The night was brisk and dark, like every time Fear and I had met had been.
As I walked to my childhood home, the night began morphing into our familiar battleground. The wind, once roaring, slowly died down until it was non-existent. The air, once sweetly smelling of Mrs. Johansen’s lilacs, now smelt of death. It was something I was, unfortunately, all too familiar with. On the same note the air had become colder and colder the close I came to my former home.
By the time I stood in front of the heap of creaking, dead wood that once was my childhood domain, I could see my breath, which came out as steam in front of me with every step I took. I tugged at my robe until it was closer to my body, to make sure my warmth was in check. I chuckled a little upon feeling my ribs with my fingers. I realized I had become a spitting image of Fear himself. I was very skinny, with only strings of hair on my otherwise bald head. My eyes weren’t black, but my once green-ones had lost some of their green and the whites of my eyes had faded until they were a watery-grey color. They might as well have been black. My nose wasn’t broken, but somewhat crooked. One of my ears didn’t have a chunk out of it; rather, I had lost enough hearing in one to the point where it was probably as useless as His ear.
I strode up the path to my home, finally stopping at the steps. The windows were broken, the whole place smelled of bird shit. I took a step up towards the stoop and the stair bent inward with a scream of wood splintering. I quickly got my weight onto the more stable stoop, but the stair kept the inward imprint of me. The night was dark already, but my house was a pit of darkness all on its own.
A freezing gust of wind hit me, so strong it nearly knocked my small, bony frame over, and my door swung open.
In the wind I swore I heard: Are you scared, Jimmy?
I slowly rose to my proper height and gazed into the darkness.
I swallowed hard, thought of my family, and hobbled in. The darkness swallowed me, and my door slammed shut with another gust of wind.
I couldn’t see where I was, but since I had lived in the house for nearly twenty years, I knew where I stood, or what room the damp, stinking husk of wood once held. Upon entering, I knew I was in our foyer. The chandelier was where it had been for seventy years: right above my head. However, I could tell the cobwebs that draped over it, because some brushed over the top of my head.
I walked a little further into the room, and the floorboards creaked under my weight combined with that of the cane. Out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a brilliant light in the corner of the room. As I strode towards it, the light formed into a human-sized medium mass. The mass was crying loudly, and it became louder the closer I got. Then, the mass took form into one I recognized. I realized it was my mother.
She was crouched on the ground, facing the corner of the wall and crying.
In shock, I barely knew what to say.
“M-Mom? Are you okay?” I managed, stumbling over every word.
My father appeared at my right, and with him, the old house changed into a new one. The house was empty, but I realized that what I saw before me was the house and my family on the day we had moved in seventy years earlier. The version of me, age six, was outside, as I could clearly see from the window, playing make-believe. My parents, however, were not as I had ever seen them before.
My crying mother was grabbed by my father.
“Please, Thomas, please no…” she yelled, trying to shield her bleeding face. My father would not listen, and beat my mother.
“This will teach you to talk to another man, Martha!” my father screamed at her in between hits. “You forced me to do this!”
“Thomas…no, you have it wrong, please…I was talking to Jimmy’s teacher, and he was wishing me good luck with Jimmy!” my mother sobbed.
“This is it, Martha! If this is how you want to begin our new life, then so be it!” my father yelled back.
I felt years of anger rushing through me, and it found its way to my fists. I ran towards my father, screaming. He turned to face me, but I took no notice. I ran and screamed towards him for what seemed like hours. Then, I reached him, and my hand went straight through his chest. I dug through it until I felt the heart, and I squeezed lightly, enough to cause some minor damage to it that could only be corrected through surgery, before being thrust back.
I stood. My father lay on the ground, clutching his chest and writhing in pain. My mother stood, her face stained with tears, blood running out of her nose.
I reached for my mother, leaning so all of my weight was on my cane.
Suddenly, the cane was thrust out of my hands. I fell to the ground hard, hitting the floorboards with all of my weight, crashing through it.
When I awoke, I knew what I had become.
I sat up where my grave had once been. My clothes were filthy and tattered, as were my clothes and socks.
My hair was in long strands that surrounded me, which I brushed aside with long, filthy nails.
Blood dripped from my mouth and onto my shirt.
What was once my body would be no more. Nobody would ever know that Jimmy Peterson ever existed.
My brother would be born in my place. My father would stop beating my mother, after claiming he was confronted with what he feared most, but still had heart troubles. My mother would become suspicious of any of food she didn’t make, claiming it could be poisoned, and someone was trying to kill her slowly.
I grinned, excited for what was to come.
It was time to go to work.
The first time my brother saw Fear, I was standing in his closet, blood running down my bleeding gums, grinning the broken shards of glass that made up my teeth.