Writing Prompt: You have the power to time leap to any point in your life you can remember. You have always had this power. One day, you try to use the power on a memory of a dream you had when you were little, and to your surprise, it works. This shouldn’t be happening.
Malakai had always known he was different, able to summon at will the memories of the past, but so vividly, as if he were reliving that very moment. Because I am! I’m really there, in body and in mind. But this was an argument lost before it had even begun.
When he was younger Malakai tried to talk to his parents about this gift, and just as all good-loving parents would have done they had him committed. Help was what he needed, so they said.
Malakai spent more time than he’d ever care to remember inside of institutions. Stuck in a cruel and ceaseless loop that wound itself throughout his history.
As a child he’d try to convince his parents he wasn’t crazy, but each and every time he’d fail… each and every time they’d find him help.
He would then spend years festering in hate until finally, as an adult with sense enough to realise the capabilities of his gift, he would conjure himself back to that same day of the argument. Back to the day he approached his mother and father only to be so viciously dismissed. Perhaps this time will be different, with what I know now, what I couldn’t have known then…
But there in lay the catch twenty two. The reason this loop kept up its repetition.
Despite his attempts to take with him to the past his future wisdom, it would always fade. Malakai would, without fail, find himself inside a younger mind with no memory of what had been or was to come. The future self was lost, as yet to be written. Eventually this future-self and all its thoughts would come flooding back to him, but by then it’d be too late, he’d be right back where he started.
Key thrown astray.
But all that changes, today.
Seated comfortably before a static screen (the best channels are always static), Malakai was brooding on a plan, as all about him true insanity gathered round to watch.
There was Geoffrey, a man in his late thirties, who believed he was the re-incarnation of Atilla the Hun.
There was Mother Mary, a nun in a former life, known for her caring nature. Such a shame it was that she cared only for those imaginary creatures (though she would never name her creatures, she would always speak of how they snapped).
Then finally Frederick, a young man with a wildly overactive imagination. The product of an abusive father and an undying love of fairy tales. Frederick would take upon himself the personas of those same magical beings that dwelt only within fairy tales (though he always chose the villains, for he felt he deserved to be punished… and so the wicked shall be damned).
They might be teetering the line between reality and fiction. Malakai thought with a grimace. But I know what’s real and what’s not. And now I have a plan. A means to escape. The idea had come to him in the form of a waking nightmare, the repeated vision of as early a memory as he could recall. He wasn’t sure what had awoken it within him, but he credited the insanatorium to some degree, and the odd sense of nostalgia that the patients had provided.
So I go back, tonight… though not to any living time. I go back to a time of rest, of sleeping. It’s genius, don’t you see? If I can remember the dream then I can return to the place. With my mind deep in rest perhaps it will be unable to fight me, to expel me. I might be able to take control, to relive my life as me, as I am now, and break the cycle!
It’s genius, don’t you see? By God it really is.
There was only one thought that troubled Malakai, the nature of the dream. It was a dream he’d rather of forgotten, and yet it was the only one vivid enough to be remembered in so precise a detail as was requires.
What better choice do I have?
So that night, when the rooms were locked down and the lights turned out, Malakai called on his gift to take him back. Back in memory. Back in time. Back to a place where his dreams lay in waiting…
Malakai. Six Years Old;
The sanatorium faded from life, the walls began to melt away and the ceiling started to crumble. Malakai was no longer in his room, nor in a bed of any kind. He was in a car, with his mother driving, and his father nowhere to be seen.
It was night, outside, and they were coming downhill toward Malakai’s home town. Passing on the right there stood the old Courthouse and the Prison Cells, both long abandoned husks, their purpose moved far far away to more fanciful locations. Malakai turned to his left to look out of the car window, gazing now through the eyes of a child. He was strapped down by the belt of a car seat, bound by the waist.
“We’re nearly home now honey.” his mother glanced back, giving a quaint smile in the rear view mirror.
Malakai hated that face, that smile, for what it had done to him… what it would do to him.
It should be here, coming up on the left, the Church, the Graveyard… he watched for the one thing he needed to see to know whether this was reality, or just a dream. If his plan had failed then this ride was
perhaps but a figment of the dream he’d focused upon. His palms started sweating, a redness crept from his neck up and over his face, and his tiny heart was gently pounding down the walls inside his chest.
Any second now.
He saw her, the stranger, the shadow and the knife. This was it. A recurring nightmare of a woman he knows, or knew, but can’t remember. Her throat cut in the dead of night. Her body falling before the Church and then dragged within the Graveyard. Malakai saw it all, he saw the woman, the knife, the man… and the man saw him.
A recurring nightmare that filled the young boy with a never ending dread and a fear to fall asleep for what if the dreams came back? But it wasn’t the watching that hurt the most, it was the knowing he couldn’t do a thing to save her, to help. He was too young, too weak and feeble, strapped down in his chair with not the knowledge of how to escape. His mother never looked, she never saw the woman by the Church, her attention was always stolen by a passing flash of lights that streamed by on their right.
No, this isn’t how I remember it. Malakai caught his mother’s eyes in the rear view mirror, void of love and full of hate. A hate he knew as his own.
