Bogleech.com's 2018 Horror Write-off:
For I Myself Saw The Sibyl
Submitted by Eve Q (email)
Her mouth is just too small these days, Lil says, too dry as well. Doesn’t even get a wet tongue, and nothing helps - not water, not milk and honey. Says she hisses when she tries to talk, well I say just tell her not to talk anymore, she never talked much anyways. Can’t do that, Lil says, her words are too important to miss. She tells the future, Lil insists. I don’t believe either of ‘em.
Either way, she’s still just a little old lady, can’t even open a jar by herself, and that was years ago. I worked with her for a long time, dropped the job, Lil took it over. Lil comes to me, says that she’s getting worse, needs even more help. What the hell, I say, she was a sweet woman and I can’t exactly just let her die alone. Lil says she’s not dying anytime soon, and I don’t believe that either.
Lil drives me to the home, as if I had forgotten the way. I tell her I know how to get there, I worked there for four years, but Lil isn’t budging so I just go along with it. Doesn’t talk the entire ride. Lil’s car is nasty. Gum under the seats, must have been there for years - Lil doesn’t have real teeth anymore.
The home is exactly the same - shrubby garden, geese in the ponds, off-color bricks. It’s pretty small for a retirement community, only four houses. No one’s visiting today, the parking lot’s empty.
Lil’s nervous, clearly. She’s sweating before we even get out of her car. Now, Lil says, she’s in a horrible state, don’t be surprised. Well you’re the one who said she’s not about to die, I don’t see why you’re so worried, I respond. Lil clenches her jaw. Turns the key in the lock.
The door opens. Everything seems the same, just messier. Dustier. No surprise, considering how poorly Lil keeps her car. Lil’s absolutely drenched in sweat, shaking.
Just go, Lil says, just go in. Please, she tacks on at the end. I follow her direction. Lil stays outside. First thing I see is her old desk, covered in about two inches of scattered papers, with a bowl balanced on top. Not a bowl, a mortar and pestle.
I pick it up, look inside. It’s filled to the brim with white powder. No way a woman that fucking old has a cocaine problem, I whisper to myself.
Her voice is worse than Lil said. It’s trembling, breaking and cracking on the vowel. She sounds like she’s choking on sandpaper.
Lil enters, seems to have composed herself. She snatches the bowl out of my hand, swallows hard, asks me to follow her. She sounds awful, Lil, I say, she sounds like death. Lil stares hard at me, turns and walks towards the room her voice came from.
The room is dusty, thick films of the stuff covering every surface. Lil’s standing in front of the bed.
Get out of the way, Lil, I need to see her, I pipe up. Lil steps to the side, all the way to the side - and there’s no woman there. Where the fuck is she, Lil? Lil looks sick to her stomach. Glances, gestures at a jam jar laying on the sheets. One of those jars with the red-and-white cloth on the lid.
I get half of a sentence out of my mouth before I see her. She’s there. In the jar.
Her voice makes me ill. Lil glances at me, picks up the jar. Unscrews the lid.
She crawls up Lil’s finger, gripping each knuckle. Each movement looks like it’s hurting her, makes skin flake off. She’s smaller than a rat. Lil sets down the powdered pearls, grabs a spoon, scoops a bit - less than half a spoonful - and readies it.
Please don’t do this, Lil begs, he can’t stand the sight of you already. The old woman teeters on Lil’s finger. Lil looks at me deeply, holds the spoon out to me. Without thinking, my brain shut off, I grab it.
With her free hand, Lil grabs my left, forces it open. Lil holds out the woman, she crawls off Lil’s finger into my hand. Her tiny limbs leave a trail of dust with every grab and step. She’s brittle and dry, like a fall leaf.
She sips the sweat rolling off my palm. I’m shivering.
I hold the spoon up to her mouth. She stands upright - difficult with how much my hand is shaking. Her hands grope at her face, her mouth. Pries it open suddenly, skin - dust - pouring off. She shovels tiny heaps of the pearl powder onto her tongue.
She doesn’t get to close her mouth as one violent shake sends her off balance. Pearl powder pours out of her tiny mouth, off the edge of my palm.
And she jumps, arms outstretched to the powder.
She hits the floor, her small body exploding into dust. More dust than one could imagine a body that small making.
Is this what you fucking wanted, Lil? You wanted me to kill her, you wanted me to come and slaughter a woman, I’m yelling, unthinking, backing out of the room. Covered in dust.
Lil falls to her knees. She holds her stomach, sick. I didn’t want this, God I didn’t want this. Lil’s talking more to herself than me. I keep walking, yelling, crying.
Fuck this, fuck this, fuck this, I shout, batting at the dust on my pants, my shirt. I’m out the door now, dust keeps flying off of me.
One clump falls off and scatters in the wind. With a sandpaper voice.
“I want to die.”