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Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part Four

Somewhere in America
A Horror Short Story
Teddy – Part Four

The inspector had been napping when the call came. Screams from the neighbor’s house.

“Yes, yes. 3112 Sycamore. Why that’s…. Thank you, I’ll be right over.”

He set down the receiver, his mind racing. Grabbing his jacket he ran out of the station. Something was going to get resolved tonight.

The Inspector got to the house fifteen minutes later. After banging on the door for several minutes he finally jimmied a window open and climbed through to find himself in a little study with a couple of bookshelves only half filled with books and other odds and ends.

He stepped out into the living room where he’d originally met Mr. Phillips. The light from the hall showed him nothing immediately amiss. The bottle of brandy he’d seen earlier was now nearly empty along with the glass on the coffee table. He walked up the stairs taking care to observe everything but noticing nothing out of the ordinary.

At the top one door stood open and one closed. He knew which was the father’s. He went to that one first, knocking, and when that didn’t work, entering. But Mr. Phillips wasn’t there. Back down the hallway he went toward the daughter’s room.

He looked around at the furnishings in the little room, so nicely organized. On the bed a neat line of stuffed animals sat staring at him. In their center was a little doll with a porcelain face. It looked like her face had been broken at one point and then put back together again. She seemed to be smiling at him. He smiled back.

Other than that there was nothing there. Nothing but a bed, a dresser and an old rocking chair sitting empty.

Then he noticed something else. Across the room stood a little girl’s vanity with a large mirror in the center, cracked down the center, half of it in pieces on the floor. On the edge of the mirror’s frame was a thick smear of blood. He looked closer. It ended in finger prints. A man’s finger prints.

He bent down to inspect the blood spattered shards on the floor when he was interrupted by a loud banging sound coming from downstairs and hurried down to see what it was. Through the living room and into the kitchen he went, stopping abruptly to stare at the back door, banging open and shut in the wind outside.

The wind had picked up since he had entered and must have slammed it shut only to have it catch on the lock. But it was the handle that got his attention. It was covered in blood.

He pushed the door open and stepped outside into the backyard. Above him thunder clouds were gathering for another attack. Looking about he saw nothing and was about to step back in when he noticed the streak on the side of the house. He took out his flashlight and looked closer.

More blood, smeared, as if the person had lost their balance and put their hand up to steady them self. Feeling the rain on his neck he pulled up his coat collar and followed the direction of the smear, soon finding more in the form of drops on the pavement of the driveway and smears on the open door of the shed. He started running.

The path was dark. He could just barely hear her up ahead, her tinkling laughter, her smiling eyes, calling to him, telling him to hurry.

“I am honey, I am,” he called back to the night, coughing something wet into his mouth as he ran, the wooden handle cool in his grip.

It was going to be alright now. It was going to be fine. Ahead in the moonlight he could see the first of the large stone slabs, silhouetted against the moonlit sky. He was almost there. Almost there.

The inspector arrived at the cemetery thirty minutes later. The gate was open and one bloody finger print told him who had been the one to open it.

He stepped through, looking about. His trail ended abruptly in the sparse grass and darkness. Huge trees grew up all about reaching their branches out to him like long fingers whose shadows rose and fell with the wind, reaching towards him.

His trail gone, he began walking up the little path, careful to avoid stones and roots in the dark. He remembered where the little girl’s grave was. Probably her father was there.

Several times as he walked he thought he heard voices ahead or to the side, once even behind him. Vague whisperings he could barely make out. But after the first few searches came to nothing he stopped following them.

It was probably the wind anyways, it had kicked up along with the rain and now all he heard was the quick pitter-patter of droplets landing heavily on the bare branches of the trees. A few minutes later he turned a corner, passing under the bough of a large oak tree, and saw up ahead the small hill on which she had been buried.

He stopped, squinting his eyes. There, outlined against the orange glow of the moon behind it, stood what looked to be a squat, little boy with a large round head. He was holding a shovel, much too large for him, patting a small mound of dirt in front of the girl’s grave. There was something strange about him, maybe the way he stood.

The boy seemed to sense the Inspector’s presence and turned toward him. The boy’s head was big, too big. A large circle with two small circles on the top of each side. The little boy stared at him for several seconds before going back to his work. The inspector started forward.

He left the path, intending to catch the boy before he could run off. But he forgot to watch for the stones and roots. Before he’d gone more than a few yards he found himself flat on the ground. He heard a crack in the distance, like the sound of wood breaking, and stood quickly, scanning the dark horizon.

But the little boy was gone. He walked more carefully now, picking his way through old, fallen over grave stones and tree roots covered in grass.

A few minutes later he arrived at the grave of the little girl. There was no one there now though the foot prints of a grown man lay all about. Where Mr. Phillips had gone he had no idea. He stared at the stone for several seconds, thinking, before he realized there was something different about it, different than when he had last seen it at the burial. It was hard to see in such darkness and he bent down to get a closer look.

There had a been a large cross etched into the front of it but now that seemed to have been carefully scraped away until there was nothing left of it. But that wasn’t what held his attention.

The name on the stone was gone. It had said the little girl’s name in large roman lettering. But that was gone now, chipped away. His skin grew cold as he read what was etched into that stone facing now.

Reaching out his fingers he traced the jagged letters in the cold stone, feeling a chill run up his spine.

He stood then, still staring down at it. Beside the freshly made mound on which he stood the shovel the strange little boy had been using lay broken.

From somewhere in the distance he could hear the high pitched tinkling laughter of a little girl and he looked around to see two small figures standing on a ridge a little ways off. They were holding hands.

Lightning flashed and he shielded his eyes. When he looked again they were gone.

He looked back down at the word scrawled on the tombstone. “Daddy.”

From below him, in a grave deeper than most, he could faintly hear what might have been the screams of a man. Or maybe it was just the wind.

This is the end of: Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story

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Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part Three

Somewhere in America
A Horror Short Story
Teddy – Part Three

Frozen in place Mr. Phillips listened to the faint music. It was almost hypnotizing in its effect. Slowly, as if drawn there against his will, he began to walk to the door, expecting it to open at any moment. A faint light shone through its crack, flickering now and then.

