Thursday, August 19, 2010

Out of the Box

This story is rated R for language and the disturbing element of annihilating happy childhood memories. Enjoy. UPDATE: Published 9/27/10 in Oh! The Horror anthology

He woke up in the dark, tried to scream and couldn't. 
He was standing, that much he knew because his legs were sore. He was in a tiny closet. No, that wasn't right. He was encased: tomb-like, in a wooden crate like a coffin, but with the lid at the top over his head. 

Someone had put him in here while he had been passed out from the party. And how long ago had that been? A couple of hours? More? He did not know. He felt something hot and wet trickling down his face. He wriggled his arm up in the small space and tentatively touched the spot that was sore. His nose. It was bleeding. Did someone hit him in the face? He couldn't remember. He hoped it wasn't broken. 

He heard a scritching sound. In the faint light that entered the box through small cracks where the boards were nailed, he could see something small moving in the box with him. He hoped to God whatever it was, it wasn't poisonous and that it would not crawl up his leg. He tried to move his feet away from the thing, and found they would not budge. Maybe the soles of his shoes were nailed or superglued to the bottom of the box. Or maybe the psycho who put him here nailed his feet down. He was so numb from standing he didn't think he'd be able to tell. 

His head ached. His stomach felt empty and raw, like he might have thrown up earlier. Hungover, maybe. He couldn't remember anything.

The scratching noise ceased and, looking down, he saw the other occupant of the box perched on his shoe. It looked like a large, furry cockroach.  

It was then he started to cry. 

He lifted his hand again and pushed against the lid at the top of the box. No give, but he thought he heard a sound like the ping of a tightly coiled spring. Maybe the lid was hinged?

He was starting to feel for hinges around the edge of the lid when the voice spoke. 

"Boy?" it said. 

He gasped. He KNEW that voice! 

"Let me out," he pleaded. "Please!"

"You lied to me. You ran away again."

"I'm sorry. Please...let me out of here." He looked down again and thought he could see the hairy roach (OR WAS IT A SPIDER?) climbing up his pants leg. "There's something in here with me!"

The voice outside the box chuckled. It sounded coarse and evil. "You've met the little friend I put in with you, then."

"PLEASE!" he yelled. 

"Relax, boy. I'll let you out...eventually. But first, you must sing." The voice sounded close now, like it's owner was standing right next to the box. 

"Sing?" The boy in the box shuddered. It was then he knew the man who had once loved him had gone mad. 

"Yes. Sing,. And make it good. Something peculiar to your situation, perhaps."

Something peculiar to his situation? Well, his situation was pretty much fucked. He shut his eyes and tried to remember some of the music he'd heard at the party with the older kids.

"Come on!" shouted the man on the outside of the box. "SING! SING OR DIE, DAMN YOU!" 

Then there was a loud BANG and the box tilted slightly, causing his head to crash painfully into one of the corners. He winced and felt fresh blood trickling down his temple. He looked down and saw that the hairy roach/spider/thing had crawled up to the crotch of his pants. He looked away quickly, praying that he wouldn't piss himself. Or worse. Then he remembered a song he'd heard and threw back his head in both defiance and fear and sobbed out the first verse of "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains. 

The voice laughed. "You're no man...but you will be buried in shit. That's for sure." 

He didn't want to die in here, not like this, with some foul thing crawling slowly toward his head. He looked down. It was on his stomach now. It no longer looked like a cockroach, but he wasn't sure what the hell it might be. It was big. He closed his eyes and shivered. 

"Please. Let me out. I promise I'll be good." The pain in the center of his face flared up briefly.  

"No, you little liar! Not until you sing the right song!" 

The boy felt a tingling on his hand and did not dare to look at it. He knew the bug thing was now climbing onto his hand. 

He ran through every prison song he could think of, from Folsom Prison Blues to He's in the Jailhouse, Now. Every song that had to do with being caught, captured, locked up. After each one, the voice only laughed. He was on the fifth chapter of R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet when:

"ENOUGH!" The voice of the man who once had loved him bellowed. "Stop trying to buy time. You're going to die in there if you don't hurry it up, boy." 

