I was running as fast as I could, but I knew it was gaining on me. I swear it was trying to step in every puddle so I knew it was running faster. I turned my head where I could see it. Its arms were limp as they swung back and forth in front of its torso, its disjointed jaw bounced up and down making an uneasy chattering sound, and its plastic-like face was splattered with mud. How could I have ever let this happen?
It all started when my dad came home from work an hour late, being the realist that I was I figured he stopped for groceries or something. I guess I was half right when he came in carrying a box about a human child’s size. “You mind helping me with this James?” he asked.
As I went to help him carry the box I got a much closer look at it, it looked like an antique. The box was made of a very smooth decorative wood and the edges of the opening were made of a reddish metal. After we placed the box on the coffee table in the living room I asked Dad, “What’s in the box?”
“It’s a surprise for your birthday tomorrow,” he replied.
“How much did this cost!?”
“That doesn’t matter, you shouldn’t worry about that.”
Expensive. Ever since my mom died, Dad would always buy me far too expensive presents, mostly on stuff I don’t need. I would really want a new mattress for my room, mine feels like a pile of rocks and I find it really hard to sleep at night because of this. I was still thankful for whatever was in the box, of course, but I have to admit that the thing I was looking forward to most tomorrow was my friends coming over to hang out.
That night when I was lying in bed trying to sleep I heard a slight tapping coming from somewhere outside of my room, it stopped as quickly as it started so I overlooked it. I continue lying in bed trying to sleep. I continue lying in bed trying to sleep. I continue lying in bed trying to sleep. Giving up I turned on my phone to see that I had been trying to sleep for a little over an hour, in about forty-five minutes it would be my birthday.
I began to hear the tapping again. It wasn’t loud enough to wake anyone up, but it was certainly annoying. Unlike the first time I heard it, this time it didn’t stop, a continuous tap that felt like it was digging into his brain. Eventually, enough was enough and I crawled out of bed and left my bedroom. I followed the tapping around the house soon being lead to the box sitting on the coffee table in the living room. I sat on the couch and the tapping continued. Not being able to hold back, I began to open the box.
I woke up from Dad nudging my head with his foot, I sat up and looked around to see that I had slept on the floor outside the living room. “What are you doing down there?” Dad asked.
“I don’t know, I…” I couldn’t finish my sentence as I saw the box laying on the coffee table. That’s when I remembered opening the box and seeing two deep reflective gray eyes, on a beastly-looking doll that slightly resembled a dog. “What’s in the box?”
“That’s why you were sleeping on the floor?” Dad asked me. “Go on and look inside, it is your birthday now.”
I stood up and slowly walked toward the box, I opened it to see, not a dog, but a ventriloquist dummy, the only resemblance to the doll I had seen last night was the eyes. The dummy had pale skin, a big nose, and bright red hair made of the same material that the rest of the dummy’s head was. The bottom jaw was oddly missing from the head but I did find it under the dummy’s body which was wearing an all-black suit. The bottom jaw had teeth carved into it, which I found weird since the top jaw didn’t have any teeth and the string that I would pull to open and close its mouth was the same string that holds the bottom jaw to the rest of the head. I slipped the string through a hole under the top jaw where I could grab it behind the back of its neck. I tied the string on the end so the bottom jaw doesn’t fall off. The way the jaw hung there made it look much longer than it was.
“Do you like it?” Dad asked.
“Of course,” I replied.
“I saw it in a store window on my way home from work yesterday and thought of you and how you used to love ventriloquism,” Dad said.
I did always love ventriloquism, I had a ventriloquist act in my school talent show. While I was a talented ventriloquist, I wasn’t a very good comedian. I didn’t get any laughs, I would have been better off if the audience had booed me off stage.
I put on a smile and sat the dummy on my lap. Through the dummy, I said, “Hello James’ dad, I’m Mister Long Jaw, you don’t mind if I stay here a while, do you?”
Dad laughed as he said, “You can stay as long as you like, Mister Long Jaw.”
The doorbell rang and I jumped up, setting Mister Long Jaw back in the box as I ran to the front door. When I answered it, hoping to see my friends, I was struck with disappointment as I saw my Uncle Zeke instead. I made sure that disappointment wasn’t visible when he saw me, however.
“Hey there birthday boy,” Uncle Zeke said. “How old are you today? I’m gonna need an answer, I really don’t know.”
“I’m thirteen,” I said.
“What? You’re not that old yet!” Uncle Zeke had bright blond hair and even brighter blue eyes. Being my mom’s brother, he was the closest I’ve ever seen of her, genetically speaking.
Uncle Zeke went over to the living room as the doorbell rang again, I opened the door to see my two closest friends, Rebecca and Tyler. Rebecca was a kind soul, but she was an absolute freak for the supernatural, Tyler, while also kind, freaked out with any mention of anything unnatural.
