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“Wake up!” his mommy ordered in a hushed but frantic whisper. “Troy, sweetie, we need to go! Now!”

Troy hadn’t been sleeping...not really. He’d been listening, like he often did on the long nights; the nights when Daddy wasn’t feeling well. On those nights, Troy knew he was expected to stay in his room, with the door shut tight. He knew Daddy slept outside on those nights, in the shed. He’d heard Mommy lead him out there, like she did most nights, before the sun had set.

Then afterwards it’d be okay. She’d come back up the stairs, slowly open his door, and lie beside him in bed. They’d curl up close, and Mommy would pray for Daddy. She would tell Troy that everything was going to be ok, and Daddy would feel better in the morning. That was most nights.

That night was not most nights. Troy knew because he could hear it in her voice. In fact, Troy believed for a moment that it was all a nightmare.

He believed that, because never in a million years would he have imagined that his mommy could be afraid.

“I’m sorry, Mommy!” Troy said aloud, certain that it had been his naughty disobedience that had her so upset. “I’ll go to sleep I, pr—!”

His mommy cupped her hand over his mouth, and Troy instantly became quiet. She held a finger to her lip, a signal Troy understood.

She whispered to him, “You have to be quiet, Baby. You must, ok? Not a word! Understand me?”

Troy barely had time to nod before his mommy had lifted him out of bed by his armpits. He clung tightly to her as she placed her hand gently on the base of his head, and in a moment they were off.

They moved quickly, yet cautiously, down the carpeted hallway. She walked on air, and Troy watched as his darkened bedroom fell away. They took to the stairs, and Troy felt every step as he bounced up and down in Mommy’s arms.

“Where are we going?” he whispered.

This made Mommy hesitate halfway down the stairs. She listened, not to Troy, but for something else. There was only silence.

She hissed into his ear, “Shush! You have to be quiet!”

Ashamed, Troy tightened his grip on Mommy, and he buried his face in her red sweater. They were off again, reaching the bottom of the stairs. Troy watched everything they passed. They rounded the corner on their left, moving away from the empty dining room beside the stairwell on the right, down a short hallway that led towards the kitchen and the living room.

Troy felt his eyelids growing heavy. Being in Mommy’s arms filled him with warmth, but as soon as they turned the corner he felt all the warmth fall from his hanging body. Their swift motion had come to a stop as his mommy froze just a couple of steps into the kitchen. She gasped, and her fingers tightened on Troy’s head. He didn’t know what had stopped her. He couldn’t have even imagined that something held her there, cold and still, with nothing more than a simple gaze.

Troy could feel her heart trembling.

Troy felt naked in his mommy’s grasp. He wanted to turn, to see what had made her stop, but he couldn’t. Mommy’s hand held his head locked in place. Troy could look at nothing but an empty living room, and the reflection of himself in the darkened TV hanging on the far wall. He saw himself there, dimly brightened by the moonlight that crept in through the back door. He could see Mommy in the reflection too, and he saw her take one tiny step backwards.

He could see them both, but also something more.

It was darker than the shadows, and at first Troy couldn’t be sure that it was anything at all. Maybe it was an illusion, a trick of his overly imaginative and tired mind, but then the shape took a step forward. The silhouette became real, physical, as the thing stepped into the light of the full moon. In the dim reflection, Troy could only make out so much: the vaguest outline of a head, a spindly arm that seemed to grow out of the darkened walls like a tree root, and a frame nearly too wide for the doorway it stood in. It couldn’t be true.

A monster stood inside his house.

That was it. A nightmare. Nothing more and nothing less. It was horrible, but Troy knew what to do. He only had to wake up. As soon as he opened his eyes, he’d be back in his bed. He’d be alone, but he’d be safe. The monster would be gone.

So, he tried. He tried to open his eyes, wake-up from the awful dream, but nothing happened. He widened them, but the terrible vision before him remained the same. The dark reflection had grown teeth that shone in the night. Troy couldn’t open his eyes, for he had never been asleep.

The nightmare became a reality as his mommy whispered into his ear.

“Close your eyes, Baby.”

The words ended, and Mommy started to move, but it felt like time still hadn’t resumed. For Troy, it was an eternity. His mommy turned on a dime, and she started to carry him back to the hallway they’d just come from, but Troy hadn’t closed his eyes. The tiniest part of him still believed, still prayed, that he was asleep. Maybe the terror of seeing the beast first-hand would shock him awake. The TV and its reflection fell away from view, and Troy came face to face with the creature in the dark.

