Dark, cold and eerie. Those are the only words I can come up with to describe the house in which I had lived with my family for the majority of my life. Mostly dark, blistering cold during the winter, and always eerie. Sometimes there would be strange noises coming from the cellar, too. It had often given me the creeps, though I would never admit that to my mother. I’d figured I was too old to let some silly noises scare me, anyway. I had been trying to act like the man of the house ever since my dad left when I was seven. I had always hoped I would never turn out like my father, whom I hated with a burning passion. As far as he goes, I suppose I’d better just leave it at that.
I lived in the house with my mother, Linda, and my uncle Kevin, on a vast piece of land in Steinen, Indiana. Steinen was a tiny piece of shit in the middle of nowhere. Nobody liked living there. I didn’t have any friends because I was homeschooled, and I’d never even seen another kid my age in Steinen, since we almost never left the house unless my mom had to go into town to buy groceries. However, I was always very close to Uncle Kevin. When I was little, he would tell me ghost stories right before bed, which my mother hated. “Stop it, Kev. You’re going to give him nightmares!” she would snap. Oh, I did get nightmares, indeed, and sometimes it seemed as though the nightmares refused to end. They crept into the back of my mind like a spider crafting its web. The story he told most often was one about a monster with a contorted body and black eyes. According to the “legend”, (as Uncle Kevin called it, even though I knew he made it up himself), the monster would come into your room if you were awake past your bedtime and hide in your closet, watching you the whole night. Of course, this was just a silly little tale that Kevin would tell me so I wouldn’t stay up late. Even so, I can’t tell you how many times that horrible creature has popped into my head over the years.
On this particular night, I decided to go to bed early in an attempt to sleep off a pounding headache. I lied down on my icy bed and sank underneath the covers, hiding my face from whatever may have been lurking inside of my head. After setting my glasses down on the nightstand beside my bed, I reached over and flicked the light off. The darkness made me feel alive, in a very strange way, almost as though I was mesmerized by the nothingness. As I looked around the room, seeing almost nothing but the pitch-black darkness surrounding me, I felt entranced, as if something was forcing me to look. Of course, there was nothing to look at, at least not with the eyes. This was something you could only witness within the deepest corridors of your mind. The part of your mind that you always dread visiting and can never seem to return from. Out of nowhere, I began to hear scratches upon the window above my bed. My eyes immediately burst open, and I felt like I was unable to close them again. What the fuck was that? I asked myself. Nothing. Of course, it was nothing. It couldn’t have been anything, right? Right. Just my mind playing tricks on me in the dark. No big deal. But, in a moment of childish curiosity, I decided to peer out the window, just to make sure I was hearing nothing more than a tree branch brushing up against the glass. But then it hit me like a bag of bricks. There is no tree next to my window. Still, I decided it would be better to sleep it off and think more about it in the morning. It was probably all in my head. It had to be. I found it unusually difficult to fall asleep that night, as if somebody or something was trying to keep me up.
I woke up the next morning with that sound still locked in my brain. It had to have been coming from somewhere. But where? Shit, I had no idea. But then I remembered . . . the cellar. I built up as much courage as I could muster and slowly crept down into the abyss. Jesus, I hadn’t been down there in a year, maybe longer. I had almost forgotten what it looked like. Nothing but clouds of cobwebs and stacks of cardboard boxes shoved against the walls. I rustled through a couple of boxes until I stumbled upon a picture I’d drawn when I was a child. It was a sketch of a grotesque creature . . . it definitely wasn’t human. This thing barely even had a face, just dark black eyes and no mouth. Its body was tall and thin, and was contorted into a shape that I had never even seen before. The more I looked at the drawing, the more I was reminded of that story my uncle used to tell me. It appeared to be raining above the creature, and toward the bottom of the paper I had scribbled “PLEASE STAY AWAKE” in giant letters. I didn’t know what the hell that was supposed to mean, but I folded up the paper and stuffed it in my pocket. I quickly made my way up the staircase into the kitchen and went about my day as usual, keeping that drawing in my mind, trying to remember what it meant and why I’d drawn it in the first place. I looked outside and noticed that it had begun to rain. I didn’t want to think about that creature any longer, so I walked into my dimly lit room and plopped onto my bed. I fell asleep before I even knew it.