Cheee-reep! The sound was sudden and close, startling him.
He flinched and looked down at his hand. What the—?

On his hand sat the world's ugliest mole cricket: huge, brown, and hairy, with one of it's wings torn off. The boy flinched and tried to move his feet again and felt a stabbing pain through the soles. Looking down, he saw that he was indeed nailed. Blood pooled at the bottom of the box. Whenever he moved his feet there came the sound of metallic pinging, like his feet were attached to coils...? The light switched on in his mind. 

Suddenly he knew what his father wanted to hear...he closed his eyes, trying to remember the words. He sang:

"All around the mulberry bush 
The monkey chased the weasel..."

On the other side of the box, Geppetto turned the crank. 


  1. Awesome. I really loved the darkness of this.

  2. Man oh man this cranks up the torment! Loved that he had to hit the right song, performing for his father, yes of course, all makes sense with the reveal.

    Last week voyeurism, this week the rack and burying alive... Next week?

    marc nash

  3. Thanks, Mark. I'm glad you like it. I hope there is a next week with school starting. It will be hard. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Bwahahaha! The dark and anti-Disney Maria is revealed...

  5. Thanks, Laura. Hope they don't sue my ass. The idea of a stark-raving Geppetto turning Pinnochio into a jack-in-the-box completely turns my crank. No pun intended. Glad you liked it.

  6. Dark and scary, especially thinking of creepie crawlies in the box. Great ending..:)

  7. I always thought Geppetto should just get a pet. Maybe raise some crickets.

  8. Two words... FUCK YES.

    This is yet another amazing story Maria. Damn, you are getting almost too good at this.



  9. Oh no! And here I thought Geppetto was a good dad! And was that Jiminy all torn and crawling up his arm?

    The feet nailed to the bottom really freaks me out. Suppose it has to do with all the crucifixion images I had to look at in Catholic School!

    Awesomely scary retelling of a story I USED to love. :D

  10. Shivering all over ... in both appreciation and in horror

  11. L'Aussie;

    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. :)

  12. John;

    I agree. Something about him always did creep me out!

  13. Jim;

    Wow! Glad you liked it! Thanks for the encouragement. I hope I can find time when school starts to still do #fridayflash here and there. I miss it when I'm away!

  14. Marisa;

    I am a convert & I know how you feel. It's hard to look at. Yep, that was Jiminy. Made him a mole cricket because mole crickets freak me out. Thanks for the comment. I'm glad you liked it!

  15. Mike;

    Thanks for stopping by and reading my twisted little Disney tale and I'm glad you like it!

  16. Oh that IS twisted - but I like it!!!

    Nice reference to Alice in Chains, too.

  17. Oh my gosh Maria, it's like you wrote down all my phobias and pulled one from a hat last week, then another from the hat this week - I hate Jack-in-the-boxes!

    This is so, so well-written. Chilling!
    You get better each week!

  18. Icy;

    Thanks! Glad you liked it. I used to turn that song up to 10!

  19. Deanna;

    OMG! Sorry, lady. Jack-in-the-boxes freak me out, too. Because they look so damn much like clowns and I HATE clowns!

    Thanks for the compliment!

  20. GAH! Freaky wooden boy! Very nice take on Jack in the box. you really do have a flair for mixing funny with terrifying. NEVER lose that. Its what makes you truly awesome.

  21. Monica;

    Thank you so much for that wonderful comment! I'm glad you like this story.

  22. This is such a dark rendering of one of my favorite stories as a kid. Absolutely loved it!


  23. Well written and very enjoyable from my probably creepy point of view!

  24. Whoa! Dark, scary, gave me the creeps. Nicely done, and yes, slaughtering the childhood memories. Cracked Geppetto tormenting his wooden headed boy is a diabolically twist to the story. Nice job!

  25. I never did trust that Geppetto...

    Spine-tingling horrific goodness here, Maria. I hate clowns, too, and Jack-in-the-boxes are the demonic forms of clowns. Yeesh.

    Excellent story. Love it.

