“Wake up. You need to wake up”
“Mom, I am awake. You can go away now, please?”
Everything began about five months ago -God, have the sun rays actually not contacted my filthy skin for five months now?- the way most things in my life used to begin; me waking up. My feet leaving what seemed to be like a steam mark on mine and my sister's room's cold floor, I thoroughly stretched my relaxed body and started marching towards our kitchen for yet another Christmas family breakfast.
Mom and Dad were both seated in there, what used to be the coziest of kitchens, merely devouring their omelets and having their usual verbal fight about typical turkey nonsense. How I used to hate it when they did that, oh God, oh no... How I now miss the sound Mom and Dad's voices made.
To my question of where Nancy, my younger sister, actually was, the answer was unsurprisingly delivered: "On the computer" said the mouth under mom's rolling eyes. "Before setting up a match for it, could you convince her that you two get inside the basement and fetch us some woods to light the fireplace for tonight?"
Nod was the answer.
There are several things in life so horrible, so traumatic and harrowing, that you can either never forget or are completely unable to remember. How I wish our residence's basement was one of the second kind, even after yesterday's unfortunate refreshment in memory. A narrow and dark space, no windows to deliver the sun's liberating light, no sounds and voices from the outer world to shatter this space's darkest monotony, no nothing. Just several old boxes, the mirror, a pile of woods and a rocking chair in the corner.
I am always in a hurry to leave the space due to a bizarre nightmare I kept having as a child: while peacefully sleeping on my bed, something like a shadow started going back and forth in the corridor outside my room’s wide open door. My trembling heart kept wishing that the horrible figure would stay away from me, in contradiction to the rest of my senses that knew very well that the thing, whatever it used to be, had suddenly grabbed my foot.
With dreamily rapid movements and scenes, all I can then remember from my nightmare is how the creature took me downstairs and inside our narrow basement and threw me inside of the mirror. Trapped and anxious, surrendered even, all I could discern from its terrifying figure was its magnetizing pair of yellowish eyes and its wide, ominous smile of sharp teeth that could only be part of a shark. With almost flowingly dancing movements the creature started heading outside the room and upstairs while all I was able to listen before jerking awake drown in my own sweat was my mother’s shriek of horror.
“Close the door, Nancy” I say, relieved for being outside this cold sanctuary of nightmares, “and lock”. And with the slow hinge’s creaking and my sister’s sigh of annoyance, I think I overhear a cracking noise and something… something squeaky… and… tired. Someone laughing?
The very same night my sister and I were making our beds, ready to drop like two sacks full of potatoes on our cozy beds. Valiums are good, but oh, will anything ever prove more relaxing than discussions between couples of adult friends?
Despite the weight of my eyelashes, I decided that it was a neat idea getting the now liberated by my sister’s tyranny laptop and bear the thing on my tired laps, for one last cyber journey of the day. And as I now stare at the obscurely void view outside our once glorious residence’s windows, I have to regret this casual thought.
After the laptop is taken, I think of actually visiting a site with some quiet, even mute porn to amuse myself in the dead of night. A slight image of my sister turning around is caught in the corner of my eye. She’s asleep, that’s for sure. What about the noise I’ll make? Won’t it wake her up? And how am I going to-- Aaaaargh, I’m checking the e-mails, then deciding whether I’ll ‘beat the bull’ in front of my sister’s sedated figure.
However, before I turned my head around and back into my PC’s bright screen, something made my heart beat a bit faster; something still yet sized located on the corner of my room. My pulse having augmented incredibly and my slow breath reducing equally, I could almost swear that at this very moment all I could feel in this room was a cold and penetrating gaze from the thing standing in the corner. Slowly turning the screen towards it and as its light was more and more shed on the god-knows-what figure that was gazing at me and my sister, I see a chair full of the formal clothes our parents needed us to wear for the dinner.
I smiled and ignorantly continued my route normally to Yahoo!
Before deleting any annoying Facebook or Twitter notifying e-mails, an interesting e-mail caught my attention and put a spark on my numb brain eventually. Unnerving was the fact that it had no sender’s name, no date and no time of delivery. The title was limited to a mere “:)” and my heart started beating a bit faster now once again; another necessary glance at the horrifying corner. Still nothing.
Was it a virus? A spam mail? How the hell could it not have a date or time? I checked at the time on the exactly previous Facebook e-mail, then right away checked the laptop’s clock. 2:02 and 3:58 respectively. An e-mail after the austere limit of midnight?
