A Flash Fiction by Nicholas E. Timm
My arm bled. It wasn’t the only injury I had, but it was the worst.
Somehow, Elroy had caught me – He’d found me after all these years of running and hiding – the chase was over and I’d lost the race.
It was because I’d stopped. I’d felt safe, at home, at ease with life for the first time since I’d escaped his pallid grasp a decade ago.
Now, too late, I realized I hadn’t escaped – he’d let me go, and my whole life had been a game to him. He the cat and I the mouse.
Hiding in the shadows of the room I’d barged into, my heart hammered in my chest, bouncing painfully off my ribs. Old, tattered plastic sheets billowed in from gaping windows, hungry mouths for the night. The sheets snapped against the few tacks still holding them in place – teeth gnashing.
Moonlight echoed in, a fragment of light from the all new chrome and glass building opposite of this derelict three story Brownstone bound for demolition.
If I died here they wouldn’t find my body. The building which rose in its place would be my tombstone and the earth below a forgotten grave.
A cackle came from the bottom floor and I knew it belonged to Elroy. It was the same way he’d found me in my parents home as a child.
It was our fault. We’d called him.
We’d been playing a stupid game, like Bloody Mary, but real. All too real. My four friends had found that out before me – gone missing one by one, until I was all that was left from that midnight congress in the cold.
The blood dripped from the deep wound on my arm despite the pressure I kept on it. Each drop added to the growing puddle on the cracked wooden floor, contained on the edges by hardening scabs formed from decade of dust and rat droppings left in this sealed room.
A stair creaked between the first and second floor and I inhaled. Each breath wasn’t enough. They couldn’t feed the fear which sapped my muscles – My knees shook, my thighs were weak and all over I felt as if I would collapse.
“Doodle, dee doodle, who’ll win the prize?” The rhyme went, “Doodle, dee doodle who’s telling lies?”
A bottle spun and we five sat evenly spaced around it, too young to know what game we looked to be playing.
“Doodle, dee dee, the prize for me?” We chanted as one. Ellie, Vic, Mariah, Keller and myself, all around twelve years old.
The bottle landed on Ellie first, and she’d squealed in terror and delight.
She’d been the first to go, not a week later.
They’d found her bloody nightshirt in the river, down by the hobo camp. The cops had carted one off and blamed him – but we four knew. The old, crazed man hadn’t done it, even though he screamed about a bloody figure in the dark.
No, he hadn’t done it.
The bottle landed on Mariah next, she was older, more refined, and had simply sighed and rolled her eyes. She spun the bottle again without pause. She hadn’t believed.
Her parents found her eyes in the milk jug, staring up as if alive, coloring the milk a pale strawberry. They never found the rest of her.
Keller and Vic went next – they fought. They were smart and strong and they’d seen what happened to the two girls, or at least they’d seen what was left. Fear fueled them and they tried to recruit me, but I balked. I hid.
It was just a coincidence I thought, a horrible, terrible coincidence… But, it was cowardice talking. I knew Elroy was real, but I was too afraid to do anything about him.
A sickly, sweet sigh came from the second floor and my eyes ran wide and terrified to the stair case which turned out not ten feet from me. There was no banister around the top – it had fallen into the stairs years before, and I’d been careful to leave it in such a way as to block the steps.
I knew it wouldn’t work. Elroy walked through walls.
“Doodle, Dee Doodle,” Came the sickly sweet voice, “Doodle, Dee Doodle, who runs from me?”
The voice was high-pitched, whining and dry. It was the voice of the grave, and of a long-promised fate.
“Doodle, Dee Doodle, Who’s hiding from me?”
I shivered and pulled back into the corner.
When the cops found what was left of the Vic and Keller they’d said both had been alive until the end. I wondered if the girls suffered the same.
I wondered if I would suffer the same.
Some small part of me, the part caked in guilt, hoped that I did. I deserved it after all.
The bottom stair creaked as Elroy’s thin, sharp foot put pressure on it.
The sound resonated through the floor and the pool of blood under my fingertips jiggled like red gelatin.
The next step eked out it’s rusted melody, and the next, and the next and the next in quick succession.
My heart hammered in my chest as Elroy came to where I knew the fallen banister lay.
The obstacle gave him only a seconds pause before the steps sang again.
I backed into the corner, my arm aching from the deep slash. I willed myself to vanish, praying to whatever god was listening that Elroy wouldn’t see me, couldn’t see me.
But, as his corn yellow head of hair burst from the stairwell and the jaundiced eyes followed, rotating towards me though it was too dark to see, I knew I was done.
His slash of a mouth split open revealing cracked, rotted teeth – Or maybe they were scabbed over with blood?
Enough had been spilled. Why not?
“Doodle, dee doodle, Elroy found his prey.”
“Doodle, dee doodle, it’s time to play.”
Nicholas E. Timm is an Native American graduate of The Evergreen State College in Washington State and is currently a Masters student at The University of Washington. At The Evergreen State College he earned a BS in Business Science with a minor in Statistical Analysis. He serves as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force and flies on C-17A aircraft.