Snippet #004

Here’s another Snippet with Elaine and Sendak! This clip is a little longer and more intense than my other Snippets, so be prepared! ;D Also don’t forget to tell me what you think in the comment section.

“It is the strangest thing, isn’t it Sendak…” Elaine murmured. She was comfortably sitting on the living room’s sofa, reading in one of the books she had recently bought in town. “Reading these works of fiction. Peeking into the ordinary lives of those who the author wished to be as, or maybe following after a daring hero on their romantic quests…. All of it rather intrusive if they were real. Perhaps even odd in a sense…”

When Sendak didn’t answer, she looked from her book to where he was, which was standing near the roaring fireplace. He had been there for some time, watching the dancing flame, but that was the peculiar thing. He never stood so close to fire for so long, with it being such a pure element. With a small sigh, she got from her comfort and approached him.

“What is it?” she asked. He didn’t answer. “Sendak…

“I was wondering if I would ever get better,” he whispered. The words were quickly lost within the crackling of the fireplace, but Elaine had heard them.

“Of course,” she said, without thought and without doubt. “It is inevitable.”

His gaze snapped to her. “Is it? Or are these your hopes? To know that I am to get better, and yet not tell me how is folly, Elaine. You tell me I’m getting better, yet I can see it in your eyes, at my rage–” He looked back to the flames.

“What? What is it that you see?”

“Fear.”

“No, Sendak. It isn’t–”

“True? But it is. My rage is like a flame, though not nearly as pure. My bloodthirst burns and is hot, and nothing can extinguish it. It rages and destroys all in my path. I cannot stop it when I’m blinded by the Fury. And then it dies, and coals are left to become ash. I see it all… my horrors and black deeds.” Sendak pulled his gaze away from the fire. “I’m not getting better Elaine. What you see of me now, is the extinguishing of a flame that will soon be rekindled.”

Elaine was silent until she had chosen the words she would speak. “Poetic, Sendak, but do you expect me to believe that you are truly as a beast of the earth? Without a moral compass and the ability to think rationally. To think that you do not have the capability to grasp the power of your own conscious and stay the–”

“I do not care of your beliefs!” he growled. “Truths, Elaine, the truth is far greater than your beliefs!”

“And yet I believe in what is true!” she hissed. “The truth, Sendak, is that you are hiding from something that throws you into a blind rage and that something is yourself. You slaughtered those two women in a blind rage. You were not yourself and to say it was solely because of some witchcraft and devilry, is a lie.”

The silence fell like a death toll and wedged between them.

Elaine relaxed her tense countenance and continued much more gently. “A part of you allows your fury to release itself and destroy all in your path. Man has much more control of themselves than they know. You only have to master it.”

Sendak stared hard at her, jaw clenched tight. It wasn’t of determination, rage, or infuriated annoyance, but it was a look of almost disgusted antipathy. Elaine, however, stood firm. She had said what she wanted him to hear and held no regrets.

“No matter the way I describe it to you, your belief in man is forever absolute. This dark Fury–” Elaine heard hissing steam and realized it was Sendak’s face. Where the light of the fire touched him had begun to burn his flesh. “Is as a crippling disease. It spreads until it has devoured its host.”

“But this isn’t a disease–” Elaine began.

“Not one you can treat with medicines. It is one of the mind.” The hissing grew louder, and the steam was bellowing more. “If you shall believe in man and their word, believe mine when I say there is nothing to save me.”

“There are saviors, Sendak, but first one must want to be saved.” The steam bellowed more, and Elaine couldn’t stand it any longer. “Sendak, your face.”

It was only then that he seemed to notice and turned away from both the fire and his doctor.

“I will not abandon you,” Elaine told him. “Not when so many else have.”

“Is it a matter of pride for you?” Sendak asked with a dry humorless chuckle. “Or do you have something to prove to the world of men?”

Elaine sighed. “No, it isn’t. I have nothing to prove to no one, not even myself. My degree is my proof for those who want it.”

“Your degree? The meaningless little piece of paper with fancy ink and script wrote across it? Do not deceive yourself into thinking that’s what makes you qualified to them. If you believe in man, believe that they rather see me hang and you jailed for being my protector. Your degree has nothing to do with their reasons to let me live. It is their fear of me and what I am capable of. Fear outweighs courage in these men, and deep within, you know these things as true.”

