|Shadows Scurry (V.2.0)
I flipped the switch as I rushed into the room. Someone had been in here just a second ago, I know it. I scanned the room, but it was empty. I flipped a table over, frustrated, angry, scared. A noise sounded in the room that I had just come from. Caught off guard, I spun around to see another shadow, low to the ground and quick, rushing out of view. I was mad, and rushing around like a fool was getting me nowhere. I flipped the switch again and walked out of the room as calmly as I could, making my way back to the safety of my recliner.
I knew I had to catch the little monster, to rid myself of it and get my life back. I stopped in a small hallway that connected the room I had come from and the only room of this house that I considered safe. The only light came from a lone window in the middle of the hall that let the moon shine in. The wan moon’s light was barely bright enough for me to see my hand in front of my face. But it was bright enough for me to see another shadow cross my path. I rushed into the next room and threw on the light, fear winning out over the anger.
From the safety of my chair, I took note of the room. Everything on the fireplace mantle was knocked over or broken. The few pictures that hung on the walls were either upside down, or the faces were scratched out. The walls had deep scratches in them, in some places causing the wallpaper to hang off of them. The bare floor wasn’t bare anymore, covered in the paper and plaster from the walls and broken pieces of whatever had been on the mantle. It was also covered in deep scratches. But, amazingly, my oversized, red recliner hadn’t been touched. Neither had the small oak table that sat lonely next to the chair, and the small lamp that sat on it. The lamp that acted as a barrier between the little monster and me, I had found that it avoided light at all costs.
I took note of the room, looking for the shadows to move, to give me a notion of where the little monster would show up again. I had never actually seen it, a shadow scurrying faster than my eyes could follow, or a wicked scratching sound were the only proof I had that it existed at all.
Out of my peripheral vision I see it move again. An idea comes to me, it’s dangerous, but it just might let me see my captor finally. I pull the chain on the lamp next to me, leaving only the light from the hall to illuminate the room. I see the shadow move immediately, wandering about the room. As it moves around, it starts to scratch the walls and the floor. I feel sweat on my face as I fight the urge to pull the chain. It needs to get closer, so that when I do pull the chain I’ll see it.
I wait a little longer, and it’s not getting any closer. “Come on!” I yell with a mixture of fear and frustration. It stops scratching. It giggles. A high pitched, inhuman sound that catches me off guard, causing me to pull the chain, almost knocking the table over.
I sat there for a while before I worked up the nerve to try the light switch again. I took a deep breath, and pulled it. Again it started off skirting the room with its scratching. When it giggled again, I had to fight the urge to pull the chain with all my might. I took deep breaths, trying to calm myself until it got close enough. I pulled the chain as soon as I saw the second shadow. There was more than one.
They continued to giggle, even after the light was on. I could identify at least three different giggles. I didn’t even think about turning the light off again. I did think about calling the police. I had tried to call them once, but they never showed up. No doubt they just wrote me off as a maniac. So it wouldn’t work now. Even if they came to take me to the loony bin, the little monsters would just follow me. This was my third house in two months trying to run from them. Each time they followed.
It was getting harder to think straight with their giggling, it was both high pitched and unpredictable. One minute they were going on and on, and the next they would be totally silent. They started again, “Leave me alone!” I yelled. They became silent, but the scratching started again. They also started to get more adventurous, coming closer and closer to the light. I could start to make out more defined shapes. They seemed twisted around, and they were small. From their proximity to the light now, I made the realization that light didn’t bother them. They had only been messing with my head.
I made up my mind with this realization to finally call the police. I was going to make up a story to get the cops to come this time for sure. I reached into the drawer while watching the shadows writhe around. I felt cold metal and pulled out my revolver. I set it on my lap, and then felt around again. I felt something cold and sticky. I didn’t want to pick it up, whatever it was, but I pulled it out anyway.
