The Dancing in the Mirror

By: J.J. Cheesman

 

This story begins with my childhood. When I was very young, maybe three or four, I remember I would often play on my bed. There was a very tall mirror in my room that my parents had sectioned off with a very secure gate so I wouldn’t fiddle with it. The mirror wouldn’t fall on my head as it was built into the wall, but I imagine they were afraid I’d break the glass. Since I was so young, the memory is very vague, but I recall jumping up and down on my bed so that I could get a better look at the mirror and see my reflection. I would begin dancing this way and that, letting my imagination run wild, as I suppose it always does at a young age.

 I would imagine that the reflection was another child, trapped just within the mirror, trying to get out. I would do this for an hour or two until my parents would finally wake up and yell at me to quit. But I was always; and still am to this day, an early riser. So a lot of the hazy memories I have from those days was spent waking up early to play in front of the mirror. But I distinctly remember a nightmare I had that made me fear that mirror, and after I had it I avoided it all-together. In the nightmare, there was another person behind the mirror, the child from my imagination. He was pounding on the glass and screaming at me to let him in. I hid under the covers, and hoped he would just go away. However, he persisted, pounding on the mirror and screaming,

“LET ME IN!” Over and over. After that nightmare, I remember sleeping in my parent’s room until we moved out of that house which was shortly after I had that dream. My parents dealt with it, but once we moved out of that house they forced me to sleep in my own room again. After the first couple nights in a new house, I didn’t have any more problems sleeping alone. To tell you the truth, even though my last memories of that house were ones of fear, I still missed it from time to time.

We didn’t move far away from my childhood home, just a couple miles down the road. Yet, my life I’d never been back there. I have just recently been accepted to the University of Illinois, and I’ll be leaving home soon. So the other day I figured ‘what the hell’ and I drove to my old neighborhood and found my childhood home. It was an old, blue, two-story house that looked exactly how I remembered. On a whim, I got out of my car, and rang the doorbell. An old, sweet looking woman answered the door.

“How can I help you?” She asked, looking me up and down. I didn’t really know what to say, I didn’t even know what I was doing there. I more than stumbled over my words.

“I…um… I’m sorry ma’am this is strange, but I used to live here a very long time ago, I just… I’m sorry, I used to have a room upstairs, and it’s stupid but… I just wanted to see what it looked like… I’m sorry, I’ll leave you alone.” I gave her a short wave, and began to walk back to my car. When I was halfway to my vehicle, the woman called after me. I turned and saw her face warm and smiling.

“It won’t hurt if you come in for a moment dear, I rarely get company these days anyway.” She said, and I smiled back at her as I walked back to the house. We exchanged introductions, then she let me into the home and closed the door behind us. We made small talk while she led me upstairs to my old room.

“It’s is funny dear, a bit of a coincidence, but your old room used to be my granddaughter’s room”. The woman explained,

“She disappeared when she was six years old though, gone without a trace, abducted from her room in the night.” The old woman sounded solemn, but she didn’t shed a tear, instead she looked stone-faced. ‘Years of telling the story must have made her hard’ I thought.

“I’m very sorry to hear that.” I told her, and she simply turned and patted my shoulder as we walked.

“It’s alright, I just hope my sweet Holly is in a better place now.”

We reached my old room, and indeed, it was decorated as if it were a little girl’s room. The room seemed to have been untouched for years, the various stuffed animals, and even the bed clothes were covered in a thick layer of dust. My eyes were drawn immediately however, to where the old mirror that used to entertain me should have been, except in its place was a grand floor to ceiling window, blocked off by an iron gate.

“When did you replace that mirror in the wall with the window?” I asked the old woman. She seemed confused but thought for a moment, then said,

“There was never a mirror there my dear, I’m sure of it. When we moved in nearly fourteen years ago, there was always that window.”

I grew speechless as my blood turned cold. I thought back all those years ago, but only three words rang in my head.

“LET ME IN!”

The Dancing in the Mirror

The Sallow Man

By: J.J. Cheesman

“Have you ever heard of The Sallow Man?”, That’s what Timmy Morrison asked me in seventh grade. Timmy was my best friend. We did nearly everything together. It was Friday, and we were sitting in lunch period discussing what we were going to do when he came over to stay the night after school.

