Reeni knew two things for sure: you couldn’t count on good things happening. And evil worked like clockwork. Saturday nights, when her stepfather was alive, he’d come home drunk. Now that Fank was dead, he still came home. Evil. Predictable. Clockwork.
In her room, draped with sheets and bargain-bin fabric, Reenie huddled sweating over her laptop on Kitchigai-Koji-2’s website. If she clicked at the right time, she’d be the 6666 visitor and win the kiriban. She could take a screenshot, email it in, and the artist would draw an angel for her. Special. For her. A gift from life, when life never gave her gifts. Just empty, dead fists.
It was still early. Only 1012 visitors so far. She loved Kitchigai-Koji-2’s artwork. Loved how the strong eyes of his characters made her feel strong despite the wounds inside her.
10:15, her dead stepfather Fank would come through the front door. It was 9:59. The old, abandoned Victorian house groaned around her like a zombie shedding flesh.
Reeni fiddled with the piercing in her brow, in her nose, in her lip. Her fingers black with tattoos. Poems on her fingers.
Her mom hated the piercings and tattoos. Reeni hated the evil drunks her mother brought home. Saturday night, Mom wouldn’t be home until after last call. 2:15 a.m. at the earliest. Leaving Reeni alone.
10:15 on the dot. 2513 visitors on the website.
Fank burst through the front door downstairs. She could smell him. His rotten stench filled the house.
“Reenie! Papa’s home!” Fank’s dead voice churned through decaying vocal chords.
His footsteps slumped toward her. Mom said the spell would keep him down. Mom also thought she could cure drunks with her magic and love. She was stupid and her spells were crap.
3067 visitors. Reenie wouldn’t make it. She’d lose the kiriban. Fank’s corpse came toward her. She couldn’t count on good things happening.
Laptop opened so it wouldn’t suspend, Reenie ran out of her room. Fank, on the steps, glaring at her through the pinpricks of light in the dead, dirty, buried meat of his face. Cheeks sagging down to his shoulders and bone poking through. “Come give Papa a kiss.”
The wireless outer was in the basement. Reenie had to flee up the ladder in the hallway and into the attic. Could the signal reach up there? She hoped it would. Prayed.
Fank shambled toward her. “Can’t change a man. Can’t change a man like me.”
Up the rungs. A hand, slick with slime and death, touched her leg. She gritted her teeth.
Into the attic. Fank coming up.
The wireless connection. Signal status poor. And getting poorer.
5, 588 visitors.
Reenie shut her eyes. Please, God. Just this once. Just this one good thing for me.
“Darling…” Fank muttered through filth.
Eyes open. She saw it 6665. She clicked—her web browser showed her that she had won. 6666. She hit the screen print button. Fank standing over her.
Reeni emailed the image out and finished her spell. Fank’s rotten hands and yellow nails, reached for her face.
An attic window shattered inward and Kitchigai-Koji-2’s angel burst in, wings, leather, red-slashed hair.
He smiled at her. The strong, steady, blue eyes, kind. Goodness had come.
To take away Fank’s soul.
And leave her a little hope.
One good thing.
For more on Aaron, visit him at: www.aaronmritchey.com