I Found A Letter From Seven-Year-Old Me

I was doing some summer cleaning the other night when I stumbled across an old box that I had almost forgotten about. It was a simple brown cardboard box with IMPORTANT STUFF written on the side in my mother’s handwriting in black marker. I had been sort of a packrat when I was little, and my mother had given me the box with the instruction that I would put anything that was important to me inside, and everything else had to be donated or thrown away. When I got older and had more stuff I wanted to keep, I would trade things out to make space, and what I was left with was a miscellany of things that had once been vitally important for one reason or another. It had been about ten years since I last opened the box, and as I shuffled through the memorabilia, I found layers of memories from my childhood that had long been forgotten.

Most of it was old toys that I had outgrown but was too fond of to throw away or donate, but there was also a healthy helping of pictures, report cards, artwork, and so on. It was getting late anyway; the sun had long since set and dinner had come and gone a few hours before, so I decided that maybe I’d end the day by sorting through the box to see what, if anything, I could get rid of, but mostly to enjoy the trip down memory lane.

Among the layers of 90’s memorabilia, I found my old Tamagotchi, my dragon sky dancer, a few Star Wars and Street Sharks action figures, and a couple beanie babies which I couldn’t help but look up only to discover that they are still worth absolutely nothing.

As I went down through the years layered in the box, I found tucked on the side, a manila folder. I picked it up and thumbed through it, finding some poorly drawn pictures of my old dog, my family, some old school homework which I had been particularly proud of, and among these things, a single white page written in black crayon.

I pulled this paper out to get a better look at it, and the more I scanned the page, searching for meaning, the more I found myself gripped with an unusual sense of unease. There were no pictures or anything – no robots or monsters - just lines scrawled out in the handwriting of my youth.

This is what it said:

Gott ist tot

Bog je mrtav

Gud er død

Dieu est mort

Tuhan telah mati

Ego istum necavi

I’ve provided a picture as well here.

I have no idea what any of it means, but like I said, it makes me feel strange. Looking at that paper gave me a foggy sense of remembrance, like Deja Vu except more ethereal and distant – a memory behind a memory. Unlike all the other pictures and projects in the box, I have no clear recollection of ever having created this. It seems like my handwriting, and my peculiar letter shape is consistent with the rest of the papers I’d collected from about first or second grade, but I have absolutely no idea when I wrote it or why I kept it.

I don’t know much about language, but I do know that there are certain identifying factors that distinguish a made-up language from what would essentially be alphabet soup, and something about these lines makes me think that this is something more than just random letters from a seven-year-old. I have no reason to believe that this means anything at all, and it probably doesn’t, but I can’t seem to shake this sense of foreboding I have whenever I look at this page. It’s a carnal feeling that I can’t quite describe other than maybe the feeling a gazelle has just before it bolts from a lioness on the prowl. It doesn’t know definitively there’s danger, but it just kind of senses it in the air and acts before it finds its neck in the jaws of a predator. That’s how I feel now – like something’s not quite right, something is in the air that I don’t like. Maybe I’m just being paranoid here, I don’t know, but does anyone else get a strange feeling when looking at this page? I’m going to try to see if I can figure out what it says, if it even says anything at all. 

***

God is dead

God is dead

God is dead

God is dead

God is dead

I killed him

That’s what the page translates out to. It’s written in five different languages including French, Latin and Malaysian. Even as an adult I only know just a little bit of French, and very little Latin picked up from books and movies. There’s no way I could have written this as an adult without help, let alone as a kid.

And the translation! Why the hell would I, or any other little kid for that matter, write that God was dead and that I killed him. It makes no sense and it gives me the chills just to think about.

I triple checked the other writing samples in the box to be sure that it had been me that had written that page. I’m not an expert by any means, but it’s not hard to identify the similar features of my hand writing – it was definitely me who wrote that and judging from the shape of some of the letters and the untidiness of it all, I think my initial assumption of being seven when I wrote that was correct.

