“JANE” by J.C. Alan
Derrick Randolph returned home from work, his hands were covered in filth and a blanket of sweat coated his forehead, his blue collar shirt was wrinkled, much like the dark circles under his eyes. The sun had set; dark clouds loomed above like levitating shadow figures. Derrick grabbed a milk pan from above the kitchen counter, the other pots and pans swayed like hanging corpses. The weight of the pan hurt his hands. He groaned. “I sure do hope I have milk left.”
He searched for the gallon of milk inside the refrigerator – the shelves were mostly empty, only a pot of cooked rice and chicken and a bag of vegetables remained – and was relieved to find it, although there was less than half. He hadn’t had the time to shop for more groceries, working 16 hours everyday kept him occupied. He poured milk into the pan and turned the stove on and went into the living room to turn on the TV as well. His dog, a Shih Tzu with beady eyes named Cutesie, yapped from her play area beside the TV stand. She hopped on Derrick’s lap and sniffed his face, and sneezed.
“Smell like shit, don’t I? Don’t worry, sweet girl, I’m gonna shower as soon I’m done watching the news,” Derrick said.
Cutesie yapped and raised her ears up.
“Hell, how can I forget? You haven’t eaten since lunchtime, haven’t ya? I’ll look for something, dear, don’t you worry.” He stood and returned to the kitchen. He opened one of the drawers and took out a knife to slice pieces of chicken from the pot in the refrigerator. Cutesie had followed him, she stood on her hind legs, her front paws resting upon the counter with her head raised up, licking her lips. “There, there, Cutesie. I’m almost done-” Footsteps above him creaked the second floor. He looked at the ceiling, perplexed, his brows furrowed.
“Strange,” he said.
Strange, indeed. He lived alone. The footsteps led to the left, towards the top of the stairs, and his eyes followed the creaks. Moonlight seeped through the window and shone the area where the stairs began. Whoever – or whatever – it was, descended down the stairs, stopping midway before the moonlight. A pair of shining eyes floated in the darkness.
Derrick’s throat clenched. Cutesie stood on all fours, her ears and tail rose. He gulped. “Who’s – who’s there?”
A hand reached into the light, it was like mist in the air. “She escaped.” A girl’s voice spoke.
Derrick put the knife down – Cutesie yapped her face off – he wished he hadn’t known what the girl spoke of, but he did.
“How do you know?”
The eyes darted to the left and it pointed at the TV, its volume increased by itself, it said:
“- we have the scary report of an escapee from The House, a hospital for the criminally insane. It is known that the individual had overpowered a guard and had climbed over the barb wire fence, leaving a bloody trail behind which the police are currently following. We will not reveal the suspect, but authorities recommend you contact the hospital or the police if you see anything suspicious -”
“I – it can’t be. It can’t be Jane,” he said.
“Mother is coming,” the girl spoke.
Before Derrick said anything, the figure retreated upstairs – a tail of mist followed – and disappeared from his sight.
Derrick’s hands shook. Cutesie yapped, but stayed in her place. He finished cutting the pieces of chicken and placed the bowl of food on the floor. Cutesie went up to it and began eating.
“Stay here, you hear me? Don’t you move. I’ll be right back,” his voice cracked.
He crept upstairs, his eyes peered into the darkness; they grew accustomed to it. An endless hallway stretched as far as he could see. He kneeled and sobbed. “Why – why is this happening to me, God?”
“YOU KNOW WHY,” the girl’s voice echoed from the hallway.
He jerked back; his eyes widened; he stood. “I’m sorry for what happened to you. I – I’m sorry I couldn’t stop her.” He walked farther down the endless hallway, in limbo, unknowing where it led, and followed her voice.
“Why did mother kill me?” she said.
The question struck his nerves like lightning, yet he kept walking. His stomach dragged on like the weight of a dumbbell.
“I – I didn’t think she was capable of doing such a thing. My poor sweet daughter. I’m sorry, Lani.”
A cold wave of air whooshed through him, as if the hallway took a giant breath. He trembled and rubbed his hands together.
“You’re lying,” the voice said. “You knew she would, but you denied it.”
