Six – Creepy Pasta
By Dakota Priest
My spaghetti falls right off my fork as I keel over in my chair with laughter. My dad is simply on fire tonight, roasting everyone at the dinner table. It’s all in good fun—even the victims of his witty quips are out of breath laughing. I cooked the dinner, but as always, he provides the entertainment. Attendants include me, my father, my aunt (his sister), my best friend Malcolm, and two of his coworkers. The television is on in the background, but it provides on a barrier against silence. Not that there is much silence; he just said that Allan, his colleague, looks like Willy Wonka when he wears his favorite suit to work. We’ve all seen Allan in that blue-purple suit. He’s a fire-haired ginger as well, which only serves to add to the candyman image he portrays strolling through the parking lot. I manage to catch my breath somehow, even though Dad had his fork across his top lip, simulating a mustache of some kind, and I shove my fork into my food. I’m pretty hungry, but haven’t been able to eat as Dad has been cracking jokes since we all sat down. We don’t do this every night, but I sure love it when we do.
I collect the plates after dinner, stacking them neatly in the sink and running some water over them. You know…so they can soak or whatever. Allan and Ross left early, so now it’s me, Aunt Robin, Dad, and Malcolm in the living room watching some terrible movie. Aunt Robin is nose-deep in some cell phone game, and Dad is looking at a magazine, but we’re still enjoying our time together. Malcolm’s head is on my shoulder and I have my phone in my hand for no good reason. It’s entirely platonic between us, though Dad really likes him and has hinted at us dating for about a year now. Eh…I just don’t feel anything there. As far as I know, he doesn’t either, and that’s okay. We’re really close. It’s 9:01 p.m.
Dad gets up in ten minutes, saluting everyone goodnight and kissing me on the forehead. I’ve never been embarrassed about that, whereas many other teens would. Even after 18 years, I still haven’t grown tired of parental affection. My mom left when I was 4, so he’s really all I’ve ever known. I don’t hate her. I’m sure that whatever reason she had was justified for her at the time. He raised me by himself and never faltered as a single parent. My mom, last I heard, lives in Denmark somewhere. I’m not sure why. I watch as he trudges up the stairs and off to his bedroom. “Malcolm, you wanna pla–” I start to ask, but then I realize that he’s silently sleeping on my shoulder. I pluck his nose and watch him jump, startled awake.
“Ayye, money, why you flick me?”
“Nigga, you fell asleep.”
He wipes his mouth and stretches, looking at his watch. “Dag, B,” he declares, “I gotta bounce. I’ma holla at you later.” He gives me our traditional secret handshake and turns around to hug my aunt. “See you, Ms. Robin,” he grins. “Alright now, baby,” she responds. I cross my feet on one arm of the couch and lay my head on the other. I have a report I need to do for school, but fuck it. I’m tired. I close my eyes and try to tune out the sound of the movie as the circulation in my left arm is cut short, putting my hand on pins and needles. I don’t mind; I’ve always felt this to be rather relaxing as long as it’s mild. After an indiscernible amount of time, I feel my aunt kiss me on the forehead and tickle my shoulder before I hear the door close. Not long after that, I am fast asleep.
I have a dream. I am in a long hallway. A very lavish but simplistic hallway, lined with the most beautiful borders against the molding and chandeliers every so many yards. The walls are a flawless ecru color. The hallway seems to go on forever. There are no rooms, no doors and no windows. I take several steps forward, beginning my journey down this long corridor. There is gentle elevator music coming from somewhere, but I see no speakers. This whole place is very peaceful. I continue heading forth, taking in my surroundings. So beautiful. I cannot see the floor. I am wading through a knee-high river of feces. I almost don’t mind, but I know exactly what it is. It’s up my pant legs, it’s inside my shoes. I feel it squishing between my toes. I reach out to touch the wall—it seems to ripple before my eyes. It makes me laugh. I touch the wall again, and again it ripples, this time even stronger. I giggle and continue walking forward through the sludge. Out of nowhere appear four mirrors on the left side, one after the other. I look in the first mirror. I have no reflection. I look in the second mirror and see nothing again. The same is for the third. But in the fourth, I see myself with hair as long as I am tall. I’m not sure if I like it, but it is darn impressive. I am still staring in the mirror when I notice the wall behind me moving upward. It starts off gradual, barely noticeable. But then it speeds up, rising faster and faster. I soon realize that it’s because I am falling backward, and the wall holding the mirrors is coming with me, falling on top of me. I don’t look behind me. I do not brace for impact. I simply fall backward to the shit-covered floor, and as soon as I make contact with the flow, I am snapped awake by absolutely nothing.
