By: J.J. Cheesman
I’m sorry that I couldn’t originally finish my story. Like I said, things have happened recently that connect to that day, and it makes it all the more difficult to talk about. I don’t really know how exactly to continue on, but I guess I should explain what happened to Sammy after he was found in that ball pit.
Miraculously, Sammy survived what that awful creature did to him. His eyes were torn completely, but almost surgically, from their sockets, and it seemed like he lost no blood at all. The doctor who tended to Sammy’s wounds said that he’d never seen anything like it. Since I was so young and the experience was so surreal, it’s hard to recall every single detail of the next couple of weeks.
After I found Sammy in that awful state I began screaming. All at once my Aunt and Uncle were behind me, and when they saw what I was screaming about they pushed me out of the way, running to Sammy’s side shouting for someone to call an ambulance. I remember looking over to Jenny as she watched her mother cradle her catatonic brother in her arms, Jenny’s eyes were wide and tears were falling freely down her face. She turned to me then with a look that was almost accusing, and I was helpless to say anything. At the hospital later on, Jenny and I were questioned while we sat in the waiting room. They asked us if we knew what happened or if we saw anyone suspicious, neither of us said we had, which on my part was a lie. I guess I felt guilty for that, but what would I tell them? That some monster that lived in the ball pit tore out Sammy’s eyes and put them in its own head? It was insane, and I wasn’t even sure what exactly it was I saw in that place, so I just kept quiet. Still, when I looked to Jenny during the questioning, she stared at me with her accusing gaze.
My parents arrived at the hospital shortly after the policeman questioned Jenny and I, and my Mother ran over to hug her sister while my Father walked over and asked both Jenny and I if we were okay. We both nodded, and he walked over to where my Aunt and Uncle were talking with my Mom. I listened hard to hear what they were saying, Jenny was too, at that point we didn’t really know if Sammy was going to be okay or not, and we were too shook up to ask. We over heard them talking about surgery and glass eyes, which was good. It meant that Sammy wasn’t going to die because of me.
That night in the waiting room at the hospital turned out to be one of the longest nights of my life. We waited an awfully long time, but when the doctor finally came out, he said only my Aunt and Uncle were allowed to see Sammy because he was very weak. I was crestfallen, I wanted to talk to Sammy, to tell him I was sorry, but it was going to have to wait till morning. My Dad opted to take Jenny and I to our house so that we could rest up, and my Mom was going to stay behind and make sure my Aunt and Uncle had everything they needed. I remember that being a fairly quiet ride home, both Jenny and I stared out of the window, and I think my Father was too shaken to say much himself. The circumstances were strange to say the least; I think Dad just didn’t want to say to the wrong thing. We made it home, Dad cooked a frozen pizza in the oven, and after we were all done eating we went to bed shortly after. Jenny ended up sleeping in my bed that night, and I remember the exact conversation we had. I laid there in the dark for some time staring straight up at the ceiling, not daring to close my eyes because the vision of that porcelain face surfaced in my mind every time I did, and at some point I rolled over to find myself looking at Jenny’s wide and unblinking eyes. She said only three words to me then.
“What happened Adrian?”, she whispered in the dark. Again, I didn’t know what to say, but I couldn’t help the tears that formed in my eyes in that moment. Tears of guilt, and tears of sadness. “Something awful”, was all I could manage to say, and I choked on those words as they came. Jenny began to cry as well, and I think she took pity on me then. I think some part of her knew I experienced something I couldn’t explain, and she hugged me then. We lay there in that embrace, sobbing uncontrollably into each other, until eventually we fell asleep.
The next day my father woke us both up by bursting into the room and shouting,
“You girls ready for pancakes!?”, I was startled awake and my eyes were wide when I looked up at the smiling form of my father. I was dreaming of that awful thing in the pit, and its new eyes. I turned to look at Jenny who had the same bewildered look that I did, and I wondered if she was dreaming of Sammy’s eyes too. That morning Dad told Jenny and I we would be going back to the hospital after breakfast and that we would be able to visit Sammy. I was excited to see Sammy, but I was also nervous. So nervous in fact, that I didn’t eat breakfast at all, even though pancakes are my favorite. I was worried, I thought that Sammy might blame me and yell at me, or worse, I thought there was a possibility he wouldn’t say anything at all.