I called my mother, the first logical step here, to see if maybe I went through a phase where I’d been reading books in other languages or something, anything, that could explain this. She picked up on the second ring.

“Hello?”

“Hey mom, I’ve got kind of a weird question for you,” I said, then launched into the story of where I’d come across this paper and when I think I’d written it.

When I was done, I heard nothing but silence on the other end of the phone for several seconds. I almost asked if we’d lost connection when she finally spoke.

“No, I don’t think I remember anything about that. There was a little while there when you were very sick at about that age, so maybe it was something you did while having a fever or something. It could also just be something you did when you were that age, like how you liked to make lists of anything and everything, or how you tied your shoes that weird way until you were six.”

Something in her tone seemed off to me. It was hard to explain, but it seemed like there was something behind her words begging to escape, but just couldn’t seem to squeeze through. I thanked her and hung up the phone.

I thought about what she’d said, then picked up the phone for another call. She mentioned that I was “very sick” around that time, but I had no recollection of being seriously ill when I was that little. I remembered the stomach flu from when I was twelve, the appendicitis when I was sixteen, but nothing from when I was that little. Perhaps it was just a fever, but I wanted to talk to my doctor first.

I told his secretary that I wanted a copy of my medical records from the late 90’s. She said it was a little strange and it would take some time to go into their archives, but she could do it in the next couple of hours and email me the records. I thanked her, and before she could ask me why, I hung up the phone.

I felt strange waiting for the email to come. It was like I was a character in one of those movies where the lead actor gets obsessed with a specific person or event and slowly slips into madness as he layers his wall with newspaper clippings and red yarn suspended between thumb tacks.

I wouldn’t let it get that far I told myself. I would only look at the record to see if my mother had been lying to me. If she had, I’d confront her about it. If she hadn’t, I’d leave her explanation alone and accept that sometimes kids can do some strange things, especially when they’re feverish.

The email buzzed on my phone just as I sat down to eat dinner – I’d decided to treat myself to a steak and instant mashed potatoes – but as I read, I knew my steak would be going cold before I got to it.

For obvious reasons I won’t be sharing the actual medical document, however I will transcribe the important part for you because I really need help figuring out what this means and where to go from here.

DOB: 08/20/1992

HEIGHT: 4’ 1.5”

WEIGHT: 42.5 lbs

BLOOD TYPE: B+

DATE: 01/16/1999

PROCEDURE: GASTRIC LAVAGE/EGD

STATUS: COMPLETE

NOTES:

PATIENT WAS ADMITTED WITH COMPLAINTS OF SEVERE NAUSEA, VOMITING BLOOD, AND SHARP PAIN IN THE ABDOMEN. UPON EXAMINATION IT WAS DETERMINED THE ABDOMEN WAS EXTREMELY DISTENDED. AFTER INITIAL ULTRASOUND IT APPEARED THAT PATIENT’S STOMACH WAS FILLED WITH LIQUID, CAUSING THE DISTENTION, NAUSEA, AND POSSIBLE INTERNAL HEMMORAGEING. GASTRIC LAVAGE WAS PERFORMED, AND 1.1 LITERS OF FLUID WAS EXTRACTED FROM THE PATIENTS STOMACH, INCLUDING A GREAT AMOUNT OF BLOOD PERCEIVED BY THE MEDICAL STAFF PRESENT. EGD WAS PERFORMED TO IDENTIFY ANY TEARS OR ULCERS IN THE STOMACH LINING, BUT NONE WERE DISCOVERED. LAB RESULTS OF THE FLUID REMOVED FROM PATIENT’S STOMACH RETURNED APPRXOMATELY 87% O NEGATIVE BLOOD. PATIENT DOES NOT RECALL HAVING INGESTED BLOOD WITHIN THE LAST 24 HOURS. CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED.

As my eyes followed the words of the doctor almost twenty years ago, my stomach soured, and I could feel bile creeping up my throat, but I fought it down and continued to the next record.

