A storm such as this was hard to imagine. You’d swear the entire world was waist-deep in snow. Yet this night was no ordinary dropping of the temperature, a bout of bad weather. The whole weekend was treacherous – the usual yellow dotted blotches of light emanating from cozy, well-lit homes was missing. Roads were indiscernible from the rest of the blistering chill of the devilish snow-covered ground. Even the emergency services gave up on the impenetrable freezing austral tundra. If I thought for too long, and plenty of time to think there was, on the boundless, omnipresent fall of snowflakes, their vast innumerable presence outside, some anomalous feelings of awe and alarm would present themselves to my imagination. Bewilderment at nature was not new for me. I had hiked canyons, traversed rapids, and viewed the Earth from the exalted space of high mountaintops, but the way in which the elements conspired against us felt fresh.
Dexter and I hunkered down for the weekend in his home. There wasn’t a choice, the sinister chill decided for us. We had been stuck together for roughly seven hours and if it weren’t for the fireplace in the living room, our discomforts would have been much greater. Dexter and I gathered the blankets, sheets, pillows and even towels from every room in the house in an attempt to shield ourselves from the growing chill which loomed over us. I took the time to neb around like I usually had. No room was free of clutter, save for his bedroom because three half-taken-apart computer monitors, a jewelry box overflowing with multi-colored wires, and two desks worth of tools wasn’t clutter. It was a “project.” One of the sheets I had grabbed caught the corner of his most recent yard sale find; a theremin. A bag of screws resting on it fell and scattered across the floor, some landing on a book titled, The Backyard Blacksmith. I sighed, then smiled. If there was one person I had to be stuck with during all this, I was glad it was Dexter. I picked up the screws to the best of my abilities in the dark, and once again regretted being so inquisitive. I made my way back to the living room where we listened to the crackle of the fire, having to stomp out stray, bright amber embers spewing from the fireplace. Half of Dexter’s face wavered between a dim orange glow and a vibrant pulse of yellow, the other half shrouded in the familiar dinginess of his now shadowy home. Seeing only half of his infectious smile and patchy beard was even funnier than seeing the whole thing. He chuckled to himself. He said he was thinking of 7th grade when John Petrucci hid in a locker to avoid the principal’s office.
“Wasn’t he called in for going into the girl’s bathroom and pissing on Lauren’s shoes from a stall over?” he continued.
“Yeah, she cried the rest of the lunch period too because they were brand new,” I said. We were both chuckling. Dexter was nodding, one hand covering his goofy smile.
“Remember when Mrs. Kay spilled ketchup on her blouse?” He was already howling.
“And she caught us boys laughing at her so she turned her shirt backwards to try and hide it?”
He already knew where this story went, and while holding his stomach he asked in a high-pitched stutter,
“Why on earth did she think that would be any less embarrassing?” I laughed, then continued.
“I thought it would be hilarious if I walked into her science class with my shirt on backwards.” Dexter was slapping the floor, unable to maintain his laughter.
“I made it exactly one step into her door before I heard ‘out!’ and I got chewed out for being disrespectful.” After the laughter had ceased he recalled it from his perspective.
“I was waiting in line to go in, and you were ahead of me but I remember how hard all the guys laughed when we heard that poor woman screaming. Then you came out smirking and some of us high-fived you on your way out.”
“Thanks for encouraging me, dickhead,” we both let out a sigh, smirking as we had 16 years ago.
“You know I never had the balls to do it,” Dexter said.
“Yeah, you were a good kid.”
“Or I was a pussy.” We both laughed again. Dexter stood up and gathered the remaining wood from the hearth, tossing it into the fire. He paused and peered out a nearby window,
There was a figure shuffling through the hostilities outside.
“We should see if they need help.”
“They’ll come to us if they do.” I wiped away where my breath fogged the window. The blizzard roared on, the stranger stopped. Snow washed up along their ankles. Dexter opened the window and called out,
“Hey! Hello! Are you okay?”
I pulled him in and shut it. He dusted the snow from his hair and went on looking at the silhouette stalking the home. The dark figure stood motionless in a sea of snow about to lose its shimmer from an approaching black-grey sky. The wind erupted, kicking up fresh, delicate snow into a massive cyclone. Behind each crystal of frost falling, someone watched us. I stepped away from the window while Dexter stepped closer.
