Category Archives: Jaylyn Gatrell
The plastic wrapper crackled as I greedily tore open the fortune cookie. Then, I broke the fortune cookie in two, and I didn’t even bother eating it. I unfolded the fortune and my heart sped up in anticipation. Even though it’s a silly superstition, I believe whatever fortune you get will come true. It read: Don’t be hasty; prosperity will knock on your door soon. A feeling of disappointment settled in my heart. This wasn’t even a real fortune. No sooner had this thought escaped me, all the lights abruptly went out.
This wasn’t the kind of dark where you could see the outline of shapes being illuminated. This was a pitch black dark. It was as dark as I would imagine the deepest corner of a person’s mind being. Where everything that has been forgotten or discarded lies.
“That’s because that is where you are at,” a thunderous voice sang out. The voice was deafening and seemed to be coming at me from every direction. I covered my ears and meekly replied, “I’m inside my own mind?”
“Precisely,” the voice boomed.
My brain was swimming with questions. What did this strange voice mean? I couldn’t be inside my own head, right? That’s insane. Not to mention impossible. Or…is it.
“So who are you and how are you inside my head?”
“You will know soon enough.”
I had no idea what to make of this.
“Can you tell me why I’m here?”
“No, but I can show you.”
Before I could even contemplate what this meant, a whoosh resounded in my ears, and my body began disintegrating. I felt as if I was being sucked up a straw, but I couldn’t see anything because I was blinded by the bright light. Or was it the pure darkness?
With a thud, I was thrown onto solid ground by some inaudible force. In front of me there lay an ominous steel door with no clear knob. I looked around for the source of the strange voice, but could see nothing but the darkness stretching on forever and ever in both directions.
The only thing that was visible to my naked eyes was the steel door and the small patch of dirt I was sprawled across that was directly in front of the door. I crept up to the door and pressed my ear to its cold, hard surface. I struggled to hear what sounded like a cross between a faint whisper and a hiss. Once I could finally decipher the whispers, I wished I could erase them from my mind. The voices were chanting help me and let me out over and over until I thought my head would explode. I backed away from the door and curled into a ball, but I could not get the voice out of my head.
“Help me!” I cried, “Get me out of this place.”
A shrill silence was the only answer I got. I had never been so alone or so scared as I was in this instant.
I heard a tinkling, melodious laugh on the other side of the steel door and I froze. All of a sudden, the temperature dropped about twenty degrees, and I could see my breath coming out in little puffs.
“Do you not want to join them n their eternal misery? But you couldn’t even if you wanted to because there’s no way in and there’s no way out.”
“Why are they in there?”
“Why isn’t it obvious? Because you put them there.”
This voice was starting to aggravate me. Its confusing answers only made me ask more questions.
“Just get me out of here.”
“Not just yet. You still have a lesson to learn. Choose wisely.”
Just then, a different door appeared on the opposite side of the first. It was wooden and actually had a door knob. It looked much more inviting, and heat practically radiated from the crevice at the bottom. I rushed over and flung the door open. Instantly I knew something was wrong. I took one step before I realized there was no ground to step before I realized there was no ground to step onto. As I was falling, I could hear the voices hissing in my ear. The longer I fell, the louder the voices grew. Right when I was about to hit the ground, the voices reached their epicenter. Then everything was silent.
I was terrified of what was going to happen next. I frantically looked around. All I could see was the dirt floor, but at least it wasn’t pitch black anymore. There was almost an iridescent glow descending around me. Then a bright white light shone on a little girl that was crying a couple of feet away. I asked her what was wrong, but she wouldn’t answer me. She kept crying out for her mommy and clutching her knee. When she lifted her hand, it was covered in blood. I rushed over and tried to her, but the strangest thing happened. I went straight through her. Even stranger, a second later she disappeared, only to reappear riding a bicycle. As I watched the scene play out, my mind began to cry for her mommy, but her mommy never came. I must have pushed this memory to the back of my mind. Tears filled my eyes as I watched the painful memory replay itself.
The sound of footsteps quieted my sobs. I whipped around and gasped. I was face to face with… myself. Although this version of myself had gleaming red eyes and long inky black claws. When she spoke, I was a flash of pointy teeth that resembled shark teeth.
