Evil is Human.
9:06 P.M. Monday, January the 9th
He opened the door, leaving the wet air to make peace with itself. The clouds were dark and heavy upon the sky and the sun was long gone. The moon dipped down between the clouds to taunt those below with luminous temptations.
Inside, the house was silent. His step-father was leaning on the kitchen counter, reading the newspaper. Eyes whipped back and forth, back and forth - was he actually reading? Or simply glancing over the words, pretending to be coherent? Glassed eyes. Fingers that were impatient but retarded with the poison that ran through his veins, the boy thought to himself, as he sat down on the couch. Kept quiet, trying to avoid the man's predatory glare, and though they were misted with oblivion, accidents before had made invisibility something worth having.
The boy watched the obese, hairy man push himself upright, and wave a hand to declare notice. He stumbled off to the bedroom, shoulders sunken and head downward. His buzz cut made him look as though he had a military background, but the boy knew better. Laziness. The man worked, but only as much as he had to. Mumbling something beneath his breath, he tripped over his feet and fell onto the floor. The moon split his face into gray squares, refracted from the windowpane. He managed to stand, and hold himself upwards.
The man disappeared down the hallway and into his bedroom, with the sound of the door shutting and a murmur emitted by the boy's mother. The boy stared down the hallway, through the light of the window and the darkness ahead, hearing the voices rising. Like a symphony, they rose slowly from an abyss of harmony and communication to a disregard of feeling and trust - they blasted at one another.
He could visualize them; the man coated in a thick layer of fat, bellowing at her and she lying naked under the covers, shielding her breasts and screaming back. He would walk up to her and hit her across the face, and she would grab him and scream at him - their vocal chords would burst, and stem outside of their throats and they would bleed out on the bed, he on top of her like a bloated hippopotamus. Their blood would shape flowers on the sheets, and those sheets would curl over them like the wrappings used by the ancient Egyptians to mummify the pharaohs.
Their spirits would suffocate under the dirt that they would be laid to rest in and plants would take root within their chests and legs and arms; then they would forever be forgotten. They would neither ascend to the Heavens nor descend to Hell. Simply, they would remain stranded in the Earth as seeds for something greater than they ever could imagine: trees and flowers, rivers and ponds, hounds and harlots.
The boy stood. He could still hear them - vultures, he thought. Vultures disputing over the dead. They crane their necks, flap their beaks, showcase their wings, and squawk, tongues flailing about because they can't leave well enough alone.
Went up the stairs to his bedroom. Shut the door. Took off his shirt and jeans, and crashed in bed, staring out the window at the clouded sky. The moon was in hiding again. Eyes gleamed. Wet. A tear slid down his cheek, over his lips, onto his bed. He could see the town on the horizon, empty and dimly lit. A dog barked in the distance. The night calmed, and the voices below had become mostly silent. A moan would frequently surface, as she told the man that she loved him; then, I'm sorry, she'd say.
12:26 A.M. Tuesday, January the 10th
Covered in sweat, the boy awoke. A breeze burst through the window and cooled him. Rain sprinkled the ground; the clouds massed in the sky as though they had been herded from miles and miles away. They flocked around the moon as though he were their Shepherd, hiding him from the world beneath.
The front door opened and then swiftly shut. The boy jumped up and threw on his jeans, peeking out of his door; darkness. Steps moved out into the kitchen, opening and shutting cupboards. He made his way down the stairs quickly, but quietly and slowly, he peered around the corner into the kitchen. No one was there.
The steps echoed down the hallway, and into the room at the far end - his parent's bedroom. The carpet was sticky, and warm. Thick fluid pushed up between his toes, but it didn't seem to bother him much. He was frightened, but kept his eyes forward. His jeans were faintly wet against his sweaty legs, chaffing his skin. Paced into the kitchen. Stuck a finger between the curtains and pulled just enough to be able to gaze outside. The rain had become much heavier, and the lights in town had gone off.
He tried flickering the light switch, but to no avail. The power had gone out. A stream of lightning struck down from the sky, illuminating the house only enough for the boy to make out two bulbous red eyes lurking in the doorway to his parent's bedroom. Disappearing as suddenly as they had appeared, The boy's will was left shattered at the appearance of an intruder within his home. He gripped himself across the stomach. An ache rocked throughout his body, a sea splashed against his throat. Instinct tried to push him to run, but he felt immobilized by forces within.
