"In the darkest recesses of our minds lives a demon.
It comes out to play when the weather is right inside your storming brain.
He likes to stroke my hair and whispers in my ear. He likes to say things such as 'come along dear.'
I will follow the path that he shows me because... I know not why. I lose myself in lonely and really want to die."
I found this excerpt written in my sister's notebook, we shared a bedroom in our tiny house in the slums of East city. I wasn't trying to snoop but she didn't really bother hiding her things. I needed some notebook paper and her pad was sitting on our table. When I opened it, I couldn't help but read it, she had written it out in her best handwriting. She was only in the fourth grade, I was in the sixth. I felt a little knot in my stomach at the words, we had been raised as extremely devout Catholics. Our mother was overly religious in my opinion but looking at Nina's writing I thought she was under religious. I shook it off and started writing on my stolen paper. I had to get this done before school tomorrow.
I loved my mom and sister more than anything, and back then it was simpler times. We didn't have the same rat race of today, or maybe we did, and I was too young to notice. All I knew was that we had a roof, bed, clothes, and food. I felt blessed, and I never realized we were poor. However, I noticed that Nina had begun to talk about our situation as if it were bad. She would say things like "I wish we had a house like Jessica's" Jessica was a bratty rich kid in Nina's class. I didn't know what was provoking her to feel like she did, but it was growing increasingly worse. Nina had taken to comparing us, our house and clothes to that of all the other children. She was breaking our mom's heart.
I tried to talk to her, I felt like, as her big sis it was my job to...mentor her I suppose. My reasoning and trying to build our lives up to her fell on deaf ears. When encouragement wouldn't work, I would explain to her how she was hurting our mom. Again, she would look at me with hostility and say something like "well, Jessica says that her mom has a fancy job and if our mom had a fancy job then we could live better too." I wasn't sure if that was true or not. It didn't make sense to me how Jessica would know anything about us unless Nina was telling her.
A few weeks passed and nothing had gotten better, Nina was still saying things that were hurtful to me and mom. We tried to shrug it off as that she was just young and impressionable. Not all children are immune to peer pressure, this is how we reasoned her sour demeanor. I never told mom about the odd poem I had found written in Nina's notebook, maybe I should have because I found another. It was Saturday and we were stuck in the house because it was raining outside and freezing cold. I didn't find it in her notebook though, I was cleaning our room and while I was making her bed, I could see it written on the wall that her mattress rested again. When I moved her stuffed animals, it was there glaring at me.
"Little me little my how does the time fly.
I watch you from the corners, I watch you in your sleep.
There is no safe place to run away from me."
I read it again and again, this made no sense. My sister was only in the fourth grade! Where was she getting these poems? I looked around the room, checking the corners. Nothing was there but I felt like I was being watched. I turned around to leave the room and Nina was standing in the doorway.
"Hey, Nina are you ok?" I asked her with a smaller voice than I usually had. She looked at me unblinking.
"I'm fine silly," she said breaking out into a big grin.
When she smiled, I noticed her teeth were yellowed and looked old. I rushed toward her and grabbed her under her chin. Squeezing her mouth open I inspected her teeth, they were normal. Nina was looking at me with fear in her eyes. She jerked away from me and ran to mom. Grabbing our mom around the waist she let out a whimper as she told her how I had grabbed her face. Our mother looked at me curiously, I told her I thought Nina had put something dangerous in her mouth. It was a flimsy excuse considering Nina's age, but I wasn't about to tell mom I thought I had seen old yellow decrepit teeth in Nina's mouth.
Later that evening Nina and I were in our room, I was reading some book about misadventures of kids my age and she was sitting on the floor drawing. I had let the incident go with what I thought I had seen. I couldn't take it anymore though, I asked Nina where she was getting the poems. She stopped drawing and looked up at me, she shrugged one arm and mumbled something. I didn't hear what she said, I sat my book down on the nightstand beside my bed and asked her to repeat herself.
"From the little man who whispers them to me at night." Nina's voice was barely audible. I took a seat next to her on the floor.
"What little man?"
"The one who took daddy," Nina said a little louder.
"No one took daddy, he left us, Nina. You need to understand that. He left."
"NO" she yelled. Then she stood up and walked hotly to the living room.
I felt so much pain in my heart, how sad it was that she couldn't remember him leaving. Dad had left one night and never came home. The next day our mom found a letter from him explaining that he didn't love her anymore, he had met someone and that was it. We hadn't heard from him since then. I was surprised that she was just know acting out, I mean if she was going to, I would have thought it would have been when he first left. I was glued to the floor, I didn't want to deal with her meltdown, to be honest. I looked over at her drawings, I guess I expected to see something disturbing like in scary movies, but it was just rainbows, and fairies.
The next day was pretty much the same as the last, we hung around the house, the rain had let off, so we bundled up and went outside. The cold was piercing but I know that I at least needed fresh air. Nina seemed to be enjoying the frigid outdoors. I didn't understand how she could play without shivering. Running around so hard must have kept her warm. I watched her as she rolled around in the wet leaves that were lying on the ground. I couldn't bring myself to join in rolling around on the wet cold ground, she seemed unphased by it. I took a seat on our back - porch steps and watched her. I kept wondering what she had meant by 'the little man' Nina always did have a big imagination. While I watched I noticed something odd, it was so cold out that my breath was visible in my normal breathing. Yet, Nina was playing and running like crazy and I never once could see her breath exit her body.
I walked over to where she was and asked her if she was ready to go back to the house?
