“Charlie, what are you doing?”

He stopped mid-swing and froze; with the axe in his hand he looked like a miniature version of Paul Bunyan without the beard. She stood in the doorway to his room; he stood facing the window, away from her.

He answered without turning.

Disassembling,” he whispered.

His bedroom was in pieces; he’d hacked his bureau apart and driven the axe into the sheetrock in various places. His bed lay in ruins, upside down and against his closet door. He was hacking away at his writing desk when she  burst through his door.

“What are you talking about? Charlie, why are you doing this?”

He turned to look at her and she recoiled in horror. His eyes had rolled up so that only the white showed.  They looked like peeled grapes, with small strips of whitened scum glistening on the surface. The skin around his eyes was wrinkled and loose; long, looping folds gave the appearance of melted wax. The worst was his mouth – cheeks sunk, lips tight, bloodless, stretched open wide, a horrific caricature of an opera singer in the middle of an aria from hell.

She stretched a hand out to touch her son, then thought better of it and pulled it back. “Who did this to you Charlie?” she whispered.

Charlie moved toward his mother in shambling, halting steps. He smiled then, a vacant, empty, unholy smile.

Skidders,” he croaked.