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Short Horror Stories, Part 2

My Son Doesn't Look The Same Anymore

My wife has been a plastic surgeon for six years. We married only six months after meeting. She joked that she only married me for my “perfect” features.

“No good plastic surgeon would ever touch your face.” She would say. “That’s why I married you, I couldn’t resist fixing you up if you were anything other than perfect!”

Even in our early stages of dating my wife would bring up how beautiful our child would be. I had to admit, she was drop-dead gorgeous too, I couldn’t disagree. But still, it was all she cared about.

Our baby boy arrived several months after we married. I’ll never forget the look on my wife’s face when she held Jaden in her arms for the first time. I swore it was a look of disgust.

You see, Jaden wasn’t exactly the cutest baby. I thought she was being shallow, but I figured once she came to love him, she wouldn’t care. Unfortunately, as Jaden aged, his features grew to be more…. interesting. His nose outgrew his face, his cheeks became so full he looked swollen, his lips were thin as paper, and even his forehead started to form premature wrinkles. Nonetheless, I loved him just the same. But, I could sense resentment grow in my wife.

When Jaden turned seven, I started noticing some changes. He started waking up far too groggy in the mornings, practically falling asleep in his cereal. Then the real changes came. At first they were subtle. The wrinkles started smoothing out, his lips showed some fullness, his cheeks thinned out. I chalked it up to aging.

But last month, he came downstairs in the morning, his nose bruised and swollen. My wife insisted that he must have fallen out of his bed overnight.

“Don’t worry! He’s going to be fine. I found him like this. I already stitched him up. You know he sleeps like a rock!”

After weeks of healing, it became obvious. His nose was completely different. Smaller, straighter, smoother.

I finally confronted my wife.

“Are you messing with our son’s face?”

“How ridiculous!” She yelled. “How could you possibly think that? Plus, he’s still ugly!”

We went to bed without speaking another word to each other.

I woke up in a fog this morning, stumbling to the kitchen. It was 10:00 am and Jaden hadn’t come down for breakfast yet, so I walked back upstairs to wake him.

I cracked the door open, only to find my wife hovering over our son, tears streaming down her face as she desperately tried to resuscitate him. Jaden lay still, a perimeter of stitches outlined the top of his face. His body showed no signs of life.

“It was supposed to be a routine face lift!” She trembled. "I.. I didn’t mean to!”


I Didn’t Want to Redecorate Our Dream Home. I’ll Be Paying for That Mistake for the Rest of My Daughter’s Life

The last owner called them his “ultra violet lights,” bathing the grounds of our dream home in an eerie shade of purple.

I found them comforting, especially on those late summer nights when I had to rock our newborn back to sleep.

My husband Ben wanted to replace them. The gardener who sold us the property begged us not to. “Anything that grows under their glow will be bountiful, wild and, well—a little weird. But if you take it away, they’ll wither.”

The garden was half the reason we bought the place: endless flowering plants, trees, and leafy ferns — all in beautiful shades of pink.

So the lights stayed.

As the garden thrived, so did our little family. Tracie started walking at four months, running and climbing at five.

I’d hear giggles coming from her room in the middle of the night, and find her peering out the window at the pink plants.

I didn’t worry when her hair fell out. But when it grew back looking like matted Spanish moss, we took her to a pediatrician.

They sent a sample to a lab, and ordered tests for Argyria. Doctor said he’d never seen skin such a sickly blue.

By the time we started connecting the dots, it was too late.

When Tracie’s irises turned the same color as the garden flowers, Ben taped trash bags over the nursery windows.

When Tracie tore them to shreds with new jagged black fingernails, Ben smashed the cursed lights with a bat.

When the garden itself shrieked in protest, and Tracie withered like a prune, I called the previous owner.

“I told you, whatever grew in their light…” he scolded me, as he screwed in the replacement bulbs.

Tracie lives outside now, filthy and feral. She’s the size of a gangly teenager at less than a year old, walking on inhumanly stretched limbs.

I see her bathing in the alien glow that first reshaped her. She looks at me too, sometimes. There’s something like recognition in her eyes. Like a piece of my little girl is still there.

My husband made the mistake of approaching her to try and bring her back inside. Almost got his eye clawed out for his trouble.

