Sunday, October 07, 2012

100TWC - Day 72: Pretence

"I'm coming after you!" Dad growled, his voice rising in the dramatic pauses between each word.

Ben screamed -- half in fear and half in delight. This was a familiar game, but he still loved it. Dad's hands, fingers hooked into his interpretation of an ogre's claws, appeared around the doorway from the kitchen where he'd smeared them with ketchup for added realism. Ben leapt off the sofa and screwed himself down in the gap between its arm and the wall. His heart pounded, even though he knew it was just a game. Wouldn't be any good if he wasn't just a little bit scared, and though that thought was still some years in his future, his bones knew it.

"I'm... COMING!" his Dad growled again, deep in his throat. He stepped out of the kitchen, his face a rictus of horrific ogreish bloodlust. Ben tried not to breathe.

"Fee, fi, fo, fum," Dad began. Ben knew what was coming next. He suppressed a strong urge to giggle. This was serious!

"I smell the blood of an ENGLISHMAN!" Dad continued, lurching further into the living room. Ben couldn't take the tension any more. He screamed and dashed out from his temporary sanctuary. "Aha!" cried the ogre, walking more like a zombie in his direction. But Ben wasn't watching. He was sliding across the hall floor in the direction of the stairs. Recovering his balance, he took the stairs two at a time.

"Where's my DINNER?" raged the Dad ogre. Through the door of the living room, convincing sounds of monstrous searching came clattering and bouncing up the stairs. Ben stood on the landing catching his breath and trying to peer through the banisters at the living room door. The audible disturbance died down, to be replaced by a kind of snuffling sound. His Dad was the best ogre. A distillation of all the stories and fairy tales Ben had ever read, or ever had read to him. Bone-crunching, limb-tearing, blood-sniffing monster with strong arms to squeeze the life out of any little boy he found before snapping all his bones and making him into crunchy soup for supper. It was terrifying, and Ben loved it.

"He's not here!" cried the ogre, now in an even worse temper. "I'll find him! And when I do I'll break his BONES!"

His Dad clumped loudly across the living room, his heavy footsteps making the glasses rattle in the cabinet and sending Jeeves the family cat tearing out into the hall in a panic. He took refuge in the dining room as Dad appeared in the door.  "Raaaaaawwwwrrrrr!" he growled. Ben squealed again, and headed for his bedroom. He jumped onto the bed and pulled the covers up to his eyes. Having his bones broken by the ogre usually meant a good tickling, and he began to tingle in anticipation. The clumping footsteps of the ogre started up the stairs. Ben began to wonder if it might have been a good idea to make a detour to the toilet before taking up his usual hiding place.

Halfway up the stairs his Dad began to make awesome gargling noises. He growled and hissed and banged the banister. It felt like he was shaking the whole house.

"Ruuuurrrgh," he snarled as he made his way to the top step. Dad must have been practising new growls. He hadn't done that one before. He came slowly towards Ben's bedroom door. Ben could hear a scraping noise on the carpet. Dragging his foot, he was, and breathing heavily in his throat.

"Hurrrr. Hurrrr. Hurrrrrr."

Just as Ben began to wonder whether -- this time -- the closet would be a better hiding place, even if it meant missing out on a tickle, the ogre's hand appeared on the door jamb. Dad had really gone overboard this time. The tomato ketchup still glistened realistically on his fingers, but he'd stuck some of Jeeves' shedded fur on the backs of his fingers so they looked like real ogre fingers. But something else nagged at Ben. Something different. More different than just ketchup and Jeeves fur. Ben's eyes widened as he caught on to what it was. The Dad ogre gave another heavy grunt as Ben began to shake. The hand was fully a foot higher on the frame than Dad's would have been, and twice the size.

The scream that had been building in his throat emerged full-throated as the creature's head rounded the door frame. Half pig, half man, its dirty, dark pink skin was splashed, not with ketchup, but real blood. Thick black bristles covered its chin and they dripped globs of bloody gore onto the carpet. It limped into the room, a kitchen carving knife buried deep in its thigh, and gave another loud roar as its gaze fell on Ben, quivering with terror under his duvet.


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