“No, what the hell is that?” I asked him, rolling my eyes because I figured this was going to be another one of Timmy’s story’s that his sister told him. Timmy’s face put on that he’d always put on when he was talking about something that someone hadn’t heard of before.

“My sister told me about him, she said he comes to you if you say some words in front of a mirror, I don’t remember it all but I wrote down what she told me. I figured we could try it out at your house.” I rolled my eyes to make it seem like I thought it was childish, but in truth I was interested. Creepy stuff like that always interested me, even though I knew it wasn’t real, I just liked hearing the stories. I didn’t want Timmy to know that I wanted to hear about it though, because then he’d just have something to be smug about.

“Is this just more of that ‘Bloody Mary’ crap where she just comes out of the mirror to kill you?” I asked him, pretending to pay attention more to my mashed potatoes than the conversation.

“NO! The Sallow Man comes out of the mirror after you recite his poem, then he kills anyone you ask him to, that’s what my sister said anyway.”, Timmy said as he turned to eat at his own tray. ‘There was a poem involved?’ I thought. Now, I really did have to know more.

“What do you mean, what poem?” I asked him. Timmy lazily reached into one of his many folders that he carried around for school and pulled out a piece of paper that was a bit crinkled. He slid it over to me on the cafeteria table, and I examined it without picking it up. This is what it read.

In dark halls within the after,

From those halls you hear my laughter.

Dark thoughts entreat your mind,

To for now break down my bind.

I will take what ails you in this land,

And I will leave no trace, for I am Sallow Man.

I nearly laughed as I read the last lines. I was up for anything spooky sure, but this was really corny.

“Timmy, you don’t really believe this crap do you? Your sister was probably just messing with you.” Timmy didn’t say anything at first, he just concentrated on his tray for a moment, then he said,

“Brandon, do you remember last year when my parents were fighting a lot? My Dad was drinking all the time and I stayed over at your house nearly every night for a while?” Of course I remembered that, Timmy WAS over at my house every night. My parents allowed it because they knew what was going on. It was a small town, everyone did.

“Yeah Tim, I remember.” I said, the mood now solemn. “My Dad hit my Mom a lot, and whenever me or my sister was home he would call me a bastard and he would call my sister a whore. It was a nightmare.” I could sense Timmy’s gaze turn towards me so I looked up from my tray as well. He stared at me for a moment, waiting for me to say something, so I did.

“I thought your Dad stopped drinking though, and everything was okay?” I asked, trying to lighten the mood a bit. Timmy responded then, with anger starting to edge into his voice.

“Yeah, he stopped drinking, but nothing got better. Sure he stopped hitting Mom, but she barely speaks to him or anyone else in the house anymore. I know it’s because of him, I know she’s still afraid of him.” I was a bit shocked, Timmy had never mentioned anything about that before. I just figured once Timmy started staying at his house again everything was fine.

“So what, are you going to sic the Sallow Man on your Dad? Timmy that’s nuts. It’s just some story that your sister probably heard from one of the other seniors.” I told him.

“But what if there’s a chance it would work? I need to try Brandon, but I want you to be with me.” Timmy looked dead serious.

“I don’t know Tim; it just seems silly” I told him.

“Please Brandon, I need you there, please.” Timmy gave me a look of pure desperation, and I felt sorry for him. I decided that I’d be there to support him. He lived in a broken home, and he was grasping at straws. I knew it couldn’t be good for him, but he was my best friend, what choice did I have?

“Okay Tim, I got your back. Let’s summon a ghost.”

The next thing I knew, it was after school, and Timmy and I had locked ourselves in my small downstairs bathroom at home.

“Do the lights need to be off or anything?” I asked.

“No, at least I don’t think so. I think all I have to do is recite the poem in front of the mirror, and then he appears.” Timmy pulled out the piece of paper with the poem on it that he had in his back pocket, then cleared his throat. I stood back and leaned against the wall with my arms crossed. Usually when people did this sort of thing it was in the dark, maybe with a lit candle or two. But the lights were on, and the floral wall paper that was all around my bathroom didn’t exactly inspire fear, so I felt pretty stupid in that bathroom with Timmy. I was just thankful Mom and Dad were still at work so they didn’t catch us and wonder what was wrong with their son. Timmy finally began to speak after what seemed like minutes.

