Each week, a new installment of my series ‘Night Terrors’ can be found on Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ Friday Fictioneers. By following the rules of the blog, each episode is just 100 words long, and has to stand on its own as a work of fiction. Here is the complete series …so far.
She used to love to watch the whales, and the birds.
Little butterfly buckles swinging from her pigtails as she laughed and danced with her daddy.
Then it hit her.
Like a thief in the night, her life was stolen.
The disease was rare, and incurable, and hopeless. A life of constant pain.
Her daddy was a scientist who vowed to devote entire his life to find a cure. he would risk everything to succeed, including his reputation and even his life.
When Jonathan Berrier began his experiments, he did it for all the right reasons. Things would eventually change.
In a lab hidden deep in the amazon jungle, a man is seen pouring a strange liquid into a test tube. He takes the mysterious substance to a room where an agitated man is tied to a chair. The moment the liquid is administered, the subject goes quiet.
“Finally! It works. This elixir will calm mental patients so that they can be diagnosed and properly treated.” Jonathan was overjoyed with his discovery.
His biggest challenge was finding test subjects. At first he had no problem, as the country’s maximum security prison provided more ‘volunteers’ than he would ever need.
sometime in 1969
The first tests were easy. Driven by the need to help his daughter, Jonathan stopped at nothing to find a cure. Treating the prisoners as if they were lab rats, he kept them in locked cages while he toiled with his experiments.
As he infected his test subjects, he was able to monitor any changes in their symptoms. Many of them died on the table, unable to withstand the pain. All this while his daughter dealt with the disease and hardly ever complained. Those men were weak and didn’t deserve to live while his daughter bravely fought for her life.
June 1970, in an old abandoned hospital
Sandra Berrier was getting worse. Her father toiled day and night, going without sleep for days; he had to find a cure quick.
Trial after trial and no success; just when he was about to give up, he noticed a certain quietness in the lab. All the test subjects were sleeping peacefully. The drug worked!
When they awoke, the subjects were alert and responsive…and pain free.
He injected his daughter with the serum. She responded quickly. “Daddy, I’m better!”
Running to his daughter’s open arms, what he saw next drove him over the edge.
Jonathan certainly didn’t foresee the side effects of his experiments. Although the test subjects calmed down, there were complications. Within days, the subject’s muscles tightened, their arms deformed, and tumors covered their entire body. Despite these massive changes to the subjects’ bodies, not one of them exhibited pain. This wasn’t what Jonathan wanted to accomplish.
For now, Jonathan decided to promote his elixir as a pain killer. His subjects became addicted to the elixir, and would do anything for more.
In December 1971, one of the test subjects escaped. Fully aware of his appearance, he chose only to come out at night.
The pain was getting worse. The medication he was given prior to his escape was wearing off. He had to get to a phone and call for more.
He waited until the sun set before making his way to town. Next to a burger joint, he found a payphone. Although he swore never to contact that madman again, his addiction to the meds and his immense pain caused him to do otherwise.
“Jonathan! I need an injection!” He pleaded.
The voice at the other end of the phone said calmly “Bring me more test subjects and maybe we can talk!”
Tiny dust storms formed as his hard, cold feet hit the dirt road.
A pair of cheap Wal-Mart sneakers and tattered coveralls that came from good will, he was nothing special to look at. In fact, he seemed invisible wherever he went. Most people simply ignored him (mostly out of sheer terror) and he liked it that way.
Each day he left his ramshackle home to go to the convenience store down the road. He rarely bought anything; choosing instead to sit on the front porch and stare at passersby. His unshaven face and dirty clothes sent shivers to anyone who happened past him, as they quickly hurried on their way.
His eyes seemed to stare right through you, as if he could read your soul, and he rarely spoke. Many believe that he could not utter a word even if he tried. Little kids called him the Devil, but we all knew that he was much worst.
He smelled too; like the cheap weed that he sometimes smoked while sitting in the center of town. The local police seemed to let him do whatever he wanted, as if they feared him as well. When he wanted something, he simply took it, the store owners only too happy to see him go.
He had a child you know, with a girl he took one night. She was the daughter of a local, and although the town searched frantically for her, her body was never found. Some guess that he burned her when she was no longer useful to him.
The child was born so disfigured, it was difficult to determine whether she was male or female, or is she was even human. She lived every bit of ten years, and could be seen scuffling behind the man, her malformed legs all mangled and filled with hair that resembled that of a goat. On her head, it appeared as if she had two small horns, which locals attributed to small tumors. Her face was filled with growths as well, again thought to be tumors. She never learned to speak, instead letting out grunts and murmurs as she stumbled behind that monster of a father.
One night he came to town, his daughter in his arms. It sounded as if he had been crying, but we all know that monsters don’t cry. He threw her lifeless body on the ground and proceeded to light a fire in the center of town. When the flames were at their highest, he threw her dead body into the fire, and watched as the night air filled with the scent of her burning body.
Although some watched in terror, none moved to stop him. With a screeching sound of despair, he dug through the ashes with his bare hands and collected what remained of his daughter, and headed out of town. He never even bothered to bury what was left of her body, choosing instead to discard her carcass in the ditch along the way back to his home.
Other girls were ‘collected’ by the beast throughout the years, but nobody was aware of what he used them for…nobody except for Jonathan Berrier of course.