“Forget about it, you’re never gonna see anything until it calms down out there.”
“I would have if you’d let me open the window.”
“Always so touchy.”
“I’m kidding, and touchy? Your hands were on me.”
We returned to telling stories for some time. Dexter chimed in less, and his interruptions became so scarce I began to worry. Hours passed without mention of it, but I would catch Dexter glancing out the window on occasion; watching. It was late, and at a time Dexter must have assumed my slumber when I watched with half-shut eyes the extent of his obsession. He sat, back turned to me, staring – not peeking, but staring – out the ornate, frostbitten, arched window separating the colossal dreariness of an inhospitable whitened landscape from his dank home. He was losing interest in whatever had nested its way into his mind, likely coding or metalworking or something. Whatever it was, it was fading and something else was beginning to take its place.
I don’t know what time it was when the knocking started. I recall Dexter waking up as I did, so I’m certain he was not up all night inspecting and contemplating the spectre which had gotten a hold of him. We wrestled our way out of the web of comforters and listened. Dexter looked to me. The wind howled, muffling the sound of bitter-cold knuckles clanking against the sheet of ice protecting our door. Dexter made his way to the window and leaned against it in silence.
“Dexter!” I whispered.
He turned, placing a single finger over his mouth. The wind roared louder, roaring to drown out the knocking, like a warning to ignore it. Dexter pressed himself to the glass, twisting himself in whatever fashion he could to get a glimpse of who or what was at our door. The knocks continued in intervals of three, followed by irregular bouts of silence. Dexter stepped away from the window and we both remained quiet.
*Knock. Knock Knock.*
We looked at the door, I shook my head. Dexter was clinging to a pillow, his fist crumpled the corner into a tight wad.
*Knock. Knock. Knock.*
He dropped it, and I stood. We puffed out our chests and made our way to the foot of the door, I walked slower so he reached the door first.
*Knock. Knock. Knock.*
Dexter looked back at me.
“It’s your house.”
His hand trembled as he reached for the lock and paused a moment before clicking it into place. The wind shrieked, the house let out a series of cries and groans. Dexter creaked open the front door, vanquishing the seal which shielded us from the unknown and unknowable torments of that arctic hell-scape. A bone-chilling whirlwind of stiff, unforgiving, malevolent air crept in, and never had white brought on such feelings of hopelessness and death. Snowflakes which puzzled and amused as a child will forever serve as a haunting reminder of the day we invited evil into our now accursed and ill-fated home. Standing before us was a frail, sickly-looking man. The pale-bluish hue of his face contrasted with the dusty white snow serving as a mask was enough for Dexter and I to bring him in. Our frozen guest trembled and shook, breathed heavy, and looked as though he was moments from falling to his knees.
“Let’s get him to the fireplace,” Dexter said as he helped the stranger to the living room. I slung my arm around him, taking him from the front door onto the chair nearest to our fire. Despite only opening the door for a few seconds, one’s breath was visible. This uncomfortable pause of quiet inspection allowed for a more thorough examination of this decrepit stranger. An expressionless frailty etched into concave, hollowed cheeks whose protruding bony features and depressed eyes mirrored the dreadful, bleak atmosphere. My inspection ended with the words,
“My name is Ward. Thank you,” spoken in a vacant, ghastly utterance.
“I’ll get you a blanket, it’s terrible out there. Grab the red blanket underneath the pillow there,” gesturing towards the mound of comforts we piled in his living room. I handed it over and he draped it around Ward. Dexter hunched over, his hands on his knees awaiting a response. Silence.
“What the hell were you doing out there?” I asked.
Dexter scowled, “It doesn’t matter why you were out there, all that matters is you’re safe. I’ll run to the kitchen and warm some tea.” His voice trailed off when entering the kitchen. “Stoke the fire, see if you can warm the place up a bit.”
I took the bellows from the hook above the fireplace, unracked the stoker and began to tend to the fire. The coals crackled, I repositioned the charred wood into a compact heap and pressed down on the bellows a few times. The fire was alive and well. Placing my hands into the heat, I called out,
“Are you finished with that tea?”
