It’s tough to open my eyes this late in the winter. Goddamn, it’s cold in this house. It’s been cold in this house for as long as I can remember. I know she doesn’t love me anymore. She hasn’t even looked at me in days, and now I feel like we’re neglecting David… she sure as hell is, anyway. The boy’s too young; he needs more attention, especially from Lisa. A boy needs his mother. Ever since her mother died, she’s looked like a ghost. She wanders around the house, all pale and sickly, and doesn’t say a word to either of us. Of course, there’s no more work in her future, but we’ve known that for a while. And the whole place just reeks of decay. Not so much in a literal sense I guess, but I haven’t seen a living tree since we moved here. The floor is gray, the paint is gray, the furniture is gray… I could go on… it’s just all dead. David has an attraction to this house, which I suppose is the only reason I haven’t picked him up and moved back home yet. I’ve seen him laughing and prancing around more than a couple times. He says he doesn’t have any friends at school, and that he doesn’t need them. I don’t see why it would be hard to make friends when you’re six years old.
I could hear the boy screaming a few nights. The first time, I couldn’t help but run to him, but he was asleep. I woke him up and all; he didn’t say anything about it.
“Paul,” I heard my miserable wife moan from a couple rooms over.
“What,” I answered.
“I need some help…” I could hear it in her voice. She was fucked up. She was always fucked up. It made me sick. I put down my computer and dragged my feet to the other room. Lisa’s shirt was covered in whiskey and the whole room smelled like stale cigarette smoke.
“What is it?” I asked, lazily.
“I spilled my drink,” she slurred her words, “I need more cigarettes. Can you-“ she began before I slammed the door, cutting her off abruptly.
“Lisa! Can you not understand that you have a six-year-old son to take care of?” I sharply whispered, moving closer to her.
“I know my son better than you…” she said.
“What the hell does that mean? You are constantly drunk, and you have left your life behind.” I was beginning to walk away from her at this point. “You can’t work, you can’t cook, you can’t clean, you can’t take care of your son, what else is a mother good for?”
“I love my son,” she responded, tearing up. Her lip quivered in an ugly sort of way and she leaned back slowly onto the whiskey-soaked couch.
“It sure as hell doesn’t look like it.”
“Paul, I need more cigarettes.”
“No. You’re being pathetic,” I said, turning around.
I slammed the door on my way out.
I walked back to where I was, and sat down once again with my computer. Lisa wailed from atop her whiskey-bed, but I knew she’d stop soon. I put my head in my hands, rubbed my face and eyes, and tried to shake off the disgust.
“Daddy,” David called from behind me. I turned around and looked at my son. “Why is mommy crying?”
“Come over here son, I’ll tell you all about it.” I said, trying to think of some believable, legitimate reason why his mother, my wife, didn’t give a damn about either of us anymore. He walked over to me and jumped into my lap near my computer. I set it aside and hugged him tight.
A soft clicking began to echo inside the house. It must’ve been the air-conditioning.
“It won’t last long.” I heard inside my ear. The whisper turned my ear canal cold, so cold. It burned, but I held my son nonetheless.
“You’re right,” I said, stroking the boy’s hair. “Mommy will be just fine soon enough.”
“What?” he said. I held him a couple inches away, then, and gave him a concerned look.
“What do you mean… what?” I said.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Oh, well, your mother will be fine soon. Don’t worry.” I said, squeezing my son tight once again. He giggled as I squeezed him. “What’s that, David?” I said, smiling. He sat back against the cushion with me now. David pointed into an empty corner of the room, near the stairs:
“That’s not what he said!” the boy yelled, laughing much harder now. His laugh had grown from infancy, from simplicity, into something more wholesome and much more intelligent. It frightened me.
“Who is that? Your imaginary friend?” I said, smiling at him. Lisa had stopped wailing.
“No! I don’t know his name,” he said.
“I call him the dog because he runs like a dog!” he said, before laughing again.
“What? People don’t do that, silly.”
