do that?”
“You just have to go to a long time ago,” Cynthia said, but nearby. Here, I’ll show you.”
She took my hand, pulling me to get up. We walked across the field. It must have been summer here, where ever we were. Butterflies flittered from flower to flower. A soft breeze rustled through the foliage. We approached a large tree standing alone. Cut into the trunk was an odd shaped door. Cynthia pulled it open, but Melody led the way.
“Meow,” Melody said, seeming to sense that this was the right direction.
Inside, the hallway was made of gnarled wood, and Christmas lights were strung up along the walls.
“I still don’t understand,” I said. “Have you always lived in this place?”
“We always have, always are,” Cynthia replied.
We reached the end of the hallway and this time I pushed the door open. I stepped outside once again. Now it was dark and the air chilly, but there in front of me was my house. I turned to see that I had emerged from my tool shed. Melody darted out onto the grass she remembered. Cynthia stood in the door way smiling.
“Always are?” I said confused. “And what are you?”
“We are the eaters,” Cynthia said. “We are what happens when they stand and stare into the darkness for too long. We are there staring back. And we are hungry.”
It must have been in my eyes, or maybe I took a step backwards.
“What?” Cynthia asked. “What?” Her voice got louder.
Quickly I slammed the door closed in her face.
“Jacob,” Cynthia screamed.
My hands trembled and fought to snap the padlock into place.
“Jacob, what are you doing?” Cynthia pounded on the door. “Jacob.”
The lock clicked, and the shouted stopped.