“Almost. one more second,” he murmured back.
My hands hovered in front of the flames. I glanced back at Ward and caught sight of his eyes. Perfect and white, glossy, and in them one would receive the same feelings of doom and despair when gazing upon endless streams of loathsome falling snow. My own petrified reflection; imprisoned within his frozen, lacquered eyes. I snapped out of it when Dexter reappeared from the kitchen. He held out a steaming mug, but Ward was still and would not take it. He placed the cup on the table parallel to Ward. Puzzled, he looked at me, and I responded with a subtle but nervous hunch.
“Let’s get the extra wood from the garage, I’ll need you to help carry some.”
But as the words left my mouth Dexter rebuffed the proposal saying, “That’s it, we burned through it already.”
“I’m sure there’s some more down there, I swear,” I said leaving the comfort of the fire.
“Come here, I’ll show you.”
When we reached the garage I closed the door behind me. The cold was unbearable.
“What’s up with him?” I asked.
“Oh,” said Dexter, perhaps understanding what I was doing.
“He’s a bit shaken up is all. Who knows how long he was outside or what happened out there, or even how he got stuck out there.” He leaned against the door, crossing his arms.
“We don’t know this guy. What if he’s dangerous or something?” Dexter hung his head and said nothing.
“So you’re right. We don’t know what happened out there. We don’t know anything about him.”
“But he needs help, and he seems harmless. What if you’re overthinking things. You’re good at that.”
“Yeah, thanks,” I said, through chattering teeth.
“We gave him what we could, okay? There’s nothing else we can do. And I’m keeping my eyes on him.”
“Go ahead, I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I just want him to be safe. I’m sorry.”
“Do you think I’m scared of him? Because I’m not, but inviting a stranger into your house at a time like this is sketchy.”
“I’ll tell him he has to leave. I’m sorry.”
“I didn’t say kick him out into the cold. And stop saying sorry.”
I turned my head to the ceiling and let out a sharp sigh, rubbing my temple. Dexter ran his fingers through his hair, staring at the cement floor, “I should’ve asked if it was okay with you.”
“Save it! He’s stuck with us now because of you, so you deal with him. I’m freezing my ass off in here!”
I slammed the door, and retreated to the only room in the house with a lock on it; Dexter’s bedroom. My anger felt justified then, as it always does until I have some time to cool down. Was I cruel and hostile? Was this storm getting to me? Is some strange malady afflicting me? I recall pondering these questions for hours until my heavy eyelids shielded his dim, sullen bedroom from my view. Phantasmagoric nightmares of blistering cold crept into my unconscious, depictions of torment I will forever deny are the products of my own mind. I was running through a blizzard twilight; arid sheets of dense white snow upon the ground, an ominous and starless black-above, a harrowing, kaleidoscopic chaos of frost-wind blurred the far off border segregating those diaphanous worlds. Lost, no sense of direction. Exhaustion, hopelessness, and a crisis of faith beset me as I dug and dug, crawled and crawled through endless seas of icy expanse until my body refused.
A dizzying vortex of snowfall surrounded me. I collapsed, and with the last of my energy turned and faced the oppressive sky once more. I awoke to a swaying bed, it rocked back and forth making a thud each time it tapped the wall behind me. I placed my clammy hands over my chest; a rhythmic thumping to match. I sat up, closed my eyes and soothed myself with slow, deep breaths. The bed stopped its swaying, the pounding of my heart went silent. I rubbed my eyes, and my ears immediately perked up, eavesdropping on some not-so-distant murmurs.
Whispers traveled throughout the house, and I traced the source of it to the living room. It was the voice of Dexter. I stumbled my still weary, shivering body to the foot of the door, pressing my ear upon it before the wood’s awful coldness was no longer bearable. I followed the solo, hushed voice of Dexter succeeded by eerie silence back and forth. Between the faint chatter was “…Charles…” proceeded by more indistinct muttering. Ward’s eyes worked as surveillance cameras, and now Dexter was talking about me in secret. Were they making fun of me? I began to wonder if I made a fool of myself by lashing out. Still, I didn’t appreciate gossip. I turned the lock and opened the door, making a tiny slit to listen from. What if it’s worse than that? I opened the door further and crept into the hallway. The floorboards creaked and the living room went silent. No more whispering. I knocked on the doorframe.
