Have you ever heard of the fae?
My mother would always tell my brother and I stories about the fae before bed. They weren't the little mischievous winged things that you'd call "fairies". These fae were as tall as a man, and could easily be mistaken for one if you didn't look too closely. They didn't fly on wings, but they could float and ride the winds in the form of colorless, undetectable ether. They were mischievous, but their games were of a far darker sort than what you'd believe. They were child-snatchers, terrible soul-stealers who spirited the young to their land and left a perfect imitation in their place. These imitations were completely unaware of their true origins, and held all the memories and personalities of the original- but they were destined to die a violent death within a year of their conception.
My mother spoke of these things from experience. She had once had ten brothers and sisters, and now had none. One died of a lightning strike, two died in car accidents, and the rest died of various illnesses and infections shortly after being stolen. She said that the fae had tried to get her too, but she already knew how to spot and avoid them. She told us these facts:
1.) Fae can change their shape to any human guise they want. They can look like anybody you know. However, they can not take the shape of any other animal, nor can they appear to be any nonliving object.
2.) The fae can not hide their real form in some aspects. They will wear long pants and large shoes, and will walk with a strange gait. This is to hide their double-jointed legs and strange feet, which are taloned like a bird's. Their teeth are as sharp as a shark's, and their eyes are always, always green.
3.) The fae despise man-made objects, and generally avoid spending a long time in any unnatural structure. They can do it as long as they like, but will seem uncomfortable while doing so. While they can phase through objects without much trouble, they can not enter a locked, man-made object without the permission of someone inside.
4.) The fae will do whatever they can to trick you. It is a game to them. They will play with your mind and they will kill you in the end. The only way you can survive is to trust no one, to keep to yourself until you are "too old" for them to take. (She never told us how old this was.)
My mother did not live very long. She was an alcoholic, and disappeared one day without a trace. She wasn't found for weeks, until a body was dug out of the sewers. Eventually, I discarded her strange, disturbing bedtime stories as the product of a diseased mind.
It didn't really start until I was 12 years old. My brother was 10, and we had finally settled in a foster home about three years previous. We started to see things here and there- a green-eyed, pale face in the crowd, a sharp-toothed smile from a passing man, a strange figure shuffling awkwardly down the stairs. My brother and I never mentioned a thing to anybody but each other, but as the sightings got more and more common we began to talk about what our mother had told us long ago. We kept a journal of the strange occurrences, and which places were more infected than others. The school seemed to be safe- we had never seen a fae that looked younger than an adult. They kept showing up everywhere else, though. Neighbors with wide, sharp teeth winked at us as we left our house. The bus driver stretched his leg out in a way that a normal man could not and shivered constantly while driving.
What was happening? We had never noticed these things before. Was our mother right? Or, and this was a possibility I hated to consider, did we just get the same imbalance in our brains that caused us to see monsters where there were none?
I began to lose sleep. Nightmares of teeth tearing into my flesh, of a deadly cold filling my body as my soul was thrown out onto the north wind haunted me every time I closed my eyes. I always woke up in a cold sweat, and from the screaming coming from my brother's room I guessed that he was doing no better. Our foster parents began to get worried, but we wouldn't tell them anything. We couldn't. Who would ever believe us?
When I was 13, I began to look on the internet for any evidence of the fae. I kept telling myself that if these things actually existed, then someone else must have known about them. I decided that if I couldn't find anything after a month, I would immediately tell our foster parents about the occurrences and get checked into the nearest psychiatric ward.
For weeks, I found nothing but the old stories about little forest creatures and silly trickster spirits- but then a small beacon of hope appeared, a lonely chat room in some dark corner of the Web. I quickly signed up and logged on.
<Watcher13>: Hey, is anyone here?
<Watcher13>: I saw the description, and I need to talk
<polo_bear>: hey what's up
<polo_bear>: sorry, i didn't hear the alert when you joined
<polo_bear>: you've seen them too?
I sighed with relief and begun to type quickly.
