Estimated reading time — 2 minutes
In the town of Bisden, nobody leaves their home after dark. As soon as the sun begins to set — shutters are drawn shut, candles are snuffed out, and doors are locked tight. Before the moon is fully risen, the entire town appears deserted, and silence reigns supreme.
“Did you hear that?” whispered Freja, sounding very small and afraid in the dark.
“Shut. Up.” Her older brother, Freud, hissed through clenched teeth as he eyed the black windows of the house nearest to them. They were probably locked. Nobody in their right mind would leave their windows unlocked at night. Not in Bisden, anyway.
“I told you we shouldn’t play in the forest,” continued Freja. “I said we should go back sooner.”
“And I said to shut up,” Freud went on. “Whining about the past doesn’t change the present.” Freud looked at his sister, shivering in the dark. “It doesn’t change the situation we’re in.”
Before Freja could respond, the faint sound of a child’s laughter floated across the wind. Goosebumps erupted along Freud’s neck and arms. Something about the sound seemed…wrong.
“Maybe there’s other–“, Freud clasped his hand over Freja’s mouth. Pulling her in close, he shrank back into the shadows of the alley. Again, the unearthly sound drifted across the air. Freja tensed in Freud’s arms as she realized the magnitude of their situation. A child’s voice, oddly distorted, broke the silence of the night like a fist through glass.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
The Thing lumbered across the mouth of the alley — just a few feet from Freud and Freja’s hiding place. It was roughly the size of a child, yet shuffled with its arms hanging grotesquely close to the ground — making its disproportionate body appear markedly apelike. It was completely nude, and had skin so shockingly white that it reflected the glow from the moon. The Thing turned its shimmering bald head toward the alley as it crossed. Its face was perfectly smooth, and entirely devoid of feature — save for an impossibly wide smile with thin lips the colour of blood. The crimson slash of its mouth appeared to stretch from ear to ear. Freud felt warmth spread down his thigh as his bladder let go.
The Thing froze mid-stride, its body becoming as rigid as stone. Slowly, it turned its torso until it was facing the alleyway. It took a tentative step forward. Freja sucked in a sharp breath through her nose as she began to hyperventilate. Freud clamped his hand over her mouth, but he was too late. Impossibly fast, The Thing twisted its head toward their hiding place, producing a sickening crackle from its neck.
In the town of Bisden, nobody leaves their house after dark. Every day, young ones are sternly told to be home by dusk. They are told of the evil that haunts the streets at night. They are told to always remain silent, because if they hear you — The Children of the Moon will tear you limb from limb.