Alex Always Forgot

cove-girl-002By: J.J. Cheesman

 

Alex Stewart has been the absolute greatest best-friend that I could have asked for. But, that isn’t to say she didn’t have her quirks. First of all, some might say that Alex is a little… off. She was into spooky stuff. I mean, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy a good horror movie now and then, but her bedroom was like Halloween year-round. She had plastic spiders on her walls, a creepy-ass mannequin that she had dressed in regular clothes with fake blood splattered on them, she even had orange and purple lights strung up all around her room. She never took any of it down. I have been friends with her since we both were eleven years old, and that stuff has been there ever since.

The other thing about Alex, was that she was sort of ditzy. I don’t mean she was stupid, she was very intelligent. I just mean, ever since we were little girls, she would always forget things. She’s always misplacing her keys or her phone, I can’t tell you how many times she’s locked herself out her own house. The most irritating part of her memory loss though, happened at night. I would always stay over at her house when we did sleepovers. I just always preferred being at her house over mine. Even with the creepy décor.

The thing is, often times, Alex and I would share her bed. We were both small framed girls. The two of us would lie in bed after Alex had turned off all the lights, and after a few minutes, we would start conversations. Meaningless really, she would ask me what boys in school I liked, or we would talk about shows we’ve seen, she would ask me about my parents, stuff like that. Not really important conversation, but I still remembered them. Then, the next day, when I asked Alex about are talk, or remembered something I wanted to tell her, she would have a puzzled look on her face.

“I don’t remember talking last night.” She had said, the first time I mentioned one of our talks.

“Uh, yeah, we were up for hours.” I had said. She thought for a moment and then shrugged.

“I must have been sleep talking, I go right to sleep usually, but I’ve been known to talk in my sleep.”

I was irritated when I found that out, how could Alex hold such coherent conversation and not remember a bit of it the next morning, even if she sleep-talks? Refusing to believe that she wouldn’t remember ANY of what I said to her at night, I asked again and again the next morning after I stayed over about our talk. Every time she would shrug and say,

“Sorry Jen, I was out.”

It baffled me, but I got over it after a while. Eventually I just stopped asking her about our talks, and I just accepted that she wouldn’t remember. As we grew older and I realized how forgetful Alex was anyway, it made a little more sense to me. But it still baffled me how much we talked and she still remembered none of it. It was a mystery to me. A mystery that went largely unanswered until we were seventeen years old.

It was Halloween, Alex’s parents were at some costume party and told us they wouldn’t be home until very late, and Alex and I were eating popcorn and watching horror movies. We had just begun watching one of my favorites, but Alex was fading fast.

“I have a headache; I’m going to go lie down.” She said. I turned to look at her spot on the love seat that sat back a bit from the recliner I was on.

“Okay, sorry you feel bad, I’ll probably pass out on the couch, get some sleep.”

“Okay, thanks.” She stood up, and walked down the hallway connecting the living room to her bedroom. I turned back to my movie, and began munching down on popcorn.

 Fast forward twenty minutes, and I heard Alex open her door and step out of her room. I was still enjoying my snack, watching the screen intently as the movie had just reached its climax. I heard Alex plop down on the love seat behind me.

“Feeling any better?” I asked.

“Yeah, I think so.” She said weakly, “Why do you like this movie so much? It’s so violent.”

I laughed. “What do you mean? You love stuff like this, you’re the queen of creepy.”  There was a long pause. Then said,

“I guess, hey, Jen?”

“Yeah?” I said.

“Promise you’ll never stop coming to see me?”

I stopped eating and my face grew red. What an odd thing for Alex to ask. I was about to begin college in a different town that year, but this was the first time that Alex said anything about it. It was odd, and I sat trying to think how to respond, when there was a clicking sound at the front door, and Alex’s Mom and Dad walked in through the front door that was placed a few feet to the left of the television.

“Welcome home!” I announced as Alex’s mom flipped the light switch next to the door, illuminating the room in a flash.

I blinked for a moment as my eyes readjusted. Alex’s parents did the same and when they looked around the room, Alex’s dad laughed, and her mother had a confused look on her face.

“Jennifer.” She said with an upward inflection.

“Yeah?” I asked.

“What is that doing in here?”

I was puzzled, but I turned to look at where she was pointing her finger.

Sitting on the love seat, in clothing spattered with fake blood, was Alex’s Mannequin.

 

 

Alex Always Forgot

Sister’s Keeper

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By: J.J. Cheesman

 

My sister was my best friend growing up. I didn’t have an older brother or any other siblings, but my big sister Mychael was just as good and even better. Yes, my parents named her Mychael. I always thought it was a fine name, a beautiful name for her. It wasn’t until I was older and in school that I realized that it was normally a boy name. As the story goes, though, my parents were big Michael Jordan fans, she was born in the Eighties, after all. The whole time, my Mother’s doctor thought she was having a boy, so when Mychael was born, they got quite a shock. My parents weren’t prepared with a girl name, and they thought ‘Mychael’ would work just as well and you know what? I agree with them.

 

My big sister Mychael, she was my hero and everything I idolized. When I couldn’t sleep because I was scared of something on T.V., (though admittedly most of the time it was something she forced me into watching with her, because she was scared to watch it alone) she would comfort me until I passed out. When I was bored, and had no one to play video games with, she jumped in and became my ‘player 2’.  Then one day, something awful happened. A day came to pass when my idol and best friend was no longer around anymore. The story of that day, and the events leading up to and after it begin and end, with The Bone Man.

