He was never sure of how it started… Maybe it was after he decided not to go with his mother on their usual field trips to the local grocery store every Wednesday morning. He could never forget her wearing that same lavender dress she had received from her older sister Carol on Christmas and her peach scented perfume him and his dad had picked out for her last Mother’s Day. Ever since he watched Disney’s 1992 movie Aladdin, she would always let him pick three items from the shelves he could reach with his tiny arms, but when he had asked her to reach for things above his level, she would always tell him, “Jake, you should never rely on others to take you to where you want to be in life. You’ll get there.”
Jake would nearly spend the whole day with his mom contemplating on what he wanted from the bottom shelves of every aisle, but the one time he decided to stay home, she never came back… His mother was caught in a collision between an eighteen-wheeler and a speeding silver Sudan. The impact had ripped her car in half; killing her instantaneously.
On the day of her funeral, his father was missing, so he ended up being taken there by his aunt Carol. Jake could not bear to see her face. He had weighed the responsibility of her death on himself. He had always believed that if he had gone with her and searched the bottom shelves of every aisle of that store, maybe she would’ve stayed long enough and still be alive. The abandonment of his father must’ve meant he blamed Jake as well. The pain of loss and guilt was too much for an eight-year-old child. Watery fluids began to blur his vision; his inhales and exhales had gradually fastened. Then it happened; Jake had dropped to his knees and began to cry his eyes out. The family and other attendees who had come to the funeral to pay their respects had watched in grievance and pity. His aunt Carol had gone to get the boy off the floor of the church to tend to his pain, yet as he had looked up from the soft touch of her hand, her pity had turned into screams.
“Oh my God! Jake!!!” Carol cried.
He could not hear her voice… It was as if the devil himself was squeezing the life out of him. His hands were covered in blood. The whiteness of his eyes was deeply reddened. When he attempted to rub them to see who was there, he did not see who he had thought was his aunt Carol. It was a grin, unlike anything he had ever seen in his life. The creature resembled an old woman with dark grey skin. She had a crinkled neck, no eyes, and her sockets were torn up with a black fluid. His body had moved before his voice had a chance to announce what his heart was feeling. He checked his surroundings to only realize that world around him had become a living nightmare. The ceiling was filtered in rows of black threads. The church had slowly broken down with an alarming silence; the beings that he believed to be his family and the attendees, were staring at him with greyish crinkled bodies and that same devilish grin. Their heads navigated towards his position, yet their bodies stayed in place. The one he believed to be his aunt began to laugh. She laughed so hard, it tore her cheeks open.
With her mangled up body, the creature had readjusted her bones and started to follow him at an unnatural speed. Jake ran out back of the church as fast as he could! There wasn’t enough time to scream as he was wiping the blood running down his cheeks. The outside world was more hellish than the inside of the church. The sky was the color of fire, and elongated human-like creatures were fighting as they were feasting upon the flesh of a dead child. He had tripped over a pothole, and the creature who he had believed to be his aunt, and two others had finally caught up to him. She grabbed him by the back of his head.
Water was rinsed through his eyes to clear out the redness.
“Jake!? Jake??” It was his aunt Carol; holding a bottle of water in her hand. He had grabbed onto her and held her tight.
“Aunt Carol…” Jake cried.
“Are you okay?” One of the church deacons asked.
He told her everything he saw. Later on, aunt Carol had taken him to the doctor, but they couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. The doctors even told her that Jake's visions could be a part of his imagination or constructs of deep stress. That the death of his mother could’ve triggered dynamic hallucinations to the brain to cope with his suffering. Jake would even have nightmares of that other world. The doctors had prescribed him with anti-depressants and sleeping pills. They even went as far as to studying his brain patterns and recommending a local psychiatrist. He hasn’t had an incident like that since then, and Jake Foster had never cried again…
Twelve years later…
Jake had arrived at the Vector Eye Center of Portland, Maine. His primary care doctor had sent him there after a blood vesicle had busted in his right eye. He has had pain in his eyes for weeks now, yet brushed off seeing any type of doctor since his rent money was due and he needed the hours. He would always keep a bottle of water nearby to wash his eyes when he felt like they were in pain. Usually if Jake couldn’t make the payment for the rent on time, his roommate, Eric, would cover for them. Jake would pay him back within a week or two, but this time around Eric and his girlfriend were planning to take a vacation to New York for spring break and have been saving for that trip for over two months. The couple had just left that morning so Jake was on his own.
