WARNING: SOME PARTS MAY BE NSFW.
Henry hated to admit it, but he actually missed Patrick a lot. Deep down he knew that he missed the stupid boy a whole lot more that he would ever miss him - and that hurt. Patrick was probably riding down the motorway singing one of those annoying songs with his weird parents, already beginning to forget Henry used to be his only friend. That was one of the sad facts of life - Out of sight, out of mind. Friends come in and out of your life and you generally forget about a vast majority of them. When you’ve been through what Henry and Patrick or the Losers Club dealt with together, it would be hard to lose touch with one another, yet Henry knew it would be best to forget what happened with Patrick. He didn’t want what was best though. He wanted Patrick. He wanted his old life back.
Sat in his overly-stuffy bedroom with both windows opened so wide that a grown man could fall out onto the patio and break his neck, Henry found he had nothing at all he felt like doing. Rena suggested he call Vic and Belch to see what they’re up to, but Henry had lost interest in talking to other people lately. His dad not so gently suggested he get to work on the farm, yet Henry really didn’t have the energy to work any longer. It was far too hot and he was far too upset about Patrick moving to Vermont. Summer school had ended for the term and Henry was almost downhearted about it. Now this really was a first! He no longer had the Losers club to chase after and his agenda was entirely booked up with appointments with that stupid Dr Annie who was convinced he was crazy. It was only halfway through the summer and Henry had nothing to do.
It had irked him somewhat that Annie told him everyday she saw him that Pennywise wasn’t real. One day, he knew he’d end up showing her that switch-knife and cardboard box that Pennywise had gifted him with as clear evidence that Pennywise was actually alive. Yesterday he’d told her that Patrick was gone. Obviously she’d already known - Patrick was one of her other patients after all - but she wanted to get Henry’s perspective on things. Apparently the boy was really upset about Patrick leaving him. He always gave that same passive-aggressive smile and growled that he really didn’t miss Patrick at all, yet Annie could see in his eyes that Henry was really hurt at his friend’s departure. Whilst raving about how much he hated Patrick anyway, his dark eyes had a general melancholy that just wouldn’t leave - Annie knew the boy was going through a tough time. One day in Dr Annie’s office he had a sudden burst of anger at the mention of Patrick; flinging all the stationary and files off the desk with the sweep of an arm, Henry howled and wailed about how much he hopes Patrick would kill himself in his new town. He screamed about Patrick’s mom and ranted on Patrick’s dad, crying to the doctor about how mean they were to him by taking Patrick away. He paced about the room, babbling endlessly about his own father and all the terrible, abusive things he’d done to him. Henry hadn’t been able to stop himself from sobbing - he had nobody left that understood, nobody that really liked him and who he liked back. Annie had been relatively cool about it... She hadn’t had a bird like anybody else would have (Henry supposed that was the one thing he liked about Dr Annie). But that was yesterday… and Henry promised himself he wouldn’t ever humiliate himself like that again.
Giving that box shoved far under his bed a wary side glance, Henry pulled on his jacket and set off downtown. On the bus he felt like everybody was staring at him, simply knowing that he was the one who was involved with Stanley Uris’s little run-in with Death. Giving a five year-old boy a small glower, earning an equally as fierce glare from his mother, Henry turned his body flush to the window seat, ignoring everybody as best he could. It was bad enough going to ‘Psychotherapy’. The scenery slowly changed from the cornfields and prairies of around Henry’s and Mike’s homes to the red brick Victorian buildings of downtown Derry. On the bus, Henry saw Mike seated at the back with his mom. They had got on together and Henry had given Mike a little snarl when he knew Mike’s mother wasn’t watching. Mike simply stuck his tongue out in reply. Unfortunately… his mother had seen that and gave Mike a little nudge with her elbow, telling him to be nice to others. Henry laughed. Now he felt just a little better.
When the bus eventually pulled into the nearest stop to Henry’s clinic, he shot off the bus as fast as he could, trying his best not to look at Mike Hanlon. He didn’t want Mike to see him going to ‘that crazy place’ as his father referred to it as. As always, Henry’s dad refused to go in with him, forever complaining that he didn’t want no crazy son. Henry didn’t care. In fact, it suited him rather well. Henry hated his father. Henry’s father hated him. That seems to be a re-occurring theme according to Dr Annie. She once suggested a family therapy and the boy burst out laughing. As if his father would set foot in the building! He hardly even left his space in front of the wireless!
It was a beautiful sunny day with cloudy blue sky, completely opposite to how Henry was feeling. He knew that as soon as he flung himself down in Annie’s office, the first question she would ask would be: ‘How are you feeling, Henry?’ Not even a simple ‘hello’ came first. It was always ‘How’s your mood been, Henry?’ this and ‘Have you been feeling good recently, Henry?’ that. Henry knew he wouldn’t be able to take it if Dr Annie mentioned the events of yesterday today. He already mulled over it all last night and most of this morning.
‘It’s beautiful weather we’re having, hmm?’Surprise, surprise! Dr Annie gave him an actual greeting this time!
‘Are you just being shy today, Henry?’Dr Annie giggled, knowing full well that Henry was the last person on earth to be shy. He just wasn’t feeling too talkative today and that was fine. Last session he’d done a little too much talking - but that was in his own opinion it seemed - Annie didn’t mind him crying and talking to her about what made him upset, just as long as he kept his anger under better control next time. That, they would work on.
