Estimated reading time — 8 minutes
It always began to stalk as dusk drew to a close.
I should begin with trying to define ‘it’, but there are no words as to what it really is. It is an unfathomable object, a three-dimensional hundred-sided object with no faces, like an optical illusion. On the numerous occasions I saw it, the creature seemed to change before my eyes, but when I looked again, to see if it was still there, it was the same. A third glance, perhaps, and it would be different. There was no reasonable explanation, no logical conclusion I could jump to as to what it was. But it always came. It never missed a night, not once in over two years. Even when I was out, maybe crashing at a friend’s, or working the late shift, I could still see it, or what I thought was it. After my mind was touched by this creature’s filthy hands, the very shadows seemed to look different, as if they too were hiding something.
It came into my life a little over two years ago. I had just moved out, into a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment on the second floor of a three storey building. The top floor for shut off, apparently leased by some private medicinal company who had done nothing with it. It was located in a neighbourhood where most of the residents who could afford to move out had already done so. It was a little run down, however it was the most I could afford, especially balancing work and university. At first I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but I did not spend much time in my apartment, as finals were approaching and I was mostly on campus, in the library, at work, or at a friend’s place. The only time I ever returned was to sleep, eat and make sure no-one had broken in.
In the second month of living there, I came back one chilly evening, hoping it would not rain. Ominous black rainclouds had threatened all day, but knowing my luck, they’d open up with marble-sized raindrops the minute I was in the open. My luck held, fortunately, and I got into my apartment without getting soaked. As I pulled off my shoes, I noticed one had a dark substance on the bottom. I sighed, thinking it was dog mess, however it was congealing, and it looked more crimson than brown. I touched it with a finger, and it stuck fast. I attempted to shake it off, but it did not move. I wiped it back on my shoe, and left it there. I had better things to do, and hopefully on the walk to university tomorrow the damp grass would wipe it off. In hindsight, I should have dumped the shoe as far as I possibly could and run, but now, that is irrelevant.
I rose the next morning, tired. I had bags under my eyes, and my nose was completely blocked. It was a curious sensation, as usually I could still smell some scents, but I could smell absolutely nothing. I shrugged it off as a bug, took an aspirin, and got ready for university. A small bag, phone, books, and a pen. As I bent down to put on my shoes, I saw the substance had gone. I frowned, unsure if I had dealt with it. I decided I was going a little crazy, and must have cleaned the shoe and forgotten in my haste. I pulled the shoe on and went to university, returned to get changed for work, and left again. I did not return until the next morning, to get cleaned and changed. And it was then I noticed the atrocious smell, somewhere between rotting meat and the public toilet that was down the street from my apartment.
I opened the door and retched. The smell had perforated every single item, every molecule of air, than it possibly could, and it had ruined all my personal items. I felt furious, but also a little apprehension, as to what could have caused such an unnatural smell in just over a day. As I investigated, it seemed to lessen, and disappear. I smelled all my clothes, and bedsheets. Nothing remained of the putrid stench, and I put it down to a passing smell. It was that night I got my first glimpse of it.
I woke. I had no reason to. I could feel a presence, something watching me. I carefully clicked the lamp on. Nothing. I decided to get up to run myself a glass of water, and it was there. I stopped dead in my tracks. It was standing, in the kitchen, at the bench. It turned towards me, and I stood there, shocked. It took a step towards me and I stood there, bewildered. At this point it looked vaguely humanoid, and I assumed it was a burglar. I snapped out of the trance and looked around for anything that I could defend myself with. I found my torch. My father gave it to me as a present when I was eighteen – it was solid, half a metre long, and more like a baton than a torch. I clicked the torch on, and it gave an inhuman screech – and that was when I first knew it wasn’t human. I wondered how the neighbours didn’t hear it, but I assumed it was blocking the noise. It ran at me, colliding, and clumsily reached for the torch. I tightened my grip, trying to bash it, but it had strength in those seemingly skinny arms. As I looked at the torch, then back at the creature, it changed. It was now covered in fur, mattered, oily fur, and was more ape, with thicker arms and legs. It wrestled the torch away from me, clicked off the light, and lay a delicate finger under my chin.
“Is game.” With that, it disappeared.
I woke the next morning, in bed, with blood dripping from a wound on my head. I did not recall getting it, however it was definitely there. I bandaged it and took a painkiller, before trying to recall what it was that earned me the cut. I could not remember the creature that had invaded my home. As I went on through the day, feeling more and more tired with each passing moment, the wound started to burn. I constantly scratched it, but only succeeded in inflaming the cut. I returned home, fully intending just to crash in bed, when the wound stopped hurting, and the tiredness disappeared. The air in the apartment seemed stale and I sensed a presence, but there was no one there. I made myself a quick dinner and retired.
