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Messages - Logan the Lobotomizer

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16
Story Critique / "Skin" Part 6
« on: 09:26 AM, 10/12/18 »
I woke up from a dreamless slumber still feeling sick. I had one glaring question swimming around in my mind. Was what I saw last night real? It looked real, smelt, and tasted real, but it couldn’t have been real. I knew being at home should have put me at ease, but it didn’t..

“Tommy, it’s time for breakfast." Mom called.

I walked into the kitchen Mom, Dad, and Stacey; were sitting around the table.

Mom poured me a bowl of cereal and handed it to me. “We’re going to have to eat fast so; we can each get into the shower, and get to Grandpa's wake on time.”

Dad swallowed a mouthful of cereal. “What time is the wake?”
                         
Mom raised her eyebrows. “It's at ten, why?” She pursed her lips; her eyes bulged out of her skull knowing what he was going to say.

Dad's face turned as red as an apple. “I’m going to try to get a few hours in at the store.”

“No!” Mom flipped her cereal bowl sending milk and bits of debris everywhere. “I’m tired of you putting that store before everything else! I just lost someone very close to me, and all you can do is think of yourself ?!” She stood over Dad the veins in her neck pulsated specks of spit flew from her mouth hitting Dad in the face.

“Stwop fighting!” Stacey cried. She fled from the table and ran upstairs to her room.

Dad’s arms were stretched out in front of him defensively. “Okay… I’ll stay here.”

Mom took a deep breath then exhaled. “We all need to start getting ready now, Tommy help your sister get ready, I'm going to get in the shower."

I grabbed Stacey by her hand and led her to her room. She sat on the bed while I removed clothes from her dresser.

"Why dowesn't Dwaddy love us? I fweel like he loves the stowre more than us." Stacey said.

I placed her clothes next to her. "He loves us. He just doesn't show it like he should." I didn't know what to say. At three years old she had hit the nail on the head. Dad did love the store more than anything or anyone else. Once the shower was free, Stacey went in, then I went into my room and got my clothes out.

I could hear Dad downstairs talking to himself. "Ungrateful, everyone is ungrateful. I work myself raw to the bone and this is how I'm treated? I need a smoke." The front door slammed.

Stacey finished,  I quickly showered, then Dad showered. When everyone was ready we got into the car. During the drive, Mom kept sneering at Dad every time he glanced at her. Stacey’s eyes were still red and puffy; she spent the ride looking downward; not speaking to anyone. Grandma was waiting outside the funeral home. She held a balled up tissue in her hand, her nose dripped with snot, and her face was drenched with tears.

“Gandma!” Stacey rushed at Grandma and wrapped her arms around her.
 
Mom wrapped her arms around her too. “Are you ready?”

“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be Jenny.” Grandma said.

We formed the condolence line inside. "Family" I have never seen before had filled the place. Everyone was crying, but I felt nothing. Grandpa was the person that loved me more than my father, and I felt nothing. I don't know why I didn't feel anything I wanted to cry, but for some reason I couldn't. The only familiar faces were Mr. Williams and Lilly. He and Lilly weren't their happy, upbeat selves I saw at the picnic. A frown stretched across Mr. Williams' face his eyes looked to be a deeper shade of blue, he dragged his feet when he walked.

He embraced Mom. “I’m so, sorry Jenny.” He embraced the rest of us one by one and expressed his condolences.

Lilly hugged me. "If you ever need someone to talk to me I'm here for you."

There was a table with a blue cloth covering it; candles were scattered all over the table, right next to the coffin.
The candles waxy vanilla smell permeated the room. I tried not to look at Grandpa. He was as pale as the little girl on the tricycle I saw on the first night I stayed at my grandparents' house. It didn’t look like he was dead, It looked like he was sleeping, his eyes began to move as if he were trying to open them. His lips curled up into a grin.

I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. Mr. Williams tripped and knocked the candles over, catching the tablecloth on fire.
He tried to fan the flames.The smell of burnt fabric offended my olfactory immediately. Giving me a headache and causing me to feel sick. I massaged my temples in a attempt to ease the pain, but the smell kept growing stronger.The funeral director hosed the table with an extinguisher.

Mom walked over to me. “Are you okay?”

“Skin.” A voice said.

“No, no, no.” I cried.

I looked up to see Grandpa sitting up in his coffin. “Skinnnnn.” Blood gushed from his neck wound.

I pointed at the coffin. “He’s… he’s alive.”

“What?” Mom bit her lower lip, and there was a hint of worry in her eyes.

 Dad just gawked at me like everyone else. Looking at me as if I were some sort of  freak or idiot.

Stacey rushed at the coffin. “Gandpa, he’s alive.”

“Stacey come back.” Mom called after her.

I blinked my eyes and Grandpa was no longer sitting up. Mom sat us down, the rest of the wake was a blur and so was the funeral. As we left Dad apologized for my outburst, he didn’t care about me; he only cared about what others thought of us. When we got home, I headed straight to my room without saying a word to anyone.

I could hear Mom and Dad talking downstairs.

"What is wrong with that kid?" Dad asked.

"Stop, Bill, I just want to try and have a peaceful night and go to bed. Please don't start any trouble." Mom said.

"He doesn't act right, Jen."

"How do you expect him to act?"

"Not like that..."
 
“Tommy it’s time for dinner.” Mom called.

“I’m not hungry.” I said.

“Tommy, your mother made a meal get down here and eat this instant.” Dad demanded

I didn’t respond. Rage filled me and boiled over, Dad didn’t care, he was pretending to care. I was fed up and rushed down the stairs filled with anger. Mom and Stacey were sat at the dinner table cutting into their steaks while Dad was rooting around in the fridge for something.

I marched over to the fridge and slammed the door on him. "You don’t care about me. The only thing you care about is the store, and you treat everyone and everything else like a inconvenience. You didn't even ask me how I was when I came home from the hospital. At the wake when I was freaking out you didn't even try to check on me. You apologized for my outburst to people that don't even care about us."

Dad's face became as red as dragon's flames. He delivered a hard slap to my cheek. "I work my ass off for you! I apologized for your outburst because you made an ass out of yourself in front of the whole family."

Mom quickly got up from her seat and got in between us. "Bill, let him be!"

He pushed her to the ground and she landed with a heavy thud. "Stay out of this cow!"

I felt something burning through me; it spread through my entire body, I felt like I was on fire and my heart was about to explode. The hot pain spread across my face like fire through a forest. "Bullshit! You only work for yourself."

 "You better watch your tongue boy!" 

"Fuck you."

He punched me in the face, knocking me to the ground, and splitting my lip open. The taste of copper filled my mouth and blood rolled down my chin.

He crouched down in front of me so he was face level with me. His eyes were filled with hate like the eyes of a bull that's seen red or the eyes of a rattle snake. "Any other comments?"

