Short horror story written by Brandon Harmon-Moore and submitted into the "sixpenceee" story contest.

I always found comfort in that old window. Not only had it been there, resting against that same old tree since I was a child, it always seemed to have a warm vibe to it. I never knew who the window belonged to, and why it was just set against some tree out in the middle of the small forest behind my house.

I discovered it back when I was seven, as I was playing hide-and-go-seek with my favorite cousin, Mecca, in that small forest. A glimmer of light caught my eye near an old pine tree in the dead center of the forest. I walked over to see a broken, dirty, abandoned window gently resting on the tree's base. It looked a total mess, of course, but something about it seemed beautiful, soft, and inviting. I even told it my name; Laila. I was so drawn to it. I can't explain why it gave me that feeling, but it just did, and I have visited it at least once a week ever since then.

Don't even get me started on all of the memories I've shared with it; my first boyfriend, my first heartbreak, the first and only argument I've ever had with my best friend, all the way to my first car, first job, and most recently, the death of my cousin. Yes, Mecca died. I know that's a heavy load to lay out, but it's the truth. She passed away earlier today, the same day as my 19th birthday. Just my luck, huh?

Her and the rest of my family had thrown me a surprise party; cake, dancing, Wii Sports... all that good stuff. Mecca told me she wanted to get away from the family for a moment and breathe. We went outside and rested on the back porch, looking out into the small forest that we had known for so long. By then, it was turning dark as the sun set in the orange-hued sky. Mecca suddenly had the idea that her and I should play hide-and-go-seek again in the forest, just like old times. The idea was silly to me, but I went along with it. She went to run and hide in the woods while I counted to sixty.

After searching for her for what felt like hours, and the sun had completely set, I was super worried. I don't know why, but I felt compelled to visit the window.

I looked at it and jokingly said, "You didn't happen to see Mecca run by, did you?" I gave myself a small pity laugh. However, my grin quickly changed to wide eyes and a dropped jaw as my eyes focused in on something behind the tree the window rested on.

A dark silhouette, standing amongst the trees. I immediately knew it wasn't Mecca and didn't dare call out to ask, because the silhouette looked nothing like her at all. It was tall (probably 8 feet), thin, and seemed to have a tuft of frizzy hair growing from its face. I slowly took a step back, not moving my eyes to make sure the silhouette wasn't moving or following me. Another step, and another. Whatever the silhouette was, it wasn't moving and didn't seem to notice me, as far I could tell. I took the chance to turn around and quietly but quickly head back towards the house. As I walked, sweat was literally dripping from my forehead to my lips and my mind raced with fearful questions. I was so freaked out that I wasn't even thinking about Mecca anymore. Suddenly, I heard an inhuman howl from behind me. It sounded like the howl of a wolf, twisted and warped into a grungy call.

I froze in place, the sound of the howl paralyzing me with fear. My breathing began to tremble, and a shiver crawled over my legs and my chest, making me feel weak. It took every ounce of courage within me, but I managed to turn around. The silhouette was right behind me, only about 30 feet away from where I was standing. It was closer now than it was when I first saw it. Had it been following me that whole time? I noticed that, this time, it was looking at me with piercing yellow eyes. The eyes had no pupils and seemingly no eye-lids... just glowing, yellow dots.

It just stood there, watching me with its unblinking eyes. I didn't know what to do. Bolt and make a run for it, screaming for help? Try scaring it off? Play dead? I didn't even know what I was dealing with. Suddenly, a figure emerged from the darkness to my right. It was Mecca. She was intensely gesturing at me to come to her. I stared at her, wide-eyed, too afraid to budge. She leaned forward and aggressively whispered "It came from the window, and it wants you. You need to get out of here, now!" I stared at her, then turned my head to look back at the tall silhouette. It was gone.

My heart dropped as my feelings of anxiety heightened further. I looked over to where Mecca was standing. She was again gesturing at me to come over. I nervously started to tip-toe over to her, but picked up my pace as I got closer. It was then that a bony, white hand with incredibly long claws reached out from behind Mecca and grabbed her by the throat. The claws pierced her throat as she was pulled away into the darkness.

I ran. I ran, and ran, and ran, faster than I ever have in my life. Tears streaming down my cheeks, adrenaline pumping, sweat dripping. I finally exited the forest and bolted into the house through the kitchen's sliding-glass door. I yelled for help, screaming that Mecca was taken by something in the forest. It took me a few seconds of hysterical yelling to realize that no one was answering me; in fact, no one was home. The house was dark. I yelled for someone, anyone, but no one was there. I had never felt so alone and afraid in my entire life.

I suddenly heard a whisper from outside the sliding-glass door.

It was a deep, haunting whisper that said, "Laila." I was so numb from fear at that point that I actually didn't run or scream or anything. I just turned around, attentive.

"Laila," the voice cooed again. I walked towards the sliding-glass window and looked out. There the yellow-eyed silhouette was, staring at me from about 30 feet away. I'm not sure if it was the one whispering, as there was no way I could have been able to hear it from that far. But then, who was it?

I just stared at it, as it stared at me.

"Don't be afraid, little Laila," the whisper said.

"I'm so afraid. Where's my family? What happened to Mecca?" I whimpered quietly.

"They're all gone. You didn't need them Laila. You just need me, and only me."

"Did you kill my family?!"

"You just need me."

"What even are you?"

"You've known me your whole life, Laila. You shared everything with me, and I listened. Always."

"Did you... come from the window?"

"I'll show you."

After it whispered that sentence, the sliding-glass door gently opened by itself. The silhouette reached forward its hand; the ghostly white, bony, clawed hand that killed Mecca. I had no clue what was going on, but suddenly I felt like I always did when I was around that old window; safe and warm. I walked forwards towards the silhouette. It floated backwards into the forest, and I followed. I ended up at that window, of course, but the silhouette was nowhere in sight.

I looked down at the window, feeling an eerie sense of relief and happiness, despite the crazy things that were happening. The more I stared into the window, the more deeply I looked into it. I noticed a reflection in the window's glass. It was the ghostly hand of the silhouette, resting on my shoulder. I stared more and more deeply into the window. It was as if I was in a trance.

Before I knew it, I was looking up. I was surrounded by a silvery, blank void. There was nothing but shimmering, silver substance squirming in the distance all around me... and beneath me. I was suspended in air. As I looked up, still fixated in the trance, I noticed the window was above me and was far bigger. It had become the size of an average door, and no longer looked old and broken up. The silhouette seemed to be nowhere nearby. As I looked at the window, I could see the glimpse of an outside world... what looked like the view of a small house in the middle of a large field.

And this is where I am now. Staring up at the window, peering into this outside world that looks eerily similar to my own. I can't move, I can't speak, I can't look around. I can only look up.

Wait... I see... a boy? Yeah, I can see through the window that a young boy is running through the backyard of that house. He's gotta be only five or six. He seems so happy. I want to get to know him... I want to be happy with him. He's running up to me... or wait, the window. He's staring into the window. It looks like he's staring right at me, but I can tell he doesn't see me. I hope he stays. I just want to be his friend. He's smiling... how precious. Oh, his name is "Brent." Well, hi, Brent. I hope we become good friends over time.

I'll be all you need.

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