It was a squirrel. Covered in drying blood, its head was missing. I immediately threw it into the darkness, repulsed at the sight of it. I started to wipe my hand on the chair when they started to giggle again. To my horror, in front of me was a tiny skeleton they had slid down to my feet. It was the same skeleton; there was no tiny squirrel skull.
In shock, I pulled the entire drawer out of the table. Everything that had been inside of it flew out; a bloodied notebook, a few more woodland carcasses, and my cell phone. I watched it fly, almost in slow motion, to the edge of the light-darkness barrier. They giggled like the little monsters they were.
I stared at it for a while, thinking about what to do. It took quite a while for me to work up the nerve to get it. I slowly got up, and carefully walked to the edge, revolver in hand. As I bend down, the giggling stops. I can tell one of them is right in front of me. It growls and I fall backwards, rushing back to the safety of my chair. The phone still sits at the edge of safety, and they are silent.
Unbelievably, I see a dirty brown hand reach out of the shadows for the phone, and it knocks it back to me. I pick it up, not taking my eyes off of the darkness in front of me. “Thank you” I mutter under my breath without realizing it.
Hoping that this is my chance at safety, I flip open the phone. It’s dead. I turn it over and see that the battery is missing. I throw it as hard as I can at any one of the creatures I may be able to hit. Their giggle is deafening. I make another realization. They had gone through the drawer. I open the barrel of the revolver to see that there is only one bullet. Only one. They had been in the drawer, I knew that I had loaded it earlier to be ready for nightfall. They had never been so bold.
In the past month, they had started following me. I hadn’t changed my routine, lost my job, or done anything that would cause me to break down. Nothing that would cause me to hallucinate. But they started torturing me. In the beginning, they would keep me up at night. I would hear scratching at night, but couldn’t find anything in the morning. The first time I moved, it was only about five miles away. But I did lose my job and my girlfriend. And still they continued to torture me. That was when I first started to see the shadows. After a while of that, I found the cheapest house I could the next State over and found this place. I tried to run from them. But even a hundred miles away, they still followed me. It was the same until a couple of days ago. They had started to get closer and closer. They started scratching things for real, not just making the noise. I would wake up and find my walls torn to shreds. When they showed up in my bedroom, I moved to the only room that hadn’t been scratched yet. That was this room. Now, I sleep in here with the little lamp on almost all the time. I would also have all the lights in the house on. But they would still scratch whatever they could get their grubby little paws on. Just yesterday, the shadows had become more tangible, more noticeable when it was dark. I felt that tonight was the night that something was going to happen.
I didn’t know what exactly to do. The most I could do was wait for daybreak, but I knew they wouldn’t be that patient. I had one bullet, and there were at least three of them, probably more. The light next to me flickered, but didn’t go out. With one bullet, I would have to make it count.
They were becoming more adventurous still. I could catch brief glimpses of their nasty little limbs, more than just shadows. The chatter was still going on, scratching and giggles. A couple of times they even made growling noises.
I was starting to feel tired, really tired. I hadn’t slept very well in the last couple of days, and tonight I knew I wasn’t getting any sleep at all. I checked my wristwatch, two-fifty a.m. I couldn’t let fatigue get the best of me, but I couldn’t think of what to do. I looked up and saw a figure, nearly two feet tall rush back into the shadows before I could make out any of its features.
I heard something slide across the room, and looked down to see a Bible. It was covered in blood, and the cover was barely attached to it. I kicked it back. The Bible wouldn’t help, but I prayed. The light flickered again.
After I had kicked the Bible back, the room grew silent. It unnerved me. No scratching, no giggles, not even a growl. I picked the lamp up and tried to shine it at them, something I should’ve tried a long time ago. It was the worst idea of my life. In perfect view was one of the little monsters. I was terrified. It was just standing there. I put the lamp down to put it back in the darkness as soon as my arm would move. But the picture was burned into my brain. I cocked the hammer on the gun I still held.
There was a low growl, and the one I had seen stepped forward. It walked only far enough for me to see it. I aimed the gun and about ten more of them also stepped forward. I pulled the trigger.
Take it as you will…