First Draft

Page 2

Page 2

There was a pause. Whatever it was that lay hidden within the blackness of the hallway, was waiting for something – a sign, or a signal, or perhaps the perfect moment. The sound of an approaching car waxed and waned, slowly rolling past the open window, and then the brush of a rolled newspaper landing somewhere in the bushes below. The click-clicking of knives on the floor boards began in the hallway. The bedroom door softly oscillated back and forth in the slipstream as a wispy mass of white and black – mangled black hair, pasty skin and tattered rags – whisked its way along the floor, through the doorway and into the room, dashing for the space beneath the bed. In a silent, writhing sort of convulsion, the creature hurriedly scuttled between the shoeboxes and forgotten papers, twisting and wriggling itself deeper under the bed until it could be sure that every bit of its long, floating raven hair and its gaunt, gnarled figure were secure within the shadows.

Not but 18 inches above lay an unconscious Benjamin, though his sleep became more restless with the increased proximity of the creature. The bags beneath his eyes tightened and relaxed as he grimaced in his sleep. He tossed back and forth, uncomfortable in his own skin. The beast knew that its presence disturbed his slumber. And in one sense, some small, human-like part of it almost stopped to care. It lay completely motionless now, hidden under the bed – naught but a pair of glistening green reflections gave hint to the fact that it was even there. Its inhuman side most assuredly did not care. Needs were needs, and no amount of sympathy could dissuade it from what it must do.

Two more hours drifted past. The eyes beneath the bed did not blink, did not move, until the hazy blue of the morning sky began to overpower and bury the light of the stars and the moon. At long last, it was time.

From within the foot of the bed, a singular hand stretched out. Emaciated, white with death, tendons and bones plainly visible through clinging, pale skin – it was a markedly human hand, save for the five dagger-like talons that stood in place of fingernails, each several inches long. With a commanding confidence, it quietly clicked its daggers into the wood floor, and with an unearthly ease and silence, pulled the rest of its body from beneath the bed. First to emerge was its deathly face. Years of torment and scorn seemed to have seared malice into its bitter features. Its white, dry, aged skin was loosely draped, ill-fitting over the sharp lines of its skull. Its eyes were sunken in, surrounded by darkened rings, though a shimmer that lay deep within their glistening, black cores revealed some measure of life. They carried a look that suggested that the being knew what it wanted, and would have it, by one way or another. It was a creature driven to a singular, clear intention.

Like a floating serpent, the beast propelled its entire body out from beneath the bed by way of its claws. Its withered body floated above the surface of the floor, its legs and feet serving as mere accessories – atrophied to the point of being twigs that gracefully weaved back and forth in response to the serpentine motion of its torso. And everywhere that it darted, a twisted mass of black, voluminous hair floated in pursuit.

The beast wound its way to the side of the bed where Benjamin lay still, now once again deep in delta sleep. He looked peaceful, laying on his side with his hands tucked beneath his pillow – childlike and without recourse. But that did not matter now. What must be done must be done. The boney feminine form positioned itself like a cheetah, preparing to spring from the brush in pursuit. Its back tightened, its shoulders pulled back, and its daggers rocked back and forth, digging firmly into the floor boards. It glanced for a moment at the waxing light of the morning sky, and then fixated back on its sleeping prey. It lowered it’s body to the floor in preparation for one great heave and –

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