Shadows will breathe

Shadows will breathe
"Careful. Evil has a way of making friends with the good and dragging them into the darkness." ~ Dr. Al Robbins

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hook, Line and Sinker

Nightmare #87:
The Hook:
Marge heard herself accept Victoria’s invite.  “I guess I could stop by for a minute,” she told the young girl.

Victoria bounced up and down like a cheerleader being voted in as team captain.  Her dark brown curls hung large and loose around her shoulders, cupping her face like feathered hands.  “It’s gonna be the Best.  Party.  Ever.  Just you wait and see.”

Marge smiled, trying not to grit her teeth.  She mentally kicked herself for being kind to Victoria from day one; for being her mentor around the office; for sharing lunches in the cafeteria and whispering complaints about their boss and all the other frivolous chitchat they had exchanged over the last couple of months.  The last thing Marge wanted to do was make friends.  She was too old for friends.  Hell, she was four years away from retirement.  She was way too old to show up at a twenty-something party and chug fruity umbrella-drinks and listen to the endless banter of the young.  Marge knew she would have nothing in common with Victoria outside the office.  She knew the conversation would be strained and just downright exhausting, absolutely sure it would center on stupid shit like the newest phone App or the latest barroom hookup.  Marge knew this party would be a mistake. 
But she didn’t understand how big of a mistake.

“Just call and cancel,” she told her wrinkled reflection in the bathroom mirror.  “Just tell her something came up with the family.”  Marge chuckled.  Nothing ever came up with the family, well, not these days.  Her son and daughter were off making their own family memories, each married with children of their own.  Yep, these days, no one needed Marge.  No one came to visit.  No one called to talk, unless it was her birthday or a holiday.  Then - and only then - would a visitation occur or maybe a phone conversation happen, only to end just as soon as it started, with a hurried tone of a busy life. 

Marge shuffled into the bedroom and took a seat on the edge of her lonely bed.  She stared at the framed picture - a wedding photo from another lifetime.  She picked it up, studied it - as if for the first time - and allowed her tears to fall.  “Damn it, Victor.  I just did my make-up.”  She managed a smile, and unknowingly, slid her fingers over his face with a sigh. 

It still hurt as bad as the day he left.  The ache never goes away, not really.   Maybe if he had been a son-of-a-bitch with a bad temper or a drinking problem.  But no, not Victor, he was a good man.  He was a good man with a good heart and he was taken before his time.
Time, the bitch that it is, never healed any of her wounds as it claimed it could.  But Time did take Victor from her.  The doctors called it cancer, but she knew who to blame.  Time was like a little disobedient child - spoiled rotten - and would never rest till it had its way.  It took Victor from her, and although the years have passed quickly - they always do after thirty - her heart was as wrinkled as her face, so shriveled up from heartbreak that if it was torn out of her chest it would emulate a raisin.  Maybe if it was torn from her chest she wouldn’t have to hurt anymore.  She wouldn’t have to face the disappointment when her children broke plans and promises with her; she wouldn’t have to think about her other son – the one whom Time took at birth; she wouldn’t have to worry about the mound of hospital bills that still rolled in through her mailbox every couple of months from Victor’s treatments, so many years ago. Yes.  If her heart were torn from her chest, she wouldn’t have to remember how he had opened his eyes that last time – eyes filled with excruciating pain – just to give her a wink.  She had given him a wink back, tears flowing from her own tired eyes, knowing it was over.  “Don’t you leave me, Vic," she had pleaded with him.  "Don’t you dare leave me alone.”

He softly shushed her, that cold hospital room sending chills over her body.  “I’ll be waiting for you, Margie.  I’ll save you a good seat.”

This had made her laugh, giggle even. 

Then, he was gone. 

Just like that.


Like a snap of the fingers.  All those years; all those nights of watching television shows and sharing conversations; all those days of raising children and working for a better life.  All of it gone like a snap of the fingers.  All of that love and no where to put it.