The house I grew up in was out in the country, in a slightly wooded area. We had a huge back yard, with a very tall privacy fence blocking off the view of the woods that lay beyond it. I have so many memories of playing in that yard, and of being on my father’s lap as he mowed the lawn with the rider. It was where I spent most of my young life, playing pretend and imagining all sorts of wild adventures. Sometimes, the boy who lived in the house just down the road from ours would come visit.

 His name was Tim, and he was a bit older than me. That being said, he didn’t come over THAT often. I didn’t understand why back then but obviously; I now understand that at his age he wasn’t interested in my boyish games of pretending. But when you live out in the country and you’re REALLY bored you do all kinds of things to amuse yourself. One of the last days I remember Tim coming over was also the first time I ever heard of the ‘Bone Man’.

Tim and I were playing tag in the yard. Running around, using a picnic table that was out year-round along with a basketball hoop as ‘safe spaces’. After a half-hour or so of that, however, Tim got bored. He sat down on the picnic table, staring at the privacy fence.

“What do you want to do now?” I asked him. He sat quietly for a moment, seemingly thinking about something, then he replied.

“Have you ever been back in those trees before?” He asked. I just shook my head. Mom and Dad always said if they caught me anywhere near the woods that they would ‘tan my hide’. I didn’t really know what that meant back then, but I knew I didn’t want to find out.

“Come on.” Tim got stood up and started walking over to the fence.

“No! we aren’t allowed!” I said, following behind him. He looked at me and rolled his eyes.

“Says who?” He asked.

“My parents!”

“And do you see your parents out here?”

“No, but what if we get caught?”

“We won’t, you said your Mom is asleep, right? And your dad is at work, it’ll be fine. We’ll just hop the fence and explore a bit, and be back before anyone is around and about to catch us.” Tim explained. I then began to step up on one of the rails of the fence. I wanted to argue, but I didn’t know what to say. I was only ten, Tim was twelve. To my young mind, that meant he had a barrel-full more authority than I did. I nervously looked back at the house, scanning the front porch and windows for any sign of movement and when I looked back, Tim was already hiking one leg up on the last rail.

“Tim wait!” I hissed. But it was too late. He got he hoped over the fence, and I heard a *thud* as his feet hit the dirt on the other side of the fence.

“Come on James! Hurry!” I hesitated, weighing out the punishment I would receive if I were caught, with the possibility of making Tim never want to play with me again.

“Come on, or I’m leaving without you.” He taunted. His words forced me into action, and I put my foot on the bottom rail. As soon as my foot touched the wood, a loud shriek from the direction of the house stopped me in my tracks.

“James what the hell are you doing?!” I turned, startled and surprised to Mychael walking very quickly and angrily toward me. From the other side of the privacy fence, I heard Tim scamper off somewhere into the woods. I stepped down off the rail and walked over to meet Mychael halfway. When I did, she grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me lightly.

“What were you thinking?! You know if Mom or Dad caught you they would be LIVID! Get inside right now!” She pushed me toward the house and was close behind me as I walked sullen and defeated back inside. In the kitchen, I slumped down into a seat at the table and stared down at my shoes. The world was at an end, in my mind at least. I knew I was going to be in big trouble, and I didn’t say a single word as my sister walked in and stood behind my seat.

“Stop sulking, I’m not going to tell Mom or Dad.” I looked up at her, bewildered.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yeah, just, don’t ever try to go into those woods again, okay?” I nodded, but I couldn’t help but asking,

“Why is it such a big deal anyway? I wouldn’t get lost.” Mychael’s expression became serious and sullen. She knelt down in front of me and she looked me dead in the eyes.

“James, you can’t go behind the fence. I love you and I don’t want you to get hurt.” She said, very directly.

“I wouldn’t get hurt! I’m not stupid.” I said. She sighed, but she never broke her intense stare.

“I’m not worried about you hurting yourself. I’m worried about something hurting you.”

“What’s going to hurt me?”

Mychael considered a long moment before answering. Looking back, I know she didn’t want to scare me, but she must have decided that scaring me was better than me running off into the woods.

“The Bone Man.” My eyes grew wide.

“Who is the Bone Man?” I asked in both fear and wonderment. She squeezed my shoulders very tight.

“Someone you never ever want to meet. Don’t ask me about him anymore okay? He’s just… a very bad person and he will hurt you if you go in those woods, understand? Never go in there, no matter what.” She said and I nodded. My mind immediately went to Tim. I was worried, what if Tim ran into the Bone Man? It occurred to me to tell Mychael that Tim ran into the woods, but I didn’t want to get Tim in trouble. Mychael stood up, and her expression softened as she gestured toward the living room.

“Come on, Josh is coming over so set up one of your games, you know he’ll want to play with you.”

Josh was Mychael’s boyfriend of three years at that point. They had been together ever since Mychael was fourteen. Whenever he came over, he and Mychael would often sit and watch me play video games and Josh would often join in himself. He was a really nice guy, and he was, in a way, part of the family. So, I excitedly ran into the living room, and I forgot all about Tim.

Later that night while I was in bed, my thoughts returned to Tim, and to the Bone Man. I was up all night, worried about what might have happened to Tim. When I awoke in the morning, I looked out of my window toward the direction of the privacy fence. I decided that it was most likely that Tim ran home after Mychael came out yelling, and I was worried over nothing.

