Estimated reading time — 10 minutes
This is part two of a three-part series. The final installment will be posted tomorrow; alternatively, you can track The Shredder Monkey Series tag for new updates.
Blog Entry: September 9th, 2014
Henry Gaffigan is dead.
Cisneros and I hadn’t been sent for him since the night he spoke, and I was thankful for that. Until yesterday. We were supposed to take him from Sunshine Convalescent to San Gabriel Kidney Center; as soon as his name appeared on our pager, my blood turned to ice. I’m pretty sure I was physically shaking as we walked through the door, but we didn’t even get to his room before one of the snotty, normally inattentive nurses caught us. Mr. Gaffigan passed last night. For no apparent reason, his blood pressure dropped, and his family had a DNR order in place.
Normally, I wouldn’t have found this revelation particularly shocking. He was old and sick, and Sunshine has a reputation for handing out the wrong meds. But Cisneros had to use the restroom, leaving me outside what had been Henry Gaffigan’s room. Not thinking, I looked through the little window in the door, directly at the wall beside what had been Henry Gaffigan’s bed. There were little pictures on the wall, done in black ink.
“I think it was the roommate,” the nurse told me. “Mr. Gaffigan definitely didn’t have the motor skills for art.”
But I wasn’t so sure.
Because I’d seen that arrangement of straight lines and triangles before. Long ago. On that strange CHALK chocolate bar.
What the fuck, guys? What’s going on?
Blog Entry: September 12th, 2014
Woke up at noon today. My mom said she’d called my boss and told him I was sick; I looked like I needed the sleep. She probably had a point. I haven’t been sleeping well the last week or so. Not since Henry Gaffigan spoke to me, and especially not since he died.
I keep on having this same dream, over and over again. I’m running through a maze and, whenever I think I’ve found the way out, I hit a wall and have to start over again. Except the walls aren’t really walls; they’re invisible, and I can’t touch them. But somehow, I know when I can’t go any farther. The only thing I can see is a dry, golden field, extending infinitely in all directions. Above my head, the sky is sunny and cloudless. I think it’s warm there.
So I run around, following these invisible passageways, and I’m nervous because I know someone is following me. I can’t see them. But I hear whispering, high-pitched and singsongy, like one of those recorders I used to play in third-grade music class. I can’t quite make out what’s being whispered. It might not even be English, or Spanish, or any other language I’ve ever heard. And sometimes that pipe-ish whispering is accompanied by a rustling in the grass, like the footsteps of a cat. I whirl around, but the whispering and footsteps automatically cease, and I’m staring at dead air.
Last night, I felt something reaching for me, jostling my hair. It couldn’t have been the wind, because the grass in front of me didn’t move.
Filled with an indescribable sense of dread, I ran faster. The footsteps behind me grew louder, loud enough for me to notice their three-beat, waltz-like rhythm. And the whispering became a hum, then a melody, and finally an entire wind section – the urgent, cascading notes echoing off the invisible walls around me. And something clasped my shoulder.
Something spindly, grey, scaly, tough, and covered with coarse black hairs.
But, when I whirled around to face the owner of that horrific appendage, I saw nothing but dirty white-and-grey bumps. My stucco ceiling, streaked by the light of the midday sun.
Blog entry: September 17th, 2014
I think I’m going crazy. That must be it; I haven’t had nightmares since I was a little kid but, all of a sudden, I’m waking up dizzy and nauseous from an impossibly lucid dream.
Right after I wrote my last blog entry, I drove to CVS and picked up a box of sleeping pills. When I was in kindergarten and woke up screaming, crying, and puking four times a week, and my mom told me she solved the problem by giving me a spoonful of cough syrup before bed. Apparently she’d gone about things the right way; one pill made me sleep like a baby. Until last night. I had the box on my nightstand, but I wanted to stay up a bit to finish Section 3 of the UC Irvine online application.
Next thing I knew, it was the morning. I’d woken up and showered, and was walking from my car to the station. I mean, I assumed I’d woken up and showered and drove to work, because there I was, on the sidewalk and in my uniform. I opened the door and walked past the dispatch booth to grab my time card, and the dispatcher – a chick named Mary – gasped.
“Gomez!” she cried. “What are you… how did you…”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, interrupting her babbling. “I start at eight. Did Langdon change the schedule again without telling me?”
“But…” Mary stammered, “but… you don’t work here. The police said… why are you out of jail?”
Jail? Huh? Mary’s always been a little ditzy, but her shock and confusion were sincere.
“Are you smoking something?” I laughed. “I was here yesterday.”
But apparently, Mary wasn’t trying to be funny. In one fluid movement, she shut and locked the door to the dispatch booth. Through the thin walls, I could hear her dialing a number on her phone. Thoroughly mystified, I checked the printed copy of the schedule that Langdon, my supervisor, always tapes up on the wall.