DOB: 08/20/1992

HEIGHT: 4’ 1.5”

WEIGHT: 40.5 lbs

BLOOD TYPE: B+

DATE: 02/05/1999

PROCEDURE: HEMATOMA DEBRIDEMENT

STATUS: COMPLETE

NOTES:

PATIENT WAS ADMITTED WITH COMPLAINTS OF SEVERE PAIN, SWELLING, AND DISCOLORATION IN THE HANDS AND FEET. UPON INSPECTION IT WAS DISCOVERED THAT PATIENT HAD A TOTAL OF EIGHT HEMATOMAS LOCATED IN THE CENTER OF BOTH SIDES OF HIS HANDS AND FEET. THEY WERE DARK PURPLE, ALMOST BLACK IN COLORATION AND SWOLLEN. GIVEN THE PATIENT’S COMPLAINTS OF PAIN AND THE AMOUNT OF SWELLING, SURGERY WAS DETERMINED TO BE THE BEST OPTION. UPON REMOVAL OF THE HEMATOMAS, DEPOSITS APPROXIMATELY THE SIZE OF SMALL PEBBLES AND YELLOW IN COLOR WERE DISCOVERED AND SUBSEQUENTLY REMOVED. THE LARGEST DEPOSIT WAS 5MM IN DIAMETER. SAMPLES OF THE HEMATOMA WERE COLLECTED AND SENT TO THE LAB. THE LAB DETERMINED THAT THE SAMPLES WERE BLOOD TYPE A POSITIVE AND CONTAINED HIGH LEVELS OF SULFUR. THE DEPOSITS WERE SENT TO THE LAB AND IT WAS DETERMINED THAT THEY WERE ALL DENSE DEPOSITS OF SULFUR. FURTHER BLOOD TESTING HAS BEEN ORDERED.

I sat back in my chair. I couldn’t read anymore without risking the possibility of throwing up everything I had in my stomach. I looked down at my hands and saw the small, nearly invisible scars on the top of my hands then turned my wrists and looked at the white scars against the pink flesh of my palms. I’d always had them, but never knew where they’d come from. I always just assumed it was from falling out of a tree or something and I never thought to ask, but now looking at them with this new revelation fresh in my mind, I felt silly for never even wondering.

I covered my plate with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. I wasn’t hungry now and my mind was buzzing. All I wanted to do was to take a shower and go to bed and maybe watch a little television to unwind while I tried to figure out what was going on.

I went to the closet in the hallway and grabbed a towel, then closed the door and went to the bathroom. The water was as hot as I could get it – just the way I like it – and it helped me clear my mind a little. I came to the conclusion that I would need to follow up with my mother tomorrow to see if I could get her to open up to what happened to me when I was little.

There was a lot of things that bothered me about those reports, especially that even though I read through the whole report a half-dozen times, no diagnosis was ever determined. Even after reading them a half dozen times or so, I still didn’t remember what happened, but it was like something was sitting in the back of my mind humming a familiar tune but I just couldn’t make out the words.

As I pondered this in the shower, I realized that that was exactly what was happening. There really was a tune playing in my head, almost like a nursery rhyme, but what were the words? It wasn’t the Itsy Bitsy Spider or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but it was something of that caliber. It had words, I knew that, but I just couldn’t think of them for the life of me. Something about… what was it?

We eat their teeth

We eat their bones

No that wasn’t it. That was way too weird to be right. We brush our teeth maybe? It was there, in the back of my head, just not something I could get to.

I turned off the water and stepped out of the shower, feeling better already about the whole thing. Maybe I’d even go reheat my dinner.

With the towel wrapped around my waist I stepped out of the bathroom and immediately froze where I stood.

Every single door in the hallway was open. The closet door I’d just closed, my bedroom door, the closet in my bedroom. I quickly threw on some clothes and grabbed the pistol from the safe in my nightstand. With my pulse beating hard in my temples, I cautiously walked around the house and found every single door, drawer, and window had been thrown wide open. Even the front and back door.

