TallsTales

RI Author Emily Tallman

  

Life in the Shadows

Image designed for Emily Tallman by Nathanael Vinbury. 

Image designed for Emily Tallman by Nathanael Vinbury. 

 
 

I try to stay asleep, I really do, but it’s hard to stay in bed with eyes boring into the back of your skull.

I can feel the spot it’s looking at sticking out of the blankets, feel the cold stare press against me like the barrel of a gun.  I can’t go back to sleep but I can’t leave my safe little cave of quilts either.  If I don’t look, I can’t see it. My mind circles around the pros and cons in that idea.

Pro, I think to myself, it could all be a part of my imagination or an echo from a nightmare. 

Con, what is it doing that I can’t see?  And if I look, it would know I am awake and I would see it and it would see me seeing it and isn’t that how the climax of a lot of horror movies start? 

I swallow hard around a dry mouth and throat and curl in on myself.  I hear a rustle, it was moving closer.  I close my eyes as tight as I can, letting tears slip out, and try to cover the cold spot on my head without being too obvious.  I take a deep breath.

It takes a deep breath. A haunted, hollow, dragging breath that clicks at the start and finish. 

Mechanical. 

Evil. 

Not human.

Not like my quick, shaky gasps.

And if I could hear it breathing then it must be close, right by the bed.  Waiting.  A silent sob shakes me, moving the blanket further down my head and shoulders.  

I open my eyes.