where the bad kids go
I stared at my cell phone and paced back and forth as I contemplated whether or not I should call Marco and apologize to him. A couple hours had passed and I sobered up. I cringed at the moment I lost myself and some kind of hate took over. Maybe it was stress. I’d say I had a rough two weeks.
Oh God, the things I’d said to Marco. The words spilled out before I could register what they were. Why did I say those things?
Because it’s true.
I remember his face when I blurted out the insult, and I could feel a burn pulse through my body. An empty hunger that lingered within me for days quivered and began to fill the moment the word hit him and ceased as soon as he drove away. It all became a blur to me, though, from the moment he stepped through the doorway. And then I remembered it all so vividly. At least, the words that I had said. And Marco’s face, and his pain that my body absorbed. All a blur…
I picked up my cell phone and began to type in Marco’s phone number from the pocket notepad paper he’d written it on. He doesn’t want to talk to me anymore, my voice in my head told me as I punched in each number. I ignored It…me. It was me who thought that.
I was beginning to feel like my mother.
With a sigh, I set my phone down and decided to go lay down instead. I walked into the bedroom and belly flopped onto the mattress. My sheets and covers were thrown off the bed and piled against the wall, and I lazily crawled off the bed and picked them up. The letter my mom had written lay beneath them, and I picked that up too.
I slid back into bed and rolled onto my back while tangling my legs up in the sheets. I read through the note over and over again as my mother’s voice narrated what I had only assumed was her confession of an illness that she wasn’t sure she had. Mental illness was a stigma in the nineties—it still is today—and her only way of seeking help was to write it down.
I imagined her thought process as she convinced herself that it was the house that had caused her to think the things she did, to behave in the manner that slowly took her away. I replayed the scene from inside of the basement, of The Thing that hid within the shadows, and even worse, inside of the crawlspace. Was that real?
At this point, I wasn’t sure what was.
The more I thought of my mother’s psychosis, the more I began to believe that it had started to rub off onto me as I lived under her deteriorating condition. A trauma as considerable as the one that I had managed through could have easily created a terrifying imagination for a young boy such as myself.
Trent’s stories about my mother attacking him, and what happened in the basement, were other considerations. He, too, was under the influence of alcohol, and fear. The two would surely create an imaginary being under the right circumstances. Did my mother’s psychosis begin to affect him similarly as well? Had he really seen something so terrifying inside of this house?
Questions popped in my head like balloons as they floated too high into the sky, lost in my cloudy thoughts until their insides spilled out and fell a thousand miles back to Earth. I decided to call it a night once 1 A.M. sluggishly drifted in. I tossed the papers to the floor and turned off the bedside lamp, unsure if sleep would ever come while under the impression that a monster did, in fact, reside in her closet at the foot of the bed. The sliding door remained closed.
Hours must’ve passed as I lay awake in bed, on my back with my head slightly propped upward beneath two pillows. I waited for sleep to wash over me like the tide. The moonlight squeezed through the slivers of the closed blinds and the room was painted a pale blue. Slowly, my eyes fluttered shut.
I must’ve woken only minutes after I closed my eyes, still in a supine position and in the darkness of night.
I looked down past the lumps of my feet beneath the blanket and toward the closet. A faint hum burned through my ears and into my mind where it morphed into a low buzz like static. My body began to feel heavy, and the room rumbled with a sound similar to that of a freight train passing by just outside of the house.
I tried to lift my arms. Nothing. I kicked my legs, but they remained still. Sleep paralysis, again, I thought.
The closet door slowly slid open and revealed a pitch blackness inside.
My breathing ceased. My heart fluttered as it attempted to maintain a slow, steady beat after what I had hoped was only a visual hallucination of the phenomenon.
Something inside the closet moved.
My eyes widened. My brain fought my body as I was cemented to my bed on my back. Every muscle tingled, the room thundered, and the buzzing intensified.
From the dark of the closet emerged The Thing.
It slowly swayed toward the foot of the bed with its head curiously cocked. Slender, atrophied arms unfolded from Its chest. Thin, clawed fingers branched from massive hands and fanned apart as It presented itself.
It’s not real, I cried in my head. It’s not real.
A hairless, naked being that lacked genitalia. Sallow skin pulled at its skeleton, emaciated beyond the point of starvation. Gangling legs carried The Thing slowly through the poorly lit room.
It’s not real. It’s not real. It’s not real.
Slits of moonlight fluttered across Its skeleton face. Beady, nocturnal eyes shimmered from within sunken sockets. Bat-like ears jutted from a bald head.
It's not real. It's not real. It's not real.
The mattress sunk inward as The Thing slithered onto the bed. Its reflective cat-eyes burned into mine as It crawled across the covers and over my paralyzed body on spidery arms and legs.
Oh my God.
I stared through the ceiling and to the heavens above as I struggled to wake my body up. The room roared. The buzzing fizzed through my eardrums. The Thing’s silhouetted head silently snuck into my vision as Its face hovered inches over mine, and I was slowly engulfed in darkness.