By Frisk Phillips
I’m having one of those weird, jumpy kind of days, where everything is hard to remember, and I do things without thinking. I’m in the passenger seat of one of those shitty little lunch boxes of a car. This particular lunch box belongs to my friend. I’m in it because he needed to pick up a stereo he bought online, and he needed me to help him pick it up. He also picked up this girl I have a crush on too. I think I was on the beach before he picked me up, I’m not sure where she was. He drives us, all the time playing his terrible, unrecognizable music, to the place where he needs to get the stereo. He says he’s too shy to go get it, so next thing you know I’m walking down some stranger’s driveway. I get a text from my friend. Got tired, went home for a nap, sorry. Now I’m stuck in the middle of, taken not nowhere but suburbia, but home is a long way away without a car.
I don’t know why I decide not to call anyone, and I walk until I see a nice little farm, Methodist evidently. One of those whole, work for divine reward things, with a red barn and white picket fence. It’s getting dark, so I walk to the front door and ask if I can stay the night. The lady who opens the door, clearly the matriarch, is hesitant to let me in until I tell her I won’t stay long in the morning because I have to get to the Easter Vigil. This makes her smile, a lovely smile, and she lets me in. We walk through dark corridors, littered with all varieties of paintings around the theme of ‘The Passion of Christ’. I wish she’d turn the lights on. We get to a living room, with a couch and grey blanket ready. It’s a very modern, spacious living room, and the kitchen connects. I’m in ‘bed’ and I see some light coming from the fridge, in the reflection of the glass pane doors in front of my couch. I think it’s the father of the house, up for a midnight snack.
“Excuse me, Sir”
He turns around and looks at me, silent.
“I just wanted to say a huge thanks for letting me stay the night. My friend thought it would be funny to abandon me, it wasn’t funny, just cold.”
The man chuckles, and turns on the light. I’m relieved they have lights. He’s wearing blue flannelette pyjamas with cartoon sheep all over them. He sits down on the couch next to me. I sit up. He speaks lovingly, tells jokes, and says it’s ok to be scared, because even Jesus was scared on the cross. He is a very nice man, with an interesting face, I think perhaps he is a pastor.
I feel a vibration on my leg. I look down to the pocket where my phone is, then I look at The Pastor, then suddenly I have a glass of water in my hand and I throw the whole thing at him. When I see the look on his face, I wish he hadn’t turned the lights on. He grimaces his teeth, they aren’t sharpened, but are unnatural. I back away along the couch, for longer than the couch seems to go for, but he is like an animal as he gallops towards me. He grabs my shoulders and pushes me into the couch with super-human strength. He raises his head, as if roaring, as his body dominates me.
When he looks down into my eyes, and lunges for my throat I am awake, heart pounding, the pitch black of Grandad’s basement and the inflatable bed my only comfort. It is ungodingly cold, and quiet yet not quite silent. I walk up the stairs to the living room, where I left the heater on. My corridor is filled with mirrors, and in the peripherals of my reflections as I walk by, I see The Pastor following me. He doesn’t arrive with me in the living room however. I tip toe over piles and piles of old magazines, and sit in Grandad’s big chair, right next to the heater. I love the smell of nicotine that embraces me when I sit here. I grab my laptop, and am wary that when I open it the screen will show that god-awful face for a moment. So I keep it closed. I look around the dark room. The magazines and filth litter the floor. The big old TV in the corner. The undusted cabinets of family photo. The TV is taunting me. Any second it will turn of as of its own accord, and The Pastor will be there, looking at me, and telling me it’s okay to be scared. Maybe the house is haunted. Grandad was the kind of nihilistic asshole who would haunt a house. I chuckle to myself. What an asshole. I remember reading about this face that people all around the world dream of. They call him the creator. I stop chuckling, I feel my temperature drop a few degrees, and certain parts of my brain get all tingly, numbed with fear. I open my laptop, jerk off, and fall asleep in Grandad’s big chair.
It’s Easter morning, I get dressed, all fancy, and take the old van to school. It’s a small town, so at mass I know everyone’s names, except one new boy. He looks to be seventeen, I know he is. All thin and gangly, and wearing a sweater, and a scarf, and a beanie, and mittens. He’s looking for a beating alright. I approach him.
“Excuse me, Son. Would you mind helping me get some of the Easter decorations out my car?”
He humbles an apology and walks away.
The sermon is lovely, the priest loving and joking.
I go outside after Communion. Usually I like to wait till they are on their own, but this kid’s eager to leave, dodging between the chit-chatting oldies on his way to his car. I follow him home. When he gets out, I get out, and slide the back door of the van open. I walk to the footpath and fall over where he can see me. He shuffles over, and gives me his hand. I grab it, hard, and look up into his face, and can’t help but smile. Maybe I like it when they are scared, sue me. I pull myself up, at the same time throwing my weight against him and knocking him to the ground. I sit on his legs, and as he takes a deep breathe to scream, I interlock my hands into a super-fist, and raise them above my head. A crushing blow to his throat, and I see the blood rush into his eyes. I see so much in his eyes, behind the clouds of fear and adrenaline, a thousand thoughts, trying to piece together what is happening. I bring my fists down again and again, hearing ribs crack, and living for his reaction as he tastes marrow in the back of his throat for the first time. I deliver a few blows to his chest, toying with the rhythm of his heartbeat, to contribute to the anarchy raging against his fickle skin. I hit him in every organ I learnt in school, and he’s quiet now, though I can still hear his heartbeat. Very fast.
I drag him, him very idly struggling against me, and I pull him into the van, and I close the door. Sealing the door means mission accomplished, it’s one of my favourite parts.
My job, is to save them from adulthood, and my reward? I get to keep them till then. And they keep Grandad and the bad dreams away.