Life continued as normal for a week or so. It was the middle of summer, so I didn’t have school. As such, I spent most of it playing video games and playing out in the back yard. I hardly thought any more of the Bone Man. I figured it was just one of Mychael’s efforts to try to scare me. She liked to do that. She was my hero, but she was my older sister after all. I was deathly afraid of dolls when I was that age, and I recall a time when my sister had lured me into the bathroom, only to slam the door and lock me in when I realized she had set one of her Indian dolls on the sink. You don’t really think rationally when it comes to irrational fears, that’s why they’re called that. I pounded on the bathroom door and pleaded for her to let me out, tears streaming down my face. Eventually, she did, and she comforted me while I cried in her arms. Yes, my sister could be brutal, but you know what the great thing about being a kid was? I almost instantly forgave her. I dearly loved my older sister.

 

It was another day in the outside, another day of fending off pretend monsters that tried to invade the kingdom of my back yard. I remember it was a little overcast that day, but it was bright. There was a light breeze, and thick, white clouds danced around and kissed the sunlight, casting shadows all around the back yard. It was a perfect day for defending a kingdom. It was when I was standing on top of the picnic table, arms outstretched and declaring victory over the invading army, that I saw it.

Between the pickets of the fence, there was movement. The gap between the wood was too small for me to see what it was, but I was certain someone or something was shifting just behind the fence. I dropped my arms and jumped down from the table. Walking cautiously, I moved to the fence, pressing my face against it and peering into the woods. All I could see were tall trees with branches full of lush, green leaves. Then, there was a shift of movement, and for a moment I could only see darkness. My sight adjusted, and I realized I was staring directly into a single green eyeball.

Shouting in surprise, I recoiled and took several steps back. I considered running toward the house, as thoughts of The Bone Man crept into my mind and was spreading a fear that was like ice through my veins at a rapid rate. But then, I heard a familiar voice.

“James!” Tim’s voice came as a hiss, and a wave of relief washed over me.

“Tim!” I called.

“You scared me! How did you get back there?”

“I walked around dummy. Come over here, there’s a bunch of cool spots in the woods to play in, and there’s enough fallen branches and logs, I bet we could even make our own fort!” Tim said, excitement oozing in his voice. My heart was racing; I was scared to go. I wasn’t afraid of getting in trouble, but I was afraid of…

“Tim, get out of there! Mychael said there was a bad man in there!” A long silence followed my shout, and there was no shift in movement behind the wooden slats of the fence. Then Tim spoke up.

“Your sister is dumb, there is no one back here but me, now come on or I’m never playing with you again!” For some reason in that moment, I felt compelled by Tim’s words. As if the authority I felt he held over me for being older had somehow increased tenfold. I took a step forward, but I swear I was unwilling to. It was as if my body was being compelled to move by Tim’s voice alone. Even as an adult I find it hard to describe, but I fought it. I tried to stand firm, but it was no use, I took another step toward the fence.

“Come ON!” Tim yelled. I was nearly about to climb up on the rail when a hand gently touched my shoulder. I looked back and up to see the face of my sister, stern and fierce, staring at the spot where Tim was waiting behind the fence. The feeling crushing authority had dissipated now, and a strange feeling that was akin to regret washed over me. “Tim!” She called. “You know very well that James isn’t allowed back there! Now you run home to your parents, do ya hear!?” I looked back to where Tim was standing, and between the slats, I could see that he hadn’t moved, he just stood there, all quiet for a long while. Mychael didn’t say anything either, she just kept her gaze on the wooden slats. Finally, there was a sound of footsteps on grass, as Tim began walking away. I looked back to my sister.

“What if the Bone Man gets him Mychael?” I asked her, tears welling in my eyes. She tore her gaze from the fence and knelt down in front of me, staring into my eyes once again. This time her eyes were softer though, and her expression was solemn.

“There is no such thing as the Bone Man.” She said with a forced smile.

“I just told you that so you’d stay out of those woods, it is very dangerous back there. Now please, promise me you will not go back there. Ever. No matter what happens, you can never go into those woods. Please, please, please promise me James.” There were tears welling up in my sister’s eyes, and the sight of that made my own eyes well with water.

“I promise Mychael.” I sniffed.

Later that night, our family sat around the kitchen table talking over dinner. I remember my Dad stopping the conversation and asking me directly a question I thought was so strange that I didn’t answer immediately.

“James, you haven’t seen that neighbor boy around lately, have you?” He asked. I froze, I didn’t want to get Tim in trouble, and I turned to look at Mychael who was looking directly at me. She shook her head no, it was slight, and I barely noticed it, but I saw her do it.

“No Dad, not for a while.” I said, turning back to him. He sighed, and turned to my Mother, who wore a concerned look. I was afraid that somehow they found out that Tim went into the woods. I turned back to my Sister for some clue as to what the question was for, but she had he eyes at her plate, absent-mindedly playing with her food. I was confused, and I was scared. But after that night, I never saw Tim, ever again.

 

I generally refrained from playing outside for a long time after Tim had tried to get me to play in the woods for the second time. I spent most of my time inside, doodling and playing video games with Mychael, and of course Josh, whenever he was over.

 The day of my Eleventh birthday came to pass, and the only thing I remember from that day is the gift Mychael gave me, and what she told me when she did.

“Why did you give me a book, I don’t read.” I groaned and she laughed.

“It’s not a book silly. It’s a Journal, so you can write down anything important in your life. I think everyone should have one. I keep one of my own.” I opened it up and flipped through the blank pages.

“But there’s nothing that I ever do that is important.” I said. That’s when she punched me in the arm.

“Hey!” I yelled, rubbing the spot where she punched.

“Hey nothing, You’re MY little brother. Everything you do is important.” To this very day, I don’t recall ever smiling as big as the day she told me that. Call it corny, but to me, it was the coolest thing she could have ever said.

A storm blew in that night, a big one. I remember lying awake on Mychael’s floor because I was scared of the storm, listening to the lightning crack overhead, and the thunder rumble across the sky. In the morning, we awoke to my Dad cursing up a storm. My Sister and I both walked into the kitchen where Dad was staring out of the kitchen window. “What’s wrong dad?” Mychael asked.

“That damn storm last night blew a tree over and took out part of that fence, and I’m not going to have time to get to it this weekend.” I went to stand by him and looked out into the yard. Sure enough, at the end of the yard, a small tree had fallen and damaged the corner of the fence. The damage really didn’t look all that bad, the top rail took most of the damage. The tree was only big enough to take out a few of the pickets around where it had fallen. Dad turned to me and pointed a finger.

“Don’t you dare even think about going anywhere near that fence, ya hear?” He said.

“Okay Dad.” I promised, and I meant it. I didn’t care to ever go out there again. I was angry that Tim never came back to play, and a part of me blamed those woods for it. I just stayed inside and played games all day. At one point, as I sit in front of the T.V. running through the latest game I was addicted to, Mychael sat down next to me. “Will you sleep on the floor in my room again tonight?” She asked.

“Why?” I mumbled, not looking away from the screen.

“I just like spending time with my little brother okay? Will you please just make sure you stay with me tonight?” She snapped.

“Yeah, fine, whatever. As long as you play.” I threw her the second controller and looked up over at her. She smiled.

“I’d love to.” Mychael and I played until around Noon, and then she took me out to get burgers with Josh. Josh paid and said it was for my birthday, and then we all went out for ice cream after that. Of all my memories of my sister, that day is the most prevalent in my mind. Whatever darkness I face in life, it is that memory that I cling to when I need something to light the way.

I lay on Mychael’s floor that night wide awake. For some reason, I was unable to sleep. On my back, I stared up at the ceiling, which was full of glow-in-the-dark stick-on stars. It seemed Mychael had gone a little overboard putting those up, and I remember wondering for a brief moment if my sister had a fear of the dark. Some time passed before my mouth grew dry, and I got up to get a drink of water. I sat up, looking over at Mychael who was snoring loudly and mostly covered by her thick blanket, with one arm tucked under her head. Slowly rising to my feet, I slipped quietly out of the room, opening up the door just a crack so that the hinges didn’t squeak and I slipped out, looking back once to make sure my Sister was still sleeping soundly.

I made my way into the kitchen, the only light coming from the one above the stove. I grabbed a glass from the cabinet and put it under the tap. Once the glass was half full, I downed it in two gulps and wiped my mouth with my arm. In that moment, through the window above the sink, my eye caught movement in the back yard. There was a light attached to the garage to the side of the house that cast its glow across the most of the property, but it ended just short of the area of the privacy fence that was broken. The area where I thought I saw something moving.

I peered hard into shadows, trying to make out exactly what it was. Then I saw him, clear as day. Dad must have moved the tree that fell on the fence, either before he went to, or when he came back from work. Either way it was gone, and I was able to see that Tim was standing just behind the broken pickets. He had his arm out to me, gesturing and urging me to come out. I shook my head no. There was that feeling of heavy authority coming back to me again. I didn’t want to go, but I found myself searching the kitchen to make sure I was alone. I looked back to where Tim was standing, he was still gesturing, beckoning me to join him. I once again became compelled to do as Tim was asking. Without any input from my own brain, I turned and walked to the back door. I slipped on my shoes that Mom always yelled at me for leaving there, then I slowly turned the deadbolt until it clicked. I opened the door in the same way I had when leaving my Sister’s room and walked out onto the porch. Tim was no longer gesturing, he just stood smiling a rather goofy smile. He jerked his head back as if to say ‘come on’ and I stepped down into the grass, making my way to the corner of the yard.

“Tim!” I hissed, “What are you doing?! Where have you been!?” I asked.

“I ran away from home; my Dad was being mean and hurting me.” Tim said flatly.

“What?” I was surprised but it made sense. That’s why Mom and Dad looked worried when they asked me about him.

“It’s not a big deal, just come on, I want to show you something, I’ll help you climb over.” He said. I nodded, and I put my foot on the bottom rail. Tim outstretched his hand, and I grabbed it. That’s when I knew I had made a terrible mistake. Tim smiled, and for the first time I saw his teeth. His razor sharp and pointed teeth.

His skin began to split and crack, as his form grew and twisted before my very eyes into a monstrous creature. Black, slimy skin covered its body, and its eyes were pure white with no sign of any pupils. I tried to scream, but I couldn’t. This was him, this was The Bone man. He killed Tim, and took his body, and now he was going to take mine. It was over. Tears ran down my face as the creature began to pull me the rest of the way into the fence. I closed my eyes, and I braced myself for the pain.

Then, all of a sudden, I felt myself fall, and I hit the ground on my back. I opened my eyes and looked up in confusion. Mychael, my sister Mychael was on top of the creature’s back. She had something in her hand, and she was digging it into the creature’s flesh. The monster did not scream out, but instead, he let out a breathy sound that was similar to a laugh. Mychael was thrown to the ground as The Bone man reached up and swatted her forward. She was just behind the gap in the fence, we were only inches apart. The railing of the fence was the only divider between us, and when Mychael lifted her head, not even bothering to get up, I saw her face clearly.

My Sister, the strongest person I have ever known, in the face of her own death, did not cry. She looked up at me through the fence, and she smiled. Jesus Christ that smile haunts me in my dreams. “What are you crying for little brother? You’re okay.” Mychael said as the lumbering beast let out another breathy laugh behind her.

