Part 2- Night walk


Chapter 7

He went to bed, and barely spoke to Kelly. He couldn’t seem to find words, the anger of rumbling deep within his skin. He was a failure.

That was the only thing he could think about. He was a disappointment, and he was a failure, and he broke his child’s toy. And that same betrayal that he felt when his dad destroyed his Nintendo sixty-four. He betrayed his own children.  The abuse continued.

And he fell asleep with that restless word lingering on his mind, with that half broken splinter, digging through his skin.

It was not shocking that he had a nightmare. But, he had never had a nightmare quite like this before.

He was walking down town, and the girl with the purple hair with big pigtails and giant breasts turned and stared at him. “It is cursed. My business is going to fail, and I’m going to kill myself.” She said, with a sad smile. “My name’s Candy, I make cupcakes with candy. I hope you come and buy some, before it’s all over.”

And in the dream, Mark stared at her, her colored contacts sliding around her eyeball, so the iris did not look centered anymore. He looked away. And he saw the other young gir, the one from Mr. Valdimir’s house. She was pointing at him and laughing. “You idiot. You didn’t even think to find out if your dollhouse is haunted.”

“Cursed. Not haunted.” Said Mr. Vladimir, and they were suddenly at a board room table. It was circular, and Mark sat on one side feeling awkward in his leather jacket, and Mr. Vladimir sat in a tuxedo on the other side. His hands were full in front of him, as if he was a lawyer at a deposition. “Black magic.  Two families killed, and my father,  he was killed too.” And with that Vladimir lifted his hands into the air and slowly did an incantation. And in front of them they both saw the little wooden dollhouse figures start walking around. A long thin needle slowly floated through the air and stabbed one of the wooden figures in the heart. And at that same moment they both turned and looked.

Candy, the purple haired girl with the wandering irises, was in the middle of cutting her own head off with a guillotine. Except, she had dropped the blade and it gotten stuck in her spinal cord. And she couldn’t seem to quite get it all the way through her head., “I just need the right tool.” She said. And then her hand turn into a long rubbery snake and started slithering through the building she was in. It took finally found a toolbox. And she grabbed a large fat sledgehammer. Her long sneaky arms slithered back to her head, still stuck in the guillotine. And with slow long blows she hit the guillotine blade deeper and deeper into her neck until it finally popped through. Her eyes spun in, but her face looked wildly relieved. As if that splinter had finally been removed.

Mark, completely nauseated by the sight of her head slowly getting sliced off by a blade. He turned back and stared at Mr. Vladimir. “Why would she do that?”

Mr. Vladimir leaned forwards and slammed his hand down in the center of the table. The table cracked open and popped apart and inside between the two tables ends was chairs and a splintered up table leaf. “Nobody can stop the dollhouse.”

And Mark awoke in a sweat, with a scream. And he knew he would have to go back and fix that damn table leaf, he couldn’t stop thinking about it.It took a moment for his eyes to adjust, but then he realized he wasn’t in his bed. He stayed perfectly still, his body shivering from sweat. And his face damp from tears that he apparently had been crying in his sleep. But he couldn’t face it, where was he? Slowly he turned his head to the left and then he turned his head to the right. But his eyes would not make sense of what he was saying, but she still dreaming? He reached up and slapped his face really hard, and the sting was incredible.

Slowly he sat down. Waiting for his eyes to finish describing the scene to him. But it just seemed unbelievable. Why was there a tree to the left?

And there was a second tree to the right.

And as he sat there, in the dark, his eyes slowly told him the truth. Somehow, he had climbed on the roof. And his toes were hanging right over the gutter. If he took one more step he would’ve fallen off the roof. That scared the shit out of him.


Chapter 8

Kelly woke up earlier than normal and was making waffles. He woke up his normal five am time, shocked to see Kelly awake, and out of bed. The first thing that she did, was shove him. So he did the thing that he did, and grabbed her butt so hard that she nearly hit the ceiling. It was one of the many ways that they played rough with each other. He loved his wife, and her silly ridiculous behavior. She pulled the frozen waffle from the toaster and placed it on a plate for them. Then she dumped some syrup on top. “I thought you’d be hungry.”