“How’s he doing?”
Dexter spun around, “He’s doing much better, actually!”
The bags under Dexter’s eyes looked even darker contrasted with his pale skin. He had given Ward his jacket. Ward looked even worse, worse than the last time I had laid eyes on him. His mouth hung open exposing a dried out tongue, bloated blue lips half-covering his tiny, crooked, protruding teeth, shrunken, faded gums and a neck which failed to hold up his dollish head. To imagine Ward animate, once filled with life, energy and memories was impossible. His state, unlike a corpse, seemed constant and not as if the light inside him had faded, but as if it was always dark.
“Good,” I said.
“Charles, would you apologize to Ward?”
“What?” I removed my hand from his shoulder.
“Say you’re sorry. For leaving him up here alone while you pretended to look for wood, and calling him weird behind his back.”
“Seriously?” I forced out a laugh.
Dexter looked back at Ward, “Are you going to throw a tantrum again?”
“I’m not even angry, Dexter. I just don’t understand.”
“Why can’t you apologize?”
“I did, I apologized to you! And why would you tell him?”
“He heard you.”
“How would you even know? He doesn’t talk. He doesn’t do anything.” The tea had gone cold, and the only thing missing from the soup was the steam.
“He doesn’t talk to you. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t talk.”
“God, enough. You told him. I don’t care that he knows, but he didn’t hear me say it from the garage.” I circled around to face Dexter.
“Are you calling him a liar?”
“No, I’m calling you a liar! I heard you from the bedroom dumbass. I heard you talking to him, or trying to at least.”
“You’re spying on us?” he looked back at me.
“Oh shut up,” I said. Dexter stood up.
“He’s a vegetable for Christ’s sake!” I said, eye level with Dexter.
He threw two fingers into my face, “You’ll apologize for two things now!”
“I’m worried about you.” I placed my hand back on his shoulder.
“And not about him?” Dexter pointed at Ward and shoved my hand away.
“No, really. What’s wrong with you?”
“Tell him you’re sorry!” He pointed again.
“Drop it! For a second, drop it! You’re working yourself into a panic over this thing!”
“Thing? He has a name!”
I turned to Ward, “Say anything! Do anything! Jesus Christ, stop being a glassy-eyed freak and quit staring at me!”
“Don’t fuckin’ talk to him like that!” Dexter pushed me to the ground. The room went silent aside from the sound of a few nervous swallows. I stood but looked to the floor.
“Some time alone will do us both some good.”
“Yeah,” he muttered.
He disappeared down the hallway. I listened to a few more creaks and footsteps until the bedroom door closed. For a moment more, I peered into the darkened hallway and listened for any sound. I sat where Dexter had but scooted the chair back some distance from Ward. My eyes scanned the room, looking back into the hallway Dexter stormed off into on occasion.
“Dexter’s usually not so hot-headed,” I said as I picked up the cold tea resting on the table. I twirled it around some, focusing on the finer tea leaves swishing around at the bottom of the mug.
“And I’m usually not either.” I took a brief look at Ward, but my eyes darted back to the hallway. He wasn’t coming back for sometime. Was that a good thing? I stood and walked to the very same ornate windows Dexter first saw the figure and continued,
“How’d you end up out there?”
The glass was now encased in a film of ice. I didn’t want to know how dreadful it was out there anyway. The intricate, spindly web of crystals fell out of focus until Ward’s reflection came into view. His unkempt, stringy hair fell flat against the tight, stiff skin which wrapped itself around a face. It was as if the fire had warmed him none, as if he were still stranded in the untrodden miasma of this February storm. His cheeks sank further and deeper, forming two equal-sized cavities on each side of an already gaunt, skeletal face. I clicked my head back and away from the reflection to see my mind was not playing tricks on me. Dexter’s jacket subtlety lost its shape, his half-starved, cadaverous body deteriorated beneath those fibers. His head slumped even further, but those eyes remained the same – white as snow, glossy as ice; never having seen pleasantries it would seem. They were akin to morbid crystal balls, predicting my demise. I hurried to the hallway and found myself locked outside of Dexter’s bedroom door. I jostled the doorknob and knocked, then placed both palms on the door’s cold wooden surface. My head fell forward, limp.
