August 4th, 1983; my mother is killed in a head-on collision by a drunk driver. The intoxicated individual took a turn onto an off ramp and floored it down the wrong side of the highway. It was the dead of night, and at 1:37 a.m., this drunkard collided with my mother’s car, killing her instantly. I remember waking to my dad crying louder than I thought possible. I ran down the stairs to see what was going on. A police car with its lights flashing was parked in our driveway. The officer- a close friend of my dad- was on the floor holding my father, doing his best to comfort him. I remember his shaky voice later telling me, “Momma’s not coming home again.”
The day of her funeral was as bad as the night we lost her. Dad loved her so much and just couldn’t help but flood the world with his tears. Who could blame him? His soulmate was gone; a kind of pain I couldn’t even begin to imagine. She may have been my mother, but being so young at the time, I didn’t really understand what death was. All I knew was that I wouldn’t see her anymore. A priest prayed for her soul’s safe passing into heaven as my father and I watched them lower her into the ground and it began to rain, her soul taken far too soon by a selfish lowlife who got behind the wheel after a night of heavy drinking.
Richard Allen Hunt; a name I would come to hate with every fiber of my being. The name of the man who killed my mother. When his trial came around, my father and I were there, forcing him to see the faces of the family he had devastated – to make sure that he would pay for his crimes. Throughout the whole trial, Mr. Hunt remained silent, never uttering even a single word. The plain, emotionless state of his face made it clear he felt no remorse. He later grinned and winked at my dad before they took him away after he was found guilty. It was as if he was proud of himself.
Time went on, but the wounds never healed nor faded. My father couldn’t bring himself to go on. When I was sixteen, he had a mild heart attack- then at twenty, he had a severe stroke. His health had been perfectly fine up to that point, but I knew what was going on. He was dying of a broken heart, no longer wanting to go on- to live in a world without my mother. Finally, his heart stopped beating all together.
I had just finished getting ready for work and went to wake him to try and get him out of bed. Thin beams of early morning light shone through the tattered blinds. I shook his shoulder to wake him, but his eyes wouldn’t open. \
Oddly enough, I didn’t feel sad about his passing. If anything, I was happy. I loved my father, but I knew that death came as a relief for him. He would finally be reunited with mom. That was when I was twenty-four.
I remained in my family’s house, not wanting to let go of the memories of my parents. The few I had with my mother were just as present as the many I had with my dad. My favorite memory of the two of them was when we caught frogs by the pond behind the house. Something about that day felt so perfect. The smiles on my parents faces as we rushed around the pond’s edge chasing the little critters, and us celebrating when I finally managed to catch one. I like to think that it was one of their favorite memories too.
A week before the start of Fall, I received a call from my good friend Kurt. He had been watching the news before work, paying little attention to the screen as he ate his lunch, when the anchor said his name. Richard Allen Hunt had died in prison after being brutally assaulted by a number of inmates, and behind the whole ordeal was none other than my father’s friend, the officer who had consoled him years ago. My mother had been like a sister to him, so when the opportunity came, after making some friends in the right places, he finally had Richard put down. This news made me both happy and somewhat distraught. I was glad the son of a bitch was dead, but angry that he didn’t get to rot in a cage any longer. Still, I was anything if not relieved.
It was over. My parents were gone, along with my mother’s killer. For the first time in a long time, it felt like I could breathe. My mother and father were at peace, and Richard Allen Hunt was burning in Hell. A huge chapter of my life had come to a close, and change was coming. I sold my family’s house soon after Hunt’s death and moved to the city to be closer to work and my friends. I fell in love, got married, and had a beautiful daughter- who I named after my mother; Ila.
After a couple years, the unthinkable happened. I was walking through the park with Ila and my wife when I noticed an old man staring at us. He stood there, long grey hair, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit. Nobody else seemed to notice him. I asked my wife if she saw what I was seeing, but she did not. I froze when the old man brushed his hair away from his face. It was him. Older, but definitely him. Richard Allen Hunt. The same wicked grin stretched across his face that he had at his trial. The memory of that day came back like an avalanche rushing down a mountain and colliding into my world; powerful, sudden, and utterly painful.
For a moment, I was back in that court room. Richard Allen Hunt smiled devilishly at my father as he was taken away, only now, he shouted something at us. I had forgotten he even said it; a single phrase I had tried desperately to repress.
“It won’t last!” He screamed. “Hell can’t hold me forever!”
The memory ended and I was back at the park.
“Honey?” My wife asked. “Are you alright?”
“Huh?” My eyes began darting back and forth. Richard Allen Hunt was no longer there.
“Ye- Yeah.” My voice trailed off.
“Let’s get you back to the house, huh? I think you need to lie down for a bit.”
