You stand on your toes, stretch to reach the window and can only barely see through; a fine film of dust and grime cover the once transparent glass. You feel like a kid again, eavesdropping on your parents from the next room over. This time, though, fear is deeply rooted in your stomach and grows outward, unfolding until it reaches the tips of your fingers. From here, the sweet scent is overpowering, sickening.
What you are able to see, though, is similar to the lab you remember from watching Frankenstein as a child. The walls are lined with bottles and jars filled with discolored liquid and murky figures within. Some look like body parts. A small hand, an arm with a glass tube embedded within it, a head with several extra eyes.
In the middle of the room among the disorder, you see a plastic covered chair off to one side, nearly hidden by someone wearing a dingy lab coat. From what you can see of the chair, there are dark stains covering it, dried now from time.
The person in the lab coat is talking to someone seated in the chair that you can’t see. Their deep voice is jumbled, and you can’t make out what they say, but it’s greeted by a high-pitched giggle, followed by a guttural moan.
The person in the lab coat steps aside and you are able to see a child of no more than six resting in the chair. You’re about to throw the door open when the child’s face begins to shift. It twists and folds in on itself, morphing into leathery, wrinkled skin. You gasp and swiftly clamp your hand over your mouth, but the face swivels to look straight at you.
It grins, baring decaying teeth, and slides its small body off the chair. You hear the person in the lab coat say something to it, but you’ve already turned and began to run. The tabby is far ahead of you already, turning the corner and ascending the stairs when you hear the door creak open behind you.
You run faster, the sweet stench overpowering now. You hear measured footsteps behind you, too heavy to be that of a child but you don’t look back. High-pitched giggling and pained moans melt together, an awful sound that you know you will never forget.
You’re ten steps from the stairs, and the windchimes start again, crystal clear despite the cavernous echo that your footsteps are creating. Five more steps, and the footsteps grow heavier, the giggling more manic. You reach your hand out to grab the bannister, and your vision goes dark.
You wake up in the grass of a nearby park, groggy, as though you had drunk Nyquil. Mothers steer their children away from you, wary of this strange person sleeping in the park. Your pounding head and dry mouth remind you of the mornings in university where you’d stayed up all night drinking.
You move to get up and notice a sharp pain in your side. You twist around to see what caused it, and notice an incision about six inches long along your side, crudely stitched up with black thread and a small brand of a cat.
Thanks to everyone who took time to read this series. It was a lot of fun to write, even though I didn’t originally plan to write anything past the first chapter.
Previous chapters can be found here.