Distressed, frustrated and utterly unnerved, I deleted it.
How I wish I hadn’t. Would things actually be of any difference if I was a bit gentler with it? Does it actually know of any mercy?
Normally I kept deleting junk mail and checking at potentially interesting chain mails my mom’s friends were sending me. And just as I was about to click on “Obama’s elf”, oh God, a new e-mail was delivered. Full of joy and curiosity I hop back to page 1, only to come face to face with an e-mail dateless, timeless, and senderless. The title was “:(” and I was determined that whatever the message of my constant sender was, it belonged among the junk mail. The moment things took a wild U-turn however and, even subconsciously, I knew I had set something in motion that was predestined not to conclude wonderfully, was when after clicking Delete on the second mail of persistence, a third mail with the exact same characteristics was delivered. Its title was “>:(“. And I had made someone pretty confident very, very mad. When was the last time this was a good sign so I could rest assured it could be proven to be one back then?
I clicked on the e-mail. And I downloaded its attachment. I was nervous and a bit nerved, but that was it. However, as soon as my sweaty hand commanded the cursor to click on the downloaded image, my heart sank a bit.
Could I truly have downloaded an image of a dark space with only a line of dim light lending it a tone of brightness? Could there be a person giving himself in such absorbing darkness so he could only take one single shot? Could I really be looking at a photo of our own basement, the way me and my sister left it back at that day’s morning?
Dumbfounded, I successfully and unfortunately convinced myself this was not real. This was not our basement. This was not an e-mail purposed for me. This was, yes, a terrible shot translated as something completely altered by night’s subconscious fears revealing themselves and projected upon it. I quickly deleted the photo. With no hesitance, I closed the laptop’s screen, put it under the bed, took a reassuring look at my heavily breathing sister and covered myself with the blanket, like being in the inside of a protectively titanium cocoon.
That was the last night I would ever have a proper sleep. And it was filled with restless dreams deeply carved on my numb brain bearing a different meaning now, five months after; a dark figure, me yelling for help while being dragged, our basement and me, throwing a box. And shattering sounds. And then… and then long…. Long and pointy... fingernails?…
“Wake up. You know you need to wake up, you can’t miss this”
My mother’s sweet voice welcomed me for yet another morning. Since this is the last exact sound memory I have of her, oh how I hope it truly was her and not that filthy demon playing yet another one of his tricks remaining inside my brain’s memory box labeled under the voice of my dear mother.
As soon as I opened my tortured eyes, mom was strangely gone.
No answer. And suddenly all of last night’s events started playing like a tape rewinding inside my mind.
Nancy wasn’t there either. Where was everybody? I opened the laptop and, in a helpless attempt of filling the ominous ambiance that had started to spread with a glimpse of cheer, I put Frank Sinatra on YouTube. Strangers in the night… na na na…
…when all of a sudden, it flashed through my eyes, the sight of something inexplicably upsetting. The view outside both our room’s windows; utter darkness. Had I actually fallen asleep for so long or so little to be actually awake in the middle of the night? Not even stretching my tired feet, I reached both the windows to check my bizarre realization. And indeed it was; outside our house I could now watch nothing but void. It was like our house had taken off during the dead of night and was now flying around the deep darkness of space. But where were the stars?
Dragging my feet around this cold and silent space no longer resembling my home, entangled in full darkness, I was calling for both my parents and my dear sister Nancy. Unfortunately, I held very good knowledge that this was no nightmare that was occurring to me.
After a desperate and foolish attempt to fearfully exit what I once thought to be the one fort no fear could ever break in -only to confront once again a landscape of complete and menacing darkness-, I entered the first phase any person under the weight of an indefinite danger has to undergo: denial.
So as I was picking up the salmon and cottage cheese that would contribute to a delicious morning snack for what I convinced myself to be just another normal Christmas morning, my mind under no command did begin to place the pieces together. And under no knowledge that, weeks after, this sandwich would be something of a holy cow for my lonely stomach, I rapidly dropped it in the sink and sincerely sprinted towards the laptop.
Yeah, yeah, welcome back, closing μTorrent, Skype, MSN, yada yada… There we were! I opened the browser and typed www.yahoo.com
I did not know whether to panic or stay influenced by my fulfillment for the confirming thing I confronted once entering my Inbox: 3 new e-mails. Oh boy.
And after my typical Facebook notifications (even I would feel surprised seeing myself not logging in to upload yet another heart-breaking Cure song), there it was; no sender, no date, no hour. But oh, I had to suspect what it was right at the moment I clicked on the disgusting THANK YOU!!! title of it only to come face to face with an attachment of a picture depicting our residence’s dark basement.
