I was alone on that fateful night. The same night every year when something horrible happened. I was worried about what was going to happen that night. Like a plague, I knew that whatever it was, it couldn’t be avoided. I could only hope that my family was safe. Little did I know that while I was sitting on the couch watching a movie, the tables had already turned on me. I was worried, but didn’t let it consume me.
I sat down to watch the movie that I had picked out. I remember like it was yesterday. The power started blinking and the rain roared against the window. The thunder was startling. A sudden clash of thunder followed in quick procession by 3 loud bangs against the window made me jump. I quickly got up to make sure that it wasn’t hailing. It was dark out already, and water beaded against the glass, creating an eerie feeling. It made me uneasy in the pit of my stomach. It wasn’t hailing – I could tell by the sound of the wind and rain against the roof. I closed the window and swallowed audibly. I remember thinking that that night was going to be the longest night I would ever remember. I can still see the orange glow the lamp created outside of our house. I can still see the blurry form of the trees, luminescent against the black background. In my mind I can make out the form of a person standing next to the trees, peering into my soul. I put it up to my imagination and a case of memory distortion.
When I think about what happened next, I still feel the same thing today that I did that night. As I backed away from the window a shudder overtook my body, cold chills overrunning my senses as if the icy finger of death had run up my spine. I grabbed my blanket and sat back down on the couch, bringing my knees to my chest.
I tried to push that feeling out of my mind, but it kept recurring. Nothing could satiate my worry. What was that noise?
I walked to the kitchen and unlocked the door. Walking out onto the porch, I took a deep breath and pulled the door shut behind me. I walked across the porch and turned the outside light on and walked out the second door into the damp night. I groaned as I walked over rocks on the sidewalk with my bare feet. I rounded the corner of our house and walked along the edge of the sidewalk. Finally, I walked around the front, my path illuminated by the lamp. I looked at the window, careful not to step on the flowers in my mother’s garden. Water dripped down my face and covered my glasses as it started to rain harder. In the weeds under the giant picture window I could see the forms of three little starlings laying on the ground. I backed away from their little bodies and gulped as I realized that they were the source of the loud banging earlier that night. I turned away from them as I heard a rustling in the bushes behind me. Xzamiese, one of our stray cats walked out from behind the old picket fence that separated our yard from the wooded area in front of the road. I couldn’t help but reach down to pet her, and she rubbed her head and back against my hand, instantly purring. I remember feeling so happy that she was in a good mood. Then in a split second I realized that I could smell blood. I looked down at my hand which was covered in her fur. I knew she couldn’t have been injured, because she didn’t seem to mind that I was petting her. I sighed as she bounded away into the dark and wiped my hand on the grass. I let the rain wash whatever was left on my hand before standing back up and walking back around to the back of the house. As I got to the back of the house I looked up at the hill where our dog house used to be, and there he was. I will never forget that moment.
There a man stood on the hill above the wall a little less than fifty feet away from me. He just stood there as I looked at him, my feet unable to move me anymore. I couldn’t see anything but his black form and the reflection of his eyes. He was looking right at me. I knew it because his eyes shone the color of the harvest moon behind him. His eyes looked like the reflection of a cat’s and I swallowed as I stared up at him.
I remember screaming “Get out of here or you’ll regret it! This is private property!” he didn’t make a move. He was as still as a statue. He didn’t even blink. His gaze burned right through my soul and petrified me. I took off running toward the door. It was standing wide open when I got there. I could see all the way through the house into the kitchen.
I slammed the doors shut and locked them before running through the house and grabbing the shotgun out of our closet, unlocking the safety. I took several flashlights and filled the pockets of my jeans with them.
That was the last thing I remember of that night before I met him again. Everything was so calm. For hours things were calm that much I know for sure. I remember my family hadn’t come home and I hadn’t done anything but sit in the living room on high alert. Around four in the morning I heard the door open in the kitchen. I got up and looked through the dining room, hoping to see my mom and dad, but saw nothing. I knew that I had heard it. I knew I had. I walked into the kitchen and saw the door standing open but there was no one there. I closed the door, and my heart skipped a beat. I slowly backed back into the living room, my finger on the trigger of the gun. I turned back around and there he sat, where I had just been sitting.
I pointed the gun in his general direction and pulled the trigger but a bullet didn’t come out of the barrel. I cocked the gun, and an unused bullet discharged from the chamber. I pulled the trigger again, but to no avail.
With a simple wave of his hand, the gun went flying against the wall, firing into the ceiling as it hit with a loud bang. That is when he spoke. “I am not here to hurt you child, although I will if you insist upon this behavior.” Thunder crashed above us and I stared at him, my heart nearly pounding out of my chest. I remember to this day how scared I was then, and have never been that petrified before or since.
Looking back, I can see his face as if he were sitting right in front of me at this very moment. He was beautiful yet inherently malicious – if ever a monster like him could be called beautiful. He wasn’t human. I know that now, but he seemed to be all that and more.
“What do you want?” I asked and even I could hear the fear in my voice. I don’t remember his words anymore, and guess that it is not that important if I have forgotten them, but I know that that was the last time something horrific made the front page news that night. He was the cause of all the horror that went on that night every year. He was looking for someone who could save him, and save all of the innocent people who died or went missing from him. He found that in me. That night every year I become something other-worldly. Like a demon from a movie, I change, but I protect those who need protecting. In a sense, I become a monster, enslaved to the will of this man. Each year I forget less and less of the things that I did in my youth, all of the sad memories and all of the good memories. That is what he wanted. To save him and everyone else, I sacrifice my memories to him, but the memory of the night we met has always been in my mind. He keeps it there to remind me of my purpose and to remind me that although there is evil in the world, the light always preserve hope.
By Kiersten Hawthorne