The Shatter-Tooth Residence
Everyone's had it --- that place in their neighborhood that makes them shudder with unease. So, what happens when you swallow that fear and explore the place of your nightmares? That's exactly what happens in this story. Enjoy :)
Living in a small town had its perks. Everyone knew everyone like a grandma knew her recipes. Yeah, people talked and sniffed around in each other’s business, but there was a sense of security knowing I was familiar with everyone around me. It was almost as if our town was an entire planet itself, astray from other worlds and completely independent. Stumbleton was home; it always had been. Yet, something stuck out like a stray hair on a stubborn kid’s head. This...this was the mold on our town’s pleasant surface. A dying rose in a field of flourishing flowers.
The Shatter Tooth Residence.
It’s not an exaggeration – at least it wasn’t when I was a kid. It was the early nineties. Kids stayed outside riding bikes and playing endless games of tag while ignoring the cluster of scabs covering our knees. Sweat covered our shirts. Water hoses were our source of water. The outside world was great on Jinn Beth Street. But only until someone rode to the end of the street and stifled a gasp. Only until the sun stopped shining and became somehow swallowed by evil shadows and tall malevolent trees with decaying branches. The Shatter Tooth Residence had that effect. Somehow...someway, it defied the rules that Stumbleton followed. Especially after this one summer. I’ll never forget it.
I’m riding my bike. My best friend Pike is pedaling a few feet away from me. I’m only nine years old, and Pike is eleven. Overhead, cruel rays from the sun reach around my neck and cause sweat to burn my eyes. Suddenly, we stop, watching from the sidewalk as the Shatter Tooth Residence comes into view.
“Well?” asks Pike.
He turns to face me. “Are ya’ gonna do it or what?”
My stomach turns. “No.”
“No?” He wipes sweat from his buzzed head. “Ya’ really believe it, huh?”
“You know I do.”
And I did. Years and years ago a kid was bold enough to jump the fence surrounding Shatter Tooth’s backyard. Just seconds later he was heard screaming as if he were being mauled by a murder of ravens. But he wasn’t. Instead, nearly all his teeth were shattered – almost all of them. People said someone attacked him in the blink of an eye, destroying his mouth with ease. No one just made stuff like that up. They couldn’t.
“Well, I’m goin’. Ya’d be a sissy if ya’ don’t come.”
I huff in frustration. Being called a sissy was cruel. It pierced every kid’s self-esteem. No one, if they were sane, could just be called a sissy and not try to prove the accusation wrong.
I look at the road ahead. It’s straight downhill until you reach Shatter Tooth. Only a couple of brick houses with slanted roofs occupy spots along the way. “Fine.”
“Yeah, fine.” I grip my handlebars. “I ain’t a sissy, Pike.” That’s a lie. I was a sissy.
He smiles. Only the right side of his mouth turns. A few teeth peek out. “Ya’ sure, sissy? I don’t want ya’ to pee ya’self’ or somethin’.”
“I said I ain’t a sissy, Pike.” Tears try to sneak out but I force them to stay put.
“Alright. Ya’ ain’t a sissy.”
We continue to stare ahead. Neither one of us moves. My heart feels like there’s a drummer in my chest, pounding and pounding as if it wants the whole world to hear. I think I’m safe. I think he’s about to change his mind and say it’s a bad idea.
“Ya’ ready?” he asks.
Before I can respond, Pike takes off down the hill, his legs a blur as they pedal with the expertise only an eleven-year-old can possess. I scream for him to stop, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. Frustrated, my legs find the pedals and I zoom after him, cursing him for calling me a sissy. Everything inside me screams to stop – to just slam the breaks and go back home. But I couldn’t leave Pike. And I definitely couldn’t be a sissy. Never.
I descend the hill and stop beside Pike who’s already off his bike and walking towards the driveway.
“Are you insane?” I spit, jumping from my bike and planting my skinny self in front of him.
“What do ya mean?”
My fists ball at the confusion covering his face. “We can’t just...just walk in there.”
“Why not?” he asks.
Why not? He knew about the kid who came back with the shattered teeth! No one could just walk up without a plan. That was common sense. But this was Pike. He was different.
“Listen.” He grabs both my shoulders. Pike was always a head taller than me and always brave. “We can do this. All we gotta do is jump the fence.”
