Turns out the new WordPad for Windows actually allows me to access the words, even if it's not quite as well organized as I had it in Microsoft Word.
Long story short, here is the original prologue I wrote when I was 19. I've shared it with a fair few board members over the years and am sure I have posted it on here before.
Nothing has changed. It was perfect when I wrote it, and I've tried to go back and edit but it's too good. Which isn't to say the spelling or grammar is perfect, just everything I wanted to convey is there and perfect.
I apologize for the odd spacing but yah. WordPad problems.
The title of the book is "Behind Your Eyes" (also the first paragraph was added later. But the original "There's no such thing as monsters" until its conclusion is unedited from 8 years ago)
I had the dream again last night. As always, I jerk awake, sweat-drenched and uneasy. Most dreams I have are dark and disturbing, when I remember them at all. I think my memory must have a built-in failsafe to keep me from remembering most of them. I don’t think an ordinary person could have the dreams I have had and stay sane. But then, I’m hardly ordinary.
My hand has fallen from my body, and burst into insects, my eyes becoming their eyes. Carried through endless, dark halls illuminated by…something, a cellar door opens and I am falling. The snap of my neck deafened by my dank surroundings. Can you imagine seeing from a thousand facets in a thousand bodies? To lie helpless and unmoving as the fear rises and the breathing gets louder, harsher, sharper? I can. I have. And these are not exceptions. They are the rule.
Occasionally I’m blessed with something absurd, or at the least merely weird, but I’m never so fortunate as to have a dream I remember fondly. The closest I come is the dreams where she is there. She is never an active part of the dream, but she makes an appearance in them all the same.
Running through a street filled with chaos and fire, I can glance at a window and she will be there, waving, arms crossed and a sad smile on her face. I stop to stare at her, and they catch me, and I don’t care. I got to see her again, and feel the look in her eyes. Bittersweet is the sweetest I’ve ever known.
But this dream is an old one. And it’s different from the others. The others are haunting and grotesque, but they are merely flights of fancy, however real they might be for their duration. This one is real. And it always begins the same way.
“Champ, I’ve told you a thousand times, there’s no such thing as monsters.”
Walking to the bed, my father leans towards me to give me my goodnight hug and kiss, and I cling to him desperately.
“Please daddy, I don’t want to be left alone in here. They’re going to get me.”
He smiles down at me, a little annoyed but hiding it well. “This is your room now, you’ve got to sleep in here. You can’t sleep with me and your mother forever.”
“Why not?” I ask, confused. “The monsters won’t come if you two are around. They’re afraid of you.”
More than mildly annoyed now, my father says sharply, “Because I said so, and that’s the end of it. Look, if it makes you feel any better, I’ll even check for you.”
He gets down on all fours and checks under the bed. “Nothing so far,” he says, smiling up at me. But I don’t smile back. Unperturbed, my father rises to his feet and continues his search. He goes directly for the closet. Opening the door, he steps inside, searching carefully with his hands for added effect.
“If there’s any monsters in here, you better not touch my kid, or I’ll come in after you, and I guarantee you won’t like that.” Walking out with a smile of triumph, my father looks to me for sign that he has done his job well. But I still don’t smile. I just look at him with pleading in my eyes. He sighs, and I feel unworthy. But I still can’t manage a smile.
“Look, you even have a night light. That way even if there are monsters, though there aren’t, trust me, they won’t be able to get you without you seeing them. If you see anything, just call out I’ll come running and take care of it, ok?”
He smiles one last time, hoping he’s reassured me. I humor him with a twitch of my lips and a nod, and settle back under the blankets. “Can I turn the light off now?” I nod, and he flicks the switch, but before he closes the door he says, “It’ll be alright, champ. Nothing bad will ever happen to you. I promise.”
As soon as the door closes, my eyes swivel to the closet door. I know one of them is in there, I can feel it. I don’t know how my father couldn’t hear it laughing when he was searching the closet, but I had. It wanted me and there was nothing I could do. They were only afraid of mommy and daddy, not me.
The doorknob of the closet door begins to turn, but before it can open, I let out a scream. Immediately I hear the pounding footfalls of my father, and then the light from the hallway bathes the room in its glow before he flicks on the light in my bedroom.
