Updated: Nov 17, 2021
The fifth iteration has more prompts to balance the crashing issue and the random visual glitches. I’ve been slacking and lying for over a week. This better be worth the hassle. Derrick started the test mode and played with the website.
After pretending to buy and return 1,000 individual razor blades, he made 1,000 complaints with a spam bot. All of the comments were bullshit nonsense that would give any retail employee a migraine. The new online store was going to work perfectly.
He sent an email to the manager that detailed how he would finish the program at home for tomorrows deadline. Then he saved his final product on his USB drive, blocked out, and jogged to the bus stop.
Once he caught the early bus, he texted Sheryl that he would be home at the regular time. She sent a reply with a kissing emoji face and told him to hang in there. He texted thank and stated that he had to go back to work.
When Derrick arrived at the house, he slammed the door and shouted for Will. Marge didn’t race to meet Derrick and Will didn’t holler back. Which meant they were still shopping.
I guess cooking dinner all this time has paid off. Will is probably buying everything on my grocery list and Marge is probably trying to stop him. Derrick put his bag on the side and began to search the living room closet. He found rain coats, rubber boots, board games, and a baseball bat.
The he searched the entertainment center. There was nothing tucked behind the items on the shelves, and the video tapes were movies that should’ve been replaced with DVDs a long time ago. He checked under the rug and couch, but found nothing that wasn’t expected.
If there was any logic to the horrors he experienced, then he would find the secret within the McCoy’s house. Otherwise, he would volunteer to enter the mental health ward and take a little vacation away from the family. Sheryl could visit him and they could sort out his problems without the in-laws.
As he explored Marge’s room, he found more McCoy family pictures. There were photos of Will and Marge on vacation at a horse ranch and the Eiffel Tower. Marge had dozens of photos that recorded Sheryl’s high school and toddler years. The images were memories, but the most recent one was six years old.
Once he cleared Marge’s room, he checked the remaining first floor closets. Then he tried to open the office. It was locked, yet he kept turning the door knob—hoping to access the secrets inside.
I’m not sure if I’m happy to find nothing. People are allowed to have their privacy…I could’ve developed a serious case of paranoia. Derrick swept through the kitchen pantry and the bathroom cabinets. He climbed the stairs and headed to his room for a short nap.
While his eyes wandered from picture to picture, he stopped when he saw an object in one of the photos. It was a white hole. He tilted the picture, and the hole vanished with the reflected light. As he studied the glass, the white whole returned when he moved the frame.
Then he looked up and found the attic door. It had been camouflaged into the ceiling and he couldn’t see the door unless he stood directly beneath the white hole. Derrick jumped and snagged the hole with his fingers. The door opened with his weight, and a folding ladder came down from the opening.
He climbed up and peeked around, but it was too dark and the light switch wasn’t nearby. The musky smells of dust and age made his nose twitch. After he stepped into the attic, he pulled out his phone and used the light to scan the room. Black dust was caked on to the wooden beams.
Even though this adventure went from pointless to hazardous, Derrick covered his nose and mouth with his shirt. He walked cautiously and tried not to kick anymore dust into the air. The attic was occupied with card board boxes, trunks, a wardrobe, and several objects covered with sheets.
Derrick checked under one of the sheets and found a worn out nightstand. The next one he checked was covering a plastic crate filled with stuffed animals. Another one was hiding two disassembled bed frames.
When he was about to check the wardrobe, his light revealed a box labeled, ‘Hospital.’ He tore off the tape and pulled out a stack of papers. They were old bills and a mixed medical history of the McCoy family.
The records gave a colorful history about Will’s childhood mischief and Marge’s ability to break her hand without even trying, but there was nothing that mentioned Sheryl. Derrick sifted through the unorganized records until he discovered Marge’s ultrasound photo.
On the back of the picture, was the report for a c-section. I had been a premature birth that became complex due to the previous birth. The doctor who had performed the surgery had written a report that stated how the baby wouldn’t survive. Derrick tried to understand why, but the rest of the report was buried in the paper pile.
Marge had two children…and one of them died. This has to be the key. Will mentioned something about funerals…did the child survive until recently? Was the child a family problem? Were they ashamed? It’s too painful to mention. Sometimes forgetting is the best option.
He looked over a few more papers before stuffing them back into the box. It was getting late, and Sheryl would know about his lie if she caught him in the basement. Also, the moldy smell had grown too strong and the creaking roof was annoying.