“But what about the kid with the—”
He shoves a finger to my lips, hushing my next words. I stare into his brown eyes as if he holds all the answers. He seemed like he always did. “That shit ain’t real and ya’ know it. There’s nothin’ back there – nothin’. Stop believin’ all them rumors and stuff. It makes ya’ look like a sissy.”
That word again. Damn. “But I believe them, Pike.”
His eyes dart to the place behind me – the nightmare of a house. I don’t turn as he says, “Then let’s prove em’ all wrong right now. Me and you.”
I shudder without meaning to. The Shatter Tooth Residence. The place where nightmares are made. The house of wicked secrets and perpetual shadows.
“Okay,” I whisper, now shocked I even said it.
Pike’s weird smile takes form again. “Okay.”
He lets go of me and begins walking towards the house. This was my last chance to run. It would be so easy to just pick up my bike and storm away, but I couldn’t. Pike said we could prove everyone wrong about this place. I needed to believe him. He was fearless.
The house threatens to swallow me as I hesitantly turn to face it. It’s bulky, and towering, and has a death-black slanted roof ready to cut any bird stupid enough to land upon it. Faded gray cases the outside walls. Light from the sun no longer touches the asphalt road or cement driveway leading to the house.
“Come on,” says Pike. He waves me towards the side of the house. I swallow and trudge towards him, not daring to take my eyes off the curtained windows. Anything could pop out.
“Faster,” he says, his voice becoming annoyed.
Crap. “What about my parents?” They would lose their minds if I came back home with no teeth. Hell, I could die. What then?
“They won’t know. All we’re doin’ is proven these damn rumors wrong and nothin’ more.”
I bite my tongue and nod.
We walk by the side of the house. A deep ditch full of jagged rocks, dead branches, and murky water takes up most of the path toward the backyard. I focus on keeping my footing through the slim bumpy trail so I don’t fall into the ditch. Sweat continues to pour. Pike maneuvers in front of me like some type of expert rock climber, never losing his balance or footing.
Why couldn’t I be like him? Pike seemed fearless. Every kid on Jinn Beth Street knew about Pike and his crazy feats. Holding the record for the longest willie – getting the most girls to kiss him – walking on his hands like they were his feet. Pike was untouchable, and I wanted to be like him.
I pause, finding his hand just inches from my face. “What is it?”
He doesn’t respond. My eyes dart to the ditch below, looking for something that didn’t belong. Pike must have seen something if he just stopped.
“Pike?” I tap his shoulder.
“Listen,” he whispers.
I hold my breath. The only thing I hear is the soft trickle of water from the ditch below. A black bird with wide wings soars overhead, ignorant of our predicament. I focus harder: nothing.
“I don’t hear anything, Pike.”
“Exactly.” He turns and smiles at me. “I don’t hear nothin’ either. No monsters or murderers choppin’ people up. I told ya’ them people’s talk is just nonsense.”
“So...you wanna leave? I mean, since we didn’t hear anything?”
As if to answer my question, he continues forward and grasps the top of the fence. It’s tall and old with splintered wood, yet there are no holes. He jumps and pulls himself to the top before pausing.
“What do you see?”
“Oh shit!” he screams. “Oh shit, sis!”
“What is it, Pike?” I plead, unsure if I can hold back the tears. “What do you see?”
I’m about to pull him down and run but he begins laughing. “I told ya already, sissy.”
A tear escapes but I quickly wipe it away. I force my voice not to quiver. “You were joking?”
“Well, yeah, sissy.” He laughs again then adds, “Ya’ looked like ya’ shit ya’self’, sissy.”
“I’m not a sissy!” Even though I said I wasn’t, inside I knew I was. Pike seemed to know, too.
“Get up here.” He pats the rough wood beside him.
I oblige and grab his waiting hand. I struggle with my ascent but soon find myself sitting beside him, staring at the backyard of the Shatter Tooth Residence.
“What do ya think, huh? Pretty scary if ya ask me.”
My throat was suddenly dry as if the desert suddenly covered it. Everywhere trees, both tall and short and thick, covered the huge backyard. The fence became indistinguishable and the yard stretched and stretched. Anything could be back there, waiting...lurking. But it was just trees. It was just a yard. Besides, Pike wasn’t scared.
“I got an idea.”
Oh no. “What?”
“Let’s go back there.”
I nearly fall off the fence, but Pike catches me.
“Are ya okay there, sis?”