The main room was filled with empty seats and several different brands of glasses stacked on platforms against the walls. The models above each brand made the glasses look better than they actually were. A toddler was standing between the legs of her mother as she was flipping through the pages of a cosmetics magazine. Jake had walked up to the lady at the front desk to sign in carrying his bottle of water in his left hand. He always brought a new bottle to wherever he went. The woman was slightly overweight, had curly red hair, thick-framed glasses, and a nametag that said, ‘Mrs. Frances Pearl.’ She had an acquit look upon on her face that made her seem like she was ready to go home even though she had just clocked in.
Without any exchange of words, Mrs. Pearl had given him a sign in sheet to fill out, assuming he already knew the routine. Jake had sat down two seats from the toddler and the woman at the end of the row. Without a moment to spare, the child had released herself from her mother’s legs and ran over to Jake with her tiny hands covering her face, but before she had the chance to start her game of peekaboo, Jake had quickly squirted water on his hands and wiped out his eyes. Her mother rushed over to her child and snatched her by the arm.
“Sharie! What have I told you about running up to strangers!?” said her mom, as she turned over to Jake.
“I’m sorry about that. I don’t know what’s gotten into her.”
“It’s alright,” Jake replied. He was slightly undisturbed by what had happened. The itching in his eyes had started to flurry up.
“Mrs. Duncan, Dr. Susan will see you now,” said Mrs. Pearl.
It was the woman that stood before Jake. Ms. Duncan had taken Sharie and followed the woman to the back. While they were leaving, Sharie’s eyes had become cold and were focused on Jake. He waved at her, but there was no reply. Sharie’s icy stare remained until she was taken to the back by her mother.
Jake had turned in his paperwork and returned to his seat, still wiping the water out of his eyes.
“Mr. Foster, Dr. Stanley will see you now,” said Mrs. Pearl.
He picked up the bottle of water off the coffee table and followed another woman to the back. He exchanged information and current medications and awaited the doctor. Not five minutes later, Dr. Stanley had opened the door.
“Mr. Foster? Hi, I’m Derek Stanley. So, you’ve been having some kind trouble with your eyes lately?”
“Yes. There’s a red spot in my right eye,” he said hesitantly. Ever since that incident as a child, he had never been too keen on seeing a doctor. Back then, his aunt was the only one who believed him.
“And how long has this been going on?” Dr. Stanley replied with a you can trust me smile.
“Since I was eight. I was bleeding tears before, but this is the first time a blood vessel has popped in my eye.”
“When did this happen?”
“A few weeks ago?”
“How have you been managing it all this time.”
Jake took a deep breath. “Well… I’ve been washing my eyes out with water.”
“How long have you been doing that?”
“Since I was eight, about three to five times a day.”
Dr. Stanley paused for a bit to think about what Jake had told him. “You can’t wash your eyes out with water that often. The water, especially tap water, has chemicals in it that could damage your ocular cells. It could’ve caused the vessel in your eye to pop in the first place.” ‘
Blood had rushed to Jake’s face. He was worried. What he had thought had been helping him all this time has been causing further damage to his eyes. Dr. Stanley took note.
“Now what we could do is prescribe you with eye drops to help with that, but I would like to have a further examination of your eyes before we do that.”
“Alright…” Jake said.
Jake had exhaled and inhaled slowly. He used a breathing technique he learned from his psychiatrist to help him cope with what he heard.
“Cover your left eye. Now can you please read the smallest line of letters possible?” said Dr. Derek Stanley, as he handed over a black spoon to Jake.
Jake took the spoon and placed it over his left eye. He had rubbed his long eyelashes out of the way before he began to read the Snellen chart.
