“Sooooo….what is it?” I asked, chewing the tip of my left pigtail.
“I think it’s an old treehouse,” Lisa replied. Her face was speckled with filth. We’d crossed the large creek an hour before. It had been principally mud.
“We can probably climb,” I mused, pointing my soiled finger at the ragged picket slats nailed into the aspect of the tree.
Lisa studied the slats. They have been rotten. Streaks of rust ran down under the previous nails. “Yeah, maybe.”
“I’m gonna do it,” I introduced, and started towards the makeshift ladder. “Just catch me if I fall.”
“You know you’re too heavy,” my pal sighed. “You’ll break my neck.”
I pretended not to hear. I positioned a tentative foot on the first picket slat, then shifted my weight forwards and backwards. The piece wobbled, however it didn’t break. I put extra weight on it, then grasped the rung above my head and pulled. Nonetheless steady. I was superb.
“I think it’ll be okay!” I referred to as behind me, and commenced my ascent.
The late-July sun hung like a drop of molten slag within the western sky; not as vibrant because it had been a number of hours ago, however it didn’t really feel any cooler. Sweat poured down my forehead and chest and legs, spattering Lisa. She clicked her tongue in annoyance.
I stared up via the slender, jagged square reduce into the underside of the treehouse. Spider webs clung to the faraway ceiling, drifting within the weak breeze.
“I don’t think you’d like it up here,” I hollered. “I think there’s spiders.”
Lisa let loose an audible shudder. I grinned. Spiders by no means bothered me. I assumed that if I discovered an enormous one, I’d drop it down on her for the heavy comment. My grin widened.
One of the slats creaked beneath my left foot, and I sucked in my breath and held still. The wooden didn’t break.
“Don’t fall for Christ’s sake!” Lisa implored. “You’ll seriously kill me if I try to catch you.”
Three more steps. They seemed just a little better having been shaded from the worst of the elements through the years. I hauled myself up and into the treehouse.
“So?” Lisa referred to as. “What’s it like?”
I seemed around. There were spiders, all proper. Spindly yellow ones with fats bellies and indignant purple streaks throughout them. Biters, from my expertise. Ones I wouldn’t hassle choosing up to drop on my good friend.
“Well,” I answered again, “you should probably stay down there, if you get my meaning.”
Lisa shuddered again.
Historic leaves lay piled in the corners. “Like old skin,” I assumed with a shiver. I didn’t know why I all the time did that kind of thing; why I all the time thought the worst about probably the most benign issues.
Although these days, I assume I’ll have extra of a cause.
One thing made from paper was sticking out from one of the leaf piles. I stretched out and reached for it. My eyes lit up.
“Holy crap, Lis – some pervs left an old nudie mag up here!”
“What!” she exclaimed. “No way! Pass it down!”
“Nuh uh,” I teased, and thumbed via the pale, waterlogged pages. Regardless of myself, I started to blush. I’d by no means seen anything quite so hardcore at that point in my life.
“Do any of them look like Kiiiiiiiira, you big lesbo?” Lisa teased.
I didn’t answer. One of the brunettes really did seem like Kira. But I wasn’t going to offer Lisa the satisfaction of being right. I was too busy wondering how long it took Kira’s doppelgänger to do all that shaving.
I need to’ve gotten lost in a reverie for a minute or two, as a result of it took a moment for me to register my pal hissing my identify time and again in a hushed whisper, as if she didn’t need to be heard by anybody however me.
“What?” I bellowed, flustered and irritated. I leaned over the edge of the treehouse entry and locked eyes with Lisa. Her eyes have been extensive. Virtually like she was scared. However then she appeared back, towards the world we came from.
Then I heard it – footsteps on the stony embankment we’d crossed once we first spied the treehouse.
“Hey honey,” a male voice referred to as. “What are you doing out here all alone?”
I crept across the splintery flooring and peeked out the aspect window. A man was approaching Lisa. A stranger. I leaned back towards the wall, staying unseen. Goosebumps rose on my arms without my figuring out why.
“Um, just hanging out with my dad,” Lisa lied. “He had to pee but he’ll be right back.”
The person let loose a dry giggle. “Must have a hell of a bladder on him. I’ve been watching you for a little while from over there and never saw him at all. Does Dad usually pee for five minutes straight?”
Lisa didn’t reply. I felt a spider’s prickly legs tickle my shoulder close to my tank-top strap. I flicked it away with out wanting.
“I think,” the man stated, shifting his voice from mock friendly to only mocking, “you’re either all alone out here or you got a little friend up in that treehouse.”
My breath caught in my throat.
“N…no,” Lisa stammered. “It’s just me and Dad. He’s a cop. He’s on his way back.”
“Oh yeah?” he chuckled. “The big-bladder police officer’s coming back, huh? Can’t blame him, really. I gotta say, if you were my daughter, I’d never let you out of my sight.”
I’d heard sufficient.
“Lisa!” I yelled, pushing my head by way of the opening I’d climbed via. “Just run away!”
The man seemed up at me casually. Our eyes met.