“I’m sorry, I mean it this time. I even apologized to Ward, okay? We worked things out and I’m fine with him staying with us.” I picked my head up and looked out into the living room.
“Please open the door and talk to me about this,” I pleaded. There was breathing coming from the other side of the door. Right behind it. I listened a little, and again kept watch into the living room. Ward remained completely still.
“Come out here, I said I was sorry.” I dropped to the ground. His boots were visible through the tiny crevice between the floor and the door.
“Whatever you’re doing, stop! I need you to come out here, Ward’s looking a lot worse and he needs our help!” I turned around, resting my back on the door.
“Get out here I know you’re awake, damn it!”
I picked myself up off the floor and crept down the hall, but the thought of my thudding heartbeat alerting Ward was enough to halt my footsteps. Again, I listened and only a stillness responded. I took the final steps, revealing myself to the living room. I didn’t stay long, enough to see Ward still hadn’t moved. I crept to the kitchen and opened the silverware drawer. There it was. A long, broad silver steak knife. I placed both hands on the counter, staring at it. It was underneath a couple of spoons and butter knives, and one by one I began to move them. My hands shook, making it quite the task to get to the knife. With each spoon or fork I lifted, I made sure it wouldn’t clank against any of the others. I removed my thick winter vest and placed it on the countertop. I hovered the utensils above the vest for seconds at a time before releasing them, without a sound. I peeked my head back into the living room, and there was Ward as he sat before. I looked back at the knife. I’m not going to need this. I reached into the drawer and felt its frigid steel handle against my palm. But just in case.
I put the knife to my side, and one by one I lifted spoons and forks and knives off of my vest. Save for a few heavy breaths, I hadn’t made a sound. Putting each arm through the vest I slipped the knife on the upper inside pocket; unzipped. The walk into the living room filled me with hesitation. I stopped and collected myself on each tile until I met old creaking wooden floorboards. The creaking ceased as Ward entered my view. The mere sight of his gangly hair and shriveled, wrinkled face was enough to halt anyone. My shoulders tightened, and my elbows felt locked to my hips. The knife was to make me feel safe but instead reminded me I was in danger. I placed a chair in the furthest corner of the room and sat.
“I’m not expecting a response.” The knife’s surface grazed my thudding heart.
“But I have a plan too,” my voice quivered, sending some pathetic echo back to my ears.
I tried scooting the chair back further, but my back met the wall. I lifted my vest and reached for the knife, unsheathing it from the inside pocket, keeping it tucked away. Ward’s dreaded eyes were sharper, more piercing than my knife. Despite the terrible cold, sweat leaked down the blade. It dripped from my palm and I imagined for a moment not sweat; but blood. Something close to excitement entered my mind. Hesitation too. I glanced back at Ward and when our eyes met my hand clasped the knife tighter. I chose to stare, not at its possessive eyes but at an oil painting of a farmhouse like Dexter’s own rural dwelling. It hung behind Ward, framed in quaint sheet metal. I kept him in the corner of my eye.
For a moment, the artwork’s pleasant palette and hospitable aesthetic washed away the sense of dread. For a moment, I was almost at ease. Yet, the longer I stared into the piece, the more I felt those comforts leave me. In desperation, my eyes clung to the portrait, trying and trying to re-obtain my dwindling sanity and well being. The light, brownish-tan hues of a thousand and more fine brushstrokes of wheat-filled, grassy plains rotted away to gray, then a mocking, wicked and glistening white. A half blue gradient sky, enmeshed with sunset oranges and golds collapsed into darkness – black as the terrible night sky outside. Dotted against the colorless void a million white ambassadors of winter burrowed their way out of the dark and onto the canvas. The warm and cozy home depicted faded into obscurity. The brilliant red bricks began to vanish, and in their place arose a kind of gray tomb-like obelisk where a home once stood. A congenial landscape mutated before my eyes, and in the shudder-some blotches of ugliness appeared a silhouetted figure against the dreary whiteness, trudging through desolate, pale scenery.
