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Nigel could feel them.

They were behind him, their long, filthy fingernails caressing the soft flesh at the back of his neck in a sickeningly loving way. They wanted him; Nigel could tell that much. It was why they wanted him that he couldn't understand. Or maybe he did: after all, the prospect of being the plaything of these creatures was simply too horrifying for him to even comprehend.

What Nigel could comprehend, however, was that he was not alone in the house. The hallway in which he was standing pulsated with an eldritch life; the walls appeared to be made of flesh, and it seemed to Nigel that he was inside the belly of some foul monster. Every cell in his body screamed at him to run; to run back to his room and hide under the bed and wait until the morning.

But the room was behind him, and so were they.

He could hear them shuffle towards him, their footsteps light and graceful, like a lion stalking a gazelle. Nigel could feel breath on his ear: cold and clammy, like air from a tomb, and he could hear them whisper to him, in what he could only describe as an abomination of language. The moment of decision was fast approaching, and Nigel knew he had to make a choice: stay, and hope they would go away, or turn to face them and run to his room.

Nigel ran. Eyes clenched, Nigel turned and charged towards his room, barging past the things in the corridor at a breakneck pace. He reached the end of the hall, his blindly flailing hands grasping at the door handle. He scrambled into the bedroom and, slamming the door behind him, sprang under the covers, cowering like a child afraid of the dark. Eventually, his curiosity overcoming his fear, Nigel poked his head out of the covers and looked around his room. Nothing. The silence was all-consuming. “What was that?” Nigel said aloud, to nobody in particular. He shook his head, and, coming to the conclusion that it had all been a tiredness-induced hallucination, went to sleep for the first time in days.

As the last vestiges of consciousness left him, the shadows on the walls and floor shifted and warped, taking on a far more twisted form. They had the boy now, and he would be their new best friend.


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