Jonah sat in his bed, the sheets pooled at his feet. He wore no shirt and only thin pajama pants covering his legs. The night was hot and his open window offered little in the way of relief. He had considered sleeping in his boxers to try and escape the heat, but now was glad that he had opted not to. It was the middle of the night and there was light streaming in from the hallway around a child’s figure in the door. He looked at the slight frame, the daughter that he loved so, and swallowed hard, though there was no spit in his mouth. He met her eyes in the dim light, those of his little Dedra, only eight years old.
She stared at him, holding her favorite teddy bear in one hand and his pistol in the other.
“Hi Dad,” she whispered.
“Hi sweetie,” he whispered back. “Are you feeling all right?”
“Yes Dad,” she said. “I feel all right.”
Her voice was emotionless, cold. Jonah had never heard her speak like this before. Was she sleepwalking? Was she having some sort of fever dream? A dozen possibilities ran through his mind at once, none of them hopeful. He cursed himself. He always thought that his gun was secure, locked away in a safe in the closet. He changed the code regularly and could have sworn that he had fastened it properly when he had gotten home that evening. Apparently, he was wrong.
“Are you sure, honey?” Jonah asked. “What are you doing out of bed?”
“I wanted to find you,” Dedra replied.
“Did you have a bad dream? Do you need me to get you a cup of water?”
“No, I’m OK,” she said, still standing motionless.
“OK, honey, well I’m going to help you back into bed now, you should be sleeping.” He swung his feet over the edge of the bed and placed them on the floor. Dedra immediately raised the gun and pointed it at him. He froze. “What are you doing, sweetie?”
“You need to stay in bed,” she replied. He did so, his heart pounding in his chest.
“OK, I’m staying,” he said. “But I need you to lower that gun, Dedra. You shouldn’t be playing with that. It’s not a toy, you know that.”
“It’s not a toy,” she said, her voice still even.
“That’s right. So point it towards the ground now, OK? Like I taught you. Point it towards the ground and then set it down gently.” He raised his hands toward her slightly to demonstrate that he was no threat, showing that he was still the gentle father that had been raising her by himself for these past few years, the kind dad who wanted nothing but the best for you.
“I can’t do that, dad,” she said. “It’s too important.”
“What is?” he asked.
“Tonight is,” she said. “It’s too important and you need to stay where you are.”
“I am, I’m staying right here,” he replied, still showing his hands. “I’m not going anywhere, OK? Honey, I’m here to help you. You don’t need to be afraid of me and you don’t need that gun. I can take it and we can talk about this, whatever it is that’s bothering you. If you don’t feel good then we can call the doctor or if you’re upset about something we can figure it out. You don’t need to use that gun to get what you need.”
“I need for you to stay where you are, dad,” she said, taking a step into the room, the gun still pointed at his chest.
“OK, I am,” he said, debating lunging for the weapon. He knew he couldn’t risk it. Not only for his own sake, but if something went wrong she could easily be hurt, as well. “But what’s so important about tonight?” She didn’t respond, so he continued. “You said that tonight is too important a minute ago. What did you mean by that?” Dedra inhaled deeply then exhaled.
“I can’t tell you,” she said. “But know that it is.”
She didn’t sound like his daughter, Jonah thought. Not only was her voice more monotone than he had ever heard his daughter be, but her phrasing was totally different, as well. Something strange was going on with Dedra, he knew. Something deeper than her getting into his safe and retrieving his gun.
“I believe you,” he said. “Are you going to hurt me? I don’t want you to hurt me, Dedra. Dad’s scared, honey, OK? Dad doesn’t want you to hurt me.”
“I’m not going to,” she said. “As long as you stay still and don’t do anything foolish. I’m sorry, but this is how it has to be.” Jonah was somehow more confused than when this encounter began.
“Honey, what is going on with you? What is happening?”
“I got here early, and I’m sorry. This was supposed to happen quickly. My timing was off. So you need to stay there for just another moment. I should have arrived…now.” And she pulled the trigger.
There was a loud bang that filled the air followed by a horrific shrieking. But the scream wasn’t from Dedra or Jonah, but something else. Something behind Jonah was screeching an ear-piercing wail and thrashing against the bed and wall. Jonah jumped and tumbled to the floor. The gun rang out three more times before the howling was silenced and something thumped to the ground on the other side of the mattress. Dedra stood above her father, the gun barrel smoking as she stared ice at whatever had fallen. She moved quickly around Jonah and to the other side of the bed. She pulled the trigger two more times, startling Jonah, before lowering the weapon.
Jonah got to his feet and joined his daughter on the other side of the bed. Laying before her was a creature that Jonah had never seen before. It had large yellow eyes, a long snouth with rows and rows of black teeth, a scaly dark torso, and what seemed to be dozens of long tentacles splayed all around its still body.
“What the he-” he said. “What is that?”
“It was the first of many. But not anymore. Now it’s the first and last. It was going to take you tonight and enact its plan to populate the world with its kind. But now it will never get the chance. I’m sorry for the disturbance. And that you’ll have to clean this up. Don’t let me see it, OK?” Dedra then put the gun on the bed and walked into the hall. She held up the bear to her face. “I never realized how much I missed Tyrion here. Make sure I don’t lose him at the baseball game, OK?” She looked at Jonah. Then she rushed up and threw her arms around him. “It was good to see you, dad.” Jonah hugged her back.
“I’m me. Just an older, sadder me. Who will hopefully never exist now. You’ll have your Dedra back in the morning. I love you.” She squeezed him hard and he squeezed her back.
“I love you, too,” he said, still thoroughly confused. But he knew that his daughter was speaking to him, even if it wasn’t the same daughter as he had tucked into bed. She released him and hurried out of his bedroom. Jonah heard her pad down the hallway and close the door to her room.
He picked up his gun. His first instinct was to disarm it, but he thought better of that after glancing at the creature on the floor. Instead he threw on a shirt and jeans along with his holster, slipping his gun against his side. He went and got some garbage bags, rags, hacksaw, and strong cleaner and set it down next to the monster in his bedroom. He cursed it for the pain it apparently had caused, or would have caused, his daughter and began taking it apart.
Thanks for reading! This is another writing prompt, something to help me stay loose and not just write about things that spring from my own mind. Today’s prompt comes from http://www.tomiadeyemi.com/blog/fall-writing-prompts via Pinterest: https://pin.it/2ptis6pvoe475o.
[She stared at him, holding her favorite teddy bear in one hand and his pistol in the other.
“Hi Dad,” she whispered.]
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