Almost all of us have been afraid of walking around in the dark without so much as the light of a candle nearby, afraid that something would come out of the darkness. Almost all of us would rush up the stairs to the lit hallway above when we would turn off the lights in the basement, afraid that something would grab us by the ankle and pull us back down. And almost all of us had gotten rid of this fear as we got older; written it off as just our over-active, childish imaginations running wild. Because monsters don't exist. Right? I used to think so too.

It was just another evening. I had gone with the lads to our favourite bar and after knocking back a few drinks we headed out again to see if there were any fine ladies out that night. Some of my friends had already managed to get dead drunk and were spouting the first things that came to their minds, most of which were nonsense. One of the few things that one of them managed to express in an intelligible sentence was his foolish fear of going out in the street at night as a kid since there had been no streetlamps in his street. Laughing, I said that his fear had most likely been his sixth sense warning him of the monsters that were out there and telling him that the only place where he would be safe was under his blanket with his teddy bear. A roar of laughter erupted from each of us and I continued on, saying that maybe there are monsters hiding under our beds after all and that they nibble on us little by little so that we don't even notice it and that all those bruises and scratches we find on ourselves but don't remember how we got them were from when the monsters got a bit careless.

Of course, I had been joking, since, after all, monsters didn't exist. Someone, however, took me seriously. It hadn't been one of my friends. No, they all just saw it as a joke. It had been a young boy, eleven, maybe twelve years old at most. He was sitting on a low, stone wall, on the part that was well illuminated by a nearby street lamp. His hair was black and messy and his skin was sickly pale with dark bags under his blue eyes.

"So you've seen him too?" the boy asked, his voice shaky as though he was trying his best not to tremble.

At first, I hadn't realized that he was talking to me. When I did, I stopped, my laughing turning to short chuckles as I attempted to calm myself a bit before speaking back to the boy.

"Seen whom?" I asked, unable to recall mentioning anyone.

"The monster! The one that comes out when it's dark," the boy replied, raising his voice slightly.

I couldn't help but chuckle a bit at that as it almost reminded me of myself when I was but a small boy. "There is no monster, not the kind they tell you about in stories."

My comment obviously agitated the boy as his pale face received a bright red colour. "There is too! And he's even scarier than what they say he's like," he exclaimed before he continued talking at a much quicker pace, so quick that I was barely able to keep up with him. "I've seen him myself and barely managed to escape before he could grab me! He was skinny, moved on all fours, had no eyes or nose, barely had any hair and his mouth looked like when they're shocked in the cartoons, but it wasn't the least bit funny," the boy finished, closing his eyes and shaking his head like a shiver had gone down his spine.

"This kid really believes monsters exist," I thought to myself. "Well, he is just a kid. He'll grow out of it eventually." Regardless of the fact that I didn't believe him, I flashed a small smile and said, "Alright kid, you got me. I've seen him, I didn't think you'd believe me, but I don't have time to tell you the tale of my encounter with him. Got to run. Don't forget to carry a torch with you at all times in case you have to go through some dark place alone."

With a small wave, I turned around and jogged after my friends who were further down the street, having been ushered over there by the more sober ones amongst us so that they wouldn't make the kid feel bad with their laughing. The evening passed without incident, save for one of the lads passing out in the middle of the street on our way back. Being one of the more sober ones, I helped carry him back home before heading back home myself. It was like any other night, quiet with only the occasional car and pedestrians passing by. The weather was quite nice that night as well with a starry sky and a brisk breeze.

I unlocked the front door, stepping inside and locking the door behind me as I kicked off my shoes. It was rather late at night, perhaps even very early in the morning - I had lost track of time a bit so it could have very well been either of the two - so I didn't turn on the lights. I didn't quite enjoy the idea of activating a beacon for all my neighbours who never seemed to sleep and who apparently made it their job to know when someone came and went and even where they had been if they managed to find that out. Now that I thought about it, perhaps the old lady down the street was in fact a vampire. It would certainly explain why she was almost always out at night and never outside during the day. I chuckled to myself at that notion since I knew full well that she had some kind of medical condition that forced her to stay out of direct sunlight.

Monsters on my brain; I had to thank my friend for inspiring the numerous fantasies that were running through my head. Perhaps I would share some with them the next day for a good laugh if the chance arose, I thought. I shook my head and made my way to the kitchen for a quick snack since my stomach was growling like a wolf. Or perhaps a werewolf would be a better comparison? Alright, that was a bad one, I had to admit. I decided to push the jokes and puns to the back of my head as I opened the refrigerator and pulled out half of a ham sandwich. Cold and stale but it would have to do, I was too lazy to make myself anything else. Just as I was about to close the refrigerator, I felt a chill run down my spine and the hairs on my neck stand on end. Soon after I felt like someone was watching me from behind. I chuckled quietly and closed the door, muttering, "That kid sure managed to get in my head. Oh well, a good night's sleep should take care of that." With that, I left the kitchen, eating what was left of the sandwich as I went upstairs to my room.