The fireplace flickered for a moment and darkness encapsulated the room. I shut my eyes, awaiting the return of the dancing flame. When the room was alit once again the painting appeared as before. My chair scraped the wall behind me, chipping away a layer of paint. I clutched the knife so tight it almost slipped away like a bar of wet soap. My mind raced between two terrors; the flame’s death and the ghoulish eyes of Ward. The fire continued to dim. I sat restless, awaiting the final flame to leave this world, consumed by the winter air. I glanced at the dying flame, back again towards the menacing, studying eyes of Ward, and again at the flame. The fire sputtered and flailed, clinging to the life left in it and like a death cry, it emitted a fierce shriek of brightness marking the last time I have felt light, safety, and warmth. I sat helpless, waiting for my eyes to adjust to the wicked twilight, but I was a fool and should have thanked the darkness defending me from the malignant stare of Ward. The darkness enveloped us both and the two fears which competed for control over me became one.
I tapped my feet and my knees bounced up and down; the knot in my stomach tightened. The chair I had felt fastened to no longer felt like a chair at all. The knife’s cold handle no longer numbed my hand. I revealed the knife, not to Ward but to myself. It appeared foreign and unfamiliar. I looked at my hands; whose were they? The coffee table Dexter and I sat and chatted around for years appeared as an imitation, as if the memories were of some other table, in someone else’s living room. A framed polaroid of two pimple-faced, grinning teens placed on the windowsill beside me seemed like a cheap reproduction, modeled after my own memory but not mine; it couldn’t be. My mom snapped the picture, memories of her too, were artificial and distant. I felt as if I were viewing things from behind a layer of glass. I tried to imagine anything besides the dark, cold living room where Ward and I sat; the kitchen or the upstairs bedroom. I couldn’t. Beyond those four walls, there was nothing, an endless void. Before long the living room faded from my view, as if looking through a pitch-black, narrow tunnel.
My neck stiffened, I couldn’t look away. The living room was gone, and in its place was perfect darkness inhabited by two beady, unflinching white orbs and black menacing pupils to match. It appeared as if they grew. I was wrong. They had inched closer. They bounced and bobbed, revealing more detail as they moved in on me. They floated through the darkness and behind them scores of snow crystals took form, marching towards me. Powerful hissing winds drowned out the sound of faint, shuffled footsteps on old wooden floorboards. My hands clenched the chair tighter. Black became dusty white, and Ward’s eyes which led the assault were indistinguishable from the brigades of chilling particulates burying my face. I shut my eyes from the awful cold but to no relief, the vision continued on and soon I could no longer tell if my eyes were open or closed. I failed to see myself in the chair of Dexter’s living room, the small granules of ice which grew on my eyelashes obscured the view but I was standing at a ledge, my arms outstretched to each side. The snow that didn’t coat my face and stain my vest rushed past me as if the snow itself had been desperate to make it inside.
I gasped and coughed, falling to the floor on my hands and knees as my lungs froze. I clawed at the floorboards, my nails dug into the wood; splinters stuck in my nails. I pressed my head to the floor and cried out for Dexter, screaming for all the times I had not, but wanted to. The visions lived on. It was like having two bodies, both tortured at once. I collapsed on the ground yet behind my eyes I was still clinging to the ledge of a window. The sting in my bloody fingertips frozen by the chill of unrelenting winter winds. The cold planks of wood against my forehead, numbed by the torrent of snow clumps growing off of my face. I pushed myself off the floor and stumbled around the living room while the delirium behind my eyes continued. I clung to the chilled walls as I staggered to locate Dexter’s room. I fought off the terrible wind; my face and hands, covered in snow. I slammed into Dexter, falling to the floor. The hellish vision faded, Dexter stood over me.
“Thank Christ. I don’t know what’s going on, don’t leave me again. I’m sorry for everything but don’t leave me alone!” His face, now twisted and ugly. It was far worse than a fiendish expression, and I dare say not an expression at all, but something was wholly different about him.
“Were you outside?”
“No. I don’t know what’s happening, and answer when I call for you!” I wept.
“Get a hold of yourself. How’s Ward?” He stepped over me and proceeded into the living room.
“How’s Ward? What about me? Didn’t you hear me screaming for you?” I reached into my front jacket pocket; the knife was missing.
