Family Prompt Story 3
“You’ve got it all wrong, man,” he said, “that isn’t how it all went down.”
“That’s why we’re here,” the new detective replied, “so you can tell us what really happened.”
Jimmy shivered slightly. He didn’t like sitting in this cold room. He didn’t like the dim lights, or the gray wall. He didn’t like the mirror to this left, or the cold metal table in front of him. Most of all, he didn’t like the soft buzzing of the clock hanging on the wall to his right. The clock was covered in a weird looking wire mesh that reminded him a bit of a goalie’s mask from hockey, but the incessant buzzing was going to drive him mad before the night was over.
“I already told him what happened like three times,” Jimmy said.
He couldn’t remember any time he had ever felt uncomfortable around a police officer before, but while the one currently talking to him seemed nice enough, the last guy who was still standing in the corner of the room glaring scared him. He was a hulking beast of a man, towering over Jimmy, particularly when he felt so small on that hard metal chair. He was six and a half feet tall if he was an inch and it looked like he would have to duck walking into any room he entered. At the angle Jimmy saw him now, it looked like his head was barely missing the ceiling. He was wearing a suit, but even under that you could see how his muscles filled out his shirt and pressed his clothes fabric to the limit. He had a noticeable scar across his left cheek you could see plainly even behind his scruffy beard. If he was capable of smiling, Jimmy wouldn’t have believed it. His face was in a constant snarl. His face bared the lines and scars of a man who had to be north of fifty years old.
The detective sitting in front of him now was different. He had just gotten here a minute ago. His face was kind and smiling. He was clean shaven and unscarred. He was a tiny man, barely over five feet tall, and it looked like a strong wind might break him. His suit was baggy and barely fit. He didn’t look a day over thirty. Jimmy wouldn’t believe anyone who told him his estimates of the two detectives ages were backwards.
“I know you did,” Detective Mark Aggar said, “but it does sound just a bit implausible, so we just want to make sure we’re understanding you completely. Could you start at the beginning?”
The detective picked up the pen laying on the table and flipped the page of the large yellow legal pad so he could write Jimmy’s story on a fresh sheet.
“Well, I guess it all started,” Jimmy said, “when she told me…”
“Don’t be stupid, Jimmy,” she said, “there’s no way I’d let you go out with those… monsters.”
“They’re not monsters,” Jimmy said, “they’re my friends.”
“They are not… your friends,” she said, “and this conversation is over.” She put a cigarette into her mouth, lit it up, and looked back down at the magazine in her hand.
He loved his mother, he really did, but sometimes she was just so unfair. He wanted to argue with her, but he knew it was pointless. Once she had made up her mind, it didn’t change, no matter how well formed or rationale the argument against whatever her decision was. She was overprotective, demanding, and suffocating. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if she had spent some time paying attention to him, but she just needed to know he was there. She would ignore him like she always did.
He knew that the smart thing to do would be to just give up, listen to this mother, and go to his room. Maybe read some comic books or something. He also knew that for some reason, this time, that wouldn’t be what he did. He was mad, but he felt something else too, an emptiness that he struggled to define. He should be able to have friends and go out just like everyone else.
He went back to his room, just as she expected he would. He made a big event out of it, making sure she heard him, and everything was doing. She was used to his little mini-tantrums, but this time it seemed to be more angry. After a couple particularly loud thumps, she got up and stomped towards his room.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing,” she shouted as she barged in. She saw him lying on his back, his head half hanging off the side of the bed, his legs stretched across with his feet on the wall next to it. He had a comic book in his hand, and he looked up at her with his upside down eyes.
“Sorry, Mom,” he said, “my feet hit the wall a bit too hard, I’ll be quiet from now on.”
She glared at him with narrowed eyes. Smoke drifted up from the cigarette still in her mouth.
“You better see that you are,” she said and slammed the door on her way out.
He listened to her footsteps go back down the hall and into her room. He smiled because he knew she fell for it. Had he known how the next few hours were going to go, smiling would be the last thing on his mind.
As quietly as he could he got his shoes on, put a jacket on (she would be so proud of him), and opened the window in his room. He moved as slowly and as carefully as he could, because he knew that window would squeak if he went too quick. He didn’t even realize he was holding his breath, or how quiet it was. A tiny sound came from the track of the window and he stopped cold. It sounded like an explosion from his heightened state, and he turned his head to the door, waiting for his mother to barge in at any second. There were no footsteps coming down the hall though, she must not have heard. He pushed the window a tiny bit more, so it was open enough for him to crawl through, and that’s what he did.
