Please, take me back.
I know I ain’t been attentive, baby, but c’mon, I’ll treat you real good.
I’ll make all that stuff you like in the kitchen, I’ll talk real good to you, baby.
C’mon, lemme show you what I can do.
© Copyright 2011
Melissa sat, crying.
Then she doubled over so violently she rolled out of bed, pulling sheets down as she fell. They buried her as she curled up. God, she thought, please help. It felt like a fire poker was twisting in her gut.
She could feel it burning. She imagined her stomach hissing, steaming as it twisted like meat on a spit.
She could see in her mind the pink tissue browning and charring, sizzling and roasting. She cried without effort, choked but didn’t breathe.
She dug into her sides, hoping to scoop the fire out, toss away the pain like smoldering embers.
And it stopped. So suddenly it rocked her, left her breathless. She gasped for air, and her small body shuddered as she started coughing.
Mommy and Daddy were asleep. She could cry and try to wake them, but Casey and Lucy were very good at keeping them asleep.
She tried to call, couldn’t, thought it anyway. Please Momma, Daddy, please come and help…
The little girl caught her breath, climbed back in bed with shaking arms and sweaty hands. Her hair glued itself to her burning forehead.
She calmed down enough to fidget into a trembling sleep full of the usual nightmare images.
She woke to hear her door shaking in the jamb. Something beyond it was scratching and huffing at it.
She heard the snuffling breath of a dog. She smelled the sick foulness of rotting meat.
She thought of the dog.
Casey and Lucy had shoved her towards it when they found it. It had been hit by a truck and thrown into the ditch behind their backyard. It was big, black, and Melissa had thought it was a bear at first.
They scowled and told her to jab it with a stick. They were triplets, but she was the smallest, the weakest.
“Do it,” they told her, with the command of children. So she did.
She walked to the dog, the great stinking thing. Its eyes were gone, eaten out by insects who were already peeling the gums from its teeth. She pressed the end of the stick into its stomach, pushed.
The flesh gave like jelly, and small white things wiggled in the hole.
Lucy and Casey laughed as Melissa ran home crying. Momma and Daddy had comforted her, but they didn’t really believe Lucy and Casey had done what she said they did. Their girls didn’t do that.
Melissa heard the scratching, the quiet barking. She thought again of the dog. She heard her sisters giggling down the hall.
It can see me without its eyes, she thought.
The dog rammed its soft body against the door, mashing its jelly flesh against the white paint.
Melissa curled up in bed, kept the blankets over her knees. She would not let it in, it couldn’t get in if she didn’t let it…
The giggling started again, and Melissa saw the lock turning on her doorknob. The round shiny brass turning on its own.
The thin door swung open, and behind it stood the dog. Its mouth hung open, more slack with rot than gaping with hunger. It looked wide-eyed and eager, even though the flesh around the eye sockets was eaten back by insects.
The dog barked, a wet hacking sound, spraying flies and worms across the floor. It charged, bounding over the floor and onto the pink satin comforter.
Melissa screamed, threw her blankets over the awful smelling monster. She hopped out of bed, ran for the door.
The dog thrashed its way free, leapt. She felt its soft weight knock her down.
It breathed in ragged, fuming bursts. The smell seemed to char something in the back of her mouth.
She thrashed under the heavy paws, slapping behind her and feeling soft, warm dirt cakes under her fingernails. She squirmed, even as she felt the heavy jaw close on the back of her neck.
It squeezed, then there was a sucking, tearing sound. Something flopped to the floor, and spilled down her back.
The dog wasn’t biting anymore. Couldn’t. Half its mouth saw moldering on the hallway floor.
Meliassa bucked as powerfully as a girl of eight could, threw the dog just enough to scramble away. It moved to give chase, but she grabbed the door and slammed it behind her.
The wood caught it by the neck in the jamb. There was a wheeze, and attempt at a whine, then a splattering mess .The jawless head bounced to the floor, leaving three wet spots until it finally stopped.
In her bedroom, she heard the rest of it collapse as well. Her sisters could have kept it moving if they’d wanted. It seemed like they were done with this game.
Her parents weren’t mad, just terrified as they usually were. Their disturbed little girl regularly horrified them. Wallowing in her vomit, screaming of her sisters firing demons from their eyes. The spattered, putrid pieces of the dead animal was unique, duly shocking. Nothing to be angry about, but something new to fear.
She cried and whined in her little world. Her sisters were angels. They put up with her petulant accusations and still loved her. They offered her bits of their toast as they ate their breakfast.
Daddy whispered about the psychiatrist with Momma. She sighed and said she’d call. She looked sadly to her three girls.
They could be so perfect. The two on the far side of the bar were angels, fair skinned, fair haired, always smiling. If only Melissa would grow, if only she weren’t so skinny and scratched.
She watched the unhappy ball of tangled hair as it nibbled miserably at its breakfast, and sighed again.
The teacher was careful to quietly escort Melissa out as soon as she began slapping at scratching. The little girl’s fits were routine by now, and some time in the Resting Room by herself usually got her back under control.
Melissa was sullen as she always was when she returned to class. The sisters snickered in the back, out of sight of anyone not bound by age or blood.
Melissa did her best to ignore the ants they sent crawling over her hands and biting into her wrists.
The bed sheets strangled her again. They twisted around her like a hungry snake, crushing her waist and holding gown her arms. She snatched and clawed, but the blankets held.
They giggled again, amused at their game. They were so clever, they thought. One to keep the parents sleeping, one to turn her thoughts to Melissa.
They always took turns. Neither could stand missing a chance. The attacks always came in pairs.
She fell off the bed and out of the blankets. They twirled and reached, but she crawled away before they could get a grip.
She curled against her dresser, sitting in the dark, weeping but unaware of it through pure repetition. She reached into the bottom drawer, pulled out the only defense she had.
An old, crumpled item, but potent in what it held. A snapshot, the only thing she could safely aim her hatred at.
Her two sisters, standing together, alone without her or their parents. Just Lucy and Casey, the demon angels.
Beautiful, powerful, always bigger than her. She hated their faded, creased image, hated it until it faded behind a white hot, fading flair.
She hated it until they disappeared from sight.
She always hated them, always thought on the hatred. The hatred grew stronger every day, and its strength kept her from dying.
The rage came in flares, brighter than day. It scorched colors, it bleached whiteness into everything.
She fell asleep, and dreamed of pretty smiles erased from a polluted world.
She woke up to screams. Two small, shrill screams.
Two screams impotent against the pain they rang.
There were panicked shouts. Momma and Daddy always came when the angels sang.
Then they screamed too, shouted and cried and wailed to get the police, get an ambulance, oh God, oh Jesus, what’s happening?
Melissa peeked down the hall, saw Lucy and Casey’s bed in their mirror. Saw the shaking, screaming lumps of crumbling, spewing meat in the polished glass.
Saw the blond hair dyed in death, the heavenly smiles twisting and peeling. The fair skin falling away, disappearing.
She looked to the photo, still in her hand. Lucy and Casey’s photo.
All she could see was the flicker hint that two little girls may have been there, sometime long before the photo was taken.
Then they were gone, and the photo finally died and fell apart at its folded seams. Momma let out a wail of horror when she realized she would not wake up from what she’d dreamed.
Daddy made grunting sounds, heaving his way through every breath. Then his footsteps pounded down the hall.
Please come, Daddy…
The relief was small, but there in potency. His little girl was there, smling and ignorant of the horror ten steps down.
Melissa sat, smiling.