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There I was, scratching my ninth scratch-off ticket in a row at my local convenience store. My eyes widened with hope, but also sank in with the anticipation of disappointment. The other eight representations of my gambling fuel rested in pieces inside the store’s waste bin. Revealing each number using my “lucky” penny, I scratched away, while simultaneously grinding my teeth.
In a moment of displeasure, I tore the ticket to shreds and tossed it aside with the rest. It was another loser. At this point, I was about fifty dollars deep and knew I had to shake my bad habit. However, betting my smidgen of wealth was an angel in comparison to the demons I’d annexed throughout my short-lived life. I had just turned eighteen a couple months prior; an achievement of sorts for a boy with such a shaky childhood.
My parents didn’t always gravitate to each other in the way that happy couples do; like flowers reaching for sunlight. No; their values were pitted against one another, through verbal quarrels and even physical exchanges. With these background altercations and the scent of booze that bled through the air and walls, getting sleep at night was like pulling teeth.
Even days I was left home alone, I could swear on my life that I heard my mother and father screaming and yelling, as if they were still in the house. I’d witness the walls shake, knocking down lamps and picture frames in chain reaction to the vibrations. On top of that, I recall seeing my dad pacing in the upstairs hallway, countless times. Every time this happened, even with certainty that no one else was there, I’d search around the residence anyway. I never found a reason for the disruptions.
Taking the homelife a lot worse was my younger brother Gregory, as his young mind solely paired confusion as a counterpart to the madness. At the age of nine, my brother had picked up a handful of the traits dispersed throughout the paper-thin walls. The anger, the sensitivity, even gradual changes in appetite all became a part of him as a being. Getting through school is tough enough for him, let alone the miracle that was me receiving my bright white graduation cap and gown earlier in the year. However, I’ve made a tremendous effort in aiding his educational progress, despite resistance on various occasions.
But enough about that; back to my gambling woes.
I cut myself off, hoping to replace my vice with a more pleasant distraction; one that would come in the form of gray fur and paws. My older sister Jennifer, who took my brother and I under her wing in recent years to help us resuscitate, adopted me a three-year old gray cat. This was compensation for leaving me during the bad times. I decided to head home and meet the little furball, whom I predetermined would be named Smokey.
Opening the front door, I was met with a brush of softness, both from a touch of fur upon my leg and within the audible “meow” that had dispensed from the adorable pet. The short-haired gray cat had seemed to already have a comfortable sensibility to my presence. In return, I knelt down to pet him, but only to be welcomed by a strained screech. The high-pitched scream didn’t come from my new purring family member, but from my sister.
“GREGORY!!!” She yelled out. “Get over here, right now!”
I made my way over to the hallway, in which she voiced her concern, to see what was going on. With my dismay, black marker ink was plastered across the tan-hued wall. The ink was shaped into something that made my eyes widen in shock. I was petrified. Terrifying depictions of cats with their teeth ripped out, along with a young boy tearing his own teeth out, were drawn. My little brother had crawled out of his room on all fours with a wide grin on his face and smudges of black ink spread across the palms and backs of his hands.
“Gregory! Why did you do this? You made such a mess!” My sister Jennifer had yelled in exasperation. “Clean it up right now!”
My little brother just stared with that creepy little grin on his face, not a single word spoken. All that was received, was a lingering silence. Up until the quietness was suddenly cut off by something frightening. An ear-splitting shriek emerged from my brother’s mouth. Both my sister and I clamped our own ears tightly to protect our suffering eardrums from the noise. After a minute or two, silence returned, and little Gregory scurried back into his room, the door shutting and locking behind him. Jennifer and I, still horrified and shaken, ended up cleaning the wall ourselves.
Later that night, I was woken up by the sound of deep and slow scratching, like sharp claws were being embedded into wood. My first thought was that Smokey was trying to leave the room, but he remained curled up at the edge of my bed. As I rose up from my slumber and began to step towards my door, the scratching increased in both speed and volume, the noise only ceasing when I turned the knob and opened the door.
