Friday, February 15, 2013

Mr Suitcase

Everyone would know him when they saw him, but they almost never saw him... first.

Mr Suitcase is terribly quiet.

And terribly quick.

Mr Suitcase repeats those words to himself as he walks down the middle of the road, his path never directly cutting into the circles of light cast by the lampposts that alternate up and down the street on each side, their cheerful yellow glows never actually reaching the edge of Mr Suitcase's shadowy outline as he says to himself, over and over:

Mr Suitcase is terribly quiet

And terribly quick.

His feet tap on the pavement, the tar still warm from the heat of the day, baked by the sun and heated, too, by the friction of bicycle tires and rollerskate wheels and little girls chasing after little boys who had stolen their dolls and were throwing them into the sprinklers on front lawns of perfect houses with perfect families in a perfect minature world.

Mr Suitcase is looking for a victim, of course.  That is what the magical, but evil, things in this world do, they look for victims and Godhelpyou if they find you and think you might be one, because all it takes is that thought, that you might be a victim and you most certainly will be.

Do you know those horror movies where someone moves into a house and there is a ghost there and the ghost begins to torment them, a little at a time and then more and more until finally the ghost reveals itself and it is more horrible than you ever would have thought?  Do you know how you watch those movies and later laugh and say "Why would they stay in that house, when that started to happen?  I would move immediately!" and you and your friends chuckle over the tropes of movies?

Do you know those movies?

Mr Suitcase does, as do all of his kind, and they laugh at your laughter, late at night, drinking cups of your blood made out of glass forged from the powder of your ground-up bones.  They laugh and laugh and laugh because they know why that became a trope in the first place, they know why it is that always happens, and that is because that always happens.

When someone like Mr Suitcase decides you are a victim, you have no say in the matter.  These things crawl around in the night, and fly around your chimneys and scurry up the trees as you look their way, they lurk under beds and in closets and behind the edge of that car over there, these things like Mr Suitcase, and they will choose who they will for their victims, and that person, or those people, will not survive.

Mr Suitcase stops and looks at a house that has caught his eye.

(It goes without saying that you do not want to catch the eye of Mr Suitcase.)

In the dark, in the quiet night, if you had been watching Mr Suitcase you would have suddenly realized, when he stopped, when the tiny, neat, tip tap tip tap tip of his footsteps ceased, you would have realized that all noise had stopped.

No other animals were foolish enough to want to attract the attention of Mr Suitcase, is how to interpret that.  They were hiding in their burrows, their nests, their holes in the wall, aware of Mr Suitcase and avoiding him.

You were not.  Nobody ever is.

Mr Suitcase squints into the house and if you had seen him squint you would have been surprised because it would have been apparent, suddenly, that Mr Suitcase had no eyes with which to squint, no pupils to grow large in the night, no irises to winch in and out as he focused, indeed no eye sockets to hold a juicy, wet eyeball that would glower and turn and squint.

On his head, where eyes ought to have been were simply blank spaces.

Mr Suitcase's head is not a regular head, anyway, you would have noticed (but you were watching television, a variety show, probably), but rounder, larger, more like a balloon or a ball atop a body than like a head.  His head is not perfectly round, no, but it is rounder than it ought to be and it is freakish when you see it, but you have not yet seen it.  It has a nose, of sorts, and ears, of sorts, but no hair and no eyes, despite its tendency to squint when Mr Suitcase looks at things.

(He covers his lack of hair with a hat, this time a jaunty chapeau, because Mr Suitcase is always well-dressed.  He is a civil monstrosity.)

Oh, and Mr Suitcase has a mouth, and it is the mouth that keeps most people from noticing his lack of eyes or commenting on his baldness (or complimenting his hat, which nobody ever has time or the inclination to do), because the mouth goes full 2/3 of the way around his head and it is lined with seven separate rows of teeth, each tooth a perfect triangle, equilateral, and sharp as the razor blades Mr Suitcase made them from, so long ago, when his own teeth proved insufficiently murderous and so he spent three full days ripping them from his jaw and replacing them with razor blades he had cut into triangles, a process that was so exceedingly painful that Mr Suitcase has been in an extra-foul mood ever since.

