The Alp

Mayra+Kauffman+has+dealt+with+Alp+ever+since+she+was+born.+Finally%2C+Alp+has+made+her+way+into+Mayra%E2%80%99s+mind.+Set+immediately+after+Tommy%E2%80%99s+death%2C+Mayra+struggles+to+find+a+way+to+kill+Alp%2C+once+and+for+all.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Sarah+Neal%29.

Sarah Neal

Mayra Kauffman has dealt with Alp ever since she was born. Finally, Alp has made her way into Mayra’s mind. Set immediately after Tommy’s death, Mayra struggles to find a way to kill Alp, once and for all. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Neal).

She met me in a field the night after Tommy’s death. I remember the way she looked at me. She stared at me like I was a five-course meal she was ready to devour, licking her lips as she scanned my face. She was hideous. Her teeth were dark yellow daggers resting in her wicked smile. Her eyes were milky white, sunken deep into her long face. Her pure white hair was choppy and cut unevenly. Her fingers were three times longer than those of a normal human, and her skin was like burnt charcoal. She was wearing a long, worn black dress. Alp stood at twice my size and leaned down to smell the scent I gave off. 

You must be Mayra. Your bubbie told me all about you.

“Go to hell.” I snapped at her. 

She hollered at my remark. Her boney fingers reached down and tenderly touched my face. 

I’ve waited for this, Mayra. 

… 

Tommy Brynes died last week. I haven’t slept since the first time Alp appeared to me. I know how she plays with the mind of the soul who she inhabits. I won’t let her get to me. I’ve known about her since my bubbie died, and I know how she wants me dead. I still have the note she left me. Since Alp came to me, I’ve re-read it almost a dozen times, memorizing all the things Alp told my Bubbie, how she feeds off of depressive and intrusive thoughts.

How she told my grandmother to kill me.

When I walk through the halls at school, people turn and whisper about me. They say they pray for me and comment on how much I must be going through. They walk up to me with sharpies in their hands, asking if they can sign my cast. They ask how I broke it. I lie and say I fell down the stairs instead of saying that it was Tommy. I don’t want to talk to them about him.

In the middle of my physics class, my stomach turns. I cover my mouth as I become nauseous. I raise my hand high and wait for my teacher to call on me. 

“Yes, Mayra?” She asks.

“May I use the bathroom?” I grab my stomach.

“Go ahead.” She answers, then resumes her lesson. 

I rush out of the classroom and find the nearest bathroom. I throw open the door of the stall and kneel, holding my hair back. I puke out all the coffee and the little bit of food that I had in my stomach until I was just throwing up saliva. I spit into the toilet and wipe my mouth with toilet paper. I sit against the wall of the bathroom stall and flush my vomit away. I sigh, shakily stand up, and walk over to the sink. I cup my hands and fill them with water to rinse out the lingering taste in my mouth. I then splash water on my face and rub my eyes. When I open them, Alp was staring back at me instead of my reflection.

You look tired, Mayra.

“What do you want from me?” I growl at the demon.

I don’t want anything from you. I want you to sleep.

“I’m not going to listen to you. I know who you are. I know your games you piece of shit.”

What’s wrong, Mayra? Why are you so angry at me? Everything that I have done was to get to you.

“You’re a monster.”

Oh, I see. You’re upset that I killed them. That I told your bubbie to kill you, but she didn’t do it. I wish I could have witnessed your reaction when you woke up to her lifeless body.

“Shut up.” I make a fist with my broken arm.

Or is it Tommy? How I told the only person you cared about to end his own life. That I lied and said it was the only way. 

“I said shut up!” I punch the bathroom mirror and it shatters. I wail in pain as my hand starts gushing blood. I fall onto the floor and get nauseous again. I cradle my arm as I vomit all over myself, lying helplessly on the cold tile floor. 

I cry as my hand creates a pool of blood against my already soaked clothes. I didn’t notice that one of my classmates came looking for me until I heard her screaming for help.

“Oh my god, Mayra!” She rushes to my side. “Okay, everything’s going to be okay. Someone’s getting help.”

I whimper and nod my head. Through blurry vision, I see my principal run into the bathroom. 

“Everyone, get back to class now!” She yells at my classmates. “Hailey, you stay here.”

“Yes ma’am.” My classmate responds. 

Mrs. Riazzi pulls out her phone and dials a number. She starts talking to someone on the other like. After that phone call is finished, she makes another. 

“Mrs. Riazzi?” Hailey asks. “I have an extra pair of clothes in my locker, can I go get them?”

“Yes, absolutely. Hurry back.” Hailey gets up and my principal sits by my side. “Mayra, can you tell me what happened?”