I open my eyes and see that I spent the whole night on the couch. The sun blazes through the window, illuminating a perfectly Azure sky, and blinding my right eye. Eight light-minutes away and it still manages to strike directly in someone’s face. I force my feet off the arm of the couch and onto the floor, waiting a few minutes for the circulation in my body to run its course before I try to stand up and walk. Eh…who am I kidding? I just wanna lay here for a minute longer. I twist and crack my neck as I arise from my slumber. Dad hates that, but it feels good to me. There’s something oddly satisfying about cracking my joints. I head across the room and turn off the TV. It’s been on all night.
I head into the kitchen and grab the box of pancake mix, pulling a mixing bowl from under the sink, and a stirring spatula out of the utensil drawer. Been cooking since the age of 6; don’t need a measuring cup to tell me how much powder to put in my pancakes. I just turn the box upside down and stop when it feels right. I don’t always eat a hot breakfast, but when I do: pancakes and eggs. I just happen to have time today since I don’t have class until late. Some of the jokes from last night are still stuck in my head, so I find myself sporadically laughing to myself in an otherwise quiet kitchen. I feel crazy, but hey, I’m still loved. The sizzle of the pan fills the room as I pour the batter in. My half-wakened mind is entertained by the bubbles forming around the edge of the confection. That’s how you know it’s done, I was told. Turns out to be right. That’s my secret to perfect pancakes every time. I hold the handle of the pan and flip the pancake without the spatula, cooking it on the other side, then tossing it in the air and catching it on the plate. I’m good!
A little butter and a lot of syrup top my short stack as I walk carefully back into the living room. I put the kickstand up on the back of my cell phone and sit it on the coffee table, going to YouTube to browse some of my favorite music videos while I eat. The whole house smells like hot butter; I love it. I look up to the clock as I cut a forkful and lift it to my mouth. I’m normally up before 10, and my dad is always up before me. Before I put the food in my mouth, I shout upstairs.
“Dad! You want some pancakes?”
I don’t hear anything over my phone. All of a sudden, this thing wants to be loud. “Daddy!” I call again. Damn, he must have tired himself out last night. I set down my plate and go upstairs to check on him, hoping that he’s feeling okay. I mean…I do need him to drive me to school. I knock on his door and it opens slightly due to not having been closed all the way. Beautiful golden sunlight floods through the room and out the door. His yellow walls with white stripes are aglow in the morning splendor. I’m partially blinded upon entry. Birds are chirping loudly outside the window. My eyes momentarily adjust to the light, allowing me to focus on him lying peacefully in his bed. I gently approach his bedside, not wanting to startle him. I remember the last time I did that; I almost had to dig his class ring out of my stomach. His hand is on his chest. I lay my hand on top of it. “Daddy. Daddy, wake up. You hungry?” I ask.
…Damn, his hand is cold.
I lay the back of my hand against his forehead, and then snatch it back immediately. He’s freezing! Poor guy must be sick. I shake him a little, trying to wake him up so I can give him medicine. “Dad. Daddy, get up,” I whisper while rocking him back and forth.
…Goodness, he’s a little heavy and wobbly.
I freeze in place, my eyes locked somewhere between his neck and shoulder. They stay there, as I’m afraid to look anywhere else now. I lean down, putting my head in front of his face and my ear in front of his mouth. It is at this moment that I have never been more terrified by the sound of silence. I can’t feel my feet. I don’t know what I’m seeing. My breath has left my body. And…so…have…I…
I awaken who-knows-how-long later on the floor with an empty nausea in my stomach. I’m not one hundred about anything right now. I don’t really know where I am. I stagger to my feet, my back to the bed, as I feel like there’s something there I don’t want to see. I…I just can’t turn around. I stand to my shaking legs and silently float out of the room. My heart is beating very slowly and feels like it is carrying my body everywhere. I don’t feel my feet on the ground. I don’t feel my fingers picking up the house phone or dialing the cops.
…It’s been months since that morning now. I inherited the house and a fuck-ton of money from a trust that my father opened for me. My mom insisted on paying child support and he wanted none of it since she walked out. So he put every cent into an account that accrued interest. I have three-hundred eighty thousand dollars to my name, my own house, a car, and all the furniture I will ever need. I would trade every dime of it to have my father back for a day. I didn’t say a single word at his funeral. I just sat there, staring at the floor, waiting for it to be over. At the interment, I looked off into the distance. The sun was shining brightly, just like the day he passed. There was not a cloud in the sky, but there was a storm in my heart. I couldn’t help but wonder what the rest of my life would be like without him. I had a dove released, which represented his spirit; while it’s never been my thing to subscribe to superstition or to put my faith into material things, I thought it would be a nice way to send him off from this Earth. The pastor released the dove, and it landed on his shoulder. He lifted it up again, and again, it returned to him. It made me laugh and cry at the same time. It would eventually make its way to me, landing on my lap and pecking around. I burst into tears and had to be carried off. I don’t recall anything after that.
