The things that occur to me late at night….
She didn’t notice the shift in the shadows, or the way the room grew slightly darker. Of course, one tends not to notice such things, especially when one is asleep.
The screaming red glow of the alarm clock by the bed dimmed just as the minute changed over, from 12:36 to 12:37. Not that the minute, or the time in general, had anything to do with it.
He was always watching.
She did not notice as a large black shadow grew on the wall opposite her bed, swelling into a night-black portal, an oval, man-sized gap in the fabric of her room. The man, if he could be called that, stepped delicately through, footfalls soundless against the carpet.
Although he was man-shaped and man-sized, he could not truly be called a man, this creature of shadow. He moved in silence, his figure outlined only by the complete absence of light, as though it refused to adhere to his form… except of course, for the little light that clung to the metal blades, glinting like steel, that formed the ends of his fingers. You did not have to feel them at your throat, reader, to know that they were razor sharp. And the little remaining light glinted on the blades as he drew closer to the bed.
He was not a man, reader, in spite of his shape. It was not because of his gait, an odd, slippery slide, so that he seemed to almost slither across the floor. It was not because of his absence of features – the complete darkness where a face should have been. Nor was it because of those terrifying steel claws, so ready to slice.
It was, reader, because he had no heart. And a man without a heart is no man at all.
Silently, he watched the girl as she lay, dreaming and peaceful.
He watched as she wriggled in her sleep, moving as though she was trying to remove someone’s hand from her shoulder. The movement caused the sheets around her to shift, the blanket sliding down to reveal one pale shoulder.
He smiled, hidden face twisting in the darkness, and stepped closer.
One claw extended, reaching toward the bed, and snagged gently against the edge of the blanket, pulling against the fabric, tugging it upwards until the blanket rested just beneath her chin, all flesh concealed.
Comforted by the warmth, she snuggled deeper into the blanket, cheek turned in toward the pillow. Her dark hair lay in a messy explosion against the pale pillow case, radiating out like a strange halo. She smiled in her sleep.
Giving the blanket a final tug, he stepped away from the bed.
“Soon,” he whispered. “Soon.”