“Happy thirteenth, dude,” Tyler said. “That makes Rebecca younger than both of us.”
Rebecca punched Tyler in the arm. “James is only a week older than me.”
I let Tyler and Rebecca in and as we got to the living room, I saw Uncle Zeke holding Mister Long Jaw jokingly pulling up and down on the string chattering its teeth. Uncle Zeke noticed me and laid Mister Long Jaw on his lap before saying, “Hey, James would you like to introduce me to Mister Long John?”
“Long Jaw,” I corrected. Uncle Zeke picked up Long Jaw and carried it over to me, as soon as I touched it, the bottom jaw fell off and bounced off the floor. “Dammit!”
I picked up the bottom jaw and realized that the knot I had tied on the string was too thick for it to go through the hole, there was no possibility that it could’ve fallen off and I needed to untie it to put it back on. When I got up I made Mister Long Jaw say, “Sorry, the sight of James made my jaw drop.”
“Wow dude, you’re really good at that,” Tyler said.
“You should really look into being a professional ventriloquist,” Rebecca said.
“How do you do that?” Uncle Zeke asked.
After a couple of hours of goofing off with everyone, Dad left the room to answer his phone, when he came back he said, “James, that was the hospital calling, they need me in the ER today, I’m sorry but I have to go. Keep Uncle Zeke out of the fridge.”
“Alright Dad, see you tonight,” I responded.
“The thing is, you might not, they need me to work late tonight.”
“Okay, guess I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
“Happy Birthday, buddy.”
After Dad left we continued to goof off until it got late. After Rebecca and Tyler left, I put on a ventriloquist show for Uncle Zeke. “You amaze me, James,” he said, “I don’t know how you manage to throw your voice like that.”
“I don’t either,” I said, “it just kind of came naturally to me.”
“Well, I better get going. I’ll be sure to tell your dad you did a good job keeping me out of the fridge.”
I went to the bathroom as Uncle Zeke left. When I came back to the living room Mister Long Jaw was gone. I figured that I had just misplaced it so I just went to bed. I didn’t stay in bed for long though as I heard a loud bang coming from the living room when I went in there to check it out I saw the box that Long Jaw had come in on the opposite side of the room. This shocked me, there was no possible way for it to get there. I was too tired to worry so I picked up the box and locked it in my closet.
Once again I wasn’t quite able to sleep on my current mattress and eventually I began to hear the tapping. I was expecting it to sound like it was coming from my closet, but I quickly realized that it sounded as though someone was knocking on the front door. I got out of bed and walked over to the front door. The knocking stopped as I got over there. I looked through the peephole, nothing. I turned around to go back to bed when I heard the knocking again.
I went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife for protection, but just the thought of ever needing to use it made me uneasy. Once again the knocking stopped as I approached the door. I looked through the peephole and saw nothing again. I slowly opened the door to see no one around. I grabbed my house key from right inside the door before closing and locking the door as I went outside, I didn’t want anyone getting in while I was looking around.
I started looking around the house when I noticed something in the bushes. It looked like a hand, it was a hand, Mister Long Jaw’s hand. Somehow Long Jaw got outside and was thrown in the bushes. I figured this was just a prank that Tyler, Jessica, or Uncle Zeke was playing on me so I said, “Haha very funny” before grabbing Mister Long Jaw and unlocking the door… the door wouldn’t open, the top lock was locked as well, but you can’t lock the top lock from the outside.
I gripped tighter on the knife as I unlocked the top lock and went inside. If this was a prank, it couldn’t have been any of the earlier suspects because none of them had keys to the house. That’s when I thought “Dad.” He didn’t need to go to work it was all a part of his elaborate scheme, a prank beyond all pranks. So I yelled, “Dad this isn’t funny anymore give it up.” No response.
I began to hear my phone ringing so I put Long Jaw down on the couch as I go to my room and check who it is. It’s Dad, of course it is, he hears me yelling and calls me to avoid suspicion. I answer saying, “Dad stop, this isn’t funny.” With which he responds, “What are you talking about? Listen we need to talk.”
My heart skipped a beat, he was talking pretty loudly into the phone but I didn’t hear his voice around the house. “About what?” I ask.
“Uncle Zeke,” Dad replied, “Did you see anyone around when he left?”
“No, I went to the bathroom as he left. What happened?”
“Someone was in the back seat of his car and stabbed him in the back of his neck causing him to crash. He arrived here a few minutes ago, we don’t know if he’s going to make it.”
I dropped my knife before dropping to my knees. I looked around my room to see that my closet door was slightly open. I grabbed my knife again and stood up, walking toward my closet door. I opened my closet the rest of the way. Nothing was in there, that was the problem.
