The Call of Cthulhu by ömer
I’m home from school by 3:40 pm if I
run, which I always do. I have two hours to search the house and then hide my
tracks: Mother will return by 5:35, bringing Tommy from daycare and groceries
for the day. She’ll have packages “from the butcher” that bleed fresh juice
through the plain brown paper, and there will be no labels. I will pretend not
been searching for three months now. That’s about when Tommy moved into my
room, and he talks in his sleep. That put things in perspective, made me think
back on all the little moments I hadn’t had a place for. How do you define a
slow-burn thought, something that wriggles its way from suspicion into
certainty? And what do you do when you can’t get rid of it?
have to know.
rot in a twisted person that seeps through the cracks. They can smile, they can
joke, they can take their children on bright picnics in the cold September
daylight but they can’t plug every leak. Across the checkered picnic blanket,
Mother smoothed the blue cotton of her sundress but I could see her wiry hands
wring the hem as if searching for a neck. I said nothing, asked Father to pass
the egg salad.
on my own against a house full of monsters. I rarely sleep at night since Tommy
moved in with me. He lies in the bed across the room, and in the black hours I
can hear him whisper his vile thoughts, things no sixth-grader should hear –
let alone her five-year-old brother. Tonight he wants to know how my intestines
taste, wants to know if the fat of my arm will sizzle on the spit roast and if
it will still be crackling, bubbling, salty when he tears at the muscles with
his sharp, greedy teeth.
couldn’t search at all that day. They came home early, said we were going out
for a nice picnic dinner while the weather held. I had to wait till Tuesday to
search Father’s dresser, to check the wood for false panels, the stitches and
pockets of his jeans for notes, stains, razor blades, anything. I have to be meticulous,
and precise: a single paper replaced wrong could tip them off, and then who
knows what they would do.
was in the kitchen two days later, helping Father with supper as he prodded the
roast “beef,” ready for carving. His fingers lingered on the flesh and the
blade, his eyes glazed longingly across the meat, and I knew he was savoring
the moment where he would cut, and the blood would ooze from the seam. How many
people has he cut to pieces, and how can he not spill a drop on his perfect
can see me watching. They know I’m not like them, and they’re trying to change
me. I eat all of the “meat” they serve for dinner, I tell them it’s delicious,
and that night I stay very silent when vomiting it out.
Tommy picks a fight I’m the one who gets in trouble, like they’re mad that I
won’t hurt back. Last time Father spanked me, sent me to bed early. I slept
huddled under the bed, terrified, wondering if this was the night they give up
on me. Wondering if tonight’s the night that Father comes in with the cleaver
and drags me to the butcher block, splits me top to bottom and pulls out my
guts, dumps them into the skillet while our cat swats at the pieces that drag
along the floor.
don’t know how long I have, but I need something concrete, something that will
lock them away forever. Father’s dresser was the final spot on the main floor.
All that’s left is the basement, and I think I know where.
been avoiding it. The door behind the freezer, sandwiched in the corner against
the damp concrete walls. The door that bangs, creaks, thrashes on its hinges.
Something’s behind the cracks of that door. Maybe someone. At nights, when we
are all together, there’ll be a shudder, or a moaning from the basement. A loud
slam against the walls, the pipes, the guts of the house, and Mother will give
Father a pointed look and he will pull a key from under the kitchen sink. He’ll
disappear into the basement and the sounds will shut off like a switch.
Several days later, new moans come
from the crack beneath the door, echo through the house, but only when I am
alone. Their next victim? Some new poor soul that I can’t save – or haven’t
been willing to? All this time I’ve searched the house for bloody knives or
gnawed bones, twisted photos or a scalp of hair, because I’d rather find those.
I’m not sure I can handle finding a mutilated corpse, and I know that
I can’t handle finding someone staring back at the coward who could have saved
am haunted by his eyes. In my dreams the captive rattles and moans and the
whirr of the freezer shuts off; the concrete crunches underfoot as I reach the
door and turn the knob. It creaks open, and I see a man or woman, naked,
scarred, blood and pus oozing from opened creases in their gray skin. I stand
in the doorway and they look back, and a million guilts pass between us. It’s
my fault, I let this go on, I could have stopped it. I could have saved him, or
the woman before him, or the five before that. And in that moment, me standing
and him lying, dying in the dirt, I hear the back door and I turn in time to
see Mother at the top of the stairs, drawing out her knife.
wake, drenched in sweat and frozen to my core. Mother is calling me to wake up
or I’ll be late for school – I hear the ice woven through her singsong voice. I
smell the “bacon” and eggs. I lie back in bed. There are no other places left
to search: today I’ll have to open the door.
