Estimated reading time — 12 minutes
The Chinese Dream Tin is a thing of evil nature, a relic easily overlooked by the foolish, and feared deeply by the wise. Sometimes, it decorates an office, and others, it marks a grave. But never, even once, has the Tin opened to reveal the same thing twice. Some find their greatest dreams, and others their worst nightmares, and yet for others, it yields their deepest, darkest fantasies.
There is a paradox inside my heart; a pair of wishes each as deep as the other.
The wish to die, and the wish to live.
Should I kill myself?
Perhaps even, try my hand at writing one of those novels I speak of so much?
Unfortunately, upon inheriting the tin, I get a bit of everything, and pieces of the back of my mind are found beneath its strangely illustrated lid.
“Thanks for helping me move in, Mom,” I say as I put down the last box. “I can take over from here.”
She gives me her one hundredth hug since Dad’s passing, and the tightest one yet. “I just wish… I hadn’t left him, Sam… I just wonder… would he have still killed himself? Or maybe it really was just an accident…”
“Mom, this is none of your fault!” I say defiantly. “All of his own choices led him here! First the drinking and abuse that drove you away, the drugs, the, the…” I look over the erotic asphyxiation kit, the moldy lemon peel still lying on the floor from when he died. “The… fuck… well, at least I get my own place now.”
We hug one more time, and she heads back out to the moving van, driving off into the early morning fog. I look back to the tin, and the lemon peel beside it, and quickly throw away the kit. Why is it not so easy to simply throw away the tin? But, then again, what if the tin isn’t where the kit came from?
Everything blurs around me but the tin, and my hands shake with anticipation.
Open the tin.
I try not to, but soon enough I give in, and I lift the lid, looking into the eyes of the strange creature decorating it.
Beneath it, I find a strange toy, or a tool, and upon opening it, countless clamps fly out, bracing onto loose flaps of skin and filling me with an electric jolt that threw my eyes into the back of my skull. The thing inside is revealed to be a puzzle-like sex toy, a thing which can only be seen and not described, like a puzzle one can solve but not write how.
Hours upon hours of ecstatic pains pass, flowing in waves of shock into my prostate, each minute passing more slowly than the last, until I slowly shocked to death.
In the end, my heart of hearts yearned for two things; to live and to die, and both were indeed granted.
To those around me, the words used as descriptors might include prude, boring, and book-obsessed, but deep down I am so much more, whether those fantasies are denied or not. It’s normal, isn’t it? To have the occasional naughty thought? To imagine your family dead? To be imagine being raped in the night, and not being responsible for the horrible things you do in return?
Well, there is no way in heaven or hell that I would tell a soul these things, or ask these questions. After all, I’m the innocent Mother Theresa of sorts in this small, sleepy town, caring for children and feeding them rice.
If word were to get out, well… let’s just say I would have to stop such word from spreading in any means possible.
I knock on my neighbor’s door once again. It’s been two weeks, and he hasn’t left his dead father’s house even once in all that time.
“Hello?! Sam?! Sam!” I pound on the door for half an hour, with no response. I slowly creak the door open, and am hit by the stench of lemon, blood, semen, and feces, all wrapped up in the smell of burnt flesh, originating from a dead Sam. But instead screaming as I expect, my eyes are immediately drawn to a gorgeous red tin, with some sort of Chinese creature on the lid, with a cricket’s head and a dog’s body.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image.
I pick it up, and close the door behind me, amazed and disgusted at my actions. Did I just leave a body behind without a word?!
But soon, my thoughts return to the tin, and the mysterious contents that rattle about from inside my robes as I sneak back into my quarters at the church. What could possibly be inside? My mind races at the possibilities.
“Sister? What do you have within that tin?”
I toss it under my bed with a shrug as I rush her to dinner with the other children. “Nothing important, nothing important…”
As we ate together in the fellowship hall, I can only think of the tin, and it silently drives me mad. What is inside it? What killed Sam? Are the two connected? “Very tasty, Sister,” one of them says as she finishes her bowl of rice. “Is this a new, uh, reci… recipip… recipe?”
