Smilin’ Jack, Part 1

Jack1

I spent the morning with my love, and when afternoon came, I sent her away with a few regretful kisses, and curled up in my bed to sleep. Night shift called for me to go to sleep late on Sundays. Darkness often greeted me. I tumbled and rumbled across the landscape of my bed, fleeing from the nightmares and hopes of my sleeping mind.

Every Sunday night, she came to wake me with dinner. She brought any fast food I asked for, and I sat up in bed to eat naked under the blankets as she told me about her day. We talked and laughed, and I showered and shaved, and then she took me to my night post on the edge of the darkness, where I could feel the bridge all night, and I was trapped with my thoughts and fears.

Bekah came that night to bring me dinner, but she did not come alone.

I was deep asleep when she walked in to wake me and I slipped it off slowly. It hung limp around my body, a sleep I could not shake, like an insect struggling to free itself from a chrysalis.

She was talking and laughing when I looked up and muttered, “Make him go.”

Silence rolled out over the room.

She laughed lightly and smiled. “There is no one here, love.”

But my urgency was rising and my voice was strained. “Make him go away,” I said. “Please.”

He must be asleep, she thought. Of course, he is asleep. How else could I be seeing anything? She decided to play.

“Well, where is he?” she said. “Is he on the couch?”

“No.” Harsh whisper. “Make him go.”

“Is he in the closet?”

Shaking head, wide eyes.

“Is he by the window?”

“No! Shhh.”

“Is he in the bathroom?”

I screamed in horror. He was in the bathroom. He stood before the sink, his back turned, staring in the mirror. He was too tall for the room, and his head lobbed over on the side. He was naked, but I could not see his body at all. Thick, black, oily hair hung lifeless from his pate to cover his entire body and drop down to his ankles. He was terrible as a snarling beast. He was terrible as a cowering child.

I snatched her up in my arms and kicked away, dragging her across the bed in a frantic need to break free. Nothing was like this, no horror I had ever seen or heard tell of. Nothing as diabolical as this lived in hell or any other world. It was hideous in a way that made my skin crawl, hideous in a way that made me want to rip out my eyes. I prayed it would not reach me as it turned and stepped closer.

From a spot by its ankle, it lifted an object with an arm too long and horrible to be even a nightmare. Its arm was nearly the length of its body. It bent that gnarled limb as it lifted the blasphemous object to its mouth. It held a crucifix, a plump crucifix made of sagging flesh. He held it up to his mouth, and from the curtain of hair, a long, bulbous tongue erupted and lapped one slow lick up the surface of the cross.

I was nearly insane with fear, unmanned by it, wished for death from it. She shook me and slapped me awake as I jerked her away. I ended up on the floor as far away as I could get from the bathroom. She held me as I wept. She calmed me as I shuddered.

And I knew if I had to look at that figure again, I would lose my grip on sanity. I knew then that whatever it took to get free of that thing, I would do it.

It was a personal demon, a hand-tailored horror hammered out by the denizens of hell to torment only me. I knew no one else could see it. I knew no one else would ever see it. It was for me.

And only me.

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