I spat a gooey red glob in his face. "Fuck you." He could have killed me and it wouldn't have even mattered. In fact, I wanted him to.

Mom got up from the floor and forced herself in between my father and I. "Bill stop or I'm calling the cops."

Dad stood up. "Fine." He walked away.

Mom helped me to my feet. "Let's get you cleaned up." She walked me to the bathroom and cleaned me up then sent me to bed.

I drifted off to sleep. A few hours later I woke up feeling a pressure in my bladder. On the way to the bathroom, I could hear Mom and Dad talking from their room.

“He needs help, Bill.” Mom said.

“I want to send him to boot camp.” Dad said.

“He needs therapy, Bill.”

“He needs someone to straighten him out."

"His grandfather just died, he's obliviously not dealing with this well, I'm setting up with my therapist I used to see. Have some consideration and empathy for someone else besides yourself for once."

"Fine. We'll try therapy first."

I quickly finished in the bathroom. Then went back to bed wondering what was in store for me.











17
Story Critique / "Skin" Part 5
« on: 03:15 PM, 10/10/18 »
“W-where’s Grandpa?" I asked.

Tears rolled down my mothers tan skin as her pink lips quivered. “Grandpa is- Grandpa is...” Her body racked with sobs as she tried to get the words out.

“Grandpa is." She dropped to her knees, and she buried her hands into her face then  fell to her side. Dad  bent down next to her; he rested his hand on top of her shoulder.

“What about Nick? " I asked.

Dad looked at me, there was a look in his eyes I have never seen  before. “Dead.” 

I didn’t know how to feel and could hardly think straight. My eyelids felt like they weighed a thousand pounds.
They shut. That acrid stench filled my nostrils again, my eyes opened, and I saw the horrible facsimile of John's face.The man took his cigarette and jammed it into my eye. I felt like my entire face was on fire. He pushed it deeper and deeper; twisting it as he laughed. My eyes snapped open and I sat straight up. I was drenched in sweat and noticed a dark splotch on my blanket. I spent a few days in the hospital and was released with a bandage wrapped around my hand and a bandage on my chest.

Mom pulled me into a tight bear hug and kissed me on the cheek. “We’re gonna go home. Dad, Grandma, and Stacey are waiting for us.”

“Okay.” I replied.

We got into her car, Mom pulled out of the driveway then pulled out into the road. “So, what happens now?” I asked.

Mom stifled a sob. “Well, I already made arrangements for the wake and funeral. The service will be in a few days."

I watched her in the rear view, tears rolled down her cheeks, her hand covered her mouth. She sniffed and swallowed trying to compose herself. We drove home in silence. A loud roar of thunder bellowed from the heavens, as rain smashed against the windows. We pulled into our driveway; green peeling paint covered the house, the lawn was overgrown and yellowed, a tree branch scraped against the roof of the car. She parked in front of the garage; packed with bobbleheads, movie posters, sports cards, and various other knick-knacks.

Mom sighed. "Your father needs to find another place for the stuff from the store I’m tired of not being able to park the car in the garage.”
She looked at the backseat and pursed her lips. “I forgot my umbrella; we’re gonna have to run  to avoid the rain, Tommy.” We rushed out of the car despite our best efforts to avoid the rain; we got soaked.

"You two look like you got out of the swimming pool." We heard Dad say, as we cleaned our feet on the welcome mat. He scratched his black beard that was so long it rested on his beer belly. He didn't even acknowledge my bandaged hand or chest.

Mom pointed her stubby little finger in Dad's face. “Bill you’ve got to do something about that garage, it's ridiculous that you have all that shit packed in there."

Dad's shoulders slacked exasperatedly. “There’s nowhere else to put it. There’s zero room at the store, that warehouse is as packed as it’s gonna get.”

Mom shook her head. “Figure it out Bill that crap isn’t gonna be in there much longer.”

“Whatever.” Dad said.

"When are thewy coming home?" I heard Stacey ask as I walked into the living room.

Stacey was sitting on the couch facing Grandma. Grandma noticed me and smiled. "Turn around."

Stacey turned, and her face lit up. She jumped off the couch and charged me with her arms wide open. Stacey wrapped her arms around me. “How’s your hawnd?”

“It’s… better.” I replied.

Grandma noticed the time on the clock on the wall, and she got off the couch. “Alright, everyone, I’m gonna be heading home now."

“Are you sure you want to be in the house alone?” Mom asked.

Grandma headed for the door. “Regardless of what has happened I want to be in my own house, my husband built that house, I spent most of my life in that house and nothing is going to drive me out."

"Okay, I understand." Mom said.

I felt pretty tired and wanted to lay down in my own bed. "I’m gonna go upstairs and lay down."

“Okay, I’ll call you down when it’s time for dinner, I'm making meatloaf.” Dad said.

I climbed the stairs and went into my bedroom. Laying down I let everything sink in. I knew nothing would be the same again. One of the most important people in my life had just died. I wish I could have done something more. If I would have gotten up and helped Grandpa fight Nick maybe he’d still be alive. Grandma’s life will never be the same, she’s trying to keep her spirit high for everyone, I know she’s in great pain. Tears streamed down my cheeks and out the corners of my eyes, drenching the pillow. My heart thudded in my chest, and my stomach began to ache. I turned on my side and curled up. The burning started in my hand again. I needed pain meds, but I was too weak to get up; too feeble to call out for help. The smell of smoke filled my room. My eyes slammed shut, and I fell into unconsciousness. I woke up in an abyss of darkness, I didn’t know how I got there, or how long I’ve been there.

“Help!” I screamed.

“Skin.” I heard someone say.

Smoke filled my nostrils; oddly it smelled like burnt meat. I dropped to my knees. “No, no, no, no!”

"All he wants is your skin.” A familiar voice said.

I turned to see John; plaid shirt unbuttoned exposing his pale fat gut, splotches of blood covered the pale flesh, dirty, unkempt hair spilled down his shoulders. Blood, exposed nerves, and muscle served as his face.

"All you have you have to do is give him your skin.” He said.

"W-why me?" Was all I could muster through heavy sobs.

"You angered him. Now, he can't rest until he gets your skin. If he can't get yours he'll take everyone's around you."

I noticed something shiny in John’s hand.  After a second glimpse, I realized he was holding a knife. He offered me the knife “Your skin."

I shook my head incredulously. "I-I can't."

"I don't blame you for crying you're just a boy. But if you give him your skin all this will end no one else has to die. Think of your mom, think of Grandma, think of Stacey.

I was terrified, but he was right. This thing wanted me and if it didn't get my skin it'd take someone else's. I took the knife in my hand and pressed the cold edge against my forearm.

“What the fuck." John said.

 I looked up at him confused. His mouth hung agape, a loud screeching emitted from his mouth it sounded like a a alarm. My eyes snapped open, and I was standing in the kitchen, a puddle of yellow liquid pooled around my feet. The awful screaming of the fire detector reverberated through the house.

