27 Apr Miracle Girl
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"Miracle Girl"Written by Jason Gorbel
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Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
“When is Miracle Girl coming?” I asked and got a stony look of disapproval from my uncle in return. If he read comic books, he’d appreciate my nickname for an immortal elementary schooler.
Grandpa laid his good, gray eye on me. The filmy, unseeing one wandered off, like the old man’s mind often did. “Miracle, my a–”
“Dad!” Uncle Isaac snapped, the confines of our apartment’s small kitchen lending an extra edge to his voice.
I bit my lip to keep from laughing. Did Uncle Isaac really think a seventh grader wouldn’t know what Grandpa was going to say? I folded my arms atop the headrest of Grandpa’s wheelchair and leaned forward with the wheels safely locked in place.
“Don’t take that tone with me, soldier,” Grandpa wheezed, which led to a fit of coughing.
I sprung up, rushed a cup of water to him, and took away the yogurt.
Grandpa raised the cup to his cracked lips. It shook, spilling some water onto the rusty metal box he’d been using for a tray.
Uncle Isaac let out a long sigh. “I’m not a soldier, Dad. I’m a rabbi.”
My father was the soldier, but he died when I was a baby.
“If you want to go to rabbinical school instead of the Marines, I guess you have my blessing,” Grandpa said, his voice trailing off.
A giggle escaped my lips. I took away the emptied cup and gave Grandpa his yogurt back.
“I’m glad you find your grandfather’s Alzheimer’s funny, Daniel,” Uncle Isaac muttered.
Guilt melted the smile from my face.
“My mind’s as clear as ever,” Grandpa protested, finishing the last spoonful and wiping his mouth with his bathrobe sleeve. Now he smelled of blueberry Dannon and old man.
“So when is she coming?” I asked again, not that I particularly cared.
Uncle Isaac checked his watch. “In about fifteen minutes. And her name is Eve, Eve Roth.”
“That was her name,” Grandpa said as if it had been changed. He raised the yogurt container upside down with the spoon and shook it like a rattle. “Corporal Weiss was my miracle. The Germans took him from us when they put a bullet in his gut. Then we thought God”—he spat out the word like phlegm caught in his throat—“had given him back.”
“That was seventy-five years ago, Dad.” The effort to keep his voice calm reddened my uncle’s bearded face. “Your memory isn’t—What’s that in your lap?”
“I gave that box to Grandpa.” I gestured to the worn, metal container, shaped like a shoebox but flatter and not quite as long. Only flecks remained of the olive green paint that once coated it. A pair of rusty latches held it closed. “He asked me to get it for him from the attic. It’s old medals and stuff.” At least that’s what Grandpa told me. I’d never seen the box before, having to dig it out from under a big pile of junk. It was too heavy to be holding a bunch of medals. One big thing slid around inside. I was curious but didn’t want to be nosy. If Grandpa wanted me to see what was in there, he’d show me soon enough.
Grandpa tapped the box with a quivering, gnarled finger. “These are Weiss’ personal effects. He had no next of kin, so I took ’em.” Grandpa sounded sad, like this man, Weiss, had just died yesterday and not a lifetime ago.
Uncle Isaac’s face scrunched. “Why would you want to look at those things now?”
Grandpa’s good eye stared past my uncle, fixed on something I couldn’t see. “Our rifles had been fired, of course. Weiss smelled the gunpowder and thought we were his killers.”
Uncle Isaac rolled his eyes. “No ghost stories, Dad, please. Not now.”
“No, not a ghost. Not Weiss. The vengeful spirit inside him! God knows why Dybbuks choose who they choose, but they only possess our people. You’re training to be a Rabbi. You oughta know about them.”
“Dad, I finished my Rabbinical training thirty years ago. Dybbuks weren’t in the curriculum.”
“What’s a Dybbuk?” I asked. Grandpa never mentioned them in any of his musty stories of deadly German snipers and unstoppable Tiger Tanks.
Uncle Isaac waved his hand as if to brush away the subject. “A bogeyman from Jewish folklore and a figment of your grandfather’s imagination.”
