The only time he saw the moth clan was in the night. It was always in the same room, a cottage style bedroom with only a small orange molded chair and a student’s desk against the wall. The walls were lime green on two sides and it was upstairs. He knew it was upstairs by how one of the walls was sloped downwards. Not all the way to the floor, mind you, but halfway, as in you would have to duck if you were to touch the wall. There was an old closet door with a white ceramic handle and a small light hanging from the ceiling. The bracket marks where shelves used to be could still be seen – where someone had hastily painted over them with the hideous green paint. Against the door away from the room stood another door, propped up against it. He had no idea how it had come to be there, only that it had. That was the way the house was.
The moth clan were snowy white. They were gentle, fragile things and they would come in through the window and fly about me, all around. They would whisper secrets to him, that he could never fully recall, and then dance and inspire him to sing and dance himself. They were the happiest moments in his life, as he could recall, and he did not want them to come to an end… But they did.
They always came in through the window. There were two dirty windows that faced outside, and both of them had an old crank that would open them up towards each other. The one on the right was always open and that is how the moth clan would enter the room and dance and whisper their secrets. The window was always open whenever he arrived and would stay open when he left. Outside the window, he could see a utility pole with a light at the top and woods all around. It was the only thing he knew about what was outside.
One night they didn’t come. The light was on and other bugs wandered in and out. There was one gray moth who he tried to talk to, but it did not speak, so he left it alone and waited patiently for them to arrive. They did not come that night or the next night either. On the third night, he was tired of waiting for them. What else was there to do in the room but dance with the moths? Nothing as far as he could tell, so he opened up the closet door.
Inside the door there were six or seven dresses: old and unused and in ill repair. They looked like old women’s dresses, mauve and purple and gold. There was nothing else inside and it smelled heavily of old pine. He moved to the other door – the one propped against the door to the room. It was dusty and had never been moved as far as he could tell, so when he moved it, he sneezed violently for all the dust that also inadvertently moved. It was heavy, as old doors are, but once moved away and leaned against the adjoining wall, he was able to see the door to the room finally.
It matched the other two doors. Old heavy wood with the white ceramic handle, and it was locked. The lock was above the handle in the old turn-key latch style. He flipped it, touched the knob, took a deep breath and woke up.
The red bump on Nick’s face wasn’t going away, as a matter of fact, it was getting bigger. He wiped the steam from the mirror with his hand, even though he knew his mom hated it when he did that. He leaned up against the sink and looked at it again. About the size of a dime and red as fire. Like a mosquito bite or something. He breathed in and slowly raised his fingers to his face. He would try and pop it again today. Or at least get the white head to show. But the instant he touched it, tears came to his eyes.
Nick wasn’t a baby. Just the thought of Terry calling him one made him mad. But he couldn’t even touch it. The last thing he was going to do was cry or tell his mom. He would have to be sneaky at breakfast otherwise she would put her paws all over his face and make him squirm. Maybe if he sat on the other side of the table he would hide from her.
“Get down here now!” she called again. So annoying.
He was probably late again. He ran the towel over his head and zipped out the door, down the hall and into his room before he called out: “OK, OK Jeez!”
“Don’t you ‘Jeez’ me mister! Hurry up!” she shouted.
Ugh. Mom seemed to be regular style again today. He called it “regular style” in his mind ever since Uncle Tony had died. She was always in a hurry and always talking about money. He didn’t know why Uncle Tony had changed her, but he never could figure her out. If this is what women turned into when they got older, he would never marry one, that’s for sure.
He threw on something from his closet. Whoops. Not that shirt. It didn’t fit anymore. OK. The red and white one. The one without the stain on the front. Alright. Pants, socks, shoes. Done. Down the hall and…
“What in the world is keeping you so long?” his mom yelled up at him.
“Nothing.” Nick replied.
“Well, the bus will be here in six minutes. Here’s five dollars for lunch. Eat a vegetable today.” Mom said and put a plate of French toast in front of him with peanut butter.
“I will unless it’s broccoli.” Nick said. He grabbed the peanut butter. He hated syrup on his French toast.
“Fair enough. I didn’t raise no fool.” she smiled.
Nick smiled back. He thought she would yell at him for that. He cut into his French toast and put a delicious piece in his mouth. Mom made the best French toast.
