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The Roof Jumper

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I know not what it was about me or what I had done to deserve such encounters with a being as dark as he.

As far as my knowledge goes I wasn’t, and am still not, anyone special. I wonder why he chose me and what his purpose was. Was he some divine enforcer, sent from the heavens or maybe even from the depths of hell to punish me for some wicked deed? Some evil entity with a diabolical scheme to tear my sanity apart? No. No I think that his motives were much more primal, more savage. There was nothing so grandiose in his demeanor or his presence that would suggest that either of my grim encounters with him were anything more than those of a hunter and its prey. The mere thought of him now brings me to the brink of terror and I expect he will forever haunt me.

Though I guess if I am to recount my tale, I should start at the beginning. It was late one night in early October, the air had that sharp, bitter feel to it that let you know that autumn was almost over and winter would soon take its place. I was just getting off of work; I had to stay late that evening to finish stocking with a new employee. We finished our task and left, I stayed behind to lockup the building. By the time I had the building secured, I was alone. I began walking.

I was in no way unprepared for my walk, having brought my wool coat and scarf. My home was only a brisk twenty minutes away and to be honest I was looking forward to the walk that night. I lit a cigarette and ventured forth. I found myself frequently looking up to the sky; the stars blanketed the inky heavens like a symphony of pinpricks in the universe itself. It was while I was trying to remember as many of the constellations and locate them that I first felt… off.

I don’t know if I had seen or heard anything remarkably out of place, it may have just been the instincts left over from a simpler more primal time. Either way, I knew on some deep level that I was no longer alone.

A shiver went from my head down into my spine, twisting my stomach into a knot and making my heart pound. I glanced quickly behind me but saw only the empty street in the orange glow of the streetlights. I tried to reason with myself, blaming my paranoia on my tiredness in conjunction with the eerie stillness of the night. With shaking hands I lit another cigarette. Unable to resist the urge, I looked behind me again but still saw no one. I stopped and continued looking and listened for something, anything. But the only audible thing was the faint, low whistle of the wind through the quiet streets.

I resumed my walking with a quickened pace. The feeling of being watched only seemed to grow stronger. I spun around again, seeing nothing or nobody behind me. I started jogging hurriedly. There was nothing more I wanted than to just get inside and got to bed and forget about all of this.

I turned around again, now worked into a near panic, and tripped on my feet. That was when I saw him.

Lying flat on the pavement and looking up, I saw what appeared to be the figure of a man leaning over the roof above me. I could barely make him out against the black sky, but he was definitely looking at me.

As a fresh dose of adrenaline flooded through my system and I scrambled too my feet and broke into an unapologetic run down the sidewalk. I ran until my lungs were burning and I began cursing my smoking habit.

Nearly to my apartment, I had to stop. I doubled over, hands on my knees taking breaths as sharp as razor-blades that tasted like copper. It felt like my heart was going to explode and I couldn't hear anything but it’s frenzied drumming in my ears.

After a moment, I stood and looked back one more time. He was there, perched on the top of a streetlight. I could see more of him now, and he had bright yellow eyes that glowed like a dog’s at night staring out from under a shaggy mop of matted hair and a mouth that was unnaturally wide that seemed to be pulled into a gruesome cross between a snarl and a grin. His face was made even more alien by his lack of any discernible eyebrows. He wore nothing but a ragged black t-shirt and a pair of black pants that were shredded to just above his knee exposing his pale, unnaturally gray skin. He held himself steady with what at first glance looked like disproportionately large hands but I soon realized they were in fact large claws. I stood there frozen in sheer terror. After a few seconds he let out some sort of whispery growl and gnashed his teeth before leaping at least twenty feet to the roof of the building next to me.

His sudden movement shocked me out of my stupor and I turned and began running again. My lungs were still burning and my legs felt more like dead weight with each step but this time I made it to my building. I ran up the three flights of stairs to my floor and nearly dropped my keys trying to get inside. I made it though and slammed the door behind me, taking only a moments rest before drawing the blinds on every window in the apartment.

Finally feeling like I had found some slight sanctuary, I collapsed on the couch. My chest and legs were burning and I had a terrible headache. A sudden wave of nausea crashed over me and I vomited on the floor next to the couch before finally passing out.

I awoke the next morning thankful that I had that day off. I was slow to get up, but I finally did after the smell of the vomit woke me up. Embarrassed and glad that I lived alone, I cleaned it up before brewing some coffee. I made it strong and drank it black, sitting on my couch staring at the black TV screen. I couldn't get my mind off of the queer and terrifying encounter. What was that thing? Was it a man? A beast? All I knew was that, whatever it was, I had been its prey. I don’t know if I had actually outrun it or if it was toying with me. It certainly seemed capable of moving much faster than I had. But I had no doubt it had seen where I lived, what door I went into. I shuddered at the thought of it breaking into my apartment.