With a twirl of his cloak, Sendak was off to return to his room.

“Lock me in, Elaine,” he said beginning to climb the stairs. “I cannot be out for this night.”

-***-

As the night passed, constellations slowly trailing across their stationary paths along the sky, the same of the moon, Elaine thought much about the conversation she had with Sendak. All the while she wrote her thoughts in her leather-bound notebook.

‘Sendak seems to have sunken into a state of despair. Denouncing the hope of ridding himself of his mental illness, he is angry at any mention of belief he will eventually better himself. I have tried my newest theory, to frankly address the possible cause of his illness, yet I don’t think I have bettered his thoughts. In fact, I believe I may have torn away at the bond we have developed.

‘He also mentioned something quite interesting tonight. It was rather personal to me as he spoke of my belief in him and in man. I think he believes I foolishly place my utmost confidence in man and their capabilities to do and be good. He is mistaken. I place my belief in him because I know of his potentials, and I have seen the good of him. Yet, I have the hardest time presenting the evidence to him… if there is any evidence.

As for myself, I’m wrestling with my methods. I do not wish to hurt Sendak in any way, neither destroy the bond we have. It is a vital part of his therapy. I have my misgivings so far, but at most I’m grieving over the trial of my newest theory. When I told him that he brutally slaughtered those women, I saw a change within him. I hoped that telling him that he had allowed himself to become that monster that night, would provide some enlightenment, but I’m afraid not. I think he hates me now, for not believing his claims of being possessed by an unearthly force or being. Truthfully, I do believe him. It’s impossible for me not to, but for me to believe that he has no control of the impure entity, I cannot. Free will cannot be tampered with. That is one of man’s greatest gifts received.

‘Yet… what if it is true. What if, as he described, that foul entity is consuming him much as a crippling disease would? What if it is gaining a stronger and stronger hold of him until finally, it will have complete authority? I would have to explore this further. Perhaps, I should talk to him more about what he thinks causes his rash and irrational behavior. Maybe then I could understand more.’

She took a moment to read over her words, and satisfied, allowed her thoughts to drift. She came upon a particularly disturbing one, one she didn’t want to visit again, but she had to place her thoughts somewhere.

“The costs of the journal ritual,” she muttered and continued to write.

‘***

Last night I had a strange dream. I can’t explain it really. I don’t know if I was dreaming or if I felt it and it manifested itself in my dream. I felt that someone was watching me in my sleep, or rather… something. It was certainly evil in nature. It’s not so clear now, but I think I saw myself sleeping in my bed, but there was a figure standing near the foot. I remember a grin so cold it sent a shiver through me. The moonlight was coming through the window and that figure couldn’t step within it, but as the night passed, the light would move and so would the figure. It got closer and closer until finally, it reached out to touch me–’

At that exact moment, Elaine thought she felt something touch her along her jawbone and she turned with a frightened shriek. There was nothing there behind her but her empty room. After closely scrutinizing the room, she returned to resume her writing but discovered that in her fright, she had terribly blotted her paper. She cleaned it the best she could, but there was nothing she could’ve done to remove the unsightly blemish.

“Well, I guess that’s what I deserve for scaring myself half to death,” she sighed.

Duh-Dump!

Elaine heard something heavy fall from upstairs. She didn’t know where it had come from precisely, but certainly knew it was impossible to have been Sendak. She listened closely for the sound again. Silence. Elaine sighed– with some relief– and decided it was time she retired to bed. She didn’t need her sleep-deprived mind to pull any more tricks on itself. With a yawn, she groggily cleaned up the spilled ink and dragged herself to her awaiting bed.

‘Why do we do it?’ she asked herself as she got beneath the blankets. ‘Why do humans work themselves to such points of exhaustion? No other creature drives themselves in such a manner…’

Just as she was slipping off into the land of sleep, she heard it again.

Duh-Dump!

Her heavy lids flew open. It was silent again, but she wasn’t at ease. She listened intently for the noise.