Hearing Lani say that made him want to vomit. It was the truth after all, however, partially. He had married Jane and had even thrown her a wedding party and had bought her a diamond ring, despite them both growing up in poverty. A stupid decision? Perhaps, but he wanted to show her true happiness because she had never known it. Before their marriage, he would often find her staring out the window, either at the sky or at the children playing in the street; even date nights the local comedy shop wasn’t enough for her to crack a smile (perhaps she was dying of laughter inside).
Derrick believed it in his heart that Jane wanted to bear children, a child should bring nothing but happiness, after all, when your days consist of observing them. She stopped having an agelast personality when she became pregnant with Lani. However, not in the way Derrick thought. She continued to stare outside the window while rubbing her pregnant belly – as Lani kicked inside her, Jane curved a smile and said, “I can’t wait to show you eternity.”
Derrick overheard this, and believed she spoke of eternal life and her new found happiness – not death. With no personal and family history of mental disorders, it became apparent that Jane was strange to say the least. Besides the constant daydreaming, she would speak to herself in her sleep, or mumble that is. Phrases such as “she’s inside me” or “I will” would fill up Derrick’s ears for most of the night. When Lani was finally born, Jane began having spontaneous insanity – a short episode when she would randomly strike or scream at whoever was nearby.
This came at a wrong time. Years had passed; Derrick had been napping on the living room couch. Jane had gone out to shop for groceries with Lani. On their way there, Jane clenched the steering wheel and took sharp turns, spontaneously switching lanes whenever she desired, without using her turn signals. The surrounding drivers cursed at her, which only irritated and enraged her further more. She was nearly at the supermarket when she switched to another lane and hit another car which was speeding to beat her.
Her car twisted and turned like a spinning top. Lani cried and shrieked as if the world was ending. It wasn’t until hours later when Derrick got the phone call that Jane had been in an accident (though he knew that wasn’t the case). He scurried out of the house, not bothering to even put on shorts and left with only his shirt and boxers on. Jane’s car had been totaled, the front bumper was caved in.
She and Lani were safe, however, the same could not have been said for the other driver who had flown out of their seat and crashed through the windshield and hit a light pole head straight. With Jane pleading as the innocent mother who was going out shopping for her sweet little daughter and the discovery of the other driver’s past issues with reckless driving, the court had ruled the event as an accident with the other driver being at fault, rather than Jane; she got off scott free. Derrick kept his mouth shut, even though he knew it was really Jane who was at fault, he locked that fact in the subconscious part of his mind. Time went on, but he hadn’t. He kept returning to the accident, as if he were chained by it, pulling on his nerves – a fish caught by a hook.
He finally gave in, and drove to The House of The Criminally Insane. The walls were painted white, in between each square of the building block was covered in filth. The gray flooring wasn’t an improvement, it had missing pieces – some larger than others – as if someone had drilled and left the job unfinished. A security guard stood beside the entrance, and pointed at the row of chairs where other people waited for their turn to speak to the lady at the front desk. As he sat, an animal-like shriek spooked him enough to shake the chair as if he were being electrocuted.
The lady beside him chuckled.
“First time?” she said, her voice was like rubbing sandpaper together.
“My apologies. Yes, it’s my first time here,” Derrick said.
“Oh don’t worry bout it. You’ll get used to it over time.”
“You here to visit someone?”
“No, I – um – came to see if I can get advice on something.”
“I know it’s none of my business,” she coughed, “but advice on what?”
“Oh, well you see, I-”
A man in white clothing, with blonde hair and missing teeth, ran out from the hallway, screaming his lungs out. Two police officers chased him, but were unable to catch him until the security guard tackled the lunatic onto the floor, his head hit the pavement like a watermelon, and he was knocked out cold. All this happened in less than a minute – Derrick’s mouth gaped, he fought the urge to vomit. He swallowed it instead.
“I – um, came to see if I could put my wife here. She needs help.”
“Oh no, honey, this place will make her lose her marbles even more. Has she crossed completely to the coo-coo side?” she twirled her finger near her head.
Derrick shook his head and gulped. “I’m – I’m not sure. She’s a decent mother and a decent wife.”
“Doesn’t sound too bad to me. Unlike my daughter, she bit off her boyfriend’s fingers and chewed on them like fried chicken. I think it’s safe to bet that your wife just needs more lovin’ that’s all. She’s probably grouchy all the time, that’s all.”