I spent the rest of the day dealing with the shock from the night before. A few days passed and I had of course gone back to work, though I talked my manager into switching me over into the day shift. I didn't explain to him the real reason of course, I just made some bullshit excuse sound convincing enough. I hadn't told anyone else about my experience either; I didn't want my friends or my family to think that I had a screw loose or anything. It had been roughly two months and I hadn't seen hide nor hair of the thing. By then I had begun to doubt my own experience, trying to chalk it up to stress and lack of sleep. I had almost completely written off the experience when I encountered him for the second time.

I was at home this time, enjoying a late night with a drink and my laptop. A movie played quietly just to provide some background noise. I was on the couch, which was backed against the window on the far wall of the living room.

I was engaged in some light gaming, just relaxing, when I noticed a scratching sound. I paused my game and listened. It was definitely a real sound, not from my game or the TV. It wasn't too loud or abrasive, just a soft scratching noise so faint I couldn't tell exactly where it was coming from. I turned the TV off and continued listening, trying to pinpoint where it was coming from. Deciding to check my kitchen for a rat or something I got up and began searching but found nothing. Finally giving up the search, I concluded it must be something wrong with the plumbing or something equally mundane and sat back down, resuming my game and turning the movie back on.

After a few minutes I had pretty much tuned out the sound. Then there was a loud crash and the window shattered in, glass showering down on me.

I jumped, throwing my drink and my computer to the floor before I was slammed back down onto the couch. Something hard and cold wrapped around my neck and another thing dug into my right shoulder. They began to squeeze, I felt a sharp pain as the skin on my shoulder gave way and my breathing was being cut off. I tried to scream but all that came out was a hoarse whisper. I was being pulled, dragged up the back of the couch as glass dug into my back. I tried to grip the couch but my strength was nothing compared to what was pulling on me. My vision began to blur as my lungs started burning, I needed to get out of this or I would suffocate fighting.

I reached my left hand up to my neck and tried to pry the thing off but whatever it was felt incredibly strong, like its skin was stretched over stone. I let out another hoarse whisper as I felt a sickening pop from my right shoulder. My upper back was completely clear of the couch and partially out the window. I was only hanging on by twisting my hips and legs for as much grip as possible.

Its grip on my neck shifted and I was forced to look straight up but instead of the sky, I was met by the face of the thing from the roof. Its breath was hot on my face, it smelled of rotting meat and formaldehyde. My shoulder was hot with ragged pain and I could feel blood soaking my side and down my sleeve. I was losing the fight; my hips were almost over the edge of the couch.

Filled with adrenaline, terror and rage, I began grasping about for something, anything that could save my life. My left hand closed on a hard object on the top of the couch, as I gripped it dug sharply into my skin. A glass shard! I brought it up and rammed it as hard as I could into the hand around my throat. It went deep in and broke, slicing my hand up more. With a harsh shriek, the grip of the creature loosened. I began to thrash even more as breath filled my lungs and my vision flooded back. I managed to break the grip of both of his hands as he let go and leapt over the roof’s ledge.

I didn't have a moment of respite as I was so far out the window that when his grip was released, I tumbled out and remember only a brief second of falling before everything went black.

I awoke to the sterile smell of a hospital. I opened my eyes in a daze, the room fading in and out of focus. When my head began to clear, a nurse escorted an officer in. I told him every detail on what had happened. He listened attentively and took notes and when I had finished, he stood up and said something to the nurse about talking to me later when I wasn't on medication.

The nurse came back in to talk to me about what was going on.

I had serious bruising all over my neck and a few small cuts. There were massive lacerations on my right shoulder and it was dislocated, nearly torn completely off me. My left hand was cut up and there were multiple lacerations on my back from being dragged across the glass. As I fell, I had apparently tried to right myself and had succeeded in landing on my feet. Unfortunately the three story fall was just too high and I had shattered both my ankles before knocking myself unconscious on the sidewalk below. I would have bled out if someone hadn't already called 911 while hearing the struggle. I was discharged two weeks later, and left with a mountain of prescriptions and appointments and the number of a physical therapist.

I did speak with the officer again, a week later, and told him the same story as I had before. He took it down, but the official report said it was a break-in with assault and battery. That it was some sort of burglar with a knife. Even though that story made about as much sense as mine, I shouldn't have expected less. If I wasn't covered in sutures, casts and wheelchair-bound I might doubt the story but the facts were clear. Whatever was following me that night had seen where I lived and had tried to pull me out my window. Whether it was going to drop me to my death, kill me some other way, eat me or even abduct me I’ll never know. I hope that I’ll never find out. I hope that no one else will either.

It’s been a couple of months now. I’m in physical therapy and, if I’m lucky, I’ll walk with a cane for the rest of my life. I never go out alone anymore, and I stay in my new apartment with the shades drawn in the bedroom that has no windows from dusk till dawn. I sometimes think I can hear him, light scratching or small thumps on the roof but I've done all I can to protect myself from him. All I can do now is pray.

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