“What’s that honey?” She had noticed the huge zit.
“Nothing.” he said, his mouth full.
“Oh? Looks to me like you’re going to be growing a beard soon, huh?” she said. “Should I buy you a shaver?” she smiled.
“Mooommm.” Nick groaned. That was all he needed. The only kid in school with a beard.
They both heard the bus pull up and honk. Her first action was to grab his book bag and open the door, while his was to stuff another couple of chunks in his mouth and chew like a madman.
“Go, go, go! You know she hates to wait!” she yelled from the front door. She opened the screen and waved at the driver: “He’s coming!” she called.
He knew what time the bus would get there. It was always there at 7:45 with all the idiots aboard. He only wanted to sit next to Kenny and talk about Sisugi. He threw down the last of the French toast and was out the door.
Racing out the door with the book-bag and hopping onto the bus he ran like a comet. Bam. Right in his favorite seat next to Kenny.
Something, something “In a hurry!” The bus driver was saying as he got on. Whatever. Kenny had on new shoes.
Kenny sat on the third to the last row on the left side as he walked back. It was a good spot. One row back from the wheel and the cushion wasn’t crap. The gross green pleather was worn in just the right way so your butt didn’t complain. Kenny was already sorting cards. Sisugi was mostly a card game, but to Kenny, it was a lifestyle. All he talked about and all he drew were Sisugi warriors and monsters.
“I don’t see what the big deal is.” he said, holding up one of the Sisugi cards. He only attacks seven but his defense is two. He’s killed before he can do anything.” He plopped the card in my lap. “Shinobi Disciple” was the title on the card. He had a lot of copies of that card. It was common. Most of them he increased the cost by one and wrote a 4 over the 2. He loved to fix the cards that he thought were wrong.
“It’s not bad.” Nick told him. “He’s fast.” He gave it back to him.
“Keep it. I’ve got twenty of them.” Kenny shuffled some more Sisugi cards. “What I’m trying to collect is the Shinobi Acrobat, Shinobi Assassin and the Shinobi Teacher.”
“Shouldn’t it be called “Shinobi Sensei?” Nick wondered.
Kenny looked at Nick through his glasses as if seeing him for the first time. “Yeah. That sounds way cooler.”
At recess they would sort Kenny’s cards into categories. Kenny didn’t care that they were dirty, he just loved to sort them and resort them and find new strategies. He was never satisfied with what he had.
“Did you have the moth dream again?” he asked Nick. He had his Demons and Angels all in one pile together and Knights and Sultans in another. Nick didn’t say anything at first. Kenny was the only one Nick had told but it was weird to hear him ask it like that.
“No. They didn’t come.” Nick said.
“That’s weird.” He stopped and looked up. “Did you call ’em?”
“No, I didn’t think about it.” Nick confessed. That was a good idea. “I opened the door though.”
“Huh,” was all Kenny said, and went on sorting. “I never thought of that.”
That night the moths did not come again. He sat in the chair until he knew they weren’t coming. Then he turned around and stood up and went to the door. The other door that he had moved last night hadn’t been moved back, so he went to open the other door again.
It was always so quiet here. There was never any sound. Usually in the city you can always hear something. Trucks or whatever, off in the distance. There wasn’t anything here. All he could hear were the sounds that he made. It was really creepy.
When the door opened, it creaked and he almost pooped myself. It was one of those funny creeks that you only hear in movies too. Like: “Reeeeeeeeeeeee!” His heart was beating pretty fast so the next thing that he saw still freaked him out a little, but didn’t actually give him chills. He was at the top of a staircase on the second floor. Hanging from the ceiling of the entire floor were fly traps. They were spaced a few feet apart, as if ready to catch an army of flies. They were longer than normal too, so he almost had to duck to miss them. They went all the way down the hall to the only other door on this floor. It was shut.
He didn’t move for a long time after he saw it. You know that feeling you get when you’re trying to make out something in the dark, and you can almost make yourself believe that it’s a ghost or something really weird… And then it turns out to be your brother all along… That’s the feeling that he got the longer he looked at the door. Something about the shape of the painting made him not look away. Something was familiar about it all… And the longer he looked, the more and more he was convinced that what it was wasn’t what it was… On the door was painted a white moth.
