I’ve Got You Under My Skin
When someone dies, they never really leave you. You have pictures and videos and memories galore. You have objects that remind you of moments that you shared. Places that bring back pleasant – or maybe not so pleasant – times where you were together. They are gone, but they are not forgotten, although time and life sand down the edges of memory into a pleasant sort of blurry. Usually.
But what happens when they don’t want to leave?
It happens slowly, almost like an afterthought. You wake up one morning and find out that you’ve scratched yourself during the night. Maybe an arm. Maybe on your leg. Maybe your stomach or something else. It happens. Fingernails can grow sharp, after all, and you move around in your sleep. Nothing to worry about.
The worry comes when it happens again. And again. And again. It happens night after night after night and you start to see something forming. A pattern? No. It’s too irregular for that. At the same time, though, it’s not completely random. No, that’s silly. It’s just bad luck. You clip your fingernails short, short, almost too short. Little drops of blood on your fingertips, but at least you won’t scratch yourself anymore.
It keeps happening, though. Something starts to emerge from these scrapes that have gotten deeper and deeper. Something coherent. Letters. Words. A sentence maybe. It will always be the same, though. The same words in the same order.
You’ll go and see a doctor, who will tell you that you need to just wear gloves at night to prevent scarring. Useless. You’ll go and see a therapist, who will tell you that you are wrestling with grief and guilt and need to address the root of the problem. Quackery. You’ll go and see a priest, who will tell you there is something evil taking place. You won’t want to believe it, but that makes more sense than anything else you’ve heard so far. You’ll ask how to fix it, how to relieve yourself of this burden. None of the answers will calm you, so you’ll leave, determined to fix it on your own.
Your answer is easy. It’s almost elegant in its simplicity, truth be told. You just won’t ever sleep again. It can’t be that hard, after all. Caffeine in near-fatal quantities, scary movies, loud noises, and everything else you can think of will work for a while. A few days, at least. It won’t last, though. Eventually, sleep will fall over you like a thick blanket and you will get fitful rest with pain over and over.
When you wake up, you’ll look down at the affected area in horror because the tone has changed. The scratches are gone, replaced by an angry gouge that has covered the bed with red. All you can do is look on in horror as the gouge gets deeper in front of your eyes. Then you see it and scream.
A finger pokes out of the hole.
Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.