‘No. I just don’t like you.’
Annie simply smiled and shook her head. Her kind eyes screaming at Henry ‘Aww, ain’t that just cute!’. Together they were sat in her office; Henry sat on the spinny office-worker chair, herself sat on a little kid’s plastic one. Every so often he would give a little spin, his face completely serious despite doing something so goofy. Annie gave another little laugh.
‘Oh, you’re just funny, Henry. Now, how have you been feeling lately?’That one question always makes Henry’s blood boil.
Henry’s face must have looked obviously confused, so the doctor said, ‘That’s okay. Take your time to answer, don’t be pressured.’ Lounging luxuriously on his chair, Henry simply stared at her, not bothering to answer her question or even think up an answer. ‘Shall we try another question?’ Annie eventually said, realising he wouldn’t answer even if a gun was pointed to his head. He was just too stoic. No, not stoic, stubborn would be a far better word to describe Henry Bowers.
‘Fine,’ the boy huffed, blowing his new hairstyle out his eyes. He crossed and re-crossed his legs, obviously very uncomfortable whenever he went to this place. Annie could understand that feeling.
‘Alright. Now, Henry. I know you felt very pent-up and angry yesterday. Is that right? Correct me if I’m wrong.’
‘Okay then. Is that because of Patrick Hockstetter moving? You seemed to use the phrases and words ‘I hope he kills himself’, ‘I hope he dies’ and ‘Patrick should die’ quite a lot… Are those strong feelings really directed at Patrick? Or maybe, you are angry at Patrick’s parents for taking him away?’
‘Henry, answer me properly please. This could help you, you know.’
Henry let out a moan of exasperation, ‘Fine. I don’t really hate Patrick. I just miss him and I miss Vic and Belch too. It’s the summer and I’m bored. That a good enough answer for you?’
‘Excellent answer, Henry. Good boy! You see, it helps to get your feelings straightened out and talk about them, doesn’t it? I know you have trouble controlling your anger. Keeping things bottled up inside can lead to big outbursts, like yesterday. That’s what I want you and your daddy to work on. If you can just-’
‘No, Annie. I don’t want my father here! He doesn’t give a fucking damn about me and he doesn’t want to be around crazies,’ Henry burst out, violently spinning on his chair. His engineer boot kicked the table leg as he went, causing more papers to fly. Annie hoped it wouldn’t turn into another tantrum like yesterdays.
‘Henry… It may seem to you like your dad doesn’t care, but really he-’ Annie stopped, seeing Henry’s face fall. Obviously she should try to keep on topic instead of be lead astray and cause him to feel hurtful. ‘Never mind. I’ll tackle that later,’ she said, half to herself, half to Henry. ‘Back to Patrick! Don’t get mad, but your school wanted to know more about your relationship.’
‘Oh, don’t worry! We only want to get to know you better. This is talking therapy as you know. We do it with all our patients. As Patrick is sadly no longer in our care, we only have your perspective on things, Henry. Just so you know, we’re only asking this basic question so we know exactly what happened on that day with Master Uris. It will just help our understanding, see? Also… I know you’re having some troubles at the moment with Master Hockstetter what with his leaving. Obviously it’s upset you… So, feel free to say what you wish. Everything is confidential between us.’
Heart palpitating, Henry wondered if he should make up a lie. He couldn’t tell Dr Annie about those times Patrick and himself had kissed and done things that a typical boyfriend and girlfriend would do. It would repulse her! Sure, her job was to listen to all kinds of people talk about what weird, wonderful, wild and downright terrible things they’ve done, but Henry found himself grow stressed at the thought of telling her about how close he’d been with Patrick. He only really liked Annie left in this world. Victor and Belch weren’t around anymore. The last time he’d seen them was when he’d gotten drunk with them almost three weeks ago. His father was his least favourite person on the planet. All he ever did was torment and beat him. Henry knew that if he made Annie hate him by telling her about Patrick, then his life was next to over. Literally everything gravitated around Annie nowadays. You want to go to the corner shop, Henry? Too bad. You’ve got another daily appointment with Dr Annie - she wants to talk to you about the importance of telling an adult when you feel the situation gets out of control. Want to go back to school in September, Henry? Junior high starts soon - only a few weeks to go and your summer is over. Well, that’s a shame because Dr Annie doesn’t want you to go back to school yet. Not until they’ve got your treatment, medication and paperwork handled properly. Apparently you’re just too sick…
Henry didn’t even feel sick like the doctors were continually telling him he was. He wondered, if he was that sick, then why didn’t they just lock him in a mental hospital and be done with it? They gave him pills - anti-psychotics they were called - but whenever he went home with them his father would throw them away with the rest of the garbage, telling him he didn’t need them and they’d just make his stomach hurt.
‘I asked you a question. Were you listening?’
‘Um, yes. Patrick was my friend.’
‘That all you wanted to say? I may be a doctor but I’m certainly no mind-reader. Tell me everything that’s going on, sweetheart.’