“I’m just drunk.” He whispered to himself as he edged nearer and nearer to the door. “I’m just drunk. That’s all. Just the wind.”

Through the door he could hear the sound of slowly creaking wood, back and forth, back and forth. He grasped the handle and pushed it open, stepping inside.

The music stopped. So did the creaking. It was right at the tail end where the words, “out popped the weasel,” came. Only they didn’t. It stopped just before “weasel”. The silence enveloping him was unnerving. Even the wind outside seemed to have stopped completely.

He couldn’t take it. He wanted to run to the little box. To yell at it, “say ‘weasel’! Say ‘weasel’, dammit!”

But he didn’t. Something stopped him, some voice in the back his mind telling him he had no place here, no authority.

He looked around, shaking with a mixture of anger and fear. Everything was as he had left it. The dresser, upright again with its contents carefully placed back in its drawers. The stuffed animals laid neatly on the bed, as if waiting for their friend to come back.

Except…. Except for one. Her teddy bear. He had put it with them…. but now It was gone. Frowning, he looked around for it, finally finding it sitting on that strange rocking chair of hers. The one that went from side to side instead of forward and backward. He could remember her sitting there with the bear, rocking slowly as she sang, the window open. Her mother had been behind him as they watched her, completely unaware of their presence. She had had such a beautiful voice. He could almost hear her singing now, the soft silvery voice of a little girl, so soft and-

No. She was gone now. The sounds in his mind quieted as he stared at the empty space beside the bear. But how had the bear gotten there? And how was it rocking? It just sat there facing him. Almost as if it was staring at him. But it must have been the chair rocking. Nothing else would have made that sound.

He made a face at it but it continued to stare at him impassively. A shiver ran up his spine.

Glancing around more he saw the open window. That was the cause of all this. He sighed with relief as he closed and latched it. “Must have been banging in the wind. Gusts pushing the rocking chair.”

He laughed, feeling queerly like he had just done something sacrilegious. Well, so what? He could if he wanted to. He laughed again, louder. Then again.

Now he felt more at ease. What was wrong? So he hadn’t cleaned the stairs like he thought. So what? He walked around the room looking at the various objects, all neat and tidy as he’d left them for the investigation.

His uneasiness returned when he came to the stuffed animals. Especially that little doll with the child’s face and white porcelain skin. It even had eyelids. Hadn’t it been turned the other way when he walked in? It seemed to be staring at him now with its painted eyes. They all did. Was it guilt? He wondered. Is that why he felt that way? It had a little smile on its face as it stared up at him. One of those unnatural ones which didn’t quite make it to the eyes the way only a doll can do.

It blinked.

His breath caught in his throat as he stared at it. He was sure it had just blinked. Sure of it! But it just sat there now staring at him. Teeth shaking, he reached out and picked it up.

“Mama,” it said. He dropped it to the ground, eyes wide and stepped on it, stomped on it, until it was a broken pile of porcelain. Then he saw the little tag. “Talking ma-ma doll”. He took a deep breath, calming himself.

Quickly leaving the doll he turned back to the room, ready to exit, when something across the bed from him caught his attention. Something he hadn’t noticed before.
Squinting in confusion he walked past the bed to the bear. Their was something on it. How hadn’t he seen that before? He bent closer.

“No!” He whispered, tripping, so quickly did he try to back up. He landed on his butt in front of the bear, its eyes still on his. He looked at its arm. Blood clung in little wet droplets to the nappy fur. It was on his head. Around his neck. He reached out to it, his finger connecting with the wet liquid, still warm. Very slowly the bear turned its head to face him.

“No… No…” He was shaking his head spasmodically, his whole body was shaking. His breath misted in the air. It was so cold in here. “No… No!” He screamed. “N-”

“Daddy?”

His heart stopped. Cold sweat ran down his face. “Who said that? Who said that?!” He yelled, turning in circles in the center of the room. He was on the verge of crying.

I’m cracking up, he thought to himself. “There’s no one…”

“Over here, daddy.”

“No… Please God, no,” he whimpered quietly, covering his face in his hands as tears welled in his eyes.

“Daddy?”

“I can’t do this!! I cant-”

“Daaaddyyy….”

Very slowly he stood up, turning as he did, his eyes shut tight.

There was a light laugh, silver tinkling on a windy day. “Daddy,” said the voice from just in front of him.

He opened his eyes, slowly. He was facing the mirror. The one on her little vanity. His daughter stood there, staring at him with large unblinking eyes, a slight smile on her face. But she was inside the mirror looking out.

All about her was darkness and mist, slowly rising and falling, swirling here and there. In the background he could barely make out faint shapes in the darkness, darker areas moving with a life of their own.

“Hi, Daddy,” she said, waving a hand at him awkwardly, her joints stiff. Her neck was titled at an odd angle and she seemed to be straining to keep it upright.

He couldn’t speak. He wanted to scream but he couldn’t breathe. It felt like the air was being emptied from his chest. He was suffocating.

She stood there, staring out at him as he fell to his knees, grasping at his throat, that same smile she always wore. Only it wasnt… There was something about her face. Something off. It was too white. Too white and too stiff. All of her motions were.

“Daddy,” she said, blinking her eyes. Her whole face stayed still as her eyelids closed and opened again.

“No….” He mouthed.

“Daddy, are you okay?”

Very slowly he shook his head.

“Well then come here, Daddy. I’ll help you.” Her smile didn’t change. It didn’t even move as she spoke. It was as if it was painted on. The words just came out.

He edged toward her, his chest on fire. Kneeling down in front of the small mirror he bowed his head, the tears he’d worked so hard to hold back pouring forth now in a torrent.

“I’m sorry,” he said in barely a whisper, “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay daddy. I understand.” He could feel her hand on his head, her fingers running through his hair, ice cold to the touch. He raised his head to her. She was so close now. One arm was extended to the surface of the mirror, stopped as if by a pane of glass. But he could still feel it.

