God's Purpose for Mosquitoes

by: Brian Robertson, aka Quackhoursposted: 1/21/2011

A story for those who love mystery and imaginary beasts.

Trees cast long reaching shadows on the grass carpet on the north side of the park in the dimming day. Standing like sentry in the distance near the park's entrance was playground equipment, a large structure that consisted of snaking monkey bars that connected to a low straight slide, and a high slide that twisted as it went down.

The last few rays of sunlight glittered on the metal of the monkey bars, giving the silhouette of the equipment a feel of glowing. The wind breathed a small little gasp, as if in sobbing, and she heard the laughter of children on the equipment. She looked in that direction and saw their scurrying black shapes bold against the red of the sinking sun on the horizon.

The "ting", of an aluminum bat striking a ball was loud across the parking lot. A late practice coming to an end. The muffled sound of rubber sneaker souls scrubbing asphalt approached her from behind as she spread the brown and black checkered quilt on the ground. She stood, and looked over her shoulder. An elderly couple arm in arm. In the darkness they seemed to be melted together as they moved along the track under the veil of elongated shadows.

They waved in an eerie unison that made a hint of paranoia tiptoe in. The man said something low and inaudible in passing. She watched as the blackness of their bodies disappeared into the gloom.

She picked up a plastic bag, with Wal-Mart inked in yellow across its belly. She opened the bag and pulled out a candle. She flicked her lighter and moved the dancing flame to the wick. Then she sat the candle down about five inches from the corner of the quilt.

A car came through the park's entrance, its lights on high beam. Her heart started to sink. It's him, he's early, she thought. Then knelt down to look at her watch in the circle of light that the candle was throwing. Ten minutes till eight. She stood back up hoping that it wasn't him, fearful that it was. The car pulled over seeming to lean toward the ball field. Loud rock music poured out of the car. A boy opened the back door of the Intrepid, tossed in a glove then climbed in the front seat.

As the car sped away she watched the red tail lights and lit a Marlboro before setting back to work. She was almost finished, but wanted it to be complete when he arrived, to be perfect. She lit three more candles and placed them in the grass at the other corners of the quilt. Then lit four more and placed them midway in between the four sides of the quilt.

She walked down to her car, a green little Neon. She opened the trunk and got out a little plastic bag that said Ingles, lunch for two, and a pastel multi-colored teddy bear. Car lights again at the entrance, and she knew that it was him.

"What are you up to, Jessie": He asked as he got out of the car and looked up toward the low lights under the trees. Jessie Lowery, giggled a little, then said, "Nothing." He didn't believe her. Sometimes the guy on trial was innocent, sometimes the monsters didn't get you, but Jessie Lowery was always up to something. The look of disbelief on his face warranted an answer. "Mike, I'm not up to anything……..much". She giggled again. "I love you." "I love you too."

Mike stepped toward her. She started to turn and run in a lover's game of tag, but he had her by the arm. He pulled, and they were chest to chest. They stood there in the dark neither one of them all that good looking to anybody else other then themselves. She was tall and lanky, with straight brown hair, and not even a hint of breasts. He was also tall, almost seven feet. His hair was black and course, and his face was an etched with the memory of teenage acne.

They walked up to the quilt. They passed through the light and sat down. The sun went down. The world was dark. "Do you like it?" Jessie asked. "Yes". Mike smiled oddly. "Really?" "Yes." "Then what's that smile for?" Jessie asked sounding near tears. "I'm just thinking about how nobody has ever done anything like this for me. And, how much I love you." Mike leaned across the quilt and pressed his lips to hers. As they pulled away from the kiss, Mike laughed a bit. "You don't like it." "Yes I do, I was just thinking that I should stop kissing you." Jessie's face registered confusion. "What? What are you talking about?"

Mike smiled and looked into her hurt eyes, they sparkled in the candle light. "I love you," she whispered. "I love you too." Then they were silent. The sky was clear, and the stars danced. Crickets sang a happy little ditty all around them.

And something watched with wretched lustful eyes. Jessie turned and looked at Mike, and he toward her. The light from the candle lit up one side of his face in yellow. Understanding that it was possible that they were being watched, she looked around the quilt for her cigarettes. "I don't think that there's anybody out here." As he was talking she spotted the pack of Marlboros and got on her hands and knees to pick them up. They lay in the grass with her lighter beside one of the corner candles.

