I’ve taken a brief break from writing my horror novel to write something very different.
A horror short story! Well, sort of.
You know, just for fun. Apparently this is the kind of thing I find fun these days. Should I be worried? This is new for me. Trigger Warning: little kids and excessive violence.
Precocious Little Scorpion
Jocelyn Andrews was very intelligent. “Precocious,” was the word her teachers used, which just a way to say “smart for a little kid” and not sound condescending. At six years old she had a fifth grade reading level, could do long-division in her head, and understood why “All in the Family” was subversive in the seventies but dated nowadays.
But that was only the start. Jocelyn hid the true fathoms of her intelligence from the adults. They didn’t know she had started to translate The Iliad from the original Greek. They didn’t know she had discovered a flaw in General Relativity. It was only the version from Dongle the Dino Does Astrophysics, but it still counted. And most special of all, they didn’t know that she recognized the precise moment she went completely and irrevocably insane.
It was while her mother read her The Scorpion and the Frog.
“And the frog cried out, ‘why did you sting me?’” said Mrs. Andrews. “’Because it’s my nature,’ said the scorpion.” And they both sank into the river and drowned.”
“That scorpion was dumb,” said Jocelyn. “Mommy, why was the scorpion so dumb?”
“It was it’s nature,” said Mrs. Andrews. “It could only act according to its nature. Just like all of us.”
“It was it’s nature to be dumb?”
“Oh,” Jocelyn furrowed her brow, and wondered what her own nature was like. Other than not dumb. Then she noticed something. “And mommy?”
“Why is there a scorpion on your head?”
“What?” Mrs. Andrews stood up and swiped at her head. “There’s nothing on my head.”
“It is! I see it! Your skull opened up and I saw your brain and the scorpion walked out.”
Mrs. Andrews smiled down at her daughter. “You’re just making that up. Oh Jos. You’re so silly.”
Jocelyn frowned. She wasn’t making it up. And her mother couldn’t see or feel the scorpion. That could only mean one thing. Jocelyn had gone insane.
Oh goody! she thought. She’d always wanted to be insane. Insane people got to do all sorts of fun things regular people couldn’t.
“I’m going to go play at José’s house!” Jocelyn called to her mother as she walked out the door.
“Hi José!” said Jocelyn when he opened his front door.
“Hey Jocelyn!” said José. “Come on in.”
She walked in, said hi to Mrs. Rodriguez, and followed José up to his room.
“What do you want to do?” asked José. He was ten years old, but he always let Jocelyn run the playtime show. She had much better ideas.
“I want to play house,” said Jocelyn.
“Oh,” said José. “Um…okay. You mean, like you’re the mommy and I’m the daddy?”
Jocelyn shook her head. “No, silly. Like, building a house. Do you have any power tools?”
A little while later, Mrs. Rodriquez went to her son’s room to check on the two children. When she opened the door, she saw José was gagged with a sock and tied up with duct tape. Meanwhile, Jocelyn say at the edge of his bed and nailed each of his fingers to the wooden frame, one by one, with Mr. Rodriguez’s nail gun.
“Dios mio!” cried Mrs. Rodriguez. “Jocelyn! What are you doing!”
“Building a house!” said Jocelyn. “I know I’m doing it wrong. But it’s okay. I’m crazy.”
The police came and took Jocelyn into custody away a little while later. She was very disappointed that she hadn’t even gotten away with one insane criminal act. Perhaps she wasn’t as smart a she thought she was. She resolved to try harder in the future.
They tried to contact her mother, but found that she was dead. So they contacted her father. The terrified man wanted nothing to do with his insane six year old. So Jocelyn was sent to the DeMichaels Center for Criminally Insane Children.
The center was great fun, at first. The doctors gave her all sorts of funky drugs. Her parents had told her not to take drugs, but she supposed that was another fun rule you got to break when you were crazy. When she mixed her drugs with some drugs she stole from other kids it made really neat things happen. One of them let Jocelyn feel like she could turn invisible.
Jocelyn got a lot of fun books to read. When those books grew dull she started to sneak into the doctors’ offices and read their medical journals. She used the invisible drug, and they never caught on.
The other kids were crazy, too, so they were never boring. There was one boy named Adam who thought he was a juice box. He was fun to talk to as long as Jocelyn was in the mood to talk about juice. He had a fascinating perspective.
There was another kid named Beauregard who was full of snakes. Jocelyn could see them crawling in and out of him. No one else realized it, even the kid himself. They all thought he just had “acute focal seizures.” One day, one of the snakes bit the kid and he died. Everyone tried to blame Jocelyn! Just because she was in the room when it happened and she wasn’t supposed to be. Of course it was possible that she had done it. She was crazy, after all. How could she be sure?
Eventually the kids and the drugs and the books and everything became so boring that Jocelyn decided to escape. Luckily, she had a way out. Her friend Annie lived in the building’s plumbing and was always offering to take Jocelyn away from here. She was a mermaid. So one day Jocelyn followed Annie down into the toilet and through the pipes.
As she did this, Jocelyn reflected that this probably wouldn’t actually work, given that Annie was a hallucination brought on by her insanity. But then the two of them emerged in a public reservoir some miles away, and Jocelyn decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth. She was very appreciative of Annie’s help. But she was crazy, and a scorpion can’t change her nature. So she cut Annie open to see what she looked like on the inside. Then she swam towards shore, to disappear into the great wide world.
A municipal worker found Annie’s body less than an hour later and reported it to the authorities. They police showed up and quickly determined that the fingerprints all over the dead girl’s body belonged to Jocelyn. The reports arrived soon after, and the police knew there would be no hushing this up. They wondered what would be worse once the media of the event circulated. The fact that there was a brilliant 6 year old psycho-killer on the loose, or incontrovertible proof of the existence of mermaids.