I followed into the living room to see Dexter staring at me, waiting for me to emerge from the darkened hallway. Ward had not moved. He twirled the knife, examining it.
“I know you don’t want him here.”
“I don’t think you want me here,” I stuttered.
“Are you jealous, Charles?”
Dexter reached into his back pocket, two doorknobs and a deadbolt crashed against the wooden floor. He approached Ward, placing his hand on his shoulder.
“He told me to. He told me you wanted to hurt him.”
“Ward isn’t telling you anything. Think.” I approached them but stepped away when Dexter brandished the knife in my direction.
“Stay away from us!”
“Put the knife down, what the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted back.
“Why don’t I put it back in the kitchen where it belongs!”
“I would never hurt you, listen to me and put it down!”
“I’m not worried about me!” He stepped closer, guarding Ward.
“Whatever you want, I’ll do it. I promise. Put the knife down.”
“You want to kill him!”
“Let go of the knife!”
For once, it wasn’t wards eyes that filled me with dread, I locked eyes with Dexter. He extended the knife out and dropped it out in front of us. It clanged and bounced until it rested on the floor. When the ringing died out, Dexter looked to Ward and back at me.
He lunged at me. His cold hands swarmed my neck, my head crashed against the wall. I choked and clawed, kicked and flailed for freedom but to no avail. He threw me from the wall and onto the floor, my neck and back jolted with pain. Only one chilling hand remained around my neck, the other was a fist raised behind his shoulder. It was as if his intention was for his knuckles to pass through my head and meet the floor. Finally, the hand around my neck grabbed my hair and for a moment I breathed again. He yanked my head into his fist. Then, both of his hands grabbed my hair, slamming my head against the floor. My head bounced up each time, making it easier for him to pull it up and send it crashing down again until the hair was more in his hands than on my scalp. With a few more blows, his hands returned to my neck. My nails clawed at the floorboards attempting to reach the knife. A pop from my shoulder echoed through the room, my elbow squealed. Every nerve in my hand stretched to their limit. My ring finger scraped it enough to spin the blade underneath my fingertips. I pulled it closer. Dexter turned his head to see the knife in my hand, he squeezed as if his hands might meet between my neck. I looked into his pleading eyes. His grip relaxed from my neck,
“I don’t want to kill him, Dexter,” I choked.
His mouth hung open, and his weight bore down on me. I pushed him off onto his back. The knife jutted out, propping him up. Blood sprayed and flowed down the handle into a pool of crimson, seeping into the floor’s crevices. His chest sunk, never to rise thereafter. A plume of condensation escaped his pursed lips for the last time. Ward watched it all; a witness to my crime. And still, he sat unmoved. I laid next to Dexter long enough for the blood to reach my vest and seep into the sweater underneath. It was so cold. I picked myself up and attempted to drag him into the kitchen but the knife kept getting stuck, scraping against the floor. I collapsed, gripping Dexter’s sleeves. His bloodstained shirt would soon be tear-stained. I wished he’d cry with me. I stumbled to my feet and looked at Ward, then to Dexter, then to my blood-soaked hands. I imagined never grabbing the knife, or never getting so upset with Dexter, I wished we had never let Ward into our home. I picked up the stoker from the fireplace and launched it through the window where Dexter had first seen Ward. Shards of glass and even sharper snowflakes crashed into me and I fell to the floor. The stoker too landed on my chest, sent back by the force of such evil, shrieking winds. I trudged towards the window, fighting my hardest until I reached a piece of unbroken glass to cling onto, I turned around to Ward.
The sound of the wind drowned out my cries. Tears froze to my face and streams of snow whooshed past my silhouetted frame into the living room, consuming the floor, absorbing Dexter’s corpse. Crystalline maggots. There I stood at the ledge of my window which now served as a portal between the most appalling of two dimensions; the distinct wickedness, unwelcoming maelstrom of frenzied legions of ivory falling from darkened, cynical skies and a once familiar home now harboring evil, abandoned by what is good or holy, possessed by forces with which no exorcism may pry them from. Fear of what would be my icy coffin was no less great, yet within the house lurked the cause of a much greater fear. I leapt.
Written by Ecryfid