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Crap adult, OK human.

Every Night They Came

By Caroline Egan

Published in Phoenix Ink 5 2016

kid-illustration2Illustration by Olly Cunningham

Every night they came.  Their little feet pattering gently on the laminate flooring, their tiny cold hands pulling at the end of his bed sheets and their barely audible whispers.  Every night he pretended to be asleep, covering his blue eyes with his hands, his knuckles whitening, hidden in the sticky heat of his thick bed spread.  He knew what they looked like, but, because seeing was believing, he had rathered not to reconfirm their existence.

If I can’t see you it means you’re not real.

Frozen in that same position every night, his pulse throbbing in his head, the boy often wondered what they had wanted.  He tried to work through the situation as logically as any eight-year-old could.  The fear he felt, that paralysing sense of powerlessness, took over every time, refusing to fade.  His shivering body would not allow his mind to process thought as little fingers mauled the duvet inches from his arms.

If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.

Three weeks ago he had thought that his eyes were playing tricks on him.  The shadows often had a way of morphing into fearful unknown creatures or concealing the cause of a suspicious sound.  He had been convinced in the initial stages that it must be mice, possibly even rats, when he had heard the rustle and patter in the depths of his dark bedroom and felt the presence of a ball roll eerily across the floor towards his bed. It was only when he heard the indistinct whispers, the indecipherable meandering of a mad person on a mission, that he knew he could not deny his situation.

If I can’t hear you then you’re not here.

Despite his usual overwhelming terror the boy had plotted tiredly throughout the day.  His teacher had commented to his mother recently that he had been falling asleep in class.  His school work had ,been deteriorating and he had developed dark circles under his eyes.  The youthful glow of his face had been extinguished and replaced with the countenance of a war veteran that had seen too much.  Even now, being a kid, he knew that this had to change. It had to end regardless of the consequence, and so, he devised a crude plan to make this a reality.

If I amn’t here you can’t get me.

He encountered one face to face in his narrow upstairs landing returning from the toilet, its silhouette stretching out in the pale moonlight from behind.  It was a greyish brown colour and lacked expression, standing less than a foot tall in height.  It blocked his passage with its narrow limbs and mimicked his every move.  Like a plastic doll with gangly limbs its face was featureless bar its black eyes which blinked sporadically.  It had no visible mouth, or nose, or ears, yet somehow regarded him menacingly.  He froze to the spot and again it adapted his pose.  It darted and dodged fluidly, never changing expression, its two toed feet tapping on the wood floor, until he ran back to the bathroom and locked himself in.  The gentle scratching sound of the blunt nailess fingers followed a few minutes later.

If you can’t touch me this isn’t happening.

Now curled up in a tight foetal position the boy fingered a small object under his pillow.  He would deal with this himself.  Nobody would believe him. Grown-ups were pointless to talk to about it.  He would never prove their existence, especially considering his recent odd behaviour, and even his brother at the age of eleven was closer to adulthood and their beliefs than he was.  The whispering began to rise, as he contemplated this, and a newer stronger wave of fear climbed from the pit of his stomach upward, throwing his thoughts out of sync.  Nobody else in the house could hear their terrifying malevolence either.  They didn’t even have mouths, so how could they whisper?  Those horrible menacing thoughts.  Mocking and planning…teasing and taunting…

If I don’t think about it they will go away.

He had woken up on the bathroom floor the next morning, cold and sticky with puffy eyelids and a crust of dry drool on one side of his chin.  The brightness of the room had stung his eyes and as he ran his hands through his wild blonde hair the nights’ events began to replay in his mind.  He wondered what they were.  They seemed too artificial to be real: they were more man made than anything, like a deformed doll with no pupils.  He wondered where they came from and what they wanted. He could come to no solid conclusion but he knew that it was unlikely to be good.

I’m in a happy place!

Sometimes the he had woken up feeling bruises throb on his arms and legs but when he looked for them he couldn’t find them.  He knew it had something to do with the creatures but there was nothing to see.  So he decided to draw around where the pain was on his arm in pen to see what shape it was because he was a clever boy.  His crudely traced drawing depicted something unsettling.  It clearly showed the shape of a tiny hand, about the size of a golf ball.  It seemed more as the result of a gentle touch as opposed to a slap, as if the creature had just put their hand on him.  His body paralysed as he considered what this meant.   When had they touched him?!  Why hadn’t he felt it?!  Why were they doing this?!

If you don’t see me then you’re not real!

The boy rose slowly from the bed holding the matches tightly in his hands.  It was nearly dawn and the room would start to become grey with dim light. They only came out in the darkness. He squeezed his eyes shut and inched his way across the bed.  He knew his room so well that even in the dark he would be able to negotiate his way to the wardrobe and not need to open his eyes until the last minute.  A silence hushed the room, no more whispering, no more movement, just the sound of the boy’s breathing as he could feel all their eyes following him.  He lowered himself down to the floor, feeling its coldness beneath his feet, and continued as if approaching a wild animal.  No sudden movements, no obviously malicious behaviour and he thought he could pull it off.

If I’m careful they won’t know.

He head realised where they slept that very day, whilst tiredly cleaning his room.  It appeared that behind his wardrobe they had made an entrance to a cave that was confined to a section inside his wall.  When his favourite marble had rolled behind it he pulled it out from the wall and noticed a bedding of rags and hay covering where they slept.  Being young and exhausted he pondered this all day before coming up with the simple plan of burning their next.  He had to carefully execute a plan to even obtain the matches by distracting his mother in the kitchen to steal them. He even robbed fire lighters to ensure that everything would go up in flames.

Fire, fire, burning bright.

He bent down to retrieve the fire lighters and felt cold fingers, gently, almost affectionately stroke his arm.  He refused to open his eyes.  The wicked things would surely try to confuse him their steady gazes, and lunge on him.  He fumbled loosely for each of them, until he had his small hand full. He slowly opened his eyes but did not look around.  Trembling he lit a match, aware of the semi-circle of stares that surrounded him.  As he approached the first firelighter with the match he felt something move to his left – one of the creatures shook its head gently as if to say ‘no’, the flame dancing in its eyes, basked in the pale and short lived light.

The match extinguished and so flustered the boy lit another.

He felt the circle grow tighter around him and anticipation choked in his throat. He could feel their movements not too far away, the air moving from their gentle motions.

He lit the second match clumsily and as he did a rumbling like a cat’s purr began.  The light of the match revealed that the creatures had teeth in their camouflaged mouths, rows denser than that of a shark.  During this his fingertips are burned but he cannot stop himself staring into the dark.

Eventually he drops the match, its searing pain eventually taking its toll in his fingers, and darkness.

The mouths had been wide open by the time the match went out, just enough to frighten the little boy.

He suddenly wondered what his mother was doing…  He wished that she was with him…

He slid his hand into the matchbox to start again, holding his breathe.

When his shaking fingers eventually lit the match it was only just long enough to see the creatures diving on him. He was suddenly pulled to the floor by tens of tiny hands, amidst a sound akin to the low beginnings of an earthquake and dragged swiftly through the hole in the wall, a scream barely making its way out of his mouth.


One Response to “Every Night They Came”

  1. Really excellent visual appeal on this internet site, I’d value it 10 10.

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