I woke again. The wound was throbbing, almost unbearably so. I got up, stumbling to the kitchen, mind focused solely on getting painkillers. It was there again. It now had a shorter body, only one arm, and a head with two faces. It grinned, a leering gesture that shook me to my soul, and I fled, instinctively knowing it meant me harm. There was no point. It caught me. Every day, for over two years, it would hunt me, put a finger under my chin and grunt,
After over two years of this, I was almost mentally unsound. I stopped working as frequently. My body was covered in more lacerations than I could count. My friends stopped inviting me over so regularly, as I always seemed to wake screaming. My grades dropped, and eventually I failed the course. So much for becoming a psychologist. Even though I could not recall the creature at all, I had the feeling of unease, of fear that was so close to the surface, I could not face darkness. But darkness always fell. The nightlights failed, the torch’s batteries stopped working, and the power went out. Darkness became the only certainty in my life. Until two days ago.
As always, the feeling of injury and tiredness, even depression, went away as I entered my apartment. I went straight to bed, trying to hide. It did not work. It came again, this time impossibly tall and thin, with bizarrely pointing knees and elbows. As it did what it did best, my door opened. One of my neighbours, a hard woman who had grown up as an orphan in an orphanage where they constantly beat up and stole to gain status. She saw it. It saw her. I fell unconscious, and when I woke, she was gone. There was a pool of blood where she had stood… and something else.
I could remember it.
That leads me to today. Yesterday it did not come. As I write this, I know it is coming. I can feel it, somehow, like we have a bond. I suppose after all I’ve suffered, we do have a bond, made of hate, undiluted rage, and countless hours of fear and pain. I have a plan. If it goes wrong, I am dead. I called my parents one more time, to tell them I love them, and although they seemed slightly confused about getting their weekly call a day early. But if it goes well, I may just rid myself of this curse.
The plan lies next to me. I purchased it today. It is a 9mm pistol, of Smith & Wesson design. The rest I do not care about. It is a pistol, and hopefully it can kill it.
It draws closer. I can sense it. It wants me to fall asleep, to let it wake me… but not tonight. Tonight I am stayed wide awake.
It is anxious. I can feel it. It doesn’t understand why I’m not asleep. But it’s curious. It wants to know why I’m not frightened tonight.
It is clever. I caught a glimpse of it, but it disappeared instantly. It is baiting me.
It is cautious. I did not react, but it fears a trap. Time is running out. The sun rises at 06:46, I checked. It has less than twenty minutes.
It is here.
I rise, instinctively knowing it is behind me. I have made sure the gun is loaded, and the safety is off. I fire once, twice, three times. It stumbles back, and runs for the door. The wood splinters, and it howls in pain. I manage a grin, tight and forced. I am paying it back for what it gave me. I fire another five times, into its back? With this creature, the back is the front, the front is the side, and the side is nothing. I am not sure what I am shooting, but I am hurting it. All at once it turns, lashes out with its foot, and I go falling to the floor. It hisses, and drags itself to me. I fumble for the pistol as it raises its hand, now a razor-sharp talon. I fire and it slashes. It screeches again, like the time I used light against it, and the light goes out of its eyes. It is over. The world starts to go black.
I wake. I can feel it. It is not dead. I open my eyes – several people in biohazard suits are leaning over it.
“It is hurt badly, Commander. He did some serious damage.” One says.
“Terminate the project. Release version two. It is already fully formed, correct?” Another says.
“Yes, sir, it is. As you command, sir.” One of them looked at me.
“What about this one, sir?” He asks the Commander. The Commander walks over to me, and I play dead.
“Let him be. He’s the son of a teacher and a lawyer. I doubt anyone will enquire too much into his health. They’ll think him to be crazy.”
“As you command sir.” The first says. There is a discharging sound, like the 9mm, but much deeper. I open my eyes a smidge and watch them walk up. Up. Up. Up. The third storey. Of course. Leased to a medical company… doing experiments with ungodly things. I stay there for what seems like an eternity. As I start to get up, the locked door to the third storey opens again. An impossible figure slips out. It is like a three-dimensional hundred-sided object with no faces. It runs, bent, predatory, without so much as a look at me. It changes, goes under the door of the apartment next to mine. Not the old woman’s. The newer tenant. The teenage girl…
I get up shakily, wiping my eyes. I didn’t even realise I was crying. I go to knock on the door of her apartment – and then I think.
I back away from the apartment. It is her problem now, not mine.
Credit To – Raiden F