B is for Bezaldar

The entire group of children was silent as they digested this information, the hush hovering for nearly ten seconds. Then everyone began talking at once, panicked voices shouting questions, demanding answers.

“What do you mean ‘he’s back’?”

“Who’s back?”

Philip glanced up at his friend, who appeared to have lost the capacity to speak. Billy simply stood there, his mouth convulsively opening and closing. He looked down at Philip imploringly, as if to say “You tell them.”

Sighing, Philip turned and faced the children, each one of them staring hopefully at him as though he had the answer; as though he was their salvation.

Just as he had stood, he realized, almost seven years ago, staring wide-eyed at Jeremy Weizman who had held up his G.I. Joe action figure for all to see, before passing it around for inspection. When the toy reached Philip’s hands, he had carefully turned it over, saw the B etched into Joe’s back. There were green flakes wedged in the crevice then, too. The same green flakes he had just seen on Teddy’s button eye.

Soon after that, strange things began happening in the neighbourhood.

At first, they were small incidents, inconsequential really. Since there was no explanation for these mysterious acts, the adults simply meted out retribution to the children who, in their view, were obviously to blame.

Cameron Trawley was sent to his room when his mother discovered the empty cookie jar. Lizzy Ilkes was grounded for a week when her parents saw her room: the bedspread was tossed on the floor, books were strewn everywhere and dirty clothes simply lay in a pile beside the door. Quite possibly the worst incident was Nick Marchant being suspended from school because he didn’t hand in his homework for a month.

The thing was, Philip knew these kids, was good friends with them. He knew that Cam didn’t eat those cookies—he hated oatmeal. Lizzy was always meticulous about keeping her room clean which, everyone agreed, was pretty weird for a six-year old, but still didn’t really explain how it became so dishevelled. As for Nick, he kept insisting something was eating his homework—and they didn’t even have a dog.

The occurrences began to happen more frequently, driving the adults to become fanatical in their punishments. It wasn’t long before the playground was often seen empty and sleepovers were a thing of the past.

Philip remembered all too well what it was like last time. How bad it got. And now it was starting all over again. There was no question …

Bezaldar was back.

The End

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