Altar of Truth
Johnny Five knelt down in the bushes beside the residence of Ed Smith, a businessman that had worked with Johnny’s father about ten years ago. Johnny remembered him from the times Smith had come over for dinner. Bringing his hand to his friends, he ran his thumb over their heads, the smooth feeling easing his worries about what he had to do. He was only short eight… and Ed had exactly what he needed.
Gripping the lattice work that led to the second story window, Johnny climbed like a spider, willowy limbs stretched long before him, gripping onto lattice and vines to pull him closer to the darkened window. He had a small variety of tools in his satchel which hung over his shoulder, along with his friends who hung from his belt. They whispered encouragement to him, just as they always did.
Where would I be without you guys? He thought to himself as he reached the window, happy to find it unlocked. Slipping in bonelessly, Johnny’s eyes adjusted to the darkness of the room. A nightlight gave a soft glow over the pink decorations, dozens of stuffed animals piled in a corner staring at him.
He spent five minutes plucking the eyes from the stuffed toys, his box cutter making short work of them. Standing up to his full height, Johnny looked over to the bed of where Ed Smith’s daughter lay, snug as a bug in a rug. She had long blonde hair and chubby cheeks, with soft porcelain skin.
Reaching into his satchel, he took a bottle of chloroform and soaked the a rag in it, before roughly pulling the girl from her bed and pressing the rag over her mouth. The girl struggled, startled from her dreamless sleep only to slowly fall into a deep slumber that Johnny knew she would never wake from again.
“Do it!” One of his friends whispered in the darkness, chattering teeth telling him how anxious they were.
“Yes, fulfill the plan! We only need eight more!” Another chimed in.
“Shhh…” Johnny said, trying to calm his friends by petting them lovingly. They wriggled beneath his fingertips, each one seeking his hand for attention. They all loved him so much, so very much… just like his mother and father did. They all supported his work, knowing he was fulfilling a higher goal for all of them.
They never questioned him, or his methods; they merely supported him, whispered loving words to him as he drifted off to sleep every night. That was what he needed.
That and the eighth piece to add to his altar.
Pulling a worn hacksaw with several rusted teeth missing, Johnny placed the girl across the bed so her head was hanging off. He took special care to fold her hair out from under her shoulders, as he couldn’t stand to lose any of the special golden locks. Taking the hacksaw, he placed it over the throat, his hands shaking.
Not in fear, but in anticipation.
The anticipation of the song.
He began sawing slowly, the rhapsody starting from all around him, flutes and oboes flitting notes out as the brass thundered in sync with the percussion. Saxophones sang and piccolos whispered, bringing tears to his eyes. His shoes were getting wet, as were his cheeks. The song was as beautiful as always, and as always it was coming to a close as his sawing cut through the final chord of skin holding the head on the child.
“Brava,” he whispered, reaching up with a bloody glove to wipe away the tears that had formed in his eyes.
“You need to go now,” the little girl said, muffled by the soaked carpet. He grabbed her by her messy hair and lifted her up. She stared at him with green eyes and a kind smile. “Daddy owns a gun and he’s ever so paranoid. If he heard anything he’ll come and check on me.”
“You’re right!” Johnny whispered, tying off the girl’s hair to his belt before making his way to the window, his feet slushing through gore as he slowly made his way across the room. Making his down the lattice, he smiled as the girl introduced herself as Emily. She was eight years old and a fan of the Care Bears. His friends told her to be quiet lest they all be caught. Dropping down a foot from the lattice, Johnny stalked out of the yard and across the street to his car, which had been sitting all alone for a mere thirty minutes.
Climbing into the cab, he rested Emily’s head on his lap and while his friends hung from his keychain. Turning on the engine, he quickly made his escape and took the turnpike that would lead him out of Irvine and up into the hills just south of Los Angeles. After Father had stopped paying the mortgage, the family was forced from their homes and made to live on the street. That was where Johnny had met his friends, Henry the mouse, Harford the snake and, Rodrick the Squirrel. He’d taken them and cleaned them of all fur and residue from their previous lives and attached bits of chain to them in the base of their skull.
Now they were with him always, giving him advice and telling him what to do when things got too dicey.
“I think you took an awful risk cutting the eyes off the stuffed animals,” Henry commented in his nasal voice, jiggling as they hit a pothole.
“He had to make sure there were no witnesses to what he was about to do, though!” Harford said before nodding once. “Good choice Johnny.”
“Thank you, Harford,” Johnny said as he took the turn off onto a dirt road leading up into the hills. “Where would I be without you?”
“Probably dead,” Harford replied with smug satisfaction.