Midnight Visitor

Chuck, dressed in the white gown that all inmates of Poco State Mental Hospital wore to bed, gripped the motorist by the neck and slowly squeezed the life out of him. Looking down into the motorist’s twisted and purple face, Chuck looked into the past and saw his father’s face, and felt his father’s neck in his hands. He had killed his father for the beatings and the torture and the days locked in the dark, musty cellar where the bugs had crawled on him in the darkness.

The motorist, his eyes beginning to loose their focus, looked up into the eyes of the man choking him to death and saw what Chuck’s father had seen: eyes devoid of humanity and as predatory as a shark. It was the last sight the motorist saw as darkness closed around him.

Chuck dropped the lifeless body and stood looking into the wooded darkness around him. In the distance, the lights of the hospital glowed brightly through the trees. Chuck turned away from the light and headed into the darkness, the deep darkness that he knew since he had been a child. The darkness that called him, always called him, with a voice that he could almost hear but never understand. He stepped off the road and into the thick woods and let the darkness engulf him.

As he weaved through the trees in the darkness, he could hear his dead father’s voice behind him, talking to him as he did so often. “You’re nothing but a damned, worthless boy! A sorry excuse for a human being.”

“Yes, Daddy,” he answered the voice. “Yes, Daddy, yes Daddy.” The voice was a constant drone in his mind, a counterpoint to the crunch and snap of fallen twigs and the rustle of dead leaves. The voice finally faded when he realized that there was a light shining in the woods, the porch light of a little wood frame house nestled in a small clearing in the woods. He crept up to the house and keeping to the shadows, peered into a window. He was looking into the kitchen where a tall, dark haired woman was washing some dishes in the sink. Her back was to him so she did not see the white-gowned man staring at her, his fingers clenched into a fist.

His mother had dark hair, he remembered. His mother who stood laughing while his father beat him and threw him into the cellar. His mother who continually told him she wished he had died at birth or had been aborted because she didn’t want “some damn kid” ruining her life. He remembered the shock on her face as he split her head with an axe turning the dark hair red with blood. Looking at the dark hair of the woman who was washing a plate in a sink of suds, he felt the seed of hatred that always lay in his mind bloom to life. His mother had returned, returned from the dead and was washing dishes in this lonely little house. His mother that was dead and would soon be dead. He showed her then and he would show her now. He crept further back into the shadows and watched.

A phone rang and the woman turned to a small table by the window and picked up the receiver. “Hello?” She asked. She was very pale, with a thin face and dark, brooding eyes. For an instant, Chuck feared that pale face, but his mother’s voice, snickering at him from the darkness of the trees and drove out everything but the burning hatred.

“Hi, honey,” the pale woman said into the receiver. “When are you going to be home?” The woman listened for a moment. “Okay, don’t be too long. Dinner is about ready. All right. See you soon. Love you too.” She replaced the receiver back onto its cradle.

The pale woman walked out of the kitchen and disappeared into a hallway. Chuck slid along the side of the house, looking into the windows he passed as he tried to follow her movements. The first two windows showed empty rooms. The next window revealed a couple of dressers and two long boxes lying on the floor. Chuck continued around the house until he saw the woman in a bathroom, brushing her long, black hair.

The bathroom wallpaper was a bright floral pattern that covered both the walls and cabinet doors. The woman opened the medicine cabinet over the sink and plucked a silver tube of lipstick from the shelf. The paper even covered the mirror of the medicine cabinet. The woman applied the blood-red lipstick and then paused for a moment, head cocked to one side, as if listening. Suddenly, she turned toward the window.

Chuck stepped back into the shadows; he could just see her profile as she looked out the window. She scanned the darkness and for a second, it seemed as if she looked right at him. He felt a chill wriggle down his spine as he looked at those dark, dark eyes. Then she looked away, put the lipstick back into the cabinet and disappeared into the hall. Keeping close to the house, Chuck crept around the outside until he came to a covered patio with a plastic table and two chairs and a sliding glass door, and the door was unlocked. Sliding the door open without a sound, he stepped inside.

He could smell the rich scent of moist earth and his mind suddenly reeled back in time; he was in a dark cellar with the smell of damp dirt all around him. Tiny feet were crawling on his arm, face and head. He clawed his way up the stairs to the cellar door and screamed at his mother to let him out, but his father opened the cellar door and slapped him back down the steps. He lay weeping in the dirt as his mother laughed from the cellar doorway—

A footstep in the hall snapped his attention back to the present and he quickly stepped into the kitchen. Looking around, he saw a long butcher knife lying on the drain, drying. He picked up the knife and caressed its razor edge. They would pay, those fathers and those mothers who tormented him, mocked him, and locked him away in the stinking darkness. They would pay—she would pay his mother who was dead and would be dead again. Chuck heard the woman humming as she walked back toward the kitchen. The song was slow and dragging, like a funeral dirge. Chuck pressed himself into the small broom closet that was adjacent to the kitchen and peered out through the crack as he held the door slightly ajar.

The woman passed by unaware and resumed washing the dishes in the sink. Silently, Chuck pushed open the closet door and crept toward her, raising the knife. She continued to wash the dishes, oblivious to his presence, humming the slow, tuneless song. Chuck paused for a moment, letting his hatred ripen, the knife held above his head, ready to strike. Behind him, he heard his mother’s voice say, “I should have smothered you while you were a baby. Why I let you be born, I’ll never know.”

Chuck’s face twisted in silent rage and he plunged the knife into the back of the dark-haired woman. The knife plunged deep, blood welling around the edges. The woman gasped, but did not make any other sound. She gripped the counter edge as blood seeped into her torn blouse and dripped onto the floor. Chuck jerked the knife from the woman’s back, ready to strike again, when the woman turned slowly to face him. The blood-red lips smiled as she looked at him. Chuck dropped the knife and stepped back, his burning hatred snuffed out in icy fear.

She held him with those deep black eyes as she slowly stepped toward him. His eyes drifted to that smile and he saw that her canine teeth were long and very sharp. She was taller than he was and as she grabbed him in an iron grip, he looked up into those black, bottomless eyes. Eyes devoid of humanity and as predatory as a shark.