I awoke with a start. Shadows and images of past dreams floated around me, as if I was in a spinning carousel. The shadows danced around, growling at me, but I ignored them. The room was still dark, the morning not yet starting its joyous appearance.
I glanced at the clock. It read 2:34, extremely early. The blue glow of its screen was the only light in the room. Rubbing my head, I sat up in bed. I began to wonder about the mysterious noise that had so rudely awakened me. Straining my ears, I began to listen for more sounds.
The muffled sound of broken glass reached me. Throwing back my covers, I snuck anxiously to my door. Something was here. The thin shadow of my third grade home run hitter peered at me from behind my dresser. Picking up the bat, I firmly gripped it in my shaky hands. Whoever this night prowler was, he was going down.
As I slowly turned the doorknob, I noticed that the noises had stopped. No more crashing.
The hallway gave me a feeling I will never forget. I felt as though I were in a dark morgue. The faces of relatives watched me from their frames, though I couldn’t tell if they were smiling. It became extremely silent. I wished more than ever that something, anything, would make a sound. The silence became even more unbearable than noise could ever be.
Risking my harm, I carefully questioned this thing:
“Wh-who’s there?” I stuttered, my voice cracking from my still tired body. Nothing answered me.
The stairs seemed to rumble as I went down them, as if they didn’t wish for me to go downstairs. I gripped the handrail so as not to lose my balance. Darkness bounced off the walls, filling the living room with all kinds of places to hide. I looked everywhere at once, though, in the darkness, I couldn’t tell where. Every corner, every space seemed a likely place for a criminal or creature to hide.
The bat wavered in my hands as I pointed it to each new crevice I discovered. When I was sure nothing was there, I continued on to the kitchen. I flicked its light switch on.
Light immediately flew to the walls of the room, stinging my eyes. Everything doubled itself, causing me to become off balance.
Something flew past me. Nothing I could see. I didn’t feel it, I didn’t even hear it. But somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew something was there. I spun around the lighted kitchen, scanning for anything living. There, in the corner of my eye, a dark, cloaked figure stood towering over me. The second I turned my head, it vanished.
I had not fully seen the figure. I blamed it on my tiredness, dismissing it as a hallucination. I then proceeded to flick every switch on in the house, searching for anything that could have made a noise. In the bathroom, I found a shattered, small glass clock on the ground, and a can of shaving cream. I concluded that the can of shaving cream must have fallen over, knocking the clock off of the nearby shelf.
I swept up the pieces, and returned the objects to their rightful places. Terrible thoughts flooded my mind, and I don’t know how or why, but I knew that something was there, out to get me. Out to rip out my innards and suck on my blood. But, I traversed back upstairs, down my hallway, put my bat back, and decided to go back to sleep.
A mistake. A really, really, really bad mistake.
I pulled my covers up halfway, and glanced back to my green clock.
Wait, green? Instead of the clocks familiar blue glow, it was now green. And the light was moving. It crept, slowly at first, to my bed. As it crawled along the floor, I somehow felt as though I shouldn’t let it reach me. I backed up hastily to the wall, but it kept coming. Faster now. It seemed to run, covering the carpet and walls as though a giant dust storm had invaded my room. I closed my eyes, waiting for it to strike, when suddenly...
Nothing. Nothing happened. I dared to peek. A small blue haze appeared back on the nightstand. The clock wasn’t green. It had changed back. I still felt as though something was there, an evil presence in my room, just waiting to rip me apart. The other half of my mind argued with me, persuading me that I was just sleepy, causing powerful hallucinations. I wanted it to be true. But I felt like it wasn’t. Nevertheless, I still got back in bed. I quickly reassured myself that the clock was blue again, and gazed at the numbers, reading 2:48. My ordeal had only lasted fifteen minutes, but it had felt like forever.
I eventually dozed off again. But the dreams returned. Evil figures laughing, haunting me, disturbing my sleep. Fire and lava burned my mind, ants crawled through my eye sockets, skeletons taunted me.
I again awoke. The dreams were just dreams. They didn’t matter. I then realized that I couldn’t sleep anymore. The Presence was still there. It kept my eyes from closing. It locked my head on my pillow. I could move, but it restrained me. I lay there, quietly, scared as heck. The two halves of my brain still argued about what was happening. One told me I was tired, to go to sleep. The other told me that I wasn’t hallucinating, that something really was there, watching me.
I ignored them, without my own explanation as to what was happening. Then I found that my covers were slowly sliding up. I, again, dismissed it, deciding it was a mere mirage. But they kept coming. They were at my neck now. Then the covered all of me. I breathed heavily, losing oxygen, as the covers and sheets wrapped and twisted around me. They pressed out all spaces of air. And then I knew I wasn’t just seeing things. Something was there. The Presence.
I screamed. The covers instantly, as if scared of my yelp, retreated quickly back to my waist. And then I saw him again. The dark figure. I still couldn’t see very well, but he was in the place no one wants to look. The place that people see things no one else can.
The corner of my eye.
But I had learned from last time. This time, I looked straight. I didn’t move. And I could still see him. I still knew that he would vanish the second I lay my eyes on him, so I made myself a statue. He moved swiftly and soundless, snaking and slithering about the shadows. And I felt his cold, odorless breath on my ear. And he whispered to me.
“The Presence has found you.”
That was it. As soon as I turned my head, poof. He was gone. But rather than just disappearing, he roared without a sound. It was a weird feeling. I didn’t hear him, but in my head, shrieks of anger resounded. But I knew that it wasn’t over. He was there.
And he was angry.
Every time I looked at him, he vanished. Putting two and two together, I realized I could never look at him. But he was always there. I never managed to get a good look at him, but at every turning point throughout my life he appeared, silently, watching.
When I lost my job, he was standing behind the fake plastic tree in my boss’s office.
When my wife divorced me, he stood behind her suitcase.
One night, in my old age, I was sitting in my armchair, alone. No family, no kids, no money. And he was there again. This creature, this dark figure had haunted me, destroying my life and all in it. He angered me, so much so, that I decided to peek at him. But instead of vanishing again, he stood right in plain view, right at the edge of my footrest. At once, the feeling I had, so many years ago, returned. The feeling as though I were surrounded by a dark Presence.
He was clad in only a black cloak. It had no armholes. I saw no face. The hood was a void, emptiness staring back at me. He was still watching me, waiting, like a kid waiting for recess on a warm day. For hours I watched him, and he watched me. Finally, I rasped in my creaky, old man’s voice:
“What do you want now?”
He instantaneously vanished to right beside me, in a cloud of blue smoke. The voices of thousands of lost souls whispered in my ear. Amidst the silent roars, the figure reached for me with invisible arms and silently replied, with a harsh rasp of its own.