The Nightmare Before Christmas Fan Fiction ❯ Roots ❯ Something's Not Right ( Chapter 5 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

"Give me that knife, Jack," Squanto demanded, holding out his hand. Jack glared at him.

"Oogie already took it, stupid."

"Don't you argue with me! Give me that knife!"

"He ain't arguing with you, Injun," Oogie said blandly. "He said that I took it already. And you ain't getting it from me."

"Oh. Good. At least he's safe. Now."

Jack frowned and scratched his chest. Oogie placed a point on his shoulder.

"Easy, Jack."

"Whatever."

Jack shrugged his friend off, walking over to plop down beneath a tree. Sandy looked unsure.

"Hey, Jack, how about we go for a swim?" Eros asked.

"I have no swimwear. And from the looks of it, you don't either."

"What?"

"Bathing suits," Oogie said quietly.

"I see no need for bathing suits. We are all male here. There is nothing we have that we haven't seen before," Sandy said.

Jack hesitated before nodding. A swim sounded nice. They hurried down to the lake and stripped off before diving in. Jack stayed under for over a minute, seeing how deep he could go. He surfaced with a gasp and the others looked at him.

"You can hold your breath for a while," Squanto said with a nod.

Jack nodded. "Yes."

"Come here to the shallows Jack."

Jack obeyed, a little bit confused. Squanto had him sit cross-legged. Then he began to trace the cuts. Jack shot backwards right into Oogie, who was a short way away from the water, watching them.

"Easy, Jack," he said for the second time.

"He…he touched it!"

"Even your legs?" Sandy asked, sounding horrified.

"Yeah! So what?"

"How could you?"

Something slid into his hand and he saw the knife, unsheathed. He looked up at Oogie gratefully then held the blade up.

"Like this."

Rather self-consciously, he drew the blade over his wrist, prompting blood to bubble up. They all cried out in horror.

"Where did you get that?" Bunny demanded, hopping out and standing on his hind legs.

"I just gave it to him," Oogie said.

"How could you?!" Sam demanded. "After that big fuss you made over him cutting, now you're willingly giving him a knife?"

"Well, if I don't let him use a knife every once in a while, he uses rocks, and those make a person sick."

"He needs to just stop!" Sam spat.

"That isn't going to happen. The last time Jack was human, we got him down to a few cuts every three days. That's what we're aiming for. Right now he's going to need to cut every day, every few hours."

"That's not—"

Oogie interrupted. "I know you all enjoy a good pipe every once in a while. Ever try to stop smoking?"

"Once or twice," Sandy said, and the others nodded, though they all clearly meant more than once or twice.

"Just like it's hard to stop smoking, it's hard to stop cutting. Jack's addicted to the pain. To him, pain is pleasure in this form. So don't judge him for his cutting. Just like you stop smoking a little at a time, Jack stops cutting a little at a time. But he can't just cut all he wants. He must be supervised. And he understands that. He'll have good days where he'll need only one or two slices, or maybe none at all, and then he'll have bad days when he'll steal a knife and cut himself up like one of those turkeys you eat on Thanksgiving. Yelling at him won't change anything. He needs patience and understanding more than anything. And if you can't give him that, then you are not to mention his cutting at all. You leave all of that to me, understand?"

They all stared at him, considering his words. Sandy stood and walked over to kneel by Jack, who hid the blade behind his back. Oogie watched him carefully.

"If there is one thing I can understand, it's having a hard time with an addiction. Smoking is a big problem in my wife's book, and she wants me to stop, but I can't help it. I will help you, Jack. Just promise me that you'll try."

Jack nodded. "But it doesn't mean I'll succeed."

Once Oogie had translated, Sandy nodded.

"I did not ask you to succeed, though that is our goal. I asked you to try."

Jack smiled and nodded, toying with the knife. With a twirl, he slit his chest before raising the blade to his throat.

"You do that and you're giving me the knife back," Oogie said plainly.

"I'm making a point."

"As long as that point doesn't get near your carotid artery, I don't care."

"Carotid…What's that?" Eros asked.

"Major artery in the throat. Cut that and you bleed out fast. There's also the femoral arteries in the thighs that he's not allowed to cut near. Notice how his inner thighs are clear of cuts. He knows better than to cut in those spots."

"You seem really knowledgeable about where he's not to cut," Sam said slowly, watching as Jack lightly slit his other wrist.

"I learned all I could after he almost died on me. I am in charge of where he cuts, and, usually, when he cuts. He knows that, which is why he didn't tell me he was cutting again."

"Sorry, Oogie," Jack muttered, drawing the blade across his outer thigh.

"Two more, Jack."

Jack made a face, but didn't comment. The last two cuts were long ones then, with no argument whatsoever, he crawled over to the water and cleaned then blade. Standing up, he held the knife handle first out to Oogie, though they could see the reluctance in his eyes. Oogie smiled in approval, something the others hadn't really ever seen, and he took the knife into his burlap. Jack watched it go longingly.

"C'mon, Creepy, don't even think about it. Go have a swim. Wash off the blood."

Jack snorted as he drew his hand through his chest wounds. With the others watching, he licked a path from the base of his palm to the tips of his fingers. They paled.

"That…is disgusting," Bunny said, looking ill.

"Says the pathetic little bastard who eats grass," Jack said then licked his hand again.

"…What did he say?"

Oogie smirked and shrugged innocently. "I didn't catch it." They glared at him as Jack slipped past them to dive into the water, washing off the red substance and cooling himself off. He wanted the knife. Badly. No, Jack, he thought to himself, think of something else. Anything else. Don't focus on the bad, focus on the good. Sally! Think about Sally! No, wait, bad idea. He was naked in a pool with others around. Not smart.

That thought about Sally made him pause. He hadn't once thought about Halloween Town, which was odd. He was their leader, wasn't he? So why wasn't he thinking about his citizens? He turned to face the others, studying them. They hadn't mentioned their Holidays once. Not even in passing. That made Jack alarmed. He stood and rushed out of the water, snatching up his clothing, only stopping to slide his pants on.

"Jack! Jack where are you going?" Sandy asked.

Jack ran like the wind, the air feeling chilled against his wet skin. He found the fire pit that he had dug on his first day there then followed memory back to the cave. There was only one problem. There was no cave. Jack swore. Something was keeping them from thinking about their Holidays, their responsibilities, their loved ones, including their wives. There was magic afoot.

Jack took a long walk, pondering what was going on. There was obviously a magical superpower manipulating them. Did the other leaders even remember their Holidays? Jack was worried. If it had been two weeks ago, he would have thought it was Oogie…Say, that was odd, too! Suddenly it made sense. He and Oogie had been at odds, admittedly on and off, for almost two thousand years. They fall down a hole and now they're all friendly again, with no strife, no problems. It was great, but it was also horrible now that Jack realized it. Their entire relationship was a lie! Jack began to cry.

"Jack? What's wrong?"

Jack looked up to see Oogie, which prompted him to cry harder, sitting down as emotion overwhelmed him. Oogie was there in a moment, curling his arms around him.

"Creepy? What's wrong?"

Jack looked up miserably. "I don't want to tell you."

Oogie's features softened. "You cut again. Where?"

Jack shook his head. "No. I didn't. This is worse. Much worse."

The bogeyman frowned. "What is it, Creepy?"

Jack stood and walked away from him and, in a shaky voice, began to brokenly tell Oogie the truth.


Chapter 4
Chapter 6
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