No. “I don’t...”
He breathes a knowing sigh. “Ya’ prolly’ right there, sis. We’ve already went farther than everyone else, huh? Better not push it.”
Finally. Something we could agree on. “Yeah, you’re right.” I nudge his shoulder. “Looks like we proved the rumors wrong.”
I take a final glance at the backyard. This place I feared for so many years is just normal, kind of. Well, not totally ordinary; it still felt creepy and looked like a secret family of cannibals lived inside. But thankfully, nothing was back here. No creature waiting to shatter a mouth full of someone’s teeth. Just dead grass and ancient-looking trees.
“What’s that?” he suddenly blurts.
“That.” He points towards the huddle of trees in the back corner of the yard.
I strain my eyes to find what he’s pointing towards. “What do you...”
And then I see it; the corner of a shed. He seems to read the shift in my posture because, “What do ya’ think is in there, huh? I mean, it could be somethin’ worth sniffin’ into. We’re already out here.”
“No.” No. No. No! We’re supposed to leave. Leave!
“I’m goin’, sis.”
He jumps – jumps! Straight off the fence and into the dead grass below. I try to yell for him to stop, but he walks toward the corner as if he lacks care for the world. Nothing scares Pike.
“Wait!” I finally manage, awkwardly scooting off the fence and landing with a jolt. “Wait, Pike.”
“Hurry up. This shed ain’t goin’ to explore itself, huh?”
I jog up to him. Now, I’m paranoid. It was different to just look at the backyard’s contents. Actually being here, now, was alarming. Being alone, however, without Pike, seemed worse.
“Ya’ scared, sis? Ya’ think somebody will just pop on out still?”
I look around again. The back of the house is bare except for a weathered door and curtained windows. “Does anybody live here?” I ask.
“I don’t know.”
Hmm. “Well...somebody has to, don’t they?” I push away branches like they’re a stranger’s arms. The trees start becoming thicker. “You hear me, Pike?”
He remains quiet.
“Pike?” I say again. He quickens his pace. Odd.
Still, he muscles through the branches like a mad man on a death mission. Why wouldn’t he answer me? I know he heard me; Pike was just...just walking and shoving branches away. He must’ve seen something that I didn’t. But what could it be? And how long had we already been gone? I knew my parents were probably worried. They had to be. I should leave.
I stopped in the midst of the trees. “Pike.”
Still nothing. Sweat trailed down my forehead. “Pike! I’m leaving! This is...is weird or wrong. My parents are probably worried, Pike.” Still nothing. “Pike, damn it!”
He stopped. Yes, he stopped. I feel my shoulders loosen. Scratches line his tan arms from the sharp branches. “We need to go,” I try to reason. “Please, Pike. Please.”
“Fine,” he blurts, quickly turning to face me. “Damn, sis. Ya’ said ya’ would explore it, didn’t ya’? Why can’t ya’ just be quiet for once? All we need ta’ do is—”
We both snap our heads like deer.
“Shh,” he orders.
Again. I heard it again. A soft thud like wood tapping a wall, but it’s supple and subtle. My heart quickens – fills my ears. Shatter Teeth; this noise was Shatter Teeth stirring. I couldn’t move.
And then a moan. A cry for help. Or maybe a trap. Pike and I meet eyes, momentarily confused and scared. Oh shit. Oh god, I saw it, only for a moment like a rock swiftly glimmering before becoming once again cast into darkness. Pike had a glimpse of fear in his eyes, but it was gone, too fast I almost thought it wasn’t real.
Pike crouches and moves forward.
“What are you—”
I’m interrupted again. “Help,” someone says. “Please.” The voice is old and frail, nearly on the brink of not existing. Pike rushes through the trees. He rushes through the trees and towards the shed like the brave soul he is. Even though there was fear, and I know there was.
My limbs move on their own accord. I push forward also. Sticks cut my arms and neck. I ignore them, finally leaving the trees behind. I too ignore the fear inside like Pike. Just like Pike.
“Get over here.”
Pike is kneeled by the entrance of the shed, a dark brown structure abused by time and weather. But Pike isn’t alone. At his feet is an old man with shallow grey skin and white hair similar to feathers.
“What’s wrong with him?” Did this old man live here? What if he...what if...
I drop to my knees. Pike’s forehead is bunched with wrinkles. “Who is he?” I ask.
“I don’t know.”
