Read Short Story: CURTAINS By S. Michael Simms

Read Short Story: CURTAINS By S. Michael Simms

But I haven’t seen the demon, so maybe he’s not real, right? Well no, I hadn’t actually seen him in the early days, but I’d definitely “felt” his presence. I’d see plenty of him later. If I were to give him an entry in D&D’s Monster Manual, it might go something like this:

“Makanimit is a demon that takes many forms, most commonly a dog or a wolf that climbs onto the back of a victim to make his presence known then feed on the resulting terror. It often appears as a being of pure darkness with a vague outline like the stealth armor of the alien in the Predator movies. This demon tends to bond to one individual and terrorize them for many years, starting in childhood then appearing intermittently throughout their whole life, finally showing its true form at the moment of the victim’s death. One of its favorite modes of oppression is to manifest itself behind a curtain and breathe just loudly enough for its victim to hear.”

Cool! Kid stuff. Crazy stuff though, right? I wish. My first experience with this entity was when I was five or six. I was visiting my grandmother in Oklahoma and had terrorized my little brother by chasing him around with my father’s belt and gotten myself punished. I was sent to the garage, which had been converted into my uncle’s bedroom, to sit in the dark and think about what I had done.

The bed was a strange but cool canopy style with dark blue spaceship sheets and curtains my uncle kept closed so he wouldn’t have to make his bed. As I pouted on the edge of it and cursed my lot, I distinctly remember a very soft, not-quite-human, but certainly evil voice in a low whisper say,

“You’re a bad boy, Michael. You know where bad boys go, don’t you? They go to hell. That’s where I’m taking you… after I eat you.”

And suddenly there it was. Right behind those closed curtains. I could feel displacement of air and material as it slowly worked its way towards me. And then the awful feeling set in of the fact that it knew that I knew that it knew I knew it was there. It sounds goofy when you read or say it, like some bad Abbot & Costello bit, but apply it to the most horrific thing you can imagine and see if you don’t get chills.

I didn’t see it, but could sense its large, doglike maw practically at my neck, slavering in anticipation of my yumminess. Goosebumps covered my whole body as a cold chill traveled up my spine. Piss ant that I was I began whining, “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” louder and louder till somebody finally came and turned on the light. It was my grandmother. “Now what in the world’s gotten into you?” I told her everything and she just laughed.

“Why there’s nothing behind those curtains at all, silly goose, ‘cause those curtains ain’t closed!” As I agonizingly turned my head to see that she was correct, I didn’t even consciously realize my body was already rising from the bed and headed for the door. When my eyes took in the fact that what she said was true, a scream welled up inside me but came out more like a cross between a groan and a whimper, like Ed Harris right before the giant headstone falls on him in Creepshow, and I booked it out of there, not to return to that room again for years.

I swore that I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever terrorize my kid brother again. But I must not have memorized enough “evers” because sure enough a couple of years later I found myself locking the unfortunate lad in our bedroom closet and banging on it from the outside, growling at him in my best demon voice:

“Don’t you know where bad little boys go, Paddy? That’s right! They go to the BAD place!” We weren’t allowed to say the “H” word even though it seemed to be the favorite word of the Baptist preachers we were forced to listen to every Sunday. “That’s where I’m gonna take YOU after I EAT YOU!” and I proceeded to bang on the cheap metal closet door which produced a satisfying rumbling noise like thunder.

I’d kept the volume level down to a dull roar up to that point, but I must have struck a nerve with my last comment to Paddy because he began to shriek at the top of his lungs. As I began to laugh uncontrollably at this latest development, I foolishly forgot that my stepdad, who was sleeping off a hangover, was likely to be woken by Paddy’s cries (never mind my closet banging). Too late I opened the closet door, but Dad had already stormed in.