“Whatever happens, no matter what you do, you cannot let anyone come into these woods looking for me, understand? No one will believe you, and they’ll only get hurt. You have to protect Mom and Dad little Brother.” My vision blurred, my eyes became fountains as water fell freely from my cheeks. This couldn’t be happening.

“I’m so sorry Mychael!” I blubbered. Through the haze my tears had caused, I saw her expression grow somehow brighter. “Don’t be sorry silly. I love you, little brother.”

I screamed as the creature stepped on her back, immediately crushing her spine and flattening her to the ground. There was then a sickening *squelch* as it dug its hands into the flesh on her back, opening her up. He then, somehow, impossibly, crawled inside her skin. I then watched in paralyzed horror as my Sister stood from her spot on the ground, smiling with pointed teeth. I stood up as quickly as I could and ran into the house, shutting and locking the door behind me. I really wanted to wake my parents, I really wanted to let them know, but I couldn’t.

Mychael was right, they would die if they went out there, if they believed me in the first place. I walked, shaking and crying to my Sister’s room, making sure to avoid looking at the kitchen window. I laid down in my dead Sister’s bed, clutching a pillow and I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke to the worst morning of my entire life. When my parents realized Mychael wasn’t in the house the first thing they did was call Josh’s parents so they could talk to him. He of course had no idea where she was. Then after she didn’t show up the first day, the police got involved, as I’m sure they did when Tim went missing. An investigation was conducted, but no one ever thought a seventeen-year-old girl would go into the woods in the middle of the night, so they didn’t find anything. The worst part was knowing. I knew exactly what became of my sister, but there was nothing I could do to give my family closure. I watched my Mother become erratic and depressed, and my Father become distant. My life, became a constant rain cloud. My parents left Mychael’s room as it was, it became hallowed ground, not even I dared to ever set foot in there.

For the longest time, I never looked out into the back yard or those woods, fearing what I might see. Years went by and I never once even glanced in that direction. I tried to block it out, I tried to block everything out. The Bone Man, Mychael’s death, and my own helplessness to do anything about it. But I wasn’t the only one. Mom developed a drinking problem, and she unfortunately passed away shortly after my fifteenth birthday. Dad grew even more distant after that, and our relationship dwindled down to nothing. I didn’t blame him though, I understood how he felt. I felt the same way. We were both too guilty to be happy, to live our lives.

It was around then though, that I became interested in writing, and I found that old journal Mychael had given to me, and I used it to catalogue everything that I’ve told so far. It was when I was writing about my eleventh birthday that I remembered Mychael saying she kept a journal of her own, so I decided I would finally go into her room and look for it, no matter how much it pained me.

Her room was exactly how I remembered it, bed not made, plastic stars all over the ceiling. But then again, who was ever in there to mess with anything anyway? The only new addition to that room was a fine layer of dust that had begun to collect on everything. I found my Sister’s Journal under her bed. It was the first place I looked, because it was where I kept mine. I got a lot of my habits from her, I’ve found.

I flipped through to the last page, and this is what was written:

‘I know that boy was taken by the Bone Man, but I had to tell James he didn’t exist. I don’t want him to get curious like Robin did. I wouldn’t be able to handle it if that thing looked like my brother. I will protect him at all costs.’

Tears began to pool in my eyes as I flipped back a couple entries and found another. ‘Robin is gone. I know she’s just beyond the fence, I can hear her calling. I can hear it calling. No one believes me. The Bone Man took my best friend and no one believes me. I don’t think older people can see him, and they don’t seem to be able to hear him either. I don’t know what to do, I am so scared.’

I shut the journal then, I just couldn’t read anymore. I haven’t to this day. I stood from the bed then, and I made my way into the kitchen. I made my way to the sink, and looked out into the back yard for the first time in four years. Dad never repaired the fence, he didn’t pay much attention to the house anymore. There was still a gap, and I could see clearly through to the other side.

The Bone Man stood there in Mychael’s skin, smiling, as I knew he would be. I made a vow then, to take care of the property, and to repair the fence. I would take on the burden of keeping that thing in those woods for as long as I could. So far, I have done just that.

I am twenty-six now, and I took over ownership of the house when Dad passed. The first thing I did was go out and start repairs that broken fence. According to Mychael’s journal, adults never seemed to be phased by the Bone Man. I thought once I got to a certain age, I wouldn’t see her. That just wasn’t the case.

 In the broad day light, Mychael’s doppelganger screamed and pleaded for me to stop and join her in the woods. Like the crushing authority of Tim was heightened when the Bone Man took his form, so was the love for my Sister. But maybe my feelings have made me weak. Either way, before I was able to finish, I had to turn away and go back into the house. I’ve tried to get Dad’s old shotgun, and kill the Bone Man. But it’s no use, every time I get close, Mychael’s pleading wails drive me back into the house. I think because I saw him when I was a child, I can see him now. Or maybe it’s because he’s taken hold of Mychael? I can’t be sure.

So, I can do nothing but spend my life here in this hell. I have thought about moving, about just leaving it all behind. But what sort of monster would I be if I let Mychael’s death be wasted by letting another family suffer the same fate ours did? No, I cannot leave. I can do nothing but night after night hear the wailing cries of my sister, begging me to join her.

Rest assured though, as long as I draw breath, I will always be my sisters’ keeper.