“It’s okay, daddy,” she whispered. He saw the tilt in her head then, the sharp bump on the side of her neck. “You can help me, Daddy.” She stared down at him with her unchanging expression.

“Yes. Yes,” he mouthed.

His lungs opened.

Her eyes seemed to grow larger, darker. “Good.”

Beside him he heard the creak of the rocking chair as something soft and furry slid off of it.

This is concluded in: Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part Four

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Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part Two

Somewhere in America
A Horror Short Story
Teddy – Part Two

“Mr. Phillips, I’m still not convinced it was Epilepsy.” The Inspector had been at the house for almost two hours now. He had come home with them along with the rest attending the wake and yet at eight o’clock at night he was the only one still remaining.
“You say the windows were closed?”

Mr. Phillips stared into his glass of brandy, slowly twirling the last of the ice with a straw. “I – I honestly don’t remember. Was it raining that night? I may have closed them if it was. I – I don’t know.”

The Inspector, who had other thoughts as to what had happened that night, stared at the bereaved man through narrowed eyes. The doctor had confirmed the epilepsy. But then the doctor was a good friend of Mr. Phillips. The Inspector shook his head. Something just didn’t sit right with him….

“Please Inspector, today has been very trying for me. Could you….”

“Of course. Of course… Your loss.” Out of habit the Inspector dusted off his pants and stood up from the little armchair where he had been perched most of the night. “I’ll come another time, perhaps tomorrow.”

Mr. Phillips looked away, something the Inspector didn’t fail to notice. “Yes, of course.”

“If you do find anything else though, please let me know, hmm? You still have my number?”

“Yes, yes. I do,” Mr. Phillips said, glancing at the semi legible scrawl on the sheet of paper beside the telephone. “I will. Thank you, Inspector.”

Mr. Phillips showed the Inspector to the door, closing and locking it after him. He then ran to the window where he pulled the curtain aside an inch to watch the Inspector as he stood beside his car staring out into the night before finally getting in and driving off. When his brake lights had faded into the distance Mr. Phillips let the curtain drop.

“My loss….” He muttered to no one as he walked back to the sofa, downing his last glass of brandy before pouring a new one. He appeared even older now than at the funeral.

Outside the storm had only gotten worse since the service. Peels of lightning lit the back windows with a yellow glow as thunder crackled loudly above the sound of the pouring sheets of rain dancing across the roof. He couldn’t remember a storm this bad since he was child.

He stared at the silent television set across from him, slowly sipping his brandy. When he finished it he poured himself another. And when he finished that he poured another….

He awoke with a start some time later. Just how long he didn’t know. But the thunder, while not completely gone, had lessened, and the rain outside was a gentle pitter-patter once more. He started to rise but fell back as his head reeled in protest. His face felt like a freight train had hit it sometime in the recent past. He rubbed his eyes to clear the fog from them, looking around. Something had woken him. Something had-

There it was again. He couldn’t tell where it had come from. Was that it? It sounded like something tapping against something. But it was only once and then it was gone.

He sat back, trying his best to pull himself out of the mist which covered him. It was just the wind, nothing more. This house was empty now. He laid his head back and closed his aching eyes.

“Empty. All empty,” he said to himself. “I’m not even here anymore. I’ve gone to that-”

The sound came again and he quickly opened his eyes, jarred by its suddenness in the midst of so much relative silence. It sounded like it had come from upstairs.

He blinked his eyes and stood up, fighting the urge to pass out. Probably a window left open. As he mounted the stairs his gaze fell upon a step a little further up. There was a strange spot on it. He bent down to look closer. It was red and shiny.

“But-but I cleaned those up,” he said to himself, frowning down at it. He shook his head. “Must have missed it.” But it was so shiny…. so…

He reached out with his finger to touch it, recoiling instinctively at the texture of the thick liquid. Hands shaking he stared at his finger. It wasn’t possible. He had cleaned it up. And yet it was still wet. And warm. So warm.

He looked to the next step and the next. Dots of blood speckled them here and there and, once, a thin smear ending in one little finger print.

He was shaking, unable to take his eyes off that mark. He remembered that print. Remembered wiping it up with a damp rag as his mind had raced, wondering what to do. It wasn’t possible.

From above came the sound again. Only it wasn’t a tapping sound now. It was more like a rolling sound. The unmistakable sound of a ball being bounced and rolled along the floor only to bump up against the wall and then repeat after a short pause. He touched his face, feeling the cold sweat which clung to it like a death shroud.

“The wind. It’s only the wind,” he said, steeling himself to continue his ascent.

When he got to the top he looked around, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. His heart told him where, but he wouldn’t listen. And he was so cold. Wrapping his arms around his body he started toward his room. His daughter’s room lay in the opposite direction and he hadn’t been in there since that day. He’d rather he never went in there again.

He was halfway to his room when he heard the sound again, closer now. A ball being dropped. He listened with growing fear as it rolled along behind him.

Slowly turning, the floor boards creaking under his feet, he watched, frozen in place, as a little red ball rolled slowly toward him, speeding suddenly as it passed him by, heading for the stairs. Step by step it bounced, each time sounding like a hammer against a nail. Finally it came to a stop at the far wall below him and there was silence once more.

He looked at the door to his daughter’s room, opened just a crack. It was the wind. That was all. He’d closed that door. He knew he had. He knew he had!

Outside the thunder slowly faded to nothing. And from the room a new sound now drifted. A soft sound as if carried on the wind. The delicate, stilted chiming of a child’s wind-up music box.

He listened in disbelief. He knew that tune. It was the box he’d gotten for her when she was only a few months old. He remembered winding and rewinding it for her as she lay in her crib staring up at him. She’d been such a beautiful child.

The tinkling notes of “The monkey and the weasel” played round and round as he stood there, just outside her door, the ghost of a smile playing across his lips… But it wasn’t right. It was off. He listened more intently. It paused here and there before continuing, now fast, now slow, as if it were uncertain. As if a hand was turning the wheel. A child’s hand.

