David Jester: A Silhouette in the Darkness

There’s a monster in my backyard. It only comes out on the darkest nights, when there is no moon or it is obscured by the clouds. I see its silhouette walk past the willow tree, like a black orb amongst a sea of inky darkness; I sense it. I wonder if my mind is playing tricks, but it is there, lurking in the deepest shadows.

Sometimes, it stops below the drooping branches of that monolithic tree, and I can sense that it is staring at me, as I peer at it out my window.

My parents don’t believe me, and neither do my friends at school. My buddies give me a queer look when I bring it up, and they just shrug their shoulders, ignoring what I said and move on to other conversations like what base they’ve gotten to with some girl. I’ve given up talking to them about it, I just end up embarrassing myself. In English class, a sophomore overhead me, and began making fun of me, announcing to the class that Kip Gildersleeve believes in the boogeyman. I am relegated to a silent fear of the night.

It has never attacked me, or made a sound, but it stands silent in the night, its eyes darker than its form, than the night itself. It is as if two atrementous orbs, like tiny black holes, suck all the light particles in the atmosphere. I know he stares at me, those orbs are always transfixed on my window, as I am on him.

His form shifts throughout the night. I know he moves, but I never see him move. One second he is under the willow tree, yet in the same breath at the woodshed. It is as if I am still looking at him under those drooping branches, but at the same time I am not, and I know he is already in this other location, but if I look, it will be true, and he will have moved across the yard closer to me.

I don’t know when I fall asleep, but on these tremulous nights, I can no longer fight exhaustion and doze off, my chin propped upon my clasped hands, resting on my windowsill. When I wake, with a crick in my neck, I know I’ll have a headache the rest of the day. Those days in school are the worst. My concentration is shot, and all I can think of is the current lunar cycle.

I woke up the other morning to a dead cat in our yard. My father says a fisher cat was responsible, that they are territorial, and will kill most mammals within a five mile radius, even other fishers.  He says these vicious carnivores disembowel their prey and leave the carcass, only eating few vital organs. This is what he says, but I know it is him, that creature that lives in the shadows, a shifting silhouette. I know it’s him, and he left it just for me.

When the moon is full, I enjoy looking out across the lawn. I half expect to see him, in the light, watching me, but I know he only exists in the Stygian nights of onyx bleak desperation. I’m safe on the nights of waning and waxing moons; as long as a little light is thrown upon the earth, I’m safe. Or maybe not.

More dead animals appeared a few mornings later. They littered the lawn, likes leaves dropped from a tree. Skunks, squirrels, cats, even porcupines. All the same. Disemboweled, with few organs left. The stench from the pole-cat was offensive, like burnt garlic mixed with pepper spray and rotting flesh.

He said he’s going to set kill the fisher, ensnare it in one of those old fashioned toothy spring traps, like you see in Looney Tunes episodes with Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil. I know this won’t work. That somehow against what I thought I knew, the silhouette waited for me to fall asleep, and sprung in the light of the moon, killing those animals. I’m sure his efforts will be fruitless.

It is not tangible. It exists outside our world, like it is stuck in some liminal space. I think it is too dangerous to exist here, that if it were to enter our world, all would cease to exist. So instead it dips its toes in the water of our dimension, just long enough to get its fix. But why has it chosen me, I cannot figure this out. I get little sleep; I dread the night.

Last night was one of the darkest nights I have ever experienced. I tried to shine my flashlight out my window into the yard. The two D batteries put out a dull light, and the creature seemed to devour the beam. It was as if its essence traveled up to the torch in hand, and consumed the bulb, turning the thin glass black as I watched it happen. Its eyes were darker than ever, and before I could register what happened, it altered its pattern moving, only feet from the house, below my window. I let out a faint whimper, and pulled the covers tight over my head. I slammed my window shut. I could sense it right outside my window, those jet eyes peering in at me.

The next morning, there was a large black slug trail up the side of the house, stopping at my window. My father could not figure it out as he scratched his head in bewilderment, and I pleaded with him to believe me, but he just wagged his finger and told me I had been reading too much Stephen King. I broke down and cried. He didn’t think this manly of me, so he made me clean it off with the brush he washes the cars with. It was thick and slimy, yet at the touch of the wet bristles, it seemed to dry like ash and float away. This chore consumed most of my Saturday.

I begged my mother afterward to let me stay the night at my friend Tim’s house. He agreed it was a good night for a Nintendo marathon and his parents never cared if we stayed up all night. I picked up some Cheetos and Taco Doritos, and he had the Mountain Dew to pull an all-nighter. After my mom dropped me off, we went to town on Dr. Mario and Contra, Marble Madness and RC Pro, even original Mario Bros. The caffeine and sugar could not stave off the inevitable, and we fell asleep.

I don’t know when it was, but Tim’s mom must have snuck into his room and turned off the lights. I awoke with a strange sensation a little after midnight. The room was pitch black, yet the TV still had that grey murkiness that seems to linger in the glass vacuum tube, like a phantom trying to escape. As I stared around the room, I noticed it. In the far corner. It. It was in the room. The silhouette that had never been inside, was. Its eyes consumed all the light, and that grey pall over the tv drifted away, gone in an instant, till the room was a dark cavern.