Dad grabbed the knife from my hand. His face was as red as magma. “What the fu-”

“Bill stop.” Mom said.

I ran upstairs to my room, as I laid in bed.

John’s words echoed in my mind.






 

18
Story Critique / "Skin" Part 4
« on: 03:14 PM, 08/14/18 »
The sound of robins chirping woke me from my slumber. Sun rays bled in through the blinds filling the room with their opalescent hue. Instead, of the smell of pancakes or french toast filling my nostrils, I only smelt french vanilla roast. Stacey ’s loud snores rang out through the hallway. I slowly walked out of my room and started down the stairs. I stopped on the fifth one. I was able to see Nick and Grandpa sitting at the kitchen table. Nick's back was to me, but Grandpa was in decent view. His eyes were red and puffy looking like he was sick, and he was holding a balled up napkin in his hand. I had never seen him like this before.

Grandpa wiped his nose with the napkin. “It was horrible...  there was blood... everywhere.”

Just hearing him utter that, made me feel horrible for him. I didn’t know what happened to John, but apparently, it was taking its toll on my grandfather.

Nick shook his head. "Awful. I don’t know what I would have done in your situation.”

Grandpa's head lowered into his hands he stared into his coffee for a few seconds. “I know we both have seen a lot during the war, but seeing that ..."

Nick took a long drink from his coffee. "All these years later I still hear the voices, still hear the screaming. So, I understand, you weren’t expecting… that,  no one would.” 

Grandpa lifted his head. “You’re the only one with a strong stomach. I can’t tell Peggy she gets all teary-eyed when I broach the subject.”

Nick stretched and reclined back in his chair. “Understandable. I would understand if you sold this place, and moved on."

"I'm not leaving this house. I built it with my own two hands, I've raised a child and grandchildren here, I spent most of my life here. I'm staying here until I'm dead." Grandpa said.

Nick stuffed his hand into his pocket and pulled out a cigarette pack then flipped the top open, examining the smokes. "You always were very prideful Joe."

Grandpa leaned forward. "Have you been smoking upstairs?”

Nick stuffed the pack back into his jeans. “No, but now that you mention it I have been smelling smoke and hearing a clang at night. Also, I’ve been hearing someone whispering outside my door. Sometimes…  I’m not sure if it’s real or the illness. I can’t make out what the voice is saying, but it keeps telling me to get frish zin.”

Grandpa squinted his eyes and pursed his lips. “Frish zin?”

Nick shrugged his shoulders. “Beats the fuck out of me Joe, do you think I know what frish zin is? Also, about the smoke, I hate to accuse anyone, but, I think Tommy might be sneaking up to my room and stealing my cigs."

Grandpa balled his hands into fists. “He would never do that."

"Joe." Nick sat back and sighed. "Who else could it be? I don't smoke in the house."

Grandpa jumped up from his chair. "Liar!"

Nick stuck his hands up defensively. "Look, Joe, I've noticed my smokes missing, I might be old, but my minds not gone yet. So, who else could it be?"

The two went silent for only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity.

Nick looked at his watch. “Oh, shit it’s nine, thanks for the coffee Joe, I’ve got to get going now.” 

The screeching of the chair sliding on the wood caused me to cover my ears, it was like nails on a chalkboard. I turned to go back upstairs I made it to the top.

“Tommy, I need to speak with you.” I heard my grandfather say.

I turned and saw Grandpa at the bottom of the stairs with his arms crossed and lips pursed. There was a hardness in his eyes, I’ve never seen before. "Yes, Grandpa?"

“First off were you eavesdropping?” Grandpa asked.

 My head dropped I couldn't look him in the eye. “No.”

Grandpa lifted my head up with his hand. “Tommy, I thought you knew better, you need to respect other people’s privacy.”

I turned to go back upstairs. “I’m sorry Grandpa.”

“And I know you’re stealing Nick's cigarettes and smoking them.” He added.

I turned and scrunched my eyebrows. "What?"

“There’s no other way the house is smelling like smoke. Why are you smoking?” He asked.

"I wanted to feel grown up." I sad letting my head drop in shame. Knowing he wouldn't believe me if I told him about the ghosts.

Grandpa shook his head disapprovingly. "Okay, follow me.” He grabbed my collar and dragged me behind the shed. Weeds five feet tall lined the back. “You wanna act like a grown up? Well, you’re going to work like one. I’ll get you a pair of gloves. I want all these weeded."

I looked at him incredulously. "But that's going to take all day. I thought I'd be able to go with Lilly."

"Well, you've lost that too. It's part of your punishment Mr. Smoker." He left and quickly returned with a pair of gloves.

After weeding for what felt like hours, I heard Grandma pushing  Stacey on the swing. “Weeeee push me higher Gandma!"

I turned my head and saw Grandma pushing Stacey on the swing. Grandma stared daggers at me while Stacey stuck her tongue out at me. As I worked, I felt that awful feeling in the pit of my gut. The same feeling I got when I caught, John was staring at me. I suspected someone was looking down at me out from one of the windows on the top floor. I hesitantly looked up; I saw a familiar zit covered face staring down at me. His face didn't fit right it was like he was wearing a Halloween mask that was too big. The lips parted into a terrible smile. A charred finger pointed at me. "Your skin." The face mouthed.

Nausea sunk its cruel claws into me. Bile moved from my stomach and out of my mouth in a second. Yellow viscous vomit shot from my mouth like flames from a dragon’s maw. Horrible yellow mess with bright pink bits of pork dripped down the wall. The terrible mixture looked like a very gooey bacon and cheese omelet. Horrible tasting meat flavored slime covered my tongue. I didn’t dare swallow it. I spat until all the puke was purged from my mouth. 

The familiar bell chime filled the air. I turned to see Lilly behind me, she looked disgusted, for good reason. "You've got a little..." She pointed to the left side of my mouth.

I wiped my mouth. "Thanks. I can't go to the bookstore."

"Why?" She asked.

"I got caught smoking."

"Bad boy, huh?" She pulled out a small piece of paper and a pen, she quickly scribbled down something on the paper. "Call me sometime bad boy."

"I will."

She shrugged her shoulders. "Maybe next time." She rode off.
 
I collected myself and finished pulling the weeds. I made my way out from behind the shed. I headed for the door.

"Hey." I heard  a voice say.

I turned and saw Nick getting out of his car. He smiled exposing yellowish green teeth.

He slammed his car door shut. “Is it hot enough for you?”

I wiped sweat from my brow. “Asshole.”

He marched over to me with his fists clenched. “What was that? You better watch your tongue boy, or I'll tear it out."

A lump formed in my throat. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a buck knife. "I know you're stealing from me." He grabbed my collar. "If you steal from me again, I'll take your skin. You can tell your grandfather I threatened you, but why would he believe you? You're a filthy smoker.

