Daily Post One Word Daily Prompts – Liminal 11-26-2016

Liminal

Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the ritual is complete. During a ritual’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the ritual establishes.

-Wikipedia

The Neighbors, Part 6

There are those among us who live false lives. Nasty men. Vicious women. Forgotten children. You will never see them. They pretend normalcy; friends and neighbors and co-workers. Inside they are monsters.

Am I one? Some things are best discovered on your own.


Sometimes the screams wake me, desperate cries ringing in the dark. I never help. I can’t. I won’t. There is only so much pain a child can endure. That, of course, is where I’ve lived my life since, inside the bloody hollow place where last I was a boy, long before I became the man I am now. I never saw the change coming, never even knew a living death was possible but it is…. gods help me, it is.

I was awake. Really awake. Cold. Dark. Deep. Trapped.

Somewhere a dog  barked frantically.

Damned dog. Rising, I pulled on slacks and a pullover from the day, treading bare-foot down cool stairs. The barking got louder. I unlocked the door to the basement and a thing of fur burst past, knocking me against the far wall.

Damned dog.

It rushed to the front door, barking, claws scraping wood. Lying in blood-stains, the only sound water on tiles and a dog in the distance. It couldn’t come in. There was nothing inside me to come into.

As soon as I opened the door, it sprang down the steps and around the fence, towards the neighbors. Good riddance.

I listened for a moment, waiting for silence, but it didn’t come.  The dog barked more and more frantic, sound turning into howls of despair.

Pressing hands hard against my face as if to stop the things inside from rushing out, I closed the door behind me. The grass was chilled, cold from overnight rain. The dog dug frantic at their front door. When he saw me, he started running to me and then back to the door, back and forth, forth and back. Barking.

I would have killed for quiet. I should have killed him the moment I saw him.

The door opened at my touch. He pushed in and I followed. I didn’t want involvement. Solitude was the only salvation I ever found.

The house was a wreak, eerily silent now the dog had stopped his uproar. I smelled it. Not a cut on the finger blood but much, much more. It was a smell I knew deep down in my bones.

Leave now. This isn’t your problem. Pack a bag and go away, find another corner in which to hide. Only I couldn’t. A shard of glass cut my foot. The room – floor, ceiling, furniture – were soaked in blood.

And the smell! The taste in my mouth. The squish of carpet beneath my feet. I heard somebody, somewhere, breathing heavily. The iron taste of madness hung suspended in the air.

I found Jane in the kitchen, no longer a pretty woman. She had been stabbed  until her chest was a bloody mass, head almost severed from her body. Nobody was pretty after that kind of death.

The breathing continued and so did I, making my way into the hall. The bathroom was empty of blood as was the first bedroom. I continued to the final room, cold fear spiking in my chest.

James slumped on the bed, hands between his knees, covered in blood.

I was in the shower. Hearing cries, screams, pain tangible in the air. If I helped, he would hurt me. Again. Again. I feared the hatred in his eyes. He wasn’t my father. He couldn’t be. I tried to be good. I tried.

Pumpkin stood guard in front of the closet, fur bristling, growling low and dangerous.

It hurt,” he whispered. “Hurt.”

There was little blood in the room not on James. You knew and you left me there.”

Crying. Begging. Screaming. Blood swirling round me, down the drain. Dripping down the walls.

“You died,” I croaked.

He shook his head.  “The minute you abandoned me, you died. I knew, knew, you were somewhere, hiding, pretending to be normal. Pretending.”

I drew in a careful breath. “Where is Janice?”

“She’s dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. Like you should have been. Like you will be.”

I backed up as he rose, my hand knocking something hard. He raised the knife and I cracked the lamp on his head. He fell, knife laying where it had fallen.

I buried the blade into his back over and over. I’d been wrong to run, to leave him, but what did children know of monsters?

Gone. Finished. Done.

Pumpkin sidled over to me, head down, tail tucked between his legs. His cold nose nudged my face.

“Janice?”

He whimpered, slinking beside me as I crawled to the closet.

“Janice?”

Pumpkin barked.

I clawed the door open. She hurled herself into me, wrapped her tiny body around mine. Her heart beat a thousand thunders.

I carried her out of the room,  past the body of her mother, into the cool night beyond. “It will be all right,” I whispered, “I won’t let anybody hurt you”. Pumpkin trotted beside me.

“It will be all right.”

And it was.

THE END

Read Parts 1-5 here.

The Neighbors – Part 5

There are those among us who live false lives. Nasty men. Vicious women. Forgotten children. They are the monsters.

Am I one? Some things are best discovered on your own.


 

It rained all week, a whole bullocks of thunder and lightning and, of course, hail. It wasn’t I minded the rain so much as I hated being stuck inside this hollow house, trapped as surely as the legless man on the corner, begging change as a replacement for vanished legs.

I felt the same absence in my own life. Not vanished legs, but something I could not put into words. Something I could not hear nor touch nor smell. Something brought in uninvited, leaving me lost in the dark halls and empty rooms of my life.

A week has passed since Pumpkin had disappeared and many times I had considered ending it. Little girls need to learn the meaning of grief, of emptiness which lasts forever. Or maybe not. I don’t understand children, one reason never to have my own. I had no wish to pass my genes onto future generations.

No, my genes had atrophied inside their own prisons, trapping me forever.

Last night, I opened the basement door and went down. “Here you go,” I said, settling down the plate of food. Why had I started to talk to it? When had I started?

For the first time, I stood there and watched it eat, trying to see some redeeming feature, some reason for its existence, but I had none. I should have gotten rid of it when it first came to me, but I hadn’t. Something in its brown eyes twisted the blackened part of me enough to stay my hand.

Now I looked down at soulful eyes (do I even know what that means? Soulful? How can I?) I have no soul.

Is that why I stayed my hand? Why I called shelters and printed posters and walked a little girl – not my little girl, no never – around the neighborhood when I had plenty else to do. When children and dogs had no place in my life nor did I want them too? It moved closer, whining, leaning against my leg, nosing at my palm. I booted it away.

When I went back upstairs, I still felt its solidness against my leg, the softness as it touched my hand. Unafraid.