DSTL Arts – a nonprofit arts mentorship organization that inspires, teaches, and hires emerging artists from underserved communities.
By Jeremy Arias
There was a light wind pushing the leaves on the moon-soaked streets. The street lights dripped their light down to the pavement above parked cars, reflecting its light as far as it could.
I sat in the darkness of my porch looking at the lawn before me. Four trees sprouted out of the ground and let their branches reach for the sky. The wind began to whistle and the leaves rustled in synch like a tune from the earth. Do I dare contribute to this music? Would whatever rhythm I make add to the tranquility of the night?
I sat in silence listening to the world do as it does. I don’t deserve this. No, I don’t. Not tonight. Not any night. Not even the day. Not even as a punishment.
I took another deep breath to stifle a sigh.
Just as I was about to call it a night and give another shot at trying to sleep, I noticed movement on the street. Something moved swift and low as if trying to sneak between the cars. There was almost no sound to the steps taken. I ran my hand down my face and rubbed my eyes to see if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing, or maybe my tireless mind was getting the better of me.
There was the sound of the breeze again hitting the wind chimes and rustling leaves on trees. The figure held impossibly still in the gap between the parked cars. I couldn’t make out what it was or what it was doing, if anything at all. Maybe I shouldn’t care. Maybe this is something I’d rather not see and hear about on the news or something. Whatever it was, it shouldn’t be disturbed.
Silently, I rose from the stoop I sat on and creaked the screen door open slowly, letting myself back in. As I swung the door closed, it squeaked loud enough to end my heartbeat with a bang. I grit my teeth as my grip tightened on the knob, trying to suppress the closing squeal. That’s when I saw the figure rise up on a pair of feet.
The figure was dark. It almost seemed like staring at a silhouette from the bottom of an abyss. It’s shape barely seemed human. It had two barely-spaced legs, a fat, rectangular body, and an oval shaped head. Slowly, one leg dragged itself in front of the other and carried its body over to my side of the street. It’s legs moved like tentacles in cartoons with a slick motion that barely moved the top half of its body as it walked.
I locked the deadbolt on the door which clicked like a shotgun. I backed up into my room and searched frantically for my phone. The gate clinked and the fence ruffled, mocking the familiar sound of someone jumping over the fence. There was a crash and thudding sound that could only be compared to dropping a bag of meat. There was no bounce or reaction of pain of any type. It was just a plop as it fell.
Without turning on any lights, I felt my way around the bed looking for my phone, which was discovered only a few inches away from my pillow. I unlocked it and dialed the police as fast as my trembling fingers allowed.
The line began to ring.
“911 emergency, what’s your emergency?” the dispatch officer asked.
“Hello,” I whispered. “There’s something outside my-”
“911 emergency, is there anyone there?” she asked again.
“Yes, hello?” I called.
“911 emergency, is there someone there?” she repeated.
“Yes! I’m speaking!” I checked the phone to make sure my microphone wasn’t muted, but it seemed fine.
“Hello?” I called again into the speaker. “Hello?”
It sounded like nails on a chalkboard from the other side of my window.
“Hello?” I whispered into the microphone as I backed away from the bedroom window.
I hung up the phone. I figured they’d send a patrol car if there wasn’t a response, but how long from now until it got here? Would I last the minutes or hours until the police got here?
But there wasn’t anything that followed. Not a sound came from the window. I tiptoed my way to the window and placed my palm on the curtain, pinching my fingers against the cloth, delicately pulling a slit for my eye. There didn’t seem to be anything outside, which seemed cliche, but this made me believe it was time to go to sleep.
I spent an hour crouched by the window staring out into the emptiness. As every second went by, so did the thought that I was crazy and needed to sleep.
Look at me, I thought. Two in the morning, staring out the window in red shorts and a black shirt. If anyone with half a brain saw me, I’d look like a total creep.
My mind wandered to the thought of the police call. Perhaps I should call back and say nothing happened. I should still wait and see if they show up so they can check if anything was stolen. I adjusted my legs from the tireless crouch and rested my back against the wall, resting my head and closing my eyes.
All the sounds of the night combined with a sudden dragging sound. It sounded as if someone was dragging a bag of dirt across the cement little by little. Someone small, like a toddler too weak to pick it up or drag it a long distance, having to take sudden breaks to regain the strength to pull it some more.
I rose up again feeling tension all across my head. There was a pressure behind my eyes that felt as if my brain was being mangled into knots. I gripped my forehead and got to my feet pulling myself to the window. I peeled back the curtains and saw the figure now standing directly outside, peering into the window through the slit.
I jerked back releasing the grip on the curtain, stumbling to regain control of my feet. It had what looked like a disfigured face. There was a sole green spot that glowed like radiation in place of eyes. The rest of its face was charred black as well as what was visible of its body.
It’s raspy voice said.
“What the fuck are you?” I exclaimed as I searched and stumbled looking for anything to defend myself with in case it broke through my window.
Whyat the fook arrr yooooo?
It’s voice was clearing up and sounding awkwardly distinguished.
What the fuck arrrrr yooooo?
It began to push the window, which slowly cracked from the epicenter of where it pressed its dark, stubby arms.
My hands managed to find my swiss army knife from behind my pencil case. I drew the knife out as I watched it crack my window into tiny, brittle shards.
The figure leaned on the window sill, and like a ball of clay, began to ooze inside and tumbled onto my floor. I made out the shape of the figure in the darkness and found what appeared to be the head. I gripped my knife tightly, bracing my trembling hand, to go for a jab in the head.
I grit my teeth and sent my arm soaring to its head, jabbing across. It was like stabbing a pile of mashed potatoes. The knife went through, so I slid it back and tried again, but by now, the knife got stuck and began to sink into it’s head like quicksand.
I stepped back against the door and swallowed hard in shock. The figure was rising to its feet. It was only about my size and slowly produced arms, legs, and the rest of a face. I opened the door and ran out, into the living room, tripping over the coffee table. I rushed to my feet, cursing the cliche of tripping. I didn’t think I’d ever be that stupid, but in the darkness, anything can happen.
I turned on the light and ran to the kitchen looking for another knife. As I reached the knife rack, my eyes fixed onto the fire extinguisher mounted on the wall. I pulled it off and got ready to bash it against the figure.
The figure came out of my room, upright and standing, stepping into the light of the living room. When I saw it in full light, I dropped the fire extinguisher and my jaw. The figure was now wearing a black T-shirt and red shorts, had semi-combed, frizzy bed-hair, dark hazel eyes, a two-day beard, and light-brown skin with a swiss army knife in its hand. I was staring into a reflection of myself that moved all on its own.
“Oh fuck,” I muttered.
My heart raced, pounded as the figure got closer and closer. With every step, each detail of my own became clearer and appeared. The moles, the looser strands of hair, the scar on my arm, and even the size of its nails became much like my own.
My mind was racing and screaming, telling me to run, but my eyes were fixed on the figure, hypnotized in what felt like a trance. Any moment now, I’ll wake up. I’ll wake up.
Oh fuck, the figure said.
The figure got closer to my frozen body and slashed the knife across my forehead, then jabbing it into the side of my head where it became too weak to retract it. My eyes couldn’t widen any more than they already had, my body crashing to the floor like a bag of meat, a pool of blood spawning from my head.
I’ll wake up.
I’ll wake up.
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