Soft echoes rang against the inside of his skull, bouncing vague thoughts and memories through his cluttered mind. Erik felt himself shaking back and forth, a still yet small voice calling his name quietly at first and then with increasing panic.
“Erik, wake up son”, he heard his mother say…his mother? Erik opened his eyes slowly, fearfully, not sure of what he was going to see. His mother’s soft smile greeted him. Erik launched himself into her arms, trembling as he clung desperately to her.
“Mom”, Erik gasped. “Are you ok”?
“Erik, of course I’m ok. Are you ok”, she responded. “You’re drenched. Why were you sleeping in my doorway? Where you sleep walking?”
Erik paused; his mind began processing the night’s events. He had to remind himself that his earth mother was not aware of Cold World, or for that fact who Erik really was. To her, Erik was just an eight year old, curly headed boy, who likes to play all day and tell fantastic stories. In truth, Erik was a 25 year super genius from an alternate world known as Cold World. He had effected his greatest invention in a quest to save himself and his world from the after effects of Divestiture. Divestiture was the process wherein the citizens of Cold World cut off all social and emotional development in pursuit of pure knowledge. Children were indoctrinated at the earliest to shed emotional contacts including parental ties. Everything in Cold World was driven towards the development of pure knowledge and technological advancement. The sages of Cold World had long ago reasoned that human emotion hindered evolutionary growth, that society could never outpace its suicidal tendencies unless it divested itself of all human emotion.
Slowing his breathing and regaining his composure Erik said, “I don’t think so mommy. I think I had a dream and it scared me, but I don’t remember what the dream was about.”
“Let’s get you back to your room then. How about I make you some pancakes and maybe some of the dream will come back to you. If it doesn’t then don’t worry about it because the bad dream is gone and you never have to worry about it again ok”, his mother soothed.
“Ok, pancakes, yes”, Erik feigned excitement. Pancakes always fixed everything and they were his favorite so that would help distract his mother.
She carried his little body securely back to his own room and sat him down on his bed. She brushed his blond hair away from his eyes and said, “Get yourself cleaned up and ready for the best pancakes ever. They should be ready in about fifteen minutes ok.”
Erik nodded his head with a bright smile. As his mother departed, his mind again started racing through the images of last night. His earth mother was alive. She had not killed her. He must have been dreaming but was it all a dream? His earth mother didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary in his room. The stench was gone. His bed was dry. He looked at Fran. His brother was still asleep. But it was all so real but there were no signs, nothing that he could detect lingered from her. Erik rubbed his eyes and headed to the bathroom. As soon as the bathroom lights came on he saw it. On the medicine cabinet mirror just over the sink, scraggly writing stretched across the entire mirror surface. The words, I’m not done with you boy” dripped eerily across the mirror as though a boney finger had traced the words through a hazy, frost covered surface.
Erik started to make a sound but nothing could get through his constricted throat. He was suddenly paralyzed with fear. He started to turn when the bathroom door slammed shut so hard the floor vibrated. The lights began to flicker when Erik heard his earth mother shout up to him, “Erik, what was that? Please don’t slam the doors this early. You might wake your dad.”
Erik tried to reply. He wanted to say something, anything, but the sounds wouldn’t come out. The lights continued to flicker then they died. The bathroom was dark. The room was engulfed in silence and all Erik could hear, no feel, was his own heartbeat. He reached for the light switch and flicked it back and forth and the lights again sprang to life. The tub was full of water and in the water a form appeared just beneath the surface. She opened her eyes and grinned at him. She started speaking and through the bubbling water terror laced words burst into Erik’s hearing, “I’m going to end you boy”, and with that she started thrashing around in the tub in an attempt to get out…but she could not. Her efforts splashed water all over the floor and walls. She raised herself halfway but could get no further. Boney, scaled fingers gripped the tub’s edges as she sought to pull herself free. She stretched out her gaunt, encrusted hand, elongated fingers tipped with broken but razor sharp claws, towards Erik. Her eyes blazed out pure and simple hate and she was focused on the boy. She started screaming and howling so loud that the bathroom walls vibrated.
“I will have you boy, I will have you boy, I will have you boy”, she shrieked over and over again. Her sunken chest heaved violently with every word. Her face was twisted with effort. Her eyes were red with bloody passion and determination. She spun around in the tub, kicking and screaming until the tub began to rock itself loose. The plaster and molding started cracking and falling to the floor mixing with the already splashed water and creating a white paste on the bathroom floor.
There was a pounding on the door. Little Fran called to Erik, “Erik…what’s going on?”
Erik withdrew to the far wall and sank to his knees. His whole body shook with fear. He closed his eyes and started screaming as loud as he could…