She had held onto him until his body went cold;  until the hospital staff all but peeled her off him and pulled her out of the room and ordered her to go home.

“What home?” she now whispered, looking around the empty room.

She stood up abruptly and stormed back into the bathroom to reapply her mascara.  She would go to this party.  She would stay for a little while and make nice with the other guests.   She would do it because she told Victoria she would, and she never broke her promises.  And so what if she was forty years older?  It might actually do the retired housemother some good to get out and mingle with the youth of today.  Shake it up a bit, allow herself to be entertained with their wild stories of irresponsible splendor; of their cavalier ways and that nostalgic “the –world-still-owes-me something” mentality.  Plus, she kind of liked the girl.

And she loved her name.

Loved calling her Vic.

Loved hearing it roll off her tongue in public again.

“It'll be a hoot,” she assured herself, checking her upper teeth for lipstick stains.  With a new found determination to become more social, Marge grabbed up her purse and slammed the front door behind her.

And Sinker:
“Hurry.  It’s almost time,” her voice was strained with panic.

“I’m moving as fast as I can, Vic,” a male voice yelled.

“We need to feed it now,” she yelled back.

Marge could hear their voices but couldn’t seem to wake up.

Wake up?

Where was she that she couldn’t wake up?



Ah, yes, the party.

She was terribly hungry, and although not a scrap of food was offered to the party guests, it was a nice welcome.  From what Marge was remembering, Victoria was extremely kind to her, parading the retired housewife and mother - now office manager at a non-profit organization - around the house and out back to the spacious deck, introducing her to everyone as her favorite co-worker at the office.  It flattered Marge to be spoken to with such regard; she actually craved the attention, shockingly unaware at how long it had been since she was the center of anyone’s attention.  She smiled warmly at every introduction, extending her hand and greedily accepting their approval.  Victoria never once left her side, and Marge loved the young girl for that.  And even though there was no food to be had, the drinks were marvelous and Marge had to keep reminding herself to drink slower because she would eventually have to drive home.  Plus, she didn’t want to be that old fool who couldn’t handle her drink and passed out at the party.  She didn’t want to become the brunt of a bad joke next week at work.  Yet, she couldn’t help but wonder if they still froze your bra if you were the first to pass out.  She doubted that this crowd was the sort to gang up on some worn-out housewife near the end of her career.  Yet, something felt wrong…

Her head hurt.  Hurt something terrible. 

It had to be that last drink.  Remember how it bubbled up?  It was delicious, tasted like strawberries and peaches and she loved the way the fizz had tickled her nose, making her sneeze.  Then, that was it.  That was all she could remember.

Now, Marge heard a rumble underneath her. 

What the hell?

Her eyelids fluttered. 

“She’s moving,” a man’s voice barked near her ear.

“Nothing you can do about it now,” Victoria hollered, the same panic in her voice now rising higher in her throat.  “Get outta there!”

Marge’s eyes popped open, and even though her head was fuzzy her vision was not.  She could see clearly the bright blue pegs she was attached to.  Her legs were crossed and tied at the ankles and her arms were outstretched; the ropes at her wrists tied to the pegs.  Her body formed the letter Y and for one brief moment she chuckled, half-expecting to find three other bodies beside her in the shapes of an M, C and A.   Maybe the alcohol was still having its way with her.
She mumbled for Victoria, her voice far from audible.  She struggled to free her hands, maybe her feet, but she couldn't budge them.  She tried picking up her head - it was terribly heavy - but she forced herself to move it.  She could see her young co-worker and the others watching anxiously from the back deck, like a group of on-lookers awaiting a fireworks display.

Another rumble erupted underneath her.  It was so strong that the ground began to shatter like a broken windshield; its grass facade fragmented into clusters.  Through the cracks, tiny worms began to seep out – not just a few, like after a hard rain - but hundreds of them.  She had never seen so many worms in her whole lifetime.  They began to jump and dive from one crevice to the next, like mini-dolphins at sea, springing back and forth across Marge’s body.  She held her breath, looking confused and accusingly at Victoria and her new group of supposed friends.  Most turned away from her glare.  Victoria, bolder than the rest – and obviously in charge of the spectacle - smirked at the older woman.