What if it killed them? Whatever it was that gave life to those shiny red eyes? Mind racing, he could imagine it all too well: Blood spilt out like butterfly wings on the carpet, the air rank with the smell of flesh and bone, the world turned a shade of grey like the old black and white movies. He choked on his tears, balling a fist and dropping to his knees.
A moment of tranquility in the darkness - the silence was overwhelming, but fragile. Closing his eyes to grant himself one last burst of courage, he snuck towards the bedroom. The walls became swollen, stretching towards him to attempt to hinder his passage. Breaking into a run, the boy tackled the wooden door and shattered it open. His shoulder ignited from the inside, with a pain so strong that it resonated down his arm and into his chest. The veins within burst, his arm went limp. Bone scraped against bone, like chalk meeting the cement ground. He fell on the scraps of wood that were laden across the entrance, and saw the bed that gave sanctuary to his mother and the man. They were tied together, almost as one - she wrapped around him so tightly that her arms seemed snakes and he seemed a victim.
It came forth from beneath their skin. Two horns stabbed through their combined stomach, ripping them apart and killing them. A monster, encrusted with their blood, with a crown of thorns upon its head. It wore their insides like a suit, comprised of marrow, veins, and cloth.
Pair of red eyes. Round like the full moon and empty like the womb of an abusive mother. Evil. A large snout that met the boy's face directly, breathing upon him the rot and decay of an unclean life. Smile filled with razor sharp teeth stationed in gums that were blackened by tarlike saliva that drooled out its heinous mouth and onto the boy's lap. It wrapped its tail around his neck, and with a quick rise and fall, broke him, and left him as a lifeless vessel.
7:12 P.M. Saturday, January the 7th
He was sitting with her. The boy, and his mother. His head was in her lap, eyes closed and unconscious, as she read from her book. She stroked his hair, and held him. She had not been the best of all mothers. In fact, she knew that she wasn't the best. But she had always tried for him, because she knew that he would become what she never could.
The boy would walk the world, and marry someone he loved, not someone he needed. He would study foreign languages, write about his adventures, become wise and strong and give to his family as though they were his everything. He would escape what his life has become, and escape her mistakes. She had told him before, there were things that he didn't want to know about her past. Things that would break his heart, or take away from his appreciation of life. If she told him that his conception and existence was an accident, a mistake - that would take away from him his existence, and everything in it.
He had heard it in a phone conversation, once before. He didn't know whom she was speaking with, nor did he care to know. Her voice was silent from where he perceived her - she looked as though she wasn't speaking at all. But he saw her tears, and her flagrance, all at once. She had done something, or tried, but what he couldn't tell. He saw her cry, mascara dividing her face in thick lines of black; she was tearing herself apart. He went to her and as he grew closer, she said into the phone, softly but harshly:
He is my child! He is mine! she wiped her nose, sniffling. I don't understand why you don't just leave this be - you are his gramma for Christ sake! You are his grandparents, and you refuse to acknowledge him because he was mymistake? Where is poppa? Lemme talk to dad. No, I'm done talking to you! I said I'm done!
She slammed the phone down, and turned to see the boy. Her eyes widened, and she covered her mouth with her hands. What did you hear? he remained quiet, but walked up to her; he enveloped her in his arms, and she cried again. I've gotcha, she whispered into his ear. You're not a mistake. What I said, I was talking about somethin else. I promise. You don't hafta worry. We're alright. I'm sorry. We're alright.
Yes, she had attempted to abort him at the very beginning, but as the doctors threw her on a cold metal sheet, she could feel regret; something pushed her to rise above and prove that she could raise a child in all the chaos that was the world. The child would live on, and she left the clinic in tears, with a shame that couldn't be reconciled. They looked at her as a sinner, and she was abandoned. Not only had she let her guard down to a man who told her that he would love her forever, but she made the mistake of bearing his child. They told her that their disappointment was solely that she had attempted to end the child's life - she knew they were disappointed that she didn't follow through.
She argued that her love for him was always true. The day she was told about him, she was excited, for her life had finally meant something more than just going through the motions of the everyday. She would talk to him even before he had ears, or a face, or a brain. Sing to him, tell him stories, promise him that never again will she let him go; he was her salvation.
