Benjamin could barely focus as he stepped back to lean against a wall, feeling a hook dig into his back where a now-shattered porcelain crucifix had hung. He looked around the destroyed living room, eyes blurry. Cy had collapsed on the sofa’s shredded cushions, looking like he’d just run a marathon. Eddie tore his rubber mask off with a grunt, his face bathed in sweat. Andi steadied herself against a wall but jerked her hand away as soon as she did, looking at her palm as though it had been burned. Jason and Randall were nowhere to be seen, and neither were the kids.
Another scream joined the chorus from the other room, and this one Benjamin recognized.
“Eury,” he slurred, and pushed off the wall into a stagger. Down the hall to the first door on the left, the dining room —
Randall stood there, eyes blinking and jaw working though no words came out. He’d inserted himself between Carter and Eury, who shouted back and forth. Caleb sat in the corner, winding his cast-off sheet between his hands, staring blankly at the argument.
“I don’t want to do what you say!” Carter yelled.
“You have to!” Eury stamped her foot. “You’re a cat and you do what I tell you!”
“I’m not a cat, I don’t want to be a cat anymore!” Carter reached back and yanked his safety-pinned tail free, leaving a small rip in the seat of his pants. “She’s trying to make me kiss her,” he wailed to Randall, who looked more focused now.
“You do what I SAY!!” Eury shrieked, and that spike of noise pierced Benjamin’s eardrums and burned away most of the cloudiness over his mind.
“I don’t want to kiss her! I don’t!” Carter grabbed Randall’s hand at tugged at it, on the cusp of crying. Caleb, watching all this, looked close to sobbing himself, especially when his eyes fell on the red-faced, angry Eury.
“Momma says if you kiss a girl before you get married, you get sick and you die!” Carter yanked Randall’s arm even harder. “Momma said so! I don’t wanna die!”
Eury lunged at Carter — to grab him or hit him, Benjamin couldn’t say. But Benjamin stepped up himself, grabbed Eury by the shirt collar, and yanked her bodily from the fray, picking her up, her legs helplessly spinning.
He turned, swinging her with him, and shoved her up against a wall where a ‘Footsteps’ poster had been torn in half at some point.
“Shut up!” he hissed at her. The clouds in his mind were all gone now, and the sun was bright and hot and scorching. “You shut up right now.”
“You hurt me,” Eury whined, glaring at him, her cat-ear headband askew. “I’m telling Mom!”
And she would, oh she would, with such glee. Just like she always had, just like she always would. What had he been thinking, bringing her along? What had he been thinking, letting her destroy what had been a perfect — perfect! — session of the game, the game that was the only thing he had, the only thing that mattered —
Eury hauled off and kicked him square in the shin.
“Damn it!” he roared. But no, that wasn’t enough, that wasn’t destructive and angry enough, and it wouldn’t hurt her as much as he wanted to hurt her.
“GOD damn it,” he screamed in her face, only a tiny fraction aware that the twins had stopped blubbering with a stunned gasp, “you’ve ruined everything, URINE!!”
He let go of her, and as he did, it felt like a circuit had disconnected, like a sizzle of power between them had cut off with an abrupt jolt. Benjamin felt the anger go out of him with a bellows-wheeze, and the remorse come flooding in to replace it.
But not so for his sister. At the sound of her hated nickname, Eury’s crimson face got even redder and her lips screwed up into a swollen little knot as she stared death at Benjamin. One sticky tear trickled from her eye.
Then she got the words out.
“I HATE YOU!” she hollered, and broke away from Benjamin, running elsewhere into the house. He turned to follow her, only to see the rest of the group were out in the hallway, watching the whole affair.
“…Ah, God,” Benjamin moaned.
“He said Gee Dee,” Carter whispered, flabbergasted, tugging Randall’s hand again. Caleb was back to worrying his sheet.
“Dude,” Eddie said, stepping forward.
“God,” Benjamin said again, backing up as his friend approached, bumping his butt into the dining room table, feeling the spots where the wood had been gouged and cracked.
Randall snapped out of his trance and looked around. “What did we do?” he asked. “What did y’all do to my house?”
And Benjamin took it all in for the first time, seeing the devastation: paintings off the walls, their canvases ripped; dirty words scrawled along the wallpaper; the table scarred and the chairs smashed.
And he knew if he looked anywhere else in the house, it would be just as terrible.
“What did y’all do?” Randall again, voice rising.
“Eury,” Benjamin said, pushing past Eddie and Randall into the hall. “Oh, God, Eury, I –”
“Hey,” Andi said, blocking him, holding her hands palms-out. “I’ll get her. I’ll find her, okay?”
Benjamin stopped, catching himself just before he shot a hate-look at Andi.
It was over. Just look at the place. Everything was over. It couldn’t get any worse.
He nodded, deflated, and sank to the floor. Andi headed off into the house, calling Eury’s name, quickly fading from earshot.
Cy stood where he’d been all along. “I can’t believe it,” he muttered, gaze sweeping up and down the hall. “I can’t believe it.”
They all subsided into a different kind of daze, staying inside and out of the dining room. Randall consoled his brothers, who alternated whispering and hugging him.
Benjamin felt a chaotic flutter in his chest as the moments passed, and wondered if they should just run — just fly out the door and never look back until they’d left everyone and everything behind. The future they had here was too awful to contemplate.
A few minutes later, the silence of their shame and anxiety broke at the sound of footsteps coming back up the hall. Andi, stepping lightly, worry creasing her face.
“Randall,” she said, voice wobbly with a tremor. “Do you have an attic or a storm cellar?
Andi bit her lower lip, and her voice wavered even more. “Because I can’t find Eury anywhere.”
Today’s Words: 1104
Total Words: 19042
Notes: The four of you who have been reading these posts will notice this one is four days late. Well spotted!
I’m attempting to write a Halloween-themed horror novel in October! Visit Day Zero for more information or Day One to read from the beginning, and check out Countdown to Halloween for more blogging that’s altogether ooky!
(And the cat is Valentine — I figured the presence of a black cat would make things that much more Halloween-y!)