Weeping, Shelly sits on the end of her bed, unable to lift her hands to touch her swollen throat. Shock dampens the physical pain but amplifies her mental distress, creating a dirge of emotions and thoughts piling up within her like a car crash, bloody and terrifying. Tommy’s revelation and subsequent transformation broke the tenuous connection Shelly maintained with reality permanently, leaving her in a state of total desolation. She no longer enjoys the lifestyle of a superstar, leaving that behind for what she thought is a healthy, good-natured relationship with a young boy, through admittedly unprecedented means. She fells cut off from what society considered a life and is angry with herself for believing the fairytale she spun and not facing the situation with an objective eye, seeing it for what it is. A journey no human should undertake in life, as it is comparable to death. Separating soul and body for another plane of existence and worse still, mistaking Hell for Heaven, a demon for an innocent boy.
She recounts all of the times she had spent with him, talking about school and his life and how innocent and naïve he seemed. It is just impossible for her to understand how this little boy, who until tonight she adored with all of her heart, could contain such malevolent power. The means to kill, to rid the body of its spiritual weight, to do acts so unimaginable and fantastic that could allow her to use her own posters as portals to other places. It seems to her, even in her state of shock, that she could not just leave Tommy to his own means after tonight. After all, she reasoned with herself, convinced herself, she knows him best in the world, or at least thought she did. Uncertainty creeps into her as she realises none of what he said during her many visitations might be true. Every little detail might just be pieces of a mask, an identity, created to deflect suspicion. What better host for a demon than an innocent child. A child so impossibly cute as to lower even the most cynical persons defences. Shelly concentrates on every element of the boy, putting each under a microscope, looking for clues that she missed, that might have shown her the truth. But none are forthcoming. However, what could she do to stop an entity of which she has no understanding?
But these thoughts don’t change the twisty reality Shelly has placed herself in. Her feelings for Tommy lurch with ambivalence, love and fear coming together, forming as one. She can't separate them and they override her rationale with frightening ease, turning her path shaky and unsure. She knows it is her fate to tackle Tommy, even if it means loosing her life, and for that same reason, she doesn't want to. But as she considers her options, and as they all fsll away under intense examination, one important detail becomes terrifyingly clear, Shelly has no life to speak of anymore. Detached from her parents and her old friends, her work colleagues and fans, she need not even exist. She is as good as dead. But perversely, as her heart sinks with her crumbling world, she becomes resolute and accepting of her undeniable fate. So it is with an easy hand that she swallows the last of her sleeping pills, followed by cool red wine to ease them down her swollen throat.
Tommy’s room materializes unlike before, burning into her vision with the intensity of open flames. However, this is insignificant in comparison to how far the room has demonised into something unrecognisable from not only the way it was but also anything she has ever seen on this earth. His toy cars flap their doors and bonnets, rocking back and forth like cheering spectators. His PC, instead of showing Spiderman, now has images of burning bodies in the streets of a city abolished, cars littered about as if play things. On the bedroom walls, Tommy’s posters don’t depict his favourite action heroes anymore, but distorted images of women screaming, knives jutting from weeping wounds and children hung upside down, their blood flowing into buckets held by horrific beasts, thirsty for the liquid.
Just when Shelly thought she could not contain her grief for these images any longer, Tommy appears as if from the shadows. His skin is blistering, peeling off his bones onto the blood soaked carpet. His eyes glint in their dry sockets, tortured insanity turning them black as pitch. His hair, once golden and silky, now dangles limply over his face, thin and greasy, curling up and straightening of it’s own volition, as if alive. Hung by his sides, his arms seem too big for his body, course black hair jutting out of the forearms and fingers, his nails long and broken. And when he speaks, thick, steaming saliva drips from his mouth uncontrolled, rolling down his exposed, scarred torso. His teeth, what few he has left, are yellow and black, as sharp as knives and they cut into his own lip, tearing jagged pieces of flesh from his face. White, ghostly lines dart about him as if he is trying to scratch his image onto her retinas for her soul to see for eternity.
“I’m glad you’ve returned.” Tommy is aware of her presence, although she has made no noise.
“What’s happened to you Tommy?”
“Are we still friends Shelly? I really like you.”
Tommy’s deep voice crackles with intensity. His sweet words hover above gnarled hate and each syllable echoes in Shelly, prodding her, swelling her with the same bile he possesses.
“You’re not Tommy. You can’t be. He was… Tommy is a sweet boy…”
Shelly didn’t anticipate the gruelling images, so vivid and severe that she could smell the rotting flesh and taste the blood. She wanted to leave, overpowered by pure sin and immorality that seeped through the air into the poster and into her soul. She screams so loud that her body, in her bedroom, shakes violently, her hands grasp at the air and her purple neck expands further as she exhales all the air in her lungs soundlessly. But her souls scream, loud as a train, doesn't escape the boundaries of the poster and instead bounces about her, deafening herself with her own loosed dread. Slowly, it fades only to be replaced with Tommy’s harsh voice trying to comfort her but doing nothing but achieve the opposite.
“Don’t scream… please, don’t scream. It’s okay.”
She feels broken and minimised as if a small part of her is erased and lost. He sneers at her, revealing gums green with rot and maggots hidden within his cheek.
“We can be friends forever, Shelly. Forever. Don’t you want that?”
“No”, she manages, through weak will, and Tommy’s head flares apart for a split second, black flames spill from it, engulfing the air and turning the ceiling the dirty colour of excrement. Shelly’s physical body groans and yellow bile spills from her mouth. Her spirit feels as if it were being stretched between two pinchers to the point of tearing in half. And yet with a reserve, she previously thought herself incapable of possessing, she continues to deny Tommy.
“I will never be a friend with you. You’ve been a bad boy and I can’t be friends with bad boys.”
The walls behind Tommy begins to sweat and he rips the poster from the wall, spits on it, tears it at the edges with his claws and gnaws at the top with his beastly fangs. Shelly’s body jerks and spasms on her bed, rolling off onto the hard tiled floor.
“If you won’t be my friend, you can’t be anybodies.”
And with the jagged nail on his crooked index finger, he cuts out the eyes of the poster, blood dripping from the incisions as if he is slicing into a real person. Shelly’s soul fades and disperses within the poster world, each part forever destined to long for the rest of it but to never find them, never to reach totality again. And her body cries blood, as it dies on the floor, alone.
A light knock raps on Tommy’s door. His mother checking up on her son, like she does every night. She opens it, as it isn’t locked. Tommy, in the process of getting changed for bed, turns quickly and screams a little.
“Mom, I’m getting changed. Don’t come in.”
And she ducks back outside, embarrassed, holding the door open a crack so she can talk to him.
“Yeah, mom. I’m going to bed.”
And she remains quiet until he opens the door and they hug.
“Goodnight Tom. Sweet dreams.”
“Shelly Lloyd, who sensationally quit pop music three months ago, was found dead today in her New York apartment. She was 22.
New York County Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco said last night an autopsy had not revealed the cause of death. The crime scene detectives found no evidence of a struggle or foul play. The three-hour autopsy uncovered no sign of any other diseases and there was no sign of any drug abuse.
Lloyd’s body was discovered at 2:30 p.m. EST time by her landlady, Marie Esposito, in the bedroom of her multi-million dollar penthouse apartment. She was rushed to the Baptist Memorial Hospital, where she was met by her personal physician, Dr. George C. Nichopoulos, and pronounced dead.”