“Jesus, what’s happening? Are you okay? What’s wrong?” He rushes forward and takes me in his arms. Slowly rocking me, he asks me again what happened. I slowly point to the closet door. I feel my father stiffen against me in anger.
“You’re going to have to grow up some day, and now is as good a time as any. Why does this have to be so difficult for you? You’re 6 years old now. Most kids get over this kind of thing by now.” My father’s anger shames me, and I look down to stare at my blankets.
Instantly contrite, he apologizes. “Oh, come on, I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry. It’s just getting awful hard to get any sleep around here when you’re always yelling for help in the middle of the night, you know? And not that I consider it a chore, because it’s not and I would do anything for you, but I really need my sleep to be able to function at work properly. You wouldn’t want to hear about daddy being involved in an accident at work would you?”
Shaking my head to show that no, I would not like to hear that, he stands up to leave, but before going, ruffles my hair. “Come on, can you be tough for me? Don’t yell unless it’s something really serious, ok?” With one last smile, he closes the door and I’m left alone again.
Again my eyes swivel to the closet door. No sound this time. Maybe my dad had scared it away, at least for tonight. But then I hear a muffled croak from underneath the bed, and know I’m not alone. Trying to be brave, I try to ignore it, but it only gets louder. I can’t make out any words, but the intent is clear.
It wants to kill me.
Not being able to stand it any longer, I give a low-pitched, mock yell, hoping to scare the monster away without waking my father, but that just makes it laugh. I slowly feel a tug on my blankets, coming from the bottom of the bed. In genuine fright I yell again for my father at the top of my voice, and again I hear his pounding footfalls.
This time when he opens the door he doesn’t come to comfort me, he stands in the doorway, arms crossed to hold shut his robe and a disapproving look on his face. “What is it this time?” he asks, knowing full well the answer.
This time I point under the bed. Clearly reluctant, he sighs then leans over to check. As he does so, out of the corner of my eye I see a shape slither across the floor to the closet. It slips underneath the door and disappears. When he looks up again, I am staring fixedly at the closet door.
Stalking forward, my father sits on the edge of the bed and looks me in the eyes. “Listen, I don’t want to be hard on you, because we love you. Your mother and I. Very, very much. But this…this bullshit has to stop, ok? I can’t handle it and neither can she. You need to grow up and stop being such a damn child about the whole thing, ok?”
Not waiting for an answer, he walks to the door to leave, but doesn’t close it. “Look, if it makes you feel any better, I’ll even leave the hallway light on and your door open, alright? Now good night, son.”
Walking back down the hall, I listen to the padding of his feet, and then the click of his own door as it shuts. I hear the murmured voices of he and mother, as they argue about what should be done with me. They should know what needs to be done, I’ve told them. They shouldn’t leave me alone. But they won’t listen.
It’s not long before I hear the soft slap of flesh on flesh, and the low, earthy moans of my mother. They’re making sex and though I don’t understand it, the sound makes me feel weird, and somewhat sad. They just want time to love each other. Is that what love is?
The cackle from the closet grabs my attention immediately, mother and father forgotten. My eyes swivel to the door, terrified, but too scared to look away.
This time, when the knob turns and the door slowly opens, I make no sound.
As it bends under the doorframe to step into the room, I can only make out its outline as the hallway light shines in through the door, blinding me. It takes several slow steps towards me, hissing and growling, claws scraping the hardwood flooring of my room. It looks to the hall door, which slams shut and locks itself. The slam is so forceful that I hear a muffled yell from my mother, telling father they have to stop, something’s happened, and then I hear him walking down the hall to my room, but still I don’t cry out. I’m being brave for daddy.
Bending over, it stares into my eyes, and slowly the drumbeat of my father’s fists on the door, and my mother screaming for me to open it, open it this minute, fade away. I find I’m no longer afraid.
The next thing I know, my father is shaking me violently, trying to wake me. He’s crying, and I don’t know why. Looking beyond him, I see mother sitting at the foot of my bed. She’s crying as well. When I look down at myself, I see why. My pyjamas are torn. There are tiny spots of blood dotting my sheet. Everything hurts. It hurts so bad. And I’m lying in the closet.
I smile up at my father, and I want to speak, but I can’t. My throat feels like it has been scraped with sandpaper.
I want to tell him I told you so.