It is quite a mouth and very often not even the last thing you see of Mr Suitcase.

Mr Suitcase smiles, now, showing only a hint of a glint of silvery razor teeth in the moonlight, as if the moonlight itself is afraid to touch him.

(Probably because it is.  Once Mr Suitcase challenged the Moon to a fight and the Moon retreated to the sky to avoid him, and Mr Suitcase, who must always have at least one part of his body in touch with the ground or he will evaporate, has been ever since plotting a way to reach the Moon.)

Mr Suitcase rubs his chin with his left hand, the one with only three fingers.  He had moved the other two fingers, and the thumb, over to his right hand, the better to pull things from his suitcase with.  When he is working, Mr Suitcase lets his left arm hold his victim while the right arm pulls things from his suitcase, which is held by his third arm, and just as Mr Suitcase may never fully leave the ground, the suitcase may never touch it.

(There are laws upon laws upon laws, most of them you do not know about and never will until you are victimized.  But the suitcase-not-touching-the-ground rule is not a law, it is merely prudent, lest the suitcase escape Mr Suitcase's grasp.)

Mr Suitcase takes a step forward, sticking his tongue out and tasting the air that comes from your house.  He obviously likes what he tastes because he takes several more steps forward tip tap tip and he is on your sidewalk, his long sinewy legs carrying him neatly past the yardlight.

You have a dog, but that dog is useless against Mr Suitcase.  Even with its senses that are better than yours, your dog, dulled by its life with you, does not hear or see or feel or smell Mr Suitcase and then Mr Suitcase is upon it, and before your dog can even twitch its ears up, the suitcase is hoisted by the third arm, opened by the three-fingered left hand, and the 7-fingered, 2-thumbed right hand is dipping into the suitcase itself, digging in there.

The dog, your dog, sees Mr Suitcase now, sees the sly grin Mr Suitcase has, sees the blank stare that emanates from Mr Suitcase's head, and even though it should bark, or run, or growl, or bite, it does nothing.

Your dog knows.

You, you will fight or you will run or you will protest, at least, probably, but your dog, dumbed down by an easy life of food in a bowl and water in a dish, still has its animal instincts -- slowed, stupefied, but there-- and its animal instincts tell it there is no way out.

The right hand comes out of the suitcase and there is a thing in its grip, a tool or a weapon or maybe a jar?

But no it is a glass, a looking glass, and Mr Suitcase cackles

Hee he heh

And he puts the looking glass to where he has no-eye and looks through it at your dog, pointing the small end of the looking glass at your dog and looking through the large, with his no-eye, the other one squinting, and your dog shrinks on the spot to a tiny fraction of itself, an involuntary whimper rising from its throat as it realizes its organs are being crushed and its bones melting, but the whimper stops almost at the same time Mr Suitcase takes his three-fingered left hand and picks it up and drops it into his mouth, this tiny, disfigured gremlin of your dog, and eats it alive, shrunken and in pain it is sliced into shards by the razors and put out of its misery.

Hee he heh

And

tip tap tip

Mr Suitcase moves towards the window.

You still don't see him.

You never do.

Mr Suitcase bides his time.  He has all the time, if he needs it, but he rarely needs time and so he doesn't notice it at all when time passes.  It seems like no time and all the time in the world as you sit there, watching your variety show and then the evening news and then you are nodding off as the weather comes on.

It will be sunny tomorrow.

But you won't know and that's not for you, anymore.

Mr Suitcase is outside your house.

He is watching you.

You won't see the sun again, unless he wants you to.

You are half asleep and Mr Suitcase is now deciding how he should enter the house.

Through the door, tip tap tip into your front hall?

Or through the window, slither and sneak?

Or through the chimney? Slide and tumble and dance and roll.

Or simply slip in through the wall, because Mr Suitcase need not pay attention to things like walls, either, if he does not want to?

