I don’t normally enter short story competitions for lack of time, but something about this one had me very excited indeed! Horror and Mayhem always do…
Timmy’s Little Robot
The tree stood in the corner, lights flashing to the tinny tempo of -“The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful… And since we’ve got no place to go…Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”
Outside the temperature was average for the time of year but you wouldn’t have guessed by looking at her. The heating was cranked up to high and she was dressed in a pair of white denim hot shorts which were frayed at the edges, barely hiding the thread veins that had started to populate the top of her thigh. Her toe nails were freshly painted. ‘Xmas Red,’ the label read. It was a special edition polish with a plastic silver tone Santa charm hanging from the neck; she loved collecting limited edition nail polish; she had a whole case full of them and all the shades looked virtually the same.
She got up off the couch and went to check on Timmy but not before stopping at the mirror. Her blonde bob was as puffed as she could get it and her shiny toenails poked through the peep toe of the marabou slipper, also in white to go with her shorts. She peeked through the door wanting to make sure the kid was fast asleep before returning to the living room to wait for Robert.
The boy’s room was dark save for the rocket shaped night light in the corner. It was a mess. She’d make sure he cleaned up after himself in the morning though. On the floor lay the desecrated box of the robot she’d bought him for Christmas. She’d left getting him something to the last minute so she was grateful for the pop up toy store she’d found on her way home from work.
‘Santa’s Grotto’ flashed the cheap sign in the exaggerated curly neon letters that intermittently lit up. The ‘n’ and the apostrophe buzzed on and off making it look like ‘Sa_tans Grotto’ when it got stuck. The inside was impressive though, rich and vibrant; it was much larger than it looked and all the toys were grouped by interest. Pirate outfits with realistic looking cutlasses, chemistry sets with working Bunsen burners and even wooden puzzle games made from sustainable wood sources. She sped past some old fashioned wind up monkeys and clowns that had always given her the creeps, when she saw a kid sized sports car. She considered it for a split second but rejected the thought certain it’d be too pricey. They even had one of those step on pianos she’d seen on the internet. Definitely not one of those, she thought to herself, he’ll drive me insane.
She settled on a silver vintage-design robot; it was how they imagined robots to look like in the 60’s but also modern. When she was a kid her granny had an old GE box fridge which reminded her of this robot’s solid body shape. The box was glossy and was printed with a speech bubble that said, ‘Hi! I’m Lenny the Learning Robot!’ Lenny also had fully functioning clamp hands and wheeled red feet as well as a perma-smile in the form of a ventilation grate. His eyes consisted of two red lights and on his chest was an arrow gauge. Underneath the gauge was a small cylinder printed with letters which you could move in order to form words. If you wrote a word the robot knew, the lights lit up and the arrow gauge pointed to a ‘Perfect 10!’
“This’ll do very nicely!” She told herself. He likes this kind of robot shit, or is it space stuff? Whatever! Robots, Spaceshit, it’s all the same anyway. She turned it over and looked at the price. “Fifteen bucks! Sweet!” She said loudly again and put a cigarette in her mouth. She walked to the till, paid for the robot and had them wrap it quickly, not caring that they hadn’t even taken the price tag off.
His reaction hadn’t been the one she expected when he opened it.
“But Moooom, I wanted a tablet!”
“Santa didn’t bring you a tablet, he brought you Lenny the lovely Robot that moves and makes words and sh.. stuff!”
“Mom, I’m seven not three, I know there’s no Santa alright?”
“Don’t say that, and don’t be so unappreciative! You’re starting to remind me of your ungrateful dad Timmy!”
“I wish he was here instead of you!” The kid spat in anger.
“Why you little…” She hovered over him and raised her hand to hit him before remembering Robert was coming over and it wouldn’t do to have an awake and screaming kid in the way. She composed herself adjusting her super tight crop top, and put a cigarette in her mouth without lighting it. “Well that’s all you’re getting. Now take your robot and go to bed!”
Timmy did as he was told. He considered going out through his window and scratching her car but it was drizzling. He took the robot to his room and left it on the ground by his shoes. Some Christmas this had turned out to be again, just him and his mom and a frozen TV dinner. He missed his dad, Christmases had been much better when he was around. He opened one of his comic books and read a bit before falling sleep.
The robot’s eyes lit up. He righted himself and began to roll towards Timmy’s bed. The batteries that had come with the box still lay where Timmy had chucked them unopened. Lenny clasped onto the bed covers with his little pincers and climbed all the way on top of Timmy who was sleeping soundly. He sat square in the middle of his chest and began to extend his tubular arms outwards like an expanding shower hose. The metal tentacles slowly wrapped themselves around the bed trapping the boy in the robot’s clutches. Timmy felt the pressure on his body and woke up.
“What the fuck are you?” He said through his sleepy haze.
The robot’s chest lit up allowing the letters to become visible in the dark.
