Oh no. Oh no, I can hear him. I can hear the rumble of that car, his old brown Dodge, rumbling down the street. It's unmistakable. I have listened so many nights for that sound, that horrible sound to pierce the silence. It has a distinct rhythm, a beat, chug-ch-gga-chug-chug, so distinct. I hate that rhythm. I hear it in songs, in advertisement jingles, percussion rhythms everywhere I turn that have that beat. My ears coil to it, my heart begins to race. He asks me why, he asks me why I do that, why I seize up some times, and I can't tell him its because some things remind me of him.
I hear the sound, the rumble, and the clickety-clack of the tired old wheels against the gravel, rumbling down the road. One day those wheels will pop, and he'll blame it on me. I don't know why, but he will, and I'll take it, I always do. Always.
Each distinct noise moves my heart faster, my blood boils. The next thing I will hear will be the shutting off of the engine. Not a noise, really, but a cessation of all noises. If I listen closely, I can hear his footsteps, footsteps crunching the gravel, walking up the driveway to the door.
But I don't listen, I don't! It is too agonizing! I won't listen, if only to save that shred of my soul that would wither away in fear if I did. I refuse to listen, I refuse.
In sit in my bed, my hands clasped over my knees, rocking back and forth. It is dark, fairly dark, the way I would have it, if it weren't for that door, wide open, letting the light of the stairway shine through, the blue flicker of the television on the wall.
I want to close the door, I really do. I want to close the door and lock it, but I can't. There is a hole where the doorknob should be, a gaping hole, mocking me. He did that, he does everything that I hate. I tried to lock the door once, and he became so mad he nearly kicked the door down, broke off splinters of wood. After about an hour of beating the front of the door into near submission, he got a saw from his tool shed and carved out the doorknob, he carved it right out. I can't lock the door, it even opens on its hinges when I try to shut it, it won't let me close it.
The toy chest, I tried that, too. It's heavy, and would be sure to keep him out, or so I thought. I pushed it against the door, so he couldn't get in, but it didn't work, it didn't. With enough force, he opened it enough he could push the toy chest away, and now I have no chest, no toys. My room is dank and bare. A bed, a dresser full of my clothes, and a bookcase.
A bookcase. Ha! I have no use for a bookcase, especially what he fills it with. Introduction to Physics, Basic Astronomy, Our World, The Beginner's Guide to Constellations. He calls himself a scientist, and he wants me to be one too. But if he wants me to be one, why insult me so when I get bad grades in science? You could never be as smart as I am, you little good-for-nothing! Of all the children I could have, why you?
He is not a scientist, the man is a monster, a monster. Scientists are men of merit, I know, I read about it in those books he stockpiles my shelves with. Men of merit, merit, not evil, like him. He is not a man of merit. He hardly knows what he does, he is not a good scientist.
They tell me what he's doing, they tell me so I can stop it. I will stop it, I will. That's the only way.
Oh my God, no, no. The door, I can hear it, opening, squeaking, the un-oiled hinges screeching. I can hear the plop of his suitcase on the floor, he does it every day, I can memorize those sounds to the most minute detail. His shoes, I can hear them plod against the carpet, quietly, but distinctly.
"How was your day, dear?" comes the muffled sound from the downstairs. I can't make out the words, but I know what they are, I do. It's always the same, everything's the same.
"Horrible," he will say, and he does. I can hear it, his voice is strong angry. "So-and-so messed up the so-and-so. Where is the kid?" That is the question, the question I fear. He always asks it, and that is the most horrible noise of all I hear, that question, because I know what comes next.
"In his room," she will say. My mother, so spineless, spineless she is, never standing up for me. She loves me, I know, she loves me, but not enough to taking me away from here. I want so desperately to go away. But she won't take me, never.
Oh, he doesn't always get very angry. I can't do things like that every day, they know that, he would kill me, kill me. Every few weeks, I guess, and then he gets angry, very angry, today is one of those days. One of those horrible days.
The sounds now, oh, they scare me so. His footsteps become louder, and further apart as he walks up the stairs. And then the first sight, the first thing I see that make my blood chill and my spine crawl. A shadow, a lonely shadow that blocks that light into my dark room. That's why I hate the light, I hate the open door, not because of the light, because the light will eventually be blocked, blocked by an tall, apelike figure with drooping hands. The shadow makes him look grotesque, perverted, elongated and cast over an uneven surface. The shadow is more fitting for his soul than the robust body that nature seems to have ironically given him, the strong hands that work in the laboratory and at the observatory, the strong hands that I fear.
There it is. The shadow. The shadow over the open door that comes with sounds of terror. It happens every day, at about three minutes past seven, every day, every single day.
"Hey there, scout," he says dripping with false love for me. I know he doesn't mean it, he says it so often that if it ever had meaning, it had been stripped bare. "Are you okay?"
If I said anything, my voice would falter, so I only nod. I had always said "Yes," and then, one day when I had done something I knew he would be mad about, I nodded my head, and he became suspicious. He didn't even know what I did before he got angry.
"You haven't done anything, have you?" I couldn't see his face, it was drowned in shadow. I shook my head. I couldn't help myself though, a little snort escaped, only a little one.
"Are you crying?" he said.
"Look at me, boy, are you crying? Are you crying, boy?" My face in my knees, I shook my head, I shook my head no. He forced my head up. "By God, boy, you are crying, what did you do now. You little mess-up, when are you going to learn? You stay here, I'm going to see what you did, stay here. Then you're going to get it."
It happened exactly like I knew it would, the sniffle, the crying, everything, everything. I knew it, it had happened so many times before. I looked out toward the window. The window, yes that was it, perhaps I could escape out the window, that would work. No, I had tried it before, one night when the same thing had happened. I latched onto the tree and dropped down to the ground, bruising myself, but I ran only faster. I ran, I ran, I ran almost forever before the police found me and brought me back, they brought me back. He cut the limbs off of the tree, and I hurt that night. I am not as stupid as to try that again, he'll kill me, one of these days he'll kill me.
I knew what I had done, I couldn't hide it. They told me to do it. The strange thing is, I understood what I was doing, and why. He was so stupid, he didn't see what his work was doing, what it would do. He wasn't going to go through with it, they, I wouldn't let him.
I had crept downstairs and into his laboratory, where he keeps all his scientific tools and such. He kept it locked, but I knew the combination, they told me so I could get in. And then, with a hammer, I smashed it, I smashed all of it, burned his papers and smashed his gadgets. I knew what every one of them was for, the intake valve, the oxygen manifold.
He was building a starship.
I wouldn't let him-they wouldn't let him. He would bring this disease, this disease of which I am a virus, into the stars, and it would be his fault. We would spread like wildfire, burning our way throughout the cosmos, but he wouldn't see that, I would, they helped me to see.
Oh, I dreaded when he came back up here. He could kill me tonight, maybe, maybe he would kill me tonight, this was the worst I had done. I knew that their plans were culminating, and soon, so soon, oh God I hope very soon, they would be complete.
It would be over. They told me I would live in peace, I would live in harmony, and he would be dead, dead in the ground where he couldn't touch me, he couldn't touch me. I would never hurt again, and he would hurt for an eternity. That's why I did it.
He did more harm than he knew with those books, a lot of harm. I read every one, I understood every one, and I knew more, they taught me, I knew more than he did, more! He wasn't as smart as he thought. A scientist, he says, I am a scientist, you are nothing, but he is not, he is not a man of merit, a man of evil, he is evil.
I hear his scream.
I hear his footsteps.
I hear his breathing, heavy, quick breathing.
Do not worry. He will not kill you tonight, they say. That is what I am truly worried about, if I die, who will stop him from spreading our disease throughout the world? No one. Do not worry.
A soothing voice, asexual and soothing, soothing my soul which burns from the sounds of those footsteps.
The shadow! The cursed shadow in the doorway. I can see him in that shadow, his figure perverted more than usual, hunched over, angry, angry, so very angry. He steps in front of that light, that light that I hate but do not want to leave, I don't want it to leave, it becomes so dark. Not a natural dark, not even a dark of my own, but a dark of a soul so ignorant and so cruel.
Do not worry.
It will hurt it will, but I will not die, I won't die, not tonight. Soon it would be over, soon, soon, soon!