Nightmares on Atypical Days
Elk Grove, California
Jesuit High School
I walked in and found that the chocolate fudge birthday cake Mom got me for my thirteenth had been eaten, its box colored with brown lines. Shadows for what should have been. Father walked in, corpulence drooping over his grease-stained jeans as he smiled at me with fudge lined teeth. “Happy Birthday Son.” And for my fourteenth, I walked in and found the same. Father, teeth and hands tainted with all the hues of gluttony. “Happy Birthday Son.” And for my fifteenth, I walked home and Father pinned me to the ground, craning open his mouth to allow a slush of freshly digested vomit chocolate to crawl out and splash onto my face. He walked away, laughing, the sound of my grief encapsulated into his crackling cacophony. “Happy Birthday Son.” And it was for my sixteenth now that I walk in, hands uncovering the smell of fresh cake, tinged with my own ineradicable memories. I look at the sixteen yellow red blue candles and blow out the scintillas of flame they hold. The smoke undulates in the air before drifting away. Father giggles, and I turn around to see him lying on the couch. His mouth lengthens as a brown worm-like creature wiggles out, directs one end towards me, and opens its mouth to smile, revealing sharp serrated teeth with flesh stuck between their gaps.
“Happy Birthday Son.”
The sunlight seeps through the window, shafts extending their fingers to barely reach the molden blue blanket I’m covered in. Near me, the TV is still playing. This liquid I’m injected with hurts - it mixes with my blood no better than oil does with water. The doctor walks in, his face the length of a tennis racket. His eyes crescendo from dull grey to a vivacious black. Outside, the birds chirp their own little melodies, minors ascending and descending, descending with an unforgiving thump. I ask the doctor if I will be fine. He opens his mouth to grin, displaying his neat array of bleach white teeth. His eyes seem to laugh with him. I wish the curtains would open. Through the window sliver I see the birds, systematically littering upon the streets and hospital building. The ochre of the sky has faded to the color of vomit. Earthquake weather. “Of course,” the doctor finally responds, in the baritone tenor bass voices at once. The harmony was too perfect. He reaches down, grasps the scalpel, slits his right eye, and draws the blade down to his chin.
I heard that when Laura disappeared, it was from the inside out. That Laura had exhaled her heart, which came out of her mouth as naturally as smoke from a cigarette, rising up as if tethered to an invisible balloon. I heard that when David disappeared, it was very much the same, that he too had his heart escape his body. That his hazel eyes had evaporated like water into a line of smoke, until his entire body was faint. I heard that for Lucy-Ann it was worse, that her arms had atrophied into thin sticks, texture like jerky, before she disappeared. I heard that for Vincent, his body deflated into the ground, a human colored husk. And I fear for me it has begun too. My veins have transformed from blue to red as they break through my skin, heads pointed upward, already trying to escape.
"Nightmares on Atypical Days" is a goody bag of shocks and giggles. Take it at face value, and you'll get a rollercoaster joyride—sleek, freaky, and evil. But dig a little deeper. Feel the sky give way; watch the insides slide out, wiggle up like "a line of smoke." You'll find a human horror show: all the sick, nasty monsters we try to stuff inside our tight, perfect skins. But Alfred Yu doesn't care about stuffing and hiding. What "Nightmares on Atypical Days" is all about is slipping, how our worst will always come out to bite, and how it all starts from the inside out.
Alfred Yu is a Senior at Jesuit High School. He currently operates as the president of the school's Writing Club and the EIC of its literary journal, Moorings. He enjoys writing free-verse poetry the most. As a young child, he was inspired by JK Rowling's Harry Potter series to start writing. When he's not writing, he enjoys playing the piano and clarinet, learning more about Psychology, and hanging out with friends over Discord to practice effective social distancing. He hopes you have a great day ahead.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR