by Lance Zarimba
Bloody Mary is the third of three original mystery/fantasy Halloween short stories going up this week! Enjoy! This one is a bit creepier and more a PG 13 rating for some strong language.
“What the hell are you kids doin’ in there?” a slurred voice bellowed as the bedroom door flew open and slammed against the wall.
The three preteens sat up erect, shocked by the explosive intrusion.
Timmy cringed as his father, reeking of stale beer, approached.
His father’s gelatinous belly was exposed from under his yellowing T-shirt. His dirty blue jeans rode low on his hips or lack there of. His greasy hair stood in mats and his unshaven face came within inches of Timmy’s.
Timmy leaned back and lowered his eyes. We weren’t doing-”
SLAP! is father’s hand struck Timmy on the side of the head. “Maybe now, you’ll listen to me.” is sausage-like fingers flushed a dark red, but went unnoticed by everyone except Timmy. “Happy Fucking Father’s Day.”
Timmy’s ears rang, and probably would ring for the rest of the night, like many nights before.
Timmy’s father belched and staggered out of the bedroom, disappearing into the living room where WWF blared from the television.
The two other boys avoided looking at the side of Timmy’s face, trying to ignore the red handprint that rose from his pale complexion.
John moved closer to Timmy and rubbed his shoulder in an attempt to comfort his friend. “I’m sorry, Timmy. I didn’t mean to be so loud.”
“Yeah,” Alan agreed, his eyes wide and watching.
“It wasn’t your fault. He gets that way when he’s been…” Timmy searched for the right word. Drinking? No. “…working hard. He often comes home mad.”
The two boys looked at each other but said nothing. Their parents almost didn’t let them stay over at Timmy’s house. Now they knew why.
Timmy knew they had to fight to come over, but once the beer kicked in, his father would fall asleep, and they would all be able to relax.
* * *
Big Tim’s bulldozer snore echoed through the house over the television’s blare. Empty beer cans lay on the burnt orange carpet, cigarette burns adding contrast and texture.
Little Tim, Alan, and John opened the door to Timmy’s bedroom and prayed the door’s hinge wouldn’t squeak. They tiptoed into the bathroom, dressed only in their white briefs and T-shirts, their bare feet slapping on the cold tile floor.
Timmy quickly jumped onto the pink, fuzzy bathmat and rubbed one foot over the other to warm them.
Alan and John stood shoulder to shoulder, next to Timmy. All three stared into the mirror.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Alan asked in a worried voice.
“Oh, don’t be such a baby,” John scolded.
“Shhhh. Don’t wake up my dad,” Timmy warned.
Alan gently elbowed him in the ribs that could be seen through his T-shirt.
“Are you guys ready?” John asked.
“You’re not chickening out on us are you?” Timmy asked and swallowed hard.
“No!” he responded, but too quickly.
Alan shivered. Goosebumps broke out across his body despite the summer night’s humidity.
“Are you that scared?” John demanded, remembering Timmy’s dad.
“No.” His teeth chattered. “Just that cold.” Both boys didn’t realize Timmy’s family didn’t have air conditioning.
“Well, let’s get this over with,” Timmy encouraged. “Besides, it’s not going to work anyway. It’s just an old wives’ tale to scare little kids at slumber parties.”
“Then why are you so afraid?” John asked, his voice taking on a false bravado.
“I’m not. I’m just worried my dad may wake up.”
“Are you sure?” John said as goosebumps formed up and down his skinny legs and arms. Ignoring them, he continued, “Remember, close your eyes and run your fingernails down your face and say, ‘Bloody Mary’ ten times. And no fair peeking, otherwise it won’t work.”
“Oh, and you’re so much the expert,” Timmy countered.
“At least I’ve tried it before, unlike you two sissies.”
Alan opened his mouth to say something, but closed it and looked down at his feet. They appeared blue in the nightlight’s glow.
“Well, stop talking and we can get started.” Timmy hugged himself in the cold room. Even Alan’s body heat didn’t seem to make any difference in the close quarters.
“All right, quit stalling,” John said.
“I’m not stalling. You are,” Alan said with a quaking lower lip, which he bit to stop.
The boys looked into each other’s eyes in the mirror and slowly shut them. They brought their hands up to their faces and clawed down them, chanting, “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary.”
No one peeked. On the tenth “Bloody Mary,” the boys dropped their hands to their sides and stood facing the mirror. No one opened his eyes.
Finally, each one peeked out from their squinted eyes and saw their own face looking back at them.
“Someone peeked,” John whined.
“I didn’t,” Alan said.
“Neither did I,” Timmy said.
“You did so, you big babies.” He turned to the bathroom door. A hulking shadow stood in the entrance. The boys jumped back in shock.
Timmy’s black lab, Jones, stood in the doorway, staring at them.
“Now who’s the big chicken?” Timmy teased, pushing the boys and patting Jones on the head. “Come on Jones, bedtime.”
“I wasn’t scared. I was just startled. I thought it was…your father for a moment,” John said and stepped past Timmy into the bedroom.
Jones gave a low growl.
Timmy reached forward and pulled back on the elastic waistband of John’s underwear. John’s pale butt was exposed and disappeared as Timmy let the elastic snap back into place.