“LANGUAGE TIMMY!” The letters flicked quickly to form the words. Their old fashioned clicking offering no comfort.
“Get off me! Mom Help! Moooom!”
“MOMMY BUSY NOW, NO HELP.” Spelled the robot as a compartment opened from inside its boxy shape, revealing another two appendages, one of which was holding a metal clamp not unlike an old clothes peg.
“What are you doing with that?” He was starting to cry now.
The robot showed no hesitation as he clamped the boy’s lips shut so he’d be unable to scream, despite the fact that his mother was now partially undressed and in the expert hands of Robert in a haze of wine. Timmy could hear the music which was blaring from the family room.
“TIMMY NO BELIEVE SANTA. SANTA BELIEVE IN TIMMY THOUGH,” the letters rolled fast on the little drum.
The child looked terrified at this point and he began to sweat, the stink of piss also reached his nose despite the heavy covers that absorbed it.
“SANTA SEES BAD KIDS. SANTA KNOWS WHAT TIMMY DOES TO LITTLE ANIMALS WHEN MOMMY WORKS.” The wheels flicked the words and every time one formed, the robot’s little red eyes lit up.
“SANTA DISAPPOINTED AT TIMMY.”
The boy shook his head violently from left to right. Snot was starting to froth under his nose where it mixed with the tears and the sweat before it dripped down the side of his neck and onto the pillow.
Lenny produced a match from within his little body and lit it against himself like they used to do in old westerns. He looked like a strange metallic half octopus with all his appendages. The flame flickered brightly for a moment, and then begun to consume the stick. The robot held it near Timmy’s face burning the child’s left eyebrow clean off. The smell of burned hair and flesh filled the room. The immobilized boy tried to shriek but it never cut through his mother’s giggling in the other room. The clamp and the tightness around his chest didn’t allow for much screaming.
The little pincer of the robot’s fourth arm reached Timmy’s eye and hovered above it for what felt like hours.
“JUST LIKE TIMMY DOES TO KITTENS,” rolled the letters before the pincer fastened onto a bunch of eyelashes and pulled them clean off. A bead of blood began to form on the boy’s lid which quickly merged with his incessant tears. The eyelid also started to bloat and close over the eye.
“Please stop, I won’t do it again I promise! Please tell Santa I’ll never be mean to animals ever again, I swear!” Screamed Timmy as the peg slipped off this mouth and fell to the ground. Unfazed, Lenny dropped the detached eyelashes and used his free appendage to secure the mouth again. Without faltering he produced a blade from inside his little compartment and began to cut lines into Timmy’s chin, nose and ears. They would’ve been perfectly straight, just like the robot preferred had the boy not moved his head from left to right in his attempts to avoid the assaults. Blood seeped out of his wounds which stung from the tears and the sweat. His pillow had transformed into a sponge for bodily fluids.
When the boy finally passed out from the pain and lack of air, Lenny sat patiently on his chest and slowly unraveled his restrictive arms from around the bed.
“GOOD BOY TIMMY!” Rolled the letter wheels and the eyes lit up once again.
She didn’t know what time it was when Robert left, but she reckoned the sun would be up soon. She was dizzy from the wine but nothing a few hours of sleep wouldn’t fix. Heading to her bedroom she thought she heard noise coming from Timmy’s room so she decided to check on him. Brat better be asleep or help me God…
She cracked the door and was struck by the smell of burned flesh, blood and piss.
“What the…?” She said to herself as she turned on the light and rushed to the unconscious boy nearly tripping up on his damn toy robot. Horrified at the state of her son, she picked him up and rushed him to hospital.
The sun had completely risen by the time Timmy woke up. He’d lost and gained consciousness a couple of times but he couldn’t be sure. His head and face were throbbing and he screamed as he remembered the events from the previous evening again. The nurse rushed to him and re-administered something to help him sleep. Through his haze he could see the fading form of his mother whispering with a doctor.
“It is very worrying when a child self-harms in such a way Mrs Tomlinson,” whispered the doctor.
“That’s Ms Giardino now doctor, I’m divorced,” Timmy thought he could detect a flirtatious tone in his mother’s voice.
“My apologies Ma’am,” corrected the doctor raising his brow. “I suggest you leave him here with us for a few days so that we try to calm him and get to the bottom of this. If he persists with the robot story I suggest we give him a course of Electro Convulsive Therapy in order to divorce him from the idea of toys coming to life.”
“Whatever you think is best doctor,” she said placing her hand on his arm.
Returning home she went to Timmy’s bedroom. On the floor lay a razor blade and some spent matches.
“Stupid little boy, could’ve burned the house down with his insanity.” She picked the robot up from the floor and put it in the same bag she’d brought it in. She didn’t look at the logo but if she had, she’d see that ‘Santa’s Grotto’ had completely transformed to ‘Satan’s Grotto.’ She put it in the trash and closed the lid. Attention seeking little shit, she thought to herself.