Sean crossed his arms and clutched his body tight as he sat, legs extended into the corner of his one-room apartment. A teacher by day, Sean was used to loads of free time during the summer months; time that gave him ample opportunity to start a second career or hobby. He chose the latter.
He was shivering now even though the temperature outside was a cool 65 degrees. Fear can do that to you, he thought. He had closed all of his windows and pinned up all of the shades in case a phantom breeze revealed what he suspected was lurking outside of the glass. Directly to the right of him, although slightly above him since he was sitting on the floor, was his work desk. Fascinated by stories of the paranormal, he spent his leisure time doing amateur ghost hunting for people in his county.
He knew they were desperate, and he took advantage of that. Nothing ever came up in a paranormal investigation, but it was fun to try—especially if he was making money in the process. A little jump here and a slight gasp there could do all the convincing to someone with a mind preset on believing what it wanted to. Then he would leave with a slight assurance that whatever had been (or was still) lurking in the person's house was of no immediate concern to them, and if they should hear or feel anything in the future, anything at all, they should give him a call. What a great salesman he was.
Laid out on his desk were fresh case files from Mary Jane’s two-story split level house a few blocks over. She got a hold of Sean through a newspaper ad entitled “Paranormal Investigation! Don’t let what you can’t see control your life!” Obviously the investigation turned out empty, but he would be lying if he said he didn’t get a sharp pain in his gut from time to time, guilt from many days on the job of fibbing.
Being careful not to make a sound, Sean reached his right hand up and grabbed the edge of his desk. He stood up with his right leg slowly; the floorboards creaked under the stress. He stood still for a moment, then proceeded to glide his way over to the chair situated in front of his desk. He placed his hands at his side and sat up straight, trying to blend in with the chair. If someone could see through the light white shades on his windows it would surely only be shadows, and his logic was to camouflage in with the chair, making it seem like a single silhouette. The moon was shining bright that night.
Remaining still as a statue, Sean ran through all of the possible scenarios in his head. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in that situation, and by then he had become accustomed to the ins and outs of it, but the fear had always remained the same. Sean tried to control his shivering by pressing harder against the chair. This could just be my paranoia, Sean thought, hopefully it’s my paranoia...
Although Sean was not a religious person, he was praying nonetheless. Praying that he would let his mind get the best of him. It was then that he noticed a shadow gliding over the bottom corner of his window shades. Was that a tree? Sean’s stomach dropped; he felt cold. But it was only a tree! Sean hoped. I have white shades. The moon emits light and objects like trees can distort that light, casting it on my plain white shades, like the way people make faces out of their hands with projectors. Yeah, that’s it. It’s only a tree.
The shadow came again. This time Sean was able to catch a full glimpse of it by turning his head ever so slightly to the right, just enough to consciously take in what was occurring. The silhouette moved slowly just above the bottom right corner of the shade, straight across, and about a fourth of the way over, it dropped straight down out of sight. A tree! It’s only a tree! Sean thought again. Although he wasn't totally convinced that was the case.
The moon shined brightly on his plain white shades, and the silhouette appeared again. This time on the left side of his natural projector, making the same movements. It was symmetrical in appearance. Sean shivered again. Maybe it was a squirrel, or a bird. It wouldn't have been the first time a bird crashed into my window. I hated when those damn things did that, it scared the shit out of me the first time.
Sounded like someone threw a large, wet paper towel with the splat it made. It left behind a single black feather and a small, wet distortion, like someone rubbed their finger on it leaving behind their oil. Not good for aspiring criminals. It was then that Sean got a bright idea. I’m going to crawl over to the window and peek out the side, preferably the left because the curtain closes on that side causing the drapes to be slightly more open.
If I drop down to the floor, there is no space behind me so I should blend in with the floor. From the perspective of outside it would look like nothing was moving. Setting the plan in motion, Sean shivered a single time. The hardest part about this would be leaving my chair, without making it obvious. Timing was going to be imperative but when? When should I drop? I have no idea what is going on outside or even if there is anything there in the first place. Maybe I’m going crazy. A jolt went up Sean’s spine. Even if he was imagining the whole thing, he didn't want to take any chances; he knew that this was the time.
He slid down into the seat of his chair a couple inches. His knees bent slightly, and his back curved uncomfortably. He grabbed the back two legs of his chair with his hands, still trying to camouflage. He then turned his head directly to the left to get a full view of his plain white window shades. He saw another silhouette. This time it seemed to appear gradually like something was approaching the window slowly. It was directly in the middle of the shade, and it gradually got darker and darker.