“Ouch!” John winced, rubbing his backside.
All three boys raced back into the bedroom and dove under the covers, Jones in tow. No one noticed the floating form of a woman in the depths of the mirror.
* * *
Big Tim woke with a sour taste in his mouth. His stomach turned and the pressure in his bladder forced him awake. As he struggled to his feet, he sent an empty beer can rolling under the couch. He ignored it and made his way to the bathroom.
As he passed his son’s room, he strained to hear any sounds from inside. His hand ached for no reason that he could remember. He shook his hand and then looked at the swollen fingers, purplish in color.
He didn’t bother to turn on the light. The nightlight was on, and besides, the glare would hurt his eyes. He unzipped his fly and relieved his bladder. A warm spray hit his bare feet, but he ignored it. His wife would clean it up.
She always did.
He scratched his belly as he finished. He pulled his boxers up and started to button his pants, but decided to leave them open. They were too tight on his stomach anyway. He reached into his briefs and adjusted himself. That itchy rash was coming back again. He could feel the scaly flakes of his skin as he scratched.
He removed his hand and started to head back to his chair. As he passed the bathroom mirror, he felt his reflection look at him. Bloodshot orbs stared at him. He leaned forward, almost resting his forehead on the glass surface.
He could feel the coolness of it, blowing across his face in waves. It felt like a breeze coming in from an open window. He could swear that it was the damp night air caressing his face, cooling that dull ache in his head and the burning in his eyes.
He peered deep into the glass.
The depths slowly started to ripple and blur.
Big Tim strained to see his image, but something else was forming in the distance.
A tree’s silhouette materialized. A low lying ground mist swirled along the roots. A swampy forest scene sharpened in detail.
Big Tim watched as a shadow peeked out from behind the tree. He leaned forward and strained to see who was hiding from him. He waved his hand as a woman’s form took shape. He beckoned her to come closer.
She approached in a long, flowing, white gown. Her skin’s pallor took on a bluish hue in the moonlight. The night wind sent waves of fog dancing around her as she neared.
Big Tim shuddered from the chill that surrounded him.
The willowy woman smiled and licked her thin lips as she sauntered closer. She rubbed her hands together, as if to warm them.
No, Tim thought, it was more. She was excited about something. Excited about meeting him?
She drew close, her breath escaping from her lungs as a fog. Her fingers seemed to lengthen the closer she came.
Big Tim smiled at her, welcoming her advances. Maybe he’d get a little action tonight.
She stood a few feet away.
Tim could see the black veins running underneath her translucent skin, creating a network covering her entire body.
She reached forward. Her arms emerged out of the mirror and into the bathroom. Her fingernails extended out of the tips of her fingers and sharpened into pinpoints. They caressed Big Tim’s fleshy cheeks. His skin indented as they slid down his face.
She reached up to his hairline. Her nails combed through his oily hair.
Big Tim squirmed under her touch, relishing the scratch for his burning itch. He hoped that she would use her nails, down there, where he really needed his itch scratched. He told himself that he would tell the little woman to buy him some more of that cream the jocks used to soothe the burn.
That was the last thought that crossed Big Tim’s little mind.
As Big Tim opened his eyes to encourage more attention, the woman’s nails pierced his scalp. They ran the length of his face, slicing it into ribbons of flesh.
Blood ran as a warm wave down his face and T-shirt. The yellow that his wife couldn’t remove with any bleach or detergent, was nothing compared to the blood stain that was creeping across his belly and down into his underwear.
The blood ran down between his legs, soothing the burning itch. That cream would never be added to his wife’s shopping list, again.
* * *
Little Timmy’s eyes opened.
When did the bathroom sink start to drip? He didn’t remember it leaking last night. He slipped out from under the threadbare blanket and opened his bedroom door.
The bathroom door squeaked open and he jumped back.
His mother’s slippers brushed against the floor. A gasp caught in her throat. “Timmy?” her whisper croaked.
Timmy looked over at his two sleeping friends and shivered. Tentatively, his bare feet dragged his slight form out to where his mother stood with her hand over her mouth.
As she watched him approach, she pointed a long finger at the sink.
Timmy’s eyes followed her nail and saw a large drop of water well from the spout and splash into the white marble basin.
“Did you leave the water on all night?” she asked in a hoarse whisper.
Timmy shook his head slowly from side to side. His T-shirt and briefs couldn’t keep the chill of the morning off his flesh. “Honest, Ma…” he began.
“Shhh, just don’t let your father see that.” She bent forward and turned off the water, tightly. “You know how he is about his rules.”
Timmy nodded his head and slowly met his mom’s gaze.
She smiled. “Bacon and eggs for breakfast?”
He smiled back. “And hash browns?”
“Great, I’ll go wake…” Timmy started.
“No. Let them sleep, and you should go back to bed. I’ll make breakfast when they wake up. Okay?” She kissed the top of his head.
“Ahh, Mom.” He protested.
“No one saw.” She turned him around by his shoulders and tapped him on the rump. “Jump back into bed, it’s cold.”
He scurried back to his friends.
As she stepped out of the bathroom, neither Timmy nor his Mother noticed the single drop of blood that her fuzzy pink slipper soaked up from the tiled floor.