“A, L, F, D, C, P, M, O, B, D, M, O.”
“Very good. Now place the spoon over your right eye, and read the lowest line of letters you can see.”
Jake had switched the spoon over to his right eye. He blinked a few times to restore moisture back to his pupils before reading the chart.
Jake had hesitated before finishing the last letter of the third row.
“That is correct. Now can you read the fourth row with your right eye as well?” Dr. Stanley questioned.
“I’ll try.” He blinked a few times before starting the next row.
“Don’t squint your eyes. Now tell me what you see?”
“A, L, F, D, G, P, M, C, K, O, M, C?” Jake was trying his best not to go off memory. What his eye couldn’t see, his mind would fill in the blanks.
“You’ve missed a few,” said Dr. Stanley, as he took back the spoon.
Dr. Stanley had placed the spoon on the table and stood in front of Jake to properly assess his eyes.
“Now Mr. Foster, can you stare into my nose.” Dr. Stanley began to examine the external structure of his eyes. He used his thumbs and gently pulled down the lower lids of Jake's eyes to examine the tarsus and conjunctiva. After a series of tests, he had come to some sort of conclusion.
“Other than some minor irritation, I don’t really see anything out of the ordinary.”
Jakes skin became pale. His eyes were drenched in frustration.
Dr. Stanley took note of that as well. “But—if you feel like there is something wrong still, you can come back in the next three weeks for another appointment. We’re having a new device installed in that can view inside of the eye with a camera.”
With hope restored, “I’ll do that,” Jake said.
“Ask the woman in the front to set you up an appointment for the next two weeks. I would also recommend getting glasses. You can get your prescription from her as well. You can choose glasses from here or any place of your choosing.”
“I will, and thank you,” said Jake.
Jake walked back to the front desk and saw the same little girl again as she was leaving with her mother, but this time, she was wearing a brand-new pair of dark pink glasses. Before Mrs. Duncan left with her child, Sharie had waved goodbye to Jake. He smiled as it restored warmth to his heart.
“Mr. Foster? It will be a thirty-dollar cover charge,” Mrs. Pearl said, breaking his train of thought.
Jake set up his appointment for the next two weeks but decided to wait until his next appointment to buy glasses since the rent was due.
“Remember, take one drop in the morning, and at night.”
“Enjoy the rest of your afternoon,” said Mrs. Pearl.
Before exiting the building, Jake had taken the bottle of water and threw it in a black trash bin next to the door. He was finally willing to accept a doctor’s advice.
Jake arrived back at his apartment and flipped on the light switch. There was a brown circular table at the center of the living room, an opened bag of popcorn, and a large screen TV. 'The kitchen looks like shit,' he thought to himself. It’s been quiet since everyone was gone. Eric was always the one that invited people over for drinks and parties at the end of every week. They were polar opposites. Jake grabbed the bag of popcorn, went into his room, and slid his shoes off. He was exhausted, but couldn’t really sleep. He turned on the TV to see what was on while checking his phone his for messages.
Two hours later…
Jake was nearly asleep; he awoke amidst the sound of the loud roar coming from the television. What the hell? He searched his bed to see if he could find the remote, but before he could turn off the television, a wet drop fell to his hand; he revealed his hand to himself using the light of the television.
All of a sudden, Jake rushed through his things to search for his eyedrops but made the mistake of leaving them in his car. The sweat rolled down his face as he panicked. He ran into the bathroom nearly falling over his shoes. The television grew louder and louder... A demonic static mumbling could be heard from a distance.
Jake turned the knobs of the sink in the bathroom, but they fell off without any hint of water. The sink began to rot. The white paint of the walls wrinkled as they tear themselves apart. Tears of blood roll down his face as he stared into the reflection he assumed was his own. The blood burned the surface of his eyes. He couldn’t see the changes around him.
BRASH, BRASH. What the hell was that? Jake can hardly view his surroundings. Blood drips from the tips of his fingers as he tries to wipe it away from his eye to clear his vision.
“Is anyone there?” Jake asked. The outer layer of his eye was decorated with red cracks.