08:00 – 16:00, Unit 51: Cisneros, Green.
Heartbeat quickening, I scanned the numbers and names. The date was correct: September 17th, 2014. But there were some definite differences between this schedule and the one I glanced over yesterday. I didn’t recognize some of the names – Jardiel? O’Rourke? Lang? – and a few names were missing. Including mine.
I turned around. Cisneros was standing behind me. Except, he looked different. He was sporting a neat goatee and moustache, his longish black hair pulled back in a knobby ponytail. Yesterday, he was clean-shaven with a buzz cut.
“Gomez… Ari… what the fuck?” He, like Mary, was looking me as though I’d sprouted another head.
“What’s going on?” I demanded, my voice trembling. “Why am I not on the schedule?”
“Um…” he frowned, taking a step back. “Ari, I miss you and all, but I don’t think Langdon’s going to give you your job back. How are you even here? I mean, the newspaper said you were going away for eight years.”
“Eight years? What newspaper? What the fuck is going on?”
Cisneros took another step back. The front door opened, and I heard heavy footsteps. Charlie Green – all six foot four of him – stepped out of the hallway. There was a scream from the dispatch booth, and Mary came charging out, wide-eyed and hysterical.
“Grab her!” she screamed to the guys. “Lock her in the office!”
Before I knew what was happening, she was clasping my wrists behind my back. Cisneros froze. Green barreled towards me, shoving Cisneros out of the way, and then I was looking at the world upside down and backwards as he picked me up, swung me over his shoulder and dropped me unceremoniously on the floor of Langdon’s office. He slammed the door, and I heard the lock click.
I stood up and lunged for the phone on Langdon’s desk, desperate to contact my parents or Jose or my best friend or anyone else who could explain the discrepancy between the world I’d fallen asleep in and the one I’d woken up to. Then I saw a newspaper headline, popping out from under a pile of billing printouts. It was an article cut out of the Los Angeles Times, dated August 20th.
“Former EMT Sentenced to Eight Years for Drunk Driving Death.”
Yesterday (the article stated), Ariana Gomez, 22, of Duarte was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter.
It went on to describe her crime – on January 5th, 2014, at 12:45am, she’d made a right turn through a red light at the intersection of Foothill and Rosemead in Pasadena, on the way to the freeway, heading home after attending a house party. She’d struck a bicyclist – Adam Yen, 20, of Arcadia – killing him instantly. Her blood alcohol level was 0.14, nearly twice the legal limit.
I read the article twice, and then I lost my restraint, and then I screamed and screamed until my throat burned and my knees buckled, and I fell back onto Langdon’s chair and missed. I fell down, down… the world spun… then blackness… then the sound of the door opening, and Green’s voice…
“Where the fuck did she go?”
And then I was staring up at stucco peaks and valleys, eyes burning. My bedside lamp was on, and my laptop was open on my pillow. I rolled over and checked the time. 6:18. Twelve minutes until my alarm went off. My right arm ached, and my head throbbed. I turned to the side and puked all over the floor. I swung my legs over the side of my bed and tried to stand, but as soon as I shifted my balance the room began to spin, and then I was staring at the stucco again, drenched in cool sweat, too weak to move.
I don’t know what’s going on. That was the weirdest dream I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, it didn’t even feel like a dream. I was at the station. I was talking to my partner. I could feel Mary’s hands on me. And the lucidity of it all wasn’t even the strangest part.
I had been at a party in Pasadena on January 4th, my friend Caitlyn’s birthday. And I had thrown back a few PBRs, but I could talk straight and walk a line and thought I was okay to drive home around midnight.
But I hadn’t driven home.
I’d had second thoughts. I’d taken off my shoes and fallen asleep on Caitlyn’s couch, then woke up nine hours later with drool running down my chin and Jenny Wong’s ex-boyfriend passed out on my shoulder.
I lay there, on my back on the rug, for the better part of an hour before I had the strength to drag myself into bed. I had to call out of work again, and I’m pretty sure I copped as much of an attitude as I could manage with Mary, who answered the phone.
Hours later, in the shower, I noticed a dark purple bruise on my right shoulder that wasn’t there yesterday. Exactly the sort of bruise I’d have expected if Charlie Green had dropped me on the floor, like he did in my dream.
Blog entry: September 18th, 2014
I’m going crazy. I’m going crazy. The sleeping pills aren’t working anymore. I was back in the maze again last night, blue sky above me and golden field extending in all directions. I was running. This was the right path, I could feel it. I could find my way out of the maze, escape the thing chasing me, and then… I don’t know. Find the highway? Hitch-hike? In my dream, I hadn’t thought that far ahead.
But I kept running, in the moment sure my life depended on it. And then I heard the whispers again. The same melodic piping, but it was different today – doleful, haunting. I stopped, and surveyed the area around me. And I noticed I was not alone. In the distance I saw a grayish form, moving slowly though the grass.
