Treyon slipped a twenty dollar bill into Martin’s hand and squinted his eyes. “You know, when a deal seems too good to be true…” Treyon started, eyeballing Martin for signs of deception.
Martin’s face was placid, leaning towards congeniality. The older of the two patted his buyer on the shoulder. “There really is nothing wrong with the mattress. Like I said, with a baby on the way we just don’t have room for it. We need to get that spare room converted into a nursery asap.”
“Alright then,” Treyon accepted. He turned away to continue fastening the pristine mattress to the bed of his pickup. Martin smiled for the sake of social graces as Treyon looped a rope through the last fastener. That’s when Treyon noticed the mattress’ sticker. He turned his head back towards Martin.
“Hey, uh, Martin. It says here that this mattress was manufactured back in 1981. How is this thing in such good shape?”
“Yeah, bit of a story there,” Martin scratched the back of his greying head. “We’ve personally had very few guests use it. It belonged to my mother originally. She bought it after my father died and kept it, mmm, thirty odd years just about. Then she disappeared two years ago…” the seller trailed off.
“Oh, uh, sorry. I didn’t mean to…Sorry I brought it up,” Treyon grimaced sheepishly.
Martin put his hands on his hips. “No, no, it’s okay. It’s just weird, you know? Where does an 80 year old disappear to? We know she started seeing a man her age a few weeks before she disappeared, but when we gave the cops the information, they said he’d disappeared too.” Martin looked at the ground and poked an invisible man with his finger. “The damnedest thing, though, is that both of their clothes were found on her bedroom floor. Her suitcase was still at home and nothing had been packed so far as we could tell. If they eloped or something, we don’t know why she wouldn’t tell us.”
“Maybe they don’t think you and your wife would approve,” Treyon offered. He really wanted to be on his way but figured this interaction was a part of the price you pay when you find a treasure on Craigslist. “Well, I hope you guys find her. I kinda have to get going.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Martin acquiesced, still stumped. “Good luck to you and your wife,” Martin said not having noticed Treyon’s naked ring finger.
“Oh, I’m not married. My girlfriend is moving in and she wanted something a little bigger than my fullsize mattress.” Treyon swung himself over to the driver’s side door and opened it. Martin looked on, acknowledging Treyon’s presence though his mind was somewhere else.
A few hours later, Treyon’s girlfriend Alicia slid her hands over the clean, smooth surface of the mattress. “Wow, nice bed. I hope you didn’t spend too much on it, babe.”
“Actually, I only paid twenty bucks for it. I found it on Craigslist,” Treyon beamed as he jumped onto the mattress and bounced.
Alicia withdrew her hand from the pad as if it were contaminated. “Uh, excuse me? Twenty dollars? What’s wrong with it?”
Treyon spread himself out to touch all four corners. “Nothing. This guy just used it for his guest room and it only belonged to his mother before that. He did start talking about how his mom disappeared and that sort of creeped me out, so I took off.”
Alicia dropped her shoulders. Her eyes rolled off the tip of her tongue. “So you brought me home evidence from a crime scene.”
Treyon got up on his knees, shuffled to the edge of the mattress and took both of Alicia’s hands. “C’mon, no. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s super comfortable.” The young man slid his hands toward his girlfriend’s waist and started to tickle her. “Let’s get some sheets and make the bed so we can, you know, unmake it. It needs to be christened.” Treyon tried to wrest Alicia towards him but the mattress seemed to slide up bit from underneath him and almost caused him to lose his balance.
“You need to work on your game,” Alicia laughed as she pushed him over. Treyon just sat on his elbows and shifted his eyes. Alicia hadn’t touched the bed.
Moonlight through the window glistened along their post-coitus skin, outlining them against the dark. The couple laid on their side facing each other and entwined their fingers though they had already just played mercy. Treyon’s eyes were half-closed, waiting for sleep to capture him. Alicia’s voice kept him present, though.
“I’m not sure if it was you or the bed,” she giggled, “but that was amazing. I’m glad I moved in.” The two laughed right before a twisting, gurgling sound erupted. The rumble was almost loud enough to shake the bed.
“Are you hungry, baby?” Alicia asked, smiling, still high. “Want me to make you something? You worked so hard after all.”
“No, that wasn’t me. I thought it was you,” Treyon’s eyes opened.
The sound rippled beneath them again, louder this time. The noise travelled like a wave from the headboard towards their feet along the mattress’ surface. Alicia jumped up to sit on her knees while Treyon turned over on all fours.
“Earthquake?” Alicia worried.
“We don’t get earthquakes here,” Treyon exclaimed. But he didn’t have a better explanation. “Maybe, I don’t know.”
“Sinners,” a cavernous, guttural voice said.
Treyon grabbed his smartphone off the side table and lit up the room with its flashlight. “Who said that? Who the hell is in here?” Alicia threw her back against her boyfriend’s and cast her head about in every direction. Given the additional light of the moon, anyone in the room should have been immediately obvious.
“Whoever’s in here, I’m going to beat the shit out of you,” Treyon warned. He moved to jump off the bed but felt something sharp dig into the flesh around his ankle. “Ow, shit! What the fuck? My leg!”
Alicia watched Treyon reach for his right leg which was caught in what looked like a shark’s teeth-lined tear in the mattress. She wanted to reach for it and help but saw the lips of the gash move and just couldn’t. She backed up on her knees towards the edge of the bed. She was about the slip off when she put her hand down to right herself and instead found her wrist caught in another rip, another decaying-toothed grin. “Treyonnn!” Alicia shrieked.
“Wh-what the hell is this?” a quake evident in Treyon’s voice.
“You are both sinners,” a hollowed voice spoke. “Sinners must be taken to the other side for judgement.” The tears in the mattress sank a bit, pulling the two lovers down.
“Wh-why are you doing this?” Treyon wanted to know trying to fight the pain and pull away.
“We both have a passion for flesh, sinner,” the voice came from the mattress. “Just as I have been judged for mine, so will you two be…on the other side.” The mattress pulled harder and the couple’s cries grew louder.
“What other side!” Alicia gave more as a statement than a question.
“The other side of life, fornicator,” the voice deepened as it drew them ever more into its mouths. “I apologize for the cruelty of my method, but there are now many ways to remove evil from the world so that it can be made great again. This is the glorious will of God.”
“This is not the will of God! This is evil!” Treyon argued as numerous teeth pierced his flesh like little knives and drew him in chest deep. Behind him, Alicia’s head was all that remained in reality and it was too terrified to scream. Her saucered eyes mirrored hopelessness.
“Is not the only way to fight evil be with more evil?” the mattress offered as it chewed.
“Only love defeats evil!” Treyon countered as he was almost completely enveloped now.
“There is a fine line between love and lust, sinner, just as there is a fine line between good and evil. You should have considered this and known the difference.” The mattress had Treyon almost completely now.
Bloodied from head to toe, with his last bit of fight within him, all Treyon could return is, “Do you know?” And then he was gone like a ship beneath the ocean’s surface.
The red sea on the mattress’ surface sank to the bottom of the ocean as well, returning the mattress to a pristine white condition. “Do I know? I thought I knew once but I was wrong. We are all wrong in the end. We are all failed creatures and the Master will reclaim us and start anew someday.”
Clouds gathered and shuttered the moon, blocking out its glow. Darkness caressed the room, the faint scent of sweat grew ever lighter.
All Rights Reserved (C) January 2017 John J Vinacci