The following account is taken from a childhood memory of mine: the memory of one Monday afternoon that would drastically alter the course of my life. Admittedly, I’m reluctant to remember it, but I’m motivated by the idea of finally gaining some closure over my parent’s deaths, and the nature of such. If anyone has any information surrounding this instance, or any of a related nature, I would very much appreciate it if you could get in touch. To those who are not familiar with the event in question, then let this serve as a warning: the following account is not for the faint hearted, nor for those who are easily offended. With that, so we begin.
When I was around six or seven, my grandmother took me to one of her neighbour’s yard sales. I say it was her neighbour’s: rather, it was his family who had arranged it, in order to sell the possessions he left after his death a few months prior. The result was a collection of oddities, collected over years of travel, along with some heirlooms left to him by his father. Among these were medals from both world wars; a pocket-watch with a cracked face that had stopped ticking at 3:23; an old phonograph complete with wax cylinders that had never been played; and a baseball flung through the air of a by-gone age. As a child, I was completely uninterested in such things, and instead continued up to the table nearest the house.
It was there that my eye caught sight of a friendly face: a teddy bear, with eyes of black beads staring back at me, and a cheeky grin sewn into its stuffed face. However, what interested me about the bear was its unique composition. The years had obviously taken their toll, and pieces of it had been torn off under whatever set of circumstances. In what had obviously been an effort to repair the bear, pieces of other stuffed animals had been stitched onto it to fill in the torn-away gaps, the different colours making the seams obvious. A single toy rabbit ear hung on one side of its head, while the foot of a dinosaur made up its left leg, along with other bits and pieces of material that I couldn’t identify. Needless to say, I had to have it. On the car ride home from my grandmother’s, I thought up the name that would haunt me for the next twenty-three years. Patches.
It was nice to have a friend. We went everywhere with each other: walks, vacations, long car journeys. Neither of us need to have spoken: we merely felt the bond of loving friendship, like you do with your first stuffed animal. His big black eyes and mismatched body parts would always bring me comfort. Only now do I realize why. You see, when you’re a kid, you are constantly learning from those around you. Friends, family, even strangers. We incorporate their characteristics into our everyday lives, sewing them into our personalities, and, in the end, they form the people we grow up to be. We are all chimeras: parts of other people brought into one solitary individual. It seemed, though, that I had a knack for picking up the worst characteristics in everybody: my dad’s lack of anything interesting to say, my aunt’s screeching laugh, my mother’s mistrust of ethnic minorities. That’s why I loved Patches. Only he could share this with me: he, too, was a hybrid of all of the worst parts, his outside represented my inside.
One day, my mother, father and I were walking in the woods near our house. We lived at the edge of town, so the woods continued on for a fair distance beyond where we would normally walk. I don’t remember much of what we did or where we went in the woods, but I vividly recall the sickening feeling I had when we approached the gate leading out. Patches, who had been around my shoulders at the time in a piggy back, was no longer there. I burst into tears, trying frantically to remember where I had dropped him. My dad backtracked through where we had come, but to no avail: Patches was gone.
I remember running, breaking away from my mother and down the route where my father had recently returned from, scouring the undergrowth for any sign of my lost companion. By this time it was getting dark, the sun having set behind the towering trees, and we would have to go home. However, before my parents caught up to me, I saw something moving in the ferns and fallen leaves. It moved erratically, almost in spasms, unlike any bird, fox, or other woodland animal that I’ve ever seen since. However, I couldn’t see its body, its movements only made visible by its impacts with the plant life: like the wake of a boat that had already crossed the horizon.
I did not stop crying that night. I laid awake into the early hours, wishing, praying for my best friend to return to me. I did not stop crying the next morning. I did not stop crying on the way to school, during school, or on the bus ride home from school. My eyes were red, raw from constant rubbing. It was mid-November, and by the time the school bus dropped me off at home, it was well into the twilight hour. Something was wrong. The air was funny, as it is after a long thunderstorm, despite it being good weather all day. The front door was open, which never happened in case Molly, our dog, got out onto the road. I walked into silence.
The kitchen was desolate, although my mother was always in there at this time making dinner. Nobody had bothered to turn any lights on, either. So, being the responsible boy that I was, I made my way into the living room, and switched the tall lamp on. I don’t know what I felt next. In hindsight, it was horrific, but at that precise moment I cannot honestly tell you what I felt. It was a bloodbath. The cream carpet was stained red, blood already slightly drying and browning. What looked like chunks of flesh littered the floor, along with what looked like some teeth, both canine and human. I didn’t cry. I didn’t run. I was paralyzed, frightened to breathe.
I dream of the next thing quite often. It permeates my sleep, its timeless sound reaching my ears to wake me up screaming. Yet still I don’t know how to describe it. The best I can come up with is this: imagine the sound of a fog horn, mixed with some form of moaning, with hints of slurred speech commonly associated with recent stroke patients, although the words are lost to the ears. This sound was followed by a dragging noise, and some dull thuds followed by wet splats. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. All I could do was watch as the thing rounded the door and joined me in the living room. I only glanced at it. That was enough. It stood there, a mess of flesh, bone and blood. From its head dangled a rabbit’s ear, probably from the woods, along with other parts of woodland animals to give form to some makeshift limbs. A poorly formed ribcage stuck out in odd angles from its chest as if it had been turned inside out.
Its lower jaw was that of a dog’s, later identified as Molly’s, flopping up and down with sickening waving motions as it tried to form words. The top half of its head was made form a human skull: my father’s, although it had taken the skin from my mother’s face and crudely soldered it over the right eye socket. Nestled in its face were two black eyes. Molly’s eyes. They stared back at me, in both numbing despair and pleading sympathy. Everything came back to me. I ran straight across the room, screaming until I tasted blood, out into the backyard, slamming the back door behind me. As I ran, I could hear the thing moaning and shouting some slurred, gurgled words after me, which I would only be able to make out in hindsight. I stumbled and fell as I made my way through the backyard, hearing it slamming itself against the screen door, gurgling screams and cries after me.
I did not go back to that house. I ran to my grandmother’s, two miles away. Hours later, they corned it all off. Forensic scientists and police were all over it. They never told me what they found. All I gathered was that they found the creature, lying at the back door, where I had left it. Obviously it had no knowledge of how to operate doors, and so had slammed its head against the door multiple times, fracturing its skull. You didn’t need to be a doctor to point out the cause of death. It couldn’t have lived for over a few hours: its bastardized mimicry of the human body was simply too crude to allow its survival.
The thing’s existence defied all possible reasoning. All that could be concluded was that nothing human had a part in its creation. The only piece of evidence found was an object held in the creature’s right hand, formed out of half my mother’s hand and a badger’s clawed paw: a stuffed bear composed of multiple parts, with a bunny ear on the right side of its head, and two black eyes staring back. I do not know what that thing was. All I can think of is the small thing rummaging through the undergrowth, whatever it may have been. It butchered my parents. My dog. Yet I still feel sorry for the sad form that lay at my back door that Monday afternoon. For in those gargled screams lay two distinct words: two words that lie in the back of my mind and wait to torment me in the night.