When he paused to check his phone, something caught his attention. There was no rain battering the roof and there was no wind blowing through the room. What was causing the noise?
Derrick pointed his light upward. A powdery haze shrouded the rafters. Among the dusty haze was the shadowy form of a little boy. Derrick turned and ran toward the exit, but the boy jumped and landed in front of him.
“Do you like my room?”
What? Screw this! Derrick stomped his foot and shouted, “I’ve had enough you! What do you want from me?”
“I don’t answer questions, and I don’t accept reasons.” The boy’s jaws grew larger than his head and he bit Derrick’s forearm. It laughed as if licked the blood from its teeth.
Then Derrick punched the boy and freed his arm. The boy snapped his jaws, and Derrick threw himself down the ladder. Derrick fell onto his back and rolled away when the boy jumped after him.
Once Derrick hopped onto his feet, he sprinted to the nearest room. He entered and locked the door behind him. The door rattled and the knob turned. Although he braced the door with his back, he was certain it wouldn’t hold.
His heart pumped erratically and it made breathing difficult. When the beating stopped, he checked his pulse and tried to call for an ambulance. After he dialed the emergency number, he paused and shoved the phone into his pocket. There was nothing wrong with his heart—it was the silence.
Derrick pressed his ear against the door and said, “What kind of hallucination is stopped by a wooden door?” He retreated from the door and looked around him. The jaws and mold didn’t appear, but he flipped on the lights and realized it was Sheryl’s room.
Calm down, it’s not real. Derrick grabbed a cat statue from Sheryl’s shelf. The statue was the size of a shoe box and weighed several pounds. He raised it above his head and opened the closet. Besides the dresser, purses, and clothes, there was nothing inside.
Then he crouched and pulled the sheets off the mattress. There was no monster under the bed, but there was a leather bound suit case. Derrick grabbed it and opened the case. It contained broken dolls, sun-bleached plushies, tattered books, and clothes in plastic bags.
The pile of junk was Sheryl’s treasured mementos. While he picked through and studied a doll tangled in a slinky, the doll’s hooked fingers snagged and tore one of the books. He swore as he wrangled the toy off the book. Then he laid the book open in his lap and tried to figure out the extent of the damage.
Crap, what am I going to say—is this a journal? He smoothed and held the torn page together. The page was dated over six years ago and it stated how Sheryl had exhausted herself with the jogging therapy. She had puked four times before dinner and was ready to die at any moment.
Did she break her legs? Was she sick? I wanted answers, but this isn’t what I wanted. Derrick closed the book and a photo slipped from the loose pages.
In the photo, a younger Sheryl was sitting in a wheel chair. Likewise, a youthful Derrick was pushing her chair. They had nice smiles in the picture, yet there was one more person walking with them.
A young woman who had long black hair, a charming smile, and denim overalls. The woman was pointing at the camera and was holding Sheryl’s hand. Derrick examined the mystery woman—she looked familiar, but he couldn’t recall from where. Was this woman the deceased sister?
“I’m home! Anybody here?” said Sheryl from downstairs.
He shut the suit case and shoved it under the bed. Then he grabbed the door knob, paused, and checked his phone. It was five fifteen p.m.
“Hey, where is everybody?” said Sheryl.
How the heck did she get home ten minutes early? Is that really her? He listened to the footsteps approach and the door knob turned. A knock came from the door.
“Mom, are you in there?”
Derrick hit the speed dial and heard Sheryl’s phone ring. He sighed and unlocked the door, but panicked when he noticed that the photo was still holding the photo.
As Sheryl opened the door, he stuffed the picture into his back pocket.
“Oh? Derrick you’re home. Why—”
“The office network crashed and the manager sent us home.” He kissed her on the cheek and massaged her shoulders. “You must’ve had a rough day. Relax. I’ll get get started in the kitchen.”
When he tried to move past her, she refused to move. She held his hands and made him walk back, and closed the door. “Why are you in my room?”
“I was tidying things up.” Derrick waved his arm as if he was presenting the room to her. “Also, I was looking for—”
“Sit down. I’ll get the first aid kit.” Sheryl pulled the chair from her desk and retrieved her first aid kit. She grabbed his right arm and ordered him to sit.
“Wait a minute, wouldn’t the bed be more—” He lost his words. Blood was trickling across his arm. A patch of skin was torn off where the beast had bit him.