“Well...didn’t he just talk?”
“I think so,” he mumbles. I look closer at the old man. He looks dead. If not, then close. What could I do? All he wore was a thin robe with limbs slimmer than sticks. Wrinkles enveloped his skin, everywhere. Really, what could I do?
“We need to take him inside.”
I jump to my feet. “What?”
Pike’s voice becomes annoyed. “Damn it, sis. This ain’t the time for all them rumors! Help me get em’ up before he dies.”
Suddenly, my body becomes heavy. No, I wasn’t brave like Pike; this wasn’t for me. The rumors were real, and this was a trap! Pike was falling into it like an ignorant fish biting a hook. I needed to save him.
“Please,” the old man suddenly croaks. The word jolts me with fear. His sharp fingernails trail through the grass.
“I’m leaving,” I say.
“No ya’ ain’t,” spits Pike, now getting in my face. He smells like dirt and sweat. I know he’s pissed because he never does this unless I’m being stupid. “We are stayin’, and we are helpin’ him. Stop bein’ a damn sissy and let’s just—”
My eyes suddenly open wide with complete fear, seeming to cut off Pike’s next words. His brows furrow. He turns to where the old man was.
No one. Nobody. Just nothing.
Pike rubs his lip with the back of his hand. “Where....”
Out of instinct, I take a step back. Everything around me becomes even more threatening. My eyes roam the shed and the old dying trees and shrubs. Pike looks stunned; color left the tan skin covering his face; he too didn’t know what happened. No one can just disappear, especially someone old...frail at that.
“I think we should go. Now.”
I somehow nod despite my muscles buckling as if cement unexpectantly jammed them. Pike pushes me back through the trees. We shove our way back. We’re both quiet. Only the beat of my heart and branches randomly smacking my limbs fill the void. Yet, I’m looking at everything. Scrutinizing every tickle of wind – listening to Pike’s heavy breathing behind me. I knew something wasn’t right. The old man could be anywhere, patiently waiting to jump like a demon and kill us. I shiver at the thought of his nails.
“Faster,” ushers Pike. He gently pushes my shoulders, so I quicken my pace until we leave the trees behind and both sprint towards the fence. I’d never felt such relief seeing such a mundane object.
Pike jumps to the top first like the pro he is. I grab his hand and join him. Both of us are breathing hard as we pause there.
“What do ya’ think happened?”
I glance over at him, suddenly jealous because of the fearlessness on his face. My hands shake on their own accord. Goosebumps trail my neck and shoulders. “I don’t know, Pike. He was just...just t-there and dying, or almost dying. But then he was g-gone, Pike. Just gone.”
“That don’t make any sense, huh, sis? None at all.”
“I saw you, Pike. I saw it.”
He looks at me, clearly confused. I continue, “It was fast, but I saw it. You were scared, Pike. Don’t lie and say you weren’t.” My finger still shakes as I point towards him. “It was in your eyes.”
Pike releases a sigh. “Everyone gets scared, sis. Even me.”
He jumps from the fence, back to the surrounding ditch and slim trail. I jump after him, still shocked about my discovery – the discovery that Pike...this person who was fearless and the champion of Jenn Beth Street could fear. It was like learning humans could fly or the sky was actually green. It felt unfathomable, but it was real; Pike suddenly became real to me; Pike was a human just like me and everyone else in our small town.
“Don’t tell anybody about this, sis.”
We continue back towards our bikes. “Why?”
“Because nobody will believe us. All it’ll do is make us look dumb and nothin’ else.”
I didn’t respond. Pike, to his credit, wasn’t wrong. So, it stayed between us. Everything. Neither one of us told anyone of our trip. Not our parents or the other kids on Jenn Beth Street. To this day, it remains between us, an agreement we’ll never break like the love a mother holds for her child. Even though I still wonder what could have actually happened that one summer day.
But that day, as I look back, taught me something – Pike taught me something. Every man is fearful. No one is indestructible. And most importantly, sometimes you have to stare fear in the face and push forward.
The truth that day was Pike. I’ll never forget Pike. Especially Shatter Tooth Residents. Even if no one knows what happened. Sometimes that’s better.
About the author
I love fiction. Writing is my passion, without a doubt
Currently, I strive to create short stories mainly in the horror genre
I'm also pursuing my BA in creative writing and one day hope to share my stories with the world
Life's too short ...