But as it turned out, the exact opposite happened. When Jenny and I went into see Sammy, along with my Aunt and Uncle, Sammy was ecstatic to hear the both of us. Sammy still had bandages over his eyes, but his face held a wide smile. Jenny ran and hugged her brother whose arms were outstretched toward her while I hung back a bit. After exchanging ‘I love you’ and assuring his younger sister he was fine Sammy asked,
“I thought Adrian was here?” I braced myself. I had no idea what was about to happen.
“She is”, my Uncle said, “She’s just being shy” My Uncle gave me a small nudge as Jenny stepped back, and Sammy outstretched his arms in my direction. In that moment I ran to him, I ran to him and held him and I could do nothing but cry. I cried so hard, and I wanted to tell him I was sorry, that I should have just let that thing take me, but I didn’t. I just sobbed and let the tears fall onto his hospital gown.
“Hey now, what are you crying for?”, he whispered to me, “I’m alright Adrian, I still have my hearing.” Sammy hugged me tightly back however, for a really long time at that. Thinking back to those times, especially because of what I know now, it was amazing how well Sammy took what happened to him. He was so young; only twelve at the time, but Sammy acted like he’d just sprained an ankle. I remember that day after we finally parted from our embrace and I wiped my tears Sammy said,
“Besides, I bet I’m STILL better at hide-and-seek.” That made everyone in the room laugh.
If I’m being honest, I can’t really tell you much about what happened after that. That day at the hospital was ten years old, and that was seven years ago. But I can say that things for the most part returned to normal. It was shocking what happened to Sammy, there is no question about that, but time can make us grow accustom to anything. The incident at The Fun Factory stayed in the back of my mind, but eventually, without ever coming into contact with that creature again it just became a part of the past that I never talked about. Sammy never brought it up either, that is. not until my fifteenth birthday.
Jenny and I after that day became complete best friends. We would often hang out with Sammy after school, playing silly games and just doing stupid kid stuff. I made a concerted effort to make sure I watched out for those two. You could say it was because of the guilt and in part, you might be right. But secretly I worried that something might happen to us if we drifted apart. I don’t know why, but I felt like I needed to make sure that we stayed close to each other, no matter what. So, that being said, who were the two people who showed up at my fifteenth birthday party? Sammy and Jenny.
The party itself was the old tired affair, cake and punch and all that jazz. But toward the end of the night however, Jenny, Sammy, and I, were in the living room watching t.v. Jenny and Sammy were telling funny stories about their Dad and no one was really paying attention to the television. Sammy had the floor throughout most of the story, and he was always that kind of guy that you just had to listen to no matter what, he just had that way of grabbing your attention. I don’t remember what the story was about exactly, some house renovation that their Dad messed up, but I remember it made us all burst into laughter. Then, Jenny announced that she had to go to the bathroom. When she was completely out of the room, all of a sudden Sammy got real quiet. He leaned back in the easy chair he was setting on, and even though he had his thick sunglasses on to cover his glass eyes, I could still see his brow furrowed as if he was considering something. Finally, he took in a long deep breath and leaned forward.
“You know, I don’t blame you for what happened”, I became flushed, not sure what to say. Sammy’s expression had become stern and serious. I was about to apologize, but Sammy cut me off.
“Don’t say sorry, I don’t think I could take you saying that again”, then he actually laughed. I began to anticipate what he was about to say, but I wished with every fiber of my being that I was wrong. I hoped and prayed he would not speak about that thing. Sammy drew in another breath, and he spoke on.
“You saw her, right? I know it’s messed up as hell, but she was real, wasn’t she?”
I didn’t understand why Sammy was saying this now, what was the point? He’d never said anything before. With a shaking voice I answered back.
“Yes Sammy, she was there.” Sammy actually sighed with what sounded like relief.
“Did she try to trick you too?” He asked.
“Yeah… Yes, Sam, she did.”