After a moment the sound of a rocking chair creaking back and forth joined it. Mr. Phillips wanted to scream.

The inspector had left the Phillips’s house at eight that night intending to go home. But something kept sticking in his mind. He drove for over an hour thinking about it, unconsciously winding his way back to the station.

Pulling into the parking lot he got out of the car and walked in, heading past several others still at work. One of them sent a paper airplane flying at him. He brushed it away and headed for his desk.

A series of photos sat there, taken at the scene of where the little girl had lain from various vantage points. The idea was that she had suffered from an epileptic fit, her first, while standing at the top of the stairs. From there she had fallen, cutting her hand on a loose nail and breaking her neck in the crash at the end.

But then why so many blood spots near the top of the stairs? And that finger print. It looked like she had actually grasped at the step on her way down, as if trying to stop herself. A person in a fit would never have done that. And her hand had a cut in it yet there was no sharp object she could have cut herself on except near the bottom.

But he couldn’t prove it. Couldn’t prove anything with the doctor vouching for the whole affair. And Mr. Phillips had cleaned it all up so fast after they’d seen it.

But then there was that other photo. It had been dismissed by the others but his mind still stuck on it, pulled to it now as he sat there. It was a shot looking up from the bottom of the stairs.

Blurred but discernible the door of the little girl’s room was open just a crack. Through the crack, even blurrier than the door, one could see the far wall. And on that wall was what looked to the inspector like the shadow of a little boy standing there, bending over something. Or at least half of one. The door blocked what would have been the other half. It could have been anything really.

“It’s nothing,” the precinct’s film developer had said. “Just a spot on the film.” And maybe it was. It didn’t fit into any angle the inspector could think of. But still it tugged at him.

Finally, taking a cue from Mr. Phillips himself, he set the picture down and leaned back in his swivel chair. From his coat pocket he pulled a small cask of scotch. It had been a long day.

This is continued in:Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story Part Three

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Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part One

Somewhere in America
Horror Short Story
Teddy – Part One

The little girl flew through the door panting, her wavy, corn silk hair bouncing about her little face.

“Quick Teddy, we have to hide!” She whispered across the little room. Her eyes, recently moistened, glittered in the reflected light of the moon outside.

Pulling the door closed, she turned the lock on the knob and ran to her old four poster bed where her teddy bear lay sprawled amidst the other stuffed animals, some new, some old.

But he was the only one who received her attention, the only one who showed any signs of wear. He was the only one whose belly was large in proportion to its chest from years of little arms squeezing its neck and whose facial fur was stiff from nights when a tear stained little face pressed tightly against it.

Through the door she could hear the distant shouts of her father, drunk again.

“Hurry!” She said as she grabbed her Teddy. “We have to go now! Where are the weapons?”

He didn’t answer but she already knew. They were in a wooden chest in the bottom drawer of her dresser, tightly locked with yarn against the robbers.

Teddy in tow she padded as quietly as she could across the wooden floor to her dresser. Outside she could hear her father’s stumbling yet persistent steps making their way up the stairs, his nonsensical rant unceasing.

She pulled open the drawer, blowing hair out of her eyes as she rummaged through the various collectibles of a little girls life. Doll parts, a plastic phone, crayons, all of these went by the wayside as she looked for her little box.

Then she found it. It was at the bottom of the drawer buried under a thin layer of dust and an old t-shirt given to her by her mother. Her father hadn’t been the same since her mother passed. Not that he was much better before. Now the only thing she still had from her was the t-shirt and Teddy. Wiping a tear from her eye she pulled out the box. By the sound of the yelling outside her father had made it to the top of the steps and would be to her door in seconds.

“Get out here, child! Don’t you walk away from me when I’m speaking to you! You good for nothing-”

The box under one arm and Teddy carefully tucked under the other she ran to the closet, cringing at the loud sound it made as she opened it. It was dark inside but she wanted that. She pulled the door closed and buried herself in a pile of clothes, cutting her hand on an old hanger.

With Teddy at her side she reached into the little box, feeling the two little guns made of tinfoil. Her friend Bobby had made them for her when she came to school one day with bruises on her arms. It was all she had now. She hoped it would be enough.

“We have to be strong, Teddy,” she whispered to the bear. “We can’t be weak, okay? Because if we are then they’ll take us. Okay, Teddy? I love you Teddy. You’re my best friend. We’ll make our last stand together, okay? Shhh, I hear him coming.”

Two loud knocks landed on the door to her room. There was a pause as the man outside worked his confused mind trying to decide what to do next. The door rattled on its hinges as he tried to open it.

“Hey you! I know you’re in there! Open up this door! You don’t walk away from me! No child of mine walks away from me!”

There was another pause in which the little girl clutched her Teddy even tighter to her, whispering to him not to be afraid, that the only thing to fear was fear it self… that she was so afraid. If he felt uncomfortable in her embrace he didn’t say. But then he never did.

The door rattled again, a little at first, then harder and harder. “You open up, you hear me!” There was a loud bang and she heard the wood crack. “Open up now, dammit!”

“I’m sorry, Teddy. I’m sorry I got you in this trouble. I love you, Teddy.”

She turned his face to hers so he could see her tears in the dark with his large bear eyes, see her trembling lips, see the shiny dark skin still swelling around her eye. “Hold onto me Teddy. Please don’t let him take me. Please.”

She whispered the final word as a large crash signaled the lock giving way.

“Dammit! You made me break the door! God dammit child! I’ll whip you for that!” Foot steps echoed across the room clashing harshly with the creak of old floorboards.
“Where are you? Where are you, dammit?! Come out here!!!” There was a pause for several seconds followed by a low rumbling laughter. “Don’t worry…. I’ll find you. The good Lord will help me with that. He’s on my side. Not the side of nasty little girls who disrespect their fathers!”

His footsteps marched one way and then the other as if in indecision about what to do next. Unknown items were plucked from their resting places and let go to fall unceremoniously to the floor.

