The darkness pressed against my corneas, diffusing across the transparent boundary into the aqueous humour, as if it were a solid object forcing its way to my retinas, obscuring my vision. The distant creaks of the old house lent a menacing atmosphere to the blackness permeating the almost silent rooms, the almost footsteps complementing the almost-forms of the dark.
As the sleep fell away from me, the looming tenebrosity receded and the house took on a less perturbing aspect. The creaks were just creaks, the shadows in the corners of the room were just the places that the dim light from the power extension cable near the bed didn't reach.
At first I wasn't sure what had awoken me. Could it have been a stray creak as the house settled, as it often did at night? Or the wind's breath stronger than usual against the window? Perhaps the ignition of the boiler as it prepared the day's hot water? My ears strained into the darkness, alert for the faint sounds marring the smooth surface of the silence lapping at the edges of my perception. The nothing continued to impose its blankness upon my senses until I noticed the tightness of my bladder.
Rising from my bed without turning on the light, to avoid waking the other inhabitants of the house, I made my way to the bedroom door. The handle was stiff, the spring groaned as it was compressed by the turn of the handle. The lower edge of the door swished across the carpet, lightly brushing the ends of my toes as it passed, the breadth of a hair from causing harm. Carefully closing the door behind me, to ensure that it would not slam as it swung to, I turned to face the dark silence of the house.
I crossed the landing, the carpet cool against the soles of my feet, the fibres compressing audibly beneath my steps. There were no lights on downstairs, nobody was awake. Passing the head of the stairs, I continued to the bathroom door using the faint light shining in from the street through the small window in the front door.
The bathroom door closed and bolted behind me, I relieved my turgid bladder. As I did so, a nagging feeling began to subtly gnaw at the back of my mind. A feeling of disquiet began to grow at the base of my skull, and slowly flowed down my spine, glacially to engulf my limbs as I washed my hands and prepared to return to my bed. Approaching the bathroom door, the tendrils of ice in my limbs tightened and for a moment I found myself unable to move, as the horror unfurled its dark wings and wrapped them tightly around my body. I shook off the apprehension and unlocking the door, opened it.
I started back along the landing towards my bedroom door. With each step towards the head of the stairs the dread took more of my composure. Stopping at the stairs frozen with the creeping fingers of anxiety clutching at me, something caught the corner of my eye. Something was wrong. My gaze, drawn inexorably downwards to the bottom of the stairs alighted upon an outline that should not have been there. Steeped in darkness, a deeper shadow stood by the front door at the bottom of the stairs. At first, I questioned whether I could see anything there at all. Was it nothing more than a deeper shadow amongst the shadows? My eyes toiled to draw form from darkness, to detect the slightest movement that would indicate that what I could see was there. No movement disturbed the dark manifestation, but from within the shadow shrouding the face of that tall, lean figure came the intimation of a gaze so alien and intense as to freeze the blood in my veins. Held there, I felt the tendrils of cold reaching for me from below, the invisible, icy grasp inching towards me with unknown intent.
Wrenching free, I threw myself away from the apparition. Racing to the bedroom door I wrenched it open, bolted into the room and closed it behind me with a resonant bang, unable to rid my mind of what I had seen. Diving beneath the covers I bunched them over my head, the horror that I felt making every creak a footstep on the stair, every gust of wind a breath outside my door, and did not sleep.
I spent the next day in a daze, no mention was made of the event of the night before. All the while a feeling of doom loomed over me, the foreboding in the creature caught by a trap, anticipating the return of the hunter. Passing the place that I had seen the apparition, the cold once again caressed me, reaching for me from the gloom of the memory of the previous night.
As I went to bed that night, the darkness was close around me, even while the light was on. The fear crept under the blankets with me, the constant companion of the night.
Awakened, my eyes flew open in the darkness. The fear pressed around my supine form. Moving to turn on the light, I refrained: Light would inform the thing that I was awake, aware. I lay without light, in certainty that the thing had returned, was even now approaching.
I crept to the door, my hand on the handle, the cold seeping into my palm. Turning the handle, the groan of the spring loud in the silence, I peeked around the edge of the door. The house was in darkness, the absence of sound lay thickly like a blanket over the habitation and its inhabitants. Still creeping forward, I advanced to the stairs, peering into the gloom.
There it stood, still as a rock, on the stairway as if ascending. No arm reached for the banister from that ghastly silhouette no breath of air stirred. Somehow clearer than the night before, the menacing presence oppressive on the air. The cold once more reached for me, the gaze as heavy as iron. The tall form stood immobile as I was immobilised, the invisible grasp reaching out across the distance that separated me from the presence in the darkness. The blackness extended its grip towards me, inky fingers of terror enfolding me within their dark embrace.
I don't remember how I got back to my bed that night, but I awoke the next morning with the sheets clutched in my cramped and locked fingers. The terror never left me that day. The memory of the darkness unrolling fronds of horror to brush my spine. I now knew that the apparition would return once more, that it would continue its nightmarish approach. To what end I could not say. As I passed the spot in which the figure had reposed, the warmth seemed to leave my flesh, the coherence my mind. The rising darkness overwhelmed me and I momentarily forgot what I was about. Dragging my awareness back to the present I moved onwards, but I felt that a part of me was still there, frozen in the pool of remembered darkness diffusing forward from the lonely silence of the previous night. I tried to tell my family of the encounter with the uncanny entity but could not. The words froze on my paralyzed tongue, my frame a silent prison for my screaming mind.
The night came quickly, my dragging steps speeding me towards the inevitable brush with the unknown. Retiring to my bed I awaited the oncoming horror. I did not sleep, the creeping terror forcing my eyes to remain open in anticipation of the expected arrival.
In the dark of the night, the cold came for me. Seeping around the edges of the door into the room, palpably thickening the air it crept over me, announcing the presence of the entity. Almost rooted to the spot, I nevertheless was able to peel myself from my sweat soaked bed and stumble reluctantly to the bedroom door. Unfastening the safeguarding barrier as quietly as I could, I peered into the gloom.
The light that gleamed faintly up the stairway from the front door made a dim outline on the wall, illuminating the light switch on the landing. I scanned the dim recesses before me. In a pool of shadow across from me, I saw it. Standing on the landing opposite my door, the tall, dark outline of the dreadful being, seemingly composed of darkness. I strove to make out the shape I beheld against the surrounding gloom. The spare form towered over me, the details of its anatomy concealed by the shroud of a cloak or coat. The face was more deeply shadowed by a cowl or hat. From within that deeper shadow the intense gaze bored into me, as if the alien consciousness behind it was beating against my mind. I thought to shout, to wake the other inhabitants of the house, but knew that it would be futile. They would not awaken. I wanted to scream at the being, demand to know who it was, what it wanted but the sounds died in my throat, the clutch of the invisible grip tightening around me. I slammed the door, cutting off the monstrous gaze, and retreated into my room.
I type this hurriedly, in the hope that I can post it before the entity intrudes upon my isolation. Perhaps to seek help, although I believe that there is no hope of that. I suppose that I really just hope that someone will read this missive and know what happened to me.
And so, as I sit here, the darkness bleeding into the room around the closed door, I know that there is not long to wait before I finally learn the intent of the entity, which has been haunting my nights. I can almost feel the glare burning into the heavy wood of the door that separates us, hear the creaks of the old house that could be the leisurely scrape of nails, or perhaps claws, knocking at the surface of that same door. So I wait.
It is here.
Written by Akecalo