“It’ll be quick, Marge.  I promise you.”  As she spoke, her voice gained confidence and strength.  “Just close your eyes and relax.  The more you struggle, the more it’ll hurt.”

Marge wasn’t as angry as she was afraid.  And she wasn’t afraid of dying, oh my no.  She had come to terms with that idea years ago.  She believed that dying  would be its own reunion party, one where she would meet up with Victor and their son and her parents.  To Marge, it was if they were all at some big Gala in the sky and she was merely awaiting her lost invitation in the mail.  Truth be told, she welcomed death; wanted to be rid of Time once and for all.  But what was bothering her now – what had always gotten her nerves in a bunch – was the way in which she would go out.  She had always feared the worst, like a slow, labored fight with cancer, or a heart-attack while driving, maybe even an unsuspecting blood-clot during her evening bath.  But never once could she have imagined this - whatever this would be.  Never once would she have fathomed this kind of ending.

“What is happening, Vic?” she all but cried from the ground.  “What are these things?”

Victoria shushed the old woman.  “Keep quiet, and very still.”

Marge’s skin was crawling with goose bumps, but in her mind she believed it to be the hundreds of  worms dancing and leaping about her.  “What are they?” she yelled out again, demanding an answer. 

“That’s my pet,” she heard Victoria announce with pride.  And as if on cue, the army of worms that spun over top of Marge’s body dropped.  Most fell to the ground.  Some of them, Marge could feel wiggle over her clothing or about her arms, searching for the others.  Then, the group of worms fused together forming one huge unit.  The army of worms were now an army of one.
And a big one at that.

Marge gasped, unable to believe what had just formed in front of her.  She squeezed back a whimper and all but ripped her arms and legs from their sockets trying to escape.  She tried over and over again to free herself, but it was in vain.

The massive snake-like creature slithered to the end of Marge’s feet.  A tiny cup of a mouth at its one end opened, and opened, and opened wider.  It's feeding hole grew large, almost as round as her grandmother's serving dish.  It began its feast at Marge’s feet and in one swallow had engulfed both of her legs – and the blue peg – up to her knees.

She screamed, the acid from its mouth burning her skin.  It was like being attacked by an anaconda in the middle of someone’s backyard.  She could feel her heart as it threw itself against the inside of her chest over and over again.  Perhaps a heart-attack would get her before this beastly thing could devour her whole.  Maybe it would all be over quickly.  Then, she remembered Time.  That old friend was back and would not allow her the comfort of a fast death.  She knew Time was out to get her – just like it’s out to get all of us – and that it would not be gracious.

She decided to take Victoria’s advice.  She closed her eyes. 

Shut them up tight. 

Real tight.

Cleared her head of the nastiness that was happening to her body - the wretched gulping noise as she was being devoured; that horrible burning from the creature’s mouth; her heart struggling to keep up and her lungs gasping for breath.  Instead, she focused only on her memories.  She fixated only on those eyes…Victor’s tired eyes, and his boyhood wink, and his bright smile, and those calming words….”I’ll save you a good seat.” 

After all, it isn’t how we leave this world that we need to focus on, she reminded herself, it’s who’s waiting on the other side.  And somewhere in her thoughts, her focus faded into an amazing hue of golden wheat yellow, like a field in autumn, and with a light so bright it was blinding.  She walked slowly forward, shadows and shapes eventually coming into vision.   The figures of her family, of those who had gone before her, came into view.  They had all been waiting for her.  

Victor gave her a big smile.  And right beside him – just as he had promised her – was a chair.  It was a beautiful chair too.  Burgundy in color with gold etching that glowed bright.  It had a high back that curved towards the top and angled in at the sides.  It was a wing chair of the most elaborate proportions.  Victor patted the cushioned seat and gave her a wink.

The End
by: Deevious

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