It was then that he noticed that every flycatcher was covered in moths. This is where they had come. They hadn’t come back to him because they were all dead.
The red bump was enormous and Nick’s mom looked worried.
“Looks like we may have to amputate, kiddo.” she said, not really joking, but exaggerating… It was her lame attempt at getting on Nick’s level. It annoyed him but he knew why she did it.
“Thanks mom. You can keep my face in a jar by the sink so I can stare at you all the time.” Nick said, a slow smile on his lips. Parents loved dorky stuff like that.
“You think I want to keep it by the sink?” she smiled. “No way, Jose’! I’m putting it in the attic and only bringing it out on Halloween.”
“You wish.” he laughed. “I’ll break out of the attic and come haunt you.”
“Hey,” she said. “Seriously, we need to pop it or something. It looks grody.”
“Tonight?” he asked.
“Deal.” she said.
Kenny was sick and wasn’t at school. It was a horrible boring day, especially Math class.
That night, Nick found a note on the kitchen table and some money to order a pizza with. She would be working late and couldn’t make it home. He would have to pop this bad-boy himself.
After a quick Youtube tutorial, he got everything ready. He didn’t have rubbing alcohol but figured that Hydrogen Peroxide would do the same thing, so with needle in hand, he gently pricked at the red spot.
“AAAAAH!” He screamed as it barely touched his skin. He looked around. Oh yeah, no one was here. He still didn’t like acting like a baby so he tried not to scream the next time.
He poked in a little, the pain becoming a red fire in his mind, pulsating into his thoughts. He squinted his eyes shut and kept pushing down into it. There was a small pop and a release and hot stream of brown and green liquid splashed over his hand and into the bathroom sink. The smell almost made him vomit.
Nick pretended to be asleep when his mom got home. She came into kiss him and noticed the Band-Aid on his cheek. Turning her phone’s flashlight on, she inspected it.
“You asleep hon?” she asked quietly.
He thought about answering, but by the time he had made up his mind, he was sitting in the chair in the room, in his dream.
Something had stirred him into action. Maybe it was the zit. If he could do things like this, then why not finish his dream? Figure out where the moths went? Yeah.
He was sitting in the chair. He got up and went to the hallway. There was no sound, as always, so he went downstairs. The walls were recessed wood, the kind you find in old movies, with photos on the wall. he couldn’t make out any of the photos; they were all blurry, which was really weird. He walked to the front door.
It was huge, maybe as tall as a basketball goal, and the knob was almost too tall for him to reach, but he reached up anyway and turned it. It was locked. Screw that. Maybe he could go outside thru like a window or something. He didn’t know what made him want to go outside, he just needed to.
Michael W. Smith’s “Open the eyes of my heart Lord” went through his mind as he pulled open the dining room window and crawled up on the ledge. He didn’t know why this song came to him just then… It just did.
The air was not cold, like it looked, it was the same temperature as the house. Perfect. But it was too quiet. The ultra-green grass was almost glowing as he stepped down onto it. Perfectly manicured. Perfectly mowed. It even smelled like it had been mowed today, that crisp green smell came up to my nose like a wave. Almost delicious.
To the left and right of the front of the house was green grass. There were two poles with mounted lights on them, but off in the distance, down what looked like a trail or a driveway, was some sort of red glow. He woke up.
Kenny wasn’t at school that day either. The whole day was so boring. Nick asked the school office where he was but they just said that he had called in sick. “They didn’t care.” Nick thought. Kenny didn’t really have any friends except Nick and it was all lies anyway. The teachers only pretended to care.
On the bus ride home, Nick sat in the front seat and asked to be dropped off at Kenny’s stop. It was only a few blocks from his own house, but it would be quicker than getting off at home and walking back. The bus driver said: “No way,” but Nick jumped off anyway. Silly old bus driver. Too slow for Nick.
He ran to Kenny’s house and rang the doorbell. No answer. He rang again and banged on the door, still no answer. Weird. No lights were on. Nick decided to walk home when he heard his name being called. “Nick!” A voice called from the second floor.
