Trashed and Scattered
Chapter Sixty: Hell, They Better Hide
A pounding at the door shook all hostility from the air. Lexi looked up at her mother, somehow more frightened at that second than she’d been as her mother wailed her fists against her flesh. The incessant pounding beat the moment out of the demon’s reach, freezing each being in dread. A quick flinch and the creature was composed.
“Peyton,” it scowled. “Go and answer the door.”
Lexi shook her head furiously.
“Peyton,” it warned, gesturing with violence down the hall. “Go.”
Despite each and every nerve ending in her being screaming at her not to oblige, Lexi hesitantly meandered down the hall. With each thud of an angered fist against the front door, her steps grew less sure. The hallway seemed to draw on forever, each floorboard extending its reach into an endless tunnel of terror.
“I’m not here,” the demon called in a hostile whisper after her.
The words echoed off the ends of Lexi’s brown hair, tangling themselves in her messy locks. Her jade eyes widened with horror as she neared the staircase, she swallowed hard as the looming door towered over her tiny frame. The pounding cut out all at once—like the malevolence had somehow been subdued by its unanswered impatience.
As quickly as the noise had stopped, an act far more grandiose fell in to replace it. The golden lock rebelled from its bolts; the wooden frame splintered into a fury. All in one go, the only morsel standing between Lexi and the thunder came bursting apart.
Lexi froze, fear wrapping its claws around her neck and sinking its teeth into her chest. She watched in horror as two men came barreling through the doorway, one panting and grunting with a sheen of sweat dripping from his forehead.
They towered over the young girl, their eyes dancing around the hallway for signs of life. Lexi couldn’t bring herself to focus on their faces; it took all she had to keep herself breathing.
“Where the fuck is she?” one of the intruders barked.
The men hurried passed the child, their steps leaded and heavy. Lexi was stagnant as her mother let out a blood-curdling scream. The sound shook the chokehold away; Lexi pulled a deep breath of air into her tight lungs. As her mother’s panicked pleading filled the thick air, something inside of the young brunette tempted her to see it. She needed to visualize what could possibly have the fiercest, vilest, creature she’d ever known to be whimpering with such cowardice.
With soft steps arched onto the tips of her toes, Lexi retraced her steps. The hallway was just as long and brooding as it had been moments before. As she reached the end and peered around the corner, the sight was more than she’d imagined it could be.
One of the men held her mother by her throat, her feet hanging helplessly from her suspended body. A gasp escaped from Lexi’s throat, eliciting the attention of the man with the free hands. He tilted his head ever so slightly before quickly crossing the kitchen to face the inquisitive child.
He knelt down before her, meeting her frightened gaze, “Go upstairs.”
Lexi didn’t need to argue. She turned on her heel and climbed the steps without looking back. Fumbling through her panic, she clumsily fell through her doorway, landing hard against her shoulder as she collided with the hardwood. Struggling to gain sense of what was happening, Lexi found herself entirely conflicted.
She wanted to crawl through the window and into her safe haven. She wanted to leave this horror behind and find a new name, a new life. But something inside of her told her to stay.
They’ll look for you. They’ll find you. They’ll find Wiley.
So, deciding to be brave, she mustered up her courage and pulled her pained body from the floor. She slumped onto her bed, pulling her knees tight against her chest. Her breathing was raged and labored as she set her chin against her leg, her eyes fixated on her doorway in search of monsters and boogeymen.
The house was rampant with chaos. Muffled cries and heated arguments filled the space between the walls. Lexi found herself desperately wishing for her father to come home and intervene. Sometimes, though, she wondered if one day her dad would simply vanish. Maybe one day he just wouldn’t come back.
The noise dissipated with a crack, deafening the residence in one fall. There was a long pause. Lexi strained her ears to pierce through the silence, listening for creaking and cracking of floorboards or tiles. Two distinct footsteps bounded their way up the stairs. Lexi held her breath, pursing her eyes tightly together in preparation for her end. She’d always assumed it would come by her mother’s hand, but supposed that had been a bit naïve on her part.
The steps neared her doorway, lingering in a stillness that had Lexi’s heart on edge. Their weight lifted, lightly strolling over to the edge of the bed where she was sat.
“Leighton, right?” a man’s voice croaked.
Lexi opened one eye and one eye only, “P-Peyton.”
“Peyton,” he repeated, flashing a charming smile. “Do you remember me, Peyton?”
She studied him with her one peering eye, moving along his body and studying the familiarity in his brown eyes. Finally, she nodded. It had been several months since she’d seen the giant hunched over her coffee table. He’d been kind, she was sure.
Kinder than my mom anyway…
“What happened to your cheek?” he asked softly. “That’s not from me, is it?”
Lexi shook her head.
The man reached out to run his finger along the gash, tiny swirls of blood still pooling along the split. Lexi flinched backward, pursing both eyes firmly shut once more.
