She looked down from the hill, her hair matted with the stench of several days worth of deaths, her skin pale and translucent, the straps from her backpack cutting deeper into her skin with each subtle movement she made, making a vile concoction of sweat and blood that would not stop dripping down her arms – unable to remove her backpack, glued to her skin in some demonic prank. She had been circling the hotel for what seemed like days, but time didn’t really exist anymore. She would have to go in eventually, what waited for her inside must be far worse than a mixed up time space hell continuum and a demonized backpack – what waited for her inside was her best friend, the only living thing to love her unconditionally, the dog that did whatever she commanded… which was usually, “Kill”.
She could see a man near the front door of the hotel, she knew it was her turn, her time, her reservation was ready. Her backpack guided her down the overgrown path, through every thorny bush and broken branch, until she walked up to the front door. The door opened quickly and a tall thin man with long white hair reached out with both his hands and grabbed her bloodied shoulders, the backpack finally fell to the ground, releasing its grasp on her – the cuts across her shoulders were deep and wet with blood, slightly blackened like rotting flesh.
She knew this place must be the entrance to Hell, maybe she had to check-in, was hell really that formal? She knew why she was there; she had commanded her dog to “kill” 9 times in less than two years. Her victims were random people, she didn’t know them or the lives they led or the people they loved or the people they were yet to become… she didn’t care. She had complete control over their destiny, their death. She would watch them for a few days, with her dog at her side. When the time felt right, she would softly whisper “kill” into her dog’s ear, like a lover whispering a poem. She had trained the dog so well. It would walk towards the person, silently, holding its breath, camouflaging its footsteps… and for a brief unnoticeable second, it would pause and stare at the kill – a toddler left unattended just long enough, a boy walking home after sharing his first kiss, a retired teacher lost in the beauty of her roses. It noticed these things, these human things that made each person unique, but only briefly, its purpose was to entertain her, to “kill”.
No words were ever spoken between her and the man in charge of the door. He turned to walk down a brightly lit hallway with beautiful wallpaper and perfectly framed works of art. The air smelled clean and fresh – a game, she thought, a game where she gets to stay in a nice hotel room for a while before moving on to hell.
The doorman stopped at room number 107 and turned the handle. He gave her a tremendous shove into the room and she fell onto the floor, or rather, it wasn’t a floor, it was a backyard. A beautiful backyard enclosed in a black wrought iron fence, the grass was perfectly mowed — the yard was littered with toys, a trampoline, a clubhouse, a tire swing. She began to recognize this place, from somewhere, a memory stored away in a part of her mind that tried to easily forget… forgetting made everything easy. She began pacing the yard, faster and faster, trying to remember this place, trying to remember why she was here… and then, a voice. A cherub like voice asking if she wanted some ice cream. She was startled, growing afraid, no one was there. Again, the voice sounded out in angelic tones to ask if she wanted some ice cream. She turned quickly, looking, finally realizing it was coming from inside the clubhouse.
She took a few small, cautious steps towards the clubhouse but stopped when she could see someone moving inside. A small chubby hand came out from the dark of the clubhouse and grabbed the door, that’s all she could see, this small chubby hand belonging to a small child, maybe three or four, she thought. She didn’t move towards the clubhouse, instead letting the child come out on his own – slowly, the child emerged. He grabbed the opening to the clubhouse with his other hand; it must have been a hand. It was round; there was no skin, only shreds of muscle and tendon. On the top, there were two small bones protruding – maybe they used to be fingers. She covered her mouth to keep from screaming, she was in hell.
More of the small child slowly came out of the clubhouse – he was scooting on his bottom, using his one good hand to pull himself. One leg was in similar condition as his hand… stripped of its skin, muscle and tendons hanging in a disjointed puzzle, blood and puss oozing everywhere. His other leg was gone, just gone. His pants were soaked with blood near his hip – it looked like an ax cut through it, no sign that bone or flesh or muscle or anything living had ever been attached to that spot. He scooted further out from the clubhouse, in full view, sitting directly in front of her. His clothing was barely recognizable as clothing – dripping with blood and tears and intestinal fluids, and one more smell she recognized right away… dog slobber, it was her dogs slobber soaking the boys shirt. She backed away from the boy looking up at her from his place on the ground when she heard another movement coming from within the clubhouse.
