"There's something under there," he said every time he passed by. "Whispers. I hear them breathing."
Phillip had lived his entire eight years without being able to hear so much as his mother's voice. But, despite his disability, he still did normal things. He joined Little League, played soccer, and even started skating when he turned seven. For a long time, it didn't hold him back, and he didn't mind being different.
Until they started music classes in school.
Phillip longed to hear the music for himself. Sure, he could feel the soothing vibrations, but he wanted to really experience it with all his senses. When he got home he told his mother he wished he was normal, and no matter how much she tried to convince him he was, in fact, a normal boy, he wouldn't listen.
I want to hear the music, he signed. I want to hear everything.
One bright, sunny morning, his mother finally caved. She wanted the best for her child, and she was going to do whatever she could to make sure he would finally know what her voice sounded like. She wanted him to listen to the birds singing and the wind whistling through the trees.
Their new family doctor suggested a recently developed procedure that would completely restore his hearing. Phillip's mother was apprehensive at first, but the boy was overwhelmingly excited about all the possibilities the surgery would open up. Their doctor assured it was the cheapest option available, and, even though it was new, it was totally safe.
"Okay," Mrs. Peters said finally, "I just want what's best."
When the procedure was complete, Phillip was a completely different boy. Taking in all the different sounds was an ongoing process, and he was loving every minute of it. He even insisted on sitting out on the patio and listening to the cars honking in the evening traffic. Mrs. Peters didn't understand, but she was just happy her boy had finally gotten the one thing he wanted the most. Phillip was finally content.
Well, for a little while.
A few weeks after the procedure he started having nightmares. He swore he could hear voices telling him to do unspeakable things, but Mrs. Peters just brushed it off as part of his adjustment to his new senses.
The boy became withdrawn and refused to go near the stairs. "There's something under there," he said every time he passed by. "Whispers. I hear them breathing." Mrs. Peters assured him it was just his imagination, and even let him sleep downstairs instead of his bedroom on the second floor, but Phillip still insisted there was something sinister right in front of them.
Mrs. Peters awoke one night to find Phillip standing in the doorway, just staring at her with dark, sunken eyes. His mother asked him what was wrong, but he didn't say a word. Instead, he turned his back on her and went down the stairs.
When Mrs. Peters got to the bottom, she found her son sitting underneath, his knees pulled up to his chest and his mouth wide open. There was a sound coming from behind him that made Mrs. Peters shiver. The scraping was unbearable, like someone was trying to open a glass bottle with their teeth.
"Phillip, please, go back to bed, sweetie."
Phillip's jaw elongated and he screeched like a wild hyena. Mrs. Peters tried to run, but she tripped over her own feet and fell onto the cold, hardwood floor. Phillip jumped on top of his mother and kicked her in the mouth so hard a sickly cracking sound echoed throughout the room.
The next morning, the boy was nowhere to be found. The neighbours found poor Mrs. Peters still lying on the floor with a permanent look of terror on her face. She had managed to crawl three feet towards the phone but wasn't able to reach it. It's not like she could have explained herself anyway.
Not with her jaw hanging on by a thread.