Estimated reading time — 13 minutes
The agitated wind roared outside, carrying millions of tiny snowflakes with it. I stared blankly at my computer screen reading the document my now ex-wife had left on it just before she had left me.
“ Dear Blake,
I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to you, considering I’ve been home less and less lately, but I can’t think of a way I could say this face to face without you exploding on me. I’m done with this whole thing. I can’t take the late nights and the yelling any longer. I’ve never met another couple that argued as much as us and I think it’s time we start calling this what it really is-abuse. I’ve found someone else, Blake; someone that will treat me the way I deserve in addition to providing for me. I hope you make some changes in your life, or else you will be alone for the rest of it. I’m sorry things couldn’t have ended differently. I’ve started the paperwork and I’ll contact you soon about arranging a day to come sign it.
The words didn’t hurt any less the twentieth time I had read it than the first. Each moment I thought about it felt like a chain wrapped around my neck with a heavy weight at the bottom tugging and choking me. Warm tears silently streamed down my face as I closed the document once again, a nightly ritual I had performed since the night Rachel left me.
“I wasn’t a bad person, was I?” I thought. “I had tons of friends at work and even those I had kept in touch with from high school. Rachel and I were just a bad fit, I guess.”
Just as I went to open another document, my computer monitor went black, as well as the rest of the lights in my house. “Shit..” I muttered to myself. It must have been the storm outside. The snow had pounded my small home town in Washington for nearly a week straight, but the wires had held on for as long as they could. Realizing that I would be without electric heat, I donned my large brown Carhart jacket and boots and proceeded outside to the wood pile. The icy wind instantly froze my contacts to my eyes and made my vision blurry. I had made this walk several hundred times and even with the distortion of my vision as well as the tenacity of the snow storm, I made my way over to the wheel barrow and began to load it up with pieces of the oak I had cut down during the past fall.
After I had gathered all I needed as well as some kindling to start a fire, I started wheeling the load back over to my front porch and stacked it neatly in a pile on my porch so the snow wouldn’t cover it. I went back inside and hung my coat back up, but suddenly I felt uneasy. I looked out my window and what I saw surprised me. About two-hundred yards away stood a man wearing a heavy dark coat and a black back pack. It was hard to make out his face due to my inhibited vision, but through the trees, it was unmistakably a man. I opened my window and called out to him. “Hey, are you lost or something?” No response other than the echoes I heard through the hills was returned. I went over to my living room and grabbed my cell phone off the coffee table just in case I needed to call a tow truck for the man and made my way back outside. To my surprise and confusion, he no longer stood there. Not only that, but after surveying the woods around my house, I couldn’t find him anywhere. This was strange, as I lived relatively deep in the woods and didn’t have any neighbors for miles. What would a man be doing walking around in this blizzard by himself? After locking the door with the dead bolt, I went back inside and started a much-needed fire. After giving a few painful thoughts to Rachel’s memory, I lied down in my recliner and nodded off.
I awoke the next morning around 7 AM to all of the lights in the house turned on that I had left on the previous night. After making a round to ensure I wouldn’t have a hefty electricity bill, I cleaned up and put my EMT uniform on. The storm had died down to a few flurries here and there, although the sun was still very much hidden behind the dark grey clouds as I walked out to my truck. I made one last glance around my property for the man I was sure I had seen last night before getting into my old Dodge pickup. The familiar sound of the engine turning on made me realize that I hadn’t lost everything along with Rachel, and I hastily sped out of my driveway to the county EMS station, as I had spent a little too much time preparing for work that morning.
In the garage that housed the ambulances stood my best friend, Taylor; he walked up to me and gave me a comforting hug and a few pats on the back before speaking. He was fully aware of the situation with Rachel. “How are we doing, man? Did your power go out last night, too?” He asked. “Yeah, I’m managing, and it went out around 10 and didn’t come back on until morning.” I replied “Hopefully this storm won’t last too much longer. I’m almost out of firewood.” That day went on like any normal day at work. I remember hearing a story on the local news about a man named Roger Patterson who had gone missing a week ago. His family was willing to listen to any leads of his whereabouts. That moment, I thought of the man I had seen last night, staring at me, unmoving. I got really creeped out, and tried not to think about it for the rest of the day.