It was shaped like a human, although it seemed to be very skinny, almost cartoonish in width and height. Sean's mind froze with fear, but his fight-or-flight instinct kicked in almost unconsciously. He tumbled over the left side of his chair, landing flat on the ground with a thud, and stayed prone like a G.I. in a maze of barbed wire. Sean looked back up at the curtain, and it was still there. The fear that paralyzed his mind kept him from replaying the action over in his head; it kept him from realizing that what he had done was as obvious as a blind dog. The figure stayed still.
For a moment, Sean wondered if it was them. He wondered if it could see inside, or if it could see at all. Sean thought the room had gotten colder, but maybe it was just his imagination. He shivered. He was blended in with the floor, and, unless the things he feared could see inside, he would have no trouble reaching the window undetected. Sean crept inches at a time. He stayed silent, moving one arm forward, then pushing with this toes.
Even if it took a while to reach the window, it was better to be safe than sorry—especially if one of them was outside. The whole time Sean crept over, the shadow remained still, almost too still. It was like a statue; nothing about it was pulsating or fidgeting. For some reason, in his mind, he flashed back to the old vampire movies where the creature would be standing still outside the large, glass windows of its victim, watching over them as they slept. During their most vulnerable time, it would strike.
The tension was building up in Sean’s body; he was almost at the window. No more than a few movements and he would reach his destination. He reached out to test the distance to the wall. It was dark in the corner of the room; the rest was full of moonlight making the black spots even more pronounced, like tunnels into the abyss. Like unknown vortexes with unknown destinations calling his name.
The figure in the center of his window was still there. Sean shimmied his body over to the wall; he swore he saw the shadow move. He realized that when people are scared, their bodies become ultra-aware of everything. Even the slightest movements and sounds become amplified a hundredfold. Some say that the great error of the human being is consciousness; the ability to question everything, to re-analyze past decisions and to anticipate future endeavors. Those dilemmas become infinite loops in their minds, once a problem is solved, another one pops up even more pronounced. This leads to another, and another, until anxiety takes hold. A great gift, but also a curse.
Sean tried to rationalize what he saw in his mind. Sure, it could have moved. It would actually make more sense for the object to move than to remain still. Life is loose and fluid; death is hard and stiff, like a leaf. He stuck to his conclusion that it was a tree branch, or a raccoon, or a bird, but he’d never seen a raccoon or a bird that large before. That figure took up almost a fifth of the window shade; it had to be them. Suddenly, his senses amplified by fear, he heard a vibration coming from his desk—it was his phone. He always kept it on silent, but the vibration carried itself throughout the room.
It was as loud, as if it were ringing. He could feel the vibration through the desk, through the floor, and into the center of his body. It reminded him of nightclubs, when the bass was so pronounced that he could feel his insides vibrate with the music. Suddenly the figure dropped; it didn't leave the way it came; it dropped downward out of sight, like it was standing on a crate that got pulled out from underneath it. Sean bolted over to his phone, still staying close to the ground. He grabbed it with his left hand, reaching above the desk. He fell to his back, pulling it close to his chest. He pressed the end button on his keyboard and shoved it inside of his shirt. Looking up at the plain white window shade, he could see nothing. Whatever was there by his window was gone—at least for now.
Sean shivered twice; a chill ran down his spine. It had to be a tree. He then lifted up the caulor of his shirt with his right index finger and glanced at the phone. Unknown caller, Great. Just what he needed at this moment. He felt like he was being hunted by god knows what and on top of that someone blew his seal team six stealth mission with an unknown call. It could have been a prank call, or a booty call.
Sean thought about the second one for a moment then his fears brought him back to reality. Whatever was at his shades just a moment ago was now gone and it clearly dropped out of sight. It appeared like it was walking towards the window then disappeared like it dropped off of a stool or box. His mind wandered again, about the booty call, about a tree or a raccoon playing around his window, and then he dozed off into a light sleep, spread out on the floor under his desk.
He was woken by two bright lights on his window shades. They glanced across his room like two eyeballs scanning the scene. Sean didn’t know how long he was out for. He glanced at his phone. It had only been fifteen minutes. Still in a daze Sean partially forgot about what happened no more than a half hour ago. He stretched out his arms and leaned over on his right side to stand up. Pushing with his left hand he got to his knees first facing his desk then he stood up. He rotated his back to the left then right causing a few cracks; he felt oddly rejuvenated for only being asleep a few minutes.