‘…Fine,’ and in that moment, Henry trusted Annie to be kind and understanding like she’d always ever been. He told her of everything. Everything from the events at the dump back in July to that time when they’d gotten drunk together and ended up kissing. She had told him he could tell her anything in confidentiality. If that was just a lie Henry knew he would explode.
‘I see,’ Annie still wore that official smile of hers. It frightened Henry somewhat. After that she said nothing more. That’s what frightened Henry most of all. Surely she wouldn’t hate him… for that?
‘You’re mad with me. I can tell.’
Annie truly looked surprised, ‘No, Henry. Why would I be mad with you? You told me about you and Patrick and I’m proud! I’m impressed you’re really opening up to me, so well done you!’
Now it was Henry’s turn to be puzzled; hadn’t he literally told her he was a homosexual in three minutes or less? She should be angry with him. Angry that he was gay, angry that he was doing things with boys when he was at such a young age. Didn’t she care that what he did was plain dirty and ‘wrong’ by society’s standards? ‘Then you must be real dumb.’
‘I’m not dumb, Henry,’ Annie simpered and Henry felt ridiculous himself, looking around at all her certificates and merits on the wall, ‘I’m just really happy you feel you can tell me anything. Most other patients aren’t as clear and as open as you. Not only that, but you’re also such a good listener. Why do you have such a low opinion of yourself? Hmm? I think you’re a lovely boy when you want to be, but when you’re upset about something, you get overly worked up and angry. That’s all and we’ll deal with it just like we’re dealing with your illness. Through talking.’
Henry shrugged. He was actually feeling kind of pleased with himself.
Dr Annie saw the corners of his mouth were twitching and continued; ‘I swear, I think we’ll get your treatment fixed within the next few weeks and then we can get you back to school in September. You’ll see your friends and feel less lonely then.’ Henry was certain that by the last sentence there was a hidden meaning of ‘and then you’ll finally get over that Hockstetter kid’. He wasn’t sure he liked it but thank goodness this therapy session was almost over! Over on the wall was a clock that read 3:30 pm - he had been there a little before 2 so that meant this lecture was finished. Annie quickly changed the subject to Elvis Presley (who she knew Henry idolised) before pointing out the time to him. Henry was simply glad it was done with when he caught the bus back home.
Despite being furious with his parents for taking him away from his seemingly only friend, Patrick was actually quite glad to be away from Derry. He knew if he stayed there it wouldn’t be long before the police find his secret fridge - it was starting to get unbearably rancid-smelling and he found he could smell it before he even waltzed through the dumps gates. Obviously he forgot how he’d told Dr Annie about the old Amana not long before he left. Not only that, but he was starting to get abuse not only from Henry’s older high school friends, but also from members of Derry Elementary. He was used to that of course - but began to grow wary as even people he didn’t know would taunt him for being both gay and mentally ill. Passing a young man in the streets whilst doing the weekly shop for his mother, Patrick would more than often hear the slur ‘fag’ directed at him from across the road. Giving said young man a icy, disgusted glare and sticking his middle finger up in his face, Patrick would continue on his way. Soon, Patrick grew to hate Derry and was glad to be away from it all. Kingston, Vermont was a lovely town not quite so different-looking than Derry, Maine. The Hockstetter’s new home was even better than expected yet Patrick missed his old bedroom and his garden where he used to play with Avery, before he died. The new garden was beautifully cared for and Josephine promised Patrick that he and his new friends could play in it together. Patrick had no new friends. He wasn’t interested in having new friends (or any friends at all for that matter). Instead, he spent the rest of his summer watching the wildlife in the pine forest alone, digging small holes in the forest floor and hanging out near the nearest corner shop, drinking Coke and swinging on the swing sets despite the weather being so rainy. His mother worried about him spending so much time alone - and just what was he doing by digging those holes?! - that was weird behaviour for a teen boy.
One rainy September morning when Patrick was at Junior High, Josephine left the house to see what Patrick had been doing in the forest for the remainder of his summer holiday. She knew he was lonely without that Bowers boy he was so seemingly infatuated with. She knew that for most of Patrick’s life he had no interest of being with other children. He was a loner - and that was fine by her as long as he was happy that way. Patrick hadn’t really made any new friends in his new school but had told her he prefers it that way. Josephine often worried about him during the days where he was at school. She hoped that he would settle in soon. Somewhat, she knew it was hopeless.
With the rain seeping through the branches of the trees, the sky painted a dull white-grey, Josephine tackled the forest paths, already getting lost despite being so close to home. The forest would typically smell beautiful on a rainy day, but something not-so-nice was making Josephine’s nose scrunch up with distaste. From behind was a crack of a branch snapping underfoot. The woman whipped around and her jaw dropped. ‘Patrick?! What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at school!’
Patrick’s eyes fell dark, his whole face twisted with anger and what looked like hate; ‘Mom. Why are you checking up on me all the time? This is my place to be, so don’t go here any longer.’
Josephine’s chest felt tight whenever he looked at her that way, which seemed to be a lot lately since they moved state. ‘I’m… I’m worried about you, Patty! But why are you here at this time? School doesn’t end for another five hours… Your father will get mad if he finds out you’ve been bunking off. He payed an awful lot for that school, sweetie.’