He let go of me, and I ran into the house. I went inside and showered. After the shower, as I was putting on my Bledsoe jersey and sweats, the scent of meatloaf and mashed potatoes, had snuck under the door and filled the bathroom. Making my mouth water, and stomach growl. I hesitantly walked into the kitchen everyone sat at the table eating.

"Come sit." Grandpa said.

 I took a seat and he filled my plate with food. "Maybe, I was a little too harsh, but you can't smoke. I know you're not a dumb kid, I know you're at the age where you wanna rebel. You think you're able to make your own decisions. You aren't old enough to make that type of decision yet you need to wait until your of legal age. I had a friend when I was a kid, he started smoking at twelve and he died at forty-seven. We just care about you and we don't want you to get hurt."

I didn't know what to do I wanted to tell them about the ghosts and Nick, but I couldn't. I was so overwhelmed I felt like crying tears fell from my eyes and landed on my mashed potatoes. If I told them they'd think I was lying and I'd be in trouble again. There was something wrong with me, I must have done something horrible to deserve the torment at the hands of the ghosts and Nick.

"I'm sorry." I said.

Grandpa patted me on the shoulder. "It's okay, Tommy you should eat."

I cleared my plate without another word. After dinner I went straight to bed, not having the energy to sit through a movie. I laid in my bed staring at the ceiling waiting for sleep to come. Not caring if the man came for my skin. I could hear Nick talking to himself upstairs. It sounded like he was arguing with someone. Perhaps, it was that voice he was telling Grandpa about. My eyelids were heavy, and I was exhausted, my eyes shut, and I fell into a dreamless sleep. My door slowly creaked open. Then I smelt that awful smell. Hot breath touched my face. It Smelt like smoldering flesh. "Skin." A voice said.

My eyes snapped open. Nick was standing over me with a knife raised above his head. I could see my scared expression in his shiny bald head. My heart was beating rapidly, and my whole body began to shake like I’ve been left out in below zero weather. I wanted to scream until my throat bled, but I couldn’t yell. No sound would come out. When I opened my mouth I only could let out a whimper. “P--pppp-ppppp” Was all I could manage.

He plunged the knife downward aiming for my chest. “Fresh skin!”

I put my hand out defensively; the knife stabbed through my palm. The other end of the blade dripped with blood. Blood rushed from the wound; it flowed down my arm drenching the limb.

The horrible burning pain was radiating through my hand. Tears and mucus rushed down my face meeting and combining at my upper lip creating a mustache of bodily fluid. Something warm and squishy filled the back of my pants. I opened my mouth to scream, gooey strands of saliva hung from the roof of my mouth and touched the top of my tongue. "Help!"
 
Nick pulled the knife from my hand; blood sprayed onto him as he withdrew the blade. He pushed my jersey up exposing  bare flesh. The edge of the blade pressed against my chest, vertically pushing the blade up word drawing blood and creating a searing sensation. Blood gushed from my chest wound covering my chest and abdomen. Crimson spilled onto blue fabric. My door flew open Grandpa tackled Nick to the ground.

“What the fu-.” Grandpa said.

His sentence was interrupted by a slash to the throat. Blood spilled down his wife beater, staining the white fabric cranberry red. He wrapped his hands around the wound trying to stop the bleeding.
 
Nick stood over Grandpa a sick smile spread across his face. He was panting as if he had just ran six miles. “Fresh skin!”

He raised the knife above his head. Grandpa tackled him again with his last bit of strength. The blade slid across the floor. Grandpa’s hands wrapped around Nick's throat, his face was as purple as an eggplant. Blood dripped onto his face. Nick threw Grandpa off of him as if he were nothing. Both of them scurried for the knife; Grandpa got to it first. My vision began to fade. All I remember is Grandpa raising the blade above his head.

Then.

Darkness.
       
I woke up in a hospital room with Grandma, Dad, Mom, and Stacey standing at the foot of my bed. Their eyes red and puffy from crying. Grandma and Mom were wiping their eyes with a tissue. Stacey wiped her runny nose with her sleeve. Dad didn't shed a tear.

Grandpa was nowhere in sight.



         


19
Story Critique / "Skin" Part 3
« on: 01:46 PM, 08/ 2/18 »
The next morning I woke up alone in my grandparents' bedroom. The smell of breakfast permeated the air. My stomach growled hungrily, as I slowly got off the air mattress.

I could hear Stacey in her room talking to Grandpa. “Gandpa could I have a piggyback wide pwease?"

“Sure sweetheart.” He said.

As I walked down the stairs, I could hear Grandma talking to my mom on the phone.

“He hasn't sleepwalked in years you say... you think he’s making it up for attention?  Alright, I'll talk to him.“ Grandma said.

She hung up, and I tentatively finished walking down the stairs. I saw that there was a plate stacked with pancakes where I usually sit at the table. I walked passed the living room hoping Grandma wouldn’t spot me.

Grandma's old, boney hand suddenly rested on my shoulder. “Tommy, we need to talk.” I cursed myself internally, and turned to face her.

Her wrinkled face furrowed in concern. “Are you jealous of Stacey? Is that why you’ve been acting odd?”

I forced myself to smile to assuage her worry. “No.”

She tussled my hair. “Your grandfather and I love you both equally.”

I wrapped my arms around her. “I know Grandma, I love you too.”

She smiled, exposing her old yellow teeth. “I made your favorite for breakfast.”

Grandpa came down the stairs with Stacey; her arms and legs wrapped around his body. “Pancakes! Pancakes!” Stacey squealed like she did whenever we had pancakes, and sometimes I joined in.

Stacey, Grandpa, and Grandma joined me at the table; a blood-curdling scream suddenly rang out.

It startled Stacey causing her to shrink in her seat; eyes wide and frightened. Grandma and Grandpa just rolled their eyes.

"How many times do I have to tell him to lower that damn TV?" Grandpa said shaking his head.

I remained unbothered. I knew John was watching “Friday the 13th” or some other horror movie that I’m not supposed to have watched. The screaming ebbed, then creaking  stairs and feet stomping reverberated through the house. John ambled into our kitchen; his messy, unkempt hair spilled down his back. A few buttons on his shirt were undone, allowing fat to be pushed through unopened sections. He was pale as a corpse, his eyes were empty and vacant. 

“Morning John.” Grandpa said disdainfully.

John didn't bother to reply. Instead, he walked over to Grandpa and placed a check in front of him. "Do you smoke?"

Grandpa squinted his eyes in confusion. “No, I don’t, Peg and I quit smoking ten years ago. Why do you ask?"
 
John sighed and crossed his arms. “I keep smelling smoke at night.”

“That’s odd.” Grandpa said, trying to make sense of the information.

"I've also been hearing this awful clanging at night. I haven't had a good night's sleep in the past couple nights and I've been falling asleep at work. My boss says if it happens again I’m fired. So, I’d like it if there was something done about the smell and noise." John said.

