The room was dark and empty, a spare room that I hadn’t had the chance to do anything with. The electricity had gone out sometime earlier that night, so I had no way to tell time and no source of light except for the flashlight in my hand, my lighter, and the candle I had brought just in case. I was sitting with my back in the far corner of the room, flashlight pointed straight at the door on the other side of the room. The beam of light danced on the wall across from me as my hands shook, terrified all though I had no idea what had been stalking me that day.
It started as I was coming back to the old house from the store. I didn’t have a care, so I biked, carrying my groceries in two plastic bags in a crate hooked up to the rear of my bike. When I got home I noticed that I was missing a bag of groceries; it must have fallen off when I was riding home. Thinking it nothing more than unfortunate luck, I picked up the one bag and headed inside; after all, I could do without canned goods for a few days. I opened the door and almost immediately tripped on something piled in a heap at the foot of my door just inside the house. The groceries from the bag I was holding flew into the air and scattered as the hit the ground; when I looked back to see what had tripped me there was a sloppy pile of canned food.
Since I never locked my door, I simply dismissed it as a Good Samaritan act from someone who lived in the area and was too shy to introduce themselves. I picked up all the food and stowed it away in the kitchen. It was getting to be about nighttime, so I headed upstairs to my bedroom, got a good book, flipped the switch on the bedside lamp and entrenched myself in a good story. As the night went on I started to hear weird noises coming from downstairs in the kitchen. I told myself it was just my imagination, because every time I would notice the sounds they would stop, and when I went back to the story they would pick up again. My imagination would do that to me from time to time.
Before I was able to finish my chapter, the lamp light flickered out. I put my book down, still open and pages down to save my spot, and went to turn on the main light. Unfortunately, it didn't come on either… the power was out. As I tried to remember where the circuit breaker was, the noises from downstairs resumed. It sounded like someone rummaging around in my kitchen.
I grabbed a flashlight from the nightstand drawer, a bat from underneath my bed, and headed downstairs, each of the steps creaking on my way down. When I got to the kitchen, the noises stopped. Bat ready, I pointed my flashlight all around to see where the intruder was, but saw no one. What I did see was the canned food I had recently put away was stacked neatly in a pyramid fashion just beneath the kitchen table.
I swallowed hard, thinking that someone was either playing some prank, or some sick, twisted game. Slowly I crept towards the table, feet wet from orange juice and milk that had been spilled on the floor. When I got close to the table, I could hear breathing coming from beneath it. I stooped down to look, but saw nothing. Slowly I reached out to touch the pyramid of cans; as soon as my handmade contact the cans scattered. It was as if something burst through them, scattering them in all directions. I fell back onto the soaked floor and dropped the flashlight. As I frantically grasped for the light I heard the sound of feet splashing through the puddles on the floor and run out of my kitchen. I got up and slowly followed the footprints made of the juice and milk mixture. What struck me as odd was that they weren't human footprints; they were the same width and length, but the toes were much longer, almost as long as fingers. I followed them towards the front door where they disappeared.
I relaxed a little, just thankful that whatever it was was gone, but I didn’t loosen my grip on the bat. Slowly I walked backwards towards the stairs again, planning on locking myself up in my room and waiting till morning. As I did, it sounded like something wet hit the wooden floor in front of me. I pointed my flashlight down at the floor and my heart stopped. There was a new footprint, this one pointed at me. I took another step back; another wet slap, another footprint.
I turned and ran, tripping up the stairs but making it up to my room. I slammed the door shut, locked it, and pushed the bed up against it, knocking my book down in the process. I set the bat down on the bed for a second and grabbed a lighter and candle out of my nightstand, just in case I would need it. That’s when I heard the first squeak; whatever it was, it was mounting the first step in the staircase.
Frantically, I ran to the opposite side of the room, where there was a door that led to a spare room. Upon hearing the second step creak I threw open the door, which didn’t have a lock, ran inside and headed to the far corner. I sat there quietly, breathing heavily, heart pounding in my ears. I realized that I left my bat on the bed, but was convinced by the creaking of the third and fourth step that it wasn’t worth going out to get it.
And I sat there, counting the steps as they creaked. Six… seven… eight… nine… ten. It was getting closer.
My hands shook as a tear ran down my cheek. What was going on?
Fifteen… sixteen… seventeen.
I tried to control my breathing; after all, I was trying not to be found.
Nineteen… twenty… twenty-one.
My heart pounded louder, sweat flattened my hair to my head, and the shaking became worse.