“You know,” he stated, and I didn’t know if it was to me or Lisa, “the sunset is breathtaking today. Seriously. You should take a look. I couldn’t imagine living my life and dying without ever having seen such a beautiful sunset.”
Lisa turned on her heel and made as if to run, however the man’s hand shot out and grabbed her arm, his fingers digging into her left armpit. She shrieked.
I screamed at him, demanding he let her go. I threw the journal towards his head. It fluttered harmlessly to the bottom like a lifeless, smutty moth.
“You can come get her if you want,” he advised me. “You look bigger. Maybe you’re stronger, too.”
He lifted Lisa into the air with one arm as if she have been a paper doll. “But I just don’t think you’re stronger than me.”
Lisa kicked and scratched at the person’s chest and face. Shallow wounds appeared on his cheeks. I expected blood to return out. None did.
“I’m telling you girls, this is one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been around a lot longer than you two. Much, much longer.”
I debated dropping out of the treehouse onto his outstretched arm. Certainly it’d be sufficient for him to drop Lisa. However I’d break my leg. Perhaps both of them. I remained the place I was.
Like a coward.
“Look at the sun, honey,” the man informed Lisa. She didn’t obey; her scratches and kicks continued, uninterrupted. There were extra cuts, however nonetheless no blood.
My own was beginning to freeze.
“Just turn around and look with me, beautiful.” He glanced back up at me. His pupils have been pinholes. “This is your last chance to look on your own.”
Lisa aimed a savage scratch throughout his right eye, certainly one of her fingernails splitting the underside lid because it went. A tatter of pale skin hung towards his excessive cheekbone. He wouldn’t bleed.
The person sighed. “Okay.”
Thirty years later, it’s the sound I keep in mind greater than the sight. It was a sound like a foot slowly crushing a carton of eggs. Repeatedly. Till the eggshells have been too pulverized to make any extra noise.
That’s how it sounded when the person placed his free hand on the top of Lisa’s head – and twisted. And twisted. Around and around. And round. Till her head hung towards her shoulder like a marionette with a damaged string. Until her head was dealing with the setting solar.
I don’t know if I used to be screaming as it happened. I might have been. I should have been. But all I heard have been the cracks. The wet, crumbling cracks. The moist, crumbling cracks, and the person’s voice – loud and clear – not shouting, however firm and regular. Patriarchal. A father-knows-best lecture.
“You’re my woman now. However you have been as quickly as I saw you. Younger and sweet and sun kissed. Why wouldn’t you kiss it back? It’s okay. It’s all okay. You’re a part of me now. Your good friend up there didn’t love you want I really like you. And I do love you, sweetheart. I really like who we at the moment are. And I really like what we’ll turn into.
“See how the sun shines over the timber on the hill? It’s gonna shine long after these timber are gone. Lengthy after the hill’s gone, too. But we’ll still be together. You and me and the sun.
“You, and me, and the sun -” he lifted his head to stare into my horrified, tear-streaked face, “- and everyone else.”
As I sobbed, I watched with disbelief as he grasped the flap of flesh hanging from his eye and pulled, unzipping his face and neck. I retched. Something was glowing behind his skin. However not with any sort of mild I’d ever seen. It was a cold whiteness; as if ice have been shining out of his skin, casting frigid rays across his arms and the body of my greatest good friend.
“I want this beautiful one,” he whispered to me, as he raised Lisa’s corpse into the air and began to lower her, ft first, into the chasm in his face. “I don’t need you. But if you want to be with her, I have room. I will come back and ask.”
Aside from pitiful bleats, nothing left my lips. Lisa disappeared into the opening in the man’s head, sinking into the devouring whiteness like a trapped animal in a snowstorm.
At the time, I might’ve sworn I’d heard shrieks coming from that hole. Different women. Other young ladies. Screaming and pleading. Many years later, I understand it may need been my creativeness.
However one thing I’m positive of – one thing about which I am absolutely certain – is the final moment earlier than Lisa was pulled into the man. The final second when her hideous, twisted, damaged neck flopped forwards and backwards. And her eyes opened. And her mouth wrenched into a perfect circle as she shrieked, “it’s so bright! The sun is too bright! Don’t look at the sun! Don’t ever look at–”
And she or he was gone.
And the person walked away without saying one other phrase.
Like I stated, it’s been thirty years.
I by no means saw the man once more. Lisa was never discovered. My wife, Bethie, shakes me awake every few nights as I scream Lisa’s identify; as I dream concerning the sight of my good friend’s physique sinking into the person’s cut up face. I’ve advised Beth the story. I don’t know what she believes.
I keep out of the sun. I heed the warning contained in my greatest pal’s final words. My eyes are all the time at the ground. All the time low; by no means daring to glimpse the star that provides us life. Bethie doesn’t ask me to observe the solar set together with her anymore. I let her go by herself while I sit alone in the house. Alone in the cool shadows.
Waiting for him to return back.
And questioning what I’ll say.
© Max Lobdell, 2018. Is probably not reproduced in any format with out categorical written permission.