“In dark halls within the after,

From those halls you hear my laughter.

Dark thoughts entreat your mind,

To for now break down my bind.

I will take what ails you in this land,

And I will leave no trace, for I am Sallow Man.” Timmy spoke loudly and clearly. When he finished, he held his breath, waiting for something to happen. At that point I was absolutely convinced Timmy was wasting his time, I sighed and closed my eyes waiting for him to realize the same thing. I heard him gasp, which I took to be a sound of defeat. I opened my eyes and was about to console Timmy, but then I saw the real reason he had made a sound.

When I opened up my eyes, I saw the mirror no longer showed our reflections, but a long dark hallway. The hallway’s floor, walls, and even its ceiling seemed to be moving, Undulating back and forth like the insides of some giant worm. The hallway was poorly lit by some unseen source, and at the very end of it I could see the shape of what looked like a man moving toward the mirror. For a moment, I was stuck in disbelief. I couldn’t move, I could only watch as the figure in the mirror came closer and slowly, its features became clearer and clearer. It was a man, or what seemed to be a man, bald and completely naked. His skin was a pale, sickly yellow. He was skinny, so emaciated that his jaundiced skin was taut against his skeleton, and every one of his ribs were visible. With thin and lanky legs, he walked ever closer to the mirror with a shambling gait. His long, ghoulish arms dragged his knuckles along the hall as he walked, parting the undulating floor for fleeting moment before the floor came back together. When I noticed this I squinted my eyes to try and sharpen my vision in an attempt to see what it was that was making the floor and walls quiver like they were. The cause of the moving floor became clear as they started to move from within the mirror, and out into the bathroom. Cockroaches.

The insects began to spill out of the mirror and onto the sink and floor below. That was enough for me, Timmy and I had to get out of that bathroom. I reached out for Timmy’s arm and tried to pull him away, but he would not budge. He stood transfixed, his eyes glued to the mirror and the nightmare that was approaching. I tried a few more times to pull him away, shouting at him to snap out of it, but he wouldn’t move. It was if something unnatural was holding him in place, and wouldn’t let him go. I gave up, and I turned tail, hauling ass for the door. As soon as I reached the door handle, thousands of cockroaches moving impossibly fast covered the handle and immediately after the door, leaving the door obscured completely by writhing and hissing insects. I yelled, cursing and screaming as I turned around to go for the window on the other side of the bathroom. I was silenced when I was met with the sight of a room, no longer recognizable as my bathroom, but was now more reminiscent of that hallway in the mirror. The walls and ceiling was covered in insects. When I looked down, I saw that the roaches covered the floor below, making only two small spaces where my feet stood. I dared not move then, I didn’t know what would happen if I were to step on one of those bugs. I had the awful thought that if I were to move at all, the insects would strip my bones completely of flesh.

I lifted my head slowly to the now dimly lit room, flashes of light would strobe here and there as the roaches crawled along the light shade on the ceiling. I could now that two yellow and gnarled hands had appeared on either side of the mirror, and I knew the Sallow Man had come. Timmy stood there, his eyes still wide, his stature still unmoved. I distinctly remember a smell then, a sickly smell that called to mind dirty bed pans, and I had to cover my mouth and nose not to gag. Still, this didn’t seem to bother Timmy what-so-ever. When the awful smell came, so did then did the Sallow Man’s head emerge from the mirror. His bald head was faced downward, and his neck stretched far into the room until his head was inches in front of Timmy’s face. A voice came then, a hissing voice that seemed to come from the insects, and echo all around the room.

“Who is the one to be taken to the after?” The voice said. Timmy moved then, for the first time since he recited the poem, by smiling a wide and unnerving grin.

“My Father!” Timmy said, loud and clear, as if delivering the death sentence himself. In retrospect, I suppose he was. There was a murmuring sound then, as all of the insects began to vibrate loudly. Then after a moment, the insects parted and swarmed around the wall to the left of the mirror, and a man; who I recognized to be Timmy’s father, rose from within the wall of swarming bugs. His face was pale and his eyes were wide with fear. The insects were swarming him, presumably pinning him to the wall. I’m sure he would be screaming if the cockroaches weren’t covering his mouth.