Sister’s Keeper

When It Rains In The Outback

20151109_164935[1]By: J.J. Cheesman

 

My name is Eddie. I live in a small farmhouse in New South Wales, though I won’t disclose my exact location. I guess I can’t exactly say I ‘live’ there anymore. I don’t know who in their right mind would be living there after what I have seen. So I suppose I should say I ‘lived’ there for a very brief period.

You see, my Uncle Reggie passed away last month and having no children of his own he left the farmhouse to me. They found Uncle Reggie lying face down in front of the sink, dead from a heart attack. Now, Uncle Reggie was the strange sort. My parents never talked about him, and he never visited. He just kept to himself up there in his house all alone. No wife, no girlfriend, no pets, just him and his wheat field. “I don’t even know why he bought that place” My father said the morning after we heard Reggie passed on, “He never does anything with it, wonder why he left it to you?”.

Regardless of why Uncle Reggie decided to leave his house to me, I was absolutely delighted. It was little more than a shack with four rooms and a bathroom, but I was eighteen and it was a house that I would have ownership over, so to me it was a palace. I moved in only two weeks ago on Monday. I took a weeks’ worth of holiday at work and drove to my Uncle’s house that morning. The outside of the house was as you might expect from an aging grump who kept to himself. The wood siding was almost nearly devoid of paint, with a couple flecks of white left. The front of the house had a good sized porch, though the wood banister that ran from the stairs and wrapped around the porch was broken and I decided that my first act of home renovation would be completely removing it. Once inside the house though, Jesus Christ.

If someone showed me a picture of the outside of the house, then showed me one of the inside and told me they were the same place I’d call them a raving lunatic. Apparently, Uncle Reggie cared very much about his inside living conditions despite seemingly not caring at all that the outside of his home looked like Chateau de Vincent Price. The entire home was fully furnished, which was the first plus because it meant I wasn’t going to have to move much of my stuff in at all. But I can’t even describe how clean that house was with words. I couldn’t find a speck of dust in the entire place. I thought I was gonna’ spend the entire day cleaning out trash, but this was definitely a welcome surprise. I walked through every room in the house; which didn’t take long, until I came to the kitchen.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the kitchen window that sat just above the sink. Through the window staring in at me, was the ugliest scarecrow I had ever seen. It made me jump when I saw it and I cursed out loud to no one in particular as I fell back against the wall behind me. My heart thumped in my chest, but as soon as I caught my breath I stepped closer to the window to get a better look at the thing. The scarecrow’s head was made out of straw and a sack of burlap, like any other I suppose. But it was the metal plate attached to the burlap that gave it its face. For its eyes two holes equal in size were cut into the metal, and within the holes sat stones with elaborate symbols carved into them. The metal plate contoured around the head of straw and had symbols similar to the ones on it eyes drawn in what I assumed to be red paint all along its edge. I looked beyond the scarecrow to the wheat field that lay behind it. The wheat crop was high and stretched for miles on end, wind blew through the field giving the impression of something moving about in the wheat. I then drew my attention back to the scarecrow. “You’ll be one of the first things to go” I said out loud to the scarecrow as if it could hear me.

 

Soon after that, I went to work tearing apart the porch banister, which came apart very easily. I took all of the pieces of lumber from the banister and threw them down in a pile on an open area of the rather big yard a good distance from the house and the field. I then walked around the house to where I knew the scarecrow stood. I untied the rope that tied the scarecrows arms and legs to the iron cross sticking out of the ground only a mere two feet from the house. I then carried the scarecrow which seemed unnaturally heavy, to the burn pile. I went and grabbed the gas can I kept in the back of my truck and doused the scarecrow and all in gasoline. I lit a match and threw it on the pile and watched it all go up in flame. I kept an eye on the fire for a minute to make certain it was going to spread anywhere, then I went back in my truck to head to town for paint.

I was back at the house about a half hour later, the flames of the fire had nearly died out then and I could see all that was left of the scarecrow was the metal plate that was once it’s face. “Good” I thought, as I prepared myself for a long day of painting. I went straight to work, painting the entire house. It actually didn’t take long at all, given the size of the house though I guess that’s not a huge surprise. This wasn’t the first house I’ve painted either, so I knew I’d probably have to go over it again in the morning. After I lost daylight, I began working on moving in small stuff from my truck. My T.V. and game systems and the like. It was about nine o’clock when I stopped working for the night. I settled in at the kitchen table listening to the radio, and eating some beans that I heated up on the stove. I was about to get up and put my bowl in the sink, when I saw it. The scarecrow in the window, was back.

Or at least that’s what I thought at first. There was definitely a shape in the window, I could make out its head, but nothing else. I sat there frozen in silence for several minutes, unsure of exactly what to do. I could see slight movement, the slow shift in movement as whoever was outside my window breathed. Finally, I called out “Who’s out there!?” I hollered.  The figure then darted from my sight. I ran quickly to the front door, which aside from the windows, was the only entrance into the house. I ran to the door and turned the deadbolt. I then knelt down to my tucker bag which I left lying next to my boots near the door, and pulled out my hunting knife. That’s when the sound of heavy rain came.

 

I waited there, sitting on my couch in the living room, waiting for whoever was outside my home to try to break in. I had my cell at the ready to call anyone if I really needed to, but I didn’t want to have to do that. Call me silly, but calling the police to handle something was just not something I ever want to do if I can help it. So I waited. The sound of rain pounded against the roof and walls of my home. I was pissed about it ruining a good day’s worth of paint, but I knew it wouldn’t take long to redo. I thought about getting up and going to the window to look out and see how bad the rain REALLY was, but I thought better of it. If that guy was still out there, I didn’t want him seeing where I was. The rain is a soothing sound though, and eventually sitting on that comfy leather couch, I fell asleep.

