Thursday, August 18, 2011
Our house was dark and quiet. I can’t really remember a time when it wasn’t. Always dark, and always quiet. I expected nothing less, even when I returned to the place twenty years later. I knew it would be silent, even after I broke down the boarded window and climbed in yesterday afternoon, I knew, deep down, somewhere, despite my hopes, that nothing had changed.
There were always weeds in the yard, and now they were just wild, like the death of my mother and father was fuel for them to shoot up and claim dominance over everything else. They spread through the gravel driveway, flanked the edges of the house, and spread up the hill to where I used build snow-forts. They climbed through the chain link fence around the property, and stopped at the tree-line of the massive forest surrounding it. They were as tall as the fence itself. They were everywhere.
I heard nothing as I climbed through the broken window yesterday afternoon. I didn’t hear my foot crunch down on the rubble, and I didn’t hear the murmuring of the the past in the air. Everything was silent, and I guess I had a reason for it. I was deaf, among other things.
After what he called 'my little accident' my father used to call me deaf, dumb, and blind. It was mostly true, except, unfortunately for him, I wasn't blind. I could see what he did. I saw the things he brought into the house. The paper bags that leaked from the bottom, dripping blood on the kitchen floor, the boxes of clothes he’d haul down to the basement. I saw them. My mother didn’t. My mother was blind, perpetually blind. She's probably still blind. As time wore on my mother grew worse, literally, blacker: her eyes sunk into her dead, day after day, until eventually they disappeared completely, and her features blurred until she became part of the shadows on the wall. She's blind, like me, but she's not dumb. She's one clever bitch. Her ghost probably haunts this house, a sightless apparition, striking out blindly with a fevered insanity, listening to everything but reason, if reason still enters this place at all.
When I first entered the house, I felt a vibration from the walls, and I saw the shadows move like water across the edges of the yellowed wall paper. I saw shadows everywhere- I guess they were more than shadows, more solid in form, more tangible, more touchable, possible to see when not a thing was being struck by the sun. I saw a shadow that looked much like a human. It walked. I know they're watching me, and perhaps they have been waiting. I do not know if they wait like we wait. But I know what It wants. I have an advantage. I am deaf, dumb, and blind.
Our house was big, and I was the only child. I was sensitive, and I was scared. Of everything. Of my mother. Of the demons that would dance in front of me all afternoon, and all night: terrified of the huge shadow people that hung over me with hunched backs, with long, slender fingers that reached for me, beckoning me to follow them. Green tentacles that slid underneath my doors and wrapped around my leg. These could have been mere imagination, the nauseating kind a child has. But I’m not sure.
My father had a crucifixion statue that would bleed and drip on the floor during the night, pooling around my crib, and this was the most terrifying of all: but, on the whole, I was tormented by these apparitions. My father would hit me if I asked plead to him, and my mother blamed it on my “devilish imagination.” When you're deaf, dumb, and blind, you relate to things differently. Your perception is different. Maybe you are insane. Maybe I’m insane.
They say that insanity brings you closer to god, and if that's true, god is as black as the night and just as terrifying.
God showed me who my father was. I was mostly terrified of my father: my paternal bond with him never developed, it more or less died when I peered out of my crib as he would walk down the creaky stairs, not once paying mind to his child, his only son. He resented me, and I feared him. Then, one day when I was no more than six, I saw him bring home a small package. I followed him, for the first and last time in my life, up to his study, and I saw him tear away the brown paper. I hid behind the door and watched through the cracks. He opened up a small, shining, golden key.
I walk up the stairs now, the one he used to tread up and down, up and down, endlessly, without purpose. I’m naked, spare the cane in my hand, the cane my father used to use to beat my mother. I'm hitting the walls, using the vibrations as they travel to find the hollowed out panel under which he kept that small, golden key: the key to his kingdom, the key to what god has shown me. God told me that when I find the key, I'll finally be free.
I can't find the key on the stairs, so I move up the stairs, toward my parents bedroom. I don't hear anything, and if I could I'd go mad, but I've slipped so far into the void that my tolerance is literally infinite. The dark shadows that move peel of the walls and walk toward me, and I walk towards them, a game of chicken. The room gets colder. They stop. I stop.
