The following short story was featured in Collected Easter Horror Shorts. If you want to read more twisted tales, please click on the book and follow the link!
Bunny and Clyde
By Lisa Vasquez
All Rights Reserved
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or distributed, without the prior written permission.
Clyde was sitting very still on his bed, staring at the basket in the center of his floor. Mother had left it for him, like she did every year, for Easter. And every year, the baskets became a little more different. When he was younger, the baskets were dressed up in beautiful pastel colors. Plastic grass would cascade over the sides, topped with chocolate candy, a myriad of simple toys, and dyed eggs all arranged happily within its cellophane wrapping. At the very top she would tie a giant bow.
After his younger sister died, Clyde saw a change in his mother, too.
The change was mirrored by the appearance of the black woven basket sitting before him, filled with dirt. Not just any dirt. Dirt from his sister’s grave.
It was still dark outside, and the half-light from the windows behind him, caused long shadows to appear along the walls. Clyde could feel the fear rising within him, as his heart kicked up the pace, bouncing around his ribcage, like a hummingbird.
The whisper preceded the screech of nails on glass. Her silhouette loomed, filling the window frame and darkening the room.
“Not again,” he whispered. “Please? Not again.”
“Play with me.”
A chill trickled down the young boy’s spine, like ice water sliding over each vertebra, one at a time.
“Go away!” Clyde shouted over his shoulder.
“Get up, sleepy head,” his mother whispered from the door. “It’s Easter. Get up, and come down for breakfast.”
Clyde jerked with a start, and looked over at his mother. Her dark hair hung like curtains, on either side of her slender face. The absence of glowing warmth, where the sun had once kissed her cheeks, was replaced by pasty alabaster skin. Once, her eyes were bright and loving, but now they were ringed in dark, bruise-colored circles. The contrast in color made them appear more menacing, and she was staring right through him, as if he wasn’t there.
When she turned away, he climbed out of bed and tiptoed to the door. He watched his mother disappear down the hall and into the kitchen, before continuing to follow. He could smell the coffee brewing and hear her rummaging for a spoon in the silverware drawer. Turning back toward his room, he saw black fingers curling around the door jamb, and strands of matted hair, before the dark, oily shine of his sister’s eye locked on him.
Clyde’s lungs froze, and he backed up too quickly, bumping into the table of family pictures. The one of his sister fell over.
“Play with me Clyde,” she called softly to him, again. He could hear her faint and warbled voice, as if she was still under water.
Backing away, he shook his head before running into his mother’s room. The curtains were still closed, leaving the room drenched in darkness. Even at eight-years-old, Clyde was still afraid of the dark … especially now that he knew what lingered in it. He just wanted to be away from her. Running for the bathroom, he opened the linen closet, and climbed in behind the laundry basket, making himself as small as he could.
Closing his eyes, Clyde tried to control his breathing. It was coming in loud, frightened gasps, and his lungs worked overtime to bring oxygen to his brain.
Unable to find his own voice to call for her, he stayed frozen by fear, in the cramped fetal position. Every year that passed, his sister seemed to grow stronger. Her ability to manifest changed from a ghostly apparition and whispers, to appearing on the physical plane. There were even nights he woke to her sitting on his chest, with her long, dark hair tickling his cheeks. The smell of chlorine would be strong on her breath, and the feel of her skin was bitter cold; so cold it made him shiver.
When he tried to cry for his mother, nothing came out. Just like now.
After what seemed like a few hours, Clyde jerked awake. He had no way of telling how much time had passed, but the absence of light coming from beyond the closet door told him it must be night. He pushed the basket away with care, trying not to make a sound, then went to his knees, wrapping his fingers around the doorknob. Rotating it slowly, he cracked it open an inch and peered out.
There was no sound coming out of the darkness.
Pushing the door open wider, he emerged and crawled on all fours to the doorway leading to his mother’s attached bedroom. With the help of the dimly lit lamp on her bedside table, he could see she was asleep. Lying there with such a peaceful look on her face, her chest rose and fell below the blankets. It made him sad to think he could not remember the last time he saw her this way.
Rising to his feet, he tiptoed to her bed and stared down at her, hoping to extend the moment. He reached out to touch her, but pulled back, afraid that it might wake her. Let her sleep, he thought, She’s been through so much.
As he took a step back, his mother’s eyes shot open and she sat upright. She looked around the room and then straight at him, but it was as if she could not see him. Looking straight through him, she called out in a voice still lost in a dream, “Who’s there?”