I’ve cried until it hurts. I don’t sleep, so much as black out from exhaustion every few days. I don’t know what to do.

How can I try to help her? How do I explain this to my parents who want to see their granddaughter?


Therapy Dolls Hate Being Yelled At

Jack had just turned seven, when his parents brought him into my office.

A bit of a temper, they said.

Apparently the boy had thrown a fit at school when he lost a game, and broke the nose of his competitor in a surge of rage as a result. A temper.

The other child’s parents had agreed not to demand his expulsion, if – and only if – they would get him help.

And so they ended up contacting me.

Now, I had worked with many kids with similar issues before, but somehow Jack was especially – annoyingly – stubborn. There was no trauma here, just a child - spoilt rotten.

It didn’t help that his folks had little faith in therapy, only doing this to prevent having to change schools.

I could smell their disdain when they shoved him in and returned to the waiting room.

Still, I tried. I truly believed everyone deserved honest care, especially those young minds. But he seemed intent on making this as difficult as he possibly could.

Regardless what I tried, his disrespect simply grew.

I asked him if he wanted to tell me about the incident, and I just got a grunt.

I asked him if he preferred drawing it, and he called it – and me – dumb.

I asked him if he’d rather play a game, and he mumbled a clear ‘Bitch’.

Lastly, I asked him if he would instead prefer talking to Rupert, the therapy doll.

“Sometimes speaking to him is better than speaking to an adult,” I explained, “You can tell him anything, just remember: he hates being yelled at.”

To anyone else it would sound like a trick to encourage them to communicate calmly.

I knew better though.

Unfortunately, that set him off completely, grabbing onto the puppet. Screaming and shouting, roaring and shrieking. Both incomprehensible sounds and swear words a child his age definitely should not know, simply because he was given one limitation.

“Better not yell at him,” I reminded him with a subtle urgency. But, to no avail.

It would take another twenty minutes for his parents to take him away, loudly airing their grievances whilst doing so.

At this point it didn’t bother me anymore though, I knew their fate was sealed.

A mere 20 hours later I saw Jack’s chubby face in the news.

“Family of three attacked in their own home, 7-year old is the sole survivor.”

They described the worrying scene in detail. How Mr. and Ms. Smith were found butchered. How Jack’s vocal cords had been irrevocably damaged and he was lucky to be alive, adding that the boy had written the word doll over and over again. Shock, apparently.

I knew the truth, I always took Rupert with me.

“At least he’ll be quiet now,” I muttered, looking at the doll, “But I do wish you could actually do some of the dirty work.”

You see, therapy dolls hate being yelled at.

And so do I.


Stare Straight

“Don’t look at them!” Mama would whisper as we walked toward the subway, her fingers gripping my arm too tight. Back then there weren’t as many of the invisible people, but I’d still notice them from time to time. My Mama stared straight, but she always acted nervous when they were around, so I knew she could see them too.

“Quiet. Just. Just stare straight.” she’d mutter. Once, when we were safely away, she explained “You can’t look right at them, okay? If they know that you can see them, they’ll come up to you, expect things from you. They could hurt you. So just stare straight, okay?”

So, I learned to stare straight. To look right through them like Mama did. Even when it was hard. Once I recognized a girl I knew, Courtney. She was my friend Natalie’s older sister. Mama told me she got “deep into drugs” and ended up in a bad way. I saw her once in the park. When she waved at me, I pretended not to notice her.

Then there was Mrs. Lupowski, the sweet old lady in our apartment building. She’d lived there for over 30 years, until new management took over. Mama said her unit needed renovations and she had to move out. I’m still not sure why she needed to leave, but her apartment looked nice, and new people moved in right away. Something bad must have happened, because Mama had tears in her eyes the day we saw Mrs. Lupowski muttering on the street with her shopping cart, but she stared straight ahead and pulled me along.

The invisible people are everywhere now. Sometimes I see them fight each other and just last week I saw them attack a man at the subway. I think some of them are starting to realize we can see them.

I tried talking to Mama about it but she was too tired. The rent went up again, she’s had to take on a second job. She’s worried all the time. Sometimes I hear her crying at night. I am too, because I’m scared if we become homeless, we’ll turn invisible too.


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