“I’m Simon, you have to do what I say,” said the blonde boy who could barely make eye contact over the principal's desk.
“Simon Simple, I don’t know what’s gotten into you lately but you have to stop this. What happened to Erik. What he did. He said you told him to.”
“He had to do what I say.” Simon smiled. Little teeth that didn't fill his mouth were white squares with gaps between. Two blue eyes were anything but remorseful as his face creased around the grin.
“Simon-” the principal in his faded suit jacket and trousers started but was cut off.
“Touch your head.” The boy’s smile was almost innocent as he did the same.
Not knowing why, Principal Smithers touched his head. “Simon you can’t just-”
“Stop talking.” All innocence faded into a frown. “Touch your shoulders.”
Unable to speak, Marlon Smithers complied. His eyes bulged as he fought the command of the boy’s voice in his head.
“Touch your knees,” said Simple with glee.
Groaning as he bent down, Smithers touched the scuffed knees of his black trousers. Straightening again, he frowned at the boy in the grey uniform.
“Touch your toes.”
Something in Marlon’s back made the cracking noise of a dry twig snapping. He groaned louder as he stretched to touch his toes. His knees bent as he stooped to comply.
“No. Knees straight. Touch your toes.”
The principal’s ink stained fingernails stretched more than an inch from his toes as he strained his fifty year old body. Groaning in discomfort, Smithers couldn’t help a drip of spittle dropping from his lips as he gasped and stretched himself painfully.
“Do it,” said Simon angrily as if the man’s protests were weak excuses.
Tears welled in the principal’s eyes as he pushed himself past his physical limit, feeling muscles stretch and tear. His fingers touched his toes. All consuming relief flooded his body despite the agony.
“Head,” Simon touched his head. “Touch your head. You have to do what I say.”
Marlon felt a burning sensation in the muscles of his legs and shooting pain in his back. Smithers did the only thing he could following words that had become the law of his soul to the marrow of his bones.
“Shoulders,” the boy sped up. “Knees and toes. Knees and toes.”
Muscle fibers ripped. Stop. Please stop, thought Marlon. Wanting to speak, he could not part his lips. Smithers’ body was not his own.
“Faster,” Simon barked. The Rhythm picked up.
Marlon wept as his body destroyed itself at the child’s beck and call. Chemicals flooded his veins, numbing some pain as more came along for the ride.
All of the man’s energy seemed to drain in an instant. Half of his body rebelled, obeying neither the boy’s instructions or the will of its own mind. Smithers felt the breath stolen from his lungs. Simon blurred through Marlon’s weary eyes.
“Do as I say,” the boy said with a fury too old and deep to have come from his lungs. “Get up and do it.”
Get up? Marlon saw the world on its side. That wasn’t how it was supposed to be, was it?
“Get up. You have to do what I say.
Get up, Mister Smithers. I said get up.” Tiny feet stomped at the periphery of Marlon’s perception. Despite only subconsciously hearing the demands, his body fought to obey, one half fought with strength and conviction. His left side was jelly and confusion.
Where am I?
“Stand up, Mister Smithers. I said you have to stand up. Listen to me!” Blue eyes filled the man’s vision. Blurry eyes bound up in rage.
“I’m in charge.”
Though he could see that Simon was clutching both sides of his face, Marlon felt nothing down his left. The principal heard voices of concern and the door opening.
“Is everything alright?” asked a kindly voice Marlon recognised vaguely.
“Get out,” Simon screamed. “Now.”
The door slammed behind the woman Marlon couldn’t put a name to. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Stop talking. You have to do what I say.” The feet stomped again. Simon’s round face was red with anger. The frown lines on his forehead were expertly drawn but well beyond his tender years.
“Stand up, Mister Smithers. Do it.”
Marlon’s body held itself as straight as it could, which was barely at all. Pain and numbness on opposing sides made the man tremble as he wet himself in deathly horror.
I’m going to die. What’s going on? I’m going to die. Wake up Marlon, please. Let this be a nightmare.
“Ew.” Simon recoiled. “That’s yucky, Mister Smithers. Yucky. You shouldn’t do that. It’s dirty. Stop it.”
Simon fled the expanding puddle on the grey carpet tiles. “Stop it. I said stop. Mummy will spank you for wetting your clothes.”
Marlon thought of his wife Casandra. Thirty years of love and hard work to keep themselves on the same track. Their daughters Lisa and Melanie were in good jobs. Lisa was expecting his first grandchild.
Don’t let me die, God. Please. I beg you. Save me.
“Show me red, Mister Smithers. Show me your red?”
What? Wanting only to spend his final moments thinking of his family, his mind was bent to the task of deciphering Simon’s command.
“Show me your RED. I want to see it.”
Marlon thought about his office, his clothes. Everything he had. My pen. He wobbled into and fell across the desk, spilling the contents of his organiser. Out came a red biro.
“No, Mister Smithers. Your red. The red in you. Show me. Now.”
Not giving himself a moment to think, Marlon stabbed himself in the arm with the biro. Blood welled out.
“I can’t see it.” Simple pouted.
Marlon fell out of his suit jacket, a gift from Casandra who always said he looked good in suits. He’d worn it on a few date nights with her before it became workwear.
“More.” There was no mercy. No feeling. Only a demand that could not be denied.
I love you Cassandra. I love you, girls. I’m sorry. I love you so much.
Principal Marlon Smithers collapsed, blood pouring from dozens of stab wounds in his arms and chest, then finally his neck.
“All red, sleepy head
Sleepy sleepy, now you’re dead.” Simon turned to the door, and smiled.