Derrick nodded. “That’s what I thought too.” He murmured. He stood. “Thanks. And goodluck with your daughter’s well being.”
“You betcha,” she nodded.
He exited the hospital and returned to the parking lot. Before he sped into the road he looked back at the hospital. His stomach churned with sick disgust, the feeling that he would visit The House soon again grew inside him, and he was right in the end.
Derrick gritted his teeth; his body shivered. The cold air blew.
“I – I – I wa – wanted t – to believe her,” he said.
The mist returned. Five feet away, a figure formed in the abyss of the hallway. Lani’s ghostly eyes paraylzed Derrick to a halt.
“Set me free, poppa,” she whispered, “it’s so cold and lonely.”
Derrick’s mouth gaped. “Tell me how, sweet heart. I want you to be happy, even if you’re not with me.” He murmured.
Lani stepped closer to him. “Set mother free.”
Derrick shook his head and stared into Lani’s empty-cold eyes. “What?
“SET HER FREE.” She shrieked.
Derrick winced and covered his ears, his palms frozen against his lobes. Lani’s shriek turned into a low yap. What had been a mist in front of him was now a four-legged creature with grotesque features – its enlarged eyes contained bloodshot veins; it had claws unlike Derrick had ever seen; its teeth were fangs much like a vampire’s; and it growled like a canine from hell.
“Cutesie?” Derrick said, in horror.
The creature yapped; it sent chills down his spine. The creature crept to him like a wolf. Derrick put his hands out and gasped.
“Cutesie, it’s me, Derrick. No need to hurt me.”
The creature jumped with its claws pushed out. Derrick screamed, pulling himself sideways. One of its claws caught onto his shirt. The creature howled and munched on Derrick’s rib, its teeth sunk deeper as he panicked, ripping a piece of his flesh. He fell on his back, groaning.
The creature shook its tiny head with flesh still in its mouth. Derrick punched on its demonic eyes, and it jerked back, setting him free from its teeth. But it wasn’t done. As Derrick stood and ran farther into the hallway, the creature chased after him, blood dripping from its fangs and hissing like a snake.
“Lani, help me,” Derrick said. “That – that thing’s gonna kill me.” He panted.
But there was no answer. Instead, the hallway took another giant breath; the cold wind whooshed upon his face, his fingers were ice shards. Again, the creature jumped, but this time, on his back where it chomped on his neck. His chest stiffened, his hands threatened to break into pieces, yet he reached his back and grabbed the creature’s head; it growled from the touch of Derrick’s cold fingers. He launched the creature into the air, it landed on its four legs with no issue.
Rather than stopping, Derrick ran towards it and kicked its hideous face. His shoe caved the skull inwards, its eyes enlarged even more and then popped like a balloon, squirting black goo on Derrick’s feet.
The neck bent and broke as well. Derrick clenched its back and launched the creature into the air, once again, splatting on the wall like a bird flying into a window. The creature slid down the wall and left a trial of the black goo. Derrick stopped. He hovered over the corpse, which made a low hum, evident that its diabolical soul still harbored life. He held the wound on his rib tighter. A tear trickled down his cheek.
What seemed like hours had passed, he hadn’t been any closer to what he deemed of as the end in an everlasting pit of eternity. His knuckles flushed, the bite mark behind his neck did too. His wound had stopped bleeding, but not because of the pressure he had put on, but due to it becoming frozen – the skin around it contained blisters which looked as if they were ready to burst. If he removed his hand, it would surely make him faint. However, his mind carried an immense weight that he knew he would do so at any moment.
“Lani.” He mumbled. “Lani. I – I can’t keep going.”
Another giant breath; the wind blew.
“Now that you’ve experienced death, you shall bring me mercy.” The voice boomed.
A shriek echoed behind him. Derrick’s heart dropped, his body became paralyzed. He slowly turned. “The creature.” He mumbled. But he was wrong.
In the dark, a figure became visible, it stumbled and dragged its leg as if it were about to tear apart from its limb.