I ran to the living room to see Mister Long Jaw sitting upright in its box with its bottom jaw laying on his lap. “What are you?” I asked. All realist thoughts fled from my head as Long Jaw laid down on its back and the box closed around it. That’s when I told myself, “Enough of this shit” as I walked over to the box, knife in hand, I opened it. The dog creature I had seen before jumped out at me, pushing me onto the couch. I tried grabbing it but it wasn’t showing any signs of stopping so I sliced at it with my knife causing it to let out a loud whimper and fall back onto the coffee table. That’s when I looked into its reflective grey eyes.
I woke up by my dad shaking me on the couch. “James, James, are you okay?!” Dad screamed.
“What happened?!” I asked.
“That’s what I should ask you,” Dad replied, “I came in here and you were passed out on the couch with cuts all over your face.”
“Mister Long Jaw, the dummy, it’s alive,” I said, “It did this to me.”
“James I’m going to need you to tell me the truth,” Dad said.
Why was I stupid enough to expect him to believe that? I had to tell him a lie instead. “We went outside yesterday and I fell into some bushes, that’s why my face is cut up and my mattress is uncomfortable so I chose to sleep on the couch.”
“Why didn’t you tell me, your mattress was uncomfortable? I would’ve gotten you a new one,” Dad said. “Here, I’ll get you one tomorrow.”
“Why not today?”
“Because it’s eleven o’clock at night today, you didn’t think it was morning, did you? Well, you’re going to have to spend one more night on that mattress, I need the couch so I can watch my shows.”
“Alright,” I said as I stood up. That’s when I remembered something, the knife that I was holding had disappeared. However, it wasn’t long before I found it since the blade was sticking out of my bed right where I would be sleeping. Like my mattress could get any less comfortable.
That night I had a dream, you’d expect it to be a nightmare but instead, I dreamt up a plan to get rid of Long Jaw, pretty much chaining up the box while it was still inside and lighting the box on fire. The problem was, Dad wouldn’t appreciate it if I lit my birthday present on fire, and it’s not like I could tell him that I didn’t like it so he’d take it back, I clearly enjoyed playing with it. That’s not the problem though, the problem is that Long Jaw is threatening me, and I’m pretty sure it was the one who attacked Uncle Zeke, who I regrettably discovered had died from his injuries.
That morning I called Rebecca and Tyler and told them everything. Tyler responded, “We have to kill that thing. Damn, this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen in real life.” While Rebecca responded, “Cool, it’s about time I get to slay a demon.” I told them to come over as I put Long Jaw’s bottom jaw back on. I then walked over to Dad’s room to see if I could get him in the mix but was instead met with a note that read, “James, I’m out getting a new mattress for your room. Love, Dad.” I guess Dad’s never going to find out what happened today.
When Rebecca and Tyler arrived I picked up Long Jaw and showed it to them. “He looks like a dummy,” Tyler said, “and I’m not talking about the doll.”
“Hang on, Tyler,” Rebecca protested, “maybe it’s just hiding its true self.”
“Forget this,” Tyler said, “I should’ve realized that a living ventriloquist dummy was stupid. I’m going to the ice cream place down the street if either of you wants to join me, you’re welcome.”
Tyler leaves and Rebecca gives me a pitiful expression. “Oh, go on, I know you like him,” I said.
“Thank you, James,” Rebecca said just before she left.
“Tyler was right, you are stupid,” I said before throwing Long Jaw across the room. I sat down on the couch and began to cry. I then turned my head to see Long Jaw sitting up, staring at me. That’s when I thought of something. “You’re just a stupid piece of shit,” I said. Long Jaw then stood up, the only part of it still limp was its bottom jaw hanging by the string. I smiled as I opened the front door. “You’re just a shitty little bitch, and you should piss off.”
I darted out the front door and past Dad’s car as it began to chase me. I stupidly ran into the woods. The puddles splashing behind me made me realize it was running faster than I could, I looked behind me to see that its arms were limp again swinging back and forth and the mud from the puddles had splattered all over its face. I then took out my phone and video called Rebecca and Tyler. When they answered I showed them Long Jaw behind me.
“Shit! Don’t stop running, dude!” Tyler yelled.
“I’m going to stop running!” I yelled back. I put my phone in my pocket before stopping I grabbed a stick that seemed pretty thick. As soon as Long Jaw caught up with me I swung the stick at it, breaking off the bottom jaw causing Long Jaw to stop running. “Take this, Mister Long Jaw!” I yelled as I swung the stick once more knocking its head off into the mud.
Long Jaw’s body falls limp as I pull out my phone to show my friends on the video call. “You went for the head, that’s so cool,” Rebecca said. I then hung up the call and walked back home.
When I got home I saw that Dad’s car was in the driveway. I went inside to look for him and all I found was the same note on his door. Then I remembered, I saw Dad’s car when I left. I opened the door slowly to see Dad’s dead body hanging over the side of his bed. On his back was a note that read, “Don’t you recognize you’re Dad’s handwriting?” Then I heard a faint tapping sound coming from behind me.
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