I'll never forget the day my daughter, Drew, started all the nonsense about the lights going out. It was a few years back now, when she was five or six, and obviously, when she had first started screaming aloud: "No! Don't turn the lights out!" I had thought it the result of a previous nightmare or scary movie she had watched.
It was when she started explaining that worried me. When it had all started, Drew would scream to me just as I was about to flick the switch: "No, mom! Don't do it! Please, you have to listen, mommy!" I reacted in a tiresome manner to it all, and I turned off the light, leaving her standing there in the middle of the room, bathed in darkness. I held the door shut as her fists pounded on the wood, and waited for her to eventually fall silent.
When I asked her about it one morning, she looked at me, her face filled with disdain. She described that when the lights went out, "they" would come, and then they would start grinning at her, and that it was their eyes that looked so surreal and unblinking that she couldn't bear it. Obviously not all of these exact words came from a six year old.
As I went to bed that night, I thought about what Drew had told me. I realized after some time that I too had once done exactly the same, and that I had seen the same spectres as Drew had described!
I thought back to the time at my grandparent's house at the age of 20, when they would turn the lights out and from the shadows, eventually would emerge these midget, smiling people with glassy eyes like a doll.
Their hands would reach out as they stared at me, and no matter how insistently I screamed and begged to be rescued, I was ignored. Strangely, on the day that they left, I woke to find the number 12 painted upon my door... that was the day my terminal cancer had been discovered.
It was then that I rushed across the landing to Drew's room, and to my horror, saw that upon her door was painted the number thirteen. I entered and found her dead upon the floor, her cheeks carved into a wide smile, her eyes glazed over and glassy... the next day, I was admitted into hospital... I'm still there, 27 year old me... waiting to die... and every night those spectres return... glassy eyes... grins and all. What number will you be?