Draftyman lives under the floorboards.
He comes out at night. When the sun sleeps, that’s his time to be awake.
He creeps, slithers, slides, drifts. In through cracks and tiny holes, the smallest of gaps or breezes.
Light is his enemy.
When my eyes are closed, out he comes. Crawling, slowly, ever so slowly
He is creaky, sharp, crooked, jagged. He brings coldness and something worse. He frightens me all the way inside.
He whispers very bad things.
I told Dad, he said it must be my imagination. He said fourteen was too old for such nonsense.
I told Mum, she said it must be shadows playing tricks. She pushed me away.
Draftyman is made of shadow, that much is true. Blacker than black. Darker than dark. Tiny cracks are his friend.
He has eyes the color of my own, only bluer.
His limbs are twisted, yet smooth and shiny, jerky movements, as if he can’t remember how he’s supposed to walk.
No one else can see him.
Once, he hid in my wardrobe, he slipped through the gap where the doors don’t meet. I heard raspy breaths, like the sounds Grandpa made before he died.
I hate that sound.
One day, I think he is going to eat me.
I am lying in my bed, eyes shut tightly.
I feel the draft first. That tiny breeze might feel good unless you know what it brings.
The floorboards creak, he comes up and out of his lair. Slither, slither. Cracking joints and gristle popping.
I want to scream but I know I can’t. Sound is forbidden, my voice won’t work while he is around. My insides quake.
“Timmy,” he moans.
I can smell rot on his breath. It smells like that time I kept the dead mouse.
I can’t open my eyes. I know that to look at his face is to come undone, just like Mum did months ago.
“Timmy,” he breaths again. I gag from the bad smell and now he knows I’m faking sleep.
“Go away,” I hiss. “You’re not real.”
I feel the weight of his pressure as he sits on my narrow bed.
I want Draftyman to leave. I have to do what he says.
I want him to go away and never come back.
I’ll do anything, I tell him. Anything.
I say the words inside my head, he can hear me just as well as if I’d spoken them out loud.
Tick-tock, says the clock by my bed.
He leans forward and whispers to me. Instructions.
My blood freezes in my bones. My stomach feels itchy.
What if bugs live inside my head? No one tells you what to do if that happens.
I nod and agree to his words. Only to make him leave.
Off he slithers. Back to shrink, back to live with cruel, nasty things.
Back to darkness to watch and wait, to seep in through cracks and doors left ajar.
I fumble for the lamp, press the button. I am not meant to use it at night. Dad says I am too old for a light, says it costs too much to let it burn.
I think he would rather I burn.
Shadows play on the walls, different shadows. These ones are kinder.
I wanted to sleep anywhere else but in my own bed. Mum said no, Dad said absolutely not.
They hate me.
I used to be their Timmy. Now they say they’re sick of me. They say I made Mum sick and made Grandpa die.
Exit light. Timmy left all alone in the dark with creeping, nasty slithering things.
I think ants live behind my eyeballs. I am full of them.
In my hand, I have a knife. I clutch it tightly. It’s sharp, stolen from the kitchen. I am ready.
Wait. Do you hear him? The whoosh of a draft.
The creak of the boards.
His cracking limbs, that wet sound, his monstrous shape. Those piercing blue eyes so full of venom and very bad things.
“Timmy,” he breaths.
“Now Timmy,” he says. “Now.”
I grip the knife and throw my covers back. I have to do what he tells me after all.
Mum is asleep. In a separate room to Dad, she has a sickness inside because of me, they say I put it in her.
She is unhappy. That is the sickness. She doesn’t like to look at me unless her eyes are narrowed.
Maybe she has insects in her mind too.
Her chest rises and falls with each breath. She takes blue pills so she can sleep.
Draftyman is with me, I can sense him. Behind me, around me, watching and waiting. Pushing me to do what needs to be done.
The knife goes in like it was made to fit inside her. Into the place, he told me.
Where her broken heart beats. She only gasps and opens her eyes wide.
Blood quickly comes. She jerks. She has seen me, doesn’t look surprised.
It only takes moments for her to fall still.
At least she isn’t sad anymore.
I find Dad, asleep on the sofa, an empty whiskey bottle still in his hand.
The television plays a static that matches the sound in my mind.
My knife is slippery, sticky.
I wipe it on my pajamas and clutch it firmly. I wonder if a man’s chest is harder than a woman’s, given that women are said to be softer.
The same thing happens to Dad as Mum. Eyes wide and jerking wildly, like a puppet with its strings stuck in a complicated ravel.
He soon falls still. He wets himself. He shouts at me when I do that.
A knife is much easier.
When Grandpa died, I only had a pillow. He struggled underneath my pressure. I had to try hard.
Quiet. I can sleep now.
I go back to bed and curl up in a ball.
Draftyman is satisfied. Off he goes, back under the floorboards. The maggots alive in my head fall asleep too.
For two days I wander the house. It starts to smell.
There is nothing to eat. Only stale biscuits and disappointment.
Police officers come.
First, they peer into the window, see my bloodstained Dad lying dead. An officer kicks the door, kicks, and kicks until it flies wide open.
Here they are.
They must have Mum’s sickness too, they are not at all happy.
Time jerks. People shout. I get scared. Too many eyes stare.
The insects’ in my head buzz in protest.
I’m lying in a different bed now. I feel as if my head is underwater.
I feel like I am inside an iceberg.
The walls and floors are white. There are no floorboards for Draftyman to hide under.
Still, he drifts in through the tiny keyhole. He creeps along and slithers, off to hide in the darkened corners with the dust and gloom
“Timmy,” he says.
I am not happy. He has got me in trouble. I was not allowed to do what I did. The doctors said so.
Broken things can still break.
There are no ants behind my eyes. Except, there are.
I have been bad again. Dad made me a list, I kept it inside my mind. On the list are all the things I shouldn’t do.
I never did like the list.
The pet mouse died that day because I squeezed it too hard. I kept it just to see what would happen. Maggots came. They always do. They know the best places to look.
Grandpa made raspy noises I did not like.
Draftyman slithers forward and tells me to kill the doctors. The doctors told me he isn’t real.
They say he is a delusion. They don’t see that the tiny fractures in the walls are his doors.
They said I need medicine. Pills of red and pink. They told me I am not allowed sharp things. They tell me I will never leave.
They tell me I am bad inside, rotten like the mouse.
There he stands, all sharp limbs at odd angles. Eyes bluer than mine. A wide mouth with layers of sharp brutal teeth. No escape. Maybe he will eat me after all.
“Go away,” I tell him.
“No,” he answers.
A string of saliva falls from his mouth and lands on my new bed.
The doctors don’t know the truth.
Draftyman is real because his true home is inside my mind and inside me. The floorboards were just a place for him to hide.
He is me and I am he.
One bad boy, one bad monster, one body to share.
Perhaps there is a crack in my mind and that’s how he got in. Maybe the insects joined him after.
He doesn’t want to stay in the hospital that no one ever leaves. He leans forward and whispers orders.
I have to do what he says after all.