I wanted to scream, yet its intense stare locked me into a hypnotic trance, and I sat there unable to move—maybe out of sheer fear—and could only watch as I was paralyzed. And that’s when it stood over Tim. I fought through my paralysis until I could scream. In the darkness, my voice broke the abject silence.

The light flicked on as Tim’s parents entered the room, and as quickly as it was there, it was gone. I was hysterical and could not be calmed. I begged them not to send me home, to no avail. My parents picked me up, and brought me home. I asked my father if we could drive with the dome light on, but he just scoffed at my request. I could feel its stare from the back of the station wagon, but I wouldn’t turn around. In the darkness of the car, I crouched forward, trying to get closer to the dull illumination emanating from the dashboard.

When we arrived home, I slept with the light on in my room. I drew the curtains, knowing it was just outside staring up at my window.

Monday came and a peculiar pall was on the school. The teachers were quiet and visibly shaken, and then an announcement came over the PA. I was to report to the front office. My parents were waiting for me. My mother was crying. My father stared at me, and signaled to the chair next to him. I tried to think what I had done to get in trouble.

It wasn’t me, though. They had found Tim’s body in his backyard that morning. He had been gutted, disemboweled. Left outside on the grass like so much carrion for circling vultures. I cried and cried. Everything they said after that is hazy, a blur, nothing but incoherent babbling.

I was so angry, and not just at it, but at my parents and friends who disregarded my warnings. No one believed me. They had all dismissed my notions, and now, Tim was dead. The dark terror silhouette that plagued me, was becoming worse, and no one would help.

My parents took me out of school that day, and I moped around the house. I was more leery about night coming than mourning for Tim. I knew that the same thing would happen to me. At dusk, the sky became a brilliant red, as the sun dipped below the jagged tree line in the distance. My parents checked on me from time to time. I didn’t eat dinner and stayed in my room. I was preparing for the night’s terror.

All the spare flashlights we had in the house were piled on my bed, and I had brought in extra lamps from the guest room. My room was lit up from bare 40 and 60-watt bulbs, a harsh institutional light, as I had stripped the shades off them all. Outside my window, I knew it was standing there, its dark blurry silhouette staring with those abysmal eyes. I knew it was under the willow tree, there, yet not there, as it moved to the woodshed, yet somehow staying under the drooping branches. In my mind, I knew it was now under my window, staring up from the ground.

I had glow-sticks from last Halloween, and snapping them with a pop and crackle, I opened my window, throwing them into the night. They landed on the ground, and as quickly as they hit the earth, their green phosphorescent light was absorbed, as if a hole was ripped in the fabric of our reality, and a nothingness was left in its place.

With a frantic urgency, I threw more and more of those neon chemical sticks out the window, and just as quick as they hit the ground, a nothingness took their place. My jaw hung open, and I backed away from the window, shaking my head, knowing that eventually I would either be consumed by this creature, or end up like Tim. I wasn’t sure which was worse.

The lights in my room began to flicker. I knew it was approaching. It was devouring the light, and I was helpless to do anything. And then it happened. The lights faded, as if on a dimmer, until there was an eery gaslight quality to the room. In those few seconds, when the light was just about to blink out to nothing, I noticed its dark outline in the corner of my room.

Just as the lights winked out, my father opened my door to check in on me. I screamed, but it was too late. There was no scream, no fight from him. It was over so quick, as if time did not exist when it was there, as if it somehow was able to bend the laws of physics to fit its ends.

When the lights flashed back on it was supernova, a flash bang grenade thrown into the small space. I blinked and rubbed my eyes to see him, my father, lying on the ground. He was no longer living. A corpse transmuted from living to dead in the quickness it took light to travel. I screamed and screamed, and huddled in my bed covered in his blood. And then my mother came in, to find him lying on the floor.

A few days later I was taken away. My mother sobbed as the police put me in the back of the cruiser.

The people in the hospital scream all the time. I can hear them, clawing at the walls in the cells next to me. The orderlies are nice. They wear white outfits, and bring me food, but they do not talk to me. My room is bare, with high white walls made of stone. There is one light that is suspended from the unreachable ceiling, an ivory ceramic metal shade directing the light upon me.

I see a doctor every day. We talk, and before he speaks, he refers back to his notes and then asks “tell me about your dark silhouette manifestation.” I don’t know really what he means by this, but I tell him the same story I’ve recounted hundreds of times before, and each time it is the same version. He nods his head, and jots notes down. I’ve recounted these events so many times it has become exact memory, like learning the lines of a play. He doesn’t believe me, I can tell.

When they turn the lights out at night, it lingers in the corner of the room, just hovering. The black inky silhouette with jet eyes, it does nothing but stare. Those cold hard walls block out all light. The screams from the other patient’s fade away, and I am left with it. A dull white noise in the darkness. Those two coal orbs inside the dark silhouette advance toward my bed. As it steals the breath from my lungs, I am unable to scream for help. It stands inches from me every night. Maybe I am dead. Maybe this is eternity. Hell is repetition.

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