“I saw her in the mirror. She started saying things to me and I got angry,” I say choppily.

“It’s okay. You’re okay. I called your mom and an ambulance. Help is on the way,” Mrs. Riazzi says softly. 

Hailey comes back with a change of clothes. Both of them help me change, and Mrs. Riazzi cleans me up with paper towels. It wasn’t long until the paramedics came to get me. Mrs. Riazzi explains the situation to them as they rush me to the ambulance outside. 

I see my mom drive into the parking lot and quickly get out of the car. “That’s my daughter!” She was screaming.

When my mom gets to me, she looks at my condition. She covers her mouth and starts crying. My principal explains what happened and the paramedic tells her about my current condition. They put me into the back of the ambulance and my mother joins me. As we ride to the hospital, the paramedics cut off my cast to see any damage and bandage my hand. They were asking my mother questions about my medical history as they were helping me. 

The paramedic looks at me concerned. “When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?” 

I hang my head and start laughing. “It’s been a while.”

She looks at my mother and knits her eyebrows.

“Over a week,” My mom clarifies. “She has… nightmares.”

The paramedic starts explaining to my mother the long term effects of not sleeping and what types of treatment I could go through. When I look up, I see Alp grinning at me. She was sitting beside my mother, who was listening intently to the paramedic’s words. 

What was that all about? 

“Go away.” I barely whisper.

Why? I just want to see you.

“Please, just leave me alone,” I say a little bit louder. 

Alp suddenly appears beside me and turns my face to meet hers. I scream as she digs her nails into my scalp. The paramedic jumps up and takes my face with her hands. She turns my head gently to look at the wound. 

“It looks like she busted her head open when she fell in the bathroom. I need to clean the-” Her voice trails off as a ringing noise overwhelms me. My vision darkens. I couldn’t see, hear, or move. I was trapped in a dark abyss. 

… 

I wake up lying in a hospital bed. My broken arm was throbbing. I look around, trying to get my bearings, but as I turned my head I felt a sharp pain. I look over at the table beside the bed and see my phone. I reach for it and check the date. 

January 3, 2020.

My eyes get wide. I was out for almost a full day. I try to move to stand but a sharp pain filled my good arm. I look down and see an IV in my upper forearm. I sit back down and press the red button on my bed, ringing for a nurse. A woman wearing purple scrubs who was sitting outside my room came in. 

“Good morning Ms. Mayra,” She says in a soft voice. “How’s your head feeling?”

“It hurts a lot.” As I speak, she starts examining my arm and head. I noticed that they changed the cast on my arm. Instead of being the normal white, it was a bright yellow.

The nurse noticed me looking at my cast. “Do you like it? The doctor let me and the other nurses choose the color.”

“It’s nice. Yellow’s my favorite color.” I tell her.

“Mine too! I have yellow scrubs at home but all the nurses get on me for wearing them all the time.” She finishes checking my head and smiles at me. “Well, Ms. Mayra, it looks like the staples are doing well. I don’t see any signs of infection. They are going to hurt for a while, but don’t worry. The doctor prescribed some pain medicine for you. If you just sit tight for a second I’ll go get your mom so that she can talk to the doctor with you.”

“Okay, thank you.”

The nurse smiles again and leaves my room. I lay my head back down carefully on the pillow. I glance over at the tv and see that Scooby-Doo was playing. It was the episode with the knight. I watch the cartoon for a few minutes and watched the gang trap the knight. I knew how the episode went as a kid, but when they took off the knight’s helmet, Alp’s face appeared. She stared right at me. I rub my eyes and she goes away. The episode proceeds as normal.

My mother walks into the room alongside the nurse who checked my head.

“Hi, мама.” 

“Oh, my baby! Как вы себя чувствуете? (How do you feel?)” She hurries to me and wraps her arms around me.

I hug her back, trying to be mindful of my arm. “I’m okay. My head hurts, but they said I can take medicine to help.”

She pulls away and looks at me, tears forming in her eyes. “Это она? (Was it her?)”

I nod my head. “I tried, мама.”

“I know, малютка. It’s okay. We just need to get you home.”

My mother turns to the nurse and starts discussing my discharge and how to get my medicine. I look back over to the tv. The episode had ended and a new show was on, one that I hadn’t seen before. Everything about it looked normal. 

Maybe I was going crazy.

After a while, they took out my IV. I got my clothes back and changed out of the hospital dress into the sweatshirt and leggings Hailey gave me. My mother walked me out to the car and we drove home. Neither of us spoke. I didn’t have anything to say. I tried to convince myself that I just had an episode. When we got home, my mother went to the kitchen to make me something to eat. I told her I wasn’t hungry and that I just wanted to go to sleep. I saw the concern in her eyes, but she let me go to my room and take a nap. The comfort of my bed welcomed me. I covered myself with my blankets and fell asleep quickly.

