You are a wonderful son. You always have been. Watching you grow from boy to man to father has been my greatest point of pride, and throughout it all, I knew you always loved me. Where so many people grow to resent and turn away from their parents, I have always thanked God that our bond has held strong.
What I am about to tell you will test that bond. It will be stretched to its limits, and likely break. Truthfully, I deserve no less. But I’m selfish, Daniel. I’ve learned this about myself over the years. That is why you’re reading this only after I’m dead.
I don’t want you to mourn for me. Truly. Please don’t. I don’t deserve your pity, and after you’ve read these words, I wouldn’t blame you for hating me, for wishing you could resurrect me only to kill me yourself. I would let you.
I want to take you back to a time five years ago, the time when we lost poor Jessica. I know it’s something you hate to think about. So do I. But I know more about what happened than I’ve ever had the courage to tell you.
It was the first night of my annual summer visit. I remember it well. After a day of smiles, hugs, stories, and gifts, I was happy and full and ready for sleep. Well, perhaps not completely. A niggling worry for Jessica was stuck at the back of my mind. The sullen preteen girl I saw that summer was not the happy child I remembered. It distressed me, but I told myself that all teenagers went through a sullen phase, didn’t they? You certainly did, although it was mercifully brief. Maybe hers was just hitting a bit harder.
My thoughts were on the day’s events and on Jessica as I lay in bed. I remember slipping in and out of a dreamlike state as the entire world lay quiet around me. That’s why I didn’t react at first when a figure stepped into my doorway. The motion of its arrival drew my eyes, and for a while I simply stared.
Gradually, the nature of my visitor became clearer. It was standing still and yet in motion. It’s hair waved around its head as if it were underwater, or a living thing in and of itself. At this time, the thing was still in silhouette in the doorway, and I could not make out any of its features. That changed, however, as it soon took a series of slow, methodical steps into the room. As soon as it cleared the doorway, it grew to an enormous size. The top of its head seemed to graze the ceiling eight feet above the floor. And yet, I can’t stress enough how natural and fluid this seemed, as if it had merely condensed itself for as long as it would need to in order to fit into the room.
By now, I was utterly terrified. It was more than terror to be honest. In all my years, I can honestly say that I had never really feared for my life until that moment. The being had done nothing but stand and move, and yet I was absolutely certain I would not see the morning. My dread only intensified as it finally came near to the bed and towered over me.
There are no words that can accurately convey how I felt to see the face that peered down at me, Daniel. No description I give here can do it justice, I’m sure. Where its eyes should be were two patches of inky blackness that seemed fluid in nature. They were constantly in flux, changing their shape and size, almost like jellyfish. Its nose was little more than two stretched holes beneath an almost imperceptible bony point. The mouth was possibly the strangest of all. Its jaw hung open and rested against its chest. Inside were rows of flat teeth like a horse’s. The creature moved its lower mandible back and forth in an unnatural, almost taunting way.
I was utterly paralyzed with fear. A cold sweat broke out over my entire body. I tensed, waiting for something---I still don’t know what.
And then, without a word or any other movement, the thing straightened up, turned, and shuffled from the room. As I watched it go, I suddenly realized that from the moment it appeared until its departure, it had been entirely silent.
The rest of the night passed in a blur and, before I knew it, the morning came. I remember you remarking how tired I looked at breakfast. I can’t remember the exact excuse I gave you now. Something about my bed or my mattress.
Your solution brought back the dread from the night before. You suggested that Jessica and I switch rooms. I wanted to object, but what would I have said? No matter how badly I wanted to, something inside me prevented me from telling you what happened the night before. Would you even have believed me?
As the day went on, this problem never left my mind. You must have noticed how preoccupied I was. I didn’t allow myself to relax until a particular thought occurred to me. Maybe this thing, if in fact it was real, would stay away tonight. Or if it came, maybe it would go to the same room, and not harm Jessica, finding her to be a child. And then what? Would it search the house for me? I would have to prepare myself.
I developed a plan. I would keep watched through a crack in my door. If the thing appeared, whether it decided to come after me or Jessica, I would wake the household and fight it off myself in the meantime. To accomplish this, I stole a chef’s knife from the kitchen before heading upstairs to bed.
There, in my new room, I sat by the door and waited. Across the way, I could see the door to the room I’d slept in the night before, where Jessica now stayed. I distinctly remember drumming my fingertips on the desk near the door as I waited.
Hours passed. I began to yawn more and more frequently. Once or twice, I nodded off and shook myself back to consciousness each time. Eventually, I began to think I was being silly and had dreamed the whole thing. But still, I had to be sure. I would have sat there until sunrise.
It was only when I resumed my drumming on the desk that I realized something was wrong. I could feel each fingertip hit the wooden desktop, but there was no sound. I looked down at my hand and gave the desk a knock. All that I got was a sore knuckle and absolute silence.
That feeling of terror overtook me once more. I had no idea where it came from. It gripped me so tightly I could barely turn my head to look into the hallway.
There was the figure, and it was moving. Slowly, it glided past my door, its hideous features on full display. Even though the knife was gripped in my hand, I was frozen to the spot. Nothing could have moved me in that moment, and I am so, so sorry for it.
I felt a tear run down my cheek as I watched it enter the room where Jessica slept. I stayed there, paralyzed, as minutes passed. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run in there and stab it. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. I could never ask you to forgive such cowardice.
I don’t know how long it was before I saw the creature again. It floated from the room and back toward the end of the hallway. It wasn’t alone. Jessica followed, slowly but with determined steps. My heart was in my throat. I couldn’t understand what was happening. Even more confusing was the expression I saw on her face, Daniel. It was one of complete and total peace.
By the time my muscles unlocked, the creature and Jessica had disappeared from sight. I propelled myself forward into the hallway, landing at the top of the stairs in almost a single motion. The creature had led her that way, as if it wanted to take her down the stairs, but all I saw below me was darkness. There was no sign of anyone or anything.
As I stared into the blackness, I heard a heavy thud from Jessica’s room. Once again, I was off. I got as far as the doorway before I dropped to my knees and released the scream that woke the rest of the household.
You know what I saw. You saw it for yourself. Our precious Jessica in a heap on the floor beside her bed where they said she had fallen out. The best the coroner could come up with was some kind of arrhythmia. I couldn’t bring myself to tell you any different.
I am a coward. A selfish, old, miserable coward. I am so, so sorry.
It’s been five years since then. The creature came to me again last night.
I don’t know why so much time has been allowed to pass between its visits. I heard something once about our lives having a set number of exit points. Perhaps I missed one five years ago, and it’s simply taken me that long to come up on another. This time, I know I won’t be so lucky.
If I had to guess, I’d say the creature makes its visits in pairs: once as a warning, and once again for the proper collection. And I don’t think it likes being cheated. As it stands at the foot of my bed, its expression hasn’t changed, and yet I can somehow feel it snarling at me, simply waiting for my pen to finish its silent journey over this sheet of paper.
I am still afraid, but not like I was. If there is some kind of punishment to be had, wherever this thing is taking me, I am ready for what I deserve. If Jessica is where I’m going, I intend to throw myself at her feet and beg for forgiveness.
I don’t know if this creature comes for us all, Daniel, but I pray you never have to see it for yourself.
Goodbye. I love you.
Written by Jdeschene