I moved into his house, and he found me right away. I’d see him out of the corner of my eye at first, just a shadow, with nothing but his own eyes. He had soaring, silver eyes, large as saucers, and always watching.
He’d watch me, and I’d watch him, neither of us moving, neither of us speaking, just watching. At first, he was a shadow, but then, he began to grow. When I took my eyes off of him, the room would spin, wild colours clashing against the walls and the circling ceiling, bottles would fly from the cupboards, pans, clattering on the sideboards and so, I’d look at him again, just as he wanted.
I stopped sleeping because he wanted me to. He didn’t ask. He never spoke. He didn’t have to. He’d stare as I stepped closer to the bed, and my body froze, my veins chilled as his eyes bore into mine, and then, I would stay up.
I would make coffee, only ever dropping his gaze for a moment or two, dropped into the topsy turvy turmoil as his anger began to boil over, and then, as the kettle clicked and steam rose from the spout, I would look up, back into his eyes, and slowly, with every cup of coffee, his face became a little clearer.
He was once a shadow, but he grew, taller than the sky, endless and everywhere and all I could do was look. His eyes seemed larger than before. I don’t recall the day. Maybe a Tuesday or a Sunday. Something with “Day” in it. It didn’t really matter.
Nobody called. The doorbell seemed to always be ringing but nobody was ever there. I’d turn on the news, but it was always the same thing. My new friend, staring out of the screen, his mouth moving but nothing but static would pour out, and I’d watch it for hours, transfixed. My friend sat beside the television, watching me, watching him, watching me. There was no news, just him. There were no calls, just him. There were no visitors, just him.
The dance went on forever. He’d stare. I’d stare. I’d stare while drinking coffee. I’d stare while eating whatever I could find in the cupboards. I’d stare while going to the toilet. I’d stare while drinking cup after cup of coffee by the back door as the rain fell heavy outside.
When he came to stay, it began to rain, and it never stopped. The sky grew dark, because that was how he liked it. He didn’t tell me, but I knew.
When I noticed the sky, I noticed his long claws, and he’d drag them along the floor as we walked through the house. They stained the carpets, charcoal black, but it was okay, because… well, it just was.
A few days went by, I think, and I began to hear him speak through the static. It might have been a few days, or maybe a few weeks. It was so hard to tell with him. He didn’t want me to know, so he didn’t tell me. My phone wouldn’t tell me either. He made sure of that. The phone didn’t get it, you see.
I sat down to watch the news, and he sat down by the television, a little spot of drool dripping from his fangs as he watched me, and on the screen, for the first time, I saw him smile.
He opened his mouth and began to speak, the scales of his face seeming to shine under the studio light, and at first, it was the same garbled static, but as I leaned closer to the television, I could finally hear him. It was so faint, almost inaudible, but at last, I could hear him.
“You like it here in my house?” I nodded, falling to my knees before the screen and staring so intently that he began to blur, becoming pixels to my tired eyes. “You stay and be a good little girl for Dennis?” I nodded again, feeling his claws on my shoulders. I looked down from the screen and could see them reaching out of the television, gripping onto me as he grinned from inside the screen. “My good little girl?” I nodded, feeling his claws again, down on my waist, and I turned away from the screen, seeing him where he always sat, reaching out to me.
There was a wide, wicked smile across his face, his jaw dropped and his fangs hanging low over his lips. He nodded, his silver, secretive eyes spinning in his skull as he began to laugh, and I laughed too, nodding along as he pulled me to my feet and our faces fell against each other.
“Good little girl!” He hissed, holding my face tightly in his claws. Blood began to drip down onto my shoulder as he pierced my flesh, but I just nodded and I stared, because I was a good little girl.
It hurt, I think, lasting for days, or maybe for minutes. Maybe it hurt, maybe it didn’t. It’s very hard to tell. I watched the rain over his shoulder and the room began to pulse, the tumble dryer shaking and scooting across the floor as eyes appeared in every rain drop, rocketing down from the sky until I returned his stare and felt the world soften as he smiled.
We stayed that way for a few hours, maybe a few days. I just don’t remember. They say that I was only in there for a week, but I don’t think that they get it. Nobody gets it. I fell asleep, or fell unconscious, according to them. Dennis didn’t like it. I could feel it happening. I was in his arms, looking up at him and he was looking down at me, and I was slipping away. I knew I should make a coffee, but the kitchen was so far, and the kindness of rest was so near. My eyes would close and the kitchen cupboards would clatter, opening and closing in a ferocious fury, so my eyes would open and the house would fall silent again. We played this game for a few weeks, or maybe a few minutes, before I finally lost, and then, I awoke in hospital.
The house was full of carbon monoxide. That’s what they said. It was an old place, I suppose, the only place I could afford. The boiler was shit and the landlord even shittier, so I fell into… well, I don’t know. There was no Dennis. There was no clattering kitchen cupboards, no movement from the dryer or the bottles. They’d found me collapsed on the living room floor, one hand reaching up to the television, with empty coffee cups everywhere, but beyond that, everything was in its proper place, and it hadn’t rained for days.
I told them everything I’d seen and heard, but it had all been a hallucination. Not even really in my head, just a game played by the gas. My sister had rung the doorbell almost every day, but I’d never made it there. She told me that she’d seen me, through the living room window, struggling to the door but always turning away, loudly announcing to someone inside that nobody was there. It was a bizarre sight, according to her, and at first, she thought I was in a mood with her, but after a while, when I stopped trying to answer, she’d worried, and after another while, the front door was broken down, and I was rescued.
I felt stupid, in the hospital, telling them all of my stories about Dennis, sheepish about not noticing the gas that had almost killed me, but everyone was so kind, understanding of the mistakes a young woman makes when renting her first place.
I moved in with my sister while the place was fixed up, and again, she was so kind. She presented me with the guest room, and the sheets were soft, and the windows poured bright, beautiful light into the space. That night, I slept, at last, but it took me a while. Something kept me awake. Probably all the caffeine I’d ingested after the previous week, or maybe just the struggle of getting used to a new place. I got there in the end, and it was worth it, because as I awoke, I felt peace wash over me as I sat up, stretching my arms and watching the sunlight creep into the window as dawn broke.
That’s when I saw him. It all fell away. The sunlight faded, my eyes, his once more, and there he was, watching me again. As our eyes met, the sky fell dark and the rain began to fall outside. I kept his gaze but the room began to dance around me, the bed rocketing beneath me as the door slammed open and shut and the wallpaper tore itself from the walls, leaving nothing but empty, dismal darkness all around us.
“You stay and be a good little girl for Dennis.” He snarled, and I had no choice but to nod. I had no choice but to accept his presence. This was not a game of the gas, or the madness of my mind. This was not his house, but he held dominion over it, just as he did over me, and with a click of his claws, we were back at home, stood before the television set, my face, grasped in his grip as my blood dripped slowly down onto my shoulders, and that is where I stayed.
That is where I will stay, because it is what he wants.
It was not the gas that found me, but him.
You don’t get it. They don’t get it. I don’t get it, but it’s what he wants.