Duh-Dump! Shhhh… sh…

Now, something was being dragged along the floor! Elaine sunk into her blankets, wishing the noise would go away. She could only imagine what it could have been…

Shhh… shhh… Thump!

Maybe there was someone in the house… And if there was, shouldn’t she wake Sendak? It was probably best she didn’t. Not with how cross he was earlier. But what was she to do!

Though she didn’t want to, she made up her mind to go inspect it herself. Swallowing down her fear, she slipped from the blankets, picked up her still-burning candle, and left her room.

The living room was dark and deathly silent. Light from the small candle Elaine held didn’t carry far, but it was sufficient. There was nothing there. Nor was there anything in the kitchen. Upstairs, in the attic, Elaine had found the culprit. It had been a cat. More precisely, Mrs. Morney’s cat. The dark-colored feline had knocked over a brass vase. Elaine could see the old water splashed across the floor and the long since dried and dusty roses that were once within.

“Now how did you get in here?” Elaine whispered and peered around for a clue. The cat mewed, turned, and raced out through a small hole in the floor. “Well, that answers everything doesn’t it?”

With a sigh, Elaine began to clean the mess made by the late-night intruder. After casting a ragged bedspread across the spilled water, she began to make her way back downstairs. But before she went…

She stared at the key in her hand. It was just inches away from the lock to the door of Sendak’s room. She knew she shouldn’t do it, that there was a risk of Sendak’s wrath, but she wanted to know how he was. He had been very upset after all. Perchance, she could offer him an apology.

Carefully, Elaine slid the key into the lock, twisted it, and opened the door. The room wasn’t dark, as Elaine expected. The window was thrown open, allowing delicate pale moonbeams to spread across the floor. Sendak, to Elaine’s relief, was sleeping in bed. Since nothing was amiss, she readied to return to her room but stopped as something occurred to her. The window was open. Why? She couldn’t say, but she did know that once the morning came, the sun would shine into the room unfiltered. That would certainly give Sendak a rude awakening and if Elaine had known anything, Sendak wasn’t very fond of rude awakenings.

So, she crept in to close the window. It was eerie, the room so still and cold. So very, very cold. When Elaine reached the window, she placed her candle on Sendak’s nightstand and slid the window closed. The blackened window severed the moonbeams and shrouded the small room in darkness. Her task done; Elaine turned to gather her candle but paused in terrible surprise.

Sendak was no longer in his bed!

Elaine’s gaze flew towards the door. It was still closed, so where…

creeeeeeekkkk……

Elaine spun around to face Sendak. His face was a scowl of demonic fury. A lump of icy cold grew in Elaine’s stomach, and her heart leaped to her throat. But before she could say a word, a single utterance, she felt Sendak’s hand at her throat. He lifted her, higher than his own head. And for a few moments, he stared at her. Then:

“Poor woman,” he rasped. His eyes shimmered like sapphires in sunlight. “Hasn’t anyone warned you of my name?” A grin transformed his features. “Oh, but you were. You didn’t listen to him. And like a stupid little bird, you’ve flitted from your safety and into the cat’s cage.” Slowly he brought her closer to him. She choked and gagged, clawing at his hand, and kicking, but her efforts were nothing to his iron grip.

“Your folly,” he whispered and tossed her over the bed as easily if she were a sack of flour. She rolled once before slamming into a wall, tasting blood. She gasped a lungful of air, feeling faint. Though dazed, she looked about her for any signs of Sendak. She didn’t see him. She couldn’t. The room was too dark. But she could hear his sickly laughter coming from someplace.

Her mind in a whirl, Elaine sluggishly got to her hands and knees. Even in the confusion of her own thoughts, one thing was prominent. She had to get out of the room. She had to get to safety. At that thought, her senses cleared somewhat, and she hastily began to crawl for the door.

“And where do you think you are going?” she heard Sendak rasp and felt a hand encircle her ankle. With a cry of terror, Elaine kicked his groping hands away and leapt for the doorway. She fell painfully short, but her hand grasped her salvation. It was the course salt Sendak had instructed her to place along the door. Such a humble and perhaps worthless mineral never filled her with so much elated joyful hope. Without hesitation she cast the briny crystals in the air, hoping they would aid her in her escape.