After coming home that day, I checked my cell phone and my eyes widened a little. A text from Rachel glowed on the glass screen, and I quickly opened it and what I read filled my heart with a warm rush of hope. “I need to talk to you, Blake. I think I’ve made a mistake.” This one little message almost erased what had been a week of depression and anxious thoughts. Things were going to be different now. I was going to make it up to her and show her what a real husband was. The old Blake had died in this experience, and I emerged from his ashes as the man my wife always needed. I spent the rest of the day doing household chores with a permanent grin on my face.
As night fell, I lied on my bed underneath the thick blankets. The conversation I had with Rachel on the phone a few hours ago remained fresh in my mind. We had decided to meet for lunch the next day and talk about the feelings we had about reconsidering things and to see if we could make our relationship work. It took a lot for me to hold back what I wanted to say to her over the phone. I wanted to do it in person, so she could see that I could be a sweet and thoughtful guy after all. I loved Rachel more than anything in the world. It just took almost losing her to realize that.
Just then, the power went out as darkness engulfed the room. I grunted in frustration and got up to once again make a trip for firewood. This time, I grabbed my pistol just in case the man I had seen the previous night showed up again. I made the second trip to the wood pile without seeing the man, but once I had made it back inside my house, I once again glanced through the window to see the dark figure facing me. He was standing in the same clearing but about a hundred yards closer this time. The white snow glowed blue in the moonlight and the snowflakes danced along with their shadowy counterparts. His face was more apparent to me this time, and a thick beard frosted with snow outlined his chin. A hood covered his eyes, and tattered, ripped clothes shown under his now opened jacket. He stood motionless, silent, and focused on me. My hair stood on end as fear combined with the chill of the storm swept over me. I called out to him for the second time as I reached for my gun. “Listen man, I don’t know what you want, but I can promise you if you keep doing this, I’m calling the cops.”
Some visible steam from my breath escaped as I scratched my chin hairs. The man stood motionless until I made a couple steps towards him. He then began awkwardly pacing away from my house into the tree line. There was something about his steps that was off, like his legs were made out of glass and he was afraid they would shatter underneath him. Before a minute had passed, he had disappeared into the trees.
I went back inside and proceeded to start another fire. It was easier this time, as the first one had not completely gone cold. I grew more and more concerned about this man. “What if he broke into my shed and took my expensive power tools? What if he broke into my house?” I tried not to think about it, and started thinking about Rachel instead. Her fair skin and brown eyes complimented her complexion in a way that made me feel lost in her when things were good between us. I couldn’t let her slip away. I wouldn’t let her slip away.
I looked out my upstairs window for any sign of the bearded man in the woods. I saw nothing through the thick arctic clouds of powdered snow that raced in front of me, almost tauntingly. I had trouble sleeping that night. Maybe it was just the anticipation about seeing Rachel, but I couldn’t help but feel on edge. I tossed and turned before checking my cell phone again and reading the message Rachel had sent me. “I think I’ve made a mistake.” The words resonated with me as I felt I had never made a bigger mistake in my life than treating her badly. My mind fixated on memories of being with her as I slipped into the unconscious world of sleep.
The next morning behaved similar to the previous one. I woke up at 6:30 instead this time so I would have enough time to check my shed for anything the bearded man might have stolen last night. Nothing was out of place. If the man was so interested in stalking me, why would he not have taken what he wanted when he had the chance? I wasn’t going to chase after him in the blizzard. I spent the morning getting ready and making sure everything valuable was locked up before heading to work.
Taylor wasn’t at the station that day. He had taken off for illness and asked a coworker of ours named Caitlyn to take over his shift. She was relatively good friends with Rachel and we spent the morning in between calls talking about things I should say to her to show her how I really feel. “I’m actually really proud of you, Blake.” She said. “It looks like you’re really trying to make a change, and she’ll see that. Don’t worry about saying exactly what she wants to hear. If you just tell her how you feel, I’m sure she’ll come around.” “Thanks, I really appreciate it.” I said. “It’s all I’ve been able to think about the past couple days and I know she’s the only woman for me.” There weren’t many calls that day; not many people were out doing things in fear of the storm. There were only a couple of minor car wrecks from people trying to drive their little town cars through the mountains.
