Debbie’s jaw clenched in anger as she stared at her son’s tear-streaked face. Another meltdown in public, another long embarrassing walk back to the car while strangers’ stares burrowed into the back of her skull as she did all she could to calm him down. After they arrived home, she locked herself in her bathroom, waiting for his tantrum to stop before facing him again. Her stomach twisted in knots as she struggled to keep her anger in check. Eventually, he quieted down. Debbie waited, taking deep breaths while thinking happy thoughts that did nothing more than remind her she was anything but.
When she opened the door, she wasn’t sure what to expect. Jon lay on the floor, curled under his favourite blanket, holding onto the cause of all this misery. Mister-Man, the stuffed monkey, glared at her with its one good glass eye. A gift from her late husband, and the only thing Jon would speak to.
The doctors suggested replacing it might encourage Jon to branch out. All it encouraged was another epic tantrum. Would it be too much for one direct word? Instead, every conversation had to go through Mister-Man … just like when his father was alive.
Just one word, but she was suddenly energized. Debbie rushed forward and snatched Mister-Man. She hurried to the living room; afraid she’d lose her nerve. At the fireplace she paused, staring at the toy one last time. God, I hate you. A smile crossed her face as she remembered saying those exact words to Jon’s father at the end. She tossed Mister-Man into the flames, imagining its tiny screams.
Stopping in the kitchen to pour a glass of wine, Debbie decided to take a nice hot bath. She danced through the house, skipping and twirling to an imagined beat. She turned on the faucets, splashed in some bubble bath, and slipped out of her clothes. Frowning, Debbie swore a scraping noise echoed down the hall. Leaning closer, she strained to hear over the water splashing.
A sudden bang against the door startled Debbie causing her to stumble back, wine sloshing over her hand. Furious, Debbie jerked the door open.
“Enough,” she shouted, ready to reprimand Jon for his newest outburst.
Her eyes widened as she gasped. Mister-Man stood in the hall, hugging a butcher knife to stay upright. Its faux fur was singed, exposing angry pink skin underneath. A grotesque smile split the monkey’s face, exposing two rows of human teeth.
“I won’t be as easy to remove this time,” Mister-Man said, a perfect mimic of her late husband’s voice.
Debbie blinked back at the doll. This can’t be. The monkey used the knife to drag itself closer. Debbie shrieked as she stumbled back, slipping in the spilled wine. Her neck struck the tub and after an initial burst of pain, Debbie went numb.
She blinked at the stuffed monkey as it inched closer, a wide smile on its face.
“Don’t worry … my dear. You won’t feel a thing.”
Boo-graphy: Eric Butler is an indie horror writer who lives deep in the heart of Texas. When he’s not writing novels and stories for anthologies, he’s doing the bidding of two adorable huskies. He’s been married for over 20 years and has a teenager in the house, so he won’t be running out of horror material for quite some time.