“GaaaaahhhHHHH!!!” Sendak screamed and Elaine heard him stumble away from her.

In an instant, she had gotten to her feet, thrown the door open, and dashed outside into safety. Immediately, she slammed the door behind her and locked it. Just in the nick of time! Sendak crashed into it with all of his might. Once it didn’t give away, he presumed to beat at the heavy oak door. The door rattled and shook so much, Elaine was sure it would rattle right off its hinges. So, she fled. She ran to her room and locked herself in. But did she feel safe? No, she did not. She was sickly terrified. Her room was ominous. A moonbeam had managed to find its way through her heavy curtains, but it did little to illuminate the enclosed area.

A sob escaped her. Sinking to the floor, she sobbed harder hearing the monster clawing at its prison. What awful, horrendous, frightening thing had she provoked?

***

As to end the nightmare, dawn broke from beneath the horizon and scattered the darkness of night. Elaine was asleep at her door, having cried herself to sleep there. When she awoke, she was confused at first and then that’s when the memories of the night made themselves known. She thought over them in terror but realized that the drumming and scratching that had been coming from upstairs was no more. Nor did she hear any noise from anyplace else. It was as if the entire world had grown silent. What had happened in the night and was it safe?

A bird twittered and trilled outside.

So, the world wasn’t as still as she had begun to fear. She got to her feet, prepared to leave the room, but the thought of Sendak made her hand shy away from the handle. Maybe he had gotten out of his room. Maybe he was prowling through the house, lurking in the shadows with eyes of cold sapphire. The thought of seeing those eyes again made her shudder.

She turned from the door and made her way to her bed. She needed time to think. Upon sitting that’s when she noticed the numerous aches and pains she had attained in her late-night disturbance. There were numerous bruises along her limbs, a rather large one on her right shoulder, a nasty cut along her upper left arm, and her throat ached from Sendak’s terrible grip. She couldn’t say she had been worse, only that it could’ve been worse. Elaine rubbed her bruised arms, wondering had she been foolish to take Sendak’s case. She wanted to doubt it. She wanted to say she had evidence that he was getting better, but deep down, Elaine knew that he wasn’t.

 What was it though? Could it have been that her belief in him wasn’t enough? A jolt of realization shot through her. She believed in him, yet he didn’t believe in himself. It was as she said, “There are saviors, Sendak, but first one must want to be saved.” Elaine stood from her bed filled with new hope. She had a letter to write.

Fifteen minutes later… Elaine tentatively stepped from her room dressed in a light sleeveless dress of sunlit lilac. She had freshened herself up and bandaged her wounds. The house was silent and cold with the early morning sun. Seeing no danger, she nervously tugged at the bandage on her left arm and stepped into the hall. She crept into the living room. It was exactly as she had seen it last. Elaine let her eyes linger on the room for some time, before pulling her gaze away to the set of stairs leading to the second floor. To Sendak’s room. To her dreaded doom. She shook the thought away and began her ascent of the stairs.

It felt like ages had passed before she reached the last step. Even so, she wished there were more. The door to Sendak’s room was seemingly dark and ominous. How did she not see that last night? She didn’t know. ‘No mattah now.’ She slipped her hands in her pockets and removed, with much trembling, a small canister of salt and the key to the room.

She was going to open the room and see what had become of her patient. And no, she wasn’t brave at the moment. In fact, she really didn’t think she knew how bravery felt. But she knew that she was stubborn. She refused to let herself be conquered by fear or to let Sendak be conquered by his own.

In the time of writing her letter, she had come up with a synopsis of Sendak’s behavior. He ran from what he feared, which would have been himself. Elaine had surmised that he defended this conscious fear by locking himself away, yet not understanding that in doing so, he was allowing his condition to manifest itself and grow. His condition… or the entity within him.

Elaine took her first step to the door. She told herself it was the day now. Sendak was always his calmest in the day. As she stepped closer she listened. There was nothing to be heard inside the room. Not one stir, nor creak, nor breath. It was silent. The grave silence unnerved her, yet she continued. The silence should have been promising. It meant that Sendak was calm and rational. Yet, when she stepped up to the door, her heart thudded in her ears, her hands were shaking and sweating, and her breathing shuddered in her throat.

