Jo was sleeping beside me on the sofa bed. She had only just drifted off and was snoring lightly her chest moving softly. She wanted to investigate the Door again and the only way to do so was through sleeping. Soon she would begin the fits of shaking and whimpering and just like me she would only awake with a sudden shock and scream. But for the moment she looked peaceful.
I turned my book on its spine and stared at the roof. I recalled the afternoon again at the Jolt.
Jo had left with a promise of returning at the bookstore at closing time and Claudine had never arrived at the Jolt at all. When I arrived back at the store the storage room at the back had its door open. Gingerly I walked inside.
Books were strewn over the floor and some had the pages torn out. I was filled with an immediate sense of despair. My books, my lovely, wonderful, amazing books defaced by Claudine. She truly did not understand me at all. She thought tearing up everything I cared for would make me love her more?
Behind me I heard heavy breathing. I recognized it as Claudine. I turned on my heal holding a first edition of ‘Moby Dick’ with six, total six, pages missing.
“What have you done Claudine?” My breath caught in my throat. I was about to cry. Her arms swung carelessly by her sides and she walked up to me. Her eyes were swollen red and rivers of mascara ran down her cheeks.
“I got rid of your distractions Joseph. Now you can spend more time with me” Her hand traced the straight line of my nose and she stroked the hollows of my cheeks. Her face was inches from mine, so close I could feel her mint-fresh breath on my lips. I closed my eyes and remembered why I fell for her in the first place.
Her lips touched mine and I was lost and in her control. We parted a few minutes later her hands entwined in my electric blue hair and my mouth was filled with a coppery taste like sucking a new penny. I touched my lips with my fingers and they came away with blood. I spat on the ground by her feet and she laughed.
“I’m done with you now Joseph. Please don’t try and call me” She left me with a feeling of regret.
My phone lay on the coffee table beside the sofa and I was itching to use it. One little two second call couldn’t do any harm. What was she going to do? Bite me again? I called up my contact list and found Claudine at the top. I pressed the call button and heard the dialling tone just as Jo started to whimper. I heard a click and Claudine answer.
“I said not to call Joseph” she scolded, “now it looks like I’m going to have to hurt you, right about…Now” I waited for pain that would never arrive.
“You’re crazy!” I laughed, “Nothing’s happening!”
“There is more than one Joseph in the room”
I glanced at Jo lying beside me. She was twitching uncontrollably and her limbs started to flail about. Her teeth chattered together and her mouth opened into a long, chilling scream. The light flickered and exploded sending a sprinkling of hot glass flying down on us.
From the corners of the room the shadows detached themselves from the wall and crawled towards us menacingly. They slinked stooped over themselves their arms rubbing the carpet thin. I saw their eyes, beady and black and full of hate. For a moment I thought I saw the jade green of Claudine’s eyes. I remembered she was still on the phone. Urgently I pressed the phone tightly against my ear.
“Claudine! Stop this! Stop hurting her, stop hurting me! Claudine”
She was still on the phone, I could hear her breathing. The Nightmares reared up on their squat backlegs and pawed at Jo's body. Everytime a Nightmare touched her, her skin blistered and boiled.
“Tell me you love me”
“What?” I almost threw the phone against the far wall but one look at Jo's bubbling skin stopped me.
“Tell me you love me” she was adamant that I told her what she wanted to hear. I cleared my throat and reminded myself; it was for Jo and technically for me.
“Um… I-I love you Claudine” I heard her content sigh on the other side of the line. The phone clicked and she was gone. The sofa trembled underneath me and Jo jumped awake released from Claudine’s death grip.
“Jesus, that was freaking scary” she murmured clutching her chest dramatically. She threw back the duvet and clambered out running her fingers through her hair.
The right side was flat but the left side had the usual cherry red bounce I had come to expect from her. She inspected her arms and rubbed them. Her skin was already returning to normal.
“I just told Claudine I loved her” Jo jumped to face me her mouth hanging open.
“Why the hell would you tell her that? We don’t love her!” she shrugged, “We like Tony a lot, but definitely not Claudine”
“Um, in your possible future if you’re lucky”
She flopped back down on the sofa cradling her head in her arms. She mumbled something.
“I said, want to hear my dream?” She twisted her mouth and flared her nostrils. Something I knew I did when nervous or afraid. I swiftly nodded my head.
“The Nightmares escaped from the room again and the area around the door was mega-clean again. But instead of waking up like last time I stayed. I walked up to the Door with an urge to open it. The doorknob burned my hand but it wasn’t unpleasant. I saw behind the door Joseph. It was horrible! I-I-I can’t explain it but thinking about it makes my brain go all wierd and wobbly and starts to sting. It’s like jumping into a pool of knives!” I had the feeling she wasn’t being over dramatic.
She shifted her position changing it to leaning against the back of the sofa. A chain fell out of her t-shirt catching the moon light flitting through the blinds. It looked heavy and gold and reminded me of a mini-doorknob.
Jo noticed the chain outside the t-shirt and quickly pushed it back against her skin. Her eyes started to drift closed, she looked so tired, just as I felt.
“Jo! Wake up! It’s my turn to sleep. Make sure I don’t die okay?” She nodded sleepily to me.
“I’m going to make some coffee” she mumbled getting off the sofa and stumbling towards the kitchen.
I fell against the pillows and squeezed my eyes shut. Eventually I felt sleep tug at my eyes and I relaxed into the comfort of the sofa and drifted aimlessly off to sleep. My nostrils flared as the last part of my brain fell asleep, I knew it wasn't going to be a good sleep. In fact it would probably the worst sleep of my life.