 

I woke up in the early hours of the morning with a start. My hand was still grasping the handle of my knife firmly. I stood up and looked around the house. Door still closed and locked, all windows still in one piece. Good. No break in.

I walked out the front door of my home to see what kind of damage the rain did to the yard, the night before sounded like bloody Katrina, so I was sure the yard would be flooded. I stepped out into the sun drenched porched and was shocked to find no water anywhere at all. The porch was dry as a bone, and the yard didn’t seem to be wet at all. I walked down the stairs of the porch onto the yard and knelt down, putting a hand out to feel the grass. Not even a little damp. I scratched my head, stood up, and turned back to the house. Then when I saw what was on the house I ran straight to my truck, threw my key in the ignition, and drove the hell off that property as quickly as I could. There, in the still wet paint that covered the house, were thousands of hand prints.

 

I’m sitting at my parents’ house in my old room, and I pull out my phone to call my Mom or Dad, both who are at work. My plan was to explain to them that instead of moving I just wanted to sell the house. But I have a voicemail on my phone so I listen to it. It is my Uncle’s Lawyer, the one who carried out his will. “Hey Eddie, how are ya mate? Sorry to bother you, but I forgot to tell you something your Uncle wrote in his will. He mentioned that I should tell you not to disturb a guardian or somat. He said if you do, ‘they’ will come for you, and they won’t stop till’ you’re dead. Crazy bugger, anyway it’s me job. You take care bruv”

The phone fell from my hands, and I was unable to speak as once again, came the sound of heavy rain.

 

When It Rains In The Outback

John Was A Logical Man

By: J.J. Cheesman

John was a logical man. His mind was always grounded in reality, and never strayed into the realm of fantasy. He had been this way ever since he was very young. Still, he wasn’t a heartless man. So, when his son; Trevor, crept into the bedroom where John and his wife was sleeping to complain of a monster in his closet, John got up without a complaint at all and walked Trevor back to his room.

“There are no such thing as monsters, buddy, I’ll prove it to you, come on.”

John walked down the hall connected his son’s room to his own, Trevor close behind him. The nightlight placed on the outlet nearest to Trevor’s room casting their shadows on the opposite wall. When they reached the bedroom at the end of the hallway, Trevor stood by the door, unwilling to go inside. The room was partially lit by the light in the closet, the door of which John removed some time ago when Trevor complained of hearing ‘breathing’ behind it. John walked into the closet, and pretended to look around on the floor for anything hiding low to the ground. He did notice a bit of a stench coming from the closet, and made a mental note to make sure his wife was doing the laundry properly. He smiled, then turned to his son who still stood close to the doorway.

“See bud? Nothing to be afraid of, there’s nothing going to get you.” John stepped out of the closet.

“Can I sleep with you and Mommy tonight?” Trevor asked.

“No buddy, you need to learn to sleep in your own bed, there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

John brought tucked Trevor into his bed, and he kissed him goodnight, before returning to bed himself. For nearly a week, John’s household slept without disturbance. Then, one night, John awoke to Trevor, once again.

“What is it buddy?” John said, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

“The light in my closet is broke.” Trevor said, meekly. “Okay buddy, I’ll switch the bulb with the one in your lamp, and we’ll get you a brand new on for your lamp in the morning.” John said, exhaustion and a little bit of irritation leaking into his voice.

John and Trevor made their way through the hall once again and, once again, Trevor was close behind John but this time, Trevor stopped in the glow of the nightlight. John stepped through Trevor’s doorway and was nearly to his night stand before he realized the absence of his son.

“Trevor, get in bed while I change the light, I’m very tired.” John said a little angry. Trevor did not move from his spot, and he shook his head no.

“Why not!?” John hissed. Trevor spoke in a shaking tremor.

“She’s afraid of the light Daddy, that’s why she didn’t follow me into the hall.”

The stench from Trevor’s closet had grown now, so badly that John had to hold back from throwing up. How did he not notice when he first walked in? “

“What are you talking about Trevor?!” John barked.

“The girl who crawls up.” Trevor whispered, as his bedroom door slowly creaked shut. John was a logical man, and logical men do not take monster hunts seriously. Especially when it comes to looking on the ceiling.

You may equate being logical with being smart, but if you were in Trevor’s position, hearing the screams that he heard beyond his bedroom door. You might not think so after all.

John Was A Logical Man

When A Storm Comes

 

By: J.J.Cheesman

When I was a little girl, about nine years old, something occurred one night that has stuck with me all these years. Most of my time as a child, I have forgotten. But I can recall this strange night with an almost crystal clarity. Growing up, I was an only child, with no brothers or sisters to comfort me during a thunderstorm. I hated thunderstorms. As a result, I would often run into my parent’s room, and sleep under the covers huddled up next to the snoring form of my Mother. She never woke up, my Dad always joked that he was worried there would be some disaster while he was gone and Mom would sleep right through it. Dad worked third shift, so he would often be at work until mid-morning during the times that I would run scared through the living room into bed with Mom.

 One night, I was brought out of a deep sleep by the sound of thunder so loud it shook the entire house. I remember being half asleep and dazed as I rolled out of bed and headed out of the open-door way. The mind of a child works in funny ways I’ve found, and as I passed through the living room, I hardly took note of the T.V. being on, though the volume was turned so low that it made no sound. I scanned the living room only once, and I made my way quickly to my parent’s room. I wasn’t running at that point, I was still somewhere between awake and sleep, and I was working more on instinct than fear. I could see the sleeping form of my Mother, illuminated only by the dim light coming from the T.V. in the living room. From the foot of the bed I crawled under the covers in the dark, and I could hear the first drops of rain begin to patter on the roof. Mom must have known the rain was coming, because the windows were shut, making it a little stuffy in the room. I laid with plenty of room between Mom and I, in an attempt to stay as cool as possible.