Her dog slowly walked out of the clubhouse towards the boy, she closed her eyes, unable to watch what she thought would happen next – the first time she watched her dog kill the boy, it was from a distance… she could look away when she wanted, she couldn’t hear the bones breaking and the flesh ripping or the mother screaming. But, now, now she had no choice but to watch… to be a part of it. She opened her eyes when she heard the boy giggling, as she looked up, the boy was stroking her dog with his bloody nub – leaving her dogs fur matted with blood and dirt. Her dog started licking the boys grotesque wounds, her stomach churned as she watched streaks of slobber and blood slowly fall from her dog’s mouth onto the boy.
The boy looked at her, and then pointed to a backpack at her feet. He scooted over to the backpack and began to crawl inside, leaving a trail of ooze behind him like a wounded slug. He pointed up to her shoulders; she understood that to mean she should put the backpack on, with him inside. The backpack immediately became glued to her shoulders, once again cutting deeply into her flesh. Her dog stood, facing her, staring at her, not blinking, not breathing, not moving – the two of them, face to face, not moving.
She had almost forgotten about the boy on her back when he moved and the straps of the backpack cut into her shoulders more, though she didn’t dare take her eyes off of her dog. The boy leaned forward, placing his mouth directly on her ear, the putrid smell that surrounded him was inescapable, and in the most angelic loving voice he whispered to her, “run”. She didn’t comprehend what he was saying at first, he giggled in a way that so many mischievous little boys do, and then she saw her dog lower his head and growl.
Just as the boy had commanded her to, she ran.
She darted behind the clubhouse and jumped the fence in a quick movement. She headed down the middle of the street, unable to see her dog, but she could feel him… his hot breath on the back of her legs, nipping at her calves – just enough to draw blood. Then she could feel his warm slobber dripping onto her neck, his teeth just barely breaking the skin. He was toying with her, waiting to kill her, perhaps for the boys command. But, the boy seemed to be having too much fun, laughing at all the raucous behavior happening around him as he raced through the streets in her backpack.
She ran, never stopping, her dog right there out of sight, but inches from her flesh, ready to kill. The street turned into an overgrown forest that looked all too familiar – broken branches jumping out at her and roots rising up to trip her, then it happened. Her dog clamped down on her calf with the full force of his monstrous jaw, ripping away pieces of flesh. She fell and tumbled over and over, screaming in pain and being knocked around by trees and stumps and bushes. The boy, still in the backpack strapped ever tighter to her bleeding shoulders, giggled like he was at an amusement park. Her dog continued to run beside her as she tumbled, taking bites out of her. She came to a stop as she crashed into a door, the door to her hotel room, room number 107. She stood up quickly and opened the door only to find the tall doorman waiting for her. He reached out his lengthy arms and grabbed both her shoulders, the backpack was automatically released. He picked up the pack and gently placed it in the arms of a small woman – who walked away with it.
The door man guided her back to her hotel room, she wasn’t done yet, there were others she needed to bring out. She begged him not to make her go back in there, to fix her wounds, to let her rest, anything… he gave a heavy sigh and pushed her back into hotel room number 107.
She turned around and was in the most amazing garden she had ever seen. It was a beautiful spring day, butterflies and hummingbirds were everywhere. The smell of roses filled the air – it gave her a sense of calm. She noticed an older woman in a corner of the garden kneeling down, working away at pruning and watering and feeding the roses. The woman spoke without turning around, she asked if she liked her roses. But before she could answer, the woman turned to face her and the horror of her hell was again real. The woman’s face was gone, nothing but bone on the right side. The left side was mangled, her lips were hanging by a single piece of skin, her scalp looked as if it had been removed with a chainsaw, and her single eye was dangling by a thin muscle past her cheek swinging back and forth like the pendulum of a clock.
She looked at the ground were the woman had been sitting and saw her dog, staring at her…
Becky Brewster Sain lives in the Nashville area with her three joyfully imaginative children and two large willful dogs, or is that large willful children and joyfully imaginative dogs? She writes poetry and prose on her blog, First Pages ( http://bsain.wordpress.com/ ) as well as a few scattered short stories. She is feverishly submitting poems and stories and trying to expand her creative boundaries. You can stalk her on twitter @beckysain or follow her Facebook page, First Pages.
She also wrote a story for us last year. Feel free to check it out here.