“Momma it’s ok, it’s me.”
Clyde reached out for her, but his mother’s eyes drifted shut again and she sank back onto her pillow. The corners of his mouth turned down and he did his best to hold back his tears. When he turned to leave, he saw the bottles of pills lined up neatly on the bedside table.
“You didn’t open … your basket,” she whispered from her pill-induced coma.
“Sorry, momma,” he whimpered. “I’ll go right now and do it. I promise.”
He waited for a response, but she was already gone from consciousness, once again. Wiping away his tears, Clyde left her there, and crept toward his room. The hallway seemed to grow longer, as he came nearer to the doorway where he’d last seen his sister appear. Plopping down in front of the basket, he let the tears fall freely onto his cheeks, stinging his skin with their salty heat. He wiped his sleeve under his nose, and reached for the basket. His eyes widened, as he watched water begin rising and spilling out of it.
Shoving himself back, his mouth dropped opened as a hand rose from where the water saturated the dirt, turning it to mud. The hand, whose fingers were balled into a fist, opened one finger at a time, stretching into the air. Inch by inch, it pulled itself up until the arm became an elbow and then, like a baby being pushed into the world, the head began to crown.
There was a gushing of water, and he watched on in horror, witnessing the basket fold open and his sister’s shoulders begin to emerge. With one hand free, she pulled herself up from whatever Hell she came from. Her blackened fingers scratched and clawed at the floorboards. The same scratching noise he always heard before she appeared.
“Go away!” he shouted at her, huddling tighter to the wall behind him, “You’re dead. Stay dead!”
The more his sister emerged, the more the water from the basket crept closer toward him. Her body turned, and she flopped onto her back like a breaching fish. Wet, black strands of hair covered her entire face except for the one, cloudy black eye always watching him. Her blue skin expanded and contracted in time with the opening of her mouth. Was she trying to breathe? Her body erected itself, and she stared down at her estranged sibling, before she collapsed. Her body flopped to the other side with a loud thud, pulling her other arm out. With both arms free, she used them to escape from the invisible grasp on her.
Reaching out to Clyde, she opened her mouth. Dirty water, soiled with algae, leaves and knots of her hair came spilling out. She was trying to speak. Her little lips moved and he expected to hear his sister’s voice. Instead, the voice that came out was monstrous and sent chills through his already trembling body.
“Clyde. Please… help.”
Shaking his head, he shut his eyes tight and cried. Fear wore him down. He could no longer bring himself to run and hide.
“Bunny, I can’t. You’re …” his words hitched in his throat and he choked out a sob before he could finish the sentence, “You’re dead.”
Bunny rolled onto her stomach and pressed her face against the floor, her nose and mouth submerged by the water. Clyde crawled toward his sister, unable to fight against all the warnings screaming in his head. When he was close enough, she reached out and took hold of his wrist. He smiled for a split second, feeling the touch of his sister’s hand. It was real. As frightening as her appearance was, he never equated with the monster being her. But when her fingers tightened on his wrist, his smile melted into a grimace. He could feel the flow of blood stop and the sensation of pins and needles creeping through his fingers.
“Bunny, you’re hurting me! Let go!”
With a sharp pull, Clyde’s body slid against the floor, his pajama bottoms soaking up the water as she began to drag him toward her. Panic swelling within his chest, he thrashed against the unnatural strength of her grip. Bubbles appeared around her face, which was tilted slightly so she could stare at him, like always, through the part in her hair, as she continued to draw him closer.
Letting out a scream, Clyde used his free hand to strike at his sister, filling him with guilt with each blow he landed against the back of her head. After the fourth or fifth one, her grip released and he bolted out of the room. He ran as fast as he could until he crashed into the wall next to the sliding glass door. Wanting to put as much distance between his sister and him, he slid it open and ran out. He could still feel her breath tracing against the exposed skin of his neck.
Clyde turned his head to look behind him, and tripped when his foot was caught by the leg of one of the patio chairs. He watched the sky pass overhead as he fell into the pool, neglected since the day Bunny drowned in it.
When his body hit the water, his head slammed against the concrete deck, sending lightning bolts of pain throughout his skull and forcing his mouth to open wide. Bubbles of air escaped and rolled to the surface. Looking up, he saw Bunny standing there, silhouetted by the porch light behind her.
