It has been five months since I envisioned him—five months since our last eventful encounter.
And it has been the best five months of my entire life.
I have started to move on—I stopped placing an additional blanket for him, I don’t even spread breadcrumbs outside my kitchen window now. But forgetting him is like trying to know somebody you’ve never met. It is arduous, to say the least. He had made me a prisoner of my mind. The mere thought of his presence sent shivers down my spine. But he had been reticent for a while now.
And I will always be grateful to Jenna for saving me.
Jenna is a psychiatrist; she lives next door. I remember her recounting that she noticed me for the first time arguing with thin air in the middle of the street. She had moved to the neighbourhood recently and had no friends. The first memory of her is still fresh in my mind. She knocked on my door, asking for some sugar. She looked ethereal, and I couldn’t resist inviting her in. We talked about everything—from our favourite colours to our life regrets. I guess a part of her charm came from how easy she was to talk to. She told me that she was a psychiatrist and had noticed my earlier encounter with him. I let my guard up and immediately told her to leave.
But she was different. She understood my concerns and did not think that I was crazy. She even invited me to her house and spent hours with me. I never talked about him, but she made me feel safe, and somehow, that was everything. I finally had someone to talk with. In all these years, he made sure that I was not able to speak to anyone and remain aloof. He cut me off from my mother and my friends and threatened to kill them if I tried to converse. She made him go away. I do not know how, but I owe her my life for that, and I mean it.
Though lately, I’ve been feeling uneasy—Jenna is leaving today for her mother’s, and I’ll be left alone. To be honest, I wanted to go with her, but she assured me that everything would be fine and we’ll meet very soon. I bid her goodbye and went back to my house.
As soon as I opened the door, I felt an instant drop in the temperature. It was the familiar cold atmosphere that I had been terrified of for so long. The disgusting smell of a rotten mouse hit my nose, and I rushed to my bedroom. Memories of him came rushing in as I hid under the blanket to protect myself. All of a sudden, I felt a sharp ache on my back. Belt marks started appearing on my arms and legs. I was mortified as my father’s voice haunted my brain, “You are a disgrace to the family! How can you even live with such a pathetic self, die!”.
It can’t be, it is happening again. I desperately tried to get up from my bed, but I couldn’t move anymore— my arms and legs were stuck to the bed. It’s happening again. I lie in defeat as I wait for him. I heard the door creak open, and I saw the shadow of a figure approaching the bed. I try to move my head to see, but all my efforts to move were futile.
I heard him breathing and saw him through my peripheral vision, “Did you miss me?”, he snickered with his forked tongue and climbed over me. Tears were brimming in my eyes as he turned his glowy green eyes towards me, “You are so despicable Daniel, you’ll be punished”, he snickered.” Stop talking to that heinous woman, or else I’ll tell everyone how you squeezed the life out of your father and left him rotting. I know you can still smell his body”, he sneered.
He then lunged at me, his scaly tail aiming for my throat. I was trapped as he enjoyed every bit of fear that lived inside me. I closed my eyes, accepting my final moments, but it never came.
I suddenly heard the doorbell ring, and my body instantly sprung back to life. He disappeared as I ran for the door. There stood Jenna—I had never been so happy seeing her. “You saved my life”, I cried out as I hugged her tightly. “What’s wrong?” she asked, and I narrated my story.
“Come on, aren’t you a little too old to have an imaginary friend who haunts you? It’s all in your head”. She was right, but after all these years, it seemed so real.
She comes closer and takes my hands, “So maybe, make some real friends, ones who don’t have scaly skin and forked tongues”.
I froze. “I never told you what it looked like.”
She stiffened before forcing a smile, “Lucky guess, huh?”. I wasn’t going to let her off the hook, and she knew that. “Tell me, Jenna, how do you know him”, I screamed as I tightened my grip on her hand. She looked me in the eyes, a single tear slipping out and falling on my side.” I-I didn’t want to tell you because I was afraid that I’d lose you”. “Tell me what?”
Her body started shaking as violent sobs took over her speech, “I know him because I am like him, Daniel!”
My head hurt as I felt dizzy—it felt like someone had knocked the life out of me.
She immediately held my face and kissed me, “It doesn’t mean that I am not real. I’m as real as you make me. Look I can hold you and be with you. My bond with you started growing stronger as you left him.”
Her eyes turned to the familiar green, and a long scaly tail grew from her back. “Now that he is gone, my manifestation has become more powerful. I am going to take over him and become your imaginary best friend.”
Jenna threw her tail over Daniel, choking him and caressing his face with her scaly hands. She then lunged over him and started ripping his head apart, trying to get in his brain. Jenna was not going to let any other manifestation take what’s hers. After all, she had to be in control of Daniel’s mind, mentally and physically.
Daniel screamed in terror as the room turned dark.
This story is inspired by a prompt from Reddit
—Written by Alankriti Singh for MTTN
—Featured Image by Ankita Shenai