I hadn't seen my family for three or four years, but they were just like how I remembered. It wasn't worth the plane ride, really. Those tickets were bought with money that I didn't have, and that meant that I was going to have to cut back on groceries if I didn't want to come up short on rent again. I was so low on cash, I had trouble scraping together the fifty cents for the bus fare to get from the airport back to my apartment.
My apartment complex was little more than a hole in the wall, but it was all I could afford working as a dish washer for the Chinese Kitchen #3 down the street. It was late when I got in, but my landlord Rosa was in the hallway like she always was, sweeping that hideous patterned carpet, bill clenched in her right hand, ready to hark at me for being three days late on my payment. She fed me her usual complaints as I brushed past her about how I had "signed my name on a law-binding contract that promised that I would deliver exactly $450 to her on the first of every month, and that I would have the utmost respect for her establishment," and blah, blah, blah, blah. I muttered out a few excuses that I was pretty sure I hadn't used in a while as I scrambled for the keys in my coat pocket with the hand I wasn't using to carry my luggage. I was glad that I had shoo'ed her away before I shut my door because I really wasn't in the mood for her ramblings.
It was pitch black in my room, but I didn't need light to know where to throw my coat and empty my pockets out onto the coffee table. I grasped around in the darkness to find the chain to turn my lights on. Hand still in the air, I stared blindly at a hooded figure standing less than five feet away from me. My suitcase dropped to the floor as something blunt struck me on the back of my head. A bolt shot down my spine and branched down into my arms and legs and the lights were back off as quickly as they'd come on.
A dull glare peeked in from the darkness. I couldn't feel anything at first, but after about five minutes I managed to make out that I was lying on a dentist's chair by running my hands along the contours of the pale, green mattress. It was just bright enough to see my hands in front of my face and the chair below me, and further examination revealed that I was naked and bleeding from a gash on the back of my head. It all started coming back to me when the light suspended above me steadily brightened.
"I figured I should let you use your hands one more time."
Instinctively I jolted my body up, but the strap along my chest kept me held snug like a locked seat belt. My eyes immediately scanned around the circle of light until they met the hooded man stepping in from the darkness. All I wanted to do was shout something intimidating, like a, "Who the fuck are you?" but I realized that I couldn't speak. I choked back tears while I watched him step forward. His arms and legs were steadily growing as he closed in on me, and by the time he got to the side of the chair he had morphed into a new figure.
Instead it was now my mother looking down on me while she sat by the crib and started changing my diaper. The darkness was gone, and now I was in the nursery of the first house I remembered living in, a bright light pouring in from behind the drapes. She started humming out a nursery rhyme as she slid a scalpel out of the sleeve of her nightgown.
"All you have to say is no, and then I'll stop, OK, son?"
I tried with every fiber of my being to call out, but the best I could do was cry the slurs of a newborn.
Words can't explain the utter shock and confusion I felt as blood cascaded out from my wrist when she began sawing away at my skin, and then the underlying tissue. I was choked by pain as I watched her tear away at the bones until all I had left of my hands looked like I had shoved them in a blender. Gone was the loving face of my mother. It had been replaced with purplish-green skin and a long nose and pointy ears. The goblin furrowed his eyebrows with delight as he leaned in close and whispered,
"Are you having fun yet?"
Little by little, he dismembered me, each time taking on the appearance of someone from my memories: My twin brother's hacking my legs off with the neighbor's hatchet, the girl I lost my virginity to biting my testicles off, my father chewing my lips off to keep me from telling my mother about his affair. Every time I would try to signal them for help, every time they would metamorphose into the goblin, and every time he would ask if I was having fun.
This went on for what seemed like an eternity, until all my limbs and extremities were gone. Once more I awoke, strapped only by my chest to the dentist's chair, coming in and out of consciousness.
The goblin had taken my appearance this time around. The bits of my body were sewn together to that purplish-green torso, the large stitches and staples barely holding him together as he straddled himself on top of me. Using my own fingernails that he had sharpened to a glass-like state, he silently gutted me, unraveling my intestines and rubbing them along his face in the same way that you would feel a soft blanket. All though the pain was unbearable, I was happy to finally die as my eyes slowly closed and the darkness enveloped me one last time.
I came to Rosa shaking me violently and the room being filled with blue and red light from the squad cars outside. The paramedics informed me that I had been the victim of a robbery and that once I recovered, the police would bring me in to identify the culprit(s) in a line-up. I wasn't surprised that the hooded man wasn't among the suspects. Quite frankly, I didn't care if I ever saw him again for the rest of my life. What bothered me the most was the nightmares, the goblin thief that would return to torture me frequently. Since then I've quit my job, lost the apartment, and have been lying to my family about being homeless for four years. The only way I was able to get this story out is from the computer here in the local library.
My family reunion is next week, but for my own sanity, I never want to see them again either.