“Oh, honey. You really did ruin our lives, do you know that? You weren’t planned, you were just an unhappy accident. We never wanted children. But what would your father’s parents have thought, if their daughter in law aborted a grandchild… their grandchild. He made me keep it, you know, your father that is. But I never hated him. He had to make that choice, because of you. I hated you.” with a malice of motion she threw the wheel round in an exaggerated circle, sending the tyres of the car screaming in a cloud of smoke. The car flipped up and over, coming to a crashing halt at the side of the road.
Malakai’s head began to throb, he could feel the blood trickling down his face, his left leg ached, but otherwise he was… alive! He saw his mother stirring in the front. I have to go. The straps that held him down had come loose in the crash, and the side window had been smashed. He managed, with some difficulty, to crawl out of the car through that window. Only six years old! He was far from quick, but he could walk, and that might be enough, just enough to save his life that night.
A sick sense of knowing came over Malakai, knowing where he had to go next. The Graveyard. He ran across the road, narrowly avoiding being hit by a speeding car that sounded its horn as it swerved away from the loitering child, waving a fist from the distance.
As quick as he could manage Malakai found his way to the Graveyard gates, looking back only once to see his mother rising from the burning wreckage of the car. He hauled the iron gates wide open, and disappeared within.
Malakai knew his mother had seen him, but it was darker now, with barely enough light to see by except that of the flickering lamps at either end of the cobbled Graveyard path. Withered trees of bark, bare of their leaves, imprinted on the dreadful dark in shapes that looked like waving hands. He could see neither the man with the knife nor the woman’s body, but he could hear something, in the not-so-far-distance.
Something like a-snapping.
Mother Mary, and her imaginary friends.
These friends were really creatures with a savage hungering for meat, one that only their Mother could satisfy through constant feeding. And as if to confirm his suspicions Malakai caught sight of a white figure lurking behind the trees. But it was white for its glow, and not for what it was wearing. The figure wore a dress of black with a cowl to cover their face. Her face. She was holding a book in one hand (a good book) and a candle in the other.
“Mary, wait!” Malakai cried, running after the fading figure, running too from the snapping at his heels and the knowledge of his own mother coming ever closer.
The world seemed to pull along beside him, the fence stretching on either side of the graveyard to meet Malakai’s pace, the gate at the far end never drawing any closer. The trees leaned in to watch, every branch and twisted trunk and twig repeated in an endless cycle. He knew he shouldn’t have looked, that to look would only make it real, for now they were noises, and only noises…
But curiosity killed the cat, and it’s satisfaction that brought it back.
Malkai turned over-shoulder, just for a second, for a quick glance.
He saw them clear as day. Creatures twice the size of any man. Snapping. Bounding along the dirt on all fours. Snapping. Greedy eyes lit up in the dark of the night. Jaws open wide, clipping at his heels. Snapping. And not-so-far away now… snapping.
Malakia tripped, his foot caught on an upturned root. His vision blurred, but for a second he could’ve sworn the root that tripped him looked to be moving, writhing as if a snake.
He knew the creatures were almost upon him, hungering and ready to feast.
Mother Mary please, what in God’s name do I do?
The trees bowed down as if in answer.
There wasn’t the time to question what he’d seen. With barely the grace of a thin and pointed tooth protruding from a sagging lip Malakai managed to drag himself up into the lower branches of a tree. Not too tall, but tall enough. The creatures circled round him from below, snap–snapping away. Somehow their teeth seemed more lively now.
From his tree-bound tower Malakai saw something coming up the cobbled path, yet another creature and one perhaps more terrifying that those let loose below him. It was his mother. And she could climb.
Closing tight his eyes he started to beg, to plead and to pray. Let me wake up, let this dream be done and done. I would live a thousand times insane if I never saw this place again.
“Malakai, you’ve been a very naughty boy.” his mother’s voice rang cold against the night, sending a deep shiver through Malakai’s spine. “Now, what am I going to do with you?” she was almost at the base of the tree. Those creatures gathered round looked uneasy, as if ready to run when the woman finally came upon them.
Please, if there is such a thing as a God then grant me this, and only this! Let me wake up. Let me be in my childhood bed.
“Malakai, honey, come down from the tree.”
Christ above! Put me back in the institution if you must. Anywhere but here!
“Malakai!” his mother shrieked, “Don’t make me come up there.” he could already hear her hands scratching their way up the wooden trunk, grabbing past the branches.
A hand gripped his ankle, Malakai let out a whimpering scream…
Then came nothing. Only silence. And the warmth of a pillow.
God. Thank you. Have mercy on my soul.
He was in a bed, his childhood bed, sat in the dark of long thin room. The nightlight was out, the room was in complete and utter darkness, and the glass eyes of a dozen dolls and teddy bears peered down from on top of a cabinet.
Malakai’s heart started to ease. He’d made it, back to where it all began, only now with his memory in tact, and a chance at a normal life.
Only this wasn’t his room, and this life would be far from normal.
Heavy footsteps came hounding up the stairs. Malakai noticed now that everything looked bigger. His bed, the cabinet, the dolls, the room… the door. The thudding of feet grew ever closer, and with it he could hear his father’s voice;
Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.
Be he alive or be he dead, I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.
Copyright © K R Perry 2019