“It’s such a sad sight, isn’t it?” she cooed. “And now because of your hasty decision you will have to watch it as well as all your other forgotten memories replay themselves forever.” She swept out her arm dramatically and thousands of other beams of light switched on. They were each illuminating a different memory.
I covered my mouth with my hand, suddenly horrified with myself.
“You see, if you would have chosen the steel door, a moment later you would have heard my good friend opportunity knocking. The door would have swung open and you would have been freed. Of course you didn’t because the wooden door seemed more inviting. Well, maybe next time you won’t be so hasty.”
She smirked and laid her hand on my shoulder, being sure to dig her claws in.
“Now you’re mine forever.”
I screamed and screamed until I felt my eardrums bust, and blood ran down my neck.
I woke up screaming my head off in a small run-down Chinese resteraunt. The waiter was giving me a mischievous look.
“Did you learn anything?”
“Y-y-yes m-m’am…. I learned—-” my voice died ash she disappeared. She reappeared at a table on the other side of the room and gave the customer their fortune cookie. Then turned towards me and winked. Her open eyes glowed red.
If you truly loved someone, wouldn’t you do anything to protect them? Wouldn’t knowing that your loved one would always be safe help you breath easier? Do you spend every waking moment worrying that something awful will happen to them? What if there is something there that could ensure their safety? Something that would always be able to guard and watch over them when you’re unable to. The truth is there is.
Melody Harris creaked open the door of her son’s room and glanced inside at his softly sleeping silhouette. She watched the steady rise and fall of his chest and breathed a sigh of relief. Then she opened his door all the way and tip-toed to his bedside. She tenderly brushed his hair away from his forehead and kissed him on the cheek.
His eyes fluttered open, and he reached out for her.
Melody’s eyes twinkled as she gathered her son in her arms.
“Shhhh… Go back to sleep, Thorton.”
“Sing me a song, Mommy.”
She smiled and started to sing in her high, beautiful voice. Almost immediately Thorton’s eyes drooped and he fell asleep on her lap. Melody delicately untangled him from her arms and tucked him in under the covers. Before she left, she took one last look at the person that meant everything to her. If anything ever happened to him, she didn’t know what she would do with herself. She wished there was some way she could protect him from all the terrible things in the world.
Then she heard a loud thump coming from outside. She rushed over to the window and peeked outside. She saw a glimmer of something shiny, but couldn’t make out what it was. Gathering up her nerve, she walked out the front door to examine the mysterious object. It was a little box wrapped in silver paper with a matching silver envelope. She looked around, trying to figure out who could have given her this, but there was no one there. Then Melody walked down the pathway leading to her house.
“Hello?” she called out.
The whispering of the wind was her only reply.
“Hellooo? Is anyone there?”
Nothing. Finally, Melody gave up and went to pick up the little box. She took it inside to inspect it. First, she opened the silver envelope. Inside it was a plain sheet of paper that simply said you wish has been granted in a beautiful scrawl. What did that mean? she wondered. She eagerly tore the silver paper off of the box. Then she lifted the lid, her heart pounding in anticipation. She gasped as she gazed upon the necklace that was nestled in silver tissue paper.
She lifted the necklace by the thick chain to get a better view of the gargoyle pendant. It looked both wicked and lovely. The pendant was a little smaller than the palm of her hand. It didn’t feel like plastic or silver but… more like it was actually sculpted out of gray stone. The gargoyle was beautifully detailed with long talons, intricately feathered wings, and sharp fangs. Then she noticed something. A scroll of paper was enclosed in one of the gargoyle’s claws. Melody gingerly slipped the scrawl out. Written in the same beautiful, ancient-looking scrawl it read: The Gargoyle must be worn at all times to protect and guard its master.
Melody stared at the slip of paper, befuddled. What did all of this mean? Then she remembered the wish she had made mere seconds before this appeared on her doorstep. Someone or something had somehow heard her wish. She wondered if the gargoyle was magic and if so, would it really protect her son? There was only one way to find out… She vowed to give it to him tomorrow.
The next day Melody woke her son up, determined to give him the necklace. Even if it wasn’t magic, it was worth a try. She would try anything to keep him safe. He reluctantly climbed out of his bed and opted for his mother’s arms.