“Hey man, you sick or something?” Nick called up. It didn’t sound like Kenny, but maybe he had a sore throat or something. He could see the window open, but didn’t see anyone. “Kenny!?” He called. No answer. Just the wind on the curtains. Double weird.
Mom wasn’t home again so it was time for surgery. In the mirror, he checked out where he had popped the zit. He still had a band-aid on it, so he peeled it back to take a look… And wished he hadn’t. It was gross. A yellowish black spot that looked like it was getting bigger was now in place of the red welt.
Youtube again. So, apparently, there might be a hair stuck inside there causing the infection, a couple of videos had told him. Tweezers and nerves of Superman was all it took.
He got to work on the bathroom sink. Using the same needle (sanitized with more Hydrogen Peroxide of course), and the rest of the “face kit” he went to work pulling off the old scab. More black ooze came out but he got it all, and none got on his hand this time… Whew.
Now that the scab was off, he thought he could see the little devil buried in there. If it was a hair, then it would come out and everything would be well. Or it could be a bot-fly. He freaked out a little when he watched one of those being pulled out of a guy’s head. But that guy had gone to the trash dumps in India… This wasn’t India, so he should be safe, right?
After what seemed like five hours, but was only twenty minutes, he gave up. He had made the hole larger and all that showed underneath was a greenish spot. No hair down there. Nothing. It was really weird. Just some grayish puss and a bright green spot.
He started right where he left off last night. The driveway didn’t look like a driveway that he had ever seen, it was just two rough grooves in the lawn. He walked down it. The red glow was still out there and it was still night. As he grew closer, he started hearing sounds. That was super freaky because he hadn’t heard any sounds at all from anywhere in this whole dream. And he’d had this dream every night for the last several months.
A low whining, like babies crying, like a whole bunch of babies crying. But it wasn’t like real sound. It was like with every footstep I took closer towards the red glow, someone was turning the volume up. Sound wasn’t working right, it was going up way too fast.
It was a fire, and there were people around it, doing some kind of dance or something. It looked like a weird ceremony from a lost tribe in the middle of nowhere or something. he imagined the tribe people of some ancient forest, it was so weird. They were all dancing around the fire and a huge totem pole. A Totem pole of a snake with arms.
He stopped and watched them. This was really too weird. The men all had on dog coats or something, with the dog heads still on them, like those old Roman soldiers, with wolves heads as hats. Creepy as fuck. Sorry. Not supposed to say fuck. Mom gets really angry when I cuss like she does.
They were going in a circle, really slowly, arms down to the ground, and then they spun left, then raised their arms up and spun again.
He made myself stop walking because he realized that he was still getting closer without realizing it. He told his feet: “stop moving” but they didn’t. He was walking towards the fire without wanting to.
The totem pole slowly turned and looked at him. It was massive with long gangly arms and blank eyes. It reached out its hands…
Nick woke up and ran to the bathroom just in time to vomit into the toilet. Weird cereal chips like raisin bran came spilling out along with a gray sludge. He vomited again and this time it was more of the same. The stench was horrendous which made him vomit even more until there was nothing left to vomit. Snot ran down his nose and tears from his eyes as he spooled the toilet paper off by the meter, pawing away all the mess. He flushed again and again, trying to get the smell to go away, but it lingered.
Shaking, he went to the medicine cabinet to get mouthwash and purge the taste away. Salty tears made him close his eyes as he undid the bottle and took a big swig. Rinsing, he felt a little better. Placing the bottle down, he wiped his face with the hand towel. He put the bottle back and closed the door to the medicine cabinet.
It was three in the morning when his mother came running in to find Nick, screaming at the top of his lungs and peeling his face off. Underneath the smooth skin of a human child, lay that of a snake man.
Pauly Hart is a public speaker, actor, painter, singer, poet, and story-teller. His main focus today is writing. His latest works have involved novellas in the vein of “Classical Horror” from the Christ-centered world-view. The Horror story is the story where the character has to survive until the end. What better chance for survival than in Christ? Pauly writes not for the churchy types, but for those who would pick up a Stephen King book, giving them an alternative to the spirits. Pauly writes so that the Holy Spirit will have room made for him in modern day literature. He runs several websites all bent on leaving the mind of the atheist awash with the glory of heaven. You can find him at PaulyHart.com