At the breakfast table, I pick
around the meat but they are waiting. I have to eat it. I choke on the strip
the first time, the second as well, it’s so stringy and gamey and oh someone
help me, I can feel the strands of flesh. I gag and
they look at me, false concern hiding their contempt.
asks if I’m okay. I look pale this morning, he says.
fine, Father.” They glance at each other, a quick flick of the eyes, and I know
they are not convinced. I want to scream. I am so sick of being toyed with.
reaches over from his high chair, a tiny fat fist offering me his own broken
pieces. “Sissy don’ be sad, you can hav–” and then he screams. I’ve twisted his
hand, shoved him away, and he’s slipped out of the chair. I’m already running
from the table.
comes to me at the back door as I’m tying my shoes. I can still hear Tommy
wailing into Mother’s shoulder, the sick little bastard. He wants them to hurt
me. I’m sure they do, too.
asks if I want to talk about it.
don’t respond. I can’t look up at him, don’t want to know what mad glint I’ll
see in his expression. I brace for the hit, the slice, for him to punt me down
the stairs and lock me behind the door. It’s only a matter of time before I’m
He asks about the last few days.
Asks about school. Says he and Mother are worried. His voice is smooth –
syrupy. Is there something you want to tell us, he says. I say
nothing. I’m done acting for them, done hiding.
The phone rings, Mother calls from
the other room, Rayou, that’s the office. He checks his watch,
I hear him sigh. Here it comes. Spare me the prelude, stop making me squirm,
just do it already.
tells me he needs to go, but we’ll talk tonight. Then he says that he loves me.
And he kisses me on the forehead before walking out the front door. I wait
until he’s gone to scratch frantically at the spot he touched.
has to be today. They’re going to do it tonight, going to kill me or torture me
or peel my skin away and replace all my parts with something else. It has to be
run harder than I ever have on the path home from school. The living room is
quiet, silent, the air thick with forced serenity. I walk past the pastel throw
pillows and wall hangings, cutesy pictures of our family. I see myself alone in
every photo, among gleaming nightmare eyes and pointed, slicing, bloodstained
teeth. A moan comes from the basement and I slip the backpack from my
It thuds against
the carpet, and an answering knock comes back from below. I set my lunchbox
down, pull my jacket off and drop it behind me on the way to the stairwell.
It’s been a drizzly fall day and I’ve tracked mud across the white carpet. Oh
well. No point behaving any longer. They kill me today if I can’t get out.
pull the key from under the sink.
The moaning and thudding gets worse
as I enter the dining room. My shoes squeak on the hardwood floor and every
sound could be Mother, home early because she knows, they know, and
I don’t have the time. I know I don’t. I’m not strong enough
for this but I have to do it now.
wet air crawls across my hands when I crack the basement door. It’s like
walking into water, into rot, and the walls are slick with dew or damp or maybe
blood. My feet are shaking and I skid on the steps; I have to hold the hand
rail as I stammer my way down. Another moan, inhuman, agony. Another step down.
Again I fight the urge to turn back, to run. I reach the bottom and a wave of
nausea hits me, from a stench I can’t smell but know is there, must be there.
could dash back up into the light. Stay with a friend. Hide in a closet until
Father stops looking. But he won’t. They won’t ever let me go. And even if they
did, I owe it to the next person behind this door. Even if I can’t save this
step across the cold floor. Another hacking gasp from behind the door, a thud,
a stammer, a flutter of the heart. Every noise is a punch to the gut, a wild
guess at what torture lurks behind it. I get flashes, ideas of what Mother or
Father or, please God, not Tommy have been doing to this one. Lashings?
Beatings? Screws in the flesh or weights on the chest or endless razor-slash
games on the puckered canvas of skin?
I reach the door and it falls
silent. I turn the key, but can’t bring myself to open it. They use razors, I
just know it. Dark drops pooling on the thin slices, intricate red lines across
his naked body and when he twists in pain, the cuts tear open and it flows
everywhere, it can’t clot, not fast enough and they eagerly lick it clean, red,
salty, don’t make me look, I don’t want to know, but I do, I have to, I
have to know, and maybe after everything else that’s why I finally
throw open the door.
a tiny room, four by four feet. A water heater. Pipes leading out into the
house, a single blinking light, then the tank kicks on and shudders to life,
rattling the pipes. The new water flowing through sounds like a rushing or a
roaring or a moaning.
moaning. Oh, God.
I punch the tank at least twice,
maybe three times. No, no, no, I scream, I cry, I wail. I slip
and fall over, slump against the doorframe with my hand still on the hot metal,
utterly spent. Utterly lost. No.
still there when Mother finds me. There’s a call, shouting. She sits down,
reaches, pulls me into a hug. For the first time in years, I want to hug back.
Father comes with Tommy and they huddle around me, on the floor of the
can’t reach for them, can’t look at them. Just up at the water heater and its
smooth, sterile metal. My final chance. My last holdout. My family really did
have a dark secret. I was just looking in all the wrong places.
You can deny, you can blame, you can
search for the filth in others. But there’s rot in a twisted person that seeps
through the cracks. And oh God, am I cracking.
The author was under the assumption that her family members were cannibals who capture people and hide them in the basement. She also thinks that the food served during meals were made from the meat of these victims. However, at the end of the story she realises that the noises that she’d been hearing were actually being made by a boiler in the basement i.e. her family weren’t evil after all. The reality is that the author had been imagining it all by herself.
The original Addams Family set was actually very bright and colorful. As the show was filmed in black and white, the colorful set made it easier to make sure they had distinct colors of grey in their final product.