Who’s Watching Samantha
She’s is woken by a dull pain spreading over her chest. Her eyes snap open to a hovering shadow, they adjust to the night light as a shape morphs into a crude image centermetres from her face. A dead weight presses on her chest forcing air from her lungs. Throbbing gives way to a sharper pain as something with claws digs into her flesh, taking incremental steps over her chest. Clawed feet rip open clumps of flesh. Hot beads of blood burst to the surface of her skin searing with pain. She strains to breathe as two huge wings wrap around her neck. A powerful stench of rotten meat fills her nose. She grasps at the creature that has set upon her, pushes its hard body away from her then forces her body upright trying to rid herself of it. Her pyjama top is soaked in blood.
Standing at the foot of the bed a figure she cannot discern sniggers. ‘Wack – wack.’
She screams, ‘Get out, get out!’
It sneers in a toneless voice, ‘Make me, dumb bitch.’
‘I’ll tear you to pieces with my bare hands.’
‘Break little Samantha’s heart?’
‘You’re a disgusting creature.’
‘Now that’s just plain ungracious of you – I saved little Samantha’s life.’
Caroline shivers. Part of her mind registers the absurdity of arguing with a toy, another part registers the deadly seriousness of arguing with a toy duck.
‘You can’t face the truth. You’re arguing with a toy.’
The truth becomes more elusive each day. Samantha becomes less and less like Samantha. My husband has porn on his computer. A toy kills a dog. I hear weird noises in the night. I argue with a toy duck. Caroline shudders at her thoughts as if she’s fallen into a grave.
‘Your daughter listens to me, not you.’
‘You’re worse than wicked – like – like – lie – a paed…’
The creature laughs, a quick, throaty, mirthless bark. ‘I’m a widdle ducky. And your daughter wuvs me. She’ll do anything I ask.’
No – you’re something evil. She hears the words form in her head.
‘You know, pretty soon Samantha could just come away with me. You can’t stop it and you’ll never see her again.’
Caroline shivers. The room grows colder. The blood on her chest is drying and her top sticks to her skin. She cannot move, cannot speak.
The words ‘Come away with me, and you can’t do anything about it,’ echo in her head.
She finds herself sitting up in bed, moonlight streaming through the half-opened blinds. She slips out of bed, walks to the window waiting for Samantha to walk down the driveway behind a yellow shape, distorted by an overbright full moon hanging low in the sky. She screams; no sound comes out. Samantha’s there, walking away in her nightie. The duck, its eyes mean and hard riveted on Caroline as it dances backwards at Samantha’s heels. The child stops, turns, smiles at Caroline and waves goodbye. Her expression is blank and vacant, her eyes glazed over, her face flushed red hot. A pained look spreads over the child’s features.
‘Samantha, come back – come back!’
She swings around to run from the room, but her feet fasten to the floor.
Then she is awake. She sits up and gasps for air. Her top clings to her body, soaked with sweat. Her chest still hurts. Suddenly she catches a blur of yellow flash across the room and hears rapid scratching that sweeps over the carpet. She steps out of bed to follow the sound. Then what will she do? The door is open; she puzzles, trying to remember if Ben got up in the night and left the door open. She switches on the hallway light and is confronted with an empty, noiseless space. She returns to bed, lies down then is struck by light spilling through half-opened blinds – just as they appeared in the dream.
At first light Ben stirs.
‘Did you leave the blinds open last night?’
‘I don’t know? Why’
‘Did you leave the door open?’
‘I don’t know.’ Questions – questions – when a man’s half awake.
‘I had a nasty dream.’
He rubs his eyes ‘What about a dream?’
‘It was horrible.’
‘Can you remember?
‘Nothing that makes sense.’
‘I’ll have the first shower; you can sleep in for another ten – sounds like you need it.’
She props herself up and onto her elbows. She sits up, unbuttons the pyjama top and slips her arms out of both sleeves. Across her chest, up to her throat she is covered in bruises, cuts and scratches. She unbuttons the rest of the top; it is unmarked. Can you have a dream that’s so vivid that it marks you physically? Possibly. Has to be. Psychosomatic. Any other explanation is preposterous.