“Why are you even awake?” He said scarfing bits of waffle between putting on his shoes and socks.

“I wanted today to start off well.” She said, hesitantly.

And he knew, before she even said the next sentence. He knew there was some big trouble. “Tell me.” He said short, and sharp. “I have to go to work soon, blurted out.”

“Well you know how Emily is.” And Kelly paused.

Kelly had this infuriating way of starting in the middle of the story. And Mark had no time for that, both because he had to leave for work any minute now, and on top of that, Emily was her boss. “Shit. Don’t tell me.” The waffle was no longer edible. He couldn’t even force the frozen half warm waffle down with even of waterfall of syrup.

“Fine I won’t,” said Kelly and she slammed her dishes in the sink.

“The truck, its brakes are squealing! The engine is probably gonna blow any minute now. And you,” he pointed with his fork, “you lost your job! How could you do that! We need that money.”

“I don’t even believe that dollhouse cost only five dollars. I think you’re a liar. Maybe if you stop spending money on ridiculous toys for children because you’re all caught up in ‘am I a good dad’ all the time. We don’t even need two incomes. You make fine money.” She said furiously. But she was lying, and they both knew it.

But he didn’t want to fight to stood up and he stomped out.

 

******

There was no drumming on this steering wheel today, his nightmare would have probably given him a foul mood no matter what happened this morning, but Kelly losing her job was no joke. And now! She would get to stay home all day with Coralina and Beth. And he would have to go to his shitty job, and build shitty walls, for stupid houses that he never got to live in.

This time, he remembered to grab the broken table leaf and the wrong size one, so at least he could show the crazy old man which kind he needed. It wasn’t until lunch time when he sat down and ate his peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that he wondered how he had climbed on the roof. He wasn’t naturally a sleepwalker. It seemed so surreal and so strange, that he probably would’ve forgotten it entirely and dismissed it all as dream – except that it took him forty-five minutes to figure out how to get off the roof. He still had no idea how he got up there in the first place.

Surely he only dreamt about the dollhouse being haunted because Mr. Vladimir was acting so weird about it the whole time they talked yesterday. Then again – he’d never sleep walked before.

Kelly would have another job in a couple of days, she was usually pretty quick to apply for a new job. Plus the job it sucked, and they both knew it. She’d been doing hotel maid work for a while. So she was constantly covered in blood and semen and who knows what else from other people. It was disgusting, and he didn’t like Kelly working disgusting, shady jobs.

But he couldn’t just let her stay at home and play with kids. That wasn’t good for either of them.

Especially not their finances, and he wasn’t kidding when he thought that that truck was going to be undrivable soon. Sure he could drive Kelly’s minivan around a little bit – but they were still making payments on the minivan, and it was a piece of shit too. What were they going to do?

He didn’t know, he didn’t know at all. But, he was definitely going to drive down and see if he could get Mr. Vladimir to give them the correct table leaf. Then at least that horrible feeling of a splinter stuck in his hand would go away.


Chapter 9

Even though he was really determined to drive down and fix the annoying splinter – the table leaf problem right away, it turned out that he just couldn’t get it done. He ended up being asked to stay late at work, to help make up for having left early the day before. They also received their next large delivery, and he was going to be hanging the siding on the house soon. Framing was wrapping up, and the next step was waterproofing. It was boring, he had done this so many times it barely felt like work anymore. It was the kind of thing a zombie could do, no brains needed

Since he was working so late he ended up driving straight home so he could have dinner, with his kids. He wondered for the millionth time if they noticed his efforts to be a good father. He joined them at the table, but both girls were just finishing up their bowls of cheap soup. They giggled together and ran off to play with the dollhouse, long before he even got started on his own soup.

“How many jobs did you apply for today?” He asked, while eating his chicken Ramen soup.

