By Eric Picard, Copyright 2011

Stanton. It was his eyes that Alice always remembered first – tunnel vision expanding outward, taking in the entire scene in all its myriad details.  She remembered the way his pupils would dilate fully, into black spheres, and then contract to tiny points at the center of amber irises, like a continuously fluid counterpoint to his words and actions. His face was mobile, expressive, and exalting in his own power.  His skin was nearly white, sheened in sweat and droplets of blood. His head was carved of marble, lean and angular – his eyes bulging, almost lidless, without lashes or eyebrows, and his scalp smooth and hairless, without even stubble.

She had stood with her back against the wall, looking at her mother’s face reflected in the opposing cracked and fractured wall mirror, all the fissures leading back to a single bloody round impact point, her father’s shattered body crumpled at the base of the wall. Her father who had always been so big, so strong, now just a heap of broken bones and bloody pulp.

Stanton’s pupils had dilated as he slid his clawed index finger under the edge of her mother’s shirt, pulling upwards, slicing both skin and fabric, leaving a line of blood as he sliced from belly-button to collarbone. Not deeply enough to kill, at least not quickly, but deeply enough to cause pain and fear, to show his absolute dominance and utter lack of empathy. His pupils had contracted when he glanced over her mother’s shoulder – his eyes fixing her for one tiny moment, before they expanded again as he returned his gaze to her mother. His lips were tight across his teeth, the ends turned up in a sneer that barely touched the edges of his eyes, and he was saying something she couldn’t hear.

She had wet herself then, watching Stanton continue to strip her mother of her dignity, her clothing, and her skin; her mother letting out small gasps of pain, but otherwise standing tiptoed, her arms stiff at her side, her body rigid as if frozen during ballet.  She had no memory of words, of conversation, of any sound at all other than the pounding of her own heart and the quiet gasps escaping her mother. She was unable to move any part of her body, except for her eyeballs.

The air in the room seemed to stretch and dance. Thousands of shards of broken glass, small toys, puzzle pieces, bits of her life, hovered and swirled through the room.  Pieces of paper fluttered across the floor, and the ceiling and walls seemed to flex, emanating outward from him.

He stood legs apart as if for balance, matte black boots on the light bamboo floor, his faded black jeans tight against sinewy legs, a faded black tee-shirt under a worn motorcycle jacket hanging off of a frame without a bit of fat – just corded muscles under pale taught skin. Shards of glass hovered in front of his fingertips, matching every movement of his hand – as if they were attached, but they horribly were not. And they moved as he flexed his fingers and sliced her mother’s clothes and skin to shreds.

The debris cloud in the room began swirling faster and faster, pulsating in and out – the plaster on the ceiling cracking, plaster dust dropping down to join the swirling cloud. Her mother’s clothing was shredded, churning around her body, drops of blood dripping away from her, mixing with the rest of the cloud. Her mother screamed something, eyes darting to the mirror where they locked with hers; face suffused with fear, pain and shame.

Stanton’s eyes turned away from her mother, his expression ecstatic. He dismissively shrugged, flicking his fingers.  Her mother simply crumpled in on herself, imploding; a new mist of red joining the cloud in the room.  A bloody pulp dropped to the floor. He turned his gaze toward Alice, his pupils dilating as an evil smile crossed his face.

Alice heard a noise then; it began as a quiet sound, like the scratching of fingers against a guitar string, and suddenly grew immensely loud… Louder than a train, or thunder, or fireworks, an overwhelming sound. It surprised Stanton, and it came from her. His pupils shrank to tiny dots, and he froze.  The room shuddered, and he suddenly was flying backwards, away from her – crashing through the wall at an incredible speed, disappearing into the distance – quickly a small dot, then gone.   The debris cloud followed behind him, streaking away from her.  She slumped to the floor, which had been swept clean.  Her parents, the furniture, and most of the mirrored wall were simply gone.

She was eleven years old.