“Good, I’m so glad you didn’t fall for it, if only I was as smart as you.” Unbelievably Sammy laughed again, I didn’t understand how he could be so casual about what happened when I was on the verge of tears. I waited for Sammy to say something else, but he didn’t, so I asked him,
“Why are you talking about this now Sammy?”, I found that those words came out a little meaner than I meant them to, but Sammy didn’t seem to mind, he just leaned back into the chair he was sitting in and brought his right hand into his chin, then spoke abruptly.
“I see what she sees when I sleep Adrian.” I was stunned.
“What…?” I started, but Sammy began to speak again.
“I can see what she sees, every time I sleep. She isn’t just at the ball bit Adrian, she goes everywhere. I’ve seen her move to play grounds, I’ve seen her go to shopping malls, and I even see her moving around school.” I couldn’t believe what Sammy was saying, it didn’t make any sense.
“Sammy, what do you mean you see what she sees?” At my words Sammy became visibly frustrated. He leaned forward in his chair.
“Just listen okay? I don’t want Jenny to hear this, she still doesn’t know what happened, but you and I do. When I sleep, I see her moving, she uses the night and shadows to get around. I don’t understand how she does it, because it’s like a normal dream, ya know? It’s all just bits and pieces of places. At first I just wrote it off as weird dreams, but I now know that it’s her. There is one spot she keeps returning to every night.” I was genuinely creeped out by now. I wanted Sammy to stop talking, I didn’t want to hear anymore. But I had to ask.
“Where does she go Sammy?” I asked, barely above a whisper.
“In my dreams, I always see you at the end of every single one, and I’m looking down on you while you’re sleeping… She comes to your room Adrian; I think she wants you for getting away from her.” I was stunned. I couldn’t reply, I couldn’t even move. We just sat in silence until Jenny came back, and asked what she missed. Sammy made some joke and they both laughed, then they began talking excitedly about something. I wasn’t paying attention at all.
That thing was watching me while I slept. That’s what Sammy said. Was it a prank? No. The thought entered my head of course, but I didn’t think Sammy would joke about something like that. That night, after Sammy and Jenny left, I stayed up all night in the living room. Like hell I was ever going to go to sleep in my bed again. I stayed up with the television and lights on until the morning hours when I eventually fell asleep. I remember the next morning that my Mom scolded me somewhat for falling asleep on the couch. But I didn’t mind, I was never going to sleep in my bedroom ever again. After that, it became a routine for me to just wait in the living room and then fall asleep on the couch. I would only go into my bedroom from then on if it was daylight or all the lights were on. That was just the routine I had. But I never saw her again. The creature in the porcelain mask with Sammy’s eyes haunted my nightmares for sure, but she never came for me, not once. It made me think that maybe Sammy was messing with me, it didn’t seem like him, but after months went by it seemed more and more likely that it was a joke. Then the un-thinkable happened.
Jenny went missing.
One day, she was just gone. No note letting us know where she’d gone, no sign of her being abducted, nothing. She just vanished one day after school. Jenny was my best friend, and she didn’t act any different in the week leading up to her disappearance. I was so broken up by it, as were her parents. We visited my Aunt and Uncle nearly every day, to offer moral support. My Mother and Father would be downstairs talking to my Aunt and Uncle, and I usually headed upstairs to check on Sammy. I would always find Sammy sitting down in a chair and staring out of his bedroom window, or rather, facing out the window. He wouldn’t acknowledge that I’d walked in, and he wouldn’t answer me when I spoke. He just sat there in his chair and stared. Sammy had always been like a brother to me and it broke my heart to see him like that. I wanted to ask him if he knew anything, but I didn’t dare. It would have just been disrespectful. So whenever my family would visit those first couple of weeks, I would usually just sit in silence with Sammy as he sat in that chair by his window. After a couple weeks, my family stopped visiting, and I tried to go on with my life as best as I could. But as you can imagine, things just weren’t the same without my best friend, and with Sammy in his state… I’m ashamed to say I began to be glad that we stopped visiting. Sammy was just so sad… and I was too, but I needed to talk to someone. Sammy however, was content to stare out of his window and not speak to anyone. I attempted to move on with life and try to regain a bit of normalcy. But then came the night that Jenny came back.