“I won’t hurt you,” he assured her, his heart sore for the poor being trembling before him. “Did—Did you mother do this?”
Lexi shook her head, with less certainty this time.
“Jesus,” he muttered, nearly inaudibly.
Lexi slowly released her vision, letting her gaze fall dually onto the man before her. Sympathy lined his hardened face; he smiled as she set her eyes against his.
“I’m sorry you saw that,” he told her. “I was hoping you wouldn’t be home.”
She blinked at him in way of reply.
“What were you doing by the door, Peyton?” he asked, though he was sure he already knew.
She swallowed down her fear, “A-Answering the…the door.”
He pursed his lips, giving his head a nod, “Listen…If you ever hear a racket like that again, I need you to go straight up to your room. Okay?”
Lexi didn’t entirely understand but she nodded her head anyway.
“You’re too young,” he said mostly to himself. “I have a daughter at home.”
“What’s her name?” Lexi asked, surprising herself as much as him.
He smirked, “Danielle.”
“That’s pretty,” Lexi whispered.
“Do you have a place to hide, Peyton?” the man continued. “If this happens again, is there somewhere you’ll be safe?”
Her eyes betrayed her, dancing along the air toward her open window. The man followed her trail with his head, narrowing his eyes in confusion.
“I-I go see Wiley,” Lexi squeaked.
The man half-laughed, “Okay. Good. So, if you hear banging at your door, you’ll go and see Wiley.”
Once again, the man reached out for Lexi’s cheek, this time slowly. He smiled reassuringly as she forced herself to be still. With a gentle sweep, the man brushed the blood from her skin. He wiped it against his sleeve with a dissatisfied sigh.
“If anyone ever laid a finger on my daughter…” he trailed off. “I’ll take care of it.”
Lexi swallowed hard, “D-Don’t hurt my mom…Please.”
This broke the man’s heart more than the abuse ever could.
“I won’t,” he lied.
A huskier voice echoed against the walls, barking out a distinction Lexi didn’t catch. She flinched at the sound.
“It’s okay,” the man in her room consoled her. “But there’s going to be some more banging at the door, Peyton.”
She looked up at him nervously.
“So where are you going to go?”
Lexi forced her bravery to reawaken, “To see Wiley.”
“Good girl,” he smiled, patting the top of her head like a dog before pulling his hand back.
He climbed to his feet, giving the young girl a reassuring nod as she slowly let her legs fall to the floor.
“You’re…nice,” she told him weakly.
“I can be,” he grinned. “But…not everyone that comes through that door will be, Peyton. Your mom has gotten herself into some trouble. I’d hate for you to get into trouble too.”
This sentiment shook the fear back out from its hiding place. It ruptured through Lexi’s being as her hands began to shake.
“You’ll be okay, Peyton,” he told her firmly. “I’ll take care of it.”
He laughed, “Go on.”
She hesitantly made for the window, watching the man with concerned interest as she wrapped her fingers around the window pane.
“What’s…What’s your name?” she asked him curiously.
He smiled, “Brian.”
“Bye, Brian,” Lexi managed, forcing a fleeting but fond smile.
She ducked her head below the glass and slipped out onto the roof, sparing no time as she crossed the divide and hurled herself into the safety of Wiley’s walls. Her immediate presence scared the living daylights out of him as he cast his headphones to the floor with a horrified yelp.
“Jesus!” he half-laughed, panting from the fright. “You scared the crap out of me!”
She winced from the floor, a heap of brown hair and sore limbs, “Sorry.”
“Are you okay?” he asked, jumping out of his panic and into knight mode. “You’re bleeding.”
“Am I?” she challenged incredulously.
He smirked, “Shut up.”
“Two men just broke my door,” she told him flatly.
“What?” he demanded. “Should we call the police? What do we do?”
Lexi shook her head, glancing back out the window she’d just tumbled through to find her bedroom abandoned. A soft smile spread across his lips as she recounted the genuine kindness the stranger had shown her.
Not everyone, she thought to herself, is going to hurt me.
She smiled at Wiley, instinctively pulling him close to her as she wrapped her arms around him and nuzzled her bloodied face into his chest. He tightly squeezed back, resting his chin atop her head.
“I think it’s okay,” she whispered into him.
“We should do something,” Wiley persisted, his fingers digging themselves protectively into her skin.
She breathed him in, “This is enough.”
Wiley let her honesty sooth his worries, decidedly trusting in Lexi’s authority on the matter.
Under the care of her best friend, Lexi let nature play itself out next door. She’d done as she was told—and she’d stayed out of the way. True to his word, the kind stranger had taken care of it. Lexi went home later to a bruised and bloodied demon staring back at her, but the demon didn’t lay a single finger on her for the next three weeks.
When Lexi went to bed at night, free from harm and torment, she quietly whispered her thanks.