Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Flashback – The Workshop

I am a night owl. I always have been, and I think I always will be. I struggle with sleeping, and for most of my life, I’d just scroll through the internet as the early hours of the morning crept closer, looking for something to entertain me. Now, my late nights have a purpose. I am going to find the people behind The Workshop, and I am going to make them pay.

I found The Workshop on Reddit two weeks ago. I flicked through the front page, bored and longing for tiredness when I saw a thread that piqued my interest.

It was a voice recording from some guy who was convinced his daughter was being tortured, live on the radio by her fiance. A few of the comments were mocking him, laughing and acting like he was faking it, but there was one, right at the bottom, that seemed to take him seriously. All it said was “Sounds like The Workshop. Just sent you a DM.”

I clicked through to his account and noticed that almost all his posts and comments were about The Workshop, but provided little to no information on what it was. Reaching the end of the short rabbit hole, I clicked away from his profile and went back to the front page, scrolling again and seeing nothing that took my fancy until the computer pinged, and I noticed that I had a new message.

“They’ve seen you looking.” It was the same user who’d left the initial comment about The Workshop. I stared at the message for a moment, unsure of how to respond, or if I even should respond. I hadn’t left a comment, or interacted with the user at all, so it freaked me out a little that they’d contacted me at all, but it was late at night, and I was a strange mix of bored and tired, so I ignored my hesitation and shot them a message back.

“Who saw me looking? And how do you know?” I only had to wait a few moments for a response, but the short seconds seemed to stretch out and took a quick glance around the room, laughing at the impossibility of their claim but unable to push down the anxiety that was rising through my body.

“The Workshop. I heard them mention you on the broadcast. Look out.” I jumped up from my computer, rushing over to the front door to check it was locked. I checked the windows too, unable to stop myself running through the whole flat to check every entrance, and when I was assured that nobody could get in, I returned to the computer, gulping as I saw another message from the stranger. “They’ve selected you to be tonight’s witness.” I looked at the screen in silence, unsure of what to make of it, and slightly regretting responding to the first message. They sent a link, with a follow up message, and that was the beginning of my nightmare. “They have your sister.”

I didn’t think about it at all, I just clicked the link. It opened a webpage with a video player in the centre, with a busy and buzzing live chat to the right.

“She’s so pretty.”

“What price does the bidding start tonight? I want her.”

“Are we going to get to see the cutie from earlier again?”

“Her brother is the witness lol.”

The video player jolted into life, showing a grainy CCTV image of a dark looking room. There was a girl at the centre, tied to a chair and seemingly unconscious. She didn’t move as the room filled with hooded figures who circled her, wordlessly. All I could hear was the shuffling of their feet against the floor as they walked around the chair.

My computer pinged again, but I couldn’t look away. The camera zoomed in and I could see a clearer image of her face. It was Sarah, my little sister. Undeniably. The computer pinged again, almost insistently, and I switched to the Reddit window, opening the messages, with the video window minimised in the corner.

“They got my little Cousin last year, so I’ve been following them for a while.” I kept one eye on the video player as I kept reading their messages.

“She was only nineteen.” As I finished reading, the computer pinged again with another message from the stranger. “I want to take them down.” The shadowy figures circling my sister began to step back, dispersing as one stepped forward.

“Where are they? I need to call the police!” My fingers shook as I typed. I watched a man step towards my sister, removing his hood. The rest of the crowd knelt in a circle around them.

“The police can’t help you.” They responded as I watched in terror, my eyes darting between their messages and the video player. “The gas gets them ready for him.” She suddenly sat up, conscious and aware of her surroundings. My heart plummeted as I saw the panic on her face. “We can’t save her, I’m sorry.” Tears sprung from my eyes as I saw the terror in Sarah’s eyes as she struggled against her bonds. “She’ll live but she won’t be the same afterwards.” Sarah looked terrified, and I wanted to tear my eyes away but they were frozen in place. “He needs her soul.” The camera zoomed into Sarah’s face, and her tears fell as fast as mine did, fear etched all over her face. More messages flew in from the stranger. “When you watch or listen, it makes him stronger. You need to look away.” I wanted to, more than I could ever express but I was stuck, glued to the spot and staring in horrified tears at the screen.

“I need to help her.” I typed through my tears, minimising the video player, but instantly opening it again, unable to stop myself.