Just as Mike got the word "here" out of his mouth, a twig snapped in the darkness just out of the reach of Jessie's poor vision. She jumped back beside Mike holding her cigarettes with a shaking hand. A gust of wind rushed through the park. Leaves skittered across the parking lot. The flames danced, and Jessie silently begged them not to go out.

In the darkness another twig snapped. "There's somebody there," Jessie said fumbling a cigarette into her mouth. "Where?" Mike asked. He looked at her, she seemed to be suffocating in raw horror. Another twig snapped. This time the sound found Mike's ears. He looked in that direction, but all he saw past the candle's flame was night. "See, you heard it too, didn't you?" The smoke from her cigarette blew back in Mike's face. It was thick, and fowl. He crawled away from the smell and over to the edge of the quilt.

Mike peered out into the darkness, and saw nothing. "Probably just some kid, heard us. That's all," Mike said sitting on the edge of the quilt. "Are you sure?" The question sounded stupid, and she felt immature, like when she was a little girl and her father would look in the closet or under the bed for the boogie man after a nightmare. "No, I'm not sure. It could be a dog, or just our imagination." "But what if it's not? What if its something else?" "Like what." Then he caught her vibes.

Mike could be a real nut at times but she loved him. "Oh, you mean like a ghouly or ghosty. Or something like that." She didn't answer. She wished that they had just stayed at home. Now he would make fun, and her fear would be something that would follow her from this night as a joke for a long time, like a pesky younger sibling. Mike stood up, smiling. He was on the verge of laughter.

He turned toward the night. "Hey if you are out there, you can't come inside our candle light quilt house. You'll just simply have to wait till we leave to gobble us up."

"Stop it. That's not funny." Jessie was crying. She flung the smoked butt out into the darkness. "Made me laugh," Mike said then realized that her tears were real. "I'm sorry." He walked back over to her and sat down. He put his arms around her, and kissed her on the forehead. She looked at him and smiled as the last few tears ran down her face. Mike felt stupid.

"Say, what's in the bag?"

"Some sandwiches and some chips, and a couple of Cokes."

"I'm hungry; wanta eat?" Mike asked. Then his stomach growled as if to verify his statement. A mosquito landed on the wick of a candle. It popped with the heat and lay dead in the hot wax. Behind the candle was the plastic bag that contained the food. She reluctantly said, "Yes." The thought of getting the bag made her uneasy as she saw Mike reach for it.

The light from the candle was bright and his face was bathed in yellow. He reached beyond the candle, and broke the plane of the candle's light. He reached out into the darkness and felt its unholy kiss.

Mike was looking back at Jessie as he reached, and he never saw what had him for that she was thankful. To look into that face as it came for you was to embrace madness. Jessie however, saw.

She saw the pale hungry face of a corpse. Its long, gnarled fingers close around Mike's wrist. She saw the terror clasp hold of Mike's heart as he felt the coldness of the hand. She saw glowing red coals that sat below the creature's brow where the eyes should be housed. And worst of all she saw the too long to believe canines in the things open mouth dripping with shimmering saliva in the moonlight. It pulled Mike out into the darkness.

He screamed.

She fainted.

Just before she became unconscious, the sound of a baby sucking on a pacifier filled her ears. She could feel herself coming back. There was a voice, loud but mouthing. "Come to me Jessie. I know that your frightened, but I can take all that away. Trust me. Come to me."

Jessie was crawling on her hands and knees toward the edge of the quilt without realization.

A mosquito landed on her neck.

She opened her eyes and smacked at the bug. The fingers of her other hand were in the grass. Just out of the light from the candle's reach was the white face that she had seen. The one that had taken Mike. "Jessie, come to me," it said in a soothing urgency laced with Godless hunger. And she started to close her eyes back and crawl out into the dark. "No," she said out loud.

The sound of her own voice scared her. She bounced away from the corner of the quilt. A hiss of disgust came from the darkness. She looked back into the night. The face was gone.

A moment passed and still that sickening feeling of dread insulated the inside curve of her stomach. Something batted her blonde bangs, and she looked up. It hung there in mid air above her batting at her head, batting like a cat at a catnip mouse. Drool glistened on those long teeth then fell splattering on her forehead.