I stepped outside and looked around to an empty street. The only sound I heard was the distant roll of traffic from the highway a half-mile away. No dogs barked, and it was too late for kids to be playing outside.

I went inside and called the police, but when they arrived they did exactly what I thought they’d do – dust for fingerprints on a few of the door knobs and ask if anything was missing. I told them no. They said it was probably just kids playing a prank, but that I should make sure to keep my doors locked. I told them they WERE locked, and the cop suggested I get a replacement lock then – maybe a Schlage or a Kwikset, those were hard to pick.

I thanked them and locked the door behind them as they left.

As I write this, I’m sitting in my bed with my loaded pistol sitting next to me on the nightstand. I can’t sleep because every time I close my eyes that song plays in my head – it’s adopted an almost sinister tune now and it makes my skin crawl to think about. And I know I’m probably just a little skittish, but I swear I can hear someone moving around in my bedroom whenever I shut off the lights. 

***

I picked up the phone to call my mom this morning but put it down before hitting the CALL button. I wanted to call and tell her I knew about what happened to me – at least the medical part – but something inside me was holding me back. It was a nagging in the far reaches of my mind that would disappear the moment I tried to focus on it, like clumps of vitreous floating in my vision, and the moment I stopped trying to think about it, there it was again, sitting in the peripherals of my subconscious, just out of reach.

As always, when it rains it pours. I could have gone without the additional paranoia added by the break-in last night, especially after having read those medical reports. I’ve gone around the house probably a dozen times this morning looking for any possible clues that will direct me toward who was in my house last night, but so far, I’ve come up with nothing, and it’s eating me alive.

I’m not a locksmith, but I do know a little bit about locks and how they work, and I also know that picking locks is not as easy as it’s portrayed to be in countless games and movies, not by a long shot. It takes time, even for simple locks, and especially for the kinds of locks that are used for front and back doors, it could take quite a bit of time. There were three scenarios that I could imagine leading up to what happened last night, and although I hate obsessing over this, I know I can’t help it.

First, it’s possible I left a door unlocked. I’m a habitual door-locker, so I don’t honestly see that as being well within the realm of possibility, but still possible. Second, which is scarier, is that someone spent time picking the lock to one of my doors to gain entrance into my house. That would mean someone came to my house, prepared, and had time to pick the lock. Again, I don’t find this likely, but I prefer this over the last possible scenario, which is what has me so freaked out. Third, and equally the most likely in my mind as well as the most terrifying, someone was in my house BEFORE I got into the shower, probably even hours before.

This third possibility is what prompted me to pick up cameras at the hardware store as well as new door locks. The cameras were cheap, and I only got three of them in the package, but I could connect them to my phone and I liked the idea of being able to check them wherever I was as long as I had my phone with me, which was almost always.

I spent the rest of the afternoon installing the locks on my door and setting up the security cameras. I was a little disappointed in the picture quality – it’s a little grainy and the motion tracking isn’t super great – but for what I paid, I think they’re not half bad.

As much as I wanted to keep myself busy with these projects, my mind wouldn’t stop circling back around to everything to do with what I discovered yesterday – the note, the weird song, the medical records – and everything kept coming back to my mother. She knew something, obviously, and I needed to find out what she knew that I didn’t.

After everything was set up, I resolved to call her and try to bulldog an answer out of her. She picked up on the second ring.

“Mom, I know something happened to me when I was a kid. What was it?” I came off a little too strong I think, but it produced the response I was hoping for.

Her response was a little flustered but seemed somehow practiced. She sighed loudly, defeated, and said: “You were really sick for a long time when you were little – you almost died a few times. The doctors could never figure out what was going on, but your fevers were so high that you started to hallucinate. When you started getting better and the fevers started coming down, we realized that you didn’t remember anything about being sick. The doctors said it was likely because of the fevers and we decided it was best you not remember, so we never told you.