“You can’t. She will live, but you can’t stop this. I’m sorry.” I felt sick, watching the man round on my sister as the camera zoomed out. “He never normally turns this quickly…” I couldn’t understand what was happening, or how it had happened, and as the video feed continued to play, it became clear that there was so little that I’d understood. “He fed earlier though, the radio broadcast you read about.” The word ‘fed’ pushed my nausea over the edge and I ran to the bathroom, stumbling towards the toilet and vomiting. For a moment, I stayed on the bathroom floor, considering whether it was just a strange dream, or a nightmare, but it all felt so real, and as I struggled to my feet, wiping my face, I could hear my computer pinging relentlessly, and I rushed back to my computer.

“He’s the same guy that the man in the post was talking about. The fiance” My eyes scanned through the messages, confused and frightened. “He’s getting ready to turn, then he’ll feed and it will move on to the auction.” I put my hand across my mouth as my stomach turned again. “I’m really sorry man.” The tears continued to fall as Sarah fell still against the chair, the figures surrounding her throwing back their hoods to display a crowd of men, all joining in on a chorus of laughter. “It’s almost over, just don’t look.” I had to look. “Here he goes.”

The man at the centre of the circle was standing before Sarah, and he removed his cloak, throwing it behind him with a flourish. He then turned to look at the camera, his eyes seeming to meet with mine as a few of the other men surrounded him, seeming to fuss over his hands and arms. He didn’t break my gaze, seeming to know that I was watching. “They make us show the witnesses.” My mysterious friend typed. “I had to infiltrate them, so I had to play along. Do you understand?”

I closed the message window and opened the video player to full screen, watching as the crowd of men backed away from their leader and the camera zoomed down towards his hands, dripping with blood, glowing, and, to the disbelief of my tired eyes, expanding into sharp, slender claws as the seconds crept by. My phone began to ring but I ignored it, my eyes locked on the leader as he reached his claws up to his face, with a wicked, wide smile and began pulling at the flesh. I recoiled in horror, watching him scratch and peel at his skin, throwing it around the room with a gleeful laugh, as the others laughed. He pulled himself apart, until his true form emerged, pale, almost blue skin, an emaciated body, almost nothing but flesh and bone, sharp, slender claws, and staring back at me were his dark, stony black eyes.

The phone rang again, but I couldn’t take my eye off of the monster before me. He knelt over my sister and pushed his lips forcefully onto hers as the room began to fill with a warm, orange light. She began to lift from the chair, her body surrounded by the light as she floated free of his grasp, a small white wisp escaping her lips and falling down towards his open mouth. As he swallowed, she fell to the ground, the room erupting into sickening laughter as the men began shouting out numbers amidst their laughter.

“Let us start the bidding at £5000 for the brand new Workshop wife.” The hideous creature exclaimed. “She’s soulless, subservient, and all yours if you win our little auction.” He teased, jeered on by the laughter and hooting of the men that surrounded him. “She’s like a toy that never breaks.” He snarled, turning back to the camera, with a sly wink towards me as the feed cut out.

I sat silently in my waking nightmare, staring at the blank screen as my phone rang again. I wasn’t sure what I’d just witnessed, or what would happen next, but I knew that my life would never be the same.

I stayed staring at the screen for an hour, motionless and in a state of shock, with the phone ringing incessantly as I did. It was after an hour that I finally noticed it.

“Don’t ask how I got your number, but it’s me, from Reddit.” I just stared at the screen. I couldn’t find the strength to speak. “A wealthy lawyer from the city got her in the end.” I nodded, unable to think of anything else to say. “He’ll look after her, these guys pay so much because they want a wife that will last.” I broke down again, overwhelmed with everything I’d seen. “She’ll be alive, I mean. She won’t be the same, but she’ll be alive.”

He was right. We talked long into the night about The Workshop, and he helped me find the lawyer. I managed to track down Sarah a few weeks later, and it was like part of her had been stolen. She was alive, and she smiled, but it never seemed to reach her eyes. She didn’t answer back. She didn’t laugh. She didn’t have any interests. She didn’t speak unless spoken to. She was like a robot.

I tried to get her to leave, but the lawyer flashed me a glare, with similar black eyes to the monster, and I knew I couldn’t save her.

