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The Closet Maintenance Man

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I woke up in the middle of the night. Why did I wake up? I must have heard something bump. Yes, that was it. It was probably the cat, it was always getting into things. I lay back down and started drifting off to sleep when I remembered that our cat was missing.

I sat straight up in my bed and my eyes immediately moved to the closet on the other side of my room.

“Hello,” the man said.

“Hello,” I responded. “Who are you?”

“Who me? I’m just the closet maintenance man. Don’t mind me.” He stepped out of the closet and picked something out of his teeth, dropping it to the floor. The moon shone through the window and lay a streak of pale light across one side of his face. My gosh, his face was huge! His head must have been twice the size of mine. His skin was stark white, and his nostrils were just two slits on his face, no nose. His eyes were small and beady, he didn’t have any visible ears, but his smile… his smile literally stretched across his face where his ears would have been.

“I didn’t know we had a closet maintenance man.”

“Oh, everyone has one. We just usually keep out of sight so they don’t have to think about us. No need to worry yourself over some simple closet maintenance. That’s why you haven’t heard anyone talk about us before.” Even when he talked, his mouth never moved an inch. He just kept smiling. Not even his lips moved. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be reassuring or not. He was certainly making an effort to be as nonthreatening as possible. He was very polite.

“What exactly does a closet maintenance man do?”

“You know. All sorts of things. It’s really quite boring, I don’t want to bore you with the details. You just go on back to sleep now.”

“Okay.” I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes. I was trembling beyond belief, but I somehow managed not to show it.

“Oh, and one more thing before you go,” the man said. I opened my eyes and he was standing right over the bed. I never even heard him move.

I tried to keep my cool. “Yes?”

“Do you happen to know where Jessica’s room is? I was supposed to be checking up on her closet. I must have gotten the wrong room.”

“It’s downstairs,” I said, lying back down.

“Thank you so much. I apologize for the disturbance. Good night.”

I heard the door close and footsteps go down the stairs. I quickly got out of bed and went over to where he was standing before. I picked up what he had dropped on the ground and held it in my hand. It was a single claw.

I exited my room, leaving my wife on the bed. No need to wake her up. I snuck downstairs and headed down the stairs to the basement.

The door was left open for me.

“Jessica?” I called softly, then a little louder. I didn’t hear her at all. I looked on the couch where she slept and in the closet. I didn’t see her.

I walked into the bathroom. Maybe she had hidden there. “Jessica?” I called. She didn’t respond. Maybe she was hiding in the bathtub.

I peered into the bathtub. Jessica was lying facedown.

Jessica was lying facedown.

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