This can’t be real—I never got injuries before. The beast never hurt me before. Actually, it doesn’t hurt at all. Derrick winced when Sheryl cleaned his injury with a disinfectant wipe. He squirmed in the chair, and she held his arm until she bandaged it.
“There, you’re all patched up.” She slapped the injury and his arm jerked away. “How did you cut your arm?”
“I was cleaning the attic. I guess, I rubbed against something sharp.” Derrick smirked and shrugged, but Sheryl frowned and shook her head.
He dropped his shoulders and realized he had dripped blood on her shirt. “Sorry, I didn’t want to stress you out and stain your clothes. Guess, we’re both having a bad day.”
She scanned her top and he pointed at the coin-sized dot on her shoulder. After she tried to scrub it with her thumb nail, she hummed and proceeded to lift her top.
“Alright, I better work on dinner.” Derrick stood, but Sheryl tugged on the leg of his pants. “This isn’t a good time. I’m sure Will and Marge will be home soon. They’re going to be hungry.”
“No time? Didn’t you suggest that I help you on the bed like last time?” She made him sit back on the chair and she stood above him.
“That’s not—I mean that was before the bleeding. Maybe, later tonight?”
Sheryl briefly looked up and sat on Derrick’s lap. Her perfume and playfulness were enticing, and yet he wasn’t in the mood. He had barely learned anything about the McCoy’s and the beast, but the information nested in his mind and spoiled the moment.
Although he didn’t show any particular interest or disinterest, she continued to encourage him. Then her legs became firm and more defined. As she lifted her top, her waste grew thinner which gave her a lean hourglass figure.
Once her top was removed, her hair and face resembled the mysterious sister who was in the photo. The full body transformation startled Derrick.
Even though he knew this was Sheryl, her presence was different and it stirred his spirit. He unconsciously placed his hand against her face and she embraced it.
“You need to appreciate the moment.” said Sheryl. “You never know what could happen.” She held and guided him to her bed.
This is a dream… A fantasy. Derrick’s thoughts were frozen. Her visage wasn’t quite right—the features were there, yet she was younger than he imagined. He couldn’t understand how he knew that, but it was true.
It was a fairy tale phantom that possessed him. He couldn’t control the fear and awe that came from her unearthly touch.
She twirled her fingernail on his pal and drummed her fingers along his arm, and pressed her hands into his chest.
“What shall I do with you?” whispered Sheryl.
“What are you doing, Sherry?” The words came from Derrick’s mouth, however his voice was higher and there was furious anger behind it.
Sheryl’s form returned to normal, but tears flooded her eyes. “What did you say? How did you know?”
I don’t know. Derrick wanted to comfort her, but he doubted whether she was real or not. His eyes observed Sheryl and searched the room for a solution while his body stayed a motionless lump.
“This can’t be. Were you lying to me?” Sheryl pounded on his chest.
He took the consecutive blows until her fist made contact with his chin. Then he pushed her away and rolled off the bed, and stumbled to his room.
Dinner was a pleasant farce. Sheryl and Derrick put on a splendid performance to keep the senior Will and Marge happy.
Derrick finished his meal and locked himself in his room. He spent the rest of his waking night smelling marijuana fumes that seeped through Sheryl’s door.
Sheryl hasn’t talked for two days. Hell, she won’t even look at me. What’s wrong with her? I’m not sick. Something’s wrong, and I’m tired of waiting.Derrick left his room and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. He cooked a large quantity of eggs, bacon, biscuits, and gravy.
The sweet aromas filled the house. Will and Marge came in and gratefully ate the feast Derrick had laid on the table. Derrick finished his food, but Sheryl didn’t come.
“Is Sheryl sick?She’s seems tired all the time,” said Derrick. “I’m worried about her, because she didn’t go to work yesterday.”
“She’s an adult,” said Will as he stuffed eggs into his mouth. “I love her, but I can’t deal with her shit anymore. All I can do is pick up the pieces. I won’t break my back for her anymore.”
“That’s cold William.” Marge sipped her tea and said, “But you’re not wrong. I wish I could’ve—No, I should’ve don’t more for my children. I can only give encouragement. Please, help her, Derrick.”
“I want to, but you have to be straight with me. Do you have two daughters or just one? Doesn’t the other one deserve to be remembered?”