“This is the one to be brought into the after?” That awful hissing echo came again, entreating an answer from Timmy, and without breaking his grin Timmy said.

“Yes!”

As if heeding the call of Timmy’s word, the insects then began swarming into Timmy’s father’s mouth. His eyes showed his desperate fear as thousands of cockroaches began eating him from the inside out. I would say it was gruesome, but the insects were quick with their work. They devoured every bit of Timmy’s father within seconds, leaving nothing left. Had my eyes not been glued to what was happening I might have blinked, and I would have missed it. I looked back to Timmy, who had a satisfied and almost, relieved looks on his face. But his look soon became one of terror as the Sallow Man spoke once more.

“Now, you will join me in the after, boy. Such is the price to be paid.”

Timmy didn’t move at all, save for the horrified shock that crawled over his face. I don’t know if it was terror that kept him in place, or if it was the Sallow Man. But Jesus Christ, I wish I didn’t see what happened next.

The Sallow Man lifted his head slowly, revealing a face that had no features. No eyes, no nose, and no discernable marks what so ever as far as I could tell. The only thing there was a mouth. The Sallow Mans lips, like the rest of him, were stretched tight, making his human-like and yellow teeth seem bigger than they were. Stunned into helplessness by my own fear, I could do nothing but watch as the Sallow Man’s jaw unhinged and stretched to an impossible size. He then reached for Timmy and grabbed him, picking him up just as easy as if he weighed nothing at all. The Sallow Man then shoved Timmy into his mouth whole. Just like that, gone. Impossibly, my best friend was thrown into that awful ghoul’s throat. I didn’t even hear Timmy scream as the thing swallowed him. Tears were falling from my eyes freely as the Sallow Man closed his maw and turned his attention toward me as the insects began to retreat into the mirror behind him. Just before the Sallow Man disappeared behind the mirror, he smiled at me. I could feel his eyes, eyes that he did not have, burn into me. A buzzing sound filled my ears then, and I began to faint. Just before I hit the ground, I saw the Sallow Man duck his head back into the mirror and disappear.

My Mother arrived home from work at around four o’ clock, and she found me on the bathroom floor passed out with the door closed. When Mom woke me up, my head was hazy, and it took me a moment to recall what had happened, and it was hard to think with Mom asking over and over if I was okay. But when I remembered I became frantic, telling her something had happened to Timmy, and he disappeared, but I left out the part about the Sallow Man. My Mother looked at me like I was crazy.

“Who’s Timmy dear?” She asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Mom you know Timmy, he’s my best friend!” I yelled.

“Oh you made a new friend, what do you mean he disappeared?”

I started to tell her that Timmy had been my best friend all my life, I was going to tell her that he had stayed over almost all of last year. But a sinking feeling in my stomach stopped me, and I pushed passed my Mother to the house phone. I was going to make a call to confirm my suspicion, but I hoped on hope I was wrong. I dialed Timmy’s number, and his Mother answered.

“Hello?” I took in a deep breath and asked.

“Hello, is Timmy there?” I asked.

“I don’t know any Timmy, maybe you have the wrong number sweetie?” Timmy’s Mother sounded much happier than I ever had heard her before, it wasn’t enough to stop the tears from forming in my eyes, but it did prompt the next question I asked. “Are you married?” I asked, knowing how silly it sounded, but I had to know.

“No, but I don’t see how that’s any of your business, does your Mother know your using the phone?” I didn’t reply, I just hung up. I turned and went up into my room, I dodged all my Mom’s questions and I went straight to bed. As I lie there, I thought hard about everything that had happened. I wondered if Timmy would want things this way. It was clear from the look of terror on his face, that he had no idea he would have to pay such a heavy cost. I wondered if his Timmy’s sister knew about that part of the deal, if she left it out on purpose, or if she just didn’t think it mattered, because after all it was just a stupid poem. But the biggest question that I kept asking myself, was Timmy still alive? I saw that thing swallow him whole, but was it possible in whatever world he was in, that he was still there with the Sallow Man? I hoped not, but hopes or not, I got my answer when Monday morning came.