I was sleeping on my usual spot on the couch with the living room lights on, my parents had all but given up on scolding me for sleeping in the living room, I think they felt bad for me and thought it was just how I coped with everything that had happened. Honestly, I was still terrified of what Sammy had told me. Anyway, at some point in the night I was jolted awake by a knocking on the living room window behind the couch. I stood abruptly and looked behind me to the window. Through the window I saw Jenny standing there. She looked scared, and for some reason her hair was all wet even though it wasn’t raining out. She was pointing toward the front door, and I was so ecstatic that I could barely speak, I just nodded and ran toward the door. I unlocked the dead bolt and tore open the front door of the house, Jenny was already there smiling, and I reached for the lock on the storm door. Before my hand reached the door though, I stopped. Something wasn’t right, my head was clouded by excitement and all I wanted to do was let Jenny in, but something told me to stop. I looked up at Jenny, who stood there smiling with her big brown eyes open wide. I backed away slowly putting my head on the front door. Jenny’s eyes were always blue.
“What’s wrong? Don’t you want to let me in?” Jenny said, her voice had an undertone of static. I shook my head slowly. I shut the door and locked it, I then turned and rested my back on the door sliding down to the floor. As I did so I could hear the thing outside mimicking Jenny’s voice whisper to me with that awful metal twang just behind it.
“I told you I would get her, it took a while but I did, and I will get you too. It doesn’t matter what you do girl, I cannot be stopped.” I put my hands over my ears, and began crying, but it didn’t stop that awful voice from creeping into my head.
“Even if I can’t get you, I’ll make you beg for death one day. Poor Sammy is broken, and he’s been staying up all night because he can’t stand to see what I do. His poor parents miss Jenny so much, and I’m willing to bet they would say ANYTHING to get her back, what do you think?” With those words I heard the creature outside laugh, and then I heard it walk away. I did nothing but sat there and cry, and cry until I fell asleep there on the floor. I woke up in the early hours of the day, still sitting with my back to the door. My parents hadn’t awoken yet, but I could see sunlight streaming in through the windows.
I only had one thought then, I had to go talk to Sammy. I had to tell him what happened, and I had to get him to help me protect our family. I didn’t know how we would do that, but I knew we had to somehow. I threw on my shoes and ran out the door, I didn’t stop running until I made it to my Aunt and Uncle’s house a couple blocks away. I found their door to be locked, so I knocked on the door as hard as I could. I didn’t care if I woke anyone up. My Uncle answered the door, holding a cup of coffee and wearing a bathrobe.
“Adrian, what are you doing here?” He asked, more surprised than annoyed.
“I need to talk to Sammy Uncle Dan, is he up?” I blurted out.
“Probably not, but you can go up anyway. Just try to be quiet, your Aunt is still asleep.” I told him thanks, and I hurried up the stairs as quickly as I could. When I reached Sammy’s room I burst in, and what I saw sent me into a state of shock. I fell to my knees, and vomited on the floor.
There, sitting in that chair that he always sat in, was Sammy. He’s wrists were cut, and his sunglasses were on the floor by his chair. His glass eyes were nowhere to be found, in their place were two empty sockets. His head was slumped and turned to face the doorway, so it seemed that he stared straight at me. On the wall beside the window was the word ‘Skinned’.
The police ruled it a suicide, but I was once again questioned about Sammy. Among their series of questions, they asked me if I knew why he did it. I told them no, and once again I lied.
The truth is Sammy was haunted by what he saw that awful creature do to his sister. He couldn’t take knowing that what happened to her could eventually happen to the rest of his family. With no way to warn them and no way to explain what was happening, he saw no other option. Sammy was only seventeen, he shouldn’t have had to go through what he did, none of us should have.
I’m not sure what my next move is, maybe I’ll try to fight the creature somehow, I don’t know. Anything is better than to be part of that thing, or taking my own life for that matter.
But now that I think about it, maybe Sammy had the right idea. I can’t help but wonder, if Sammy could see what the creature was seeing in his sleep, what happens if something else is taken from you. Sammy’s eyes were removed in such a way that he still survived. Does that mean then, that somewhere out there, Jenny is still alive? Is she somewhere, in eternal pain, unable to do anything but lie down and breathe because her skin is gone, and anything else would be too painful.
God I hope not. God I truly pray that is not the case.