While Derrick drank his coffee, Marge left the kitchen and a door slammed shortly afterwards. Will shook his head and lumbered to his office.
Then Derrick took a plate of food and carried it to Sheryl’s room. He knocked on the door and said, Sheryl, I made breakfast for you. Can we talk?”
He waited, but there was no response and he couldn’t hear any movement. When he tried the door, it opened and he stepped in without hesitation. Sheryl wasn’t inside, and yet the toxic atmosphere felt like someone else was there.
A dinner plate sat on the night stand. Several burnt out cigarettes had been smothered on the plate. Derrick set the food on the desk and sniffed the ash on the old plate. He wretched and recoiled. It was a small, yet potent.
Then he threw the ash plate into the trash bin and tied up the trash bag. He opened the window and stuck his head to take in the fresh air, but he coughed as he sucked in a smokey breeze. There was a hint of marijuana within the black smoke.
After he had a coughing fit, he covered his mouth with his hand and squinted through the window. There was a fire in the McCoy’s backyard. Before he could grab his phone, Sheryl stepped close to the fire and tossed something into flames.
“Hey!” shouted Derrick as he waved his arms. She didn’t look at him and continued to stare into the flaming pile. He shut window and ran down to the backyard.
There was a burning pile of junk in the center of the yard. Sheryl sat by the fire and fed the flames with items from her leather suit case. He approached her, yet she maintained a blank face.
“You know, there’s an easy and legal way to get rid of your trash.” Derrick sat next her and she briefly looked at him before tossing a dress into the fire pit.
“I know, but this is personal. These were her favorites, but I think she told you that already.” She held a doll over the flames—the toy’s hair was incinerated and its face melted. As the plastic changed into a molten torch, she dropped it into the pile and licked the minor burns on her fingers.
“What are you talking about?” He tapped her shoulder, yet she wouldn’t acknowledge him.
“The games over. Which is funny. She used to keep playing nice, even when I was wrong. I guess she got tired of pretending.” She brought her knees to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. “I never wanted things to turn out like this.”
Has Sheryl seen her sister’s ghost? He scooted closer and she placed her head on his shoulder. A minor smirk broke on her face. Then she grabbed a handful of items and threw them into the embers. Ashes and sparks erupted from the pile.
The debris forced him to shield his face and he backed away while she allowed the hot ash to wash over her.
“Sorry. I’m sure your sister was a good person.” He walked away from the smoke and looked into Sheryl’s face. “Your parents shouldn’t have forced you to forget.”
“It’s not their fault…The idea was mine.” She grabbed the suit case and dumped it into the fire. “I didn’t want to forget about her. We can’t live in the past—it will kill us.”
“Your sister’s death? The ghost that’s haunting me? Tell me everything.”
“See? He is a good a man, and he needs to forget.” Sheryl grinned and racked her knuckles against her head. “Derrick, did you know how much I looked up to everyone? I wanted a happy life. Was I stupid for wanting that?”
“Who is your sister, and what does she have to do with me?” Derrick waited for her answer, but she continued to stare into the pit. He dragged her onto her feat and stared into her eyes, and repeated the question.
“I can’t, it’s too late.” She tried to kiss him and he stepped away, but she grabbed him and him on the cheek.
“Your sister is trying to speak me!” He grabbed her hands and held them. “If you don’t want to help her, then I’m leaving. I can’t live with your demons. Where are my health records?”
Tears formed in her eyes and she smiled. “I used all the papers to start the fire. Your pain and care are my responsibility. I know everything you need.”
Oh no. Derrick looked at the fire pit—nothing could be identified in the remains. His hands began to shake. “You don’t see what I see. How can you get rid of the nightmares?”
“We can do it. This is your family. Your doctors suggested counseling and stress medication. I’ll be with you throughout the entire process.”
How am I supposed to live with people who keep lying to themselves? They’re trauma is a disease, and they’ve infected me! Derrick let go of Sheryl’s hands and pulled out the old photo he had taken from her journal. He shoved it into her face and she averted her eyes.
“I can tell that we knew each other, but I can’t remember one thing about her. I guess that doesn’t matter to you.” He returned to the house and grabbed the car keys. As he started the car, Sheryl ran and tried to block the drive way.
Then he swerved past her and accelerated. Sheryl waved to him as he sped down the road. If he wanted answers, then he needed to return to his previous life.