I lay completely silent, bracing myself for the booming thunder I knew was inevitable. The only sounds for a long time was the rain, and the breathing of Mom next to me. I remember realizing that she must have been coming down with a cold, because her snoring a bit more labored than usual. Under the heavy comforter, I could see nothing, even the little light from the Television set could not penetrate through the fabric. For comfort, I reached a hand out in the darkness, attempting to find my Mothers hand. Then I jumped, as suddenly she spoke, breaking the relative silence.

“Are you okay baby?” Her voice was a little hoarse, most likely having just woken up.

 

“Yes Momma, just a little scared.” I spoke into the dark. I could hear some shifting then, as if she had turned over to face my direction.

“It’s okay, I’ll be here like always.” She said, her voice still hoarse, but soothing all the same. I smiled and closed my eyes, still trying and failing to find her hand. Thunder boomed overhead, and I cringed, pulling my body into a fetal position. Flashes of light from lightning somewhere in the distance were so bright I could see them through my eyelids.

“Momma, hold my hand, please.” I pleaded, stretching out my right hand as far as I could. There was more shifting, and the bed creaked, then I felt her hand enclose mine. It was cold, and clammy. I remember then feeling a pang of guilt, here I was afraid of a storm, and even though she was sick, my Mother was putting up with me.

“I like it much better in here than in your room dear.” She said flatly. I opened my eyes then, confused.

“What do you mean, Momma?” I asked her. After I spoke my words, a nagging feeling in the back of my head started to bubble up. A child’s mind works in funny ways, as I mentioned, and I started to replay in my mind the last few minutes. Wandering out of my room, rubbing my eyes. The T.V. that was still on in the living room, because Momma had forgotten to shut it off.

“We usually lay in your bed, it’s just way to small dear, there just isn’t much room.”

I looked from the T.V., to the front door, to the couch that wasn’t empty. Momma had forgotten to shut the T.V. off. Momma couldn’t shut the T.V. off. Momma fell asleep on the couch.

My horrible realization washed over me like cold, frozen water. I was stunned. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t blink, I couldn’t breathe. I could only stare into the black, feeling the cold, clammy hand of whatever lay there in the dark with me. “Are you okay, sweetie?” The voice in the dark asked. I didn’t know what to do, but I spoke, purely out of fear.

“Yes Momma, I’m just thirsty.” I slowly pulled away from the hand that was growing ever colder. Then I screamed as it closed tight around my wrist.

“DON’T YOU DARE LEAVE ME!” She hissed, the voice now gargled, and angry. I cried out and tried to pull away, but the hand was strong. I thrashed and pulled with all my might, but it was no use. I couldn’t get away.

 A chill began to wash over my body, draining me of all my strength. With the chill came a foul stench, that I cannot began to describe with words. I grew weak and tired, I felt as if a strong fever had taken me over, and I no longer had the strength to fight. My eyes began to close, and I felt myself slipping. Then, another boom of thunder came, and with it, a brilliant flash of light that lit up the entire room and penetrated the covers. The thing that had a hold of me under that blanket cannot remotely be described as human. It’s gaunt and boney fingers, it’s slender and emaciated form, it’s distorted and repulsive face. Of all the memories of this particular night, it is this one that I am glad I don’t remember clearly. The light from the storm seemed to startle the creature, and it loosened its grasp on my hand, returning my strength to me. The light only lasted an instant, but that was all I needed. I rolled out of the covers, falling on the opposite side of the bed that the creature laid on. I hit the carpeted floor hard and scrambled to my feet, dashing into the living room and next to my mother on the couch. I curled up next to her, and I watched the doorway of my parents’ bedroom with her arm wrapped around me while she snored.

 I don’t know why I didn’t wake her. In my mind, I was afraid of what might happen if I did. I didn’t want that thing to hurt my Mother, and I thought that she might go investigate if she knew what was going on. So, all night, I laid there in the light of the T.V. while I watched the open-doorway. The creature never followed me into the living room. It never came into the light, but I could hear it’s breathing, just beyond the darkness. Every now and then, lightning from the storm would flash, revealing the contents room. The first few times it happened, I couldn’t see the thing. Then, I saw it.

Lightning flashed, and I saw its eyes, just below the top of the door frame. When the light was gone, I could still see its eyes glimmering. I realized why I couldn’t see the rest of its body then. It was because it was hanging, from the god damned ceiling. I watched that space in the dark until I fell asleep due to pure exhaustion. I woke up that morning to the smell of pancakes, and the sound of sausage sizzling on the stove. My Mom asked me about the storm that morning, and I lied and said it hadn’t really bothered me. I lied, and said that actually, I had just had bad dream and slept with her on the couch.

From then on, I slept with my lights on, a habit I have kept up well into my adult life. Sure, the first couple of weeks were hard, but I got used to it. I never go anywhere without a flashlight, and I always make sure I’m well stalked on batteries. The only upside to my horrifying experience, is that I’m no longer afraid of thunder storms. When a storm comes, they are a form of comfort for me now, a beacon in the darkness to keep out unwanted guests. But I will never forget that creature, and the awful words It spoke to me that put chills up and down my spine to this day.

“We usually lay in your bed, it’s just way to small dear.”

When A Storm Comes