"Nooo" she told me in a sing-song voice.
"But Nina, it's freezing out here. You are going to catch a cold." I argued back.
"No, I won't the little man told me I will never get sick, and never die. He said I will live forever no matter what!" Nina sounded so whimsical.
"Nina! That isn't true! I don't care who told you that. We all die some day and you know that."
"No! He says you are bad and will try to make me stop being his friend." Nina looked at me with a sinister glare in her eyes, a look I had never seen on my little sister before.
"Nina, that's it! I want to know why you started complaining about our life, and I want to know what this 'little man' is!" I finally snapped at her. I was scared and angry.
"It's none of your business!" Nina screamed at me.
"Yes, it is!" I screamed back.
I left her outside and went in the house, mom asked where she was, and I told her 'in the yard' before stomping to our room and slamming the door. I let the tears stream down my face. I slid down the wall I had leaned against, laid my head on the floor and sobbed. After I had stopped crying sometime later, I just lay there staring. I was looking directly under Nina's bed. There I could see a box, it was something I hadn't seen before. I crawled to her bed and reached under fetching the container. It had markings on the top, I didn't recognize the symbols. I took the top off and peered inside. There, at the bottom of the box was a scrap of old brown paper. It read:
"Now you have found me, and I have found you.
Thank you for opening me, let me spoil you.
First, you will have the grander things, and a life to live forevermore.
No harm will befall you while I am living inside, if you close the gate then you must die."
I was horror-stricken, what had Nina found? What was this? I clambered to put the paper back and shut the box. I shoved it back under her bed. Being a child myself I went running to mom. I told her about the other poems I had found, and now this. Mom came into the bedroom and I showed her. She looked at it with a hint of terror, and, recognition. Mom took the box and hid it in her own room. Nina came in seconds later, mom came out of the room and smiled at my sister. Nina looked at her with the same sinister glare she had given me.
"Give it back," Nina said coldly.
"Now honey, I think we should talk about this. That box isn't good, you know that. Don't you?" Mom asked her.
Nina didn't answer. She took her jacket off and put it on the coat rack. Turning back toward our mother she lowered her head toward the floor. With the sickening sound of bones dislocating, her hips became disjointed. She leaned backward and her body contorted in a manner that made me almost vomit. In this back- bending position, she then twisted her front half to face me and my mother. She took off in a sprint on all fours her head was upside down and the rest of her body was in a twist that the most talented contortionist couldn't have done. Mom and I screamed and ran to the bedroom locking the door.
On the other side, we could hear Nina talking to us, it wasn't her voice alone though, there was a deeper voice mixed in with hers. They were speaking in unison, mom was shaking and crying while putting her hand on my chest in a protective stance. I hadn't started crying like mom, I was in a shock that made me feel like I was floating. I remember mom screaming at the thing on the other side that was my sister. She went into prayer, I stopped her, I shook my mom by the shoulders and screamed to know what was happening. Mom just looked at the door, it grew silent. The voice that had been speaking was no longer taunting us. Bidding us to open the door, so it could rip our flesh and taste our souls.
Mom stood up from the praying position she had taken, slowly she walked to the door and put her ear to it.
"Mommy, mom, I am scared." It was only Nina speaking this time.
"I can't open the door yet my baby. Where did he go? Where is the little man?" My mom asked through tears.
"I don't know mommy, my body hurts mommy, why did you let this happen to us, mommy?" Nina asked in a sickly - sweet voice. One that I knew wasn't hers.
"Mommy didn't do it, daddy brought the box home. Honey, I can't open this door until I know he is gone." Mom said with some measure of strength returning to her voice.
We could hear a giggle on the other side now, the doorknob jiggled, and then there was scratching, slow scratching going down the door. I felt like I was going to faint with fear. Mom quickly told me something that I had never heard before. We didn't have much time she explained, but this is what I remember her saying to me.
"The little man that she speaks of is something that your father brought home. It was when you girls were babies, he had found that box in a thrift store. He just loved old things, anyway, it took a couple of years but eventually, your father became possessed. In a literal sense, he had a demon in him. I'm sorry I have to tell you now and, in this way but he didn't leave us, not the way you think. He was being exorcised by the church. We thought it had been a success, however, he tried to kill me the same night. I, I... stabbed him. Your father died because I had to kill him to rid his body and soul of the little man. I don't know why it calls itself that but, that is what has your sister now."
"Stabbed him? You... stabbed dad? All this time we thought he abandoned us." The noise outside the door was growing in intensity.
Nina's tiny voice was being drowned out by the deeper male voice. I knew if it had wanted it could have come through that door at any time. I looked around the room for a weapon. I found my old baseball bat. The thought of hitting my sister, rather it was her body or not made me sick. I couldn't believe what my mother had just confessed and in the midst of this attack. While these thoughts were racing through my head there was an abrupt silence. Mom and I stared at the door, I had the bat at the ready. Without any warning the door busted open! Nina jumped on mom like a spider, she tore her throat out with her fingers. Her strength was uncanny. I screamed and started swinging the bat at Nina. The thing that had taken residence in my sister laughed at me, the yellow old teeth glinting, Nina's face looked ancient. She was wrinkled. The smell coming from her was rancid. The male voice spoke to me, mixed with a tiny bit of Nina's voice she jumped off mom's chest. I watched mom fall to the floor bleeding out, but the thing was talking, and it couldn't be ignored! I had made contact with the bat into my sister's body, it made a sickening crunch.