My days now consist of going to school, going out for dinner, and only coming home when I absolutely need to sleep. I spend nights in front of the TV crying my eyes out until I faint from exhaustion. The darkness creeps up and smothers my world, choking all life and energy from it until the sky is dark and I have nowhere to run from it. I lie with my back against the back of the couch, knees curled up to my chest, wrapped like a burrito in his plush blanket, with the TV up loud to drown out my thoughts and feelings. I’ve immersed myself into television and Netflix in all my spare time. I don’t do anything at home aside from numb my mind in front of the tube. It’s all I can do anymore. He was all I had. Malcolm has blown up my phone, but I don’t really answer anymore. I’m not mad at him; I just don’t have the energy to talk to anyone. I’m just…so tired.
Tonight is no different. I’m going home with a taco in one hand, soda in the other, driving with my knees. It’s not exactly safe, but fuck it. What’s gonna happen, I die? I take a daring bite of my taco, turning my head instead of the food. Too much cheese in this thing. I haven’t eaten much of anything today, but I couldn’t stomach another bite. I roll down the window and toss it out while breezing through a traffic light two blocks from my house. I pull into the driveway, anticipating the depression that hits every time I see my house. There is no exception. The moment I step out of the car, I am overtaken by a dark feeling that moves with me, like a pesky old curmudgeon tapping me on the shoulder and teasing me about my dead dad. I fiddle with my keys, procrastinating entry, trying to focus solely on the episodes of Cops I’m about to binge. I open up the door and close it quickly behind me, trying to tolerate the “home” smell to which I am so accustomed. It used to comfort me, calling to mind thoughts of video games, cooking dinner, hanging with Malcolm, and Dad. I don’t do any of that anymore. I throw down my backpack and abandon my clothes in the corner of the living room, trying to stifle my oncoming tears before curling up on the couch. I don’t even bother closing the curtains. I tuck the blanket under my feet and wrap it tightly around my shoulders. I feel a little better with my back against the couch. Nothing can sneak up on me. As long as I can make it through the night, I’ll be okay.
I fade off to sleep after an hour of flashing red and blue lights from the TV. I eventually open my eyes to the dead of night in my living room. Lights are off, the television is off, and the curtains are closed. I’m not sure if I’m lucid dreaming or legitimately awake. So I do what I always do in this state—I hold my breath. If I’m dreaming, normally, I’ll start to float upward…but I’m not going anywhere, no matter how long I’m not breathing. I guess I’m really awake. I wish I wasn’t, but I guess I can de–…
…I stop thinking entirely. I just saw a dark shadow move in the corner of my eye to the left. It wasn’t a fleeting, barely-there shadow. It was very sure and stable. In fact…it’s moving now. It’s growing, looming closer and closer. I close my eyes, hearing the large figure move in on me. My heart is racing in fear and I’m shuddering just a little, but the full level of terror hasn’t kicked in with me since I’m still kind of half-sleeping. But I know that at no point do I ever appreciate creepy shadows haunting me. I open one eye and see it. It’s there. It’s right in front of me. Its eyes glow an inhuman green in the darkness. And it speaks to me.
“Do not weep for me. I am gone, yet I am here.”
Do not weep…? Dad?
I open both eyes and gaze upward at the benevolent creature. The only light in the house shines through the dining room curtains against his back so that I can see his outline. He smells like a cold spring morning. I wipe my eyes and sit upright slowly, not wanting this to be some kind of jump-scare mirage. “Daddy…?” I whisper. It doesn’t respond, but the eyes flicker once. I don’t look away. I don’t flinch or freak out. I just accept what I’m seeing and start to feel a kind of peace that I have not felt in months. My chest loosens and I’m no longer as tense. I can breathe normally. I almost feel like I could eat again tomorrow. All I see are those beautiful green glowing eyes. I can’t look away, but I am told to do so. “Close your eyes and rest,” he instructs me. I obey without hesitation, still keeping my wide, wondrous eyes fixated on his dark outline. He backs into a corner, not turning around or bumping into anything. He doesn’t make a sound. He simply puts his back to the wall in a far corner, still looking at me, and lifts his hand toward me. I lift my hand toward him. I see his fingers open. His hand turns. His fingers start to slowly close, and along with them, uncontrollably, my eyelids. I am being forced to go to sleep. This is the weirdest lucid dream I’ve ever had.
