Daddy’s Little Girl
By Martin Reaves
Eddie cowers in the corner, his mind fuzzing in and out from terror, and the sheer impossibility of what he has witnessed. He’s soiled himself but is no longer aware of the smell or shame.
The body lies naked and spread-eagled a few feet away, fingernails ripped to the quick, eyes gouged out and forced into…he shakes his head. That didn’t happen, he thinks, I didn’t see that.
But he does see the black-shadowed female form hovering just to the left of the darkened window and to the right of his bed, feet dangling several inches above the floor. She is like a woman-shaped hole punched in the fabric of reality, swaying slightly left and right with a non-existent breeze.
His mind rebels. She can’t be floating like that. She didn’t just do what she did. She didn’t really use those long blackened nails to rake the body’s flesh and eyes away…she can’t have done those things with animal frenzy and then drifted above the body to rictus-grin her delight through blood-stained teeth.
She begins to sing-song, her voice a dual-tone of sweet innocence layered underneath with something ancient and without mercy. “Hush little baby, don’t say a word…”
Had it been just this morning that he’d laughed off the whole situation as pre-Halloween weirdness?
~~ before ~~
“Daddy, will you kill someone for me?”
Eddie glanced at his daughter. She’d always had a talent for strange questions. Now she stood with fish-netted legs descending from a too-short witch’s skirt, face painted green, lips black and some sort of filmy white contact lenses covering her eyes, asking him to do something she appeared more than capable of accomplishing herself.
He looked away and finished buttering his toast. “Just tell me who, baby. I’ll call my boys and whoever it is will be six feet under by lunch.”
Amber cocked an eyebrow. “Dad.”
“Baby, you gotta know I can’t get the boys into action before lunch. We got that thing to take care of downtown, and then there are the bodies in the trunk from the thing last night.”
She made a noise of disgust and plopped into a kitchen chair. “Okay, forget it, if you’re just gonna make fun of me.”
“Amber, you asked me to kill someone; what do you expect me to do?”
“I didn’t ask you to kill someone, I asked if you would kill someone.”
“Oh, well that’s different.”
“Daddy, I know you think I’m stupid because I’m only, like, thirteen, but I can actually hear it when you get sarcastic, you know?”
He opened his mouth, ready with the next zinger, and then felt a chill. She was serious. No…that was impossible. Amber—lover and protector of all things living—actually wanting someone dead? No. Ridiculous. And yet—
She drummed her three-inch-long black plastic witch-nails on the table. “This is why parents are always wondering why their kids won’t talk to them, you know? Like anytime we actually have something important going on…forget it, I guess I have to do it myself.”
She swished up out of her chair in a huff and left the room. Eddie watched her go, wondering who it was she thought she wanted killed, knowing it was more than likely some petty offense, and that actually committing murder was the furthest thing from her mind. He listened as she ascended the stairs, the soft knock on his bedroom door where his new bride, Celia, was probably knitting or reading. Funny, he thought, Celia had been trying to gain Amber’s affection since assuming the mom role. She’d made it clear how she feared being perceived as the evil step mother. He tried to ease her mind, assuring her that Amber would come around eventually.
And now Amber was knocking on her door…maybe to ask if Celia would kill someone for her. That’ll cement the daughter/step-mom relationship, he thought.
He smiled. Easy to see how absurd it was when you talked your way through it.
~~ now ~~
“…Momma’s gonna by you a mockingbird…”
Eddie wishes he could go back to this morning, back to a time of sanity…to sit with Amber and ask—as crazy as it seemed then—who she wanted killed. Find out why. Of course he knows why now. But Amber had known then...he should have listened.
Now it is over, blood has been spilled, skin stripped and organs removed. And it was more than a killing…it was a hellacious and bloody feast.
The sing-song halts. Eddie lifts his blurred gaze from the ruined body—so small, so helpless—to the floating horror. The dead-white face is turned in his direction. The head tilts as she—Celia, my dear Celia—floats toward him, her tongue darting, flicking small droplets of Amber’s blood into the air, onto his face.
One last glance at Amber’s ruined, lifeless body, and then Celia is upon him, that dual-voice a guttural hiss. “…Darling…I’m hungry.”