Seconds later, a pale woman, with a trial of blood behind her, manifested. To him, she appeared to be bald, but as she got closer, it was apparent that her black hair matched the sable emptiness of the hallway. She carried a knife which leaked fresh blood. Her face had a blank stare, with eyes which stared at Derrick with great intensity. He wanted to vomit at the sight of Jane.
“My love,” he mumbled, “let me show you happiness once again. Please. It’s all I have to offer.”
Jane hissed, revealing yellow teeth that were also blackened with decay.
“Jane, please,” he begged, “I loved you and I still do, even if you don’t show happiness, I loved giving it to you,” he walked backwards.
She pulled her other hand from behind her back. She carried a four-legged animal, its neck and legs slouched towards the floor, leached from all life. Derrick swallowed the urge to scream. It wasn’t the creature he had killed hours ago. It was the real Cutesie.
“You were blind,” Jane whispered, her lips bruised from the cold, “You were blind, so you should not possess the privilege of sight.”
Derrick gasped. “Jane, I love you no matter what.”
Jane cracked a smile from ear to ear. “Then you’re an infatuated fool.” She shrieked and ran towards him. He screamed as the knife drilled deeper into his chest.
Derrick fell on his back. Jane’s paleness glowed in the dark, she crawled on top of him as if they were about to make love. She kissed his lips, hers were like blocks of ice. Her hair brushed against his forehead and cheeks. He searched for her brown eyes, but they weren’t there, replaced instead by white pearls and bloodshot veins.
Derrick groaned, his breath puffed hot breath. “I should’ve helped you more.”
“You couldn’t,” she said.
“Why? Why did you do it? Why did you kill Lani?”
“Sweety, because I simply had the choice to.”
He shook his head. “No, there must be a reason.”
She smiled, again. “Sweety, madness has no obligation to reason with anyone.” She grabbed the knife and twisted it despite hitting bone. Derrick’s mouth gaped, the pain nearly knocked him unconscious. Jane had killed Lani, escaped from the hospital, broken into his home, killed Cutesie, and punctured his chest – this woman caused nothing but pain in his life, and all he ever wanted was to make her happy. Derrick wanted a view of the sky, instead, he was greeted by a ceiling.
A mist manifested. Lani looked down upon Derrick’s flushing face.
“I can’t,” he mumbled. “I can’t do it.”
“Then you shall die,” Lani said and dwindled like she was composed of dust.
Jane giggled like a little school girl, then, gradually, went into a full blown maniacal laughter.
Derrick shook his head, his eyes filled with tears.
“Lord, forgive me,” he said.
He punched Jane in the throat; she stopped laughing and fell on her side, gasping for air. Derrick turned and pushed himself on top of her. He clenched her throat, his thumbs pressing deeper into her larynx. Her feet twisted and turned, she held his shoulders and stared into his eyes.
Derrick groaned. “I’m sorry,” his voice cracked, “I’m sorry, love.” Tears dripped down onto Jane’s cheeks.
Ten minutes had passed. Jane no longer moved. Her eyes had rolled to the back of her skull. The hallway was illuminated by the chandelier above. Derrick had fallen into an unconscious slumber.
Derrick awoke. His eyes were shone by an excruciating light. He winced. The pain is his chest had alleviated, but it still hurt to touch. A vital sign monitor stood beside him.
To his right, a nurse wrote on her clipboard.
“Sir? Do you need something? Water? New pillows?”
“Where am I?”
“You’re at Adventist Health Gray Memorial.”
“How – how did I get here?”
“The neighbors complained of screaming; police found you wounded on the floor.”
“And my wife, Jane?”
“Yes, my wife, Jane. She was laying next to me.”
The nurse tilted her head. “I’m not following.”
Derrick clicked his mouth. “My wife, Jane, the woman I killed by choking her to death with my bare heads – she is dead, yes?”
The nurse’s blank stare reminded him of Jane, and sent chills down his spine.
“Sir,” the nurse gulped, “the police were under the impression that you were attacked.”
Derrick squinted. “What? No, I killed her. Why would the police think I was attacked?”
“Because the police didn’t find a woman in the house.”
Alan Jair Castaneda Uribe, alternatively, known as J.C. Alan, is a Mexican American writer and filmmaker. His works fall into various genres including Horror, Science Fiction, Crime/Thriller, Mystery, and Fantasy.