With a mouthful of water, and blood seeping from his cut, Clyde tried to swim up for air but his clothes were too loose and tangled around him, making it hard to move. He felt something hook onto his foot and looked down to see it was Bunny. Her fingers hooked into his pant leg and she began to pull him toward the bottom of the pool with her.
His lungs burned and his oxygen was depleted; he was going to die. Clyde kicked at his sister’s hand with wild abandon, but her hold was too strong. Unable to hold his breath any longer, he released it and felt the cool intake of water rush in.
Lucy smiled as she listened to her two children at play, running through the yard and chasing one another. She peeked out the window and saw Bunny was bouncing through the grass, a blue ribbon on her dress floating on the wind behind her. Following her was Clyde, reaching out for the end of it in his best Sunday suit.
“Don’t get dirty!” she called out, with a laugh, “We have church in thirty minutes!”
“OK, momma!” Clyde called back, amidst the fit of giggles.
The breakfast dishes were washed and dried, and she was putting them away, when the phone rang. She looked out the window one more time before she picked it up.
“Hey, Lucy. It’s me,” her husband said on the other end.
Lucy’s smile dropped, along with the color in her face, and her eyes welled with tears, “Bill?”
With the static on the other end, she could barely hear him speak. Pressing the phone into her ear, she used her finger to plug the other, hoping it would help.
“Bill, I—I can’t hear you,” her voice was shaking, as she leaned into the receiver, “C—can you speak up, Bill? Where are you?”
The other end of the line seemed to go dead. Lucy covered her mouth, as she pressed her back against the wall and slid down. Unable to hold back, she let out a sob, and tried to blink away her tears. Behind them, the world seemed to be under water and blurry. When the tears would not clear, and she could not breathe, she clawed at her eyes and throat with one hand, while still gripping the phone in the other. The static on the line grew louder, followed by a sudden, high pitched screech. The noise was so loud, Lucy pulled the receiver away from her ear.
Dropping it on the floor, she felt instant relief as air filled rapidly into her lungs, and then used it to scream out, “Bill!”
An angry dial tone chopped through the small speaker of the earpiece. Lucy reached for it again then froze at the voice on the line.
“Lucy! The children! Save the children!”
She let out a scream, and scrambled to her feet, realizing she had not heard Bunny and Clyde’s laughter the entire time she’d been on the phone. When she got to the sliding glass door, she threw it open and looked around. She couldn’t see either one of them.
Lucy’s stomach dropped, and her lungs constricted so they felt like they were squeezing her heart toward her throat. The pressure against the pounding muscle caused her chest to ache and her head to swim. Adrenaline jolted through her veins flicking on the switch turning “helpless” into “action”, and she ran toward the pool. When she looked down she could see the cover of the pool had fallen in.
“No!” she screamed, falling to her knees. Leaning closer, she peered into the murky water and saw a shadow.“Clyde? Oh my God, Clyde! Give me your hand!”
She reached out toward him, drawing herself nearer, until she could see his face. His big, brown eyes were open, but the light was gone from them. He was floating there, still and serene, as if suspended in time. For a moment, she felt like he was cradled in a state of serenity, waiting for her to save him.
“It’s OK, baby. Give me your hand,” she sobbed, “Momma’s here…Give me your hand, Clyde!”
There was a sudden jerk of his body, and a split second of awareness, before his final breath left his body, forcing a trail of bubbles toward her. When his body went limp again, he floated down, lost to the black-green depths, out of range to the sounds of her screams, echoing above.
The scream from the dream was dragged out along with Lucy and into the darkness of the room where she was sleeping. It had been three years since she lost her children. They kept telling her it would get easier, but it didn’t. It only got harder.
After her husband died, and left her with two small children, and then to lose them three years later, she could only fall asleep with the aid of the medicine her doctor prescribed. It didn’t stop the reoccurring nightmares, which were progressing, and becoming more real. She focused on her breathing, a technique used to calm her down, when she felt a chill creep across her arm. Looking down, she could see by the light of the lamp on her bedside table, the fine hairs standing straight up. Her skin had dimpled to the drop in the air’s temperature.
Though she was afraid to look, she forced her head to turn. She could see them. They were real. A set of dirty footprints. By the size of them she could tell they were from a small child, and they lead into her room from the hallway, where her children’s room remained untouched.
Leaning over, Lucy looked down. The footsteps ended next to her bed.
I remembering reading this a year ago. It was my introduction into the world of Lisa Vasquez. Very creepy vibe. The “Play with me” line gets even darker when you get to the end of the story.