I awaken refreshed. I fell into a dreamless sleep after closing my eyes. It seems like no time at all has passed between the time I closed them and the moment they reopened. Not sure if that’s good or bad, but at least I don’t feel nauseous today. It feels…it feels good. I think I’ll go about my day now.
I return to the house at 2 a.m., after visiting Malcolm for the first time in 5 weeks. He’s been leaving casseroles and burgers at my door for me, trying to make sure I eat. I am normally able to eat a spoonful or so of it, but nothing past that. Today, we ate nearly a whole pizza together. I was actually able to smile. I was almost normal and living. I loved it. And now, I’m back at home, not as depressed as I was last night. I don’t feel like throwing up anymore. I think that short visit was all I needed. Thank you, God.
In a couple of hours, after brushing my teeth and showering, I’m back on the couch, curled up in the blanket. Tonight is only different in that my eyes are dry. And it’s a big enough difference to put a smile in my heart. He’s not here, but he’s somewhere. And I’m okay with that. The TV is still on, but it’s not as loud as I usually have it. I close my eyes and try to drift off, thinking about the pizza I had today. Before long, my mind is swimming in a pool of warped thoughts and dreams, memories that never happened. Parasomnia.
I startled awake by the sound of pure nothingness. It’s not just that I’m awakened by nothing in particular. I’m jarred awake by absolute silence. It’s what I imagine outer space sounds like. And it freaks me out when I hear it. I open my eyes and am met by the very same dark figure. His eyes are glowing deep green. His outline is bold and defined. I’m no longer afraid of him, as he stands on the opposite side of the room in the same corner. In fact, I sit up. He steps forward toward me, the light coming through the crack in the curtains hits his face and I am able to make his features. Oh my goodness. He looks…terrible. His face is very dry and sunken-in. His hair has nearly no color in it. It is evident that he has not blinked in ages. The bags under his eyes nearly stretch to his mouth. He looks very aged and frail. “Daddy…” I breathe, mortified at the sight of his marred face. He opens his mouth and starts to speak. I understand his words to be:
“I am gone, yet I am here. Close your eyes and rest… I am gone, yet I am here. Close your eyes and rest.”
While the words themselves seem calming, the tone in his ethereal, all-encompassing voice is anything but. It sounds like stress. It seems like a lamentation of some sort. He sounds…regretful. Which is terrible. Damn. I thought these visions were supposed to be happy and peaceful. This is nothing like that. I keep my eyes on his dreadful face. That terribly sunken face… I stand to my feet, beginning to move toward him. I am stopped in my tracks. I’m not freaked out, but I’m certainly alarmed. I grab my cell phone, ripping out the charger and dialing Malcolm. I’m still looking straight forward at my father, standing in front of me with his hand outstretched. The phone lights up and the call is answered as he speaks even louder to me.
“Close your eyes and rest. Close your eyes and rest!”
I stretch my hand out toward him, trying my damnedest to reach his fingertips. He is just inches away. A tear escapes my eye. “Daddy, please,” I beg, “just talk to me!” His command continues, bearing down on me from every imaginable direction. The light from outside illuminates half of his face, and I am able to see half of his mouth moving. It’s…out of sync, like a dubbed foreign movie. But that doesn’t register. I stretch harder, hoping that just the love for my father is enough to connect our hands and give me just a taste of closure. The more I fight, the louder his words until I fear I might be deafened.
“CLOSE YOUR EYES AND REST!”
There’s no wind. No books flying through the air, no chairs knocked over. It’s just so loud. So fucking loud. My mind starts racing. He sounds like an F-16 in my living room. Surely, he will wake the neighbors. They will rush over to see what the matter is. I can’t move to get to the door—I can’t move at all! They will knock. They will bang. They will try to kick the door in to see what the commotion is. They will call 911, and the police will arrive. The police can’t do anything by themselves. I’m sure they’ll call for backup. When more cops pile into the block with the ghetto bird in the air, I’m sure the SWAT team will be present. They’re gonna try to batter in my door…will they succeed? I doubt it. I’m not sure what, if anything, will get in here now. He’s standing right in front of the door. If I can’t move myself, I’m positive they won’t move him, or the door for that matter. And then what? The FBI? The National Guard? By the time they figure out they can’t get in, they’re gonna shoot the windows. They might kill me if they get a shot through. They’ll try to kick it in. They’ll try to knock them through. They may try to weld their way in. They won’t be able to get in, I just know it. My dad won’t let them. They’ll call to me over the microphone. They’ll demand to know what’s happening. Will they be able to hear me? I can see it now…the house surrounded by lights and choppers. There will be a crowd of two hundred from the neighborhood. The news will be there. There will be a standoff through the night. They’ll want to knock down the house and take him away…but no! They can’t have him! I won’t let it happen! “YOU CAN’T TAKE MY DADDY!” I scream, still looking his way.
