Brain Damage - Short #3
“Come on, mate - it’s Halloween soon.”
I’m spending the night at my friend Jason’s house and we’re trying to figure out what to watch next. I’m voting for Commando - campy, dumb, safe. But Jason is convinced I’ll like Brain Damage.
“It’s a worm that does what?”
“Eats brains, right out of the head. His name’s Aylmer. He gets around with the help of a guy who’s addicted to Aylmer’s juice.”
I open my mouth and close it again.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds.”
I’m not really a horror guy, but I’ve seen Alien, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Thing. I can probably handle this.
The next hour and a half is a blur of crimson psychedelia. Aylmer is hilarious, terrifying, inhabiting a mysterious American world of drugs and vomit and graffiti-covered bathroom stalls. I laugh and gasp at all the right parts, but can’t ignore the feeling - the realization - of the walls in this dark, strange home closing in on me. Staying up late watching horror movies is one thing, but I’m gonna have to go to sleep in this place soon.
At 1 o’clock we stagger upstairs to bed. Jason gives me the bottom bunk and warns me that his dog, Buffy, might join me at some point. “She hates the dark,” he says with a wink.
We put out the lights and my eyes are wide open. Jason’s walls are covered with movie posters: Videodrome, The Toxic Avenger, Near Dark. I screw my eyes shut and try not to think about my bed at home, my comics, my Mel & Kim poster.
Jason is already quietly snoring. I convince myself an old fashioned clock is ticking out the minutes of my torment somewhere in the house, but I know that isn’t true.
Suddenly Buffy jumps up onto the bed, a 20-pound long-haired something, and shuffles her way down under the covers to the bottom of the bed. She smells funny, but she’s warm and strangely comforting. I shut my eyes again.
The non-clock keeps ticking, and I spend minutes, hours, convincing myself I’ll never fall asleep.
Until at last I realize that I am.
I’m still in Jason’s room, but it’s darker, hotter, heavier. And there’s someone else here. I can’t see them, but I feel them across the room, a shadow among shadows. They move closer and I want to tell them they can’t be here, but I can’t speak, can’t move. They’re right next to the bed now and I’m willing myself to sit up, to strike out somehow, when I hear Buffy growl from beneath the covers at my feet - one long, sustained, baleful snarl…
The person vanishes. I open my eyes. Light glitters softly at the edge of the curtains: morning. Buffy wakes and crawls up and out to greet the new day. I grab her face and tousle it with heavy affection.