That’s what they do. They take girls that laugh, and argue, and fight, and take stupid selfies. They take regular girls, and they let that thing have their souls. They worship him like a good, because he gives them an endless supply of young, beautiful women that don’t fight back. He takes those girls from their lives, their families, from themselves, and sanitises them until they only exist as part of some guy’s life. A trophy. An afterthought.

Not just one girl a day, but several, I’ve seen it, and you’ll see it too. It’s why I stay up all night. I won’t rest until I save every girl that they have their eye on. It could be your daughter. It could be your sister. It could be you.

I’ve called the police, and they just laughed. Like the laughter I heard that night, cruel and mocking.

I talked to my parents but they were convinced by him. They think he’s a nice guy. Nobody believes me, so I’m on this journey alone.

You can find where the girls go after, but I need to find The Workshop. I need to stop them for good. I don’t know why they picked my sister, but one day, they’ll regret that they did. Every man in that circle, that monster that took her away from us, every freak and loser in the chat room, and even my little anonymous friend on Reddit.

I’m going to make them all pay, for Sarah.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Sleep Lightly, Spooky Season, Writing

Sleep Lightly – Part Two

The night seems to arrive sooner every day since Pesanta found me, and I’ve never felt so alone. I’ve tried to sleep during the day, but with school, homework and chores, my free time before sundown is limited. I am exhausted and running out of time, barely able to keep my eyes open during the waking hours, and I know that I need to find a solution.

I skipped school yesterday and camped out in the library, determined to find a way out of my Pesanta’s path, but surrounded by books and computer printouts, I had absolutely nothing useful. Nobody seemed to know a thing about how to ward off the demon that darkened my door. In fact, people didn’t know all that much. There was no rhyme or reason for why he visited, no way to know what he wanted, just the same old bedtime stories that my Dad had told me as a boy, and vague accounts of people who claimed to see him before going mad.

Am I going mad? I don’t know. Perhaps all those people who saw him weren’t mad. Just suppose he was real, and they were just unlucky enough not to make it? Is anyone ever really mad? Perhaps they are all just unlucky.

If I am going mad, then I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It feels so real, so relentless, but until yesterday, I couldn’t find anyone who understood.

I didn’t find them in the library, or online. No. Someone closer to home. Someone who believed me. Someone who knew I wasn’t going mad.

I scrolled through every website I could find, and cycled home with a pile of books, but there seemed to be no hope. Night came, and as I closed my bedroom door, Pesanta’s eyes lit up under my bed and his bared fangs shone in the moonlight, almost as if he was smiling.

I reached back towards the door, feeling blindly in the darkness, but my hands simply sailed through the air into nothing. I turned around and the door seemed to have vanished. The walls were falling away and nothing remained but empty, echoing, dark space.

I tried to scream, but my voice seemed to disappear with the room. Soon, there was nothing but the darkness before me, more darkness to my left, even more darkness to my right, and a low, gravelly growl behind me, that made me so sure I shouldn’t look back.

“Why don’t you give in Francesco?” A voice, scratchy and low, filled my ears. I could feel the hot breath lapping against my skin as they spoke, and a chill ran down my spine as I realised that there was nobody else it could have been. “You must be so tired.” I nodded, overcome with weakness and exhaustion. As much as I tried to hold on, it was getting harder every second. “We’ve been playing for such a long time.” I fell to the ground, staying for a moment on the soft ground before seeming to fall through it, down and down into nothing. My body felt at peace, for the first time in years. I didn’t care where I was falling, I just wanted to sleep.

As I fell, I saw so many faces staring from the darkness. The faces, full of fright as I passed, seemed to look past me, down to where I was falling, but I wouldn;t follow their eyes. I didn’t want to see.

“You’re almost there Francesco.” Pesanta whispered, his voice almost softening, but still surrounded by the sinister snarl that had kept me awake for years. It was almost over, and I would have kept falling but as I passed the terrified faces in the darkness, one caught my eye, a man, so familiar but in a way I couldn’t place, with eyes that seemed more sad than scared.

“Wake up Francesco!” He called, his pleading eyes seeming to shine through the darkness. “Don’t let him take you!” I began to struggle, Pesanta’s paws appearing from the darkness and snatching me close, but I continued to fight back, pushing against the cold steel of his grasp as he growled and snapped at the air. “How many stars adorn the sky Pesanta?” Pesanta continued to reach for me, trying to push me down into the darkness, but I kicked at his rough fur, avoiding the gaze of his glowing eyes as I tried to escape his nightmare. “Show us your intellect Pesanta. How many stars adorn the sky?” Pesanta turned his head for a moment, barking in the direction of the voice before turning his scarlet stare and snarling snout back towards me.