Twenty-two… twenty-three… twenty-four.
My knuckles were white as I clenched the flashlight, whose beam was now dancing all over the wall and rarely landing on the door.
Twenty-five… It had reached the second floor.
Slowly the footsteps got closer as it approached my room. I heard the lock turn, the door creak open and the bed scrape across the floor. I heard the bat rattle against the wood as it fell off the bed, and still the footsteps continued; pages turned as whatever it was picked up my book and looked through it, then came a thud as it dropped it. It began to rummage through my drawers and my sheets, as if looking for something.
Then, everything went still and quiet. The silence was only broken by my quiet sobs and heavy breathing, and the pounding of my heart. It stayed like this for what seemed like a few minutes, and the footsteps continued, closing the distance between it and the spare room.
The door slowly creaked open, lingering ajar momentarily; my heart was ready to leap out of my chest, my mouth was dry, and sweat stuck my clothes to my skin. This was it, I thought.
As I waited for something to come into the room, nothing happened. Again came the excruciating silence, this time lasting for what felt like hours and hours on end. Nothing happened, and I was starting to believe that whatever it was had lost interest and left. Still I sat in my corner, flashlight trained on the door opposite of me, slowly returning to a calmer state of mind.
After God knows how long, my flashlight flickered out leaving me in complete darkness. Frantically I reached for the lighter and flicked it on. My gaze shot towards the door, still nothing. I looked around the room…nothing. Slowly I got up and crossed the room to the door. I closed it and sat with my back against it, just in case.
Still the silence reigned.
Finally, I let out a sigh of relief. It was gone. I went to flip the light switch, but still the power was out. So I lit the candle instead, and that’s when I became aware of something standing in the opposite corner of the room. My heart froze in my chest, and my lungs refused to work. It hadn’t been there before, but it was now. In a frenzy to get up and run I had knocked the candle over and it went out. I gripped the door handle, but it wouldn’t budge. I was stuck, locked inside with God knows what.
I searched the floor for the lighter and flicked it on; I looked around, but the being was gone. Again, I was alone. Breathing heavily I found the candle, all the while keeping my gaze on the far corner where it had been just moments before. Once I brought the lighter to the wick and life was breathed into the candle, it reappeared in the far corner, exactly as it had before. The candle gave it away.
The first thing I noticed were its feet, flat, long, and bony. Its body was built the same way, abnormally skinny like a holocaust victim, just skin wrapped in bone. It was short, too, like a child; it only came up to my waist, if that. Its knobbly arms were just long enough that its long, skinny fingers reached the ground as it stood straight up. It worse the remains of a tattered old gray cloak draped over its shoulders.
Its face was something that is beyond words to describe. As best I can, it was bald, pale, and had no ears or nose that I could see. The mouth was thin and lacked proportion, much like the rest of its body. And the eyes…the eyes were round and lifeless, black orbs that simply reflected the candlelight.
As I stared at it its eyes seemed to calm me down. My heart rate slowed, my breathing steadied, and the urge to run faded away. Something about its eyes kept me gazing into them, unable to move, not wanting to if I could.
I began to realize that it had followed me for quite some time. Not just since the grocery store, but it had been there when I was a child, watching me, waiting for me. It had followed me since then, and it had a purpose for me; I could feel it’s gaze drawing me in, helping me realize that I belonged with it.
It stepped forward, slowly putting one foot in front of another, dragging its fingers across the ground. It came right up next to me, its gaze never leaving mine; as I stared down at it, and it up at me, it slowly raised one arm, holding out its long, thin hand. Its fingers were about twice my size, and I knew that normally this would be something to be afraid of. But as I gazed into the light reflected off its eyes, I began to forget my name, my past, and myself. I took its hand, and it patted my hand with its other hand. It took the candle and led me out the door, down the stairs, and out into the yard. Together we walked down the street and up to the forest, the candle lighting our path.
I stopped at the edge of the woods and looked back at the city. The creature tugged on my arm, insisting that I follow. I looked into its eyes and all of the worries were gone. Somehow I knew I had to hurry, because the others were waiting. I was not first one he had found, nor would I be the last. I was going to join the others.
I kept on walking, following the path that it led me down, lit by a mixture of candle and moonlight. As we strode the wind picked up and the candle was blown out; it dropped to the forest floor with a thud. I looked around frantically for my guide, but it had disappeared. Still, there was the grip on my hand, pulling me down the path lit by the moonlight.
I would never be seen again.