Or should he tear your house apart around you, causing it to fall and crumble and tumble your wife into the ground and your baby to the floor while you wonder if it is an earthquake, an earthquake might spare you but Mr Suitcase will not.

Mr Suitcase thinks about these choices as your chin drops to your chest, and the magazine you thought you might read slips from your hand onto the floor and your eyes are almost closed.

He will come in through the window, and the thought makes him happy.

Hee he heh

You don't hear him.

Again the suitcase is opened, again the 7-fingered right hand dips in and again Mr Suitcase pulls out something he can use, this time to go through the window.

It is a snake, burnt half to a crisp its skin crackley and falling off in dark flakes in places and one eye still glowing red, but the snake is alive and Mr Suitcase whispers something to it in a language only Mr Suitcase speaks, but everyone and everything understands that talk.

The snake uncoils and slithers forward, its half-burnt skin rasping on the glass and the windowframe, sliding and writhing until it manages to work its nose into the edge of the window, scraping through, compressing itself down almost into two dimensions, its tail delicately held between two fingers and both thumbs of Mr Suitcase's right hand as it does so.

The snake is inside and its slimy trail of blood and gore mars the window as it slides up and unlatches it, after which Mr Suitcase puts the snake away and uses his left hand to lift the window, which makes a small scraping sound.

You snore a little and sit up, glancing at the television, not seeing Mr Suitcase lift one leg into your house through the now-open window.  As you sit up and rub your eyes, listening to the sportscaster tell how the local high school team is 3-0 on the season, Mr Suitcase pulls his other leg in and then brings the rest of his body through, the head last, and he is standing in your dining room, behind you.

You would marvel at how Mr Suitcase's proportions are out-of-whack, how he seems to be 15 feet tall but still fit in your dining room without bending or hunching but you are picking up the magazine and putting it on the coffee table so your wife will not be upset when she comes downstairs in the morning, and then you are turning off the television so that the only light on the downstairs floor of your house is what little light comes in from outside, and precious little of that is willing to come near Mr Suitcase, who stands stock still in your dining room, his no-eyes wide.

You shuffle around the sofa in your socks, a big toe sticking out of the one on the left, and you rub the back of your neck and you yawn and your ears pop and you miss the tiny cackle of glee

Hee he heh

as you turn up the stairs.

You walk upstairs slowly, tired, the house far too quiet but you don't notice it any more than you notice Mr Suitcase's

tip tap tip 

behind you, and he is right behind you, practically drooling on your neck.

But you never see him.

Do not feel bad.

Nobody ever does.

Up into the hall, and Mr Suitcase is right behind you, his finely-pressed trouser pants whisking quietly as he steps behind you

tip tap tip

and you look into your child's room.

Asleep.

Mr Suitcase looks in, too, as you do, his too-large head peering over your shoulder with his no-eyes, his left hand hovering just over your shoulder, almost almost almost touching you

but he does not, not yet.

He does, though, unbutton his suitcoat with his right hand.

On down the hall to the bathroom, where Mr Suitcase lets you go in alone, out of modesty.

When you open the door, if you looked to your left, you would see Mr Suitcase but you turn to your right, to your bedroom, and you push open the bedroom door where your wife stirs lazily and, half-asleep herself, says

"Did you turn off the TV?"

You will never answer her.

Mr Suitcase has put his left hand around your face, the fingers -- each too large in diameter, and smelling of breakfast sausage and nitro-glycerin, smother your mouth and choke off your reply.

The door still open, your wife turning over on her bed to plump her pillow a little more and snuggle into her own arm, you are turned around and you see Mr Suitcase for the first time, your feet dangling off the floor, your lungs already choked for air, your eyes tearing up from fear and the smell and the sight of Mr Suitcase, leering at you in the near-dark, the gloom.

His no-eyes somehow get narrow and then wide and then narrow.

His tongue shoots out and he tastes your sweat to see how afraid you are.

Very afraid, indeed.

His left hand with its three fingers wraps entirely around your head.  You cannot breathe.  You cannot touch the floor.