<Watcher13>: My mom used to talk about these things all the time, and they've started showing up all over the place. They keep showing up in random places
<Watcher13>: Like, they don't even try to talk to us but they always show up wherever we are
<Watcher13>: It's like they're just trying to psych us out or something
<polo_bear>: yeah, i've heard of that
<polo_bear>: a bunch of people would come on here and talk about these weird sightings and then disappear for a while
<polo_bear>: i don't even own the chatroom but the owner went away forever ago
<polo_bear>: i was just the friend of a user on here, i've never seen them myself
<polo_bear>: you need to watch out though
<polo_bear>: if i were you i'd get out of your house, if they know where you live they're going to start moving in closer
<polo_bear>: i remember one girl told everyone that her mom was knocking on the door because she had forgotten her key or something
<polo_bear>: she never logged back on
<polo_bear>: then i saw her obituary a year later, died in a car accident
<polo_bear>: my number is 480-406-5203
<polo_bear>: grab your brother, grab a phone and get out
I stared at the screen nervously. Run away? Our mom always said that the fae couldn't get into a house without asking, and if we left then we'd have nowhere to hide for a while…
"Riley? Are you there?" There was a knock on the door. I froze.
"Riley? Andrew? Are you there? Can you unlock the door? I'm locked out."
I heard my brother reply, "Coming, mom."
My breath caught in my throat as I ran to stop my brother from opening the door. He was so close, so close- I grabbed him painfully by the arm as he reached for the handle. He looked at me in shock. Before he could say anything, I whispered,
"That might not be our mother."
His eyes widened, and I knew that he understood what I meant. I looked through the peephole and froze.
A green-eyed face grinned wildly back at me, and a terrible laugh pierced my ears.
It screeched my name in a mocking, singsong voice that sounded nothing like my mother.
I could hear something clawing at the base of the door. Something sharp and small, like…talons. The laughing started again, this time louder than before.
"Little kid, little kid, let me iiiiiiin-"
I ran back upstairs to the computer, hoping against hope that my newfound friend knew some way to kill these…these monsters, but he was offline.
Damn it! Damn it, damn it, damn it- An idea hit me, and I quickly grabbed my phone and dialed the number he had given me. The voice at the door had stopped a few seconds ago, the creature outside content with moving around the house and rattling the windows. My brother and I quickly hid in the bathroom, where it wouldn't be able to see us.
"Hello?" A man answered the phone.
"It's me. Fr-from the chat. You were right, there's this thing at my door and it keeps circling my house and banging at the walls-"
More voices sounded from outside, each one more unnaturally high than the last. "There are more of them. Please help us, I don't know what to do-"
"Shit." I heard him curse to himself for a minute, then he paused. "Hey. The number you called me from. We have the same area code. Where do you live?"
I told him my address, and I heard a note of hope enter his voice. "Okay, hold on. One of the members talked about a way to kill the fae. They hate man-made things, right? That's because they don't like metal, especially iron. He said that he had killed one by shoving an iron pole through its body before it turned into ether- that's it! I started getting paranoid, started learning how to forge, started making weapons out of iron. I'm coming down there. I'm gonna get you out of there, kid, no matter what. Once I get into your house, we can start attacking them from the inside."
I began to get excited and quickly told my brother what the plan was. The man sounded just as excited as I was. "All right kid, I'm gathering up the weapons as we speak. Are you ready?"
"Yeah! Yeah, I am, just get over here as soon as you can." Suddenly, I paused. "Wait…how are you going to get in?"
"Shit! You're right…I'll have to start attacking them from the outside, and you have to let me in as soon as possible. I'll run up to your door, and you have to unlock it, open it, and then lock it as soon as possible. Do you understand?"
"Okay, yeah! I understand. I'll let you in as soon as you get here."
I wish that I could say that he made it here. I wish I could say that he fought his way in and we stopped the monsters together. Is that the ending you'd like? A nice, happy ending where we managed to drive away these horrible creatures.
I wish I could say that things ended well. But as soon as I said that last sentence, the call disconnected.
We waited in silence for a few minutes before my phone rang again. I picked it up, pressed the "accept call" button-
-and my door burst open at the same moment, kicked open by a clawed, green-eyed figure holding a phone in his hand.