My grandfather sat there nodding , listening thoughtfully. “You’re right John. I’ll see what I can do.”

John thanked my grandfather and left.

Grandpa directed a cold stare at Stacey. “Stacey, are you playing with your trike at night?

“No gandpa. It wasn’t me, it was the girl.” Stacey said.

“Stacey.” He said sternly.

Her head lowered in shame; Grandpa leaned forward. “You need to take responsibility for your actions and be respectful of others. I worked in a gas station when I was twenty-one, just like John. I know how it is dealing with people. It’s probably worse dealing with people on very little sleep, and on top of that, his job is in jeopardy. No more tricycle at night.”

“I’m sorry Ganpa I love you.” Stacey said.

He smiled and tussled her hair. “I love you too sweetheart."

“What about the smell?" Grandma inquired.

My grandfather pursed his lips. “It’s probably Nick, I know he hates going outside to smoke, so he lights up inside. He probably hoped nobody would notice, I’ll talk to him later."

"It's funny he mentions that, I've been hearing the same clanging and smelling the same smoke too. I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me." Grandma said.

After breakfast Grandpa ran some errands, Stacey and I watched “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” in the living room while Grandma read. Through the window, I heard a car pull into the driveway. The front door slammed, followed by heavy footsteps going to the third floor echoing throughout the house.

Grandma looked up from her book. "That might be John, I hope he didn’t get fired."

Once the movie ended, Stacey glanced out the window. Outside, it was the perfect day. The sky was bright blue and cloudless, the scent of fresh cut grass filled the air, and  butterflies with beautiful opalescent patterns on their wings had landed on the window sill. She turned  her little head towards me. “Will you pwush me on the swing?”

I looked out the window. “Sure.”

We went outside Stacey sat on the swing, a bell chime filled the air I turned and saw Lilly riding her scooter towards Stacey and I. "Grandpa Jack and I are going to the bookstore tomorrow, they have a wide variety of horror books, I was wondering if you wanted to go."

"I'm sure my grandfather would let me go, I'll have to ask, but I'm sure it'd be okay."

Her face lit up like a Christmas tree. "I'll see you tomorrow."

After a few minutes of pushing Stacey, I had an odd feeling in the pit of my gut. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. I felt like someone was staring at us. I looked around, and  saw John staring down at us from his window. I could swear I saw a charred hand caress his face. Nausea swept over me like a tidal wave, all the muscles in my body tensed up. Feeling paralyzed I wanted to scream, but when I opened my mouth, no sound came out. John seemed to realize I was staring back at him and he moved away from the window.

The smell of pork chops spread through the air, Grandma's head was poking out of the kitchen window. The sun was trapped behind an archipelago of white fluffy clouds. “Tommy, Stacey, time for dinner.”

“Come on Stacey.” I said. She jumped off the swing, and we went inside. 

After dinner, Grandpa grabbed a deck of cards. "Wanna play Uno kids?"

"Sure." We both said.

Grandpa dealt out the cards while I scanned mine. "Grandpa, I wanted to ask if it'd be okay if I went to the bookstore with Lilly and Mr. Williams tomorrow. Is that okay?"

"Sure." Grandpa said.

The game took a half hour to finish, after the game we called it a night.

As I laid in bed terrified of what was going to happen, I heard screaming coming from the third floor. I surmised John was watching another horror movie too loudly. Eventually, I fell back asleep, happy the man hadn’t visited me. I knew he'd be looking for skin and might be coming for me again. Fearing his visit I stayed awake until my eyes would no longer stay open.

I woke up feeling great because I slept well the entire night without any unwanted visitors. An awful smell offended my olfactory; it smelled fish like guts. Despite the terrible smell, I was still hungry. I hurried downstairs and joined everyone else at the table, with a smile, Grandma placed french toast sticks on my plate. To my dismay, that putrid stench stuck to my nostrils, not allowing me to enjoy the sweet aroma of the golden brown logs.

Grandma squinted her eyes. "Does anyone else smell that?"

My face twisted in disgust. “Yes.”

“Yuck!” Stacey exclaimed in agreement, sticking her tongue out and rolling her eyes in the back of her head.

Grandpa hacked and gagged. “Yeah, I do. I think it’s coming from upstairs. Hold on, I’ll see what it is.”

He hurried up the stairs, the squeaking of the stairs beneath him filled the house. We could hear the  whine and screech of door hinges from the third floor.

“Hey, John?" We could hear him say.

“John... oh my god! ” Grandpa screamed.

I haven’t heard a scream like that before, and I don’t think I will again.

Grandpa rushed downstairs. "Tommy take Stacey to your room and don’t come out until I say!"

‘Wha-” I said, confused and scared.

“Don’t ask questions,  just do it.” He interrupted.

“Peggy call nine-one-one.” He barked.

Grandma rushed over to the phone while I took Stacey up to my room. Stacey sat down on the bed. "What's gowing on?"

“I don’t know.” I replied.

Her eyes filled with tears. “Is anyone huwrt? My friend said he was going to get kin from John. I hope he’s okay.”

My blood turned cold in my veins; the sound of sirens filled the air. I looked out the window and saw a ambulance in the driveway. My grandmother appeared to be hysterical; Grandpa seemed to be stoic as he talked to the paramedics. I continued watching through the window.

They carried out a body with a sheet draped over it; Grandpa and Grandma were silent for the rest of the day. Feeling solemn, confused, and afraid we decided to stay inside. We watched old reruns of "Tom & Jerry".  After a while, Grandma and Grandpa sent us to bed.

That night I was wide awake all night, I could hear Grandpa talking to Grandma downstairs beneath my floor. His voice was too muffled to understand clearly, so I got down on the ground and pressed my ear to the floor, the wood as cold as January ice. I heard him say. “What a way to go... of all the ways you could kill yourself."

His voice got muffled until I couldn’t hear him at all. I gave up and returned to my bed. As I was about to drift off to sleep.

I heard a voice say from outside my door. "More skin."




20
Story Critique / Re: "Skin" Part 2
« on: 03:45 PM, 07/28/18 »
Any feedback is very much appreciated.

21
Story Critique / Re: "Skin" Part 1
« on: 03:44 PM, 07/28/18 »
Any feedback is very much appreciated.

22
Story Critique / ”Skin” Part 2
« on: 05:58 PM, 07/27/18 »
To avoid further concern, I ate my breakfast - a piece of toast and scrambled eggs. I was hoping Grandma would forget about finding me in the hallway.

"Can I use the phone?" I asked.

Grandma's eyebrows furrowed in worry. "Sure, Jo- jo- Tommy, I'll call you every name, but your own."

 I was sick to my stomach and wanted to go home. I grabbed the phone and took it to my room for privacy.

“Hey, Tommy." I turned around to see John holding a V.H.S tape. “I know you’re interested in the movie I was talking about yesterday. I’ll lend it to you, and it can be our secret.” He handed me the tape.