“I don’t want to go to daycare, Mommy,” he whined.
“Well Mommy has to go to work, Sweetie. You can’t stay here all by yourself.”
“Yes I can,” he protested.
“No, sweetheart, you have to go. I’m sorry.”
“Mommy. All the other kids are mean. They don’t let me play with them and they make fun of me.”
“I know, sweetie. I know.”
Melody had gotten a call from one of the workers at ABC Daycare. They had told her that Thorton was having trouble interaction with other children. Melody didn’t know what to do. She had no other choice but to put him in daycare while she worked.
After she made him breakfast, she went into her room to retrieve the necklace.
“Thorton!” she called.
He paddled into her room. “Come here,” she said patting the space next to her bed. He climbed onto the bed and looked at her with curious eyes.
She clasped the necklace behind his neck and lifted the gargoyle to his eye level.
“You see this necklace?” He nodded.
“It has magical powers that will keep you safe from the mean people. Now listen to me, Thorton. You can’t take it off. Not for any reason. You have to wear it all the time for its magic to work.”
He nodded and took the gargoyle.
“I understand, Mommy.”
Then she took him to daycare and went to work.
Hours later, Melody went to the daycare to pick Thorton up. Once there, she saw something that made her giddy with happiness. All of the other children were surrounding Thorton and they were playing with the toys together. Normally when she picked him up, he would be sitting in a corner all alone, waiting for her. This time he was having too much fun to even notice her.
After a while, he looked up and finally noticed her.
“Mommy!” he squealed and ran to her.
She opened her arms and spun him around.
“Mommy! They played with me! Billy stole my toy and called me weird, but when he saw this he stopped.” He held up his necklace fondly.
:Then he gave me the toy back and all the other kids started playing with me.”
“That’s wonderful, sweetheart.”
Now Melody knew the gargoyle really was magic. It would protect him from anything no matter how small.
She smiled and kissed him on the forehead. Now she never had to worry about losing him again. She didn’t know how or why, but someone had granted her wish. She looked at her son’s wide grin as pure happiness settle in her heart. She would be eternally grateful to the little gargoyle. Upon thinking this she swore she saw the gargoyle’s wing flap. But she told herself that it was just a trick of the light.
20 Years Later
Melody hugged her son tightly, not ready for him to go back to college. He was home visiting her for the weekend. He had told her that earlier that week he had been shopping for groceries in the wrong part of town, and a hooded figure followed him to his car. The man held him at gun point and screamed for him to give him all of his money and belongings. Thorton told her, eyes as wide as saucers, that the man was then frightened by some unseen thing. He ran off muttering crazy things. Then her son startled her by looking her straight in the eyes and saying, “Mother, why do bad things never happen to me? I can’t remember a time when I ever got hurt or anything terrible ever happening in my life.”
Melody just smiled mysteriously and clutched her son tightly. She was so glad that her song hadn’t been killed. After a moment, her son dropped the subject and hugged her back. Then Melody watched him go as tears filled her eyes. She loved him so much. Then she saw something that made her heart pound. The gargoyle’s grin widened and both of its wings flapped once.
She gasped. Was it possible that… it was real? Melody decided she didn’t care if it was real or just magic. It kept her son safe and that’s all that mattered.
“Thank you so much.” She whispered to the disappearing gargoyle pendant as her son drove off in his car.
Later that night, Melody was walking outside to get her mail from the mailbox when she noticed something lying on her doorstep. It was another silver envelope. She eagerly ripped it open. In the same beautiful handwriting, it said: Your Welcome.
Melody looked up at the sky. Maybe some things could never be explained.
My parents walk out the door. The slam echoes throughout the empty house, and I am along for the first time in my life.
I am calm and everything is quiet. The quiet quickly becomes deafening and ever noise sounds like the firing of a cannon.
The water dripping from the broken faucet, the rattling of the air conditioning, the creak of the floorboards, the rustling of the leaves against the windows. The cacophony causes terror to bubble up inside my chest, and I can’t breathe. The shadows turn in on themselves and become demonic monsters that taunt me.
Once alone, everything becomes sinister and ominous.
I silently vow to never take anyone’s company for granted as I curl up into a ball and await my parents return.
Being alone terrifies me, deep down in my bones, and to the core of my very soul.