‘I hate that school, mom. I’m not going again,’ Patrick said, his face devoid of any emotion. The wind was cold and bitter, causing Josephine to huddle closer to her son. There was that terrible smell again… It seemed stronger around Patrick. Strange.
‘Patrick, I know you’re upset but would you like to continue this conversation inside the house? It’s getting awful chilly out here. I’ll make you a nice cup of cocoa and we can talk this through like adu-’
Josephine’s heart was in her mouth. Was that blood on my son’s face? Concealed by a few strands of fringe was a drying patch of blood. And again… what was that smell?!
‘What?’ Patrick asked, his innocent tone masking his general new-found hatred for his mother.
‘Have you been in a fight?’
Patrick looked confused, ‘No… Why?’
‘Your face - look, there’s blood on it,’ Josephine said, licking her fingers and rubbing at the boy’s forehead. ‘Where’s this even come from? Look, it’s really cold. We should go back inside before…’ The woman hesitated, spotting one of those holes that was actually the reason she came into the forest in the first place. A little tuft of something furry was poking from out the mound of earth, causing Josephine to shriek in shock. Creeping closer, her eyes widened to the sight of a decomposing white rabbit. It’s face was a bloodied mask of pain. Long dead. ‘Patrick!’
Patrick stood with his legs parted, his expression hard and unfeeling. He had his back to the family home and Josephine felt threatened knowing she had no getaway. But wasn’t that being ridiculous? Patrick was her son. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt her, would he?
‘Patrick, what is this?’ Josephine asked, tears springing to her eyes, her tone shuddery and weak.
Patrick sighed. He loved his mother, but her constant asking of questions was growing tiresome. ‘Mom…. I’m sorry. I just can’t seem to stop.. Killing things.’
Josephine broke down in tears. Her body slumped to the floor where Patrick uselessly watched her wail. ‘Patrick! I thought you got over this… this bad habit! Dr Annie said you’d stopped!’
‘What?! You knew about my fridge?! Annie said whatever I told her wouldn’t be repeated to my parents!’
‘Well, Patrick. Sometimes people lie and you just have to fucking get used to it!’ she hissed, motherly facade breaking down in her sadness and disappointment. Patrick was very surprised that she cursed and felt the tiniest amount of remorse. He thought he’d be able to stop too once he moved to Vermont but all through the summer he found himself digging shallow graves for small animals. To Patrick, it just didn’t give him that same rushing thrill of the Amana but it still preoccupied his sick mind with a brief flash of joy. That pleasure was all he wanted; all he needed. Patrick didn’t need friends. He didn’t need his parents. He didn’t need Henry and heck! He certainly didn’t need that mindless psychotherapist!
‘Mom, don’t get so angry with me. I’m sorry.’
‘No… I need to talk with your father. We need to get another doctor for you before this gets out of hand.’
‘Mom! It won’t get out of hand! They’re only stupid little animals! Look, they’re mindless and don’t feel any pain. Look!’ Patrick quickly scooped a little field mouse into his hands and squeezed it as hard he could. The poor little mouse’s eyes bulged momentarily before going black, dull and lifeless. His mother let out some muffled squawks of despair, burying her face into her lacy handkerchief. How could our Patrick have turned out so wrong? He’s not like myself or his father at all!
‘Stop it Patrick! Please stop! I won’t make you go back to that school so just stop! Come back in the house, I don’t want you to be alone like this anymore… It’s not good for you,’ Josephine cried, attempting to pry the dead rodent from his fingers. Patrick dropped it to the ground with a dull thud, his face still completely expressionless. His mother almost thought he was going to obey, but then… ‘No.’
‘I said no! You’re just going to make me go to the fucking doctors! They’ll take me away and you and daddy won’t love me anymore!’ Patrick tore off into the forest, his legs going almost too fast for his body and working on adrenaline alone; not caring as branches tore holes in his school clothes and scratching his pallid face, Patrick ran as far away from home as he could get without stopping. Finally, he quit running to catch his breath. His mother had slowly dawdled after him, still snivelling her eyes out and walking at a snails pace.
‘Patrick, come home…’
‘I’m calling your father! He’ll be mad that he has to come home from work and get you!’ Josephine knew that was an empty threat.
Surprisingly, Patrick stared at her blankly, his body going completely frigid. ‘Fine… I’ll come home, but please don’t call dad. He wouldn’t ever understand me like you do, mom.’ These words both charmed and frightened Mrs Hockstetter at the same time. She wanted to be a good mother and that was what she wanted ever since she was a little girl playing with baby dolls.
‘C-come here.’ Patrick’s mother held out her arms for a hug and in that moment, Patrick just didn’t feel like he could bring himself to do it.
‘I won’t ever forgive you if you get another doctor for me.’ He hesitated, ‘And I’ll always hate you. Always.’
‘F-fine… I won’t tell anyone about these animals, just promise me it won’t ever get out of hand. Promise me… you won’t ever hurt a human.’
‘Yes, like Stan. Yes, like anybody! Don’t you see how much trouble you’ll get into, Patrick! If you had killed that poor boy then you’ll have gone straight to an asylum. I won’t ever see you again. Is that what you want?’ her voice was now going shrilly, ‘Now promise me.’
‘I promise.’ Patrick had his fingers crossed behind his back.