Whoever – or whatever – had joined me in my mysterious labyrinth was at least a few hundred yards away, I could not tell whether I was looking at a human or an animal or some sort of machine. The same doleful motif was repeated and, this time, I recognized the gray silhouette as its source.
I ran, down the same path that I sensed would lead me to freedom. My lungs ached, my legs numbed, I could feel sweat beads rolling down my face and neck. Then I glanced to my left, and saw something that nearly stopped my heart, drove me to stumble and fall to my knees in the dead grass.
It was a small shack, square and flat-roofed, covered in rusted sheet metal. No windows, just one wood-and-mesh door. Several burned-out neon signs.
And, standing in front of the building was the most disturbing, hideous sight I have ever seen. Breathing. Staring at me with bulbous marble eyes. Yelling strange words to me in its shrill, woodwind voice.
Its body was grey and cylindrical, about three feet high, covered in dry, leathery hide dotted with bulging, pus-filled blisters and disparate clumps of coarse black hair. At its base was a tangled network of tentacles, writhing and twisting, glistening, coated with a whitish slime. Extending from its midsection were three appendages, dry and cracking like tree roots, bending at the middle and culminating in a warty ball with five spindly, scaled appendages, covered in sickly black protuberances and tufts of hair. And topping the cylindrical trunk was what appeared to be a clear sac filled with opaque black liquid, bulging and then extending, reshaping itself like a stress ball. Attached to this water-balloon head (head?) were three pure white spheres, unblinking, emotionless, but inarguably fixed on me.
I think I screamed. I attempted to climb to my feet but found myself drained of all strength, and fell backwards, supine in the grass. I could feel the coarse stalks scratching my arms as I collapsed, seeing nothing but blue. And then I felt myself spinning around, still falling, down through the grass and deeper and deeper into the earth, the grey creature’s drilling, flute-like cries pounding in my ears.
The last thing I remember was something staring down at me. A purple sphere of some sort, with a prominent red nose and two tiny green ears. Something reaching out with a long, skinny, purple arm, furry in texture, like a puppet. I couldn’t make out its mouth, but its red eyes flashed gleefully.
Then I woke up, the grayish light of early morning illuminating my room. And then I found myself staring, again, into depthless red eyes embedded in a purple sphere. I imagined one of its long, purple arms reaching for me, and I nearly screamed.
Then I realized it was all just a dream, and I was staring at the stuffed Shredder Monkey sitting on my shelf.
I talked to my dad later. I asked him about that trip to Tahoe years ago, when we stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. He remembered the trip; he even remembered the Goosebumps book I was reading. But he said that we never stopped for gas, that it was cloudy and drizzling the entire drive, and that I slept in the back the entire way.
What is happening to me?
Blog entry: September 19th, 2014
I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep.
I saw it today. I saw the Shredder Monkey.
We were downtown, posting in a ranch market parking lot around Wilshire and Alvarado. I got out to buy a soda, and I looked across the street and it was there. On the sidewalk down the block a ways, just standing there, staring at me.
It’s big, at least as big as a man. From a distance, it looked like one of the guys in character suits at Disneyland. Wide, square body; balancing on these two tiny little skinny legs that shouldn’t be able to support the weight of its bulging body and giant round head. Long, skinny arms – one nearly reaching to the ground, the other extended towards me. All purple, with puke-green, mitt-like hands and feet. A big pink circle on its belly. Blood red eyes. It didn’t move.
I know it was watching me.
So I opened the door and screamed at Cisneros to look, look over there, but thing was gone. I jumped out of the ambulance and ran down the block to the spot I’d seen the giant monkey, between a lamppost and a run-down office offering payday loans.
Nothing. Not so much as a purple hair.
Cisneros gave me this half-pitying, half-mocking face he’s been throwing my way all week. I didn’t tell him about my dream, but he knows something’s up. He keeps on asking me if everything’s okay at home. Apparently, Charlie Green says I have “bitch eyes” now.
I’m scared. I keep on telling myself it’s just my imagination; that it’s the lack of sleep and the stress from work and applying to school getting to me, all mixed together and combined with that stuffed monkey on my shelf, staring down at me while I sleep. I took the thing and threw it in the attic. Maybe that will help.
But even so, it doesn’t change what I saw. I saw the monkey. Just like I heard Henry Gaffigan speak that day, like I saw those markings on the wall, felt Mary’s hands grasping my wrists and the pain shooting from my shoulders to my fingertips when Green dropped me. And maybe I could rationalize and explain it away if it weren’t for the bruise on my shoulder and the scratches on my arms and the maddening memory of that sheet-metal shack and that grey, scaly…
I can’t sleep. I can’t see that thing again. I can’t be in that maze. The pills aren’t working anymore. I’m scared.
Credit To – NickyXX