It'd been quite some time since I last saw my grandmother. Her birthday's tomorrow, so my family and I are paying her a visit. There have been conflict between her and my mother over the past few years, truthfully, the reason seems unclear. There have been times when I asked my mother about it, but for some reason she always avoids the subject.

My mother, father and I had been in the car for a couple of hours, and we'd nearly arrived at my grandmother's house. I rested my head on the window, staring out of it. Numerous houses passed by, streetlights gradually began to turn on as the day faded into night. Some flickered on and off, and others shined steadily into the dark. The neighborhood looked... abandoned. Most of the bushes and shrubbery were overgrown alongside houses that appeared to be broken in appearance. The screech of the break signaled that we had arrived at our destination.

"We're here," my mother spoke up from the front seat. I grabbed ahold of my bags that had been lying on the empty seat next to me and took a step out the car door, closing it behind me. I saw my mother turn to me and examine my face. She licked her thumb and pressed it against my cheek, cleaning off a speck of dirt.

"My little boy has to stay clean and tidy, you know," she said, smiling. I smiled back. We made our way to the front porch, and my mother rang the doorbell. I scrutinize my surroundings as we waited patiently for the door to open. I couldn't see clearly, but from what little I could make out, the flowers in the distance were wilted, grass was dry and ragged, colored in browns and greens.

I came back to reality as the door slowly crept open. I watch noiselessly as my grandmother walked out of her doorway and embraced my mother, my father, then finally me.

"It has been awhile, darling," my grandmother's voice sounded surprisingly lovely and polite. She gestured for us to step inside, we gratefully obliged, seeing as it was frigid outside. As we made our way through the doorway, my mother and grandmother continued to chat and make small talk. As for me, I turned my attention to the bright, colorful room. There were many scrupulously, intricate paintings. Most of which were, like the room, vivid and vibrant. I felt a tug on my sleeve and turned to see my father, grabbing the bags that I had held.

"I'll take these up to your room. Chat with the lovely ladies for awhile, alright kiddo?" he said, giving me a brief smile.

I nodded, heading to the couch where the said "lovely ladies" were currently sitting. I walked over to my grandmother and gave her another hug.

"Hello, sweetie!" my mother said happily.

"Oh deary, Laura. Little ol' Matthew has grown since the last time I saw him," my grandmother spoke as she tugged on my cheeks, it slightly stung as they turned a shade of red. My mother laughed.

"Yes, he's growing up to be a fine young man. Quite the gentleman," she said, looking at me. I rolled my eyes. Women could be so dull.

I heard my father's footsteps as he walked back down the wooden stairs. He had finished placing our things in our rooms. "Alright, kiddo," the tall man said, placing his hand over my head. "Go unpack and get some rest."

I nodded, rising from the couch, and I gave my Grandmother a goodnight hug. "It's great seeing you again," I tell her before heading upstairs to get some sleep.

I opened the door to my room and entered. The place looked more dusty than it did the last time we visited. Paint was peeling off of the wall, some of it came in chunks of old powdered paint. I walked over to my suitcases and unpacked, placing my clothes into my old drawer. I set the ones I planned to change into aside as I continued digging into my bag. This time I pulled out a plain-looking metal clock. Its digital numbers lit up green as I plugged it into the electrical port that was installed into the wall. I placed it on the nightstand near my bed. I didn't pack much, since we'd only be here for two days. I pulled my shirt over my head and threw it onto the bed, then slipped my pajama shirt on, which color was a plain black. I then exchanged my jeans for a pair of more comfortable dark blue sweat pants.

Grabbing my toothbrush from my bag, I headed out the door to the bathroom. I paused on my way there, observing something rather unusual that was placed in the corner of the hallway. Something about it piqued my curiosity. The cloth, originally white, had specks of dirt all over it. Walking over to it, I slowly lifted the cloth up. Hidden beneath the fabric was a statue of Virgin Mary. Why was it covered up? I sighed, knowing it was none of my business. I shrugged it off and placed the cloth back over the statue, then continued on my way to the bathroom.

After brushing my teeth, I headed back to my room, letting out a huge yawn as I walked along. I tossed myself onto the soft cushion and smiled, content. The room may have been kept in a poor manner, but the bed was definitely pleasurable, possibly even blissful. I turned out the lights, welcoming the darkness of the night. The only light I had to illuminate the room was the glow of the moon, shining silently through the window.

Lying on my side, I closed my eyes, and found myself drifting off. My eyes shot open after I heard the sudden taps at my window. I stared at it for a moment, startled. Perhaps my lack of sleep had made me hear things. I yawned again, closing my eyes, I heard it once more. Surely I was imagining it. The tapping progressed into an annoying screech against the window, like nails to a chalkboard. I rose from my bed, slightly disturbed.

Walking up to the window, I quickly pulled the curtains open, only to see that there was nothing outside. Just the moon, trees, and the rest of my grandmother's backyard. The noise was still a slight concern to me, I closed the curtains and decided to make an attempt at ignoring it. I slid back into my bed and closed my eyes for the last time. Minutes passed and I drifted off once more.