Grandpa didn’t hear Uncle Isaac or pretended not to. “Weiss ripped out the medic’s throat with his teeth.”
“Daniel doesn’t need to hear this, Dad,” Uncle Isaac said, hands on his hips and shaking his head in disapproval.
“A Jewish zombie, cool!” Complete Alzheimer’s fueled crap, but cool.
Uncle Isaac never told me to shut up…in words anyway. His glare did that. “Daniel, take Grandpa to his room and put on the game for him.”
Grandpa’s eyes narrowed. “No, I want to see the girl.”
Uncle Isaac rubbed his temples with his thumb and forefinger. “Dad, her family just suffered a major trauma. You probably don’t remember the shooting that was on the news…”
“I remember the mall shooting,” Grandpa said with surprising certainty.
“Well the Roths were trapped inside the mall when it happened. Eve took a bullet to the chest.”
“I know. I heard you talking on the phone this morning. I’m not deaf yet, you know. The girl was declared dead. But now she’s up and about.” Grandpa pointed an accusing finger at Uncle Isaac.
“You really believe the doctors pulled off a miracle?”
“Yeah, Dad, I do.” Uncle Isaac briefly removed his black yarmulke to scratch his head. “But healing the body is one thing. The mind is something else. Eve hasn’t spoken a word since she regained consciousness. She was released from the hospital Tuesday. The Roths are coming for a counseling session to see if I can break Eve out of her shell. You know better than anyone that overcoming trauma isn’t that—”
Grandpa interrupted. “The medic declared Weiss dead…the first time.”
Uncle Isaac’s face reddened. I knew he wanted to yell, but a forced calm emerged. “Dad, just don’t. Don’t compare your friend with this little girl. Weiss obviously wasn’t dead. The medic was tired. You were all impossibly tired. Weiss was unconscious and woke up shell-shocked, not possessed by a dybbuk.”
“You should’ve seen his eyes,” Grandpa whispered, more to himself than to my uncle or me. “They were wrong.”
“Daniel, take your grandfather–”
“It’s Weiss. He’s still coming!” Grandpa shrieked. He sent the yogurt container flying when he pointed with his spoon at an ordinary cabinet filled with plates and dishes. His eyes bulged like they’d pop from their sockets, and the color drained from his face. Terror contorted his expression into that of a vampire who’d seen the sunrise. “Keep firing at him!”
My heart pounded hard enough to hurt my chest. “G-grandpa, th-there’s nothing there.” A little boy’s voice inside my head screamed for me to high tail it from the kitchen. I was six and ran away the first time I witnessed one of Grandpa’s flashbacks. Thirteen now, I stood my ground like a good soldier.
Uncle Isaac crouched in front of the wheelchair and met Grandpa’s gaze. “Dad, no one’s coming. You’re home. You’re safe.”
The pink crept back into Grandpa’s flesh. “Isaac?” he panted.
“Yes, Dad. It’s me.”
“Is Weiss down?”
Uncle Isaac nodded. “Yes. He’s down.”
Grandpa’s shoulders slumped. A strange mix of sorrow and relief softened his wrinkled features.
“He’s been gone a long time. You were remembering the war. Let Daniel help you into bed so you can get some rest.” Uncle Isaac moved out of the way and gave me a nod.
I took a deep breath and released it slowly before unlocking the wheels of Grandpa’s chair and pushing him towards the living room.
With speed and strength I never imagined Grandpa possessed, he jammed his yogurt spoon into the wheelchair’s gears where it stuck. “I’m staying.”
I kneeled beside the chair and struggled to pull the spoon out, but the handle kept sliding from my grip. How did a man, not much more than skin and bones, get it in so good? Hoping the wheel spokes would force the spoon out or break it, I tried to push Grandpa forward, but the chair wouldn’t budge. “The wheel’s stuck, Uncle Isaac.”
“Damn it, Dad!” Uncle Isaac stooped down and tried to get the spoon loose. Frustration wrinkled his brow as his efforts amounted to nothing.
Grandpa couldn’t walk by himself. Even if we could convince him going to bed was a good idea, Uncle Isaac with his bad back and scrawny me couldn’t carry him.