 I took it into my room. Luckily there was a old T.V. and VHS player in the room.

I dialed my mom's number.

“Hello, Tommy, what’s up?”

“Mom, can I come home early?”

“Why?”

A lump formed in my throat..“I just miss being in my bed.”

She sighed. “Tommy I know you’re only twelve, but you need to grow up.” Her voice was low and agitated like it gets when I steal ice cream from the freezer.

“Okay.”

“Calling me wanting to go home is something I expect from Stacey.”

Click.

She hung up before I could say anything else, I felt guilty, but I was still afraid, I returned the phone. My grandparents and Nick were sitting in the living room watching the morning news with Stacey.

“Last night, The Church of Omega was firebombed. Authorities are searching for suspects.” The reporter said.

Nick shook his head incredulously. “We spent all that time at war trying to protect this country. Now there is a war breaking out on our own soil?! Religion is a poison in this countries veins."

“How are you feeling?” Grandma asked.

“I’m okay.” I replied.

“Good, I was worried about you, I never knew you sleepwalked.” She said.

"Glad you’re all right kiddo.” My grandpa added.

He dug into his pocket.  “Here.” He handed me a hard butterscotch candy like he did when he suspected I was upset. I eagerly popped it into my mouth. Stacey stopped paying attention to the news and sighed heavily.  “Can I go outside and pawe pwease?”

“Sure go ahead.” Grandma said.

Having gotten permission, Stacey scurried outside to play with her tricycle. The news was boring me, so I followed her a few minutes later, hoping to play with her. Finding Stacey was easy. She was sitting in the middle of the sidewalk looking forlorn. I went up to her to see why she was so melancholy.

Concerned I asked her. “What’s wrong?”

She didn't bother to look up from the ground. "Nothing."

“It doesn’t seem like nothing.”

She slowly looked up. “Alright... I’ll twell you... I haven't seen Amy.”

The image of the girl falling down the stairs flashed through my mind.

 “Mhm.”

"The man said he doewsn’t like you, he’s mad you won’t give him your kin, I wanted you to be friewnds with him. Why won’t you giwve him your kin?”

“Stacey… What’s kin?”

“I don’t know.” She replied innocently.

A cheerful jingle grabbed her attention.The ice cream truck was making its rounds.

Stacey jumped up and down. “Ice ceam ice ceam. Can we go pwease?"

I nodded, and we made our way to the truck. Lilly and Mr. Williams were waiting in line.

They turned to us. "Hey kids. Nice day out." Mr. Williams said.

"How are you liking the book so far Tommy?"

I was nervous, I felt like there were marbles in my throat. After a few minutes I found my voice. "I like it, I really liked "The Big Toe", the book you were talking about yesterday really caught my interest. Can I borrow it when I"m done with the other one?"

"Sure." Lilly said.

I paid for our ice cream with money I earned from working at the shop. Stacey had almost finished her ice cream by the time we got home.

"Tummy will you pawe a game with me?"

I grabbed a pack of cards. "Okay lets play fifty-two pick up."

I took all the cards out of the pack and threw them on the ground. "Pick them up."

Stacey crossed her arms and pouted. "Thawt's not fair."

"That's how the games played."

She picked up all the cards and handed them to me. "Hewre."

I threw them on the ground again. "Pick them up again."

"Gandpa!" Stacey yelled.

Grandpa walked in. "What's going on?"

"Tommy keeps throwing the cards on the ground and making me pick them up." Stacey complained.

Grandpa playfully grappled with me and took me to the ground. "I'll teach you to pick on your sister." He lifted my leg up. "Do the count Stacey."

Stacey tapped the ground three times. "Owne, two, Thwree. Ganpa wins!"

Grandma walked in. "What's going on in here?"

Grandpa slowly got off the ground. "Defending my title."

Grandma kissed Grandpa on the cheek. "Well, champ, why don't we pop in a movie for the kids to watch while we make dinner."

Grandpa turned to us. "What movie do you guys want to watch?

"Jumanji." I said.

Grandpa placed the tape in the V.H.S player. Dinner was ready after a hour, after dinner we played a board game, I was savoring the daylight. The sun was making me feel safe.Then, night fell; bedtime came.That night I was barely able to sleep. I kept expecting to hear that awful clang, or see those terrible arms. I watched "Night of The Living Dead" To help stay awake, after the film I fell asleep. I was only asleep for five maybe ten minutes when an acrid stench filled my nostrils; I heard repetitious whispering.

My eyes snapped open. A burnt face was about three inches away from mine, a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. Its visage was mostly black except for a few patches of red on the cheeks and chin. After a few seconds, I was able to understand what he was saying. He was saying, “fresh skin” over and over. Fear coursed through my veins like snake venom.

I sat up and backed up against the wall, the rest of his body was like his face, I shook like a leaf. Tears were pouring down my face like they do when Dad screams at me for screwing something up at the shop.

"No, no no, no!” I screamed.
 
I lost control of my bladder drenching my pajama pants with urine, the air smelled like cigarettes, the room filled with smoke, it was as hot as burning your hand on a stove top. Sweat dripped off my ears and landed on my shoulders. The taste of smoldering flesh violated my taste buds. The man’s arms shot out like a bullet from a shotgun, and grabbed me, sharp nails dug into soft tissue. Blood pooled around his nails and dripped down onto the bed.  It felt like shards of glass were being pushed into my arm.  A teardrop fell from my eye, and hit his hand, sizzling on impact. He violently jerked me up off the bed.
 
“I want fresh skin!" He screamed.

The bedroom door flew open; light flooded the room as my grandparents burst in, I dropped to the bed with a heavy thud.

"What happened?" Grandpa asked.

“I-I-I-I” The sobs were still in full strength I couldn’t complete my sentence.

"Jesus Christ, tell us what happened!” Grandma said rushing over to me.

She noticed the dark blotch on the front of my pants. Her face twisted in disgust. “Did you...?”

I showered and put on fresh clothes. I examined my arm in the mirror, there were only four faint scratches, when I came out of the bathroom, Grandma and Grandpa were waiting in the hall.

Grandma pulled me into a bear hug. “I think you should sleep on the air mattress in our room. I don’t know what’s going on with you. However, I want to make sure you’re safe."

I didn’t argue, and I went into their room. I still couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night despite having the protection of my grandparents. I couldn’t get the image of that horrible face out of my mind.

 I swear I could hear him down the hallway muttering about fresh skin.


23
Story Critique / "Skin" Part 1
« on: 03:48 PM, 07/25/18 »
Pine trees buzzed past us as we drove down the road, the song “Sugar” was playing on the radio. The smell of fresh cut grass and mustard flowers seeped in through the cracked car window. The scent of the flowers made me think of hot dogs. My stomach growled hungrily.

“Do we have any more snacks?” I asked.

My mother reached over to a snack bag she usually brought with her during long car rides and passed me a bag of pretzels. “Share these with your sister.”