Still shaken, I agreed, and we made our way home.
That night, after Ila and my wife had gone to bed, I sat on the couch flipping through the channels on TV when the back door burst open and cold gust swept through the house. Startled, I shot up from the sofa and rushed to the back of the house. A storm was brewing, and like a dolt, I had forgotten to lock the door to prevent the latch from giving way to the harsh winds. When l flipped the latch, a creak of the floorboards above my head caught my attention. Ila must be up, I thought to myself. I made my way up the stairs, stopping just outside the room when I heard her talking in a hushed tone.
“Please don’t. It’s not their fault.”
“True,” Spoke an unfamiliar voice, “but it’s going to be so much fun for me.”
I pushed open the door, my heart racing. Ila stood facing her closet, which was wide open.
“Who’s in here? Ila, who were you talking to?” Before she could answer, I picked her up and left the room.
My wife was up now and exiting our bedroom.
“What’s going on?” She asked in a panicked voice.
“Someone’s in Ila’s room. Take her and go downstairs.”
I placed Ila in my wife’s arms and reached for the baseball bat I keep next to our bedroom door, leaning up against the bureau. When I turned around, he stood halfway out of the doorway to Ila’s room. Richard Allen Hunt.
“Did you remember? The words I screamed to your father as they took me away?” His face was twisted and dripping with blood. I nodded slowly.
“Hell can’t hold me forever,” He hissed, his voice like pins in my ears. I swung, but hit the wall. The bat had gone right through him. He grinned.
“Wh-what are you?” I barely managed to get out.
He took a step toward me. Then another. His face was so close, our noses would touch if I leaned forward even slightly. His breath smelled of charcoal and sulfur.
“Not quite a dead thing, but not quite alive either.”
I swung again, the bat ripping through his ghostly image and striking the door to Ila’s room. Hunt didn’t react.
“I will take your family from you and leave you wishing for death, just like your father.”
There was a moment of silence. I was frozen in fear and he was as still as a painting. Without warning, he grabbed my shoulder and threw me down the stairs. My leg snapped, the bone protruding from the flesh. My family screamed as I hit the floor. He began descending the staircase step by step, letting fear wash over us in waves. I motioned for my wife to get Ila and herself out of the house, but in a flash, Richard Allen Hunt stood before them, gripping them each by their arms. I watched helplessly as they screamed and struggled to get free. He turned to me and laughed.
“What a pitiful sight you are. How helpless your family is.” He laughed again.
He twisted the arms of my wife and daughter, snapping both of them, then yanking them downward. They were in agony. I attempted to get to my feet, but fell over, unable to hold my balance. He stood over my wife, whom he forced onto her stomach, and yanked her head up by the hair. She was begging to let Ila go and I was screaming for him to spare them and kill me instead.
He winked at me before snapping her neck, letting her head fall to the floor. I began worming my way toward Ila as fast as I could, but he was too quick.
“Please,” I was crying, “she’s just a child. Let her go. Take me instead.”
Ila had gone unconscious, more than likely from the pain of her broken arm. Richard Allen Hunt placed his foot on her neck and pulled up her hair, continuing to do so even after her fragile neck broke under the weight of his foot and the life left her eyes. With brute strength, he was able to tear her head clean off. I thought I heard the sound of glass breaking. I hadn’t realized it just yet, but Ila’s head was not her own.
My heart sank to the depths of my soul and tears burst from my eyes, soaking the floor around me.
“You sick fucking monster!”
He dropped Ila’s head at my side. Inexplicably, it shattered into pieces. That’s when I noticed. I looked at the shards and then turned my head to my wife’s position. Somehow, their bodies had transformed into life-size, porcelain dolls. I didn’t understand what was happening.
Was any of this real, or was he just toying with me?
“It’s all just a game to me, you know? Unable to live, Unable to fully die. You wouldn’t believe how boring it all gets to be.” He knelt down in the fractals of Ila’s head.
“Remember what I said. It won’t last.”
With a solid punch to the face, I was out cold. When I came to, I was in a hospital. A bandage covered my left eye. My leg ached horribly and was done up in a thick cast, elevated by wires. A nurse was swapping out an IV for another patient in the room. I coughed hard.
“Ah!” The nurse spun around. “Patient 305! How are you feeling?”
“Where am I?” I uttered.
“In a safe place. Safest of all places, actually.” She pulled up a chair next to my bed. “Your case is a curious one indeed! I just read the file this morning. Can’t Quite get those images out of my head.”
“What?” I asked.
“Do you not remember what happened?”
I didn’t, at first.
“No. Was I in an accident? Where’s my wife? Where’s my daughter?”
The nurse’s face sank.
“Oh, Patient 305. They won’t be coming home again.”
WRITTEN BY: R.L. Rogers
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