Short Fiction: Scratches



He just scratches the walls, day and night”, Conner said. “His nails came off weeks ago. We bandage them, but he keeps scratching until they’re broken through again.”

Dr. Manheim peered through the small window in the door, watching James run his fingers back on forth on the far wall. Long tendrils of blood followed the path of his fingers, a slow proof of his insanity. “Haven’t you tried a straight jacket?”, Manheim asked incredulously.

We did”, said Conner. “But no matter what we tried, the second we turned our backs he was out.”

From the door, Conner and Manheim could only see James’ back, and the slow rising and falling of James’ fingers. They could hear a quiet grating, subdued under the sounds of the other patients. The patients were normally quiet, but now seemed quite loud.

Manheim began to notice a different sound coming from the room. A tiny nail digging in his brain, and even in it’s subtlety he could hardly stand it. “Is he saying something in there?”, asked Manheim, slowly turning towards Conner. “I hear a low murmur, but there’s something odd about it.”

He says the same thing over and over, and you’re not the only one who thinks it’s disturbing”, said Conner. “None of the other patients will come close to this room. We… we won’t go in there ourselves Doctor.”

Conner looked up into Manheim’s eyes, then quickly looked down at his feet. He quietly whispered, “he’s saying ‘let me in’.”

Manheim felt a cool shiver run up his arms. He’d only been at the door a couple of minutes, but he already felt the same way. Something was in there, and it wasn’t just James. Quickly he shook his head back and forth, shaking loose the dark ideas trying to take hold. “Look Conner, he’s just disturbed, I’ve seen worse than that.”

It’s not that I haven’t seen worse, “ said Conner. “I just have never felt so… afraid of someone like this.” Conner started to look up, and quickly jumped back from the door, nearly falling down.

Startled, Manheim looked away from Conner and into the glass, and met the darkness staring back at him. Somehow there was no light coming from the other side, a pitch black room broken only by the light from the window in the door. Staring back at him were the malevolent eyes of James, and a cruel smile erupted from the darkness.

Manheim couldn’t pull his gaze from the malice on the other side of the door. Suddenly raw, meaty fingers hit the glass, a clink of finger bones sounding in the now silent hallway. The tips of the fingers started rising up and down against the glass, and a quiet grating sound began. Manheim pulled himself back from the door, and a malicious laugh rose from the other side. In the darkness, only the glare of evil and the malice filled grin could be seen. The grin parted, and James spoke again.

Let me in.”


Copyright 2013 Russell Dickerson, All Rights Reserved.

Posted in Poetry & Short Pieces.