In class, all I could do was stare at Timmy’s empty seat, and it was making me sick thinking about it. I asked my teacher if I could use the restroom, and was excused. I went straight to the sink once I made my way to the bathroom and turned on the tap. I turned the hot water on all the way, and began to splash water into my face. When I was done, dried myself with paper towel, and my eyes met the now fogged-up bathroom mirror. There, in the condensation, were three words.

 

‘HELP ME BRANDON’

 

 

 

 

The Sallow Man

The Face in the Pit- Part 2

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.

The Face in the Pit- Part 2

The Face in the Pit-Part 1

 

By: J.J. Cheesman

 

This is a story I am going to recount that I never told anyone, but recent events have come to light that have made me feel the need to share it. When I was younger, every couple of Friday’s, my Aunt and Uncle would take my two cousins and I to one of those Chuck-E-Cheese knock off places called, ‘The Fun Factory’. The Fun Factory was your run of the mill entertainment center for children. It had arcade machines, laser tag, and play areas complete with slides and a ball pit. The ball pit was always my favorite area to be in. I still remember the feeling of excitement I got after filling up on pizza and fizzy soda and then rushing to the play area to play to my heart’s content. My cousin Jenny would usually follow, but her brother Sammy would usually end up over at the arcade machines.

Jenny and I spent a lot of time on the many slides and ropes of that place, but we always eventually made our way to the ball pit. The ball pit itself was very big, or at least it was in the minds of us children. It was so big in fact, that we could easily hide under the colored plastic balls, moving within them like sharks in water trying to sneak up on one another. Jenny was always better than I was at this little game of ours. Often I would find myself jumping in surprise as she grabbed me from behind and screamed,

“I got you!” and we would both laugh hysterically as the adrenaline surged through our bodies. I didn’t mind being the one that was always caught, I actually preferred it that way. To me it was more fun being scared than to scare. Jenny and I, for some reason always had the run of that place. Most of the children that came to The Fun Factory opted to spend time at the arcade machines, or be among the ropes and slides of the rest of the play area, and of course there was always a line for laser tag. It didn’t occur to me that most children thought of the ball pit as ‘childish’, but I think it occurred to Jenny, because one of the last Friday’s my Aunt and Uncle took us to The Fun Factory I found myself alone in the ball pit.

 It was the usual routine for a Friday, my Aunt and Uncle ordered us three kids pizza and soda which we ate quickly while they read whatever books each of them brought. I turned to Jenny and told her I couldn’t wait to go to the ball pit. Jenny looked to her brother, and Sammy shrugged while munching a slice of pizza. Jenny turned back to me and said,

“Actually Sam and I are going to go play laser tag, you should come with us.”

I remember distinctly a moment of turning and looking into the dark room that was visible from the sitting area, a sign above the room in red lettering read, ‘Lazer’. Within the shadows of the opening, I could see flashing white lights and hear kids screaming. The screams were ones of joy of course, but for some childish reason that is hard for me to explain even as an adult, it frightened me and set me with a feeling of unease. I turned back to my cousins then, seeing their hopeful expressions. They knew of my overwhelming fear of the dark. At Sammy’s birthday party the year before, while we were playing hide and seek, I was accidently locked in Sammy’s closet and I shrieked and shrieked until I was let out by my Uncle, who embraced me in his arms until I stopped crying. I assume that my cousins hoped that I had outgrown that fear. I hadn’t.

“I think I’m just going to play out here” I said, staring down hard into my plate of pizza crust. Jenny shifted, like she was about to say something, but Sammy cut her off.

“That’s okay Adrian! We’ll just play one game and be back out here in no time!” I looked up at Sammy who was smiling at me, he then winked one of he’s brown eyes at me reassuringly. Sammy was always so nice to me… That’s why what happened hurts so bad. I wish I would have just gone with them, maybe then Sammy would still be here.