The lights were still on his shades, they glanced from left to right and were now situated on the far right side of his window, and only the right light seemed to remain on his shade. Sean suddenly remembered the silhouette and dove to the floor quickly crawling over to the left side of his window. He gently moved the shades aside with his right index and middle finger just enough to see outside. He saw a pickup truck shining its high beams ominously at his window. Sean crept a little closer and rested his chin on the small ledge under his window where various family portraits were situated. He glanced down at a picture of him and his brother for a second, wondering what he was doing at this very moment, most likely asleep.
Sean then looked up and realized that the pickup was on his lawn, it was at least twenty feet away from the street, and he could see the dirt trails it left behind in wake of the rainstorm earlier in the day. The landlord is going to be pissed. The driver remained unseen, from the bright gaze of the lights in his direction the cabin remained pitch black, Sean thought about the dark corners of his room in the night, he thought about the abyss. Sean glanced out to the street and scanned his environment. It was black; except for the moonlight shining through the trees, everything seemed normal.
There were a few lights on in the apartments across from him; most likely from Sarah who worked in customer relations for a large computer company, she specialized in the foreign market. Sean’s eyes scanned from the truck to this right across the apartments ahead of him and onto the forest to his left. It was then that he noticed footprints leading from the woods across his neighbor’s property.
He started at the woods and followed the footsteps to his lawn. Each one more pronounced than the last in his mind. They had even strides somewhat longer than the average human, but it was their shape that caused a sharp pain in Sean’s lower abdomen. They seemed to have four appendages, the left and right ones were long almost double the size of the middle two which were close together like somebody placing their middle and ring fingers together. The two outside appendages were further apart from the middle ones and the heels slimmed down almost to a point. He couldn’t tell how large they were from his window but they seemed rather lengthy comparing them to the bushes against his building.
Sean gazed slowly at the pattern starting from the woods then weaving its way over to his window. They stayed against his building the whole time almost like it was trying to blend in with it. Taking a page out of my book, Sean thought. Sean wondered if it set off any automatic driveway lights, not that it mattered anyway, it was close to four in the morning by now. Sean continued to follow the footsteps as they became larger and larger in his view. They reached his law and it suddenly became hard for him to see from the angle.
He glanced back at the truck and it remained still, vibrating up and down from the motor. A chill jolted down Sean’s spine. Something with a very odd footprint unlike anything he had seen before had made its way from the forest to his house across his neighbor’s properties. Almost instinctively he looked to the right wanting to see where the footprints led, there were none. Sean’s body grew cold; he knew what he was going to do next. Sean pieced everything together like he was solving an open ended question. If Johnny has six thousand apples and he gives shelly two thousand then shelly gives Johnny back fifty, how many are left?
If the tracks started on the left side of his property and continued over to him but they were not visible on his right then what made them either take a different path or... it was beneath me.
Sean suddenly realized he was sweating. His body was shaking uncontrollably and a sense of paranoia come over him. It was so easy, all he had to do was look down, look down at the ground under his window. He stared straight ahead again, at his neighbor’s apartment, the one who worked with foreigners. She wasn’t being hunted, he thought, she was calm as a monk. Sean then quickly turned and looked behind him, nothing. Just darkness, just the empty voids of darkness in the corners calling to him, surrounding his moonlit room.
He then slowly turned his gaze to the truck and he noticed that it had stopped vibrating but the lights were still on. Someone is in the car, or was. The thought brought some comfort to him, but only for a moment. He held his breath and slowly tilted his head downward. His eyes went from the apartment across the street, to the street then slowly over his lawn, spotted with brown untreated grass. Terror was building up inside of him; he wanted to grab the shade hanging over his head and use it to shield his eyes, like his girlfriends did with pillows when watching scary movies. He finally got to the patch of dirt that started the small garden under his window, everything was normal.
HONKKKKK! Out of nowhere the horn on the truck blasted. Sean screamed, jumped up in terror, his heart skipping several beats. He stared at the truck, it was rocking back and forth like a struggle was going on inside of it; he strained to see inside but the cabin was still shielded with darkness from the light. The horn stopped then honked again at random intervals, like the driver was trying to relay something in Morse code. The sudden shock of the moment took his mind off of the building tension he was experiencing.
