by Emma Faye
Tracy attempts to comfort her son after a nightmare - 2016
“It’s ok, Phil, mommy’s here.” She said, trying her best to comfort him.
Phillip just continued crying across the bed from her. Tracy reached out to take his hand, but Phillip immediately pulled it away and backed to the corner of his room farthest from her. Tracy decided that he must have had some bad dream about her, and that she should give him his space to talk it out. With this in mind, she backed to the corner opposite the one he was in and sat on the floor. Phillip watched her intently as she did this, and only once she was seated, did his sobs begin to subside.
“There we go. Now tell me what’s wrong, honey.” Tracy said, soothingly.
“You can’t touch me mommy. Mister Lou said that if you do, the bugs will get into me.” Phillip whispered sadly.
“Now, now, Phil, it’s ok. It was just a bad dream. There is no Mister Lou, and no bugs are going to get into you.” Tracy replied, relieved to finally get an explanation.
Phillip just shook his head in response and began crying again. Tracy stifled a sigh of frustration and rubbed her forehead briefly in an attempt to ward off the headache she felt coming on from the stress of the situation. She took a deep breath and began with a new tactic. Tracy walked out the door of his room and to their hall closet. She put on a pair of light winter gloves before returning to Phillip’s room.
“There we go, honey, now I can hold you, right?” She asked Phillip.
Phillip stopped crying and eyed her suspiciously, as if considering the situation. After at least thirty seconds of pondering, he finally answered.
“Yea, the bugs won’t get through those.” He answered.
With a sigh of relief, Tracy walked across the room, kneeled in front of him, and took his hands in her own. She smiled at him with as much cheeriness as she could muster and began to try to comfort him again, making a mental note to grab some aspirin for the developing headache.
“Now, tell mommy all about the bad dream of yours. When you tell it to me, it will leave you and go to me. Then, using my Mommy Powers I can make it go away. That’s how bad dreams work.” She improvised.
“In my dream,” Phillip began, “I was lying in my bed when a really skinny man in a suit woke me up. He told me his name was Mister Lou, and to not touch you or the bugs would get me. Then he laughed and walked into the hall.”
“There there, now that you’ve told me about it, I can make the bad dream go away. Ready? Three…Two…One…Poof! All gone!”
Tracy made a dramatic show of waving her hands around her head as she pretended to dispel the dream. Then she put her hands on her head for the countdown, rubbed gently as she noticed the headache was only getting worse, and through her hands into the air with the “poof.” She took off her gloves and presented her hands to Phillip.
“Look! No bugs! The dream about bugs is all gone, so now you know that there aren’t any.” She declared.
Phillip gazed at her hands in wonder. There definitely weren’t any bugs on them. Tentatively, he reached out a single finger and poked at her left hand, then immediately pulled back to watch what happened. Nothing.
“See, hun?” Tracy asked, “No bugs, go ahead and poke the other.”
So Phillip poked the other hand. He smiled as he began to relax and poked each hand again, giggling. He began poking her arms, going up the forearms and biceps to her shoulders.
“No bugs in my arms.”
“No bugs in my shoulders.”
“Not my head, baby. Mommy’s got a h-“
The last poke had been to Tracy’s forehead, and the sound had made her stop her sentence short. Phillip’s eyes went wide as he slowly drew his hands away from her and held up the poking finger between them. On the tip was a, now crushed, maggot. Phillip screamed and ran around Tracy to the other corner of the room and stared at her in horror. Slowly, Tracy put her hand to her forehead where Phillip had poked. As her hand touched the skin there, she felt a movement under the skin and quickly withdrew her own hand. It was only her desire not to scare her son more that she held back her own scream.
“It’s ok, Phil. There’s nothing there,” She lied, “That was the only one.”
Even as she said this though, she could feel more moving under her skin. She could feel them all over her head. She looked at her hands and saw more of them beginning to poke out all up her arms and hands. Beginning to panic, she looked at her son, only to see him staring at his own hands. She could see movements under his skin as well. He was screaming. She was screaming. Her head was pounding. She couldn’t take it. Her vision was growing dim from the pain. Then everything went black.
Mister Lou walked in from the hallway, adjusted his tie, and allowed himself a brief smile. All according to plan. He snapped his fingers and a chasm opened beneath the two insect-ridden bodies. The bodies slowly descended into the gap in the Earth before it closed over them. Mister Lou turned and walked out of the room.