CURTAINS reads like the memoirs of a demonically oppressed man desperate to shake off whatever’s been following him ever since he was a little kid. Tortured by visions he can’t explain and an evil presence lurking just behind the curtains that is ready to devour him and drag his screaming soul to hell.
Is it just his imagination? Is it delusion? Or is it something far more sinister that is just waiting for the right moment to claim him after having toyed with him for all these years?
S. Michael Simms’ CURTAINS
Note: This story is split into 4 pages. Page navigation is located below the author box.
They say you outgrow things like The Boogeyman, monsters, ghost stories, and all that crazy stuff you sincerely believed when you were a kid ‘cause you had a charmed life enriched with comics, Fangoria, and cable TV with its nearly constant stream of horror. Even Disney had The Watcher in the Woods and Something Wicked This Way Comes.
If you didn’t have cable, the networks still took pretty good care of you with the Saturday Afternoon Creature Feature classics like THEM or Godzilla vs. Your Mom. TV also had those late-night horror anthology shows–real nightmare fuel, some of them–and of course, Elvira and various local horror hosts around the country, usually on primetime UHF.
The best was if you had a theater or one of those new-fangled video stores near you. For a few clams, you could catch newer fare like the Jaws movies, Dreamscape, and dozens of slasher or zombie flicks that never grew tired of ripping each other off or raising the bar on gore (till the dreaded FCC crackdown). Plenty to watch. Plenty to ponder. Plenty to fear.
You grew up with a certain level of horror-fueled fear rivaled only by fear of death and the possibility of burning in hell for eternity descriptions of which a seemingly never-ending supply of TV preachers were happy to hand out in copious supply…when they weren’t too busy snorting coke or whacking it to kiddie porn, that is.
Speaking of porn, you knew where to find it if you were clever. You had the JC Penney catalog lingerie pages, but there was also that secret stash at the back of Dad’s closet, in his nightstand, or in his underwear drawer. We won’t talk about what you found in Mom’s underwear drawer…ahem (what a sinner).
Lots of us saw Debbie Does Dallas for the first time at 3 a.m. on “Skinemax” with the sound all the way down in the middle of the living room while everyone else was asleep. I’ll never forget witnessing the haunting ending of The Devil in Miss Jones at a buddy’s house and how it firmly established a psychological link between lust and damnation.
But most of us had to settle for trying to catch an errant titty or the even more elusive bush shot amidst the electronically scrambled chaos of an unsubscribed Playboy Channel. Many covert boners. Many lifelong memories established. Yeah, life was pretty damn good despite the fear, hell, sometimes because of it.
What was more thrilling than sneaking out in the middle of the night, maybe with a buddy who’d slept over, and running around the neighborhood – or sneaking into places you weren’t supposed to be and sometimes getting caught – your heart pounding as some grownup chased away you pesky kids? Zoinks!
That was the good kind of fear – the kind you will spend most of your adult life trying to recapture – watching old scary movies, telling ghost stories to your kids, compiling obscene amounts of horror comics, riding the haunted house rides at the amusement parks that don’t even scare most youngsters nowadays but thrill you almost as much as they did all those years ago… and then there’s the bad kind.
Maybe it was all those supernatural horror flicks like The Exorcist and The Omen; maybe the TV preachers (or real preachers) took their toll, or maybe you just picked up one too many Chick Tracts. But if you’re like me, something – something evil – got it stuck in your head that there are real demons. Whether you’ve shared this experience or not, believing in real demons and not being religious? It sucks.
It sucks big floppy donkey gonads. You don’t have that “power of Christ” to compel them, you just have your own wits and mental fortitude, and whatever measure of disbelief you can muster in the face of true terror – more than any you ever needed for movies or fiction or getting into trouble as a kid. You’re like a reverse Father Callahan in Salem’s Lot.
It’s in this context that I’m going to tell you about Makanimit. Don’t ask me how he got his name – maybe it’s not even a real name but just something a terrified kid came up with on the fly that seemed to fit. I do know that I wrote down, M-A-K-A-N-I-M-I-T, in blue crayon on the inside back cover of a kids’ encyclopedia (“M”, naturally), along with an illustration of what I must’ve thought he looked like.
Trust me, you don’t want to see that illustration. I’m afraid to even look at it, though it’s still in that book on a shelf in my youngest daughter’s room.
S. Michael Simms is a writer, editor, poet, and family man living in a suburb of Indianapolis with his wife and three daughters. His work has appeared in several publications including Midnight! Magazine, The Triggerfish Journal, and The Bob and Tom Show. He most recently completed editing for his first novel, Even the Trees Have Eyes, a suspense/political intrigue thriller.