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"Psychiatrists say that when something very emotionally or mentally disturbing happens to a person, their brain comes up with ways to cope. In some cases the brain will block out an entire memory, or sometimes it will find a way to twist the memory into something less harmful. For instance, a person with a severe fear of storms may have been left alone during one as a child. They may not specifically remember the incident so the brain covers the memory with a simple fear."

As I read through the paragraph a thought struck me. Is there a way to unmask what the fear was caused by? I was sitting alone at a table in the public library, a stack of psychology books beside me. Was it possible my fear of the dark was more than just me being a sissy? Questions ran through my brain, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.

Maybe something had happened to me when I was little. I decided I would ask my aunt Jude when I got home. A thought struck me, what if my parents’ death had something to do with it? I quickly shoved the thought out of my head. My parents had died of cancer when I was two and that was that. Although the little detail that stuck in my mind was that it was unusual for both my parents to have cancer at the same time.

I looked at my watch, it was getting late and Aunt Jude would be expecting me home. I decided to check out the psychology book, it had some helpful stuff in it. I shoved it in my backpack and started walking home. I looked up at the sky, realizing in dismay I had misjudged the time. It was starting to get dark.

I glanced around nervously; there was no one around. I kept walking, a small knot in my stomach growing as the sun went down. Every time I was in the dark, weird things happened to me. It would be a prickling on the back of my neck, or a chill down my spine, like I could sense someone watching me. My eyes shifted all over the road in front of me. It was just a few more blocks to my house, but I had a feeling of dread.

All the sudden I couldn’t move. It was like I was frozen to the spot. My breath caught in my throat as I realized there was something in the alley beside me. Slowly I turned my head to the right. Nothing. Nothing was there but an empty trashcan.

I sighed with relief. You are such a retard, I thought. I kept walking fast down the road, pausing only to turn left at the stop sign. I glanced up; it was full-on darkness now. I felt my blood run cold when I realized that this was when I would always see them.

The shadows. I had never told anyone I could see them. They were like a twisting black curl of smoke in the corners of my eyes. They mostly stayed where they were unless I directly looked at them. Then they would shrink back into the darkness. They weren’t what I was afraid of though. I was scared of the Mist. The darkness of the Mist was incomparable to any blackness I’d ever seen. It was thick like wet smoke and pooled on the ground. It seemed to suck the light out of anything it touched.

I started to feel my skin tingle all over and the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I glanced behind me and saw something that keeps me from sleeping to this day. I will never be able to rid my mind of the horrible things that happened that night. It was a girl, maybe eleven, with long black hair. But that was where human similarities ended. Her neck was twisted at such an angle that it was almost upside down, and her skin was rotted and falling onto the ground around her. Where her eyes should have been were black gaping holes, as if someone had torn her eyes from their sockets. And yet they seemed to still see me. She looked into my eyes and it was as if I’d been paralyzed. I was frozen solid and I couldn’t look away from those burning sockets. Time seemed to slow down and suddenly she was an inch away from me, but her eyes had never left mine. That’s when I noticed the Mist starting to pool around my feet. I could feel it, almost as if it were sucking the life out of me.

She did nothing but keep staring into my eyes. Up close, I could see I had been wrong, she had eyes but they were as black as the Mist. I couldn’t see anything in them; it was like looking into tar. She slowly opened her mouth and a long thick tongue snaked its way out and started to come towards my left eye. I felt a sick feeling of Déjà vu, and suddenly I had a flashback.

I was two years old, sitting with my parents in the living room. They were reading me a story together when suddenly the lights went out. This wouldn’t have been unusual, but the whole house was pitch black. It was as if all the light in the world was gone. Then she appeared. The thing that was in front of me now had been in my house before. She stood in front of my parents, freezing them to the spot. Then slowly her tongue slipped out of her mouth. It was pointed on the end and was slowly moving towards my father’s eye.

Screaming. The horrible gurgling screaming of a caught animal.

All I remember after that was a lot of blood and both my parents lying still on the ground. All the while, I remember, her tongue came closer and closer to my eye. I could see little spikes along the end of it. I tried to blink and shield myself when suddenly her tongue tore into my eye. I could feel it being ripped out of the socket. Pain seared through my face and head, a warm wetness sliding down my face. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t move. Burning pain tore through my head as she tore out my other eye.

Blackness. All over me. I could no longer see, but I knew that even if I had eyes, the Mist would be blinding me anyways, the thickness choking and surrounding me. Then I felt something I will forever remember. The girl's tongue was sliding along my stomach. Oh no, I thought. This can’t be happening. My blood ran cold. I felt the spikes run along my ribs and draw back. I was about to sigh with relief when suddenly her tongue was jammed up under my ribs. It was agony. I had never felt pain anywhere close to this. I heard a loud cracking and my head started to fog. I could feel her tearing me apart from the inside, pulling my organs out through my ribs. It was too much to bear and I lost consciousness.

I don’t remember waking up. I don’t remember the paramedics saying I was mauled by a mountain lion. I don’t remember anything but her eyes burning into mine. I do not know why I survived, but I must warn you now. You are no longer safe. She will come for you. When you go to bed at night, she will be watching. Shadows will flicker in your vision and the Mist will follow them. Keep the lights on. Whenever you are in the dark she will be there in the shadows, following your every move. She will be waiting for you every time you turn off the lights at night before bed. I must go. This is all I can tell you, but remember, don’t turn out the lights.

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