The Shining

Part Five. Matters of Life and Death Chapter 52. Wendy and Jack


Wendy risked another glance over her shoulder. Jack was on the sixth riser, clinging to the banister much as she was doing herself. He was still grinning, and dark blood oozed slowly through the grin and slipped down the line of his jaw. He bared his teeth at her.
"I'm going to bash your brains in. Bash them right to fuck in." He struggled up another riser.
Panic spurred her, and the ache in her side diminished a little. She pulled herself up as fast as she could regardless of the pain, yanking convulsively at the banister. She reached the top and threw a glance behind her.
He seemed to be gaining strength rather than losing it. He was only four risers from the top, measuring the distance with the rogue mallet in his left hand as he pulled himself up with his right.
"Right behind you," he panted through his bloody grin, as if reading her mind. "Right behind you now, bitch. With your medicine."
She fled stumblingly down the main corridor, hands pressed to her side.
The door to one of the rooms jerked open and a man with a green ghoulmask on popped out. "Great party, isn't it?" He screamed into her face, and pulled the waxed string of a party-favor. There was an echoing bang and suddenly crepe streamers were drifting all around her. The man in the ghoulmask cackled and slammed back into his room. She fell forward onto the carpet, full-length. Her right side seemed to explode with pain, and she fought off the blackness of unconsciousness desperately. Dimly she could hear the elevator running again, and beneath her splayed fingers she could see that the carpet pattern appeared to move, swaying and twining sinuously.
The mallet slammed down behind her and she threw herself forward, sobbing. Over her shoulder she saw Jack stumble forward, overbalance, and bring the mallet down just before he crashed to the carpet, expelling a bright splash of blood onto the nap.
The mallet head struck her squarely between the shoulder blades and for a moment the agony was so great that she could only writhe, hands opening and clenching. Something inside her had snapped-she had heard it clearly, and for a few moments she was aware only in a muted, muffled way, as if she were merely observing these things through a cloudy wrapping of gauze.
Then full consciousness came back, terror and pain with it.
Jack was trying to get up so he could finish the job.
Wendy tried to stand and found it was impossible. Electric bolts seemed to course up and down her back at the effort. She began to crawl along in a sidestroke motion. Jack was crawling after her, using the roque mallet as a crutch or a cane.
She reached the comer and pulled herself around it, using her hands to yank at the angle of the wall. Her terror deepened-she would not have believed that possible, but it was. It was a hundred times worse not to be able to see him or know how close he was getting. She tore out fistfuls of the carpet napping pulling herself along, and she was halfway down this short hall before she noticed the bedroom door was standing wide open.
(Danny! O Jesus)
She forced herself to her knees and then clawed her way to her feet, fingers slipping over the silk wallpaper. Her nails pulled little strips of it loose. She ignored the pain and halfwalked, half-shambled through the doorway as Jack came around the far corner and began to lunge his way down toward the open door, leaning on the roque mallet.
She caught the edge of the dresser, held herself up against it, and grabbed the doorframe.
Jack shouted at her: "Don't you shut that door! Goddam you, don't you dare shut it!"
She slammed it closed and shot the bolt. Her left hand pawed wildly at the junk on the dresser, knocking loose coins onto the floor where they rolled in every direction. Her hand seized the key ring just as the mallet whistled down against the door, making it tremble in its frame. She got the key into the lock on the second stab and twisted it to the right. At the sound of the tumblers falling, Jack screamed. The mallet came down against the door in a volley of booming blows that made her flinch and step back. How could he be doing that with a knife in his back? Where was he finding the strength? She wanted to shriek Why aren't you dead? at the locked door.
Instead she turned around. She and Danny would have to go into the attached bathroom and lock that door, too, in case Jack actually could break through the bedroom door. The thought of escaping down the dumb-waiter shaft crossed her mind in a wild burst, and then she rejected it. Danny was small enough to fit into it, but she would be unable to control the rope pull. He might go crashing all the way to the bottom.
The bathroom it would have to be. And if Jack broke through into there-
But she wouldn't allow herself to think of it.
"Danny, honey, you'll have to wake up n-"
But the bed was empty.
When he had begun to sleep more soundly, she had thrown the blankets and one of the quilts over him. Now they were thrown back.
"I'll get you!" Jack howled. "I'll get. both of you!" Every other word was punctuated with a blow from the roque hammer, yet Wendy ignored both. All of her attention was focused on that empty bed.
"Come out here! Unlock this goddam door!"
"Danny?" she whispered.
Of course... when Jack had attacked her. It had come through to him, as violent emotions always seemed to. Perhaps he'd even seen the whole thing in a nightmare. He was hiding.
She fell clumsily to her knees, enduring another bolt of pain from her swollen and bleeding leg, and looked under the bed. Nothing there but dustballs and Jack's bedroom slippers.
Jack screamed her name, and this time when he swung the mallet, a long splinter of wood jumped from the door and clattered off the hardwood planking. The next blow brought a sickening, splintering crack, the sound of dry kindling under a hatchet. The bloody mallet head, now splintered and gouged in its own right, bashed through the new hole in the door, was withdrawn, and came down again, sending wooden shrapnel flying across the room.