He sat on the little sub roof of their house, and looked up at the stars. There was no going back once he jumped down. He got a vision of him landing wrong and breaking his arm, which he tried to put out of his head because he’d done this jump hundreds of time without so much as a scratch, but that thought stayed all the same. He even imagined hearing the crack as his bone shattered, and instinctively grabbed his arm and rubbed it. He contemplated just turning around and crawling back into his room. His mother loved him and was just trying to protect him, if she didn’t want him to see his friends, there must be a good reason for it.
Yeah, she doesn’t want you to have any friends, he thought. She wants to be the only friend you ever have, or ever need.
He slid to the edge of the roof on his butt, and peered over the edge. Before he could change his mind or spend more time arguing with himself, he used his hands to push himself off towards the grass on the side of the house. He landed on his feet like normal, but in his haste, he had pushed himself a bit too hard, and his momentum carried him forward. He ducked his head as he rolled forward and effectively did a flip landing directly on his back. He gasped for breath as all of the air left his lungs, and grabbed his arm. He expected it to be shattered like he was imagining before he jumped, but it was fine. Everything was fine except the wind being knocked out of him. He laid there for a second to catch his breath, and scrambled up. He skipped down the road towards his friend’s place.
“Just a sec to make sure I understand you,” Detective Aggar interrupted, “when you left, your mother was in the house, completely fine?”
“Yes sir,” Jimmy replied.
“And you were going to your friend,” he said and pulled out a notebook from his chest pocket, thumbing through it. “Your friend Clayton’s house? Your mother knew where he lived I assume?”
“She did,” Jimmy replied.
“Do you think she knew that was where you’d be going if she found out you snuck out?” the detective asked.
Jimmy knew his mom wasn’t very smart. He had figured out he was smarter than her years ago. She often struggled with simple concepts, and she hadn’t been able to help him with any homework since probably third grade. She couldn’t remember anything more than a minute or so, but even with that all that, he still believed that if she found him missing, Clayton’s house was where she would go.
“Prolly,” he said.
“Did your friends parents know where you would be going when you left there?” the detective asked.
“I doubt it,” he replied.
“So how did everyone end up where they did?” the detective asked.
Jimmy shrugged and slumped in his chair.
“How did you end up where you did?” he asked.
Jimmy looked down at the table, silently at first. He looked at the words on the notepad, could see the detective was taking detailed notes.
“Well, after I got to Clayton’s house, he talked me into going somewhere else, he said…”
“Why don’t we like, go out somewhere else?” Jimmy asked.
Clayton looked up from the cards with a confused expression on his face.
“But you just got here,” he said, “we haven’t even played a hand yet.”
“Yeah, but sitting in the house all night is something I always do,” Jimmy replied.
Clayton shrugged and put the cards down. “I guess so, man,” he said, “where you wanna go?”
“We could go walk the tracks?” Jimmy asked.
Clayton was going to protest. He was going to complain about how he was just wanting to play some cards. He was going to simply refuse to do anything else, but the truth was, he felt sorry for Jimmy. Everyone knew his mother had him wrapped on a leash so tight it was shocking he didn’t choke. He barely had any friends, and it was about as rare as snowfall in the summer that someone saw him outside of school. Clayton just wanted to hang around his house for the night, but a few minutes later, they were walking down the street towards the tracks.
They walked quietly for a while, down Jackson street until it ended. They made a right onto Monroe street, heading towards the old abandoned station just a block and half up. It was run down and looked like it had never been a real place where actual people went. The windows that weren’t boarded up were broken or missing. Graffiti was sprayed everywhere you looked, and it had a smell like someone had used it as a urinal. Truth be told, people probably were.
“Before he died,” Jimmy said quietly, “my Dad used to tell me stories about this place.”
Clayton was surprised, both by the sudden break in silence, and by Jimmy’s comment. He knew that Jimmy’s dad wasn’t around, but he had never heard him talk about him, and he definitely didn’t know he was dead. He just figured he had gone away, like so many of the dad’s around the neighborhood did. He wasn’t sure how (or if) he should reply, but it didn’t matter. Jimmy continued.
“A long time ago,” Jimmy said, “when he was still a little kid, there was someone, or something, that killed people in there.” He pointed towards the old abandoned station.
Clayton laughed. “We’ve all heard that story, Jimmy,” he said, “it’s just a story, it isn’t true, no one has died in there.”
“That isn’t true,” Jimmy said, “my dad saw people die in there.” He stopped walking and looked at Clayton. “My dad died in there.”
“Come on,” Clayton said, “quit pullin my leg.”