“How many stars adorn the sky Pesanta?” Another voice joined the call, and soon, another. “How many stars adorn the sky Pesanta?” The voices seemed to become one, echoing through the dark, empty night as his grip began to weaken, and Pesanta snarled and spat as he faded into the darkness and the voices fell silent.

Exhausted, I fell, suddenly landing in the sheets and blankets of my bed. I sat up, trying to catch my breath as a pair of eyes peered through the darkness, by the side of my bed.

I let out a scream, scrambling underneath the covers as the bedside lamp flooded the room with light.

“Francesco, relax!” It was my Dad. I crept out from under the covers, shaking with a sheepish look on my face. “That must have been some dream you had. You were yelling about counting stars and falling.” He smiled warmly, ruffling my hair as I nodded, trying to calm down. “I haven’t heard stuff like that since I was a kid.” He muttered, adjusting the blankets back around me before reaching for the lamp again.

“Wait, what do you mean?” Our eyes met and he pulled his hand away from the lamp, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“My Dad. Your Abuelo. He used to believe challenging him to count the stars would send Pesanta away.” I gasped, recalling the familiar face in the darkness as I fell. My Grandfather must have battled Pesanta himself, many years ago, passing the stories down to his father,

“Did it work?” I asked. My father shrugged before shaking his head and standing from the bed.

“Pesanta is just a story, Son.” He said, a hint of sadness in his voice as he switched the lamp off and headed for the door. “Your Abuelo… he was… he wasn’t well.”

Just like all the faces that I’d seen in the darkness, my Grandfather was seen as a mad man, but I know the truth. He saved my life. I just hope that the little he taught me will be enough to keep the demon dog at bay, because something tells me that Pesanta won’t be counting forever.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Flashback – Cursed and Curious

Deep in the woods,
disguised by splintered branches and the shadows they show me,
I saw him.
Torn tatters of my terror on the tip of my tongue,
a scream that does not come,
my destructive demons are back at the border to his world,
and there has never been enough of my soul left to save me.
I wait for him to make a move,
the moon, making light of my darkest day,
the myth of a safe evening,
a chaste wander in the woods,
where nothing happens to girls in red,
and they arrive home, safe and sound.
He has my grandmother’s eyes,
clasped tightly in his fist,
and I am lost to the lycanthrope,
my eyes, a pretty edition to his necklace of sad gazes.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Writing

Flashback – The Broadcast

I need help. I think my daughter is in danger and I don’t know how to help her. I am currently trapped in traffic on the A2, and I can hear them, all of them, but especially him, that snake that we trusted, I can hear them hurting her. I don’t know what to do.

I’ve tried calling my ex wife but she never answers my calls, and nobody else in the wedding party is picking up. They don’t realise that we don’t have much time to save my little girl’s life. Nobody is listening to me! Will you listen? Please? I’m begging you. She is going to die if nobody acts, and I’m stuck here, having to listen to those bastards torture her. Please someone help me,.

I’m going to tell you everything that I know, and if any of it sounds familiar, or you have any idea who is behind it, please message me or tell me how I can get to her.

It’s on the radio. I was driving to my daughter’s engagement party. It’s in London, and I meant to leave at Three so I could get there just before Five, but I left late, and there’s so much traffic and… that doesn’t really matter, I suppose. It’s just another time I couldn’t be there on time for her… I… Anyway. It was about half four when I heard it. I’d just left Dover, and I was stressing, so I thought I’d put on the radio, and see if it could relax me.

Almost everything was static, and as I hit the first wall of traffic, I continued flicking through to find something I could listen to. I was about to give up when I heard a man’s voice.

“It really is an art form.” He said. His voice was smarmy and posh, like something off of Radio 4, but it seemed to be my only option, so I stuck with it. Staring ahead with a sigh at the traffic as he went on. “There is true beauty in the demise of one so delicate.” He droned on, but I was zoning in and out while imagining how disappointed my daughter Sophie would be at her estranged, idiot father spoiling her day, again. I’d always disappointed her. The drinking. Playing away on her Mum. I don’t even know why I did it. It was stupid, immature shit, but I was older now, looking my life in the eye and trying to be better. This was my chance to show her that I would be the Dad she needed, and now, I don’t think I’ll ever have it.

