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Stanley Was Exhausted

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It had been a long day, and Stanley was exhausted. As soon as he was through his front door, he made straight for the couch, tossing his keys haphazardly onto the kitchen table and setting himself down on the old, ratty piece of furniture.

It may not have aged well, but at this particular moment that couch was the best thing Stan could imagine. As he slumped further into the cushions the lights flickered and dimmed a little, but he didn't care. All he cared about right now was the soft, warm sleep that was taking him.

Stanley was woken by a chill, and he blearily eyed his surroundings as his drowsiness slowly waned. The room was darkened by the blanket of dusk, but there was still light enough for him to make out the dim, colorless world around him.

He cursed under his breath. He was always losing power for one reason or another, but his electric heating system made the colder months worse than most. 'I guess I should thank my lucky stars it's not started snowing yet', Stan thought to himself, but it was little consolation with the temperature nearing the freezing point.

As he lifted himself wearily from the couch to fetch a blanket, he could have sworn he saw something moving past one of the windows. Having been a superstitious man all his life, he would not write this off as a tree branch as easily as another might. Slowly, he walked to the fireplace and picked up an iron fire poker.

Stan looked down at his hand. He didn't remember picking up the fire poker, but it seemed perfectly natural that he should have set about starting a fire, what with the cold outside. 'I must be going senile', he thought with bemusement before kneeling down and grabbing some logs to put into the fireplace. 'Well, I guess it's never too early to start'. He had always had a habit of forgetting things, so this latest occurrence meant very little to him. After gathering a decent amount of kindling and dropping that in with the larger logs, Stanley reached for a small box of matches. He felt a cold breeze on his back.

'A draft now?' It didn't make sense, Stan had always kept his windows locked from the tail end of Autumn to the start of Spring. 'Unless...' The thought froze him in place as he frantically tried to mentally retrace his steps. 'Through the door, throw keys, couch.' He had to have closed the door, how could he forget that? Slowly, he forced himself to turn around, silently attempting to reassure himself as he looked toward the front door.

It was open, and there was someone in the doorway. Stan's heart skipped a beat, and all movement ceased. In the back of his head was a voice telling him to move, but it felt like a distant memory, and he remained frozen in place. The figure merely stood there, all discernible features shrouded by the darkness, nothing but an inky silhouette in the shadows.

Stanley's heart was definitely beating faster than it had been a moment ago, and his stomach was twisted in knots. Something was wrong, he realized.

Even without eyes it was staring at him, he could feel it.

Somewhat unsteadily, Stan got to his feet. He didn't know why, but he had to call the police, and suddenly found himself terrified at the thought of being alone for even a moment longer.

The room was darker now than before, and the figure was closer to him. It had not moved, not an inch, but it was nearer.

Now visibly shaking, Stanley pulled his phone from his pocket, but no sooner had he done so than he felt a presence directly behind him.

Stanley turned around.

Stanley turned around.

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