She alone took care of the child while it grew within her. Every day, it became more and more beautiful in her eyes. When he was born, she remarried, and the man turned out to be a glutton, clothed in a facade of innocence. He would strike her down at every decision, and keep her under his thumb. He said he loved her, and every minute she soaked up his tears into the sponge that had become her reliance, and she admitted that she loved him as well, faithfully. The boy had witnessed this; the boy was merely a bystander until adolescence, and like his mother, became a toy to the man's physical, and emotional, will.
But she loved the boy. She held him, and within her heart pumped a flow of rage that could only be powered by love. And as the man exploded through the door, drunken and pale, she stood against him as he attempted to grab the boy. The boy opened his eyes and gasped, tears running down his face like a waterfall. Hate was all he had for the man, as she pushed the stumbling man into the wall. Hate was what grew each day, fed with the actions of these undesirables and their fetish for violence.
By the hand she grabbed the boy, and they got into the truck and drove into town.
The moon began to rise into the sky like a balloon , released mistakenly by a child who knew not to hold tighter. She held him, again, and whispered into his ear; I've got you, she says.
I've got you.
4:02 P.M. Sunday, January the 8th
She had brought them home early the next morning, made them a breakfast of ham and potatoes, and dragged the man from his position against the wall to the couch. With luck, he would not remember the incident last night.
As he watched the moon from the car last night, the boy had conspired a plot - he would be rid of the man, and save himself and his mother. He hadn't decided how he would do it, nor had he decided if he truly wanted to. However, he knew that it was something that he needed to do, for the sake of his life, and the role he was to play outside of the man's claws.
The boy had followed him throughout the day, watching him as he, himself, had been watched during his childhood. The man had left the house at one in the afternoon, skipping his shower and any sort of food. Seemingly in a rush, the boy kept his distance from the man. Like a thief, he followed in the shadows, waiting for the opportune moment in which to take him.
This would be it; this would be his end.
It was a dark day, and the sun was barely visible. A storm had been predicted to occur within the next few days, rumored to have more power than any storm in decades. The boy knew that if he wanted to kill the man, he had to do it today, before anything could interfere with his courage. If he waited, the drive would fade. Without the drive, the boy couldn't kill him. This was not speculation, but fact.
Hours passed by, and afternoon slowly transformed into evening. The sky was beautiful, as the colors melted together, making a shimmering red that the boy imagined could have been the blood of the gods, losing a war in the Heavens against something more dominant than morality or righteousness. Instead, they were just, and unlike the unfair gods before, they treated each mortal the same - as insects, and nothing more.
The man pulled up into an apartment complex, and went inside. The boy followed him, and after five flights of stairs, he watched as the man knock on a lime green door that read "403" and the last name "Eaton" on the side. A woman came to the door, and smiled. Her teeth were yellow, and her lips were painted with purple lipstick. Heavily, her makeup plastered her face as though she was a project in an elementary art class. She had a bruise on the side of her arm that almost looked as though it was decaying flesh - and it was as she pulled the man into her room by hand that the boy knew this was where he would do it.
Door closed, lock clicked. The boy approached the door, evading any noise to keep his presence unknown. Pressed his ear to the door, though he couldn't hear but the sound of their voices - not their words. The woman was laughing, her intonation shrill and ditsy. The boy could tell without seeing or knowing her that within the encasing of bone that should harbor a brain was simply an emptiness that craved one thing, and one thing only.
The boy laid on his chest, and looked under the door. The linoleum tiles beneath him were thinly coated in dirt and disease; a cockroach scuttled across the floor within the room. As he saw the man hand her money, he could not bear to watch any longer. It stung his heart; his eyes burnt a glowing red, overflowing with all the wrath from within - he became sick. Visions began to smother him, his breathing became labored. A throbbing sensation struck in the pit of his insides, and he could see them. It was all too vivid:
Snakes; their clothes peeled off of them. In their new skin, they touched. He held her like an animal, forcefully grabbing her and using her - and she allowed him. She was merely a doll to him, to be thrown around in the ways he desired. She snarled at him, and her teeth seemed to grow outwards, becoming sharp and crooked. Her hair fell out from her head, sprinkling the floor like dried leaves on browned grass. Lips became bloated, and her tongue elongated and drooped out the side of her mouth. Her nails dug into him, and he bit into her shoulder; they were rabid, and foamed at the jaws.
