Weak, early morning sunlight is streaming through the gaps in the closed curtains of her room. She wakes up, across the room on her floor  ̶  again. She still can’t figure out how in the world she managed to get there. She has woken up in a different part of the house every night for the past few weeks. Once she even found herself hiding behind a bush in the back yard. If that wasn’t strange enough, half the time she finds herself missing ribbons of skin. That’s what scares her the most. Whenever she wakes up sore and bloodied, she gets the most vivid flashes of a nightmare. Sometimes it’s just a sound, a single sound that, even when she’s surrounded by people, makes her so scared she feels like she’s going to vomit. Almost like her body knows that even other people can’t save her from whatever makes it. Other times, it’s almost like a memory of her running through her house. Flinging doors open, not even bothering to close them afterwards. In those flashes she knows that whatever is chasing her won’t be slowed down by the wood and metal.
In a way, she’s almost relieved by the fact that she only gets flashes. Deep within her soul, she realizes that memory, or lack thereof, is the key to her survival. Some primal, ancient instinct of hers tells her that the instant she remembers what goes on at night she will lose not just her sanity, but possibly also her life. There is a deep evil hunting her and she knows that nothing short of forgetting it exists will stop it.
Lately, she has taken to a ritual every night before she falls asleep. She realized, after a particularly rough night, that sleeping is not the cause of the evil, but rather night is. If anything, sleeping keeps her alive and sane longer. It not only keeps the evil partially at bay, but also renders her almost unable to recall anything that goes on at night. Now, she tries her hardest to fall asleep before darkness falls. Before she goes to bed, she makes sure to open every door in her house. On top of that, she makes sure to leave hiding spots readily available. Especially ones above knee level. Whenever she wakes up unharmed, it’s generally in places a few feet above ground. Ever since she started putting up these precautions, she has been safe. Tonight was different.
Maybe it was the fight with her fiancée, maybe it was the 10 hour work day, or maybe it was something else. Either way, she messed up. She found herself walking home from a friend’s house, just as it was reaching dusk. Even though there were many people around, she still didn’t feel safe. She wrapped her arms around herself tightly, and sprinted to her house to crawl into bed and hopefully fall asleep before night fell. This did not work. She was just putting the key in the lock when all sounds around her ceased. It was officially nightfall.
She hurriedly stuffed the key into the lock, threw open the door and slammed it behind her. The house, that was once so pleasant and comforting, now felt like a torture chamber. That’s when something inside of her told her to get out of the house. Now. Reluctant to turn her back on the room, she quickly pressed her back against the door and started groping behind her to find the doorknob. It wasn’t there.
By this point the entire house was an unnatural, swirling black. Somehow, it simultaneously looked like someone had spray painted her eyeballs and like she had been swallowed by a thin mist. The air suddenly became cloyingly thick, she felt like she was drowning in wet fabric. She panicked, whipped around, and started clawing at the door: bloodying her fingers in her desperate attempt to find a way out of the room. Her pulse pounding in her ears, panic consuming her mind. All she can think about is to get out. Get out of the house! Get out NOW!
Then… silence… she can’t hear her heart beating, she can’t hear her high pitched, squeaking breath.  Even the house, old as it is, is as still as the grave. She crumbles to the ground. Internally, her panic is replaced by all-consuming mortal terror. She tries to push herself back up, but she finds she can’t move. That’s when she hears It. The gentle scraping of nails on wooden floors. It’s upstairs, far away. She has a chance to run! But fear holds her prisoner. All she can do is lean against the door and shiver on the cold. Dead. Floor.
She hears It moving about upstairs. Somehow, even with this oppressive darkness, two rooms, and a flight of stairs between her and whatever it is that’s hunting her, she can somehow SEE Its smile. She knows that it’s not dragging itself around upstairs to find her, but to toy with her. It knows this is the final night. There will be no forgetting this. And it has all the time it needs to… do what? She doesn’t even think It knows. Soon she begins to wonder if it’s really fear that’s holding her in place. Surely even paralyzing fear has its time limit. That’s when she hears It on the stairs.
Clickclick shhht thump. Clickclick shhht thump.
It’s dragging Itself down the stairs: she needs to move!
Clickclick shhht thump.
She’s so cold…
Clickclick shhht thump. Clickclick shhht thump. Clickclick shhht thump.
As It slowly, agonizingly drags Itself down the stairs, the darkness seems to smooth itself out. Cloying, yet somehow clearer.
Clickclick shhht thump.
The last step.
She hears It dragging Itself through the dining room. She knows that within seconds, It will be at the doorway. At her. As she sits there, shaking, she becomes aware of yet another noise. It’s so familiar… Like a lullaby. Calling her past the creature, and upstairs…
It turns the corner.
Suddenly she can see. Long, white, matted, and dingy tangles surround Its palled face. Angled eyes, set wrong and all white above a missing nose. And the mouth. Red, sharp teeth, curved down and deadly, past a chilling, maniacal grin. Below this, wiry, shuddering bones over which lumpy skin stretched precariously. And no legs. Bloody stumps, cut right after the knee, trail uselessly behind the hideous demon. However, nothing compares to Its hands. Four fingers on each hand. White like bone, shining bright and curled into long, deadly claws with jagged, yellowed nails protruding from the end of each. Three fingers and a thumb. A useless thumb, with a nail longer than the rest. Filthy and covered with what looks like centuries of layered putrid blood and pus. Some of it’s still fresh.
She stared, mouth agape in horror, eyes all but popping out of their sockets in fear. Then It lets out a shriek. It’s funny, she didn’t even see It open Its mouth. Its shriek broke the spell which bound her in place, and she managed to scramble up and sprint away, just as It lifts one quivering, deadened arm with an almost inhuman speed.
She tears out of the living room, screaming and almost sobbing in fear as It chases her through the hallway and up the stairs. She hears it laughing and calling her name behind her, Its claws digging into the wooden floor for the momentum to snap Itself up at her heels. The creature is taunting her. It knows It has all the time in the world, and her terror pleases It.
Just as she reaches her room, she turns around and slams the door with all of her might behind her. One thump, a few scratches, and there’s silence. She backs away from the door, not even thinking to turn on the light, and trips backwards over something on her floor. She doesn’t even attempt to crawl onto her bed, she can only sit there and sob in relief. That’s when she sees the movement. She sees something rustling on her bed, and lifts her head up to look.
A body of a woman suddenly falls on her back, half over the bed. Long, black hair streaming over the edge. She screams. Not just because she’s startled: the woman’s eyes. They’re black. Pitch black. With eyelashes so long and dark, it looks like they were painted on. Blood is dripping from her eyes, defying gravity and actually running down her upturned cheeks. Pale skin contrasting the rivulets of bright red flowing upwards into the air, and a bright red smile set upon plump lips. It takes her a moment to realize that the woman is naked. And dead.
Shakily, she gets up and moves closer to the body that so resembles her own. As she peers down at the woman, she notices the missing ribbons of flesh: running from her neck to her stomach, around the insides of her thighs. There’s something familiar about this pattern…
The woman starts to hum.
You are my sunshine…
My only sunshine…
You make me happy when skies are grey…
She is tumbling down into memories long forgotten: standing above her naked, dead puppet self. Suddenly the meaning behind the words changes…
You didn’t know just how much I love you…
Please don’t take my sunshine away…
As if through a tunnel, she hears the creature outside scraping Its way through the door. The dead puppet then smiles and she somehow knows that the woman’s black eyes just snapped to her face. The last thing she’s conscious of is the puppet standing itself up as the creature snatches her ankle and drags her, laughing, deep into the darkness.

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