‘Thank you… Now, lets go home. I’ll make some hot cocoa and pop tarts and you can watch TV for the rest of the day. No more school for Patrick, I guess.’ Josephine dried her reddening eyes and smiled weakly, taking her son’s hand in her own. She knew he was too old for that but didn’t care. Patrick returned her smile and let her lead him home, simply pleased that he wouldn’t have to go to Kingston Private Junior High anymore.
His father was waiting for him with a sickly, disturbing smile when he walked through the screen door. Henry almost wanted to yell at him but knew it would be best for his own safety to turn the other cheek and just go to his room. Unfortunately his father stopped in front of him before he could escape.
‘What now, daddy?’
His dad said nothing.
‘Get outta my way!’
‘That kid’s gone, hasn’t he?’
‘What ‘kid’? Make sense, dad,’ Henry growled agitatedly. He didn’t have time for this... Something had been playing on his mind ever since he set foot in Dr Annie’s office.
‘Patrick Hockstetter,’ his father drawled, testing the word luxuriously on his tongue. Obviously he’d been drinking again… ‘And good thing he left too! The fucking kid was clogging up my house being here all the time. I don’t like you having friends round unless you’re working together on the farm, you see. Now why don’t you call up Victor n’ that Reginald kid and get them to help out? Reginald…’ he scoffed, ‘What a pansy name!’
Henry narrowed his eyes - he hadn’t come all the way home just to hear his dad insult his closest friends. ‘Shut up, dad. I’m going to my room.’ Before his father could lash out, Henry had already slammed his bedroom door and flopped himself down on the ratty carpet. Again, there was that cardboard box tormenting him by it’s unknown contents. It was like an itch he just couldn’t scratch. Still, the greasy paper reeked of something disgusting - Henry wondered if it was Patrick playing a final trick on him by putting one of his dead animals in a matchbox-sized carton.
Finally working up the courage to open the brown wrapping paper, Henry slid his switchblade under the first piece of cello-tape. It broke off with a satisfying tearing noise. Next, he attacked the other side. The parcel slowly began to unravel in his hands and Henry marvelled at how nauseating it was beginning to smell. He briefly contemplated whether he was doing the right thing. Pennywise told him only to open it when the Losers were dead… But Pennywise wasn’t real… was he? Henry didn’t know what to believe. Annie wouldn’t lie would she? Not to him. Henry refused to believe Dr Annie was a liar. She seemed to be the only one that cared about him recently and Henry could feel himself wanting to be on his best behaviour for the woman. She always rewarded him with chocolate whenever he told her of something good he’d done at school or at home.
Shaking his head as he was getting distracted by thoughts of Annie, Henry got back to focusing on the real world. In his shaking hands was something smelly and leaking. Wait.. It had been perfectly dry a minute ago… Henry screamed. Now writhing in his hands was something mildly reassembling a spider. It’s mangled body was torn and bloodied, and was only about the size of Henry’s palm. He’d seen bigger spiders in the garden - but there was something horrifying about this one. Not only that, but it had five legs in total. One of them must have been ripped off some way or another. Blood seeped down his arms and dripped onto the flooring, causing Henry to blink in surprise and revulsion. He dropped the spider like a hot potato and sprinted across the room, his eyes wide with fear. Throwing a nearby book at the spider to kill it only seemed to agitate it more. To Henry’s horror, the spider scuttled away elsewhere, probably to make itself comfortable in his bed sheets. Henry shuddered violently. There was more. Still saturated in blood of unknown sources, the once brown paper held a little note:
“Dear Henry Bowers,
If you’re reading this, I would like you to know that I’m about to go into my thirty year period of hibernation. The Losers club are dead and this makes me very happy. Very happy indeed! Also that I’ll no longer be requiring your services. Thank you for all your help, bucko! Just kidding! Now, if I find out you’ve read this earlier than planned, and the Losers Club aren’t actually dead, I’m afraid I’ll have to kill you, Henry. I’ll kill you and all your friends. I know everything about everything and everyone - so I’ll know you’ve been a cheat right away, young man. You’ll float with us, Henry. Isn’t that what you’d like? It must be, because I know you haven’t actually taken care of the Losers. They’re still alive and I’m coming for you now, Henry. I’m going to kill you and your stupid friends, Henry. I’m coming right now, Henry. I’ve already taken care of the pansy boy. Better hide because I’m going to kill you! Boo! Love Pennywise the Dancing Clown :) xoxoxo”
Henry’s face slowly went from a smile to a horrified grimace in the time it took him to read the note. He cupped his face in a sudden hysteria, his whole mindset turning from disgust from earlier to absolute terror. His nails dug into his face and tears fell from his eyes as he spun on the spot, wondering what on earth he should do. An apprehension grew in his chest, making Henry just know what Pennywise had written was a promise, not just an empty threat. The way the note had gone from congratulating him to taunting him in mere seconds frightened the boy more than he could say. Had Pennywise known from the start that he wouldn’t be able to carry out his task?! And what did it mean by ‘I’ve already taken care of the pansy boy.’? A lump formed in Henry’s throat. It means Patrick’s already dead, stupid!
Henry laughed. I wanted Patrick dead and now look! Patrick has actually died! All those times he told me he couldn’t die otherwise everybody else would die right along with him… Then why aren’t I dead, Hockstetter?! Why haven’t I just dropped dead?!