You try to kick out, to reach the wood boards below you, to reach Mr Suitcase, whose name you do not even know, to fight or to flee.

Very afraid, indeed.

If your wife turned over, she would see you, held in midair by a giant hand on the end of an arm that disappeared into the darkness, but she does not turn over and no sound disturbs her sleep.

Mr Suitcase is terribly quiet.

And terribly quick.

He holds you there, thoughtfully staring into your eyes from his own lack of eyes, malevolently staring, now.

Nobody sees Mr Suitcase first, which is only in part because nobody ever wants to see Mr Suitcase.

As you try to remember what it felt like to have oxygen in your lungs, as your brain shrieks in terror and suffocation, Mr Suitcase's right hand digs into the suitcase that his third arm holds off the ground.

Hee he heh

He chuckles, and pulls out something that looks as though once it was alive, but that was (if ever) very long ago, and in perhaps another kind of universe where life took on crueler forms.

This thing is big, and it has eyes, too many of them, and it has claws, too many of those, too, and it glows, glows like coals in a forge, but gives off no heat, in fact it takes the heat from you and your blood is cold.

Surely you have heard that saying, his blood ran cold, but you have never thought what it would be like to feel the cold in your veins instead of warmth, to want for air, and then for heat from the inside, as you dangle off the ground in your own house held in the air by something that you would have sworn had no right to live, but you would have been wrong.

It is you who have no right to live, not while the monsters walk the earth, not while Mr Suitcase is alive and he always will be and always has been.  You live only for so long as you do not attract the attention of Mr Suitcase or something like him.

That is, you live until right now, and the thing that maybe is dead is pressed onto you and you are trying to fight it, wildly, its claws digging into your ribs and heart and lungs and belly and legs and even as you dangle held by your head, with energy you scarcely have you are flailing with your arms and legs and trying to scream but now screams escape past the fingers that still hold your mouth and nose closed.

In silence, you fight this thing that is all over you, you shriek in your mind you pray for your wife to turn over and see, for someone to come in and shoot this thing and its master, for someone to rescue you.

Nobody will.

But pray anyway! It cannot hurt and may provide you distraction as the thing that is not alive and is disembowels you, your blood and guts spilling onto the floor as the thing shreds you, as it rips into your spine and dismembers you, your arms falling limp at your side, your legs dangling, until all that is left is your head, still held by Mr Suitcase's left hand with its three fingers, a head that trails a part of a spine and some lungs, and a heart that drops still beating onto the pile of parts and blood and shriveled-formerly-human things on the floor.

The thing that is or is not alive is put back in the suitcase.

Hee he heh

Mr Suitcase cackles, and

tip tap tip

He walks back down the hall.

You are not anywhere you can see him anymore, but if you could see him -- you never saw him first, remember -- you would see him pause and look back at the bedroom where your wife sleeps, undisturbed (as yet!)...

You don't see, nobody sees, as he tastes the air of the hallway, coming from the bedroom, with his tongue, and considers.
 


 

5 comments:

PT Dilloway, Grumpy Bulldog said...

That is a truly terrifying story! You could probably make that into the world's scariest picture book too.

Briane P said...

Thanks! It's been a while since I wrote any pure horror stuff.

Andrew Leon said...

That was pretty freaky. Parts of it remind me of Mr... um, I'm not remembering his name, from Animaniacs. Except him gone completely and totally wrong. It was creepy. Especially the balloon head.

Not all where I'm going with that character, but, now, I have to get a new name for mine.

Oh, and I really liked the "hee he heh."

Briane P said...

I never saw Animaniacs; the only person I stole this idea from is you.

I'll wait for your take on the name/character. You could call him Mr Satchel.

Mr Dufflebag?

I'll work on that.

Andrew Leon said...

Oh, yours isn't actually like the character from Animaniacs other than the head. The character is a skeleton, so it has a round head, so it gives me these visions of him in his suit.

I think I have a name, but I won't be starting anything new for Spinner for a while. As soon as I finish editing the 1st one, I have to get back on Brother's Keeper.

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