Bartholomew went to bed early that night, with an unshakeable, eerie feeling. There was something strange about that day after leaving Ms. Berkley’s garden. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something was watching him from the corners of his eyes, and when he turned to look, no one was there, like a ghost forever haunting his blind spot.
Bartholomew still lived with his parents in a little house in a little London suburb called Hollowfield. And after light supper, Bartholomew wished them goodnight and went to bed to ease his worried mind.
But even under the safety of his covers, in his bed, he felt the eyes of some invisible demon watching him from the darkest corner of his room. Bartholomew focused his eyes, afraid to shut them in case the whatever was to be right in his face the immediate moment he opened his eyes again.
But as the night wore on, he found his eyes neglecting their midnight duties, and like tired soldiers they drifted off to sleep in the silence of the dark room…
Bartholomew woke up, startled, struggling to inhale a decent breath for his lungs, as he felt the weight of something heavy on his chest. His window, which was closed before he snuggled into bed that night, was wide open with a deadly cold wind blowing in, but that wasn’t what made Bartholomew quiver in his bed. Sitting on his chest was a man, or what looked like a man. It wore a white ceramic mask with a cocky smirk drawn on and devil horns poking out of the forehead, and in the openings where the eyes were supposed to be, were two red glowing lights.
Barty couldn’t breath. It might have been because he had a man sitting on his chest, but he believed it was the crippling fear that emanated from the man that left him paralyzed.
A moment after his stunned awakening, the figure levitated upward, floating above him, uncrossing his arms and extending them towards the ceiling. They looked like metal, shining with silver claws–they were gloves.
Desperately wanted to scream, but the best he could do was little squeaks. The figure stared down from its position. It seemed to be examining him.
It continued to stare until it finally hissed out a word, “Es vos vultus mihi?”
Bartholomew shivered so hard that the springs of the mattress could be heard.
“Es vos vultus mihi?” it repeated.
Bartholomew didn’t understand. He couldn’t even place the language. Had he been able to, he would have answered any question he could, just to get rid of this monster.
The creature paused, as if comprehending Bartholomew’s ignorance. It took off its mask and Barty nearly fainted. Underneath the mask was a horrible face, a skeletal head with hanging skin and empty eye sockets, its mouth missing teeth and its tongue green with a decaying breath panting out.
A purple haze breathed out of the creature’s mouth, encapsulating Bartholomew’s head. He fell unconscious, waking up in an empty meadow with nothing but a tale and two chairs, Bartholomew sitting in one of them. There was a lovely tea set of silver on the table and a platter of biscuits in the middle.Bartholomew was tempted to grab one, but when he saw the figure appear in the chair in front of him, he thought better of it.
He appeared with skin and old, Victorian style clothing, looking like a proper gentlemen of the time. Giving a nod, he spoke. “Greetings,” he said, his voice gentle and refined, like one who was groomed with all the advantages of the noble elite.
Bartholomew was astonished, but he managed to utter a reply. “Hello,” he said, “Where am I? And who are you?”
“I’m the one you were looking for. I hold the title of Spring-Heeled Jack.”
“Title?” said Bartholomew, as he shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
“Come now, Bart,” said Jack, “I know you saw me that day in the garden of my mistress. I also saw the way you were looking at her.”
Bartholomew blushed. “I’m, sss, sorry, sir,” he said, “I didn’t mean anything by it. I was…”
“Only caught off guard by her exquisite beauty? Yes, I know. Just as I was so very long ago…”
“I have held the title of Jack for a long time now. Way before you, your parent, your parent’s parents… You get the idea, I’m sure,” he continued as he poured two cups of tea. “One lump or two?”
“Err, two,” said Barty, as Jack put two sugar cubes in Bartholomew’s cup before handing it to him.
“The title, Jack, is one not lightly carried. To be Jack means surrendering to a more chaotic personality. A trickster, wrong-doer, scoundrel, ect… But also it entails serving the mistress, as she is the one who gave the title in the first place.” He sipped his tea after giving it a stir.
“So…” said Bartholomew, beginning to feel more comfortable, “Why are you telling me all this?”
“Well,” said Jack, setting down his tea, “I am no longer the hansom, young rascal you see before you. I am old and
decayed and well to put it bluntly, dead.”
“OK?” said Bartholomew
“I have grown tired of this preoccupation, capturing young people to satisfy my mistress so she can eat them and maintain her youth, it started out as good sport until the last fifty years. It is all meaningless, you know? I’ve been trapped for approximately 108 years as Jack. I do not recall my original name, nor do I have any faith that I deserve my old name. I have done a lot of bad things, Bart, and I am ready to see my place in Hell. Though I cannot leave unless someone takes my mantle as Jack.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” said Mark, “But I don’t want to be Jack.”
“I’m afraid you don’t have a choice,” said Jack, “My mistress chose you. You will be her pleasure as well as her hunter, until she grows sick of your face. I’ve delayed my duties for far too long. It is now time for you, Bart, to take my place.”
And with that, he placed his palm on Barty’s head and said, “Nunc detur tibi nomen Jack.”
It burned. Barty cried out as he felt a hot blade etch into his skin.It twisted and turned and went on for what seemed like hours, searing his skin, cutting deep, deep till he felt the scratches on his skull itself.
“Barty! Barty!” shouted his father, shaking him awake. “Wake up, Barty,” he said, “You’re having a bad dream!”
Bartholomew woke up and rose so quickly that he head butted his father in the jaw. He rubbed his head to feel the sweat pouring out of every pore, hot, while the rest of his body felt cold and clammy. He panted as he apologized to his father, who was still rubbing his bearded chin.
“Are you alright, love?” said his mother; she looked like she had been crying.
“I saw Jack, dad,” said Barty.
His dad sighed. “It was all just a bad dream Bart,” said his father, “There is no Jack; he’s just a fairy tale.”
Bart’s mother tried to grin, but she couldn’t stop wiping her face. “I’m alright, mother,” said Bart, “It was just a dream, a really horrible dream. I’m fine now.” He smiled and tried to give his mother some courage as he desperately tried to find his own.
“That’s my boy,” said his father.
“Don’t hesitate to call us,” said his mother, “If you can’t sleep.”
“He’ll be alright, honey,” said his father, “He’s my son after all.”
“Yes, of course,” said his mother, still wiping her eyes, “Sleep well dear.” Bart’s parents left his room, their trepidations lingering with Bartholomew as they closed the door behind them.
‘Was it all just a dream?’ Bartholomew asked himself. He looked at the mirror that hung on his bedroom door and he could see something on his forehead that looked like a star. He jumped out of bed and got a closer look. On his forehead was the the satanic pentagram.