This little scrap of writing about a nightmare has been looking for a home for a long time.
I had a dream about Jack the Ripper last night. Well, it was a dream about Jack the Ripper after it was a nightmare about Steve-O and Wee Man from Jackass hitting on me. Steve-O kept biting my bottom, because, he said, it was just like a peach.
I dreamt I had to escape Steve-O's and Wee Man's affections. I hid myself away inside a hollow tree trunk in the center of an enormous, vile marsh. I hid for thirty years, so great was my fear of the dreadful bottom-biting. When I finally dared to emerge, a hotel had sprung into existence where the marsh once sprawled, and my hollowed out tree had become a large cupboard. I padded silently across the carpets, hoping to find my way out and home unnoticed by employees or wrinkled-but-no-less-lecherous older versions of my two tormenters. Before I could even approach the large, ornate door, it was thrown open by a terrifying creature.
Before me stood a man with a jack-o-lantern on his head, its carved features failing to disguise the deformities which lay beneath. He had no eyelids, no nose, no lips. He was all bone and blood and twisting, blackened muscles. His figure was thin and off-kilter, as if things had been hooked up incorrectly to the joints of his arms and legs. His hands were twisted and blistered claws, poorly hidden by stinking, unraveling bandages of an unwholesome pus-yellow color. He gurgled and smiled (or, at least, I intuited that he meant it to be a smile) and I gasped in fright.
A freshly-scrubbed, healthy looking young woman bustled into the room, mistaking me for a frightened guest, rather than taking me for the frightened freeloader I really was. She was such a scrumptious thing. Her hair was like a puff of butter-colored sunlight. Her cheeks were cheerful apples. Her skin was cream. Her eyes, blueberries.
"Oh, this is just Jack," she explained breezily. "He's so old that his face has fallen off, and so we put pumpkins on him to make him look more friendly." She paused and examined that day's arrangement of vegetable features. "We really must make the holes smaller, I think. Your eyes look like fried eggs."
Evil shimmered off of Jack's misshapen body the way heat rises off of hot pavement in semi-visible waves during the summer. I knew then the only Jack that this Jack could be, and I also knew then that there was a reason for my thirty year Rip Van Cupboard act.
Making small adjustments to the way the pumpkin rested on Jack's head, the girl said to me over her shoulder, "He's really quite harmless and sweet, you know. He's so old, and he regrets all of the wicked, wicked things he's done, and so now he works here in the hotel, making up beds and delivering the morning paper, as a way to atone. It's a rather slow atonement, I suppose." She mock-pinched his pumpkin-cheek. Jack gurgled again, and what sounded like amiable, idiotic noise to her perfectly shaped little ears (sweet as cookies, those things were) was, to me, a communication as perfectly clear as it was evil.
In that moment, I understood my—no, our—purpose in life. Jack and I fell upon the girl as one, making quite a meal of her delicious little body. The scraps we took home with us, to make a new skin for the Ripper Man.
His house was a falling-over thing, full of broken shelves, dust, snaky shapes, strange jars, stranger smells, bits of skin and twists of hair. I removed a rusting metal tray from the top of one of many shelves and upon it I carefully placed a shriveled up, pear-shaped lump (the mummified heart of a woman, long ago murdered in some way too delightful to describe), a small length of barbed wire (its spikes clogged with chunks of flesh), a doll's head (because they're just plain creepy), one of my own fingernails, and an assortment of nails, knives, and pieces of glass. This tray I slid into his skull, to make his mind.
With my long hair I made him a bat-like, voluminous cloak. With the skin of my thighs, I made him a hat. With my kisses, I gave his eyes sly, heavy lids, and his skull-mouth a pair of lovely wet lips. His nose he fashioned for himself out of metal somehow, and it was a sharp and sexy thing. We made love on top of the kitchen table, writhing in hundreds of years of dust and decay, jagged objects driving into the skin of my back.
And then we went out a-killing. I showed Jack, my Jack, the pleasures of fire, and eventually, it was the explosions we loved best. The hundreds of screams enjoyed from afar. The crawling, charred, and stinking people. The brittle bodies. The orphaned children. Most of all, the screams. I wove him a rope from all those screams, and at night, we'd go home and tie each other up with it, the smell of smoke still sweetening our flesh.