Stacey was sitting in her car seat, incorrectly singing the lyrics to the song. I scooped some pretzels into my hand and dumped some out into her hand. She shoved the snacks into her mouth. Crumbs fell from her mouth and landed on her Bugs Bunny shirt and pants. They did little to satisfy my hunger.

Dad turned down the radio. “I’m gonna have to spend a couple hours at the shop today, Jen.”

Mom's mouth dropped open in disbelief. “What? I thought you weren’t going to spend any time at the store before we leave for Jamaica."

Dad let out a deep sigh. “Look, I need to spend a few hours at the shop to get this order processed. Rover Rose ordered fifty-thousand dollars worth of product."

She sat back in her seat and crossed her arms sophomorically. “Your brother always makes time for Kim."

Dad rubbed the pulsating blue vein on his temple. "It’s only a few hours, and we’ve been working on this for a couple of days, we should be done today.”

Mom huffed and rolled her eyes. “Fine. You better be back home at a reasonable hour Bill, we have to get up early tomorrow."

We pulled into my grandparents' driveway. Their house was white, three-stories with a shed adjacent to it. My grandmother stood on the front porch; her face stretched into a jovial smile. She was wearing her purple nightgown; blonde hair rolled into curlers. Her nose was huge. It always reminded me of the Wicked Witch of the West.
 
My mother helped Stacey out of the car and walked us up to the porch. Mom and Grandma exchanged pleasantries. The smell of chocolate chip cookies filled my nostrils, I was starving and felt like I hadn't eaten for days. We went inside, as we walked down the hallway towards the kitchen we heard the voices of the two tenants and Grandpa.

"Zombie movies are my favorite, Romero is my favorite." John, one of the tenants, said.

"I don't see how you can stomach those gory movies." Nick the other tenant said.

The kitchen walls were painted bright yellow matching the yellow floor and oven; Grandma pulled her world famous cookies out of the oven. The only decoration was a painting of the last supper hanging on the far wall.

Stacey and I each took a cookie from the tray. Gooey, melted chocolate oozed out between my fingers, making them stick together.

Nick and John were sitting with Grandpa at the kitchen table having coffee. John had his brown hair pulled back into a ponytail, a red plaid button-up shirt covering his bulbous gut, coke bottle glasses covering bright blue eyes. Nick sat across from John, a gray bushy beard and mustache consumed most of his face, Patriots cap covered his bald head, and a red flannel and blue jeans covered the rest of his body. Grandpa was sitting at the head of the table. Hair as white as snow nearly covered his hazel eyes, his wife beater was drenched with sweat. His old wrinkled face lit up as soon as he saw us. John and Nick offered us welcoming smiles.

“Hey, kids.” Grandpa said.

I grabbed a paper towel and cleaned the excess chocolate from my hands. "Hi, Grandpa. What was that movie you guys were talking about?"

" "Night of the Living Dead" You're too young to watch it though kiddo. On the bright side, I got you something." He got up and walked into the living room, he returned holding something behind his back. “I hope you like this Tommy.” He said pulling his hand from behind his back. He handed me a Drew Bledsoe jersey. His lips parted in a sea of white once he saw the grin on my face.

“What about me Gandpa?” Stacey asked.

“I got something for you too, it’s in the shed.” He said leaving to get her present.

After a few seconds, he returned with a bright red tricycle.

“Tycycle tycycle.” Stacey said jumping up and down. She mounted it and clanged the bell. The bell caused a sharp pain in my ears; she noticed the painful expression on my face. A malicious smile spread across her face and she clanged the bell three more times.

"I'll kill you." I mouthed.

Nick got up to leave. “Thanks for the Coffee Joe, I’ve gotta get to the farm.”

“My buddy Jack is having a BBQ at five, do you guys want to go?” Grandpa asked.

“Sure.” They both said.

Stacey walked her tricycle to the front door." Can we go outside and pawe?” 

"Sure, you kids can go out. Tommy you're becoming a young man, I think you're old enough to learn how to shoot. I was twelve when my father taught me how to shoot, and seeing that your father is very busy these days, I figured I'd be the one to teach you."Grandpa said. Stacey rode her trike, while Grandpa and I went into the woods with a twenty-two and a bag full of empty beer bottles. Grandpa set up the bottles.

He grabbed the rifle and aimed it at the targets. "I want you to watch how I do it, then you try, take a deep breath and, then shoot." He fired a single shot and obliterated the bottle, sending thousands of tiny, brown, sparkly, shards of glass everywhere. "Try to think of it as a extension of you." He handed me the rifle, anxiety swam in my gut like a goldfish on speed. It took me a minute to hold the rifle comfortably, then I aimed, shot, and missed horribly.

Grandpa laughed to himself. "You remind me of me when I was learning. Take your time, you've got all the time in the world, there's no reason to rush your shot."

I took a few long deep breathes, until I was feeling calm and collected. I fired and took out a bottle, then I took out the other bottles. "Are there any more?"

Grandpa took the rifle from me smiling. "No, those were all the bottles I had, maybe they'll be more in a few days."

 That horrible clang filled the air. We turned to see Stacey behind us. "Gandpa I'm tiwred can we go inside pwease?"

"Sure sweetheart." He said.

 We all sat down in the living room, Stacey grabbed the remote and put on cartoons. After a few minutes, she turned down the volume on the television so Grandma, Grandpa, and myself would be forced to listen to her.

“Did I ever tell you guys about my friwends? There’s a girl named Amy who has a tycycle like mine, she’s lazy, and she never picks her head up. She always has her head like this.” She rested her head on her shoulder. Also, there’s a man whose skin is all black he always, has a cigarette in his mouth and, he keeps asking me for freck kin. Do you know what that means?” 

We all shook our heads no. Stacey looked confused for a moment then turned the volume back up. “The things kids make up these days.” My grandfather muttered to my grandmother. A buzzing caught my attention, a fly landed right on Grandpa’s wrist watch. “Got ya you little bugger.” He said as he smashed it. He focused his eyes on the watch. “It’s four-fifty-nine we should get going. Since Mr. Williams lived next door,  it was only a five-second walk over to his house. The blue paint job on his home was flawless and the grass was freshly cut. We followed the smell of hamburgers and hot dogs into the backyard.

“You like the gory stuff, huh?” We heard Mr. Williams say from the backyard.

“I love Rami.” John said.

We turned the corner and entered the backyard. Paper plates and plastic ware was set for us on the picnic table John, Nick, and a girl about my age were already seated. Mr. Williams stood at his grill flipping burgers.

“I like comedies, “Caddyshack", is my favorite, "Groundhog Day" Is good too. I love Bill Murray. I heard there's another movie coming out soon "The Cradle Will Rock” Is the name of it. " Mr. Williams said.