I met her in a room. This little wooden room only had a twin bed, a dresser, and a mirror. The bedroom had a distinct smell of pinewood and dust. Alp sat on the bed and stared at the wall. She didn’t show any sign of knowing I was with her. I slowly start walking over to her, but something in the mirror catches my eye. I turned my head and noticed that I didn’t look like myself. Her face was rounder than mine and her skin was white and very pale. Her hair was wavy and dirty blonde, much different than my dark curly hair. Her body was more blocky and muscular than mine, and her eyes were a lighter color, but her nose looked almost identical to mine. It was small and short, and the tip was slightly upturned. 

I turn to Alp. “Who am I?”

Anasasiya Chernov Kaufmann. She was 16 here. 

“Where is this?” I step closer to Alp. I noticed her eyes were cloudy and grey. Her hair was caked in dark blood. Her arms were covered in gashes and scratches. 

Belgorod, Russia. The house your Bubbie grew up in.

“Why are we here?” I take another step closer to her. She still doesn’t look at me.

This is where I stay. My spirit is tied to this location.

I give her a confused look. “Why are you telling me this?”

Alp grins. Because I know that you will come and find me.

I wake up from my nap with a growling stomach and look at the time.

1:29 pm.

I roll out of my bed and feel my head throbbing. I wobble downstairs and smell my mother’s cooking.

“It smells good down here. What did you make?

“Щи (Shchi). I know you love it, and we haven’t had it for a while.” My mother stirs the pot with a wooden spoon and scoops its contents into a bowl for me. “The nurse said you have to eat before you take the medicine.”

“Thank you Мама.” I take the bowl from her and grab a spoon from the drawer. 

I sit down at the table and my mother joins me so we can eat our lunch together. I scarf down the soup as fast as I can, even with the temperature being what it was. I hadn’t realized how hungry I was until I smelled the shchi. After I finish my bowl, I look at my mother who was slowly eating her soup.

“I saw Alp when I took my nap,” I tell her. She immediately stops eating and looks at me. “She told me she was at Bubbie’s house in Belgorod.”

My mom studies my face. “What are you planning?”

“What if I went? What if there was some way to kill her?” I say to her, staring down at my empty bowl.

“How do you want me to respond to that.”

“I want to go, Мама. She killed Bubbie, she killed Tommy, and now she’s trying to kill me,” I look up at my mother.

“I can’t let you do that,” She resumes eating her soup.

I stand up and take my bowl to the kitchen to place it in the sink. I grab my medicine out of the cabinet and take two pills. I turn around and see Alp standing in the corner of the living room. She was covered in bloody snow, shivering. She points her finger at me and motions for me to come to her. I slam the cabinet door. My mother drops her spoon and looks at me, now angry.

“I’m leaving. I don’t care what you have to say about it. Alp is in Belgorod, and that’s where I’ll be.” I go up to my room and start packing a bag, grabbing all the warm clothes I knew I needed to bring with me. I throw in my Bubbie’s journal, my phone charger, and all the money I had saved. I hear my mother running up the stairs. 

“Are you out of your mind, Mayra?” She yells at me from the doorway.

“Almost,” I tell her as I throw my bag over my shoulder and walk past her.

I go downstairs, grab her car keys off of the coffee table, and walk out the front door, locking it behind me. By the time my mother unlocks the door, I’m getting into her car. I quickly stick the keys in the ignition and turn the car on. Before she could get to the car, I put the car in reverse and back out of the driveway. I hear her screaming at me to come back, but I knew that I needed to do this. I was shaking as I drove to the airport. I kept looking in my rearview mirror and seeing Alp staring at me. I pull into the first spot as I arrive, and immediately go inside and find a desk to purchase my ticket. Luckily for me, not many people want to fly to Russia in the middle of winter. I was able to purchase my ticket to Belgorod and waited at the airport until my plane boarded. 

The plane ride there was unbearably long. There was a layover at LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International, and Sheremetyevo. Between layovers, I simply waited at the airport for my next flight. 

When I finally reached the airport in Belgorod, it was almost 7 pm. I found coffee inside, then went outside into the cold to find a cab. A man pulled over and I got into the car. The cab driver was an older man with silver hair who wore a big coat, even though the heat in the car was on.

“Куда? (Where to?)” The driver asks me.

I tell the man my Bubbie’s old address. He looks at me confused but starts driving anyway.

After a few minutes of driving in silence, he starts making small talk.

“Что привело тебя сюда? (What brings you here?)” The driver asks me.