After work, I went to see Rachel. The anticipation could be cut with a knife at this point and when our eyes met, she instantly ran up and hugged me in the cold air. With tears streaming down both of our faces, we kissed for a long time. “I missed you so much.” I said almost choking through tears. “I missed you too..” She whimpered back. That moment was one of the best in my entire life. I felt like a piece of me had been restored and that I would never let it slip again. I’ll never forget that scene, surrounded by the street lamps already illuminated even though it was only around 5:30. We talked for hours at the restaurant and then agreed to spend the day together tomorrow. I couldn’t wait. As we departed, I gave her one long kiss goodbye and told her to drive safe. She echoed the same back to me and we both walked away into the night feeling fulfilled.
The drive home was filled with so many good thoughts and memories of Rachel that I almost forgot about the man that was sure to show up tonight. I called Taylor and asked him if he wanted to come over and watch a movie or something since we hadn’t really seen each other outside from work in a while; that was the excuse I used anyway. I wanted another person around just in case the bearded man got brave. He obliged and said he would be over after he took his daughter to her grandmother’s. I prepared a fire beforehand just in case the power went out again so I wouldn’t have to trek out into the blizzard, or look at the creep who decided his favorite pass time was fucking with guys trying to make an honest living.
After a couple hours of social networking and web browsing, my computer screen went black again. “Of course..” I said, almost as if I were talking to the man that was surely standing outside. I looked outside and there he stood. This time, things were different, though. He was much closer to my house this time, only about ten yards away. His face shot up to meet me at the second story window. I was terrified now. I looked down unable to remove my gaze from his frozen body as he started sprinting towards my front porch. I ran over and grabbed my gun from under my pillow as I heard a large CRACK and the sound of shattering glass downstairs. Fighting through every thought that told me to stop and hide upstairs, I silently crept down each step, making as little noise as possible.
I felt a freezing breeze roll in from the window the man had just broken. It made me flinch and almost lose my composure. “I’ve never been so fucking cold in my life..” I thought as I took a deep, silent breath. Without a second thought, I whipped around the corner brandishing the gun, but found an unexpected sight. The bearded man lay face down with half of his body hanging over the window sill. He was motionless, not even breathing, and I honestly couldn’t decide whether to call the police or shoot the guy myself for the obvious home invasion he had just committed.
“Look, I’m gonna call the police.” I said with a shaky voice. The wind chilling my bones was unbearable and made my movements stiff and slow. Just then, I gasped as the man’s head fell off of his body and rolled over on the floor next to my foot. I could see now that this was not a prankster, burglar, or even any sort of natural man. I saw his face clearly now, the skin on his cheeks was blue and cracked from what looked like days spent in the elements without shelter. His glassy eyes were black and shriveled. His lips were frozen shut and crusted with blood. A look of despair and misery shown in this horror and I vomited after seeing it.
After I had composed myself, I saw a thick, black, tar-like substance start to pour out of the hole where the man’s head once rested. It oozed out onto the floor for several minutes before dripping to a stop. I backed away, not knowing what diseases or parasites this man carried. Looking down at it, I saw something else that chilled me more than the sub-zero temperature. I looked down to see two large eyes open in the pool of filth, as well as a large, tooth-filled mouth open. I screamed and ran upstairs. I slammed the door shut and frantically looked around for my cell-phone. I curse when I realized I had left it downstairs, and without the power for the land-line, there was no way I could reach the police.