He placed a tray of burgers on the table; when he saw us his old wrinkled face formed into a smile. “Hi everyone, this is my granddaughter Lilly."  We sat down, and he served us. “So, Joey what’s it’s like to be retired.”

“It’s pretty boring but, they keep me pretty busy.” Grandpa titled his head toward Stacy and I. "Is she keeping you busy?" Grandpa gestured towards Lilly.

"Of course." Mr. Williams laughed.

"What grade are you in?'" Grandpa asked.

"I'm in sixth, the only class I like is English." She said.

Grandpa took a bite out of his burger. "You like to read?"

Lilly nodded. "I read horror books mostly." She looked at me. "Do you like to read?"

"Not as much as I should. If I read more I'd probably read horror books." I said.

She scooped macaroni salad onto her dish. "Wanna come up to my room after dinner and take a look at my collection?"

"Sure." I said.

Mr. Williams  took a bite out of his burger. He turned to me and asked. “How’s sixth grade going Tommy?”

“It’s going okay, pretty boring, but it’s okay I guess.” I said.

He swallowed. “Yeah, I was pretty bored when I was in sixth grade."

“What about you Stacey?” He asked.

“I’m learin' lots of stuff I love it cause I get to see my fweinds every day; Ms. Jackson Is really nice, she bakes cookies for us.” Stacey said with a smile plastered on her face.

Mr. Williams looked at John. "What do you do?”

John opened the bottle of ketchup and squirted some on his burger. “I work at a gas station right now. I’m also, a student studying business.”

Mr. Williams dumped a helping of potato salad onto his plate. “That’s great, where are you from?”

John took a bite from his burger. “I’m from Greensville."

“Ah, rich blood.” Mr. Williams said through a mouthful of potato salad.

John sipped his coke. “Yeah, you could say that. My parents run their own poster company.”

Mr. Williams wiped his mouth. “How come you’re not working for them?”

John looked at his burger as if it could answer the question for him. “I made the mistake of believing family and business could mix and… yeah, it doesn’t work. So, I’m on my own now. My illness has made things even worse.”

There was an awkward pause after John spoke. A frown formed on Mr. Williams's face and his eyes became sullen. “I understand. I used to run a motel with my cousin Jacob, on the outskirts of town, we had a falling out, and I haven't heard from him in five years.” 

John shrugged his shoulders and ate his burger in three giant bites. "I'm sorry to hear that."

Nick swallowed a mouthful of hot dog. “Well, I grew up with Joe and Peg. Joe and I went into the army when we were eighteen, after the war I tried college for a bit, but I wasn’t an excellent student. I grew up working on a farm, so I was able to get plenty of farm gigs. I traveled around a bit and then came back to Burningham. Joe was generous enough to let me have a room for cheap."

Mr. Williams got up from the table. "I was never that good at school either. Does anyone want ice cream?”

“Yes.” We all replied.
 
Grandpa got up from the table “I’ll help you.”

They went into the house after a second then returned. Mr. Williams was holding a container of chocolate ice cream. Grandpa carried bowls and spoons. Mr. Williams handed out bowls of ice cream.

“Can I have freck kin for my friend?” Stacy asked.

“Ummmmm?” He squinted his eyes in confusion.

I flicked her ear, and he laughed it off.

"Wanna come see my collection now?" Lilly asked as she finished the last of her ice cream.

I got up. "Sure."

We headed up stairs to her room. The bed room was decorated with Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails posters, as well as "Friday the 13th" and "Halloween" movie posters. I looked at her bookshelf, I could make out some of the names on the spines. Her shelf contained books by Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe, and Harlan Ellison. She stood in front of the case as if she were going to make a selection.

"Do you have a favorite?" I asked.

Lilly scratched her chin. "Maybe, "IT" I had to have my mother sign a permission slip to let me read it. At first, I thought it was because of the violence, after I finished the book I realized it was for another reason.

I scrunched my eyebrows. "What was the other reason?"

She turned to me and pursed her lips. "Eh... you don't wanna know."

She grabbed a book called, "Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark" "Is that any good?"

"Yes, I read it when I was in second grade, it's a good start if you wanna get into horror." She said.

"Who's your favorite author?" I asked.

"King." A tear drop raced down her cheek. "My father bought me a bunch of his books before he died."

My head dropped. "I'm sorry, how'd he die?"

She wiped the tears away. "Car crash, I like to spend as much time as I can with my grandfather. He's the closest thing I have to a father."

"Tommy it's time to go home!" Grandpa called from down stairs.

I gave Lilly a hug. "It was nice meeting you, your grandfather is lucky to have a granddaughter like you."

On the walk home Grandpa asked. “Care to watch a movie with us, John?”

“I would love to, but I’ve got to get up early tomorrow.” He said.

We watched "Ghostbusters" before bed. That night I was sleeping on the second floor in one of the old guest bedrooms. As I was getting ready for bed, I heard a terrible screaming come from John's room.

Grandpa pounded on his ceiling. "Can you turn your T.V. down, John?"

The screaming was no longer audible. I read the first couple stories from the book Lilly gave me. They scared me, and I was some what afraid to go to sleep. A few minutes later I went to bed, then I was awoken by the infamous bell clang. Wide awake and extremely pissed at my sister's inconsideration. Flabbergasted that this did not wake up my grandparents. I threw my door open and marched into the hallway. I froze in my steps; there was a little girl as young as my sister, at the top of the staircase. She sat on a tricycle, her neck lolled lazily to the side, resting on her shoulder. It looked like someone had wrung the girl's neck. It all felt wrong; cold air kissed my cheeks. Bile crept up my throat; a rancid tang filled my mouth. I swallowed it.

"Hey." I said.

The girl turned to me; she was as pale as a dead fish belly, her eyes glowed like the lit end of a cigarette. She flashed me a broad, toothy smile; the bell clanged once more. The front wheel was dangerously close to the edge. A pair of charred arms shot out from the darkness and pushed her. Thudding filled the air; the chaos came to a crescendo with a crack and pop.

A loud shrieking filled my ears; it felt like needles were jammed into them. I dropped to my knees. My skin was cold, and clammy like I had been in the bath too long. My pulse was racing rapidly, it felt like pins were piercing  my heart. The pain was unbearable. Not knowing what to do I began sobbing, tears and snot cascaded down my face like a roaring waterfall. I curled up into a ball and eventually passed out.

The next morning I woke up in a cold puddle of drool. I gingerly lifted my head up, the suns rays rushed in through the hall window.

"Tommy what happened?!" Grandma said as she rushed over to me.

"I... I was sleep walking." I said groggily.

She pulled me to my feet and scanned me with her eyes. "You have no bruises that I can see. Stay here I'll get you some.. uh I can't recall the name of it."

"Advil." I said.

She went into the bathroom then returned with the pills and a glass of water. "Wash up then come down for breakfast."

During breakfast, I barely touched my eggs, all I could think about was the girl's shrieking and who was behind those awful charred arms.

 

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