Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Love

by L.R. Bonehill

Ben couldn’t cope. That’s why he left, his stale breath smelling of whiskey and fear. He packed a bag on the night his four year old son came home to die and left. A single fucking bag. Shirt cuffs poked out of the zipper like hands rising from a grave.

He looked almost like a stranger to her, this man she had loved for more years than she cared to remember. An unwanted visitor standing in the hallway. “I’m sorry,” he said and stepped out into a flurry of snow. It quickly dusted his head and shoulders as if trying to obscure him and pull him out into the night.

Rachel watched him go and found that she couldn’t cry. Didn’t want to cry, she realised. A part of her didn’t blame him. A small, ugly part of her.

Mothers have no choice, she thought, we have to be strong, no matter how painful and cruel life could be.

Warm lights burned brightly in the other houses along the street. Inside, other lives and worlds turned peacefully.

The cold wind bit hard as she watched the snow smooth over Ben’s footprints before shutting the door. It was just the two of them now.

She had the first dream that night.

A dark, midnight corridor with a dirt floor, weeds creeping out of cracks in the dry earth. An acrid chemical smell hung thick and cloying in the air. Wraith-like children sat in bone-chairs, holding blood filled drips. They stared at her with empty eye sockets, flesh sunken and sallow, mouths glistening with viscous fluid. Hickman lines grew like infected parasites from their chests. Painfully thin arms reached out for her as she edged past, their joints popping and cracking. Clutching fingers grabbed at her.

Sleek rats crawled and writhed at their feet, gnawing at broken skin and exposed tissue. “Mrs Macmillan, the Doctor will see you now,” the children cried in unison. They pointed to the door at the end of the corridor as dust fell from their ragged hospital gowns. A battered and splintered door, uneven letters carved into the pitted surface. ‘Chemo-Man,’ they read.

Each night Rachel walked the same corridor and watched as one by one the children slowly turned to filth and mulch. Each night she got closer and closer to the door, until eventually she heard whispered promises from within.


She pulled on the restraints as tightly as she could and Jake cried out again, struggling weakly as the rope dug into his wrists and ankles. The skin there was raw and mottled.

“Hush now,” she said and stroked his forehead. Wisps of hair lay like smoke across his balding scalp. A few strands came away in her hand and she cried.

He didn’t look like a child, not anymore. The leukaemia had slowly leeched that away from him. He looked frail and alone and scared as he lay tied down on the narrow, sweat soaked bed.

It didn’t look much like a child’s room either, not a used one at least. Toys were packed neatly away in brightly coloured storage boxes, stacked one atop the other along the edges of the room. Action figures stood in calm, regimented order on high shelves. Cartoon characters grinned inanely down from posters on the walls. It was almost obscene, she thought, a mockery of childhood.

She sang a soft, lilting lullaby and tried to calm his fevered panic. She had seen fear in his eyes all too often and would ease it as best she could. He bucked and thrashed in feeble protest.

The room was cold and grew colder still as a shadow juddered in the swirling snow at the window. Bone fingers rapped an ancient tattoo against the glass. Eyes sparked with feral need.

“He’s here,” she said. Chemo-Man, with his promise of a blood cure that would last a dark eternity.

“Don’t worry, my love,” she whispered in Jake’s ear. “You’ll be all better soon. Mommy knows best.”


L R Bonehill never meant to hurt anyone all those years ago; he just wanted to play, that’s all. Drop by the boneyard at


Cate Gardner said...

Very sad and very creepy. I'm guessing this one will linger with me for a few days.

Rachel Green said...

Very darkly done.

Michael Stone said...

Jesus. I remember L R Bonehill's other story on these pages. He doesn't pull any punches, does he? Like Catherine said, this will linger in my mind for a long time.

Jodi Lee (Morrighan) said...

Heartbreaking. This one is going to rouse the nightmares...

Rebecca Nazar said...

Devastating . . .

BT said...

It seems to be just getting better from the boneyard. Brilliant!

The lead up to the break, the drawing out to the final solution, extreme - loved it.

L.R. Bonehill said...

Thanks a lot for the kind words everyone.

Barry Napier said...

Amazing! I literally shuddered a bit when reading it.

Jamie Eyberg said...

Ouch, that will leave a memory.

L.R. Bonehill said...

Thanks a lot, guys.

Anonymous said...

Having spent some time on the dialysis floor with my son, this story was retch-worthy. Extremely powerful and realistic! Life can be the scariest horror of all.