“Dammit! Where are you?! You-” things crashed to the ground, a lamp broke, her dresser, knocked sideways, sent its contents rolling across the floor as its drawers flew open.

The last item, a little red ball, rolled to a stop against the wall and there was silence once more. She heard his footsteps faintly pacing the floor and the creak of her bed as he sat down. Then came the muffled sobs of her father.

“I’m sorry… I’m sorry, daughter. I love you. You know I love you, right? Right? You know I love you, right? Right?! You know it! Dammit, you do! Where-” his voice faded out again. She couldn’t hear anything. She strained her ears to their limit but could make out nothing.

Minutes went by as she waited, her heart gradually slowing its mad dash to nowhere. She looked at Teddy and he at her. “Is it safe now, Teddy? Is the monster gone?”

As if in answer the closet door came crashing open. Light filtered in through the thin layer of clothes, the only protection she had from the monster towering above her.

“Help me, Teddy. Please. I want to be like you, Teddy. I just want to be with you, forever.”

Large hands reached into the pile, locking onto her slim frame.

“No!” She cried. “No! Teddy, help me!” She pleaded. “Help me, Teddy!” Tears streamed down her face. The tinfoil guns, impotent in the end, fell from her hands. She knew they would never have helped. Not really.

The monster lifted her up to its face as tears flowed from her eyes like twin rivers. Desperately she kicked at him with her little feet but that only made him more angry.

“Disrespect me, will you?! Run away from me, will you?! No daughter of mine disrespects me, dammit!” He dragged her, kicking, from the room, slamming the door behind him with a crash.

“Stop it!” She yelled, her throat choked with tears. “Stop it!”

The muffled sound of their shuffling feet came through the door as they made their way down the little hallway.

“Daddy! Daddy, no! Stop it, Daddy! Please!”

There was a pause, almost electric in its silent intensity. Then came the vague and horrible sound of a little body tumbling down stairs.

She cried out as she fell, a cry cut short by a final knock of wood. It was one word not to be repeated. Teddy.

“Daughter?” The voice of her father demanded. “Get up…. I said get up, dammit! Daughter?…. Dammit, don’t play games with me, child! Daughter?…. Daughter?!”

The funeral was held the following week in the town cemetery, a sprawling acre of mole hills and tombstones with the occasional mausoleum poking its brow to the sky.
It was a dismal service with thunder clouds only adding to the darkness of the already gloomy assembly while at the same time voicing their disapproval of the fate of one so young with a pitter-patter of rain, gently staccato against the stone slabs and sickly grass.

The local priest, Father Jebsen, presided over the function. He was a thin, little man with long grey hairs poking out the side of his head like straw whiskers on an old scarecrow left in the field for too many winters.

“Mr. Phillips,” he said in his dry and cracked voice, “Would you care to say a few words?”

The girl’s father nodded somberly from his seat in the front row of the tiny congregation. Taking the proffered umbrella from his sister beside him he stood, his eyes flitting quickly to the empty plot of earth before him and the half coffin which hung there motionless in the rain. He stifled a cough and nodded again.

“Yes. Yes. Thank you, father.” To those present he seemed to have aged at least a decade in the last week. One could almost hear his bones creaking in the sorrowful expression on his face. He walked slowly to the front of the assembly, two small crowds divided by a too small hole in the ground.

Carefully folding his hands in front of him he began in a voice both choked with grief and yet practiced in its trembling nature. “It is a horrible thing… A horrible, horrible
thing… for a father to have to be present at the funeral of his own daughter.”

“Amen,” whispered the assembly.

Taking a deep breath he continued. “Epilepsy… that fateful disease born of the antithesis of our Lord of light and love, has taken another life. A life very precious to me.”

He bowed his head for a moment before going on, looking out at the small sea of faces as his eyes passed over each, one by one, in a practiced, well acted routine. From where he stood he could just barely make out the face of his daughter, the front of the casket still half open.

“My daughter was…” His voice faltered as his eyes fell upon her lips, full little lips.

“Ahm,” he cleared his throat. “My daughter was…”

He blinked, trying to clear his vision. At the edge of her lips… was that a spot of blood?

No…. No, that wasn’t possible. It was probably a bit of lipstick overdone by the mortician.

He cleared his throat again. “My daughter was my most cherished companion. She was my only child and, I like to think, my best friend. I can only hope that sh…”

His voice trailed off again as his eyes, roving across the assembly, passed once more over the coffin and her face. The spot of blood was a line now, a dark, red line running back down her cheek.

And her eye… No. No, he was imagining things.

“Mr. Phillips?” The Priest had his hand on Mr. Phillips’s shoulder. “Are you alright?”

Mr. Phillips stared blankly at the man for several seconds before seeing him. He looked at the congregation and back again to the Father, blinking to bring the specter of a man into focus. He shook his head, then nodded.

“No. I mean, yes. Yes… I’m fine. Thank you.” He looked back at the coffin but there was nothing there. Only the pearly white skin of his daughter’s face. So white and so smooth. He took a deep breath. A woman in the front row whispered something to the man beside her who nodded in return.

“Ahem,” he coughed, clearing his throat. “I’m sorry, it – it’s still hard to… speak about. Thank you.” He bowed his head as he stepped aside, the priest patting him sympathetically on the shoulder.

“Thank you,” the old scarecrow said to no one in particular. He said a few more words from the good book, blessed the child and the earth which would receive her, and finished with:”We will now lay this poor child to rest. May the Good Lord take her soul.”

The motor whirred as the casket was slowly lowered into the grave by the pulleys. It was a deep grave. Mr. Phillips had specifically asked for it to be, though just now he couldn’t quite remember why. But it had been a good reason he was sure.

He sat there staring at his daughter’s face as it went down, positive that at any moment her eyes would open. Bloodshot eyes, boring into him, accusing him of what he’d done.

Maybe that was why he had wanted it so deep. So she couldn’t make her way out. The same reason he had wanted the casket open until the end. So he could watch her go down. So he could make sure she had.

He chuckled to himself at the silly thought, stopping abruptly as droplets of cold sweat broke out on his forehead.