I see his fingers open. Then they shut rapidly.
I awaken with my face on the floor and my body draped sloppily over the coffee table. I try to stand, but I feel stiff and sore all over. I feel rested, but I’m in pain now. “Aagh!” I exclaim, rolling off the table instead of standing up. I can hardly feel my feet. I manage to get myself to the couch and rest in a sitting position to right the circulation in my body before attempting anything else. My phone seems to be nearly dead. I plug it back up to the charger and unlock it, checking notifications. I have 25 missed calls and several voice messages. They are all from Malcolm. Son of a bitch. I called him last night when I was half asleep and I didn’t even say anything. He must be freaked out. I mean, I’m sure he heard me scream. Maybe he heard my dad’s words, too! I hurriedly redial his number and tap my numbed foot while listening to the phone ringing. He answers excitedly, seeming surprised to hear from me.
“Where you been at?”
“Malcolm!” I shout, “Oh my gosh, did I call you last night?”
“Hell yeah you called me. Scared the shit outta me, too.”
“What did I say?” I slowly question. “You were like, all, ‘No, don’t take my dad!’ and shit. You was screamin’ at the top of your lungs. What, was you sleepwalking or something?” I breeze right by that question, demanding to know, “What else did you hear?”
“Um…” he starts, seeming to have been thrown off by my question. “You sounded like you was outside. I could hear the wind blowing. I mean, it sounded like the wind.”
I’m confused. The wind? Is he telling me he didn’t hear all of that loud yelling? The booming voice? It was deafening! I stutter in his ear. We begin talking over each other. My brain is totally scrambled. I know what I need to do. I tell Malcolm that I’ll talk to him later, grab my coat, and leave.
I drive across town to the graveyard where my dad is buried. I haven’t been here since the funeral and I now realize that this hectic week has been my mind’s way of telling me that I need to go see him and make peace with what happened. If it will keep me from hallucinating at night, I’m willing to start the journey. I press onward through the cemetery, over the winding roads that literally travel over a river and through the woods. My dad received a beautiful spot located by a lake that holds a fountain and is surrounded by geese. It’s serene. He has a large tombstone with an angel on top of it. I was able to afford it since I got all that money. The man that gave it to me deserved to have something nice for himself. Only the best for my Dad, who gave the best to me. I park the car and step out of it, approaching his grave located right off the road. His plot sits away from several others; it’s like the lake was made just for him. As far as I’m concerned, it is his lake. I smile at the scene, watching as the geese seem to make way for me to come talk to my father. I kneel at his feet, reading over the headstone to myself. He brought us so many smiles. His family couldn’t love him enough. Everyone he met was subdued by his kindness, and that’s what he taught me. Don’t kill with kindness, live in kindness. If I could live to be half the person he was…
I drag my fingers along the spotty grass that lies atop his shin area. I can almost feel him here, watching as I reach out to him. Lord, if I could just hug him once more to see him off…
I gradually lean forward to sprawl my body out onto his grave. What grass is here is very soft and easy to touch. It’s not dry and unforgiving like much of this other stuff. He deserves it. My cheek makes contact with the ground. It’s cold. I’m grinning ear to ear, lying on top of his burial site, looking out over the lake. I close my eyes and whisper, with a single happy tear escaping, “I miss you, Daddy.”
Without warning, the ground gives way. My center of gravity falls before me, bending my back inward and my stomach outward. I’m a falling letter U. The birds freak out from the sound and start flapping and hoking, leaping away from the area. Dust flies everywhere as I plummet feet downward into the grave, smashing downward into the casket and cracking my back and neck upon impact. I’m…shocked. I’m stunned. I’m dazed momentarily. I’m mortified, but still quiet. I groan in pain and turn over, looking up toward the sky. I see the rough outline of a dug grave against the sky, some dirt still falling down onto me. My jacket and pajama pants are covered in moist earth. I look back down and shake my head, letting the dirt fall from my hair. The disturbing thing is not that I fell into the casket. That’s happened to many a grave digger and robber, I’m sure. What fucks with me is that my dad wasn’t buried in a pine box. His casket is metal. And hinged.