I smiled back at Sammy, and then he and Jenny got up and ran over to my Uncle to get money to pay for laser tag. I watched from my set as my Uncle doled out the bills and then turned to me, holding up some more cash and winking. I smiled at him and shook my head, then pointed toward the play area. My uncle shrugged and put the money back into his wallet while my cousins ran over to the laser tag desk. I got up from my seat, picked up my paper plate and pitched it into the trash cans located near the dining area, then ran over to the ball pit. As usual, there were no children inside the ball pit. I immediately dove in, excitedly crawling on the floor of the pit under the many colored plastic balls. Even without Jenny there in the pit to sneak up on me, it was fun to crawl within the pit and imagine I was a secret agent crawling within the vents of a top secret complex or a mole digging through the dirt. I would jump up and pop my head out of the ball pit every now and then, staring at the red and rounded walls of the ball pit. Every time I popped my head out, it felt as though the walls of the pit grew father apart, as if the ball pit was growing. At first I just thought it was a part of my imagination but I still crawled on my hands and knees toward the exit. That was when I noticed something very, very wrong. The small hole which served as the entrance and exit to the ball pit, even though I was crawling closer and closer to it, was getting farther away. That was also the moment when I realized that the ball pit was somehow, impossibly, getting deeper.

I began to struggle within the pit, as the floor became deeper and deeper, I felt as if I was being swallowed by the brightly colored baubles of the pit. The bustling sounds of children within The Fun Factory became silent and soon, my head fell beneath the colored plastic and I screamed out for help. My heart was pounding in my chest as I became panicked, screaming louder and louder as I was completely engulfed in colors of red, blue, and yellow. I felt like I was being suffocated, I could breathe, but it was hot and heavy breathing that rebounded off of plastic and heated my sweating face. Soon, I stopped screaming out of pure exhaustion and tears began to stream from my eyes. Then a sound came that stopped my crying immediately. There was a loud hissing sound, almost like a snake that was hissing into one of those electronic voice changers. Then I heard the shifting sound of plastic on plastic. Right before my eyes the plastic balls parted, and in their place appeared a face that stole the voice right out of my throat.

 I tried to scream, but nothing would come. I don’t know if it was out of fear, or if it was something else unexplainable, but I found that I couldn’t speak at all. The face, almost in answer to this realization, smiled at me. The smile revealed yellowing teeth that were broken in places, and its cheeks were rosy and pink, almost like a doll’s. Its face was porcelain white, again like a doll, and it had no hair as far as I could see. Its eyes were the worst part, they were green and the pupils were slit, just like a snake’s. I couldn’t see its neck, if it had once, its face took up all of my vision and I couldn’t seem to look anywhere but its awful green eyes. Then, it spoke.

“Hello child” The voice was female, but it was still hissy and distorted, again it sounded like it was speaking through some sort of electronical means. “I have been watching you for quite some time now, you and your friend.” Her (I assume it was a her) smile became a thoughtful frown as if she was trying to recall something. Then her smile returned.

“Jenny, is that right?”

Somehow, I felt compelled to answer, and found that I could once again speak.

“Yes, she’s my cousin” I said, my voice all the while a shaking mess.

“Ah! Of course! I should of known!” The face let out a throaty mechanical laugh that sent shivers down my spine.

“Well, Adrian, I have something to tell you, and I need you to listen very carefully, can you do that for me?” She spoke softly and although I was still scared out of my mind, I nodded.

“Good, I have been around for a long, long while Adrian, longer than you have been alive, longer than your parents have been alive, and much longer than their parents have been alive.” She laughed then, a hearty and genuine laugh as though she just had told a joke that I didn’t understand. She smiled her wicked broken smile at me and then continued.

“For me to continue living, I need things… people…” She gave me what could be considered a remorseful look then.

“I’m sorry to say Adrian, I need you.”

I hesitated, I truly really didn’t know what to say. “You need to me to do what?” I said these word, although, I had an idea of what the creature was getting at.

“I need you to give me your body, at least a piece of it, mine is so fragile you see, and I need… ‘pieces’ to keep it in working order”

I began to shake then, I wanted to get out, I had a sneaking feeling that if I just moved away from her I would be okay. I don’t know why I felt that way I just did. The creature pressed on with her robotic voice.