The man's muscles expanded and ripped his skin. Spine grew outwards, and broke out from him - his height and weight were now triple that of the woman. They grab and twist, and deeply they kiss, faces melting together. With his hand, he picks up the rest of her body and throws her onto the chair. He free-falls onto her, and they continue to claw and scratch until there is nothing left but skeletons, pounding together their pelvic bones.
A shout came from the room, and the boy snapped to attention. He again looked under the door, and saw all that was left were clothes, scattered about the floor. Stared at the ceiling for a moment, ignoring the other residents of the apartment as they passed by.
The cockroach was trying to push its way under the door, but had gotten stuck halfway through. Raising a foot up, the boy smashed down on the cockroaches head, and pressed as hard as he could. It twitched, and squirmed, but the boy simply scraped his foot upon it, and tore in two. He left the building, and started home.
Cool was the night air on the boy. He felt it brush him, softly, as his mother did.
He looked across the fields, and saw a wolf and her cub. She nuzzled the cub, pushing it to move onward into the forest. Silver hair, and a long, graceful face, old with the passage of time. Black eyes that were not motivated by fear, but by loyalty. She gazed into the boy's eyes with a remembrance, and a longing. She seemed to know him; to know his suffering in a world that changed dramatically from a place of wonder to a concrete prison for businessmen and those to cause them to suffer.
The boy had faith that the cub would have a good life. Somewhere out there was its father, who would be free of the temptations that haunt men more and more as each day passes by. The difference between wolf and man lies in heart - wolves don't have to worry about demons. The boy smirked, and continued walking.
6:54 A.M. Monday, January the 9th
He had not been home since the night before, and had chosen to stay the night with the woman. He had paid her less than what she deserved, but before anything could be said, he had gotten into his car and left. Something had frightened him the night before, and he wanted to escape as quickly as possible.
They had met early in the evening, and she treated him to all he wished for; love, food, and alcohol. He knew that at one point he had been too rough on her - and honestly, he didn't care. He hadn't hurt her but once before, when she continued to pester him about moving forward. So, in his drunkenness, he had battered her on her right bicep and left a melon-sized bruise.
He had told her: I'm married, ya dumb bitch! Why wouldya think I'd wanna be with you anyway? You're a quick fuck. You're not cheap, that's for sure, but you're quick. And easy! he flicked her nose, and drank from his fifth of Jack Daniels.
Her face became darker, and her eyes became empty, and he realized what it was that he had said. He looked up and down her body, paying attention to her legs and waist and breasts. Her hair was disheveled since he'd arrived, and was down. Her makeup was gone, and she looked older. Wrinkles and freckles had were visible to him now, along with the heavy bags that sat under her eyes. He cringed slightly. Aw, listen. C'mon, hun. No need to be sad, I was kiddin' around! I'm just stuck right now. I'm just stuck, he lied, as he dozed off to a restless sleep.
That was the only time he had hit her, though. He was strong, and violent at times - he knew that. It was nothing that would be detrimental to her life, he said to himself. Besides, she had plenty of other men that would treat her better, and give her the happiness she so seeks.
But something had terrified him this last night with her. It had crept into the apartment without catching their attention. It had made no noise, and it touched nothing - the floor, the wall, the clothes, the door. Instead, it seemed almost a phantom that had swept in through the window with the wind. Cloaked in a shredded garment, its face remained a mystery to the man as it came into the bedroom. It stopped in the doorway, and the man gripped the sheets and curled his toes. The woman lie asleep next to him, clueless as to what had entered her residence. His blood ran cold, and his skin became blue; his hairs stood on end, his muscles contracted.
It floated nearer, and perched on the end of the bed. The air about him became misty, and heavy with liquid. Arms upon its bent knees, face still concealed, it inhaled and stole the breath from within his throat. The man felt as though he was drowning, frozen water cutting his lungs and burning his nose. Gazed into him for what seemed like forever. Time stopped itself. The moon shone into the room, enlightening the intruder.
It laughed at him, but he couldn't hear it, and spat upon him, but he couldn't see it. With one hand, it reached out and covered the man's eyes, and with the other, pulled down its hood.
Do I know you? the man asked, choking slightly on his words as they departed his lips.
