I chewed my bottom lip nervously as I stood by my father’s desk, twisting Cookie the Bear nervously in my hands. With a sigh, my father took off his reading glasses and looked up, clearly annoyed by my presence.
“Nikki, it’s ten thirty, you should’ve been in bed over an hour ago,” He said in an exasperated tone.
I looked away, now a bit embarrassed. “Um…”
“Well, spit it out. What do you want?”
“Dad I… I think there’s something under my bed.”
My dad looked baffled for a moment before rolling his eyes. “Nikki. You’re eleven years old, you’re too old for this. Go back to bed and ignore it.”
“Daddy!” I whined, stomping my foot. It might’ve been childish, but he had to make sure! “I’m serious! It sounded too big to be a mouse, what if it’s a snake? … Or a rat?” I shivered. I hated rats. Their tails were just so icky.
My dad groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Nikki, I’m sure it’s not either of those. Please go back to bed, I’m busy right now.” I glanced at the pages of his manuscript, one of the ones that had been turned down for publishing. Red pen marks gouged the page so deeply it tore through in some places. He wasn’t in a good mood. He wasn’t ever in a good mood lately.
I had one more card to pull though.
“Mom would’ve done it.”
Dad tensed. I pouted and clutched my bear to my chest. For a few seconds, he eyed his manuscript again, before he sighed and stood up.
“Fine. I’ll check.”
I happily skipped after my father as he trudged up the steps, mumbling under his breath. It was a cheap trick, but it was the only way to get him away from his work desk.
My dad flicked the light to my bedroom, wrinkling his nose as he saw all my cheerful stuffed animals sat on my bed. “How do you have any room to sleep?” He asked as he knelt down. I grumbled and crossed my arms. I had plenty of room to sleep.
Dad looked back and forth for a bit before sighing and getting back up. “Nothing.”
“Check again! I know I heard something!” I insisted.
“Check!” I stomped my foot again, this time stubbing my toenail. I yelped and danced in place before I dropped my arms, letting Cookie fall onto the ground. “… Please, daddy?”
Dad huffed before he got down. As he poked his head under the bed, I hit the lightswitch.
“Nikki, I can’t see- what the hell?”
My dad tried to crawl backwards. Tried to. I kicked him between the legs, making him drop down to his stomach. “Fuck! Nikki!” He said in a strained voice. Then he gasped.
And then he screamed.
I heard a growl and my dad’s screaming grew louder and more high-pitched as something started drilling through meat and bone. I felt something wet splatter against my pajama bottoms. My dad’s screams cut off with a loud crack.
It was quiet for a few seconds before I could hear a squish, followed by a few more crunches. My dad’s body slowly got to its feet, his limbs flopping every which way. Nervously, I turned on the light.
Honestly he was less damaged than I thought he would be. His bottom jaw was hanging loosely and there was a giant hole on the top of his skull. Something pinkish-green swirled about inside that certainly was not brains, and his neck cracked as it went back straight.
“You doing okay, daddy dear?”
“I told you not to call me that. Nice to be out in the daylight though,” He said, his voice now much higher and raspy. My friend reached up and cracked his jaw in an attempt to force it back in to place with little success. Dad’s bright blue eyes rolled back and disappeared with a pop. I screamed at the sight of his empty eye sockets.
“Oh chill, will you?” Two new eyes rolled into place, both bright pink with no whites. “Thanks for the help, kid. Really couldn’t have done it without you.”
I beamed. It’d been so long since I was praised by my dad. “You’re welcome! So… what you promised?”
“Course.” ‘Dad’ slowly stumbled forward and pulled out his wallet. “Let’s see, ice cream first, right?”
“Yup!” I ran to my dresser. “There’s more clothes for dad in his room, better grab a hat too. I think people will catch on if they see the top of his head’s gone.”
“It’s not gone!” ‘Dad’ complained. But all the same, he trudged into the hall, I could hear him trip against walls as he got used to walking.
I pulled out my jeans and sent off a text to my friends.
Talked dad down from curfew. Meet us at the mall in thirty! 😉
Life was going to be so much better now that my dad was going to be in my life again.