It was then, almost absentmindedly that he looked down. Two large, deep, red eyes stared back at him, paralyzing him with fear. The creature, white as a sheet, stood there mouth wide open almost in smile revealing a row of large, disorganized teeth. Its head was oval shaped but still surprisingly human. It had no hair, its skull almost impossibly pale covered with large blue veins and random patterns of cracks like generic pictures of dinosaur eggs. It reached both hands up towards Sean very rhythmically, slow like a priest blessing the blood of Christ. Its arms impossibly skinny, as pale as the rest of the figure, then the light from the truck went out and the creature disappeared into the unknown.
Sean let out a helpless scream, closed the blinds with force and bolted across his room onto his bed. He then reached out and grabbed his cellphone from the desk and sat back against the wall hugging his bent knees with his hands. The fear was unbearable. He still didn’t understand what he just saw. He glanced down at this phone and started to dial the police, he noticed that he only had five percent left on his battery life.
While he clumsily dialed 911 he looked back up at his window shade. The light from the truck started flashing on and off again at random intervals like the horn. Each time it shone on the window he could see the outline of the creature, it seemed like it was clawing at his window. The lights flashed off and on again and again, while the phone rang. Each time the light shown the creature was in a different position, more menacing than the last, its crude, thin shape almost dancing to a strobe light. The phone stopped ringing.
“9-1-1 what’s your emergency,” the voice of a middle aged woman answered on the other end.
“Help, please, they are here!” Johnny screamed in the phone. He was shaking uncontrollably, his shirt almost fully drenched in sweat, its color a shade darker than intended.
“Excuse me, sir? What is your emergency?” the woman answered forcefully this time; she could hear the agony in his voice.
“I need you to send someone over instantly, it would be impossible for me to explain this to you right now, you would not believe me. Please send somebody right now!”
“Sir, calm down.” She pressed a button next to her control panel which notified the nearest dispatcher. She would ask for his location but police stations could trace calls, lucky there were two patrol vehicles within minutes from Sean’s location. “Tell me what is going on, help is on the way.”
Sean thought he would feel a sense of relief in her last statement but he didn’t. He then put the phone on speaker so he could glance up at the window. No need to be sneaky now they already knew he was here. “They are here and they know I’m here. One of them is clawing at my window.”
“You are not making any sense right now, mister, who are they?”
Sean thought for a second and answered to the best of his abilities. His words came out hastily. “To be honest I don’t know. A couple of buddies and I were investigating this abandoned warehouse in the woods near my house. You see we do ghost hunting as a hobby, nothing ever comes up we just do it for the rush, it’s a fun hobby, you know.” Sean imaged the warehouse in his mind, half of the windows boarded up, the other half as black and empty as the cabin of the truck.
As deep and gaping as the eyes of the creature he just saw. He was constantly staring at the window shade, it was white. “Anyway, in this warehouse we were getting a strange reading on a device we carry which senses electromagnetic energy. It was in the basement and it seemed to get larger towards the south wall. We became extremely intrigued by this; so much so that we hypothesized there was something behind the wall. Even though it was stone and the foundation was the same as the rest of the building.”
The lady on the other end cut in. “Ok, ok I’m getting this.”
Sean started up again not even acknowledging her response. “One day we went back with mallets and knocked the wall down. Our suspicions were right, we found another room almost as large as the foundation of the building, which meant it continued underground. The far wall of the room was stone and dirt and the ceiling was complete rock, like we were in a cave. There was an ominous smell in the room like-” Sean cut off, staring at the shade he saw the creature again, only this time it came from the right side of the window and it seemed smaller. It could be the illusion of the light on the shade, he thought, that’s all human vision is anyway, an illusion. He noticed it was holding something or someone in its hands. It seemed like a limp doll, very human in shape. It was wearing a large cowboy hat and seemed to be quite sizable, maybe 200 pounds he thought.
“Sir, are you still there? Help is almost at your location, are you ok?”
Sean’s heart sank. From the left side of the shade came another figure, equally lanky and equally menacing, there were two of them. The new apparition grabbed the person and tugged at it like two children fighting over a doll. The one on the left then bit into the person's left leg and tugged like a dog fighting over a pull toy. The creature on the left hissed at the one on the right, then it too bit into the side of the person's neck. He could hear a splatter on his window, most likely blood.
“Are you still there? I will stay on this line until I get an answer!” the woman’s voice seemed almost as desperate as Sean’s now.