But as it was her eyes didn’t open and he let out a sigh of relief as the casket hit dirt and the lid was closed. It began to sprinkle as he, along with his brother and father, laid the first shovelfuls of earth upon it, dropped roses and said their dutiful goodbyes. Then they left.

He looked back once through the quickly growing sheet of rain at the hole in the ground. The workers were quickly filling it in. But behind them, blurred by the thick downfall, he saw another dark figure. A fat little child with a round, porky head standing some distance from the workers beside a tree.

Who was that? He wondered, squinting his eyes as he fumbled for his glasses. He couldn’t remember any children attending. By the time he found them and put them on the child was gone. He got in his car and drove away.

This is continued in: Somewhere in America – Teddy – A Horror Short Story – Part Two

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Love and Assassins – Chapter Two – Part Three

Love and Assassins
Chapter Two – Part Three

I hobbled over to the refrigerator, opening the freezer door and peering inside. My neck was cramping bad and the little man with the head-hammer was back. Inside the freezer a tray of ice sat, half full of cubes, probably from the tenant before me. I broke out several pieces, found an old t-shirt and wrapped them up in it.

Placing the makeshift ice pack on my shoulder I stared around the room, my gaze finally falling on the toaster.

A million thoughts ran through my mind then, all the countless ways I could fuck that one up, cause myself excruciating pain, and somehow, somehow… Still not die. No. Electrocution was out.

I laid down on the couch, closing my eyes and vaguely wondering why I hadn’t used the couch to stand on. Oh well. I stretched out across the cushions, thinking. I was doing something wrong here. I had to be, how else could I not be dead yet?

I grabbed the note pad, pulling my knees up and looking it over with a critical eye. I had the purpose. I had the ways. I had the tools. But… And then I saw it. I hadn’t worked out how a suicidee would be. I mean what kind of attitude would they have? I hadn’t even written a note! They all wrote notes, right?

I tapped the pencil on my lips, thinking. Okay. I scribbled out, “attitude of a suicidee:” and then below this: “depressed.”

Yeah. And… “Despondent,” and, “angry at the world.” Huh. Do suicidees like anyone? Probably not or they would just go be with that person. Okay, “no friends.” And… Yeah. I had it now. I got up and went to the mirror, looking at myself.

Well, I already looked like shit. My face was paler than before and a nice bump was busy swelling on my forehead. But no, I needed the attitude of a suicidee.

Okay. Despondent. I relaxed all the muscles in my face. Good. Zombie-like, but good. And depressed. I lowered the edges of my mouth. Good. Angry at the world. But wait, no, it would be angry at the world but not showing it. I lifted my upper lip the slightest bit. Yeah, that was it. I looked horrible. And kind of weird. God, this was depressing.

I went back to my couch, sitting down. This wasn’t working. Hmm. There was one other way though I didn’t know if I had the nerve to try it. Maybe if I got really drunk. Yeah. But I’d have to be up there already or I’d probably forget what I was doing.

I wrapped my robe around me and tied it. Grabbing the remaining five beers I left my apartment. The building was nine stories tall. There would be no way I would make it through this alive.

I climbed the stairs trying to get myself worked up into a good rage against the world, thinking of all the horrible things anyone had ever done to me, the lies and betrayals, failures. Life was rotten.

By the time I reached the top I was out of breath but I was ready. I hated everyone. They all sucked. No one had ever been nice to me in my whole life. And if they had I was trying not to remember it as much as I could.

I pushed open the rusty metal door at the top of the stairs and stepped out into a chilly wind. It was early evening now and the sun was already down. Below me I could hear the sounds of rush hour traffic, something that would continue for another couple of hours.

I stepped to the side and looked over.

Oh God, can’t do that again, I thought, quickly pulling myself back.

I took a deep breath. Okay. I can do this. But I can’t do it there. Too many people around to gawk at the crazy man in the bathrobe. Other side. There was an alley there, no one would see. Probably wouldn’t find me till next week.

I walked across the gravel strewn roof to the other side, careful not to look over. Okay, this was it. I climbed up onto the edge using the ladder to the fire escape to brace myself. Very slowly I sat down, my legs dangling over the side, and kicked my slippers off, watching them fall and bounce on the pavement below.

Alright.

I opened the first beer, chugging it down and dropping the can over side, hearing a dull clang a moment later as it hit the side of a dumpster. Yeah, sue me for that.

I opened the next beer. Drank it. Next. Drank it. Next. By the time I was half way through the fifth one I needed to pee so badly I could barely hold it. I fumbled for the ladder beside me, pulling myself up and nearly falling several times before getting my footing. Yeah, I was drunk enough. Now I just needed to pee and then I could get it over with.

I fumbled at my bathrobe, trying to get it out of the way and hold onto the ladder at the same time. A chill wind swept up, blowing the flaps of my bathrobe up and to the side. I clutched onto the ladder, staggering, trying to hold it in. Then I slipped sideways, losing my grip on the fire escape ladder. I was falling.

Everything slowed down then, the chill wind becoming a gentle breeze, the sounds of traffic dying away to a faint background hum. This was it. This was really it.

A thousand thoughts flashes through my mind, memories good and bad, dreams, goals. And through it all was the feeling of the soft breeze and the weightlessness. I’d never felt so free in my entire life.

A moment later I landed on the fire escape one floor down. On the bright side I didn’t need to go pee anymore.

This is continued in: Love and Assassins, Chapter Three

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Love and Assassins – Chapter Two – Part Two

Love and Assassins
Chapter Two – Part Two

I made some more coffee by reusing the same grounds as before and sat back down in front of my notes, picking up the can of beer and finishing it off.

“Okay. Wrist slashing is for massochists.” I crossed it off the list. Then as an afterthought I put a little check in the square beside it. At least I could feel like I was making some progress.

“Okay. Next: hanging.”

I looked about the room. In the center of the ceiling a small fan hung, slowly turning on its axis. That would do. They always used those in the movies.