It pressed on his lids, and his eyes compressed back. Of course you know me.
Of course I do, of course. That was a stupid question, that was stupid. he whispered frantically to himself.
You are stupid.
You. Are. Stupid. It pinched his eyelids and he could feel his eyes on the fray of collapse. Are you dumb?
I don't understand, the man whined. Do you have a problem with me?
Stillness. Neither spoke, nor moved. The man fought the sobs, and kept himself calm.
Oh God, I'm drunk. This is a hallucination. I'm drunk, I'm drunk, I'm drunk, the man cried. Oh God, I'm drunk!
It whispered into his ear, You're always drunk.
You beat her. You beat your wife. You beat your son. You beat them and you feel no regret.
Who are you? Have you been following me?
You work five days a week at a factory outside of town and make six-hundred and fifty-six dollars and eighty-one cents. You go and blow it all on booze and prostitutes, and leave nothing for your wife or son.
He's not my son! She's the one who holds me down! She hurts me! She screams at me!
You are a liar.
His eyes felt as though they would flatten at any moment, and ooze out his sockets.
Who are you?
Released its grip on his face, and leaned into him. He opened his eyes slowly, and saw it; a porcelain mask, painted in the shape of a child's face. Spacious eyes. Enlarged pupils. Its grimace spread across its visage, where its cheeks should have been. A foul smell emanated from what lie beneath its mask, and horns protruded from its head.
Remember, it said to him, remember all the times you hit her - the next time will be your last.
The man screamed and swung his arms, ripping the blankets and sheets from the bed. From the bed stand, he threw a small wooden container filled with change. Colliding with a standing mirror across the room, the woman was startled from her sleep and sat up. She looked at the man, and he looked where the figure had stood.
A gush of wind came through the window, and the man rushed and poked his head outside. The streetlights gave no evidence of an escaping masked-man. She pulled him back to bed, resting her head on his chest. It was only a dream, she had told him.
Only a dream.
He had scoffed at the idea as he drove home. Intention filled him; intensity grew. He knew it was the boy, and soon, he would confess to him. Soon, he would be on his knees, begging for forgiveness. The man was prepared to use any tactic necessary; the boy was not his child.
8:34 A.M. Monday, January the 9th
The boy hadn't slept well in over a month, now. Like many times before, he had been sore both mentally and physically upon consciousness. Today was the same.
He had known when the man had finally come home. Car door slammed in the driveway. Garage door opened. Bottles fell and crashed on the ground. The man was moving speedily. The boy prepared himself. Like a flood, the man came up the stairs and entered the boy's room, washing away everything in his path. Lifted the boy up and pinned him against the wall.
What the fuck were you doing last night, you little shit?
The boy turned his head to the side. Face twitched from the pain. His lip quivered.
Fucking say something! I know it was you! I know it was! the man was frenzied. The boy could see that he was scared; the man's arms trembled. His facial hair was greasy, and his body needed washing.
Y'know what, fine. Fuck it. You wanna be that way? That's fine. He put the boy down, and began to descend the stairs. We'll just see what your mom has to say after I talk to her.
The boy beamed at him, and the man descended down the stairs. The sun had come out for only a minute, and then left the world in darkness again. He laid in his bed and closed his eyes, drifting back to sleep; there, he could escape, and dream of a world where it was only him and his mother. They would be safe and love each other because there would be no one else to love.
10:34 A.M. Monday, January the 9th
He had again awoken without having a sufficient amount of rest. Below, there were stern voices, arguing back and forth at a fastidious rate. They did not seem to oppose one another, but the man, as always, was louder than her. The sun was finally out, and its rays warmed the boy's body. It felt as though Spring had come early, but he knew the sunshine wouldn't last. He would go out today, he decided. Just had to get out before the man could catch him.
Had dreamt something in his sleep, something that could only be conceived in the mind. There had been a box in his dream, black and tiny. It was wrapped in a neon pink ribbon, tied at the top like a Christmas present.
At the far end of a colossal hallway, the gift had set on a wooden table next a single wax candle. The hallways was wide, and made of stone. Upon the walls were paintings of men with their faces removed and their wives, with faces still intact, turned away from them.