She flung herself down flat against the ground out of its reach. The hands still came, with dirty brown fingernails where it had clawed its way out of a grave. The reddened corners of the thing's mouth turned down in an unpleasant grimace. A droplet of drool fell into her mouth. The taste reminded her of a busted lip. She turned her face in the direction of Mike and all that she could see of him was the white soles of his socked feet.

She started crying again. She thought of the crucifix medallion around her neck. She pulled the chain from around her neck slowly, praying that it would work just like in the movies. It took all the courage that she possessed to sit up and press the cross against the things palm. It screamed a scream that sounded animal, as its flesh exploded in flames.

It disappeared up into the darkness like a spider on a thread, leaving behind only the smell of charred flesh. It was gone, she thought. There was no way to be sure. The thought of sprinting madly to her car entered her mind. She felt inside her pockets. No keys. She didn't know if her keys were in the switch, or locked in the trunk. She was bad for that.

Jessie had bought the local locksmith a steak and backed potato dinner one or two or five times in her life. That was too big of a chance. She was safe on the quilt inside the candle light. But what if they burned out? Then what?

She surveyed the candles one by one. They seemed to be in good order, but the night was long and she had no idea what time it was. Then Jessie remembered that Mike had also driven. His keys would be in his front left pocket, but that would mean turning his body over an looking through his pockets. She shuddered at that though. She looked over to his body. It was gone.

She sat in the center of the quilt clutching the cross and chain tightly to her breast. Crickets chirped. An owl sounded off in the night. There was no sign that there was anything still there. Maybe it just took his body and left, she tried to tell herself. But now she knew things.

She knew that there were unspeakable things lurking in the darkness for you. She knew that vampires were real. She knew that crucifixes really worked like in the movies, and she knew what happened in those same movies when a vampire…took you.

"Help me Jessie. Please come help me." She recognized the voice even though it was different, changed somehow. It was Mike. She stood up and almost left the safety of the light once again, thinking about what happened when a vampire took you and it seemed inviting in a weird way. She felt intoxicated as she moved toward the darkness, toward the voice that was Mike's but was not.

Another mosquito landed on her and she smashed it under the weight of her palm. Jessie fell and realized the fate that had almost become hers. She looked at her hand, and saw the spot of red.

God created mosquitoes to keep people from being eaten by vampires, she thought then laughed at the idiocy of the idea. The moon was high in the sky and she wondered what time it was. How much night was left? She longed for her watch that stayed around the Neon's turn signal lever. "Go get it. Go…….get your watch Jessie."

"Yes," she said answering the voice that seemed inside her head. Jessie started toward the darkness then yelled, "NO!" The hours of night passed slowly. She spent most of them pretending not to hear the sweat, soothing animalistic voice of the urging a thing that walked with Mike's legs. She watched the candle's flame dance, and tried not to look at the ghostly white that had taken Mike's face as he came in and out of her view.

The candles did well, until the last few hours of night approached. The sky in the east was deep blue with approaching morning. The candle on the corner pointing toward the ball field died while the last stars were still visible. She moved quickly and placed and lit the only other spare candle she had.

He got up and came for her with blinding speed. His hand reached through the barrier and closed on hers. It sizzled and burned the way that the other had when she had pressed the cross to it. Mike let go howling. Jessie stumbled backward and fell. She struck her head on a stone beneath the quilt. Her eyes felt heavy. A bird sang a happy morning song. She felt blood tickle down the curve of the back of her head. Then she was gone hoping that the rest of the candles would last.

The autumn sun sat high in the sky. Jessie sat up. All of the candles were lifeless. She stood up and almost fell back to her knees. She left everything like it was and went to her car. The keys hung from the trunk lock. Jessie started the engine. Then she jumped in her seat and inspected her throat in the rear view mirror, no puncture wounds.

Jessie went home and packed some clothes in an overnight bag. She did this as stealthily as she could. She could picture the new Mike sleeping under the trailer amongst the cobwebs in the darkness. She had family in Polk County she could stay with, her mother, till she figured out what to do. She didn't want to be at home later-after dark- because she wouldn't have to invite Mike in.

This was his home as well.

 

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Comment By: Linda TalismanPosted: Monday, June 20, 2011
I liked this a lot. I was not expecting to find something like this here! I am a sometime member of Critters Writer's Workshop. Write on!
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