“It’s the same as always!” I say in a quiet snarl, “I boiled it in water! Now eat, child! We haven’t all day!”
A tear forms in her eye, and the guilt pangs within my soul. I retreat to my bedroom within the church, and sit on my bed as I wear a false look of concern, one only made to justify the things I have done today.
Deep down, I feel no guilt, and soon I reach under the bed for the tin. Shit! It rolled too far back!
The girl from earlier came, and she looks me over in genuine anxiety. “Are you okay, Sister?”
“I’m just fine,” I snarl again, “I just need help reaching that tin beneath my bed!”
“I thought it was nothing important?”
I give her the evil eye, and soon enough, she goes beneath the bed, which I trap her beneath with my blanket, muffling a startled scream as I shut and lock the door.
“Slide the tin out through the blanket, and I’ll let you go!”
“What are you doing?!”
“Just trust me!”
I open the tin, and I find an old, rusty knife within. One more commandment flashes through my mind.
Thou shall not kill.
In an awful big city of drugs and gun violence, the only thing I’ve truly enjoyed is caring for my daughter, Joyce, my beautiful baby girl. How fitting that my career of choice was that of a police officer.
I may have vowed to myself to protect her always, but a red Chinese tin in the evidence locker of the Bristol police department had other ideas. Upon first sight while cataloguing evidence in an orphan’s murder, I was enchanted by it, immediately determining that I must steal the gorgeous thing.
The shift passes, and I head home to my apartment, where my daughter is waiting; my beautiful baby girl.
“Did you get that job?” She shrugs, and holds her head in her hands at the dimly lit table.
“Fuckin’ shit, Dad! Nobody wants me!”
“It’s fine,” I say reassuringly as she crumples up another application and chucks it at the wall. “a few years from now, we’ll look back and-”
“Years? Years?! I’m twenty three next month, this fucking sucks!” Her meaty fingers curl into a fist and slam the table. Another evening of arguments pass, and I go to bed with a black eye.
Do I care too much?
As I fall asleep, my mind wanders back to the tin, and my strange attraction to it.
The next nightshift arrives, and a plan is in motion. I put on my daughter’s college backpack, and head in as a new gang member is reluctantly dragged into the building.
“Evening,” I say to the two officers with a nod.
I head to the basement where I flip the necessary switches on a board to turn off the lights, followed by those which open every cell. Above me, I hear the sounds of a riot. Excellent.
Among the chaos, I make a run for the evidence locker, where I quickly shove the tin into my backpack and rush out of the back exit, where I make my way home.
When I finally lift the lid, the kitchen fills with a musty green cloud, and a glowing pair of eyes lock onto me from the other side of the table.
“I… hate you…” Another set of eyes appear, this time to my left, latching onto the table with the familiar sensation of a large, female hand. “Dad…”
More and more eyes appear, surrounding me, filling me with a dread I did not know existed.
“You protected her too much, Andrew. And now she hates you. She hates you so much…”
The first hand grabs me, and I belt out a scream which surely the entire building hears, and more and more hands grab on, ripping the clothes from my body and pummeling me with an avalanche of fists; their fingernails cutting my skin apart.
A door opens, and a familiar voice rings within my ears.
The mad nun rocks back and forth in the pitch black of the secret room of the church; the orphanage where she not only cared for countless children, but murdered one as well.
And so, there in the darkness, she sways back and forth, back and forth, forever obsessed with the Chinese Dream Tin, until the night she dies.
The morbidly obese Joyce Walker looks upon her father, his corpse being torn to shreds by some unseen force as his mutilated hands clench onto a mysterious tin.
She should be in shock, afraid, but none of these terms describe her state quite as strongly as obsessed; obsessed with the tin in his hands, beneath a now vacant expression of utter horror.
She yanks it free, and leaves her father’s remains behind the apartment.
He can’t protect her now.
The long drive from the inner city to the nearby sleepy town is a quiet one, and she soon arrives at her destination, a place to open the tin in silent isolation.
