Dedicated to Marselles Coe
Silver beams of moon glow filtered through the fluttering drapery. The sounds of the night meshed in a melancholy chorus. Little Mindy opened her eyes. Her room was dark, dreary. Hugged close was her ragged baby doll, face long ago painted into a clown-like grimace. It looked up to her, blinked, let out an anxious sigh as its tiny porcelain fingers wrapped around tresses of the girl’s hair.
Though she could not recall the horrific details, Mindy knew she’d had a nightmare. Fear still coursed through her, a chill on the back of her neck, goosebumps risen over her body. Her floral-print nightgown was soaked in cold sweat, it clung to her. Uncomfortable.
“Can you hear it?” asked the bedpost.
“Listen,” her pillow uttered, a creepy hiss.
Laughter low and sweet came to her. It was muted, deep in the house. It was familiar, she’d heard it many times before. It was her sister. From the window she turned her attention. Her bedroom door creaked open wide, the darkness of the hallway yawned. For a moment her heart stilled as she imagined something stepping in, a silhouetted fiend with perverse intentions. “Devils love little girls,” her father once told her before he died. “There’s nothing sweeter to them than little girls.”
“Like chocolate?” she’d asked.
“Sweeter,” he’d answered with a mischievous smile as he leaned back into his worn old armchair, the flames in the hearth casting him in a licking, harsh radiance.
No monster appeared in her doorway. All that was there was the far-away sound of mirth, it echoed in the dark, bouncing off the walls, distorting.
Mindy slipped out from beneath her moist covers and over the edge of her bed. The wood planks of the floor creaked. They were icy, so cold they sent shivers from her toes up into her legs. Slowly, she crept over to the door and cautiously peered into the hall. She felt her dolly snuggle fretfully into her. Eerie shadows everywhere, fathomlessly gloomier than the dark. Would they reach out and grab her ankles, bony spectral fingers wrapping around her to yank her into their depths?
“Careful,” said the wall.
One little toe into the corridor to test the fates. She held her breath, waiting. Nothing. So she tiptoed out of her room, swallowed by the blackness. She hugged her dolly tight, squeezing it to her face painfully. It whimpered. Apprehensive anticipation quickened her tiny heart as she walked toward her sister’s bedroom door down, down, down at the very end. A flickering light seeped out from the space between the door and the floor, spilled out of the keyhole. Movement. Shadows. What was her sister doing in there?
With every step the floorboards slightly bowed, groaning. “Shhhh,” the old withered console cautioned as she passed it. “Don’t let them hear you.”
Mindy knelt, leaned forward, and pressed her little face into the door. She peeked into the keyhole, a portion of her sister’s room in her view. Candles cast everything in a swirl of glimmering light. The laughter was louder. Mindy turned her head, strained her eye, but couldn’t see beyond the limited scope granted to her by the keyhole.
She did not notice the door knob turning, the unlatching barely made a sound. The hinges opened the door for the little girl as silently as they could. “Be careful,” the wall whispered again. The dolly hid her eyes and began to shiver. Shiver. Shiver. For Mindy the full room came into view. There were so many candles, everywhere, an ocean in the murk. And there was her sister, smiling, laughing, dancing with their dear dead daddy. The older girl’s arms were draped around the corpse’s neck, and his arms were wrapped around his daughter’s waist as he led her in their dreamy, dreary waltz.
His fingertips were gone, boney nubs poking forth. Pieces of his face had rotted away, yellowed skull visible. Only one eye remained, the other socket a ball of writhing worms. A terrible smile pulled his dry lips back over big, filthy teeth as he sang a terrible song. Mindy turned her shocked gaze to her sister.
The older girl appeared flirtatious, eyes fixed on her dead father’s face, giggling and tossing her long hair to one side then the other. When she tilted her head back, she exposed her long ghostly neck to her father. The dead man didn’t hesitate, he leaned in as though a lover, but his lips did not purse. He opened his mouth impossibly wide and sunk his teeth into his daughter’s throat. The giggling stopped, but there was no scream. Blood poured down her.
“Run,” the wall said.
“Hurry,” begged the console.
“Bed. Bed. Bed,” squealed the dolly as it pointed back toward the little girl’s bedroom. But Mindy couldn’t move. She was frozen on her knees, face warped into an expression of mute terror. She watched her dear dead daddy tear flesh free and chew it, gulping it down as he finally noticed her. His wicked smile stretched all the more as his single eye focused on her.
He dropped his oldest daughter. Her body hit the floor with a deafening thud. It twitched, eyes blank, face expressionless. Her blood pumped out and pooled around her.
“No, get away from her,” shouted the wall and the console.
The dolly pulled on the girl’s hair. “Mindy, please. Back to bed. Hide beneath the covers. Hurry, run away.” The dolly screamed when the little girl could not, continued to scream as the dead man reached down, took hold, and hauled Mindy into the air. Frozen still the little girl was as her daddy nuzzled into her. It was affectionate at first, silly and it tickled. But then he bit her too, and ripped her soft throat from her in a spray of warmth.
© 2020 Joshua Skye (DRWJ), USA. All right reserved.