“Я посещаю семью. (I’m visiting family.)” I tell him. 

“Откуда ты? (Where are you from?)” 

“Америка. (America.)” I tell him. He looked at me from the rearview mirror, he was surprised.

“Вы хорошо говорите за американца. Как вас зовут? (You speak well for an American. What’s your name?)

“Mayra Kaufmann.”

“Ваше имя немецкое? (Your name is German?)” 

“Да. Моя бабушка жила здесь в детстве, она вышла замуж за немца. (Yes. My grandmother lived here as a kid, she married a German man.)”

“Понимаю. (I see.)” 

After that, he stopped asking me questions. I knew he could tell that I was on edge, but he wasn’t going to say anything. As we drove further away from the city, it started to snow. Finally, he took me to the road that led to my Bubbie’s childhood home.

I get out of the cab and pay him what I owed. “Спасибо. (Thanks).”

He gave me a little wave and drove away. I shiver at the cold and grab another coat from my bag. It was my bubbies old jacket from when we used to visit our family here, but that was over 10 years ago. I walk down the snow-covered road through the forest, using my phone as a flashlight. The closer I got to the house, the harder the wind blew. By the time I reached the front door, the wind could almost knock me over. I try to open the door but it was either locked or just wouldn’t budge. I rammed my shoulder into the door and it finally gave way. I push the door close, fighting against the wind. I grab a chair from the old dining room and prop it up underneath the doorknob. 

It was now painfully quiet and cold in the old cabin. I roam around trying to find a light source, but all I could find were old lanterns. I go through the kitchen and find a few matches to light them and scatter them around the house. I set my things down in the living room and look around again. I didn’t see any sign of anyone else being there. I make my way to the staircase and slowly walk up the old wooden steps. Each step makes a creaking sound. I get to the door of my bubbie’s old room. At this point, I’m shaking. I’m not convinced that I can face Alp, or if I’ll even survive. I slowly turn the doorknob and push the door open, lifting it up so it didn’t make a sound. I expected Alp to be sitting on the bed, waiting for me, but the room was empty. 

It looked exactly like it was in my dream. It was surreal. I walk over to the mirror and look at myself. I’ve never seen myself look this tired. To be fair, I haven’t slept since before I got to the airport. That was almost 3 days ago. 

All of the sudden, the small bedroom got warmer. I took off two of the layers I was wearing, my Bubbie’s jacket and my sweatshirt, leaving me in a plain long sleeve. I turn to place my things on the bed when I feel something drip on my face. I look up and see her. Twisted like a spider on the ceiling, her head facing the wrong way to look at me. 

She was smiling.

I was frozen in horror at the sight of her. She was no longer a manifestation of my mind, she was real. She crawls down the wall and stands in front of me, her head almost touching the ceiling. She grabs my cheeks with her hand and squeezes my face. 

“Hello, Mayra.” Black saliva drips from her fangs. Tears start rolling down my face. I was still clutching onto my jackets. Alp gets closer to my face, her nails digging into my cheeks like talons. She grabs the front of my shirt with my other hand and picks me up. I drop my jackets and try to pry her nails out of my face, blood already dripping. She takes her hand, grabs my throat, and swings me around like a child playing with a. doll. She throws me into the doorway and I hit the banister. I scramble to get on my feet and run down the stairs and into the kitchen, pulling out the drawers to find something to defend myself with. I grabbed the first thing I saw, a long screwdriver. I crawl up on the counter and pull myself up to the top of the cabinets, where I lay down to hide.

“Mayra, where are you?” She sings in her horrible voice. I see her pass by the doorway to the kitchen. She stops and enters the room I’m hiding in. I take my boot off and toss it into the living room. She turns around to look at the noise. I launch myself onto her back and put her in a chokehold. She thrashes around trying to swing me off, but I wrap my legs around her chest. 

“You want to know what I realized, Alp?” I pant. “Your body’s here, and now I can kill you. Just like you killed my Bubbie and Tommy. How does it feel to suffer like you made them?”

I jab the screwdriver into her eye and she hollers. She swings me off her back and throws me on the ground, knocking the breath out of me. She crawls on top of me and pins me down, prying my weapon out of my hand. I curl my legs up and kick her in the stomach, she falls down on top of me and drops the screwdriver. She starts coughing as I struggle to reach the weapon. As I finally grab it, she slices her nails across my throat. Not wasting another second, I drive my weapon into her head and she screams. Black ooze starts spewing out of her head, and she goes limp. I roll over and wiggle out from underneath her. I grab my neck and realize it was gushing blood. I try to hold the wound she made as I fall to the ground next to her lifeless body. 

You got what you wanted. I think to myself as my vision goes black.