  26. Very cool story! Dark and creepy. Loved the reveal at the end.

  27. dreamfiction;

    Glad you liked it. I liked the story, too, growing up. Glad everyone's enjoying my dark re-telling of it. :)

  28. Louse;

    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I have a creepy point of view, too. :)

  29. Valerie;

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Creepy is what I was aiming for. :)

  30. This comment has been removed by the author.

  31. J.;

    Thanks! I'm glad you like it!


    I never trusted Geppetto either. Too smooth and friendly. I always knew he harbored a darker nature. I'm glad you liked it! And I agree about Jack-in-the -boxes. Who the hell would invent such a toy as a clown to spring up out of a box when a kid is least expecting it? Wouldn't be surprised if thats where my fear of clowns comes from.

  32. Eric;

    Glad you liked it! Thanks for the comment. :)

  33. Clowns are scary. clowns that pop out of boxes are mega scary. This could only have been scarier if he had started to sing it's a small world after all because once you get that in your head you can't ... damn.

  34. Karen;

    Hahaha! That would have been funny. But damn if I don't have that earworm now. Thanks! OH GOD MAKE IT STOP!!!

    Glad you liked it! :)

  35. OMG, the awesomeness of this cannot be overstated. I love, love, LOVE screwing around with children's stories!

    Great work!

  36. Whoa! The twist was a kicker, you see ... that was some ending. And some reveal. Poor Pinocchio, and poor Jiminy.

    Great work!

  37. ganymeder;

    I like screwing around with children's stories and all other kinds of pop culture stuff. My thing is, "If they build it (or write it) I'll twist the crap out of it!)

    Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by! :D


    Thanks for the comment! I'm glad you liked it!


    Thanks for reading and commenting! I'm glad you liked it. :D

  38. haha - excellent! I like my fairy tales twisted too, and this was nice and scary to boot. In short - delectable!

  39. Creepy!

    The whole idea of being in a box, let alone with some creepy-crawly, freaks me out.

    Good one.

  40. Maria;

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I like twisted stuff, too. Currently working on bending the hell out of a pop song from the early 70's. I'm glad you liked it! :)

    Thanks for the comment. Yea, being shut up with a hairy mole cricket is not my idea of a good time, either. Glad you liked it! :)

  41. Woo boy! This one was definitely creepy and I loved it.

    Great job.

  42. LOL - you had me very confused there but it all makes sense now - Geppetto needs help!!!
    Brilliant work

  43. Wow Maria! Great story. I love it. It was perfectly creepy throughout.

  44. antisocialbutterflie;

    Thanks for stopping by, reading & commenting on my little sick & twisted flash. Glad you enjoyed. :D


    Yes, Geppetto needs a long-armed white jacket and some padded walls I think. Thanks for the wonderful comment. Glad you liked it! :)

    Thanks for the wonderful comment. Glad you liked reading my creepy version of Pinocchio. ;)

  45. Creepy indeed - "yikes" is all i can really say. Well done!

  46. Nothing like twisting a child's icon into something dark and disturbing. Those stories are always the best. :) Great job!

  47. Oh Maria, you're storytelling is amazing. You had me freaking out with the dark, tight space and that hairy thingie crawling up his leg. His creepy, psycho dad with the jack in the box. (((Shudder)))

  48. PJ;

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you liked it. :)

  49. Melissa;

    I love taking something that's already known and putting dark twists on it. I'm glad you liked it. Thanks! :D

  50. Cindy;

    Thanks, lady. I really love the comments you leave me. You and Jim are the Best Writer Friends, ever! :)

  51. Gee, creepy, scary and breath taking. I'm not claustrophobic but reading your tale in this heat. uh To be proud indeed. ;)

  52. Mari;

    Thanks for the comment! Glad you liked it. I'm not claustrophobic either, but this scares me a little, too. :)

  53. Wow! You really nailed this one. Had me hooked through the whole thing, and the ending was played perfectly.

  54. Thanks, Matt! Glad you like it! :D

  55. This. Is. Twisted.

    I loved it! And that ending was so unexpected. Very creepy.

  56. Travis;

    Thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed my twisted fairy tale. :)

  57. Oh you cruel woman you! LOL The ending was a huge surprise - now I'm sitting here laughing. Well done!

  58. I'm just going to bow and this point and say I agree with everyone before me.