“Hello,” I say. I can't hear my own voice.
“Hello.” the demon says. It's my voice. I can hear it...and that's never happened before, my mind has always been a fortress against their hateful words.
“What-” I say, to no one, shaking, falling, my confidence drowning in fear.
“You're looking for the keys, aren't you?”
I nod, my body trembling as the shadow glides closer to me. I can see into it's blackness, it opens up like a mirror into the reality I was born from: and I see the memories. I see the real world. Mary, she calls herself, my real mother, crying over my unconscious body, talking to a man in a coat.
When I was a boy I used to dream of a different life, a life where I had a mother, and a father who lived in a house on a hill with big windows. I had a dog named Buster. I had a sister named Georgia. But for years, they were just dreams, and I would awake, in tears, screaming for my mother I could not remember. I told my real...or false mother about it once. She told me I had to pray, that I was a devil. So I did. I used to think it was real, that I didn’t belong to this hell...and I guess I was right.
I've heard the doctors talk in my dreams. It's been sixteen years, it's time to pull the plug. They are going to pull the plug and leave me flowing down the drain, the drain into this sewer of infinity.
If I find the key, I can wake up. I can wake up. But I have to find the key before they kill me, leave me to die in this pseudo-reality my dying mind created. But I'm trapped. I can't find it. I look into the blackness....the blackness has never failed to give me at least some kind of clue.
“Mrs. Howards, you are a brave woman. Do you want to be...in the room?”
“No.” My mother's face is unnaturally straight, blank. It contorts slightly as she turns her back and a sob escapes her. The memories of her rush back, and I try my hardest to somehow convey that I see her, she's right there, and if she would just give me a second I could escape this self created hell-
I see the doctor embrace my mother and escort her out of the room. I can't peel my eyes from the shadow's blackness. I see the doctor put on gloves, hovering over a computer. I rip my eyes away, at last.
“No,” I shout, scrambling backwards. “This can't be forever-”
The shadow splits into two. My mother appears again, smiling, naked, her body gray and squalid, rotten, melting.
My father appears for the second time, and it was always him I was scared of. He has needle fingers and a big black smile and teeth painted red and when he talks he has my voice, but it wasn't really mine: it was the voice of who I was going to become. I was going to turn into him. Daddy's little boy, right?
“We thought you we're going to get away from us and find the key. But you're dumb, kid. Deaf, dumb and blind. We let you have your fun when they...your real parents still influenced you. You could have destroyed us, but you didn't realize you could. We didn't try to turn you into us. This transformation is inside of you, is it not? We didn’t encourage this. You’re stupid, you’re stupid now, and you were young and stupid. Do you want to know how you got into the coma in the first place?”
My fathers face flashed a grotesque, contorted smile, his cheekbone rising to his ears and his smile glimmering like melting plastic.
“To bad, you're fucked Jeremy, your fucked! You were driving Jeremy, and you crashed. You crashed. And now your own mother is giving you up! You were so close, and she doesn't even recognize it, Jeremy! Your father is dead. She doesn't even care about her only son.”
He stepped towards me, his arms outstretched.
“We're the only family you've got, Jeremy, and you created us, whether you admit it or not. Maybe the deepest, hidden part of your soul leapt at the opportunity, but it was still you. You still did it. I hope you're ready, Jeremy. Eternity is a long time.”
“No, not forever, not forever-”
I sink to my knees, and the shadows on the wall start moving, and shrieking, and laughing, and in a million voices, a million different voices, screaming. They form the story of my life, like blackbox actors portraying the suicide of a forgotten god. I look at my hands for the last time.
I'm going to become my parents. I'm going to become my parents.
Doctor Ellis always whistled when he had to do shit like this. Not necessarily out loud, but always in his mind, playing l like elevator music. He whistled as he walked down long hospital corridors, about to tell a parent their child died. He was whistling when he said;
“I'm sorry Jeremy, but it's time to pull the plug.”
He could have sworn he saw Jeremy twitch for a second. He shrugged it off.