Knock, knock, knock.
I groaned, rolling over in bed and pulling the covers up to my chin. I was too warm to deal with visitors. Who would be coming by this early on a Saturday?
Knock, knock, knock.
Persistent, aren’t they? I lay in bed, eyes still closed, trying to pull myself from the sleepy fog and gain my bearings. I’m a solitary creature, so going out to parties or having friends over are not my ideal Saturday activities. Saturdays are reserved for getting caught up on sleep and laundry. I pity the soul that comes between me and my sleep.
Knock, knock, kno-
My eyes snapped open and the final knock stopped short. Silence hung in the air, pressing the oxygen from the room. I reached out for my cell phone, pressing the home button to wake it and consequently temporarily blinding myself with the light from the home screen. When my eyes adjusted to the onslaught of light, I was finally able to read the time: 3:18.
I blearily rubbed my eyes, puzzled. No one would be knocking at my door in the middle of the night. Mentally saying farewell to the warmth of my blankets, I swung my legs out of the bed and onto the floor with a heavy sigh. The wood below my feet was ice cold — very odd for an early autumn night. I shivered and glanced toward the window across the room. Trees rustled in the wind, dead leaves and branches occasionally scraping the glass.
I raised my hand to my face to rub the sleep from my eyes, then froze. There. Next to the window. There was someone standing there. And they were watching me.
Eternities passed. Was it the man I had seen before? I couldn’t tell. Darkness staunchly impeded my vision, daring me to move to turn on a light. My breath came in short puffs before my eyes. I wanted to see who or what was next to the window. I needed to. But I couldn’t. Fear and a survival instinct held me in place, like a rabbit hiding from a predator.
Finally, there was movement in the shadows. The figure was coming toward me. My heart quickened and leapt to my throat. It sauntered across the room, footfalls making no sound. I blinked, and it was as if my movement was a cue. The figure rushed toward me, streaking across the room and no longer touching the floor. In the split second it took for this thing to reach me, I took in its features.
Mottled skin hung from a man’s skull, grey with age and rot. Jaundiced eyes bulged from their sockets, huge in the sunken face and filled with untold rage. His mouth hung open at an odd angle as if his jaw had been broken, and sharpened teeth dotted the aged gums within. As he came toward me, the air was filled with the white noise of a person who has no voice attempting to scream.
I closed my eyes tightly and braced for impact. When it came to fight or flight, my instinct was to forgo those options altogether and freeze. After a few moments, when no impact came, I cracked open my eyelids.
I sat bolt upright in bed, eyes straining against the sunlight streaming in through the window, looking frantically around the room.
The man was nowhere to be found, gone as if in a dream.