I’m sorry, I need to focus on what happened. I just can’t stop thinking about her. She probably thinks I don’t care, but that’s all I can do right now. She’s such a great kid… not a kid anymore though. I’m sorry. I keep going off track.

He said “She is almost done with her transformation.” And at that moment, I could hear something in the background. It was like someone was trying to scream, but couldn’t quite get it out. I looked down at the radio then, confused and a little concerned about what I’d tuned into. Maybe one of those artsy dramas they do? Maybe some kind of play?

I wish.

“One more dose of the gas should do it.” He continued, and this time, the scream broke through. I could hear a girl. She screamed like her life depended on it. I could hear her struggling, and a commotion as the man tutted with a deep sigh. “Why do they always do this?” The girl kept screaming, and seemed to be putting up a fight. Whatever it was, I was creeped out, and I reached towards the radio to turn it off. As my finger reached the button, I froze.

“Dad, help me!” My blood ran cold and my body was full of chills. It was Sophie. My daughter. That was her voice. Do you get what I mean now? This is why I need your help. They’ve got my daughter, and somehow, I can’t even begin to understand how, they know that I’m listening.

I kept it on, and I listened to try and find any signs of where they were or who was behind it, but I’ve got nothing. I know how crazy I sound. I know that you’ll be listening to this and thinking I’m a stupid old drunk, and most days I am, but today, I swear to you, I’m stone cold sober, and I know that my daughter is in danger.

She called out for me again and again, but she was… somewhere, somewhere that I don’t know if I’ll ever find, and I was trapped in traffic, where I still am.

I began calling all the numbers I had for anyone who might have seen her that day. Her Mum. Her Aunts and Uncles. Her Brother. None of them responded, and the radio rang with the laughter of the man, with more joining him as Sophie’s voice faded.

“She’s enjoying the gas now.” He whispered, the hiss of the gas joining his voice on the broadcast. “Silly little Sophie was so desperate for a man to love her, she just fell into her trap.” I slammed my hands on the steering wheel, frustrated that I couldn’t reach her, and running out of options as I glared at the last few contacts on my phone. “Your daughter was so easy, Frank.” That’s what he said about my little girl, and I just lost it. Yelling back, like a mad man as their laughter seemed to surround me.

It did no good. She was still trapped, and I was still sat in traffic, shouting at the empty air around me. I bawled and hollered with no sign of stopping, my frustration and shame pouring out into the empty car, until my phone began ringing in front of me.

It was Lawrence, her fiance. I felt hopeful, at last. I’d never met him, but he made Sophie happy, and everyone in the family adored him. He was a copper, who used to work up North, but had come down South later in his career, moving from the Kent force up to The Met. I should have questioned why he moved around so much. I should have questioned why he was so damn charming to everyone. I should have questioned why he’d proposed so quickly.

I answered instantly, and he just laughed. His laughter cascaded from the phone, and from the radio. My body was white hot with rage for a moment and then chilled to the bone.

I had trusted him with my daughter. I’d never even met him and I’d trusted him with her.

We really knew nothing about him. They’ve only been together for six months. He looks so much older than her in pictures but she was always smiling. She looked happy. I didn’t want to spoil it because she looked so happy.

I’ve never been able to protect her.

Not from me, not from him.

He’s still laughing. He won’t stop laughing, and I can hear all of them too, all of those men, laughing, but I can’t hear her anymore. I can’t hear my little girl.

I think he’s going to kill her. I don’t know what the gas does but she goes quiet when they give it to her. They keep bringing her in and out of consciousness and laughing, all the time, always laughing. I don’t know why they’re doing this to her.

Her name is Sophie Jacobs. She’s from Dover, but she lives in London. She’s twenty four and has brown eyes and brown hair. Please, please help me find her.

His name is Lawrence. He’s quite tall. He’s got dark hair, and his eyes always just looked kind of… black. I guess maybe it’s the camera quality? I don’t know. I’m not sure how old he is, but… there are photos of him on her facebook, you can…

Oh God, he’s taken them down. It has to be him. He’s just taken the photos down. Their profiles aren’t linked anymore. The event page for the party is gone too. It’s like he’s erasing every shred of proof that he knows her. I’m going to look like a crazy, drunk old man, but I’m not. You have to understand, I’m not losing it.