Through the cracks of the wall of the secret room, car headlights snap the nun out of her trance, illuminating her bony frame as she chomps down on a rat’s spine.
A car door opens and shuts, and heavy footsteps approach the church. An unseen object clatters in the in Joyce’s hands as she walks.
“What is it? What is this fat one holding?” the nun whispers curiously to the rat in her hands. It makes no response, and so she chomps down on its head. “Rude rat,” she mutters.
Joyce opens the door, and walks straight into the sanctuary, which had previously been converted into a dining hall and kitchen. A few tables and pews were still strewn about.
“What’s this’s you’s holding?” A shrill whisper startles her. The nun has left her hiding place.
“Nothing of yours!”
The two circle about across the room from each other, like cats preparing for a fight.
“It’s my tin, you rotten thief! Now hand it over!”
“Finders, keepers, you ugly old bitch!”
“Mine, mine, mine, mine!”
The nun lunges upon her new victim, and digs into her face with three inch fingernails. “It’s miiiiiine!”
“Then take it!” Joyce slams her in the chin with it and mounts on top, choking her slowly to death. “Holy nun? More like holy…” she slammed her head into the loose nail of a board, killing her. “shit!”
Foreign instincts taking over, she bites into the dead nun’s neck, enjoying the taste of fresh, lean meat and tendon.
Within hours, she has eaten the rest; licking bones, slurping the scarce scraps of fat and muscle, and licking down the blood from bone.
And for just long enough to feel guilt, she regains her sentience and sees what she has done; sees the bones of dead and eaten woman scattered through the sanctuary.
But her thoughts return to the tin. She… she can finally open it! She can finally know-
She opens it up to reveal a potato peeler, and her mind flashes with the images of people staring, people worrying, even people laughing at her because of her weight.
And so, she pulls out a first flab of fat, cuts it off with the peeler, and tosses it on top of the nun’s skull like a morbid hat.
The process continues for hours, with a supernatural eeriness as her corpse continues to move, whittling more and more mass from her body until nothing was left but a slender form with a large pair of breasts and a rind to match.
Now, in her own eyes, she is the most beautiful baby girl in the world, and begins to dance about in the empty sanctuary.
Unfortunately, I find this truth at the young age of sixteen, when I run away from my family in search of a place to hide, just a four hour jog away from home.
The last place they would think to look for me is out here, in the middle of nowhere, hiding within the ruins of an old church.
Walking in as the brittle floor creaks below me, an inexplicable shake goes through my body. A drop of blood comes down from above with a pat.
A rat scurries across the floor, tripping and impaling its eye on a loose nail.
The ticking of a clock echoes through the sanctuary, though the power has been cut from this place for years. The statues of gargoyles and angels have long, moist trails of water beneath the eyes.
Something is so out of place, though my simple human mind is wholly incapable of comprehending why or how, only that the atmosphere of this place is amiss.
Something falls from the banisters above, hitting me in the head with a twunk that echoed for minutes, blood pouring from a spot on the back of my head. “God dammit!”
I look down, and see an old red Chinese tin, its lid bearing the image of a y?kai with the head of a cricket, and the body of a dog.
“It’s… mine!” a hideous, skin-and-bones frame of a woman drops down, her claws missing me by less than a foot, the sun coming in through the windows to reveal… she has no skin. “It’s mine, you little shit, and it’s only mine!”
She dives at me, but misses again, landing in a pile of splintered wood.
I pull open the tin, but nothing is inside. Nothing but a vast, endless void of darkness, sucking in the mass of my body like Jell-O through a straw.
The lid lifts itself back upon the container, and I am stuck inside.
“Turn on a light, Henroyd!”
A blinding light flashes, and I find myself lying on a carpet on a cobblestone floor, surrounded by strange creatures enveloped entirely in cloaks and masks. “What do we calls it, Henroyd?”
“What’s its namesss?”
“It’s a cute thing, quite the cutie.”
I get up, my mind spinning. “W-where the fuck am I?!” They gathered around.
“In the Tin.”
“The Chinese Dream Tin!”
“Are you from China?”
“Shut up, Bennie! His eyes aren’t closed! The China people have their eyes closed!”