I woke up to the constant beeping noise given off by my alarm. Irritated, I leaned my arm over the nightstand, hitting all of the buttons on top of it, hoping one of them was the one to turn the bundle of annoyance off. My eyes slowly opened and squinted from the radiant sunlight that shimmered through my window. I sat up, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

Once I picked my head back up, I stared at the statue of Virgin Mary at the end of my bed, facing me. I felt a cold sweat begin to form on my forehead. Never did I think that Virgin Mary could be this creepy. I got up from my bed and stretched, still eyeing the statue warily from the corner of my eye. Walking to the door, I exit the room. Little did I know, Virgin Mary watched.

I made my way down the flight of wooden stairs and looked around. Was no one awake yet? I walked into the kitchen and caught a glimpse of the note that had been posted on the refrigerator door.

"Picking up a cake for Grandma. We'll be back by two. -Mom"

I sigh, ruffling my already messy hair. I withdrew from the kitchen and headed back upstairs to wish grandma a "Happy Birthday". Before entering, I knocked three times.

"Hey, Grandma? Are you awake?" I waited patiently for a reply. The only thing I could hear was low mumbling. As I slowly opened the door and stepped in, the floor beneath me creaked ominously. Small candles illuminated the small, cramped room. My grandmother sat in the middle of them, chanting strange words. I heard the door close behind me, letting out a small 'click' noise.

"Grandma?" I questioned, looking at her. She gave me a wicked look and quickly threw water at me. It stung. Was it holy water? I didn't have time to react as she grabbed at the hammer that was on top of her dresser and slammed it against my knees, causing me to drop to the floor in agonizing pain. She held me down as tears filled my eyes from the pain that radiated in my knees.

"Why..? Why are you doing this?" I asked, trying to catch my breath. My heart raced as I felt her cold green eyes stare down into mine.

"You are the child of a sinner," she took a brief pause, then proceeded to speak in that same lovely and polite voice, "Your mother... She committed adultery, which soon led to giving birth to you, a child brought up by the unholy. A child... brought up by those who have sinned. God will not forgi-"

I quickly interrupted her, "But she's your fucking daughter! Why does that even matter? You sinned as well for having her!" I practically yelled at her, being that I was completely enraged by such thoughts of my own grandmother.

Low chuckles came from her, "Child, she is not my daughter. She is adopted, therefore I have not sinned."

My eyes widened, "What did you just say?" My body shook as the adrenaline finally caught up to me entirely.

The woman in front of me didn't say a word. The only thing she did was continue her task.

"May this cleanse your soul," was the last thing I heard from her as she began holding me down tighter.

I struggled, unable to put up a fight from the intense fear and pain that filled my body. My grandmother began reciting her prayers from memory.

"Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ, inebriate me; Water from the side of Christ, wash me; hear me; within your wounds, hide me; from the evil ones, protect me; at the hour of my death, that with your saints, I may praise You forever and ever..." She continued on with the ritual.

I felt the pain intensify, my eyes began to roll back into my head. The burning sensation filled my body as I released a blood-curdling scream. I turned my head to the right, seeing the statue. Except this one was different. Blood fell from its eyes and nose. My heart raced as I began to recognize a similar feeling, blood began slowly falling from my own eyes. I turned my head wildly from side to side, trying to force the mad woman off.

"Get off of me!" I cried out loudly as I finally managed to push her away from me. I tried to stand up, but pain held me hostage. I tried to hold it in, but it was too much. My so-called "grandmother" got up, took the bowl of holy water next to her, and threw it at me. I felt the burning on my skin as if flames were engulfing me, which was followed by more of my own screaming that I could not silence.

I felt my sanity slowly fade away. Memories flashed through my mind alongside thoughts. I held onto the knob of the door and quickly opened it, then ran for my life, finally ignoring the horrible pain in my knees. Blood covered parts of my face, just like the cursed Virgin Mary statue in my grandmother's room, along with my eyes being irisless, leaving the white area filled with many popped veins and bloody smudges on the bottom area of my eyes.

I tripped and fell as I reached the bottom of the wooden staircase. My knees quickly gave out and I resorted to a crawl. By the time my grandmother caught up to me, my motionless body layed across her floor. She dragged me out to the back for a burial, and started making plans to kill off my father, keeping my mother trapped.

My grandmother walked back inside and grabbed the proper materials for the burial of her 'grandson'. Taking the shovel out from the closet upstairs and a few wilted flowers from the colorful vase downstairs, she began walking back to my corpse. By the time she hobbled out the back door, her body was tense. She realized her 'unholy grandson', whom she thought she killed, had disappeared.

It had been a year since Matthew's grandmother had been arrested for attempting to murder her grandson. Investigations were opened, as Laura and Drew, guardians of the child, gave the police every scrap of information they had. Every night, the heartbroken couple prayed, hoping their little boy would come running back to them. Eventually, however, the case for the missing child, Matthew Sullivan, was announced, unsolved.

Matthew Sullivan
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