When I awoke, it was exactly 3:00 AM. This night was colder and darker than usual. The farm was soaked with rain from earlier in the evening. The moon was full and radiant. It almost didn’t look real. For an instant, I glanced out of my bedroom window and I could swear I saw something walking quickly through the yard. When it spotted me, it slunk behind a tree, as if it were trying to hide from me. It looked exactly like what I had drawn when I was a child. I ran into Uncle Kevin’s room and began shaking him awake. “Kevin! Kevin!” He rubbed the rheum out of his eyes. “What’s up, bud? It’s late” he asked, bewildered at my excitement. I looked him in his bloodshot eyes and softly said, “I saw someone in the yard.” Kevin looked at me with hesitation. “No, you probably just saw an animal. Get back to bed.” I know what I saw. This was no animal, or at least not one that I had ever seen, not even in my worst fucking nightmares. I knew I couldn’t tell him exactly what I had seen, as he would never believe me. “No, Kevin, it was not an animal. Please. It was a man . . . I mean, I think . . . look, just please go out and check!”
Uncle Kevin leapt up and grabbed his shotgun from under the bed. “Alright, come on. Show me where he is. Let’s try not to wake your mom. I’ll scare the fucker off.” We went outside and I pointed to the tree. I whispered to Kevin, “I saw him go behind that tree.” My uncle bravely walked up to the tree and peered around it. Nothing. He searched the entire farm for well over half an hour, but he never found anyone or anything. “Let’s go back in, bud, there’s no one out here. Keep the doors locked tonight.”
He was wrong. I knew there was something out there. I crawled into bed and threw the covers over my face. I could hear the blistering wind coming from outside. It pierced my ears with a whistle that I thought only dogs could detect. Suddenly, I heard a tapping sound upon my window. The sound grew louder with each tap. I tightened the blankets around my body. The taps slowly turned into knocks. Louder and faster the knocks became. The knocks turned into bangs. I thought the glass was going to break. Then, out of nowhere, it stopped. No more taps. No more knocks. No more bangs. No more wind. I was relieved. Suddenly, I heard a low, chilling voice in my ear.
“Please… stay… awake.”
It couldn’t be. No, it couldn’t be. I ran into the hallway, ready to make my way to my mother’s room, when I saw it. Whatever it was, I still don’t know. It was holding Kevin’s lifeless, mangled body in its arms. Carved deeply into my uncle’s torso were the words “PLEASE STAY AWAKE”. I tried to let out a scream, but only silence filled the dead air. I sprinted through the door of my mother’s bedroom and saw her body lying in the middle of the floor. She was covered in blood and her left arm had been ripped straight out of its socket. Written next to her in her own blood were the words “PLEASE STAY AWAKE”. I began to sob, and when I turned around, the creature was gone. I don’t know where the hell it went, and I’m not sure I want to. I closed my eyes as tightly as I could and let out the loudest scream I could muster. I called the police and lied down on the cold, now blood-soaked floor, waiting for them to arrive. It felt like hours.
Finally, the police showed up to find me in the fetal position next to my mother’s corpse. I told them everything I saw. I showed them my drawing. I told them about the taps, the knocks, the bangs. I told them what I’d seen outside. But of course, they wouldn’t hear a word of it. Why would they? All they could see was a lonely kid hovering over his dead mother, her blood covering my clothes almost as much as it covered the floor.
It’s cold in this cell. It’s dark and lonely. The silence is the only saving grace. Constant, peaceful silence. Tonight, it’s raining outside. It’s colder, darker and wetter than ever. But, unfortunately, I must stop writing now. I just heard a tap on my window.
Credit: J.T. Grogan
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