Once again, I didn't bother to turn on the lights in my room for the same reason as before and once I had finished off the sandwich I went off to take a shower. Since I only had a small window in the bathroom, I decided to turn on the light just to make sure I wouldn't slip on a puddle of water or the small carpet in the middle of the bathroom. I climbed in and turned on the water, any worries I had slipping off of me like the droplets of water themselves.

A quick shower always helped relax my nerves, be it from stress from the workplace, be it from the excruciating pain of a hangover or be it for some other silly reason like that night. I always felt at ease throughout the entire time I would shower but that night, the moment I closed my eyes I felt myself beginning to panic just like I used to as a kid. The feeling of being watched had returned, and even though I had soap on my face, I hurriedly opened my eyes to inform my panicking brain that there was no-one else in the house besides me. Of course, this had its consequence, quickly feeling it in the form of a burning sensation in my eyes. I washed the soap out of my eyes and remained under the shower for a few moments, my hand resting on either side of my nose as I slowly calmed down again. The only thing going through my mind at that moment was, "What is going on with me? I'm acting like a little kid."

I quickly finished and left the bathroom, making a beeline for my bedroom. The only thing that would remedy my inexplicable fears right now was getting some shut-eye. I told myself that the drinks I had that night were further fueling my imagination and the best thing for me would be to sleep it off. Having resolved that, I climbed into bed and slid under the covers and after staring up at the ceiling for some time I could feel myself drift off. I'm not entirely sure when I woke up, or if I had even managed to fall asleep but it was still dark out, well before dawn. I could feel that chill again, along with a cold sweat trickling down my face and neck, and I could swear that I heard a thud at the bottom of my bed. My heart was pounding like a herd of galloping horses, threatening to punch through my chest and make off to the far side of the world.

I didn't know what had come over me, even less so when I slid my arms up on either side of my body to push myself up onto my elbows. Part of my brain was telling me to sit up and see what it was and that it was most likely nothing while the other was telling me lie back down and go back to sleep, that I would be much more at ease if I did. And truly, I wished that I had done the latter because when I sat up, the blood in my veins turned to ice for there it was, standing at the bottom of my bed. It was just as the boy had described it. Now, I may have had a two beers that night, but that wasn't enough to make me hallucinate like that. I swear that what I had seen was real and I'll never manage to get the image of it out of my head.

At the bottom of my bed was a creature, about the size of an average adult. It stood on all fours with its back arched high. Its arms were much like a human's with torn up but still rather long, yellow fingernails whereas its legs were significantly shorter than a human's but still long enough that it had to bend its knees. It was pale, its skin a light blue colour with dark blue and black flecks over it - though the colour could have been due to the lack of light in the room - and it was skinny, incredibly so. Practically just skin stretched over its bones with just a bit of muscle on it and I really do mean that aside from a bit of muscle on its arms and legs it was just skin and bones. It seemed to have no internal organs or in the very least no stomach, intestines, bladder or anything else located in that area because that area was sucked in all the way up to the ribcage and around its backbone.

I could have wrapped my hand around its practically exposed spine if I wanted to, probably could have snapped it too if I could have just moved. It wasn't the sight of its body that kept me frozen in fear. No, it was its face. I don't even know where to begin with that horror. It had perhaps a total of twenty hairs on the top of its head, which were glued to its scalp and neck with only a few hairs dangling past its ears (its ears were also not quite normal as they seemed to be pressed against or even connected to the side of its head with a thin layer of skin) and reaching to just below its chin. Now, its chin wasn't where yours or mine would be. It was level with the creature's bony shoulders. Its mouth was wide open, its lower jaw dangling as though it had been unhinged. It had a few jagged, yellow teeth protruding from either jaw, but other than that, its mouth looked like a black hole about to suck me in. But undoubtedly the most fear-striking part of it were its eyes, or rather lack of any. On either side of its cut off nose were two large, black pits. The abyss from where the creature had crawled out from seemed to stare at me from those two pits.

I don't know how long we had been staring at each other. It had probably been mere seconds but it felt like hours to me. I was only able to come back to my senses when that THING jumped back onto my bed. The very instant that happened, I pushed myself back as far I as I could, the lower part of by back slamming into the headboard of my bed. With my eyes still glued to the creature I felt around for the switch of the lamp that rested on my nightstand. I nearly knocked the lamp over in my panic but I somehow managed to slam the switch down before I could knock the lamp down. The very next moment, I placed my hands over my ears, thinking it would let out a blood-curdling screech like in all those stories but instead of that, it let out a noise that sounded like the wind howling before jumping off of my bed and scuttling outside. Once its hind leg was outside my room, I got up, slammed the door, locked it, then slid to the floor with my back against it, my chest heaving with every breath I took as I tried to calm myself.

A little over two weeks have passed since that incident. I haven't told anyone about it until now, since I was quite certain no-one would believe. Perhaps someone reading this now, will. I haven't seen it since that night but every now and then I wake up with new scratches on my arms and I don't own any animals. I can also hear shuffling around the house and behind me whenever I'm walking in the streets at night. I always keep the lights on now, and even carry a small flashlight with me wherever I go, because now that I have seen it, I am certain that it is only waiting for me to drop my guard. And then - it will strike.