I stared at my door with the gun pointed at it. I didn’t know what good it would do for a creature like this, but it was my only defense. I heard the thing making sloppy, wet steps up the stairs towards my room. I heard it lay against the door way and stop moving. The door to my room had no crack underneath for ventilation, so it was stuck on its side of the hallway, or so I thought. I let out a terrified scream as I saw the thing passing through my door without opening it. I saw its face clearly now. Not completely amorphous, but not in the natural shape of a man. The thing almost looked like a thick stick figure similar to that old kids show Gumbee. Its impossibly wide eyes fixated on me inside the room and it opened its mouth to speak in a light-toned voice that I can only describe as similar to a cheerful salesman with several voice tones all sounding at once.. “It’s cold.” It said. “I’m sure you understand.” Those words almost made me piss myself. I watched as it slowly worked its way through the door before flopping out with a notable lack of grace in its movements.
It slowly came towards me, its whole body jiggling with each step. Its indefinite shape trying to mimic that of a man was menacing. It spoke again. “It’s so cold.” It was going to do the same thing to me that it did to that poor bastard downstairs. It was going to invade my body to stay alive. That’s why it was watching me. It was studying my actions, waiting or the right time to strike. I wondered how it came to be. Was it made in a lab? Was it the product of some satanic ritual? It was very close now, maybe only a few feet away. It lumbered towards me like a toddler trying to hug a teddy bear when an audible thump made it stop. Behind it, I saw the bedroom door open and Taylor who had just dropped his beer bottle in shock. He ran up to try and grab the thing before I could stop him. His hand when through its body like jello, and it quickly slid its form around him, sticking its arms and appendages into his mouth, nostrils, ears, and everywhere else it could move into his body. He screamed and writhed in protest, but I just stood there, motionless. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen.
I ran past the thing and Taylor and slammed the door shut behind me. I had to call the police. I had to get far away from that thing. I had to… WHAP. I tripped down the stairs in my haste and smacked my head against the bottom step. I felt a warm stream of blood slide down my face. I looked at the top of the steps to see Taylor, his eyes now merely shriveled pits under the control of that thing. It walked downstairs awkwardly, but with more grace than in its true form. I crawled towards my front door on my hands and knees. I couldn’t let that thing have me. I managed to crawl over to my truck and get inside. Luckily, I had kept my keys in my pocket from work. I started the thing up just seconds after the thing had made it over to me and smashed my window with Taylor’s hand. Thick, black oozing blood dripped from the wounded hand as he reached for me. I slammed on the gas and sped away into the night.
My heart didn’t stop pounding until I was about an hour away from my house. I didn’t even think to grab my cell-phone before I had left, so I stopped at a gas station to ask to use their phone to call the police. The gruff, middle-aged store clerk looked me up and down. I must have looked really shaken up and he took pity on me. I called the Eckerd County Police Department and a young-sounding female dispatcher picked up. I explained the incident as best I could without it sounding like a prank and as calmly as I could, asked if they could look for Taylor. The woman’s response seemed puzzled. “We got a call from a man named Taylor Matthews a little over an hour and a half ago. We already have officers at the scene and they found the bodies of two people.”
I let the phone slip away from my face for a second as I attempted to lift my head up and keep from puking. Taylor was dead, and that thing was still out there. “Get everyone out of the house.” I whispered. I hung up the phone, paid for fifty dollars in gas and roared back towards home. I couldn’t let one more person become the victim of that thing. After about twenty minutes of driving, I heard the engine of my truck make a massive CLANK as it rolled to a stop. “No, no, no, no shit!” I said to myself as it came to rest on the side of the road. I got out and popped the hood to look inside. There was thick, gooey oil all over the inside of my engine. I cleaned it out the best I could and got back into the cabin of my truck. I punched the steering wheel several times out of anger and heard the horn echo through the woods. I had no idea what to do. I didn’t have a cell-phone to call for help and I was at least thirty minutes from town.
I opened the door and started to step out of the truck when I heard that voice again; the inhuman timbre of a being that I didn’t understand. “It’s so cold.” It said quietly. I looked back to see that thing’s cheerful eyes and mouth staring at me with an enormous grin, its body resting half-formed sitting in the passenger seat of my truck. Its mouth oozed black liquid as it spoke. It grabbed me with its disgusting, appendages.. “I’m sure you understand.”
Credit To – Ben Meadows