What are these things? Where am I? Am I inside a tin? So many questions float about inside me, and none of them dare slip out from between my lips.
The creatures’ huge chicken feet tap against the floor in an awkward anticipation, though what it is they anticipate, I do not know. “We have to show the China man! The other one here!” One of them turn to me. “He’s our other pet, little boy! Let us lead you!”
They lead me down the narrow, moist halls, excitedly telling me of their plans for me; dinners, baths, tea parties, dress-up, and a whole manner of effeminate things I would never be caught dead doing. And then, we arrived at the ‘China man’s’ bedroom, where I unfortunately discovered that there is no innocent racism; his eyes truly are closed.
And this is because his ‘eyes’ are painted on to a porcelain mask, and his rotting body is in a big, fluffy dress. His hair is falling out by the second, growing back instantly as big yellow curls.
I try to scream, but no sound comes out. And now that I think about it, I can’t see either.
“Your fantasy…” one of them say, “was to not have to grow up; that’s why you ran away…”
“N-no… stop…” My speech is muffled by the mask.
“You won’t have to grow up now, Tyler; not now, not ever. A doll never has to grow up.”
And just like that, the Tin spit me out again, forever scarred and changed by the world within, and its awful inhabitants.
THE FINAL INCIDENT
We woke up together on the floor of the church together, our thoughts as one and our standing up, a collective choice. We don’t know how, but we’re both alive again, and doll or not, our spirit of anger has not yet wavered. An endless anger of that towards the Tin, the very thing clutched tightly by that skinless bitch, who hides above us in the banisters as if they offer some sort of protection.
“Come down.” We say in an eerie unison that scares even us. We ascend the walls by punching holes into them with each of our fingers, lunging at her from each side by pushing into the walls and launching towards her, one of us successfully ripping a hand from her arm and sending her tumbling down the floor.
We take a bite.
“Bitches! I’ll get y-” as she falls, a protruding wooden beam impales her by the gut, and an awful moan comes out from within her.
“Stay down,” we say.
Two pairs of fists come down with insane speed, but too slowly, and she pulls herself off of the beam. “The tin is mine! You can’t have it! It’s mine mine mine mine!” The lid opens, and she screams and moans, clutching her stomach, moaning in agony as it opens up and expands like a bubble, revealing a small crowd of the masked creatures from within the Tin.
“Do you not remember the wonderful things which were promised you two?”
“Tea parties! Baths! Dress-up games! So much jolly good time!”
“And don’t forget about makeovers,” They grab us, taking our bodies and pinning them down, ripping off the masks from our faces like Band-Aids, and messily applying makeup on top of our raw, injured skin.
They are foolish to let go, and quickly their numbers diminish to one, as, one at a time, we rip the head from their shoulders, wiping the blood and makeup from our faces with the cloth of the fallen ones’ cloaks.
“Still pretty?” we say to the last one.
“Yes.” He rushes to the tin and opens it, pulling out a hideous, malformed child, who crawled about on all fours like an animal, his only clothes being bondage gear. “You are not the only one who has visited us,” the cloaked creature says.
He pounces down on one of our bodies instantly, ripping the flesh from our neck, our blood spraying in his face. Unfortunately, it is the unrotten body we had acquired not hours before now, and the two of us are trapped together in a sluggish, walking corpse.
He chews one of our arms off playfully, and we kick back, digging our claws for toenails into his neck, cutting along until the gut where he just barely escapes his death, that is, until we kick once more, and the loose nail breaks off inside of his throat.
He chokes on it for a bit, and then keels over.
“F-fine! I’ll just… just…” He opens the tin once more, and a horrid array of tentacles come out, crushing him to death within their grasp as he breathes his last, no longer capable of thinking such thoughts that tortured him in secret.
And finally, we are alone with the Chinese Dream Tin. Perhaps we shouldn’t destroy it, but why? What if… we both fantasized it deeply enough… we could get back to normal. It’s worth a try, right?
We open the lid, and…
We both drop dead.
CREDIT : Zach Reynoldson