Henry cried; the tears dripping down his cheeks in two steady tracks. The curtains fluttered in a sudden breeze, alerting Henry that Pennywise could be at his door any minute, just waiting to kill him and eat him up. He knew what he had to do - yet at the same time he had to admit it was cowardly and over-the-top. He couldn’t just wait for Pennywise to show up and kill him. He wouldn’t give him that satisfaction; and at the same time, it would be like dying for the Losers club - after all they did for him, all the misery they put him through! Henry laughed again. This time his voice sounded empty and hollow in the small bedroom.
‘I’m home!’ Came the familiar voice of Ronald Hockstetter from the hallway, causing Patrick to look up from the picture he was drawing, his eyes wide with a sudden bout of anxiety. Crayon clenched in hand, Patrick vowed to himself that he would run away if things got nasty. They never did of course (Ronald would never beat on his son and wife unlike Henry Bowers’ father) but Patrick still knew he had to be wary over what his mom told his dad. He wanted control, you see. Patrick loved domination over people. That was the reason he often pulled on a girl’s hair during class - to let her know just who was in charge - Patrick Hockstetter, of course! Patrick loved power…
‘Hey, honey! Welcome back. I’ve got dinner on the table just like you wanted!’ Josephine called out to him from the kitchen.
‘That’s great. Thank you, dear!’ Ronald beamed, loosening his tie and swinging it over the banister. Patrick imitated him with overly extreme hand gestures, making his voice all high-pitched and waverer-y. He grew to hate his dad most of all. He was the one that forced him to go to a private school that had lessons even on a Sunday! Ronald Hockstetter was the one that suggested he go to counselling every fortnight! ‘Oh, hey Patty. How are you?’
Patrick glared, letting him know everything wasn’t rosy in the world of Patrick Hockstetter. Quickly his mother came into the dining room where Patrick was sat drawing. An easy diversion. She pecked Ronald on the mouth and hugged him, mouthing at Patrick from behind his back to ‘act like nothing happened!’
‘Hello, daddy. How was work?’ Patrick smiled sweetly, remembering that he made a deal with his mother not to tell him of the incident with the forest animals. Ronald cocked his head in surprise (’Why, the boy never asks me how work is! What’s going on?’) before amusedly telling him work was great. Patrick replied that he was very pleased.
Throw anybody else in the situation and ask them about the Hockstetter family - they would immediately tell you they’re the sweetest, most loving family around. I can tell you right out that this is a lie. Out of the three remaining members (one had already died as an infant and one more will die only four years later) of the family, they all have their own horrible secrets. To say they are white lies would be downscaling the problem terribly. Patrick’s father knew who killed Avery Hockstetter. He wouldn’t voice the problem even if you payed him a million dollars. Patrick’s mother knew about her son’s relapse into a killing spree. She wouldn’t tell her husband if you pointed a gun at her head and yelled at her to spit out the truth. Patrick had been lying about where he was ever since the second day of Junior High began. Ever since that day he spent his ‘school time’ killing animals in the little space of forest next to his house. They should have known really… He always came home covered in the dirt from catching rabbits. Instead of being open and honest like a loving family would be, they all kept their worries inside to fester away at their psyches.
All three ate dinner together in silence, each milling over their individual problems and ailments. Josephine broke it before (once again) telling both her husband and son how great it was in their new town. Apparently you can get toilet rolls from the corner shop almost a dollar cheaper than in Derry! Wow! Patrick really didn’t care. In fact, he cared so little that he interrupted Josephine’s speech on the importance of good quality toilet rolls to show them both his latest drawing. Both parents stared. Ronald still had his fork hovering over his mouth, spaghetti curled around the fork and tomato sauce smeared on his chin.
‘Sweetie, thats…’ Josephine didn’t really have any words to describe it, it was just so disturbing.
Ronald Hockstetter was as equally lost for words but still managed to gasp out; ‘Son, who’s this boy?’
‘This is Henry, dad. This is Henry’s house.’
‘What’s going on, Patrick? Why are you acting this way?!’ his mother yelled, tears sparkling in her eyes for the second time today. ‘You can’t just do things like that and not expect us to worry!’
‘What’s wrong with it mom?’
What isn’t wrong with it would be a better question yet. In Patrick’s left-handed, child-like scribbles was a boy with greaser hair, greaser leather jackets and greaser engineer boots. He was hanging from the ceiling, his red crayon mouth still smiling despite being hung from a noose. His feet just brushed the floor. His house was on fire. There was a man dead on the floor. Patrick’s mother almost thought it was Patrick’s way of telling them he wanted to die before realising it wasn’t actually Patrick at all; it was that awful Henry Bowers, always making her son’s life hell!
Josephine rushed from the room crying. This left Patrick and his father to stare uneasily at one another.
‘Patrick. We really need to talk. I don’t think I want you going to school tomorrow - or the next day for that matter. We need to get things straightened out.’
Patrick discreetly clenched his fist in happiness under the table. This was excellent! He still said nothing and kept his cold eyes trained on his worried-sick father.
‘We need to get you another doctor.’
Patrick’s face fell. His plan hadn’t quite worked out but at least he didn’t have to go to school anymore.