Kelly wrinkled her nose, “about that, none.”

Mark paused, mid bite with the noodles hanging off his spoon in a big splattery mess. And he glared at his wife. “What?”

“I was thinking I’d take a day or two to myself before I started applying for shit jobs again. You know how it is – I just… I just don’t…” she paused, midsentence. And ended up looking at her fingertips. She did never did intend to finish that sentence. And Mark, uncomfortably stared at her.

“Take a few days? Like a gap year? We can’t let you take a few days. You’re not a kid. We have bills.” Mark said and then he shoved a bunch of hot noodles in his mouth. Chewing them down with frustrated, tasteless enthusiasm. It was like they were falling apart at the seams, like his truck.

Beth came running over, her little four-year-old eyes looking bright as sunshine. She tugged on his sleeve. “Did you get the dollhouse table?” She asked. A full sentance, his nearly mute child asked a full sentance. And the question was about his utter and unrelenting failure. The splinter in his hand.

Mark bit his tongue so hard he thought it might slice it into two pieces. It was threatening to bleed even as he sat there., “Sorry baby, probably tomorrow.” His stomach flipped over, that’s the kind of shit his dad would do- promise to do stuff and then never get around to it. He just couldn’t live like that. He didn’t want to be a bad father, he was trying to break the cycle. He was trying so hard, but it wasn’t working.

“Okay.” Said Beth, seemingly completely unfazed by his lack of solving her problem. And she skipped her little blonde hair back to the dollhouse, and continue to play with her sister, Coralina.

But Mark was hurt, and sick to his stomach. It really pissed him off to let her down. He’d have to fix it tomorrow. He turned and stared angrily at his wife, letting his emotion poor out in one single, angry sentence, “get a job.”

And they both went to bed silently again.


Chapter 10

That night was another nightmare. This time he dreamt that he was stuck in the dollhouse, as strange little wooden doll. He was locked inside the secret room behind the bookcase. He was waiting, waiting indefinitely for someone to notice the little book that was sticking out and pull it. So he could escape, so could take care of Beth and take care of Coralina. And maybe, maybe just maybe take care of Kelly too.

But he was still angry with Kelly for losing her job, for putting more financial stress on the family. He didn’t like it, he wanted to have good things happen to them. And here, he would spend his life trying and she… She would just sit there and do nothing! Is that what they come to? The dark little room around him was closing in, and the panic about money started to swallow him.

He waited in the dark and hoped that someone would pull that little book so he could get out of this little dark tiny room. He could feel the panic rising in his throat, the need to scream. And he started to reach out his hands in all directions tapping things, maybe he could find the latch from the inside? Why hadn’t he thought of it earlier! But his hard wooden stick hands wouldn’t behave themselves.

A long sharp, needle dug into his eye. He almost screamed, but he realized it didn’t hurt. He was made of wood. But it was sticking out from his eyes so far it bumped the wall across the little room. No wonder why he couldn’t see in the dark with the giant metal needle stabbing through his vision. He tried to pull on it with both of his wooden hands but he had no grip, it didn’t budge. Carefully he used his thick wooden hands to tap around the room in every direction. He had to keep swinging his head toward the center of the room to prevent the needle from bumping a wall. It was like a coffin, four sides short ceiling. He knew he was standing up, but he couldn’t didn’t even have the room to sit. His wooden legs didn’t bend anyways, so what could he do?

Finally he resorted to screaming for Kelly. To no avail. then screaming for Coralina, and then finally screaming for little Beth. “Please please let me out! I’ll be a good boy. I promise.” He said, the words on foreign lips. But the words – they felt familiar. As if they were words he had said and screamed a thousand times. How long had he been stuck in here?

And then the door cracked open just slightly, and then it swung open in a big whoosh. In the outside was cold, like the air from a refrigerator. And it was right out, his eyes could not get accustomed to it. In fact his eye was hurting badly. He reached up to touch it and he felt the giant needle once more. He tried to pull and pull and then suddenly pop it came out.