Wendy pulled herself to her feet again using the foot of the bed, and hobbled across the room to the closet. Her broken ribs stabbed at her, making her groan.
She brushed the hung garments aside frantically; some of them slipped their hangers and ballooned gracelessly to the floor. He was not in the closet.
She hobbled toward the bathroom and as she reached the door she glanced back over her shoulder. The mallet crashed through again, widening the hole, and then a hand appeared, groping for the bolt. She saw with horror that she had left Jack's key ring dangling from the lock.
The hand yanked the bolt back, and as it did so it struck the bunched keys. They jingled merrily. The hand clutched them victoriously.
With a sob, she pushed her way into the bathroom and slammed the door just as the bedroom door burst open and Jack charged through, bellowing.
Wendy ran the bolt and twisted the spring lock, looking around desperately. The bathroom was empty. Danny wasn't here, either. And as she caught sight of her own bloodsmeared, horrified face in the medicine cabinet mirror, she was glad. She had never believed that children should be witness to the little quarrels of their parents. And perhaps the thing that was now raving through the bedroom, overturning things and smashing them, would finally collapse before it could go after her son. Perhaps, she thought, it might be possible for her to inflict even more damage on it... kill it, perhaps.
Her eyes skated quickly over the bathroom's machine-produced porcelain surfaces, looking for anything that might serve as a weapon. There was a bar of soap, but even wrapped in a towel she didn't think it would be lethal enough. Everything else was bolted down. God, was there nothing she could do?
Beyond the door, the animal sounds of destruction went on and on, accompanied by thick shouts that they would "take their medicine" and "pay for what they'd done to him." He would "show them who's boss," They were "worthless puppies," the both of them.
There was a thump as her record player was overturned, a hollow crash as the secondhand TV's picture tube was smashed, the tinkle of windowglass followed by a cold draft under the bathroom door. A dull thud as the mattresses were ripped from the twin beds where they had slept together, hip to hip. Boomings as Jack struck the walls indiscriminately with the mallet.
There was nothing of the real Jack in that howling, maundering, petulant voice, though. It alternately whined in tones of selfpity and rose in lurid screams; it reminded her chillingly of the screams that sometimes rose in the geriatrics ward of the hospital where she had worked summers as a high school kid. Senile dementia. Jack wasn't out there anymore. She was hearing the lunatic, raving voice of the Overlook itself.
The mallet smashed into the bathroom door, knocking out a huge chunk of the thin paneling. Half of a crazed and working face stared in at her. The mouth and cheeks and throat were lathered in blood, the single eye she could see was tiny and piggish and glittering.
"Nowhere left to run, you cunt," it panted at her through its grin. The mallet descended again, knocking wood splinters into the tub and against the reflecting surface of the medicine cabinet
(!! The medicine cabinet!!)
A desperate whining noise began to escape her as she whirled, pain temporarily forgotten, and threw the mirror door of the cabinet back. She began to paw through its contents. Behind her that hoarse voice bellowed: "Here I come now! Here I come now, you pig!" It was demolishing the door in a machinelike frenzy.
Bottles and jars fell before her madly searching fingerscough syrup, Vaseline, Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo, hydrogen peroxide, benzocaine-they fell into the sink and shattered.
Her hand closed over the dispenser of double-edged razor blades just as she heard the hand again, fumbling for the bolt and the spring lock.
She slipped one of the razor blades out, fumbling at it, her breath coming in harsh little gasps. She had cut the ball of her thumb. She whirled around and slashed at the hand, which had turned the lock and was now fumbling for the bolt.
Jack screamed. The hand was jerked back.
Panting, holding the razor blade between her thumb and index finger, she waited for him to try again. He did, and she slashed. He screamed again, trying to grab her hand, and she slashed at him again. The razor blade turned in her hand, cutting her again, and dropped to the tile floor by the toilet.
Wendy slipped another blade out of the dispenser and waited.
Movement in the other room-
(?? going away??)
And a sound coming through the bedroom window. A motor. A high, insectile buzzing sound.
A roar of anger from Jack and then-yes, yes, she was sure of it-he was leaving the caretaker's apartment, plowing through the wreckage and out into the hall.
(?? Someone coming a ranger Dick Hallorann??)
"Oh God," she muttered brokenly through a mouth that seemed filled with broken sticks and old sawdust. "Oh God, oh please."
She had to leave now, had to go find her son so they could face the rest of this nightmare side by side. She reached out and fumbled at the bolt. Her arm seemed to stretch for miles. At last she got it to come free. She pushed the door open, staggered out, and was suddenly overcome by the horrible certainty that Jack had only pretended to leave, that he was lying in wait for her:
Wendy looked around. The room was empty, the living room too. Jumbled, broken stuff everywhere.
The closet? Empty.
Then the soft shades of gray began to wash over her and she fell down on the mattress Jack had ripped from the bed, semiconscious.