“I felt like the worst mother in the world that year. You were in and out of the hospital with the strangest afflictions. We had an investigation opened on us to determine if we were somehow abusing you. It was such a bad year, and when you didn’t remember any of it, we thought that it was God’s way of saving you from the suffering you endured.”

What she said made sense and I immediately felt like a rock had formed in my stomach - hell, I’d probably do the same thing in her shoes - but again that THING in the back of my mind floated around just out of reach. It was closer – something about that song maybe – but still just below the surface.

I went to bed early, which is where I’m writing this now, because honestly, I’m just exhausted. I hope I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

I just woke up with a raging headache and I feel totally exhausted, but I don’t think I can go back to sleep. I had some really strange dreams, which even as I write this are fading back into oblivion, but I have to write down as much as I remember – I feel like it’s important.

I was asleep in my bed when suddenly I was awake. There was no fluttering of the eyelids or stirring in my sleep, I just simply was awake. I lay there in the dark, pondering this when I heard something on the floor below me.

I sat bolt upright.

I waited for a beat, wondering if I’d dreamt it, then again I heard the sound, like muffled footsteps moving back and forth below my bed. In my fear and sudden panic, my mind launched to immediate conclusions of monsters under my bed and I had to shove the fear down before it consumed me. I knew I’d feel silly about it later, but right then, in the middle of the night, anything seemed possible.

I then felt a rush of nausea so strong that I nearly retched all over my sheets. I held my breath and clenched my teeth to hold back the bile creeping up my throat and when I was sure that I could control myself until I got to the bathroom, I exhaled and moved to get off my bed.

As soon as I exhaled my breath and began to take in fresh oxygen, I realized what had made me so nauseous. My house smelled like a, outhouse in the middle of summer that had long run out of lime to curb the scent of human excrement. It was a thick, hot smell that filled my nose and mouth and made my eyes sting. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the bathroom and with the instinct and speed of only a man who is moments away from throwing up, I snatched the garbage can from the corner of the room and retched hard and long on top of the tissues and candy bar wrappers that sat in the bottom of the can.

The smell didn’t go away, but eventually I grew to tolerate it. When I was done throwing up what felt like everything I’d ever eaten, I suddenly remembered hearing the noise downstairs.

I hurried to my phone and opened the app to access the cameras I’d just set up, and what I saw on the screen momentarily made my vision blur and adrenaline release into my blood.

There was a group of people, maybe a dozen or so, standing in my living room.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but there it was in the grainy black and white picture generated by the camera’s night mode. I searched the crowd for faces I knew. There was something about them that seemed familiar, but I didn’t know any of them – that much was sure.

Wait.

In the back I saw someone who looks strikingly similar to someone I knew. But that wasn’t possible.

She moved around the room and eventually the camera caught a full shot of her face – a face I would know from anywhere because it was the face of the woman who raised me. It was my mother.

I watched in a confused bewilderment as the people in the room below me moved about each other. Some of them had things in their hands and they were doing something in the middle of the room, but I couldn’t see exactly what it was or what they were holding – too many people and too few camera angles.

I lost track of the woman I thought was my mother, and in my state of confused shock, failed to hear the footsteps coming up to the door until it was almost too late.

I heard someone approaching just before the rattle of someone turning the doorknob. I was already by the door and had the fortunate speed to grab the knob, twist it back to the right spot and turn the lock.

I hurried to my nightstand drawer and grabbed the gun and pulled the slide back loudly so that whomever was on the other side would get the message.

I went to the door and put my ear against it. I could hear someone on the other side, breathing loudly, arduously.

“DoverHawk?” the voice said. It was the voice I’d heard on the phone only a few hours ago.

I didn’t answer at first, I was too busy doing math in my head. She lived hours away. What time was it? Almost three in the morning. I’d spoken to her after dinner at about seven. Even if she was speeding she would have undoubtedly had to have left her house by then if she was going to make it here to talk to me in person right now.

