I push out my last cigarette for the night. It’s late, I’m tired and I need to sleep. I hear the sound again, rustling, something unsettled, maybe unsettling. I look around but it’s dark. Too dark to see anything in detail, just shapes, shadows, unrecognizable forms along the ground and in the trees. I hear it again but can’t determine where the sound is coming from. I feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck and my heart pounding. Something’s not right. I turn and walk as quick as I can back to the garage, distancing myself from the possibility of whatever could be out there. A feeling comes over me as if at any moment something will appear, grabbing, attacking me from behind. Of course, none of that happens. Sounds in the dark are nothing more than that, just sounds. There is no evil lurking, no creature stalking you, it’s all imagination. An unjustified fear of nothing.

I press the button, turn around and watch the garage door closing. I feel time stop as all feeling rushes from my body. Standing there, in the garage entrance . . . is something. Long slender arms, legs and torso. Its nude, sickly pale skin quivering in waves, like something crawling beneath. A face void of definition, almost featureless. Eyes staring directly at me, it cocks its head slightly to the right. As the door closes further, it squats down, looking, watching. I don’t move. Can’t move. It leans forward, eyes fixed, down on its hands and knees, watching. Now lying prone, neck extended, side of its head flat against the pavement, eyes peering through the last inches of open space until the door is fully closed.

I’m ready to throw up as I run in to the house. This can’t be real. Jesus Christ, what was that thing? Over and over I tell myself it was just my imagination, my mind playing tricks on me. Lack of sleep, stress. But those eyes, the way it looked at me, I can’t get that out of my head.

I spend a couple hours repeatedly checking to make sure all the doors are locked. Looking out the windows. Nothing, just the dark. It’s gone, whatever it was. I just need sleep. Need to sleep.

Tossing and turning, I’m wide awake. I’ve never been this afraid. My mind won’t stop. I know it wasn’t real, can’t be real. I’m so cold. I squeeze my eyes closed, pulling the blanket up around my ears as I roll to my side.

A soft, high pitched voice shatters the silence.

“Why aren’t you sleeping?”

Oh my God it’s in here. I can’t breathe . . . can’t scream . . .

“I like to watch you sleep.”

I roll on to my back, swallow hard and open my eyes. There it is, at the side of my bed, standing over me.

“What? Wh-when have you wa-watched ma-me sleep?” The words choke but I’m somehow able to speak, although only a whisper.

Its slender arm bends, raises a hand from the floor and lays it on my chest.

“I’ve always watched you sleep.”