“It’s horrible,” that’s all Sean could mutter, just enough to respond to her question, just enough to let her know he was still alive. The two silhouettes then ripped and teared at the person until all that was left was its right arm and a stump of its right thigh. Sean tried to believe his eyes but he couldn’t, the fact the he was starting at a projection of shadows did just enough to pull him away from a panic attack.
“Stay with me, sir, help is almost there.”
Sean continued to look dumfounded as the creatures picked up chunks of flesh and ripped into them like a lion that just caught its prey. They stopped after a few moments then dropped the body, their faces turning towards the window, where he lay on his bed against his wall. The curtain and the window was the only thing saving Sean now, he was drenched in sweat, his body was shivering, and he could feel the adrenaline pumping through his head, getting a rush of blood during each pump of his heart which was now running a marathon. Then he heard them, the sirens. “Oh thank God, I can hear the Sirens now!”
“Stay with me, mister, it’s not over till it’s over. Are you still ok?” Her last sentence still had a hint of worry in it.
“Yes, I am still fine. But they are staring at me know, they know I’m in here and they will be back. I’ll finish the story when I get down to the station.” His tone turned from pure horror to slight relief. It was almost over, the nightmare was almost done. He could barely see the lights of the police cars driving down his street. They get larger then pulled up to his house, fully revealing the shadows the figures cast, the creatures turned around. He could now see them almost as clear as he did when he was staring into their eyes.
He looked up and down the cured, skinny, naked features they possessed. He was finally able to get his whits about him. “Freeze, don’t move, we have you surrounded!” the forceful voice of the policeman amplifier shattered the silence like a crash of thunder inches away. For a moment Sean felt even more terrified, he grasped his legs even harder now in anticipation. “What the hell are-" Before the officer could finish they darted towards the left side of his window and out of his vision. He could see that the officers were following it with their search light.
Sean, now almost fully relieved, walked towards the window and opened up the blinds. He could see the redness of the sky, it was almost dawn. Red sky in the morning, sailor’s warning. His window was covered in random smears of blood, he looked down and saw a half consumed corpse of a person, most likely the driver of the truck. The police light dashed back onto the window and blinded Sean, he almost fell back from the impact like someone flash-banged his room.
“You're safe now, sir, you can come out now. Whoever they were are gone now and we got a lead on them.”
Sean knew they didn’t have a chance of finding them; nobody did, except for him. Sean ran over to his door and opened it slowly; he placed his right forearm over his eyes as the spotlight was still on him. He turned his head to the left and saw the mauled corpse of the truck driver. His torso was slit open, his left arm about a foot away from where his head used to be. Beyond his body he could see the footsteps in the damp soil of his garden; they then trod off to the woods. At one point they forked off to the left, most likely their escape route. The oddness of the shape of the footprints didn’t bother him now that he had seen their faces, there whole complexion. He had looked into their eyes and saw their soul, or lack of it.
“Please, come towards us sir, stay away from the body, you are safe.”
As Sean walked past the truck he could see blood spatter on the inside of the windowsill. He finally could see inside the dark cabin, revealed that it didn’t actually lead into the abyss. The other officer was examining the vehicle. “My God...” the officer muttered as he ran his flashlight up and down the vehicle. The bed was empty save for a few long planks of wood. “I’ve never felt so sorry for someone in my whole life, buddy, best believe that.”
Sean didn’t know if he was talking to him or his partner, either way he was relieved to be safe. He approached the officer calling his name; he was a tall, skinny man with a very stern complexion. He sported a very prominent mustache that hid his upper lip and his skin looked a little aged he was possibly in his mid-fifties. Sean glanced over his nametag, “Mike”.
“You alright, son?” Officer Mike said. “When we got that call we just assumed it was a routine break-in or robbery. What the hell where those things on your window, son?”
Sean looked down at his feet and let out a sigh. Turning his head to the left he took note of the truck once again, he noted the cool breeze of early morning and the chirping of mating birds. He turned his head back over to Officer Mike, opening his mouth slightly with the intention of answering his question, but he never did. Glancing over at the police car he noticed a strange shadow emitting from its left taillight. Officer Mike turned his head around quickly.
A skinny, pale white hand crept over the light and scraped against the car. Before they could let out a scream the creature jumped over the trunk, tackling Officer Mike facefirst into the pavement. It appeared to be sniffing the Officer, it then looked up at Sean, still crouched over the unconscious policeman, its meek hands grasping his uniform. It smiled at Sean; now there were no windows to protect him.