The only source of light was the candle at the end of the hallway, harboring the little black box. He moved to it, his feet pattering on the cold floor. Shadows behind him moved, claws reaching forth to grab him, but he did not turn to see; they were confined to the walls, as their bodies were elsewhere. A single open window presented itself in the hallway, about three-fourths down the path to the wooden table. He looked outside, and saw that the building was surrounded by a heavy fog, stretching outwards as far as the eye could see.
As he reached the box, the candle extinguished, but there was still light, though he wasn't sure how. He opened the box, and within were two things: a feather, white as snow with red blemishes, and an envelope with the boy's name written in gold letters on the front. Opening it, he read the words and felt a rush of emotion throughout his whole body. He smiled, and reread the words, over and over again, until the voices had brought him from his sleep.
But he couldn't remember what the words had said. He remembered the feeling they had brought him, and tried as hard as he could to not forget. As he heard the voices getting closer, he stood and shut the door, locking it. He opened the window, and stepped out of it. Using the ledge of the window below him to make it to the ground.
Heard them pounding on his door. Open up! This is the last time I'm going to ask! the man had said, but the boy turned his walk into a sprint, and was gone before they had gotten his door open.
Stopping at a gas station, the boy spent the little money he had on a loaf of bread, peanut butter, a banana, and water. For about an hour he walked with his food, until he found the pond his mother would take him to as a child. She would hold him, and read to him after they fed themselves and the ducks. Sometimes, he would coax her into going into the pond and have a water fight once her guard was down. They would laugh, and fall into the pond. Completely soaked, they would walk along the dirt road back to the house, and they would wash up and eat dinner. Afterwards, she would read to him again till he was contently asleep, and she would tuck him into bed and kiss him on the forehead.
He spent the rest of the day there, ate his food, and laid in the grass. When darkness began to settle on the land, he stood and finally returned back home. He knew the man would be drunk, so he prepared himself to deal with any outbursts concerning leaving earlier, which would branch into other disillusioned and ridiculous arguments. Of course, come morning, the man would remember none of it.
3:39 A.M. Tuesday, January the 10th
Around three in the morning, police were called by passerby's reporting shouts and screams coming from boy's house. When they arrived, they found two mutilated bodies on the first floor, with a young boy hung between them from the ceiling fan.
What do you think happened? the detective stood in the doorway, leaning slightly backward to avoid the smell of the room.
There was a struggle. Did you see those tracks back there? The blood? the officer pointed back to the living room, where fresh blood stains littered the floor.
Yeah. They're sayin it came from the boy. He cut himself around the ankles. See?
He went in the room and found the cuts, circulating around the feet.
There are some on his wrist, too. See?
So, what? Suicide?
The boy, yes. He hung himself on the fan after he killed the fat man...looks like the fat man broke his arm, from what it seems. Threw him through the door. And I'm gonna take a shot and say that the fat man had had his way with the woman before the boy came down.
Hm...I suppose that's why you're the detective.
Shuddup. Don't you have something better to do besides sit here and just nag me?
I could be home, 'cept you called me in.
Bite me. the detective lit a cigarette and inhaled it deeply. Shit, that moon is bright. Cleared right up outside, didn't it?
Yeah, but it's still wet out.
Y'know, I've heard that the moon brings around bad dreams.
Well, yeah. Just what I've heard though.
Why doya say that? Didja have a dream or somethin?
Earlier, actually. It was bad. Don't usually have bad dreams, but this one was bad.
The two men paused, watching teams come in and out of the house through the window. The moon was beginning its descent into the earth, but was now visible to all its admirers below.
It started with me runnin. I was runnin, and runnin, and I didn't know where I was goin. It took me awhile, but finally I made it to my house. Inside, it was my kid, and he was standing on top of the dining room table holdin a glass of wine in one hand and a knife in the other. My father was behind him, shakin his head, askin me why I wasn't doin anything about it. And I can't honestly say why. I was just stuck. Dream thing I guess. But there was somethin else. My boys shadow was large, and stood higher than me. Took up the whole room about. And then I got called in for this.
Some nightmare, boss.
Yeah. Some nightmare.
Flashes. Cameras snapping pictures of the scene. Whispering. Body bags.
Y'know that feeling you get right before a storm? Any storm?
Uh, yeah. I think so. Nervous like?
Somethin like that.
What about it?
That's the feelin I got.
Well, don't surprise me. Been stormin a lot here lately.
Yes it has.