Please will you help me find my little girl? It might not be too late.

Posted in Writing, Blog, Creative Writing, Spooky Season, Sleep Lightly

Sleep Lightly – Part One

I had stayed up too late. My Dad had been lecturing me about it since I was a little boy, but I couldn’t help it. I’d always get caught up in my books and lose track of time. He used to tell me stories to frighten me into obeying the rules of bedtime, but I’d never listen, not until I was seven years old. That’s when I knew that they were more than just stories.

That night, I had stayed up late, reading under the covers with a torch when I heard soft steps outside my bedroom door. I shoved the book and torch under my pillow, diving under the covers and prayed that I wasn’t caught by my Dad.

I closed my eyes as the door slowly creaked open, waiting for my Dad to call out to me, but all I could hear was panting and soft footsteps. The lights of the hallway poked through my eyelids and I held my breath, hoping to hear my Dad’s voice. The door slammed shut and the room fell quiet and dark.

I opened my eyes and the room was drenched in darkness. It seemed that I’d gotten away with it, and in light of that, I didn’t want to push my luck, so I reached under my pillow and moved the torch and book to the bedside table, finally ready to sleep. As I settled back in bed, I could feel myself getting tired.

I was about to close my eyes and finally get some sleep when my eyes were drawn to the door. I couldn’t tell you why, but in that moment, immediately, I felt wide awake, and like I was being watched. At first, I thought it must be my imagination, but the more I looked, the more my heart sank.

I was being watched. There was a pair of shining red eyes staring back at me.

They didn’t blink. They didn’t move. They just stared, all night, so I stared back, too afraid to close my eyes, too afraid to move, just hoping with all my heart that when I’d blink, the eyes would disappear.

I didn’t dare close my eyes, but I couldn’t help but blink a few times, and each time, my heart pounded. I’d open my eyes and see those same scarlet eyes staring back at me. It continued the same way all night. The eyes just stared back at me, before dimming into darkness as the sun rose.

I was exhausted the next day, struggling through school until it was home time. I rushed home, desperate for sleep and hoping to get my head on the pillow before darkness fell.

I searched the room but found no trace of what I’d seen the night before, so collapsed into my bed with a sigh, wrapping myself in the blankets and slipping into a deep sleep.

He’s coming to get me.

As I awoke, hours later, I became certain of that. The sky outside had grown dark, and I could hear ragged, panting breaths by my side. I stared up at the ceiling, knowing what I’d see if I looked down and feeling nauseous at the thought of it.

I just stared at the ceiling with the scarlet stare in the corner of my eye as the night wore on. After an hour, I could feel myself slipping into sleep, digging my fingernails into my palm with a strangled breath to keep myself awake.

My dad says it’s all in my imagination but he doesn’t understand. It may have started in my imagination, but now it’s real. He is real.

All the stories he told me when I was a little boy came true, and he doesn’t understand.

As I clung onto consciousness, the creature leapt from the floor, crushing my ribs and chest with large paws as its scarlet stare bore into me.

It was Pesanta.

He was the star of so many of my Dad’s stories. A demonic dog that would stalk through neighbourhoods at night and take the soul of children who were up past their bedtime. It’s a pretty screwed up thing to tell a child, but in a way, I’m glad he did, because it gave me an idea of what I was up against.

We stared at each other until dawn, a low growl leaving his curled lips every few minutes as I lay as still as I could underneath him, praying for the morning to arrive.

As the sun reached the top of the sky, he jumped down from the bed and slunk off through the window, looking back with his scarlet eyes and wicked smile to let me know he’d be back.

I told my Dad but he just laughed, reminding me of the silly stories he told me as a child, but these aren’t silly stories anymore.

This has been going on for seven years now. I haven’t slept a full night since he appeared. I never know when he’ll show up. Sometimes he stays away all night, only approaching for a minute or two before the sun rises, sometimes he’ll stay for the whole night. I never know, and that’s why I always have to watch for him.

My Dad doesn’t hear his padding across the floor as night falls, or feel his warm, muggy breath, or the icy trail of drool as the minutes tick by. He doesn’t shiver beneath his scarlet stare as the night slows to a stop.

AIt is real, and it won’t stop until I am dead. I don’t know how he found me. I don’t know why he wants me. I just know that he won’t stop, so I have to stop him before it’s too late, and I will, somehow.