“Mom?” I said. “What’s going on?”

“Open the door and I’ll explain,” she said calmly as if I were a child hiding in the bathroom after breaking a lamp.

“Just explain it like this. Who are the other people?”

“They’re some of my friends I asked to come along. You know some of them I think. There’s Jason from the deli and Martha who lives down the street-”

“Mom,” I said, cutting her off. “I’m going to ask this once and I hope to God you have a good answer.” I’d never spoken to my mother like this, but I was scared, and it was late, and something was happening which I could not even begin to comprehend. “What the FUCK is going on?”

She clucked her tongue disapprovingly. “That is no way to talk to your mother.”

My grip tightened on the handle of the gun. I wasn’t going to use it, least of all on my mother, but it gave me confidence. “I don’t care. You need to tell me what’s going on right now or I’m calling the police! Hell, I might just do that now anyway.”

What she said next was flat and hard and it was grating against my soul. “I wouldn’t recommend that.”

I didn’t have a chance to ask why. I’d failed to hear the sound of someone else approaching, or maybe they’d approached the same time my mother had, and I heard a loud kick against my door and the door frame cracked.

I stepped back and leveled my gun.

“Get the fuck out of my house!” I screamed. “I’ve got a gun and I’m going to pull the trigger on whoever walks through that door!” The cords stood out on my neck as I screamed this, and my hands shook with rage and fear. It wasn’t as much a threat as it was an honest to God warning. I knew I’d do it because it would be an instant reaction. My mother could walk through the door and I’d gun her down just as quickly as anyone else. I hoped that wouldn’t happen.

One more solid blow to the door and it swung open. A large man dressed in blue jeans and a polo shirt stepped in and, just as I knew it would, instinct took over and my finger squeezed the trigger of the gun.

Click.

Nothing, not a thing. He approached me, and I had maybe three seconds before he was within arms’ reach. I pulled the slide again on my gun, checking the chamber, and I saw with a sickening horror that there were no bullets in the magazine.

I had loaded the gun yesterday, I was sure of it, but the bullets were gone.

The man’s hands, big and meaty, closed around my arms as I marveled at the empty gun in a momentary daze.

I felt more hands grope me and saw that at least a half-dozen faces staring at me wearing grimaces as the hands lifted me off the ground. I kicked and screamed and fought but there were simply too many people.

The gun clattered to the floor and I heard someone pick it up as I was carried, fighting, out of my bedroom, down the stairs, and into the living room where I saw lit candles surrounding an old wooden chair. The chair had shackles on the arm rests and front feet.

My eyes grew large and I found a new resolution as they carried me to the chair. My feet landed a few good kicks and I was nearly dropped, but whomever I’d kicked had been quickly replaced by someone else. They sat me down and as my hands and legs were shackled, I saw the face of my mother, her eyes sparkling in the candlelight, not with tears but with a solid determination, and I begged her to let me go.

She smiled. “I’m about to.”

The people around me began to chant in a language I did not know and they all stepped back, forming a circle around me.

Through the crowd of people which now filled my house, I watched a small figure shuffle through toward me. It was a little girl, maybe seven or so, and I was about to yell at her and tell her to run and get help when she broke through the crowd and I saw her face in the dim candlelight. She had no eyes.

I screamed, and the world turned to black.

That was the end of the dream. Even as I write this and it fades in my memory, the dream seems so real, but I checked my door and the door frame is fine. I checked myself for bruises and there are none. The gun is still in my nightstand, fully loaded. Everything is where it should be.

Normally I wouldn’t think much beyond that, but I woke up feeling strange, and in the time that it’s taken me to write this, I’ve thrown up twice, and instead of seeing last night’s dinner floating in the toilet water, I saw dark red syrup sinking to the bottom of the bowl and tasted salt and iron on my tongue. My hands are starting to ache too, and I can’t help but think about how these symptoms parallel the medical records I read yesterday. I think I'd better go to the hospital. Wish me luck.

 

 

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