At first it was panic, then complete grief, then excruciating anger conquering my facial expressions while facing the uttermost nightmare of my childhood taking its honoring place in my PC screen; the mirror was shattered, there was only the dim light of a half open door illuminating this frightful yet completely innocent room and something evil, something indefinitely malicious yet completely upsetting being shadowed on the floor: a tall figure, with acres that resembled strong and scraggly arms, long knife-like nails? fingers? to their end and a pair of goat-like horns on the top of its figureless head. And, on the floor, with eyes asking for mercy I was not there to deliver at the right time in any shape or form, my mother’s head, completely severed, almost narrating me how deeply I disappointed its owner.
After tears flew down my cheeks and my heart stopped being a hammer attempting to break my chest and abandon, I decidedly banged the laptop’s screen closed. I put on my shoes, opened the drawer we kept the house keys and marched towards the staircase.
One watching the manner I descended it would harshly ever be convinced it was not made of spider web. But as soon as I touched our house’s underground floor marble surface, I raced with the Grim Reaper to the basement’s door and, raged, put the key in the door’s keyhole and closed it shut.
At the key’s first turn, I could swear I heard rapid movements and scratching inside the room of my childish terrors. The second turn came to confirm my premier assumptions and, with what echoed like the most rapid movement throughout my lifetime, the very moment the second “clack” confirmed that the room had become a closed mousetrap (if only I knew what I know now…), a fierce thud made my heart go silent. For three seconds I knew I was dead. But after this time limit, a tiny smile, then a loud heartwarming laughter, then little paranoid chuckles of triumph conquered my body. I had won! Whatever beast it was that remained entrapped in the most hated room of my residence, it was now buried deep inside its own fort of terror and agony. Its squeaky and demonic laughter was back then no provocation to my slightly relieved self and, exhausted, I started ascending the staircase.
Each day of the next months seemed like a piece of a nightmarish puzzle. I know I can put the pieces together, but I do not swear what happened when, which moment led to which event and what I witnessed or didn’t during the five months darkness was the only way I could cross outside my cozy fort of the previous 17 years.
Each day until yesterday seemed quite the same, with few surprising interactions, such as the discovery and honoring burial under the floor’s wooden boards of my own father’s dismembered body.
The house seemed to be mirroring pretty much the mental state I belonged in; slowly falling apart, dirty and abandoned. Food in the fridge was enough for the weekly life of a four-members family, but for a sole individual it lasted for at least three weeks or something like it. However, considering the fact that my stay in this nightmarish residence was something around half a year, I had to find other ways to fulfill my exhausted appetite, so I began feeding on toothpaste, wood and even paper to conserve myself. Two weeks ago, I even had to severe one of my hand’s fingers and munch it away. Survival indeed is one of the conquering instincts of a human being, even if it comes to the edges of ending up self-undone.
There hadn’t passed a single day I slept or bathed like a normal human being, fearless of what could occur behind a closed door or pair of eyes. Quite promising were the awful shrieks or laughter of triumph or despair the basement’s creature was producing. I was trying to calm myself, holding a kitchen knife and watching the evening news (I swear that some of them were emissions from years ago, but this seemed tiny to non-existent confronting my daily life’s rest concerns back then), when all of a sudden something squeaky and unworldly made its way inside my ears and ringed like menace to every cell of my exhausted existence.
“Shut the fuck up!!!”
Oh God, how my dirty, sleepy, hungry and tired, tired, t-i-r-e-d self could actually use a hint of solace back then.
Living inside a slowly decaying residence, surrounded by pure darkness, listening to awful demonic shrieks on daily basis and having to undergo my own father’s smell of decomposition (I even convinced myself to sleep outside the monster’s place for a while, solely not to have to bear daddy’s awful odor of melting away. The being’s awful noises were of no concern, it’s not like I could sleep my problems away one way or another).
So there it came, yesterday. A complete ruin of me, circulating inside itself the very thought of munching another piece of my body away, decided to amuse itself opening the laptop that had remained to the state it was abandoned five months ago.
First thing confronted being my mother’s sad head facing, I had an after-months outbreak of hot tears streaming down my face. But then, decided I closed the window. And, after pressing F5, set in motion was the biggest mistake I’ve ever done in my whole wide life, for it is not going to be any longer than tonight, I can guarantee that.