“But to take what I need, I need your permission, It’s the rules. I can’t do it unless you say ‘yes’ in here.” The porcelain face before me then smiled an awful knowing smile, as if she knew something I didn’t. I shook my head.

“No! why would I do that?” I screamed. The creature smiled wider.

“Don’t you love Jenny?”

“Ye…” I began, but stopped, understanding immediately the grave mistake I almost nearly made. ‘Unless you say yes in here’ she had said. Instead of looking angry, the creature almost seemed even more pleased.

“Well, if you DO love Jenny and want to protect her, you will let me take you, because if you don’t I will harass Jenny until she tells me yes, and I will take her” My head was beginning to buzz with the threat of an oncoming headache, the metallic scratching of the thing’s voice was making it hard to think straight, but one clear thought rang in my mind. Get out, tell Jenny, never come back. That was my plan. I stared at the creature, who wore a patient smile on her face.

“Well, what do you say Adrian? I promise it will be quick”

“NO!” I screamed, I turned then and began to crawl in the other direction out of pure instinct. I didn’t know if it would work, I just knew I had to get away. I crawled as fast as I could in the other direction, banging my hands and knees hard on the plastic floor of the ball pit. All the while I crawled I could hear the mechanical voice behind me wailing in frustration.

“YOU STUPID CHILD, COME BACK HERE, YOU’RE MINE, DO YOU HEAR ME?!” I didn’t look back, and all I could see were balls of yellow, blue, and red as I went through the pit, but that didn’t stop me. I just kept crawling on and on, the only thing telling me I was making any progress was the voice getting farther and farther away.

 

“JENNY WILL DIE! DO YOU UNDERSTAND? I WILL GUT THAT LITTLE BITCH AND TEAR HER EYES FROM HER SOCKETS! I SWEAR…”

All of a sudden, the metallic wails of the creature could not be heard. The sounds of children playing and laughing soon filled my ears as my head rose above the ball pit. As soon as I gained my footing I ran out of the hole that was the exit of the pit and I didn’t stop running until I found my Aunt and Uncle still reading in their usual spot at the benches near The Fun Factory entrance. My Uncle dropped his book when he saw me running towards him, and I began to cry. He stood and scooped me up in his arms to hold me in a tight embrace. My Aunt dropped her book as well and stood, asking me what was wrong. I said nothing, all I could do was bury my head into my Uncle’s shoulder and sob. I don’t know how long I was crying and being held by my Uncle, but at some point I heard Jenny’s voice behind me.

 “What’s wrong with Adrian?” Jenny said. “We don’t know, where’s your brother?” My Uncle said, patting my back.

“Sam went to the ball pit; he went looking for Adrian there” Jenny replied. I lifted my head and looked back at Jenny, shocked and not sure what to say.

“What?” Jenny said, a sounded a little worried but mostly annoyed. That’s when I pushed off of my Uncle, he let me go a little surprised, and when my feet hit the floor I ran back toward the ball pit. My Aunt and Uncle called after me but I ignored them, I had to stop Sam from going into that ball pit. When I reached the play area, there were kids swinging on the ropes and sliding on the slides but from what I could see of the ball pit, no one was in there. I approached the entrance cautiously, and peered over the lip of the hole into ball pit. I froze then with absolute terror.

The porcelain face from before stared up at me from the pit, the rest of its body obscured by the colorful balls. It smiled at me with its broken yellow teeth and rosy cheeks, but something was different. It’s eyes that were once a putrid green, were now a soft brown color. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew what this meant, but I didn’t want to believe it. The thing then laughed its awful mechanical laugh, and it descended below the ball pit until it disappeared within the colors. Then the balls began to move where the creature once was, and I braced myself to see its awful smile wants more. But it wasn’t the creature that came from the pit this time.

The balls shifted apart, and from below emerged Sammy. Poor Sammy, who had come to the pit to come get me so I didn’t feel left out. Poor Sammy, who was always so nice to me. Poor Sammy, who now stared up at me with two empty sockets where his eyes should be.

I’m sorry… I can’t continue on. the memory is too painful. I can hardly type now because the tears are blurring my vision. I’ll finish this another time, because I have so much more to tell.

In the meantime, please, just pay close attention to your children.

 

 

 

The Face in the Pit-Part 1