He blinked twice and opened his eyes.

He was standing in front of his truck. The light from the truck were on and shining in his face. In the truck was very slowly rolling towards him. It scared him so badly. His eyes burning from the bright lights. He pushed on the truck with his hands and try to slow it down, and then turned and ran around the side hopping in the truck and popping it into park. The keys were in the ignition, but the engine wasn’t turned on. How had he come outside, gotten in the truck put the key, and popped it into neutral and turn on the lights- how had he done this in his sleep?

And then stood in front of it, so that it would have run him over.

What kind of sick and twisted brain did he have? With a shudder, he went back to bed. It was only two in the morning.

He almost woke up Kelly and ask for her to hold him. Because the fear was brewing inside his belly, and marinating in his mind. But he was still so angry with her for not even trying to get a job, that instead he rolled his back to her and fell asleep.


Chapter 11

Mark was so furious in the morning, that he decided not to go to work. After all… If she didn’t have to go why did he have to go?

Instead he went out and had a cup of coffee, then walked around the hardware store. No he didn’t stay home… He didn’t hang out with his family, even though that’s what he wanted to do. Because he didn’t want her to know that he was that angry. It might be confusing to some, but to him he was making perfect sense. She didn’t have to work he didn’t work.

After he wandered along through the lumber aisle for a while, he decided he would go and talk to the dollhouse guy again. He had been waiting until it was a respectable time to stop by. This time he didn’t call first, and maybe that was poor idea. He drove up to the giant perfect house, again he felt out of place with his ratty old truck grumbling from every direction. His brakes let out a particularly loud cry of complaint, just to make him feel like an idiot. He almost turned around and drove back home to talk to Kelly and to apologize for their fight. He knew that she didn’t like cleaning hotel rooms, it was disgusting. She did deserve a break she’d been working so hard.… It’s just that he had been working hard too. And his job sucked too.

But then he thought about his father destroying his favorite toy. Beth and Coralina had it just as bad, that dumb little table wouldn’t even click shut without the table leaf in place. That was his fault, and his responsibility to fix it. He was not going to let them down. So he got out of the truck, to talk to the crazy man, and knocked on the door. Mr. Vladimir opened the door not two minutes later. “Hello.”

“Hello, this table leaf didn’t fit. Remember? We traded them a few days ago. This time I brought the broken one, so we can get the right one.” Mark said, nervously.

Mr. Vladimir frowned, “okay.” And he gestured a both walked down the hallway to the large room that had stored all the parts in. He pulled out two thin long boxes again. Mark handed him the perfect brand-new table leaf, and he carefully filed it back into place. “Let me see the broken one.”

“Here.” Said Mark, “it split in half, I barely even touched it.”

The man took the splintering piece of table and looked at it. The room seemed to grow instantly cold or, as his eyes grew wide with surprise, and a lingering hint of uncomfortable fear. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Said Mr. Vladimir. “Where did you get this dollhouse?”

“The thrift store.” Said Mark. He was almost embarrassed to utter those words loud, because he didn’t want Mr. Vladimir to realize just how desperate his times were. He couldn’t imagine that Mr. Vladimir had ever been inside a thrift store. Ever.

Mr. Vladimir froze with fear as he stared at the table leaf in his hand. He slowly closed both boxes of table leaves and slid them back into place. And then he turned and went into the back. His movements were stiff, like a man experiencing great shock. Then he came back with the box that was about as large as a shoebox. He carefully opened it. There was a bad energy in the room that had not been there before.”Have you been sleepwalking? Did the nightmares already start?”

“Sleepwalking? How did you know I was sleepwalking?” Said Mark, totally surprised.

Mr. Vladimir didn’t say anything further but opened a shoebox. Inside were exact replica pieces of Mark’s dollhouse. The same tiny little figurines made out of wood, a few pieces for the stairs, and even tiny books. He quietly sorted through the pieces with a grim look on his face. Not a few minutes later he handed Mark a table leaf that perfectly match the splintered one in his hand. “I’ll have to keep this broken ones I can make another.” He was hoarse when he said it. “I’ll have to make another.” He muttered to himself, and made the sign of the cross.