I grabbed the twine, unreeling it on the floor and tying a noose at the end of it. Or at least a loop with a knot in it big enough to fit my head through.

Wait, that won’t work, what if I slip out? It needed to be tight around my neck, no accidents, this was going to be the one.

I started to undo the knot and ended up breaking my finger nail half off. Fuck. Where are those scissors?

A few minutes later I was tying another loop, this one around my neck. Fumbling with the knot I finally got it tight enough, very tight. I looked down at the long thread dangling from my neck, smiling proudly at my creation. This was going to work.

Now I needed something to stand on. I looked around. I owned no chairs, those were all back at the house where Jack was probably getting a blow job sitting on one.

I could feel the blood rising to my cheeks and closed my eyes, taking a deep breath. The time for anger was past. This was the time for effective action. And deep breaths.

Okay. Look around. What can I use?

My eyes fell on the many boxes littering the floor.

“Right,” I said to myself, rubbing my hands together, “let’s do this.”

I dragged the box containing my weights under the fan and stepped onto it, reaching up to the fan. Too short, okay…

Beside me another box sat, one side torn to the bottom and open, housing a stack of old records without cases, hand me downs from my mother.

“Mom, I’ll see you soon,” I said, smiling at the stack. Then I paused, thinking. “Oh no. No, wait, I won’t, that’s – wrong place. Never mind that mom,” I called. “If you were listening.”

I picked up the box and put it on the first. It was stable. Good. Climbing up I nearly slipped as one of the records moved under my foot, but I caught myself! This was it. This was it. Nothing was stopping me this time.

I reached up, tying a new loop around the top of the fan. If only it would stop turning.

A minute later I had it. I was so excited. I stood there on my tiptoes tying one last knot around the fan axis, just to make sure it would hold, when suddenly the record began to slide out from under my feet.

No, no, no, no, no… Fuck!

I fell, my legs swinging out as the loop caught me under the jaw, carving into the soft skin of my throat.

Fuck that hurts! That fucking hurts!

I screamed but nothing came out.

Legs swinging below me I grasped the loop around my neck with one hand, reaching for the top knot with the other.

Come on, baby, come on!

I could feel the blood rushing to my head. My lungs were burning already and it had only been a minute.

Fuck this hurts!

I tried to stand but the records kept slipping out from under my toes, flying off like frisbees on speed. Finally, kicking out with my feet in panic, the whole box fell away leaving me to dangle in empty space.

Well, this was it, I thought as the edges of my vision blurred into darkness. I was going to die now. Maybe not as calmly or as quickly or as painlessly as I’d originally wanted, but it was happening.

My head felt like it was going to explode, my chest was on fire. Everything was going dark, fading out, until all I saw was a thin tunnel of light stretching out before me like a path, so bright and beautiful. I could almost see a beautiful woman on the other side dressed all in white, smiling compassionately, her arms held out to me, beckoning. This was it. Goodbye world.

Crack!

The fan came out of the ceiling part way, jolting me and powdering my face with dry wall dust which stung my eyes.

I swung my legs, impulsively, kicking out in protest of my eyes being raped, when suddenly the incomplete knot around the fan began to loosen, the twine slipping through the loop in quick, short bursts.

No. Please, fucking damn it!

I couldn’t see anything, my vision gone. But I could hear it all, every little hitch of movement right up to the end as with one final hitch it came undone sending me crashing down on my back, my head connecting painfully with the box of weights, the beautiful woman at the end of the tunnel gone.

I lay there for several minutes, gasping for air as my lungs screamed, looking up at the treasonous fan where it hung, held only by its wires.

Fucking assholes! I mean what company makes a ceiling fan that won’t hold a person’s weight? What if kids were swinging on it?

I closed my eyes. Mental note: If I live through my suicide, find out who makes those fans and fucking sue them. Freakin safety hazards.

A knock at the door brought me to and I stood up, dazed, nearly tripping on one of the records before finally making it to my feet. Cringing at the pain in my neck and throbbing head I walked over to the door and opened it.

A woman stood there holding a baby wrapped in a pink blanket. She had blonde hair, pulled back in a braid and big blue eyes to match her sunny smile. She couldn’t have been more than thirty at the most.

“Hi! I’m so sorry to disturb you, but no one else is home now and I heard you banging around over here. Tee-hee! My name’s Cristin, my husband and I just moved in over here down the hall from you. Thirteen B!” She squealed with excitement, her smile broadening as she shook back and forth. “Yes sir,” she nodded to herself, “came all the way from Georgia to the big city. Got our own home now. He’s out working, first day at the new job.

“Anyways, my baby is hungry and I just found I’m out of milk and was wondering if…” Her sentence trailed off as she took in the scene, her eyes flashing to the ceiling fan behind me, to the mess of boxes, to the twine around my neck and finally to my bandaged wrist.

“You know it looks like I’ve caught you at a bad time. I’ll just check with someone else.” She scrunched her face into a smile and turned, hurrying back down the hallway. A moment later I heard a door being slammed and bolted.

“Mmm…” I groaned, closing and bolting my own door again.

Next up is: Love and Assassins – Chapter Two – Part Three

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Love and Assassins – Chapter Two – Part One

Love and Assassins
Chapter Two – Part One

I finished the coffee and stood up, eyeing my room from a strategical view. If I was going to be a suicidee then I needed to start thinking like one. I needed… to make notes. That always helped in school. So I was told.

I grabbed a pad of lined paper from a box and sat down, pencil in hand. After balancing accounts for so many years this was something I should be good at.

“How do suicidee’s go about their business?” I wrote in neat cursive on the pad, underlining it twice.

I looked up at the ceiling, eyes half closed in thought as visions swam through my head. “Right.” A moment later I scribbled, “slashing wrists, hanging, electrocution,” in downward order.

I sat back, nodding. “Yeah,” now I was getting somewhere.

Okay, next. “What do I have?” I scribbled under the list.

I looked around the room at the train wreck that was the physical representation of my life. “Okay… Time to get to work.” If was going to do this I was going to do it as a professional to professional standards. No half-way for me.

