By: J.J. Cheesman
It’s so funny how we live our lives, bouncing from one moment to the next without ever really paying attention to the big picture. Don’t worry, I’m not gonna’ sit here and drone on about all that ‘live your life to the fullest crap’. Even after what happened to me, I’m sure as hell not.
It was a Friday like any other at my boring job as a clerk at a convenience store I worked at in my crappy little town. I was twenty, fresh out of college with a degree in Liberal Arts that I have yet to do anything with.
I was still living at home with my parents. I was still trying to figure out life. I was waiting for my big epiphany I guess, something to strike me like a bolt of lightning and tell me what I needed to be doing with my life. Well, my epiphany came. The only thing was; instead of striking like lightning, it came in a form more akin fire.
That Friday night I was alone as per usual. We were open twenty-four hours, and I was stuck with most of the A.M. part of those hours. So it was pretty slow that night, with the occasional patron walking in to get a late night supply of grocery items. It was a small town, so I knew pretty much everyone who came in. There was not one reason why I should have been afraid to be at that store so late, none at all. But there was about to be.
It was around one in the morning, and I was on the opposite end of the store from the entrance where we kept the dairy products. I was restocking the milk when I heard the chime of the bell that heralded someone entering the building. I turned around to look, though I couldn’t see who it was passed the aisles of candy and chips between me and the door. “Hello, I’ll be right there with you” I called out.
I walked around the aisles leaving my milk unattended fully intending to come back for it after I was through helping the customer. When I reached the counter I saw the man standing in front of a rack of cheap Easter-themed candy and stuffed rabbits that we set out for the month of April. He was very tall, at least 6”2’, and he wore a large black over-coat that concealed most of his body. When I saw what the man looked like, I moved as naturally yet as quickly as I could behind the counter. We kept a baseball bat under the cash register in a cubby for protection, but I wasn’t stupid. I knew if this man was up to no good I had little chance fending him off. I don’t go to the gym and I’m only 5”4’, and this guy? He was a monster.
No, I went directly for my phone in my pocket. I unlocked my phone, and held it under the counter and out of view. I had 911 already pulled up on the screen and ready to go in case things went bad. You might think I was being silly, but I’ve seen enough horror movies in my day to feel like it was wise to be cautious. I double checked my phone while the man’s attention was still on the rack of Easter junk and made sure that my thumb was held just above the send button. Finally, I felt a little more confident to speak up.
“Can I help you?” I asked the man, trying to sound and look as casual as possible. The man didn’t move, not one damn bit. Hell from where I was standing I couldn’t even tell if he was breathing. I cleared my throat before speaking once more. “Excuse me sir, is there anything I can get for you? Did you have Fuel?” The man finally turned to me very slowly. When he turned I could see that the rest of his attire was as dark as his overcoat. Now that I think about it, I don’t think black is the right word for what color it was. It was darker than black. His short cropped hair matched his clothing, but the skin on his face was a shade of white that contrasted so much with his clothing that it actually was almost dizzying to look at. Then I saw his eyes. The man’s eyes were the most beautiful striking shade of blue I have ever seen.
The man turned back to the rack he had been examining and picked out a stuffed rabbit from the shelf. He turned to the counter and walked over to me with the rabbit in hand and as he approached, I felt a fear in my heart that wrapped a heavy stone around it and pulled it down to my stomach and paralyzed me to my spot. The man sat down the rabbit on the counter, and looked at me with a smile that was just a little too big for his face. I realized in that moment why fear had immobilized me; though I cannot tell you why I didn’t notice before, that the man had no teeth.
That’s not even right to say, he didn’t just have any teeth. From what I could see, there was nothing in his gaping maw whatsoever. If he had gums, they were too small for me to see. I couldn’t see a tongue, I couldn’t see the roof of his mouth, nothing at all. There was nothing there I swear it on my life! Nothing but empty black. I let out a small shuddering cry then, as my phone fell from my hand and shattered on the tiled floor.
The man shot his right hand out and grabbed the back of my head, with the other hand he slowly ran the tips of his fingers across my face. I was unable to move what so ever, I could only stare into the gaping void inside the man’s mouth as I realized it’s hypnotic dark was covering my vision.
Blackness over took me then, and I could not see a thing. But I was still there in that store, with that man. I could feel his hands on my face, gently caressing my cheeks and forehead as if he had never felt a face before. Then I heard other bodies around me. I heard the whispers of voices in a language I didn’t understand, and I could feel more hands on me, touching my back and my legs and my chest. There were so many hands. But then came the pain. The hands stopped their caressing, and in their place came sharp instruments stabbing into my skin. Blades of various sizes and shapes entered my chest and sides, and I could feel what I thought were needles digging into my scalp. I prayed and prayed for the pain to stop. I prayed that I would wake up from a terrible nightmare that it was all just a dream. Then when an hour went by I just prayed to die, the fires of hell would have been preferable to the hot searing pain of whatever was happening to me. The worst of it was that I didn’t even know what was going on. I couldn’t see and all I could hear were those damned whispers. Then all at once, it stopped.
I woke up in a hospital bed, with my parents sitting beside me in chairs. They stood up assaulted me with hugs and kisses and told me they loved me and asked me if I was okay. I told them I was fine, which I was. A doctor whose name I can’t recall walked in and explained to me that I had been attacked. I was in recovery for about a week in a nearly catatonic state that the doctors couldn’t explain. I had no marks, or cuts on my body, aside from one minor bump on the back of my head. He said I was found that morning by my manager who was coming in early for his 5 o’clock shift to do inventory. When he found me laying down face-up outside the store on the sidewalk he immediately called 911.
I sit here now with a pad of paper and a pen along with a tumbler of bourbon trying to decide what to do. I am in my own bed, the doctor agreed to let me go home earlier as long as I came back in a week for a check-up. I think I will probably skip that.
You see, about an hour ago I was awoken by the familiar sound of whispering at my bedroom window. When I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes sitting there on the window sill, was a stuffed rabbit. I don’t think I have to tell you it was the same one from my store. Then I heard a sound like thunder, as I looked up into the night sky that for one brief moment; a moment so short that if you blinked you would miss it, was completely set ablaze. Then, it was quiet, and the night sky was black again. A black so dark, it was like there was nothing in it, at all.