“IUMMM… BUZZZZ ESTAHMONEZZZZZ….”
“Eric???” Jake asked. He tried to close his right eye, but every time his eyelids would make contact with the surface of his eye, it would burn.
Jake looked outside of his hallway, but there was no one there. He goes back into his room and turns off the TV.
BRASH, BRASH, BRASH, PLUTINNKK TATTATTA! It sounded like cracked glass.
Jake holds his right eye with the side of his wrist while walking towards the kitchen to see if the living room television was on. The lights in the hall began to flicker back and forth. What the hell… As Jake made it into the living room, he noticed the TV was on with the volume maxed out on a blank television channel. This must be it. I thought it off when I came in.
“Where’s the remote?” He looks around the living room and kitchen, but Jake couldn’t find it.
“Fuck it...” Jake uttered. He presses the power button beneath the television.
As soon as the television came off, he heard a faint panting.
“Hello?” asked Jake, but there was no response.
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP.
The lights began to blink again until they dimmed down; the end of the hallway between his bedroom and bathroom was in total darkness. Jake's breathing began to hasten. He still needed his eyedrops. The memories from his mother’s funeral began to resurface. It’s not real… It’s not real. He goes to the front door to get to his car, but as soon as Jake reached for the knob, the door rolled into itself and disappeared. Fuck…
The dimming lights give in to their weakness. An atrocious screeching can be heard from the end of the hall. Jake pulls out his cell phone and turns on its flashlight. His eyes filter everything he sees in deep red. He slowly steps out of the kitchen. The pacing of his heart began to race as his other hand tries to wipe the blood out his eye. He shines a light throughout the living room then Jake slowly walks back down the hallway. His eyes painted the walls in red. Jake flashed the light into his room. There was nothing but shades of black casting against his pillows as he moved around the room.
DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, DRIP.
Jake pokes his head out of his room and walks toward the bathroom. The door is closed??? He slowly opens the pushes the door open.
CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRUNCH.
Jake looks down to find broken pieces of glass laying on the floor. The mirror is broken… Where the pieces once laid on the mirror, are now spaces of darkness. What the hell? A thin dark thread was hanging out of the spaces between the broken mirror. What is this? Jake follows the line out of the bathroom. It goes down the hallway back towards the front door.
The darkness had thickened in puffs of fog, not even his cell phone’s light could pierce through. He remained at the halfway point of the hallway where the line had widened. A gurgle of growls could be heard from the darkness. Jake’s eyes were stinging due to the hurdling fog. He kept the bleeding eye covered, but it didn’t do him any good. From the unknown, a creature attached to the line sprung out of the fog on all fours. Its eyes were hollow as it faced Jake in the hallway. Half of its head and the long center slab of its back raised open revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth.
Jake ran down the hall as the creature chased him. He made it into the bathroom and shut the door. The bear-like beast rams its head against the door repeatedly, tearing through the wooden frame.
SCRATH, SCRATCH, CRACK.
Jake searches for anything he could use as a weapon. There aren’t many options from the bathroom. The growling gets louder and louder. He takes the black rod from the shower curtain and slowly backs away against the mirror. The creature bursts through the top portion of the door! Broken pieces of wood scattered across the bathroom.
“Come on!” Jake yells.
Jake batters the creature against the side of its head. With its long talons, the behemoth slashes Jake across his face nearly splitting the top of his head in two. He grazes the tips of his fingers across his forehead to apply pressure as blood ran down his face blocking out his left eye completely. The cut was deep and slightly grazed the surface of his skull. It was hard for him to see.
The creature launches itself on top of Jake; knocking him into the bathtub. The shower curtain’s bar was the only thing keeping the monster’s fangs from tearing out his neck. Its body's weight holds Jake to the surface of the tub as his legs hang over the edge. The beast’s large paw tears through the shower wall as Jake tries to stand up. Water! Jake invites the water to wrings through his eyes. The cold liquid flushes them out. Cleaning the blood off his face.
The mammoth begins to howl as it’s flesh falls from its own body. The bathroom walls shifts back into place as the black beast dissolves into the floor.