Ivan by Daniel Shifflett

Dead Creek, despite its name, was a small town utopia hidden within the Appalachian mountainside. It had annual festivals that attracted people from all over the mountainside, the most popular of which was Dead Fest; Deadfest occurs on the second week of october and lasts for two whole weeks. Those two weeks include copious amounts of alcohol, music, and halloween decor. It was the 78th annual deadfest (I was eleven at the time) that my father decided to move us across the country because he “Enjoyed the atmosphere.” My mother was unhappy with his decision, but was “excited to live somewhere with character” and wanted to enjoy someplace that “knew how to party.”

The house we moved into was large, with three floors, three bedrooms, a basement, and an attic. I was unnerved by the basement at first when we moved; It was a finished basement, complete with a couch, a recliner, and a large flatscreen television… Even though it had all that, I still avoided it. It was like a primal instinct to avoid the basement at all costs. My parents, on the other hand, instantly fell in love with their new home and went out often, leaving me home alone to explore its deep confines. When I wasn’t alone at home, I was alone in school as I was an “outsider” from a “funny land.” I started to feel isolated in my home, I had no outlets, and I slept as often as I could. These new emotions were a lot for an eleven year old to handle. 

A couple of weeks went by, my parents continued their excursions, and my peers had already forgotten my existence. I started to have frequent dreams, then frequent nightmares until I started to sleepwalk. I often mistook my lucid dreams for real life, often playing the same maddening scene over and over, causing me to be removed from myself and everyone around me. One night, after sleepwalking, I suddenly woke up sprawled across the middle of the pitch black basement. My arms were at my side, and my nose was bleeding. I struggled to move as a dark figure walked into my view. When the figure walked closer, I saw that it was a boy about my age who resembled me in almost every detail.

He smiled as he stepped forward, his arms behind his back like he was hiding something. I spoke without thinking, “Who… Who are you?”

 “My name’s Ivan!” He replied before kneeling down beside me. I then saw what he was hiding behind his back and a deep silence overtook me. I knew what was going to happen, I’ve witnessed this horror many times before. The boy took out the long dagger, raised it above his head. I looked at him one more time, one more glance at the cause of all my nightmares. The boy then drove the dagger deep into my stomach, causing me to black out almost instantly.

I screamed, gasping for air. It was all a dream. “I was still dreaming…” I said reassuring myself. I lifted up my shirt to check for any wounds, “It was all a dream” I chuckled to myself. I was distracted by the front door swinging open to notice the large dagger laying beside me. 

“Paulie we’re home!” My mother said as she walked into the house, my father stumbling in after her. I didn’t say anything to them, I didn’t feel the need to. They leave me alone at my house, they stay out all night partying, and then they come home and sleep all day to do it again the next night. The more my resentment grew for my parents, the more I saw Ivan. I blamed them for everything, I shut them out, and they never even batted an eye.

The next night started off the same as any other night, except this night I was fully awake for everything. I was scared to sleep. I was scared of the boy who plagued my dreams and clouded my thoughts. He was already there waiting for me in the kitchen this time… I always eat in my room, so I had plenty of dirty dishes that had piled up over the past week that needed to be washed. Our home was fairly old, so we didn’t have a dishwasher, and I had to hand wash every dish. When I entered the kitchen, Ivan was sitting on the counter next to the range, “How…” I said as the dishes fell out of my hand making a commotion as they shattered on the hard floor. His hand was on the knob, and the stove glowed red signalling that it was hot. I knew what was going to happen, but when I saw him, it was like I was in a trance. 

His smile grew from ear to ear as I slowly approached him. I stood at the front of the range, looking down at the stove. I could feel the searing heat rising up- Ivan then grabbed my left hand and placed it onto the red hot stove. The pain felt like nothing, and I would even say it felt sweet almost. He held it there for what felt like hours. When he finally let go of my hand, it was already severely burned and my skin bubbled. I took one look at my hand and felt nothing, no regret, no remorse; I knew then that I was changing for the worse. I began to embrace Ivan, I began to embrace the change that was overtaking me. 

My parents came home at just the right time; At first they panicked, but on the way to the hospital they questioned me on how I received such a nasty burn. I lied of course, telling them that I accidentally spilled boiling hot water on my hand. It wasn’t a very good lie and thinking it over, I can’t believe they bought it. It was like they were playing right into my non-existent plan. Ivan was waiting for me in my room, he was almost his own entity and at some point I mistook him for a real human- but I knew the truth all along, I knew he was me, a resentful, more psychotic version of my own self that was slowly taking over. 

It was starting to get late and my room smelled of gasoline. Ivan dug under my bed and pulled out a gas can, “Are you excited!” He asked me in a sly tone

“Excited for what? What do you mean?” I was unnerved by his question and I also had a deep feeling that I was gonna do something horrible.

“You’re gonna give me control!” He took a step forward, placing his hands on my shoulders. That’s when I knew exactly what he was going to do. My parents decided they had enough for the day and went to bed early. Because it was an old house, their bedroom doors locked from the outside. Ivan locked their door and got the gas can from my room and started to pour it all throughout the house. Then with the flick of a match, the house was in a blaze as I stood outside in horror. Hearing the screams as I left, walking into the distance before being tackled by a Dead Creek police officer.

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