I went through everything, opening drawers, pulling up boxes and spilling their contents about the room. I even opened a can of split pea soup just so I could see if the lid was sharp enough. It was, but too jagged. I could imagine it slicing and then getting caught, slice, get caught. I didn’t think I had the stomach to persevere through that. “Next.”

Fifteen minutes later I stood staring at the kitchen counter. Three things lay upon its dusty surface, three instruments of immediate, irreversible death: a pair of scissors, a roll of twine and a toaster. I noted them all down on my pad, making little squares beside each so I could check them off when done.

I took a deep breath. “Okay. Here we go.”

I grabbed the pair of scissors, heading for the bathroom. This was it.

Standing in front of the sink I stared into the mirror at my pale reflection, noticing for the first time how dark the skin beneath my eyes was, how pale my face. Oh well. Taking a deep breath I closed my eyes, scissors open, edge to my wrist.

This is it. This… Is… It.

I bit down on my lip, sucking in a deep breath of air.

Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it!

I did it! Yes!

“Ow! Fuck! That fucking hurts!”

I stared down at the red line across my wrist, feeling more like a very thin rug burn than a slice of doom. There wasn’t even any blood!

I shook my head. I had to do this right. No fucking around or pussying out. Unwavering dedication was what was needed here, nothin less would do.

“Okay.” I put the edge of the scissors to my wrist again.

And close eyes…

And inhale…

And…

“Fucking hell that hurts!”

I threw the scissors to the ground, grabbing my wounded wrist with my other hand, a light stream of blood slowly dribbling between my fingers.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I was shaking my arm, still holding it.

Who fucking does this shit? It’s so painful!

After a minute I opened my hand to look at the wound, a small gash bubbling slightly. Hmm, maybe it would be enough… I held my arm up above my chest.

Crap, no, that’s to stop the bleeding! “Okay.” I bent over, my arm dangling as low as I could reach as I watched the tiny drips come, one by one, so slowly.

Several minutes later the wound was already congealing. I shook my head in disgust. “Seriously?” I asked the scissors where the lay on the floor? “I’ve gotten better cuts from falling on my knees as a kid.” I kicked the scissors with my toe, immediately regretting it with another series of cuss words.

Sighing, I grabbed the small first aid kit from my bathroom mirror, taking out the hydrogen peroxide and sterile pads. I carefully swabbed the wound with the peroxide and wrapped it up, putting the small kit away neatly. Can’t have any infections. Wiping off the sink I walked out.

Back to the note pad.

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Love and Assassins – Chapter One – Part Three

Love and Assassins
Chapter One – Part Three

A few minutes later, bag in hand, I mounted the stairs of my apartment building. I found as long as I concentrated on what needed to be done I was actually kind of happy, in a strangely giddy sort of way.

Passing a landing I saw a man and a woman making out against the wall outside their apartment, number 15b. The man’s neck was covered in tattoos rising nearly to his chin and traveling down below the collar of his frayed t-shirt to reappear once more on his arms. His head had maybe two days stubble on it from a shave job.

“Get a hotel room,” I said.

The man’s dark eyes found me, narrowing. However his tongue was still locked in the woman’s mouth and she didn’t seem to have any thought about giving it up just yet.

I stood there staring at them. Old bathrobe. No shower. Drug store grocery bag in hand. “It won’t work out.”

The man exited the woman’s mouth, wiping his lips on his sleeve and pushing her face away. “What?” He asked, stretching his multi-muscled arms back. Like a Swiss Army knife muscles rose and fell from all sorts of concealed slots as he advance toward me, never taking his eyes off me.

“Nothing,” I said, still standing there. “It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.”

He stood there glaring at me as I resumed my slow march up the stairs, my path to destiny clear before me.

I arrived at my door a minute later, unlocking it and looking back down the stairwell. “She’s probably blowing your best friend,” I called down.

“You mother fu-”

I slipped into my apartment, slamming the door closed and bolting it behind me as I chuckled to myself.

I walked over to the kitchenette, pulling the cream and chips out of the bag. The coffee was already done so I poured some into a cup and sat down on the sofa, lighting a cigarette and popping open a can of beer.

I laid back listening to the loud banging which had begun on the door and the threats being made against me for talking bad about the man’s bitch, as he put it. I smiled, taking slow drags from my cigarette. Strangely, when I feel down – very down, I mean – making other people feel bad just… Makes me happy.

I took a drag of my cigarette, exhaling slowly and watching as it rose up to join the small cloud forming.

“Those are going to kill you,” I heard the old man saying in my mind.

I pulled the cigarette out of my mouth, staring at it thoughtfully. “Maybe…”

Five minutes later I was siting in bed, the cup of coffee half empty beside me and five lit cigarettes strategically positioned between my lips.

“Oh, hold on.” I pulled the cigarettes out and grabbed my untouched beer. Can’t let a good thing go to waste. I gulped half of it and set it down on a box near me. Then I turned to the five lit cigarettes in my other hand, puffing lightly on each one until they were all burning brightly again and placing them back in my lips.

Okay. One, two, three…

I inhaled as deeply as I could, filling my lungs to the max with the deadly smoke as five cherries glowed bright red in the starkness of my dingy little room.

Go, go, go, go, go!

I was getting lightheaded but still I persevered, opening whole new realms in my lungs, delving into new dimensions, letting the smoke boldly go where no smoke had gone before. And…

A moment later I was hacking my lungs out, critical thoughts racing through my mind about the inventors, makers and purveyors of all cigarettes and their immediate families.

Oh my God, I think I’m dying. I’ve never hacked so hard in my life. This is fucking painful, why do they sell these fucking things?

I stamped the cigarettes out on the carpet with my slipper, making a large black mark and eyeing the pack evilly.

Taking a sip of my coffee I laid back, waiting for the little hammer-wielding man in my head to get bored and stop beating my brain to bits.

Thirty minutes later I lit another cigarette, taking a drag and letting it out, the smoke idly drifting upwards to join the hovering cloud.

“I need a plan.”