I crept my way down the stairs, as cautiously and quietly as possible, as to not alert my sleeping siblings. However, my tactic was deemed a waste, with the clamor of what sounded like pots and pans being tossed around in the kitchen. Stepping into the vicinity of the noise, I came across the culprit. It was my cat, Smokey, perched up on the kitchen counter, knocking down the pans that hung from the backsplash behind the stove. My brain was boggled by the fact Smokey managed to sneak past me unnoticed, especially with me walking incognito.
Looking down, a canvas of red caught my eye. Streaks and drips of what appeared to be blood trailed across the hardwood floor, leading to marks dug into the wall. I assumed this was the source of the scratching sounds, but Smokey was blood-free and the engravings were far too large for such a small cat to make – besides, he was in my bed when the commotion began. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it, but I was too tired to investigate. Hoping it was just a chimney-lurking raccoon, I cleaned up the mess and headed back to bed.
The next morning was an aroma-filled paradise. I could almost taste the greasy maple bacon, as the scent gathered in the air. The poached eggs and golden-brown wheat toast danced around my imagination before I rushed down to the dining room. My sister was already at the bottom of the stairs, about to call my name, as I interrupted her with a close collision. I hopped into a vacant seat and dived right into the gloriously prepared plate of food. Glancing over at Gregory, I acknowledged him with,
“Good morning! Get a good night’s rest?”
However, I was met with complete silence and a defined grin once again. I expected another outcry, but instead my eyes made contact with Gregory’s hands. His fingertips showed signs of stress, but the severity of it was beyond the likeness of fingernail biting. His nails were receded down to the flesh, and the skin freshly broken with signs of blood loss.
My brother began to open his mouth and motioned with a foreshadowing of vomit, then let out a mass of black liquid and gunk. The regurgitation left me disgusted and frankly, quite baffled. I immediately turned to my sister to see if she witnessed what unfolded, but it was already too late. My brother vanished from the dining room table, along with the obscure grime that spewed past the crevice in which his lips were shaped.
Almost instantly after the disappearance, I woke up. The events that appeared so real, were conceived as a nightmare. That familiar smell of breakfast again lingered around the house. I figured these scents had just temporarily carried over from the bad dream. Upon strolling on down to the kitchen, my theory was proven right. My sister had already left for work and it seemed the kitchen remained untouched. Except for one part…
A subtle pulsating breath greeted my ears. The wetness of a single drop of saliva was felt along the peak of my shoulder. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest idea to look up at this point in time, but my curiosity collided with my impulse reflexes. I swear my eyes almost slivered out of their sockets, because when I stared, I was looking at something that made me question my sanity. My little brother Gregory was up above me, defying gravity, his hands flat against the ceiling as if it was the floor. He was foaming at the mouth, bug-eyed, his face pale and gray but with a reddish tint.
I remained frozen in place from fright when Gregory leapt down from his perch. He immediately dashed upstairs on all fours, quicker than I could ever run. After this, a resounding animal-like whine, the kind you’d expect to hear when a cat’s tail is accidentally stepped on, roared throughout the home.
“Smokey!” I yelled out as I ran up to my room. What happened from there disturbed me, to say the least. Tears hit my cheeks. My face expressed disgust in both movement and color. I was upset in more ways than I knew a person could feel. The combined emotions of terror, revulsion, wretchedness, and perplexity overcame me in this very moment. My cat Smokey laid rested with his teeth torn out, but surprisingly still conscious. I watched as my brother, with radiating yellow eyes, rip out his own teeth as well. Oddly enough, quick and easy like tearing off a bandage. Gregory then placed his own teeth into Smokey’s mouth and did the same to himself with the cat’s fangs.
The scene before me was remarkable, but in the worst sense. A young male, about four and a half feet tall, with a mouth resembling a feline’s. A once cute-looking feline, altered into a humanoid appearance via its jawline. My brother picked up Smokey’s new form into his arms, walked away, and vanished right through the wall, neither of them to be seen again.
Many of us are raised up in a not-so-perfect home life, but how people handle this is varied. One might grow up scratching lottery tickets, while another scratches up the walls of the home they live in. A more vulnerable host attracts negative energy at higher rates, qualifying for a manifestation of their own demons. In this case, my brother was a target. Also, a fair warning for you. His body is still out there somewhere, possessed by something sinister, along with Smokey; the cat with human teeth.
CREDIT: R.T. Maxim
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