A nervous woman trying to fall asleep on a windy night hears something unfamiliar in her home. Is it just her imagination?

Don’t forget the bills that are due this week. Can’t forget to check the accounts. Would be terrible if I didn’t put the trash by the curb before going to work. Do I have enough clean pairs of work pants? What about lunch tomorrow? What will I pack for lunch? Did I feed the cat? Yes...maybe? I’m sure I did. I wonder if the cat is happy enough.

A lot of thoughts tossed around in my head as I tried to rest. Two hours I’d rustled around in an unsettled and anxious agony. It was completely dark in my bedroom when the curtains were drawn and there was nothing to do but sleep or think. Against my will I consumed myself with the latter. The house bore the brunt of a hard blowing wind and the wood creaked as it tried it’s best to settle, changing the direction of my mind’s restlessness.

I’d purchased the house about a year prior and I felt I had learned most of its little quirks. It was a one level ranch with a pretty open floor plan. It had a few more bedrooms than what I needed, but the one room made for excellent storage while the other was the perfect office. The master bedroom attached to a second, private bathroom which was incredibly convenient. The house was in the middle of a highly wooded area surrounding the boundary for a huge state park. During the day sun would filter in perfectly lighting up the place through huge, beautiful windows. But during the night the shadows moved just as easily as the sun did during the day, a fact which combined with my overactive imagination played games with my head.

It’s a relatively new house, why is it so creaky? How is anyone supposed to sleep with this racket outside? I’m sure it’ll quiet down eventually. I just have to be patient. Who knows? Maybe some rain will come along and help me sleep. I always sleep well when it rains.

The covers on the bed kept me warm, but they also felt incredibly restrictive. I felt as though I was wrapped in knots and I began to sweat a bit.

Maybe the room is a bit too hot. Maybe I should just kick off some covers. Why is it this difficult for me to fall asleep? Surely I’ve managed to fall asleep before. JUST SLEEP.

The wind picked up again and before the house stretched and made its noises, the trees outside surrounding the house creaked. It sounded as if they were waking up and walking with tired wooden joints. And then the house joined in with its own voices and motions.

It was these times when I felt the most alone. I’d lived alone for years, but every so often something would come up and make the reality of my loneliness painfully obvious. I could have lived in a city with a different array of sounds surrounding me, but I figured the isolating feature of the quiet countryside would help me rest easier, and relax my anxious thoughts. I never realized that the country could have its own menagerie of sounds that proved I was anything but alone in the wilderness. Coyotes, bobcats, even bears were known to prowl these woods nearby.

Stop worrying about all the furry animals hiding in the woods. You’re safe in your house. The door is locked. You have nothing to worry about.

The wind settled again, but just as I felt myself drifting into a more relaxed state there was a distinct, softer creak followed by a THUD.

What the hell was that? That wasn’t outside...that was definitely inside the house.

I listened carefully and heard a soft click, click, click on the wooden floor of the living room. I could feel the presence of another living thing in my home. And then I remembered that my cat often would roam the house at night. The clicking stopped.
Seriously, you need to stop overreacting. This is silly, just get some rest. It’s just the cat!

I went to quietly shift in the bed and felt resistance. It was the cat, still in bed with me. It was at that point I heard a few more soft clicks along the floor.

Okay, I can’t be calm about this anymore. There’s someone or something in my house. I never got a gun like I planned to. What if I need to defend myself? Maybe if I stay in bed it’ll just find its way out again. Oh god, do I have to go out there and check?

I very softly went about unfolding the covers from my body. I brought my legs out slowly and rested them gently on the floor. I crept toward the door to my bedroom, using what little moonlight there was filtering through the windows as a guide. I looked down the long hallway and into the open space that formed the living room and kitchen area.There didn’t appear to be anything there.

See? You’re over-analyzing things again. Just go back to bed and try to get some rest. This paranoia isn’t helping you any.

And just as I was about to abandon my post at the bedroom door I heard the clicking again. From the direction of the kitchen a large silhouette moved in the shadows and made the moonlight dance on the walls and floors. My heart leapt into my throat.

Calm. Stay. Calm. If it’s an animal or something it’ll eat your food and leave. But what if it isn’t an animal? What if it’s a person? It must be a thief, not a bear. Bears can’t unlock locked doors. And they aren’t delicate either. Jesus, that means they’ll come down here looking for other things to steal. Shit. Shit. Shit.

I watched carefully as the floor gently creaked under the intruder’s weight, trying to remain composed as they stepped into the view of the window. I saw the features of the trespasser slowly coming into view as the moonlight turned and twisted around its body. It was incredibly tall, at least seven feet and it was incredibly lanky almost emaciated. It was not a person, but it looked person-like. Human features turned inhuman. Long, slender fingers and palms with bulbous joints. Large, dark eyes sunken into a skull covered with taut skin. No clothes, but no distinguishing marks of a sex to be seen. It moved in short strides along the room, but still maintained a fluid, gliding motion.

What the fuck IS that thing?

I’d never seen anything like it before. I didn’t know whether to be amazed or absolutely terrified, so I was unabashedly both. My breathing had nearly stopped. I wanted to run, but my feet were cemented to the floor. I wanted to look away, but my eyelids were glued open. I didn’t know what to do so I simply waited.
It slinked across the floor passing from my view again, toward the front door again.

Maybe it’s leaving. Maybe it’s over.

Another creak came from the front of the house and then a deep, still, quiet. All I could hear was my heart beating rapidly in my chest. It felt like an eternity. Waiting, breathing slow and quiet ragged breaths. My eyes had glazed with tears and I blinked hard, closing them for a moment. The fully formed tears rolled down my cheeks and I felt a swift blow of air against my wet face.