Then Mr. Vladimir closed the shoebox. And he turned and he put it back on the tall shelf in the back. When he came back he was holding a folded piece of paper. “You have it. The cursed dollhouse. And I’m sure you don’t want to hear anything more, but… This paper will explain how long it will take before you kill everyone. I’m afraid I can’t let you stand in my home any longer, lest it happen here. Never come back.” And with a coldness, Mr. Vladimir walked Mark out and locked the door behind him.

Mark was completely baffled, holding the table leaf in one hand and a folded piece of paper the other. He got into his truck at the table leaf in his coat jacket. And then he slowly unfolded the note.

At the top it said the Seven Stages of Able’s Curse.

Night walk
Bone snap
Blood cry
Fury
Elation
Fear
The slaughter


Chapter 12

He drove to a park, and sat and opened his lunch box. It was just a sad looking peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Mark stared at the kids playing at the park, and thought to himself that he should be either at work or playing with his own children of the park. He was an idiot, sitting here by himself. And yet, and yet he kept looking at this note. It was strange that he was sleepwalking. He had never sleepwalked before, not in his entire life.

But strange didn’t mean dangerous. Coincidence did not equal being hunted, or cursed or whatever this was. It just wasn’t the same thing.

There was a young girl playing on the monkey bars. But otherwise the park was empty, it looked like she must’ve walked there by herself. She had absent parents, and he knew the feeling. He knew what it was like to take yourself to the park because your parents wouldn’t do it. And how you go to the park, because there was nothing else to do. And because leaving the house was better than staying home. Safer than staying home.

He thought about one of the times he had gone out hunting with his father. And his dad got drunk, like he always did. And they would sit in the quiet, it was one of the few times he and his dad really got along. Because they didn’t say anything, they just sat and waited for something to come along so they could kill it. Anyways, this time, since his dad was too drunk to aim anymore, he told Mark to shoot the buck. He vividly remembered lining up the gun, while his dad dozed. A large buck wandered into view, and he took his time, holding the gun exactly straight. Sweat pouring down his face. The intense desire to chicken out was running through his frightened little seven year old body. But then, with a snort, his dad woke, and gently clapped his hand on Mark’s shoulder. “Pull the trigger.” He hissed, in a slow, slurred, drunken noise.

The gun fired loud. He’d never forget the way the gun pounded into his shoulder. He got it. The buck fell. And for a rare, special moment, both son and father were happy together. He still liked hunting, it was one of the few delightful memories that he and his dad shared. He had already taken Beth and Caralina many times, trying to recreate his happiest childhood memory with his own kids.

He mindlessly munched his sandwich as he remembered, and a big black form caught his eye. He looked up, and a big black dog was running toward the playground. It looked like a pitbull, and it was running like it’s tail was on fire. His teeth were bared and he was barking. And that little kid, the one who had nobody was climbing across the monkey bars. The dog was going for her. Mark hopped out of his truck quickly, and started to run forwards towards the girl on the monkey bars. She was struggling to hold herself in the air as the dog came closer, and he was about to see her be mauled. Mark let out a scream of terror, “look out!” He said. And he tried to jump over a little park bench.

But he floundered, his toe catching on the back of the bench and he collided into the ground. He was back on his feet in a heartbeat, trying to race for the girl. He was too late. She looked at Mark, then dropped, landing on her feet. The enormous black dog immediately knocked her down. She let out a squeal, screaming. And Mark charged towards her, but the dog just licked her face.

Mark’s heart was pounding as he absorbed the scene. He wasn’t hurting her. Fuck that was scary. Mark turned and limped back to his truck. He’d skinned both his knees when he fell in his leg was hurting. But when he turned to open the car door he realized his middle finger was twisted at the wrong angle. It was only then that he realized he had broken it.

Frantically he checked the note:

Bone Snap: The second stage.