Uncle Isaac groaned, grasping his lower back as he slowly rose to his feet. “Daniel, get me the tool box from the closet.”
The doorbell rang.
Uncle Isaac glanced at his watch then shrugged in resignation. “They would be early. Forget the toolbox.” He looked to Grandpa. “Dad, can you at least stay quiet and not scare Eve with your crazy stories? Can we agree the child’s been through enough?” I bet my uncle wished there was a door between the kitchen and the living room, but there was no shutting Grandpa in.
Grandpa nodded slowly, his thin lips pursed.
“Stay here with him,” Uncle Isaac said to me. “Keep him calm. I’m going to take the Roths into my study.”
“Okay.” Like I had control over Grandpa’s flashbacks. I took a seat at the table, pulled out my phone, and started playing a first person shooter.
Uncle Isaac frowned. “Put that away and talk to your grandfather.”
I looked up at Grandpa. He seemed miles from here, fighting the last battles of World War II in his head. There was no talking to him now.
The doorbell rang again.
Uncle Isaac walked into the living room, adjusting his yarmulke so it neatly covered his bald spot before answering the front door and beckoning the family in. “Shalom, Mr. and Mrs. Roth.” He looked down at Eve, who I couldn’t see behind her parents, a weary-eyed couple dressed conservatively. Eve’s mom wore a head covering and long skirt though it was June, and her dad was in a black suit with a plain yarmulke atop his head.
Uncle Isaac bent over and offered Eve his hand, which she didn’t take. “And Shalom to you, Eve,” he said, undaunted. “I hear you are a very brave girl.”
“Daniel,” Grandpa whispered. “Turn me so I can see them.”
“I’ll try grandpa, but it’d be easier if you hadn’t messed up the chair.”
He snickered softly.
I put down my phone, stood, and grabbed the chair’s handles. Scraping the wheels on the floor, I managed to swivel him so he faced the family.
They didn’t take notice of us or pretended not to.
Eve hid behind her mom and dad as Uncle Isaac spoke. Her parents’ smiles were perfectly wide as if painted on.
A sudden chill caused my skin to break out in goose bumps, and I wrapped my arms around my chest.
“Please follow me.” Uncle Isaac led the trio towards his study.
Before they disappeared down the hall, I glimpsed Miracle Girl. I’d never pick her out from a crowd of ten-year-olds as the one who got shot, died, and was brought back to life, but any scars and bandages were hidden behind her red dress.
Grandpa fiddled with the latches on his box. They clicked, and the lid opened a crack.
I felt eyes on me and found Eve, alone, at the living room entrance. She faced us like an expressionless mannequin or someone asleep with eyes wide open. Dead, dark eyes that turned my blood to ice. It was as if her gaze met mine by weird accident, a blindfolded kid pinning the tail on the donkey the first try.
I managed a timid wave. “Uh, hi, Eve.”
No answer. No sign she’d heard me.
Mrs. Roth came to stand beside her daughter. Mr. Roth and Uncle Isaac were a step behind.
“Eve, what is it honey?” Mrs. Roth cooed, studying Grandpa and me to see what her daughter found so interesting.
Eve lifted her head and sniffed the air like a dog.
Uncle Isaac’s brow furrowed at Eve’s behavior, but he calmly introduced us. “That’s my nephew, Daniel, and my dad, his Grandpa Morris.”
The hinges squeaked as Grandpa pulled back the lid. “You smell it, don’t you girl? The gunpowder.” He lifted from the box a large, old-fashioned gun with a long barrel and angular grip.
My jaw dropped.
“Dad, is that—is that thing loaded?” Uncle Isaac’s words rode a tsunami of disbelief. “Put it away now!”
Eve walked towards Grandpa, drawing air through her nose between each slow, deliberate step.
Grandpa leveled the gun at the little girl, two fingers on the trigger. The empty box slid off his lap and clattered on the floor. “It’s not the weapon that killed her, but she don’t know that. Dybbuks ain’t that discerning.”
“Eve!” Mr. Roth took her sleeve and yanked her backwards, putting his body between his daughter and the line of fire.