‘You should go back,’ A thought came. ‘You should leave this cursed place while you have the chance. Beg the townspeople for their forgiveness and acceptance and have them burn this place from the face of the earth.’

Elaine hesitated. She had pictured her life before all of this and that she could have it again. Then the moment violently passed away. To think those thoughts made her vile. She felt soiled. How could she give thought to abandon and leave Sendak to such a demise? She would never have her old life back. Even if the townspeople had accepted her again, she would be an outcast. It would never be the same. With a spark of rebellious determination, she pushed the key into the door’s lock, twisted it, and flung the door open.

What she found was shocking. The room was flooded with sunlight. The painted black windows were broken, the glass strewn across the floor. The room looked as if a whirlwind had done some business there. Furniture was overturned or broken, and the delicate wallpaper was torn and tattered. Sendak was nowhere to be seen.

Shaken by the disturbing scene, Elaine blinked to get her eyes to adjust to the bright sun. It helped somewhat, but not much. She followed the speck-filled sunbeam that flowed unfiltered from the window to the floor. Something glistened there. It was a thick and dark-colored pool of liquid. Her gaze followed the liquid out of the irregular-shaped sunspot to a place near the large, overturned dresser. That is when she saw him.

Sendak was as a discarded puppet. He slumped against the wall; head slanted against his shoulder. Motionless. Both of his wrists had been cut and in one hand, he held a bloodied shard of black-painted glass. The black blood from his wrists soaked into his pants and the cuffs of his shirt. But the most chilling of all was the blank stare upon his face.

Elaine stared horrified. Her fingers and toes had become cold. A sickening feeling churned in the pit of her stomach. He couldn’t be, could he?

She stepped closer to him, dropping the salt and the key.

“Do not come any closer,” he whispered.

Elaine stopped within the shaft of sunlight. Her dress reflected the garish sunlight, splaying pale lilac within the room. Several minutes of silence passed.

“I cannot die,” Sendak whispered. “I have allowed my life to flow from me and yet here I am. Alive. Leave Elaine and set this place ablaze. Send me to hell where I belong.”

“No,” Elaine choked. “I-I cannot do that. I will not do that. I am here to help you, not destroy you.”

“Why?” Sendak stirred. Elaine stepped back from him. It had been only a half-step, but it was noticeable all the same. It made it much worse to know that she couldn’t help it.

Sendak got up to get to his knees. “Why won’t you do it? Haven’t I done enough wrong to this world…. to you?” He stretched his arms out. He still held unto that jagged piece of glass, clutching it so hard his hand trembled and blood dripped from the fresh wound. “I will not stop you. I will not move one inch to stop you.” Tears dropped from his open eyes to slide down his cheeks.

Elaine tried to hold back her own, but to see this man before her beg to kill him was too much. She brought a trembling hand to her mouth. This was a torture of the worse kind. How? How could she convince him to end these venomous pleas of such malicious malevolence?

“Please Elaine,” Sendak whispered. “Please…”

Elaine sunk to the floor and reached out to take Sendak’s hands. The glass he held dropped to the floor. Elaine brought their hands close to her chest.

“No Sendak,” she whispered, “I will not do any of these terrible things.”

“But you must!” Sendak cried, his eyes growing wider. “You must! Forsake me please!”

“No Sendak! I will not!”

“Forsake me!” he cried in a soulful plea. “Forsake me, for I have sinned against you!” He swallowed his sob down, but it rose once more and poured from him. The hardened resolution in his face melted away to feeble sorrow. He hung his head and his body sunk. His shoulders quivered as he leaned into Elaine’s bosom. And there the poor broken man sobbed shamelessly.

“I am no god to you,” Elaine whispered into his hair, “and therefore, you cannot sin against me. If there is any who is wrong, it is me. I trespassed against you, knowing very well I shouldn’t have done so. I had no faith in you or your words and for that, I am truly ashamed.”

And the two stayed there in the cold light of the early October day, silently praying, and forgiving.

And here is the end of this Snippet! Thank You for Reading and Don’t Forget to Leave a Comment Below!

~Ali

© 2021 Alison Bankroft

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