Assembly Required
rating: +2+x

"Happy Birthday!"

Everyone was smiling. Their clean, young, happy faces squinted in the flash of cameras as Jake blew out his candles. It wasn't every day that this remarkable man would turn 5. No, it was more or less only today that that would happen. Lovely. Jake had two very nice young parents, Dan and Jan, and they'd bought him a present.

Of course, they didn't just buy him the one. There was an RC car here, some big-boy boxers there, really all sorts of things in every nook and cranney of the home. They loved him very much.

But there was one toy in particular, one which Jake had been very vocal about.

He pawed through the piles of wrapping and cardboard, sniffing like a beast at bay. This was his hunt, and he'd soon have his prize in hand. Just as soon as he could find it. His hands damp with sweat and his breath heavy, little Jake reached into the remains of a box which had once held a sweater from grandma, and beheld it.

Jake's eyes widened, and he pressed his face against the plastic. It was his. The creepy crawler set, before anyone else had it. It was his. Quickly ripping into the poor cardboard, he undid the twist ties and pushed the gel packs out of their holders, and the oven onto the tile floor.

Dan smiled behind him. He looked down to his son expectantly.

Jake looked up, his face as serious as it could be with such tender young cheeks. "I wanna do it now."


They couldn't set it up right away, mostly because Jake liked to touch and Dan liked to just get things set up straight away. Unfortunately, simple logic could not reconcile this to Jake, and he refused to stop his helping. Thus, when it was finally set up and ready, night had fallen.

"Alright… buddy, we need to do this tomorrow. It's too late now."

"Dad! No!"

"I'm sorry, but you've just taken too long for us to get things done. We can do it tomorrow, okay?"

"No!"

His father frowned firmly. "It's bedtime."

Grabbing his son's wrists, he pulled him, half-coming along and half-kicking and screaming, upstairs to the bedroom. "I don't want to hear another peep tonight, you got that?"

His son, now safely on the floor in his room, sulked and nodded. With his head bowed, he shuffled into his bed, pulled the covers over his head, and turned away from the door. Dad flicked off the light switch, and closed the door. Jake waited as his father pretended to walk to his bedroom, waited a moment to watch Jake's door, then went to the master bedroom.

Jake counted as high as he could, to fifty-nine, then slowly climbed out of bed. He was an expert at this sort of thing.

Tiptoeing down the stairs, he easily laid his eyes upon his prize. It almost seemed to glow in the moonlight, and the glittering letters beckoned him like a cardboard sirens call.

Assemble Yourself!!!

He greedily took one, two, three bounding (but quiet) steps to his gift. Opening the box, he saw the myriad of pieces scattered around. Jake grabbed the torso, and began putting it together.

In the darkness, he couldn't see as his flesh faded in pallor, or how his bones twisted and snapped into themselves. He couldn't see his face's reflection in the brass, as his cheeks sunk in and his eye cavities caved in on themselves.

By the time he knew what was wrong, it was too late to scream.


The next morning, Jake saw his father walk out of the bedroom, pick him up, and frown. He wanted to shout to his dad, tell him he was there.

Instead, Jake could only blink as the men in black came from behind his dad, and threw a bag over his head.

As the man picked him up, stuffing him in a sack, he heard his mother scream from upstairs.

It was the last thing he ever heard.

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