The thick curtains were drawn leaving Brian sitting in the dark. He didn’t mind though, he liked the dark. Every day after school he ran home, leapt up the stairs and wrapped himself in the darkness like it was a warm blanket. In Brian’s experience, there were no monsters in the dark. The monsters were out there in the light. Out there with their fake smiles, sharp words and cruel fists. In here he could be alone. Well, usually.
Today something was a little different. Today the darkness felt heavier than usual. Pregnant with something out of the ordinary. With a shiver, Brian hugged his duvet tighter and scanned the darkened corners one by one searching for movement. His eyes ached as he looked from one corner to another trying to pierce the gloom. Nothing presented itself but the feeling persisted. Brian felt long, bony fingers caressing the back of his neck. He flinched and spun but there was nothing there, just him and the darkness.
Concerned by this strange change in his usually homely room Brian stood, careful to keep his duvet wrapped around him, and moved to open the curtain. He reached out a hand but before his fingers closed on the thick black cloth he heard a buzzing behind him. He spun his heart pounding in his chest then let out a sigh when he saw the cause. On his desk, his phone was lighting up. He had a message. He waddled over to his desk and picked up the phone, swiping the screen open with his thumb. He read the message and tossed the phone onto the desk with a scowl.
He turned back to the window but as he did he caught something out of the corner of his eye and felt something brush his cheek, soft as a spiderweb. He looked quickly from left to right but still, all he saw was darkness. He hurried forward to the curtain but as his hand brushed the cloth a voice hissed out from the corner.
Brian froze, his heart lurching in his chest. He smelt the acrid stench of sulphur and felt two eyes burning into his back. He wanted to turn, to look and see nothing and confirm that it was his imagination, but he daren’t. What if there was something? It was better not to look. Not to know. So instead, he let his hand fall from the curtain.
“Who… who… who’s there?” he whispered his mouth suddenly dry.
Why don’t you turn around and look?
Brian felt himself turn, though his mind screamed at him not too. He wasn’t in control any more. It was.
When he turned all he saw was the darkness but he felt it there, just beyond his vision. Watching. Waiting. A sly smile on the face, a flash of razor-sharp teeth and just a flicker of a burning red eye. Brian screwed his eyes shut so hard white lights danced in his vision.
Do you know why I’m here Brian? The voice was right by his ear now. He thought he could feel the things fetid breath on his cheek and he flinched, folding in on himself like a hedgehog curling into a ball. Only he didn’t have sharp spines to protect him. He had nothing. No one.
I asked you a question boy.
“N… N… No…” whimpered Brian clenching his fists at his sides to stop them shaking.
The thing chuckled. A low, rumbling cackle with nothing of humour in it.
I’m here because you are a fat, pathetic waste of skin and I don’t like a waste. Here you are snivelling in your room on your own, again. Hiding from the world. Well, I have a use for you boy. You can entertain me. Would you like that?
The silence stretched as Brian stood frozen in place.
I said, would you like that boy?
“N..n…n…n…No,” stammered Brian.
He felt something warm, wet and rough run up his cheek as the thing licked the tears from his face.
Oh, we’re going to have so much fun, Well I am anyway. You… Not so much.
Brian let out a whimper as the things saliva burned a line up his cheek.
Now open your eyes boy, it’s no fun if you can’t see.
Brian felt his eyes opening of their own accord and as they did they locked on something shining mere inches in front of his face. A long thin blade catching a sliver of sunshine coming in from the window. He let out a low moan. Fresh tears sprang into his eyes and his heart pounded in his chest but he couldn’t move. He was locked in place, mesmerised by the shining thing.
Don’t worry I won’t feel a thing said the voice but Brian barely heard it. All his focus was on the blade as it slowly dipped down, lower, lower until it was just below the leg of his boxer shorts. Then it darted forward, fast as a viper and opened a ribbon of scarlet on his leg. For a second he felt nothing, then the cut started to warm. It got hotter and hotter until it burned him like a thousand suns. The thing started to laugh.
The blade darted forward again and again. Each time Brian flinched but did not cry out. Tears streamed down his face in a torrent and his breath came in short sharp gasps but he did not cry out. By the tenth stroke, all his whole body burned and shook. He couldn’t see his whole mind was consumed with the pain and the hideous laughter of thing. Blood ran down his legs, in a warm wave pooling on the filthy rug at his feet but he had no room in his mind for it. All there was pain and laughter.
The moment stretched for an eternity, the blade snapping forward, the searing pain and the laughter. Brian knew that if this kept up he would bleed to death, but it was a distant thing. A worry for another day. Another life. He should stop, but he couldn’t. Wouldn’t. He wasn’t in control. It was in control.
“Brian, your tea’s ready.” The sound of his mother’s voice hit him like a bucket of cold water. The rushing in his ears subsided, the laughter faded and all that remained was the darkness.
“Brian, don’t let it get cold,” his mother called again. “It’s spaghetti bolognese, your favourite.”
“I’ll be right there Mum I’m just tidying up,” he said looking down at the razor in his blood-slicked hand. He wrapped it in tissue paper and dropped it into the bin the slid open his desk drawer and pulled out a length of bandage to cover the cuts on his legs. His mum could never find out. She wouldn’t understand.
“I love you, darling,” called his mother he voice receeding as she walked off down the stairs.
“I Love you too Mum.”
I Love you too mum, mocked the voice in his head.