‘I love you son… but I just don’t think I can deal with these… this behaviour any longer. It upsets me and it upsets your mother. All we ever want is for you to be happy but when you draw things like this…’ His father couldn’t say any more and found himself crying in front of his son. The poor man still thought the boy in the picture reassembled Patrick in some odd alter-ego way and he just wasn’t sharing the truth for fear of hurting them. Little did he know that the boy really was Henry Bowers and Patrick was simply drawing a dream he had last night.
‘I’m sorry, dad. I love you too,’ Patrick half-heard himself saying. His father stood up from the dinner table and wrapped Patrick in a bear hug. Patrick didn’t like it at all. He hated it as much as he hated Junior High. He half thought of stabbing his father there and then when he had open access to his back. That sudden thought disgusted him as soon as it was voiced by the chemicals playing havoc with his brain. How could he hurt his father who loved him so dearly? Patrick burst into tears (crocodile ones) and rested his head against his dad’s chest, telling him how sad his new school made him feel. Patrick’s dad cried and held him, promising him that he’d never make him go back there if that’s how bad it made him feel. After they had finished, Ronald went to go find his wife who was sitting quietly in the garden, snivelling to herself - and Patrick, mighty pleased with himself, went to his room grinning like a Cheshire cat, very happy that he fooled both his mom and his dad in one day just so he could get out of school! He played with his collection of dead beetles a while, making some of them talk to him in weird, bubbling voices, and lounged around on his bed thinking about his Amana back in Derry. Something in the back of his mind told him that the police had finally found it along with the nearby bush chock-a-block with corpses. He didn’t particularly care to be honest. As long as he had his new method of killing, then it was just fine by him if the police found his old death-bottle. Surely they wouldn’t know it was him? Unless of course, Henry Bowers ratted him out… Patrick knew he wouldn’t do that. Smiling, Patrick remembered the way he had Henry wrapped around his little finger the whole time. He wondered if he’d ever find somebody else so hard to manipulate and control as Henry Bowers. Everybody else was an easy toy to Patrick. A way to get pleasure. A way to get exactly what he wanted by twisting and charming his way into getting them to either love or hate him. That was what Patrick looked for in a person.
Later, Patrick’s mother came into his room whilst he was dozing with his head pressed against the foot of the bed. She laughed uneasily as he looked although he’d just fallen from a plane wreck. Patrick shot up at the sound of her voice, his eyes only just adjusting to the semi-darkness of his bedroom.
‘Look, Patrick,’ she whispered gently, sitting down next to him on his bed, ‘I’m sorry if I caused you to feel upset or ashamed earlier. I suppose you can’t help what you feel inside. Your father and I have discussed… and we think it would be best if we took you to the doctors tomorrow.’
‘So no school?’
‘For how long?’
‘As long as it takes to get you better,’ she answered in her matter-of-fact manner.
‘That’s cool,’Patrick said, relaxing on his pillows and closing his eyes. ‘Thank you mom.’
His mother was about to leave when she paused at the door. Patrick opened his eyes. ‘Can I just ask you one question?’
‘That boy wasn’t you was it?’
‘No mom! I told you already - that boy is Henry Bowers!’
‘But why is he… dead like that? Why did you draw him killing himself? Why would you do that, Patrick? Surely that’s an evil, horrible thing to do, drawing somebody you love like that.’
‘Well…’ Patrick paused, looking down at his duvet and studying the pattern, ‘It was a dream I had last night, that’s all. It doesn’t mean anything. Swear to god!’
In the dark, Josephine could tell Patrick was grinning. ‘Well, if that’s all it is… Then I guess I’m not as worried as I was before. But hey, why don’t you go back to drawing that sweet girl next door like you used to! Stephanie was she called? You know, the girl with the Great Dane.’
‘Susie,’ laughed Patrick, suddenly realising everything was cool with his mom.
‘Yes, her. She was such a pretty girl. Lovely personality too. You drew her lots because she was your girlfriend, wasn’t she?!’ Josephine teased, loving how easily Patrick got embarrassed.
‘Mom!’ Patrick whined.
‘Alright, alright! She was just the girl next door! Goodnight, Patty.’
‘Night, mom,’ Patrick smiled, relaxing knowing he had no school the next day. Whilst drifting off to sleep, Patrick’s mind briefly wondered back to Henry Bowers, wanting to know how he was getting on all the way back in Maine.
Awaking in a mixed state of pain and confusion, Henry flipped out as he had no idea where he was. He was laying in bed, but this wasn’t his bed and these certainly weren’t his bed sheets. They were far too thin, starchy and static-y to be his own. Whenever he kicked and fussed with the sheets, they gave him dull electric shocks and ripples of static. He felt ensnared in his blankets and instead pushed them to the ground. When he stood up in the almost pitch-black room, he found he was wearing these blue and white striped pyjamas which he had no memory of owning before. They were comfy and smelt clean, so Henry guessed he was at least grateful for that - but he still had no idea where he was! The curtains were open from the window next to his bed and Henry could see the fluorescent neon lights showing signs for Elderberry Hospital. He had no idea why he was in hospital. Perhaps his father had finally tried to kill him? That wouldn’t surprise the boy. Seemingly, he was the only patient in the ward, so he had nobody to ask why he was here. No night nurses strolled past for the next ten minutes and Henry could feel himself panicking, wondering what was broken. A drip was attached from the ceiling to the back of his hand and every few seconds would come some irritating beeping, booping noise. How do I turn this stupid thing off?!