One of its classic e-mails came up in my inbox and I would laugh and get it to junk mail along with the rest ones it had sent me (titled “:O” and “:(” and “!!!!”) but then again, it was the title that drew my attention and damn curiosity on that one: “WHO IS SHE”.
Bearing a baseball bat on my hand, the key, a kitchen knife in my pocket, the memory of seeing an image of my sister dirty, alone and sleeping on one of the basement’s corner (which I thoroughly memorized as a vital recommendation for my smuggle plan to be of fast nature) and absolutely nothing to lose, I descended decided the staircase leading to my life’s immense fear laughing awfully. So that was it all in all, the awful sounds it produced; an invitation.
I slowly turned the key in the keyhole and the laughter ceased. Of course it’s a trap, I thought back then. With the second turn, something went away from the door and placed itself away from my entrance. I slowly pushed the door open. No movements. And then, with motions extremely quick and dreamlike in nature I locate Nancy in the corner. I sprint towards her make her ride my shoulders. Yet numb of fear and sleep, she first screams and I shush her. She hugged my neck and… oh my God… she hugged my neck and, the very moment I faced the rest floor’s light of redemption penetrating the room through the door, a shadow fast like the Devil himself passed in front of the door and closed it shut.
Hysterical laughter floods the whole place and I feel for a second or two extremely weak to take action. Then I drop the bat on the floor and my sister screams, still grabbed from my neck. I run towards the door and start working the handle. This is of no use and I can feel the hysterical noise coming towards us.
I don’t know what passed through my mind at that instant, maybe the hope of facing the monster of my childhood nightmares and, being it a natural consequence, me waking up from my mother’s calming voice on my warm and completely unmade bed due to my anxious sleep.
I know now what I completely understood back then, that it was no dream what crossed eyes with me, even if it had once undoubtedly inhabited my childhood’s sleep; reddish eyes, a smile wide open and teeth like shark’s, goat-like horns and a giant in the size, it was laughing at me. Paralyzed in fear, I watched its mouth move and my mother’s voice commanded “We really miss you in here, come back to us honey”. It was mocking me. And that was a fuel for my rage; had it been provided back then or not, had I died in that basement along with my sister or not, I knew the final conclusion for as long as I wanted to preserve myself alive upstairs. Even if I won the battle back then, the war is his. Its. Whatever.
So I turn my head, terrified yet enraged and stuck the knife in the closed door’s slit and, under its hot breath and my sister’s maniac shaking (and now I know why) on my shoulders, I finally snap the door open and rush outside it, banging it closed for yet another time and locking it once and for all (I hoped back then) inside its cold and fearful residence.
Holding Nancy’s completely cold hands (oh boy…) I rushed upstairs under the creature’s provoking door-banging noise.
And, the very moment I take her off my shoulders and put her sitting on our dirty and dusty couch, my face and heart stay put for one second or two. My sister's painful face, on the opposite, was attempting to breathe heavily, as she was looking at me, almost asking for forgiveness.
“I am sorry...“ “Don't be” "Where are mom and dad?" "Shush. Try to hold on--", I answer back at her, as I watch her slowly lying down our couch, surrendering to the giant injury the knife-like nails of the demon have left on her weak and pale little face. Her pillow being a fresh little pool of her own blood, my sister stops moving, with eyes wide open, looking indefinitely behind me.
Now I lay on here, my cold bed, the place everything in my life used to begin (and possibly end). Next to me is lying my deceased sister, her little hands crossed and her lifeless eyes covered with her blanket. I am writing these things on my laptop, as I am listening to not only its hysterical laughter, but also scratches on the basement door and also banging from… the baseball bat?
Does it feel... hungry? Probably does. And is its appetite human-like to be pleasured with scrumptious snacks or cat-like and nothing stands like a small portion of its game's fear to satisfy its twisted nature?
Whatever this creature is, however long it has stayed inside our house’s basement and whatever aided its escape inside our world (did it escape in our world or did it drag us inside its own?), it has put me in the worst position a person under menace has to be put; a 50/50 decision. Should I end my life alone or drain the last drops of courage inside my tired soul and fight back once it makes its way inside the room it’s been forcing its way for the past 17 years? For even if my sweaty hands successfully type these words and cover my ears, and my terrified heart has ceased jumping up and down to its place, and I can feel the thoughts and memories of my loved ones empowering and accompanying me, I know for I am no fool (I have even proven that to it), that my life’s last night (and it's been the last night for five months now, in fact) has come to its end.