Charlie’s Room: The Mural
Isaac stepped back from the wall, paintbrush in hand. He’d always wanted to paint a mural and see his doodles, larger than life, on permanent display. The cartoon jungle glowed vividly in the afternoon sunlight, even brighter than when he’d painted it. It was perfect. When Marianne and Charlie came home, they’d certainly be impressed. Time to wash up.
Hours later, Isaac heard rumbling coming from Charlie’s room. He set his book on Marianne’s empty pillow and pushed his toes into his slippers. As he neared the door, the rumbling sounded louder. He had left the window open a crack to let out the paint fumes — was the sound an idling motor? There were those bikers that roared down the street at all hours of the night…
Annoyed, he pulled his hand back from the knob and began to turn away. The back of his neck prickled with fear. It wasn’t rumbling, it was roaring. Instinct pushed him to pull the heavy hall table against the door moments before a dull thump shook it. Something like claws made a shrieking sound and the door rattled. There was a roar and a snuffling snort and the sound of canvas paint-cloth being shredded.
Isaac stopped in his room long enough to grab his keys and wallet and then fled in his slippers without pausing to turn off the lights. He stayed in a hotel until mid-morning, reluctantly returning home only to sneak around the back and peek in Charlie’s window. The room was torn apart, but empty.
He entered the room cautiously. The spread of the claw marks was wider than his hand. The imprint from phantom jaws was enormous. He looked up at the cheerful jungle scene and pried open the white paint he’d bought to touch up the baseboards. With broad strokes, he painted over the mural.