‘Oh Henry! You’re awake!’ Came a stranger’s voice from the white-washed corridor. A woman stood in the doorway and flicked the light switch to on, dazzling Henry who had been sat in the dark for the past fifteen minutes. She was young, possibly in her early twenties and had a kind smile. Thank goodness for a friendly face; Henry didn’t know what he’d do if it was Pennywise that had spoken. Henry wasn’t sure how to react to the woman and instead, glowered at her in return.
‘How are you feeling, honey?’ Again, that stupid question.
‘Great,’ Henry shot back sarcastically, his expression flat. The nurse came to sit on the foot of his bed, seemingly blocking out the noise of the drip. She rearranged his cushions much to Henry’s embarrassment and asked him if he wanted anything to eat or drink. Still, this didn’t answer any of Henry’s questions so he refused to answer any of hers.
‘Henry, please don’t be difficult. We’re trying to help you, sweetheart.’
Henry was sick of all the mollycoddling he seemed to be getting an awful lot of recently. He couldn’t understand why everybody was being so kind to him when he’d done such horrible things. Instead, he leaned his head back against the pillows and asked for the time. She replied that it was almost midnight. Henry let out a sigh as he realised how tired he really was. He felt a shooting pain in his neck - probably from where his father attempted to strangle him, Henry thought. A little tag on the nurse’s pink uniform said the name ‘Jennifer’ so the boy at least knew her name.
‘Jennifer,’ he whined, wrapping his hands around his tender throat ‘My neck hurts….’
Jennifer gave him a sympathetic smile, ‘I know, sweetie. It will hurt for quite a bit but we’ve got painkillers to help with that. For now you just stay in here until you’re feeling more like yourself.’ She gave his hair a ruffle which caused him to shrink back in disgust.
‘What happened? I can’t remember why I’m in here, Jennifer. What did dad do to me?’
‘Well…’ Jennifer hesitated, wondering if it were her place to say such things, especially to a child, ‘You… you attempted to hang yourself earlier today… Your house was set on fire and the police are investigating the scene for foul-play but… Your father, he didn’t survive. I’m really sorry. He suffered stab wounds to the neck and died a couple of hours ago in the next adult’s hospital, fighting for his life.’
Henry couldn’t remember ever trying to kill himself. He certainly couldn’t remember setting his house ablaze and who killed his dad?! Sat there in the empty ward, Henry felt lonelier than he ever had before. There was a numb silence between the two before… ‘Oh.’
‘I’m sorry,’ the woman wished she could hug the boy, but feared it would be deemed ‘inappropriate’ by the authorities, ‘Is there anything you need, Henry?’
‘I just want to sleep.’
‘Well, alright then. Just ask the front desk if you need me for anything. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Goodnight, Henry. I may be back in the night to change your drip and medication.’
With that, the young woman left Henry to fall straight asleep. His dreams were a confused tangle of meaningless imagery; a switchblade, some length of rope, his dad’s lighter and the barn. At one point, the boy woke up in a cold sweat after having a vivid dream he was on fire. He half thought of calling for Jennifer but soon realised she would think he was ridiculous for calling her all that way just to be comforted from a nightmare. Instead, he sat up in bed and listened to the birds sing outside. The clock read almost 5am. He still had a lot of time to kill and knew he wouldn’t be sleeping anytime soon. Despite feeling although he’d just been haunted by a ghost, Henry had to stop himself from slipping back into a slumber. His eyelids felt heavier than lead and his limbs were going numb. At one point, he felt himself drop back off to sleep despite how much his neck was hurting - it was just so quiet and so dark. The darkness in the hospital was almost comforting unlike the darkness from the streets or the darkness at home. It felt almost although it was enveloping him with a warm, soft feeling - Henry was glad his father was no longer alive. Henry was glad he had a bed all to himself.
A sharp realisation woke him from his nap; somebody is going to die. Henry grew panicky. Somebody is dying. I can’t stop it all the way in this children’s hospital… Deep down, he knew who was going to die - Victor Criss and Belch Huggins - His dreams had been haunted by them for about a week... Before his father died, Henry couldn’t stop himself from dreaming about him - and guess what? Henry killed him. He actually took his switchblade and dug it deep into his father’s neck. Henry was a murderer and he was being treated like a prince in this weird children’s hospital far away from home! A prickly feeling formed in Henry’s stomach. It was like he wanted to be sick from all the guilt and anxiety he was feeling. Rushing to the bathroom, Henry flung himself down in front of the toilet seat without even turning on the light. In the darkness, clown faces jeered and laughed at him, making puking noises and baring their sharp teeth. The white outlines of the cross eyes ran like ink on a rainy day, causing their faces to appear like they were almost bleeding. Blood dripped onto the floor that only Henry could see as he heaved. Behind him, a light switch slowly flickered on. Turning around sheepishly and wiping his mouth, Henry saw Jennifer standing in the doorway. Only, this wasn’t Jennifer’s face. It was his father’s.