In a blur of movement, Eve had a two-handed hold of his arm, which she twisted until it made a sickening crack. Mr. Roth was still crying out in pain when she effortlessly tossed him across the room, a toy discarded by a tantrumming toddler. The wall shook when he hit it, and the back of his head painted a red streak as he slid to the carpet in a lifeless heap.
Mrs. Roth’s scream drowned out my own.
With eyes a manga artist couldn’t draw any wider, Uncle Isaac stood still as a statue, mouth agape.
I also didn’t move. None of this could possibly be real. Though it was the wrong time of year for a sick Halloween hoax.
Mrs. Roth ran to her husband and knelt before him, not noticing Eve stalking her.
Eve jumped onto her back and swung her arms around Mrs. Roth’s neck. Her teeth sank into her mother’s throat. Blood gushed from the woman’s neck in a scarlet geyser.
“Daniel, get behind me!” Grandpa barked.
I listened without thinking and cowered behind the wheelchair.
Two bangs shattered my eardrums. Then I heard nothing but a low hum. God had clicked mute on the world. A window flew outward in a fountain of silently breaking glass.
Eve opened her bloody mouth, releasing Mrs. Roth. The entangled bodies of mother and child fell over, but only Eve moved, a ravenous leopard rising on all fours. The other bullet had torn a hole in Eve’s shoulder, but it didn’t stop her from pouncing on Grandpa.
The gun dropped to the kitchen floor.
I backed away until up against a countertop. Deafness spared me Grandpa’s cries as Eve bit into his throat. Sounds I didn’t dare imagine.
Uncle Isaac came to his senses, grabbed the small girl’s arms, and tried to pull her off Grandpa. The drone in my ears subsided in time for me to hear my uncle grunting with the effort, but she wouldn’t surrender her prey. He changed tactics, swinging a fist at her head and smashing her ear.
Eve paid him no mind.
Sirens. Someone reported the gunshots. The faint sound grew steadily louder, but the cops wouldn’t get here soon enough.
Forcing my eyes from the carnage, my gaze fell on the gun at Grandpa’s feet. I dove to the floor and crawled on my belly until close enough to reach under the wheelchair, grab the gun’s grip, and slide the weapon towards me.
I sprung to my feet behind Grandpa’s chair, the heavy weapon in both hands. Three of my skinny fingers fit around the trigger. I tried to center the notch at the end of the barrel on Eve, but my trembling made it near impossible. Maybe I’d hit her, maybe Grandpa or Uncle Isaac who was still swinging away at her head. I couldn’t–
My frightened fingers made the choice for me. The automatic weapon fired four rounds with an accidental squeeze of the trigger.
At such close range, the bullets pierced the wheelchair’s fabric back and Grandpa’s frail frame.
Eve slumped onto Grandpa’s lap then rolled onto the floor face down, blood pooling beneath her. Her body twitched a few times before it stilled.
In the same moment, Uncle Isaac keeled over, bleeding torrentially from his abdomen.
I dropped the gun and fell to my knees, my body wracked with sobs.
Sensing movement, I lifted my eyes and wiped the wet from them.
Grandpa had risen from his wheelchair. He walked towards me, expressionless. Blood poured from his neck and the holes in his chest.
Did Eve kill him or was it the gunshots?
He sniffed the air, and then his good eye worked its way up from the weapon at my knees to meet my horrified stare.
It didn’t matter, I realized.
Dybbuks weren’t that discerning.
This story was submitted to Creepypasta.com by a fellow reader. To submit your own creepypasta tale for consideration and publication to this site, visit our submissions page today.
Jason Gorbel is a long-time special education teacher, fine-art photographer, and aspiring author, having had short fiction and professional works published. Most notably he contributed a story to the science fiction anthology, Dragons, Droids, & Doom: Year One, and wrote a chapter for the book, Implementing Inclusion in Schools.
He is nearing completion on a paranormal novel written to appeal to young people as well as adults. The story, like his short fiction, draws its frights from Jewish folklore and uses them to examine issues of identity, conformity, and exclusion.
His Facebook artist page serves double duty as his author page.
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