“He’s not like you, daddy.” I heard a faint thumping noise from upstairs.
“He doesn’t have any hair and.. and.. and.. he doesn’t have any…” he paused for a moment between his stuttering, “Fingers!” he said, laughing once more.
“What happened to them?”
“I don’t know. They are gone. He has a really big mouth, too!”
“Does he talk too much?” I said, forcing a smile, then.
“Nooooooo daddy, he has a long.. a long.. sideways mouth.” He said, in a very matter-of-fact tone. I looked David in his eyes for a few moments and neither of us spoke. After a few seconds, David grabbed his cheeks and pulled his mouth open, as we so often do as children. He laughed again and looked around the room.
The thumping upstairs was growing more present.
“What’s so funny, son?”
“He’s so skinny!”
“That doesn’t sound very funny.” I said, grabbing David under his arms. I picked him up and set him on the ground. He stopped laughing… and began crying, looking up at me. His lip quivered and his eyes watered as he cried quietly on the floor. “What’s wrong?” I said. The clicking started again now, it was louder.
“It’s them.” The cold returned, through my ear canal. It burned and burned. I held my finger inside my ear for a moment before the pain subsided.
“What did you say?” I said, leaning towards David. “David, hey, son… what did you say?” he looked forwards, away from me, still sobbing. I could hear Lisa begin to start wailing again, this time in more of a piercing shriek that resonated well in the empty house. Added to the screaming was this guttural clicking that I couldn’t seem to identify. It had been getting louder and louder.
“Go get it.” The cold voice said. It was unbearable, and I pushed my head into the cushion. I cupped my hands over my ears, trying to kill the cold in my head, and drown out my wife’s incessant shrieking from the other room. David began to make noises as if he were scared and uncomfortable, as if he were cornered.
“Daddy, listen please!” he said, shivering. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening, but looked around for someone or something. The shrieking became louder and louder and I curled myself into the chair, cupping my ears still.
“GO GET IT.” It said, this time I stood up and screamed aloud. I momentarily removed my hand from my ear and my palm was speckled with blood. After falling and writhing in pain, I looked up to see that my son had run into his mother’s room. Lisa’s screaming stopped, and the clicking stopped, but, of course, I had to go get it.
I quickly jogged up the creaky wooden steps towards my room at the end of the hallway, upstairs. I walked closer and closer to the threshold, but I didn’t feel anything, and I didn’t see anything, just darkness. There were no lights on, and I didn’t want any on. I stopped my running and slowed for entry into my room. I walked very softly and very slowly towards my dresser, until I heard it again.
I turned towards the source.
Through the glass, on that northern winter night, the moon illuminated a portion of my bed. Upon this portion of my bed sat an entity, an entity resembling a man in almost every way. Its skin was whiter than snow, and its naked hairless body was severely malnourished. It had its head bent over, so I could only see its back in its entirety. With every click, it jumped, or jerked, its shoulders back ever so slightly. I was in front of my dresser, but still looking at the… thing. I continued to stare for about a minute or so before it slowly reared its head towards me. Its eyes were beady, large, and black. Its mouth sat as a sliced opening below its eyes. It didn’t turn around fully, and I heard it click again. Looking away, I reached into the dresser and slid a 9mm pistol from beneath my socks. I walked downstairs. The clicking followed me all the way down.
I thumbed back the hammer.
That’s when I yelled for them:
“David! Lisa! Come look at this!” David ran from Lisa’s room, sliding across the hardwood floor into the living room. He came out with a smile.
“Daddy! Did you listen?”
Lisa slowly followed:
That was when I lifted the gun, aimed it towards David’s torso, and pulled the trigger twice. His body went limp quickly and slumped in a pile onto the floor. Lisa’s eyes grew wide, processing my actions. I pointed the pistol at her, and then fired three shots into her head and neck. Her head knocked backwards and her entire body hit the floor at once behind it.
I heard the clicking behind me still. So, I pushed the cold handgun into my head and pulled the trigger.