“I’m not,” he said, “he brought me here. I saw it happen.”
“Stop playin’ around man,” Clayton said, “that shit ain’t funny.”
“No kidding,” Jimmy replied, “It’s not like you see on TV or anything, it’s way worse.”
Clayton didn’t want to hear more, even if Jimmy was just messing around. He was squeamish at the best of times, he couldn’t possibly listen to something that was worse than what you’d see on TV. He wanted to tell Jimmy to stop, but he was also curious.
Jimmy had slowed down his walk. “I’m not even sure how I’d describe it,” he said, “it had hundreds, maybe thousands of teeth. It had dozens, maybe hundreds of eyes. Maybe it had none of that, because you couldn’t really tell. You could see it, but you couldn’t really see it, if you get what I’m saying.”
Clayton nodded his head back and forth because he didn’t understand.
Jimmy sighed and stopped.
“It was like,” he said, “uh, I dunno, like a shadow I guess? You couldn’t focus on it, it’s face, if you want to call it a face, kept changing, like it was always out of focus, and hidden in the dark.”
“It was fast though,” he said, “so fast.” He shivered and stood there in silence for a moment before continuing.
“It was a few years ago, and we were off at my little league game down over in Cower’s field, and the shortest way back to the house was down the tracks, so that’s what we did. I remember it being dark, and a little cool and breezy. Dad was warning me how I needed to get away from the tracks if a train was coming, not just because they were dangerous, but because folks on the train used to make a game out of shooting people with something he called ‘rock salt’, whatever that was. Getting shot didn’t sound too pleasant, but when we got close to the station, he slowed down.”
“He started telling me the story about one of the kids in the neighborhood when he was growing up, how he had just disappeared, or at least that’s what everyone had said. He told me he never saw it, but he heard it. He said it screamed like a dying animal, and pierced his ears. Just the thought of it sent chills down his spine.”
Jimmy looked around. Clayton was staring at him, engrossed in the tale.
“We were about right here,” he said, “this is where I first saw it. It was coming up from behind him, kind of floating, kind of just like a mist, but it was moving fast. I guess my eyes had gotten wide or something because my dad kneeled down and put his hand on my shoulder and told me not to worry, how it was a long time ago, and he was sure whatever it was had gone away. I wanted to scream, wanted to warn him, but the sound was caught in my throat.”
“It had grabbed him before I even knew what was going on. His eyes had bulged as he was pulled back, and there was a fear there, but something else. His eyes were begging for help, but there was nothing I could do. He was already dragged halfway to the station before I could even register he had moved, and there was a trail of blood that started right in front of me.”
There was a loud crash from the station. Clayton yelled and spun around.
“Oh my god,” Jimmy almost whispered, “it’s back.”
He turned towards the track and ran. Clayton saw him go and started to follow, but Jimmy turned back towards him. Clayton saw Jimmy’s eyes, saw the tears in them, saw the fear in them, watched him scream. He felt a warmth on the back of his neck, he knew whatever it was, it was about to get him. Clayton made a sharp turn back towards his house, and kept running, never looking back, never stopping, until he was at his front door, where he saw himself alone.
“I hid in a bush to the side of the tracks,” Jimmy said. “I’m not sure where Clayton went, but I looked everywhere for the… thing. I didn’t see it anymore, so I walked over to the abandoned station building.”
“So, you were afraid of this, uh, entity,” the detective asked, “but still tried to go where you said it came out of? Why would you do that?”
“I dunno,” he replied, “but that’s where I found her.”
“Tell me about your father,” the detective said.
“Never met him,” Jimmy replied, “Mom told me he left before I was born.”
“And your mother was inside the station,” he said, “her skull was crushed from behind. You believe this thing did it, and you just happened to be the one who found the body?”
“It must have been,” Jimmy said, “when I got to the station, I saw the door was slightly open, and I called in, but when I didn’t hear anything I pushed my head into the door and looked around. I didn’t see anything at first, so I walked in and around the corner, lying against the wall, I saw her. There was blood everywhere, I screamed and ran back outside, you guys showed up a few minutes later.”
“You seemed pretty calm by the time we showed up,” he said, “but I really just have one more question.”
The detective lifted the notepad he was writing on, and pulled out a small plastic baggie, with a sheet of paper inside.
“We found this on the bed in your room,” the detective said, “how do you think it got there?”
He turned the paper so it was facing Jimmy, it was crudely drawn, but you could easily make out the words.
YOU’RE SO UNFAIR, WENT TO ABANDONED STATION TO THINK.