Oh Jesus. Don’t open your eyes. For the love of Christ don’t do it. Just. Keep. Them. Closed.

I could hear its fast, shallow breaths and it’s warm exhale kept making contact with my face. It produced this putrid smell that I couldn’t quite place. The creature leaned in closer and closer with what I could only assume was unsureness. I started to shake uncontrollably. It felt as if there was no air entering my lungs. They were absolutely on fire.

Do not open your eyes. Do not open your eyes until you’re sure it’s gone. If it ever leaves…

The seconds lasted like hours and I measured every sense it struck in me with some animal math I didn’t even know I knew. And in a lackluster turn of events the breathing stopped. I heard its long toenails click along the wooden floors, walking away from me. And then the creaking and soft thud of a closing door. My body made small motions beyond my control and I began to really weep. I opened my eyes and tried to adjust to the darkness again.

Oh my god, it actually left.

I’d never felt such a wave of relief in my life. I breathed out a long ragged exhalation. I’d wait awhile before checking that the door was secure. To be sure that it wouldn’t re enter. I had a brief chuckle to myself over the absurdity of everything that had just happened.

A monster in the house?I know everything just went down the way it did, but are you absolutely sure this isn’t all some fever induced nightmare? No, it was too vivid. Too real.

I held myself up against the wall as I made my way to the living room to check the front door. The shadows from the tree branches whipping around outside flitted against the walls of the hallways and living room. I heard the trees groan as they bent in the wind. But just as I made it to the light switch at the end of the hallway and flicked it on I heard a low, gravelly growl.

There, standing 20 feet away near the closed door, was the creature. I stared at it and it stared right back at me. It’s eyes were solid black and as it stared deeper and deeper I felt the fear coursing through my veins again. It was much clearer now in the light. It’s skin wasn’t just pulled tight, it was like a pale but yellowed paper. It’s nose was small and nearly nonexistent but its mouth was large with long and thin pointed teeth, resembling something like a huge and nightmarish snake. There was no curiosity in this creature. It knew what it was doing and I was finally aware of my role to play.

I’m going to die. Jesus Christ, I’m going to die.

Quickly it moved forward towards me. I turned to run back into the kitchen, but it grabbed my shoulder with its tight, bony grip. It whipped me back around and brought its face closer to my own. The smell from before was even stronger and I could finally find the name for it; it was a hot, decomposing flesh smell. The creature opened its mouth and let out an indescribable howl. The horrifying sound was deafening and filled with an intense combination of misery and anger I’d never experienced before in my life.

A long, thin tongue came out and licked my collarbone, leaving a sticky glaze of saliva behind. I felt its finger digging into my shoulder and its other hand raised to grab the other side of my body. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t scream. I had completely shut down from absolute terror. The pointy daggers of nails sank under my skin in a hot jab of pain.

With one powerful yank of my shoulders it tore off both of my arms. Agonizing and blinding pain ripped through me and blood poured from the open cavities. I finally found the ability to scream and the creature grabbed my skull, dug in again with its long talons for nails and snapped my neck. Only then did I feel nothing.

I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what to feel. I can’t think. I can’t feel.

Everything was dark. Blank. And then things slowly came into focus.

I watched the creature crouch down and  devour my body in huge bites. It’s teeth ripped apart my flesh and it indiscriminately left behind the parts I could only assume it wasn’t fond of. I was no doctor, but anyone could have told you I was definitely dead.

The blood pooled on the kitchen floor and I heard the little pitter patter of my trusting cat. The creature quickly decided that my poor kitty would be dessert. It grabbed her quickly, snapped her in half, unhinged its jaw, and ate her in three whole bites. It was over so quickly I hardly had the time to process it. No carcass left behind, and what blood did squeeze out of her joined mine in the indistinguishable sanguine lake.
When the monster finally had enough it brought itself to a standing position. It went to the front door and twisted the knob, letting itself out. It shut the doors behind it and in doing so left long bloody marks from its palms and claw-like nails. I heard it cry out its hellish call again and then it was truly gone, melding into the forest once more.

I just stared at my dead body for six days. There was nothing else I could do. I mourned the loss of my own life, considering the various steps I’d taken and if they’d been the right ones. I watched my blood congeal and flies surround my corpse and I wondered how long it would take for someone, anyone to notice. It took six days. And when someone finally thought that maybe they should check on me, they went straight to calling the police. They showed up at 3:25 PM and thanks to the beautiful, large windows and the blood on the door they were able to quickly assess that I was home but certainly far from “in good health”.
There were two men and from what I could tell both of them were detectives. They were talking outside of the house for awhile and one bent down. Being that I was one of the many people who kept a spare key under the house mat they were able to enter easily. When they did enter the smell nearly knocked them off their feet.

They discussed my decomposition, the complete savagery of my murder, the missing cat and the bloody prints smeared along the inside (and outside) of the door. They tossed around some theories, called for backup and ultimately landed on the idea that whoever did this was incredibly strong, well-equipped and completely insane. They reasoned it was a random attack, mostly upon the idea that I was a loner. I had very few friends, no romantic interests and I generally kept to myself. An entire circus of policemen showed up and  went through every inch of my home. They read my journal, made jokes about my sex toys, even critiqued my decorating in the never used spare room.

I was upset. I was a mockery and an outcast even in my death. And what was worse is that as I listened to them go on and on about their theories regarding my killer I knew they’d never find it. They were looking for a person, a man specifically. But the monster that killed me lost its humanity a long, long time ago. Even if its fingerprints said otherwise.

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