He still didn’t wake up.

It couldn’t have been more than a second, but, in that second, everything changed. There, beyond the kitchen, standing in the doorway that led to the garage and the laundry room, it moved. With powerful legs, it had already started sprinting forward, pushing its whole frame into the moonlight.

Its black hair seemed to burn on its skin like shadowy fire, and its long fingers ended in sharp, hooked claws. Its face was like a man’s, but elongated and complete with a twisted, evil smile. In the moonlight, its eyes burned yellow like putrid embers. Troy screamed.

His mommy carried him, but he watched around the corner for far too long. Mommy had decided to return the way they’d come. Whether she was heading for the stairs or even the front door, Troy couldn’t be sure. The only thing he quickly became sure of was that none of it would matter. As his vision hung on the corner of the hallway, he’d seen the creature turn as the kitchen fell from view. It wasn’t following them through the kitchen, not directly. There were two ways to the stairs: through the hallway they were in now, and another, alternate path that led straight through the dining room.

The creature was moving to cut them off.

Troy wanted to tell his mommy, but it was too late. She’d already found out. She screamed as the thing emerged like smoke from the dining room right before them, stretching its arms out wide to bar them from the stairs and the front door. Troy couldn’t see it, but he could hear it breathing. He could feel each breath, warm and wet on the nape of his neck. He even felt the air move as the thing raised one of its hairy, clawed hands.

“No!” Mommy shouted, quickly turning about. She hunched herself forward, keeping Troy safely beneath her, but leaving her back exposed.

The motion was so fast that Troy believed that the monster had struck nothing but air. Mommy’s scream told him otherwise. Narrowly missing Troy’s hands, the creature had cut straight down his mommy’s back, deep into her flesh. Blood dripped down her back, soaking into the legs of Troy’s pajama pants. Troy screamed once more.

The blow had crippled her, but his mommy hadn’t given up. Still standing, she started carrying Troy back down the hallway, away from the beast. Each step caused her to cry and gasp as she tried to take Troy away. All the while, Troy watched over her shoulders in frozen fear. The thing had fallen onto all four limbs now, and it stalked them like a dog in the beams of moonlight. His mommy was hurt, but the thing didn’t finish her. Instead, Troy watched as the wolf-like beast stalked them slowly down the hallway. It took its time, savoring every tragic second, savoring the hunt. A toothy, mangled smile covered its sickly face from cheek to cheek.

But that wasn’t the worst of it. In the creature’s face, highlighted in the moonlight, Troy noticed a similarity there. Something he recognized. In its face, he saw something impossible. Someone impossible. It couldn’t have been, yet as Troy’s eyes widened, so did the creature’s smile expand even further. Its tongue dangled from its mouth, wetting its human lips.

“Daddy?” Troy breathed.

Then, Troy felt his mommy’s hand slip away from his head.

“You’re going to run, Baby,” his mommy said through gritted teeth. “Go to the basement, Baby. Hide, you understand me? You—you hide, ok?”

Troy couldn’t respond. What was she talking about? Why did he have to run? Wasn’t she going to take him away? She had to. He couldn’t run, not on his own.

He had no choice. Mommy had already dropped him onto the floor. His legs gave out from underneath him, for he hadn’t been expecting to use them. He could only look up from his place on the floor, as Mommy’s face twisted into an angry, wild look. Her eyes still watered with uncertainty, but her scowl was pure anger. She reached into her sock, and she drew something long out of it.

In a quick motion, his mommy turned on the beast, yelling to Troy as loud as she could, “Run!”

The beast lunged for her, and they fell together into a squirming mass of hair and flesh, but Troy didn’t see much more. He listened to Mommy. He ran.

He sprinted through the kitchen, focused on one thing only: the basement door. It seemed far away, and behind him he could hear both the painful screams of his mommy, and the awful howling of the beast. He didn’t dare turn back, but his eyes were so full of tears it hardly would have mattered if he did. Part of him worried, deep down, that the outcome of their fight had already been decided.

Mommy wasn’t going to walk away from that fight.

He reached for the basement door, turned the handle, and he threw himself into the darkness inside. Pulling the door shut, he felt alone. Never before would the young child have ever expected that the quiet basement would have felt so safe. The silence he found there was overwhelming, but not unwelcome. Waiting halfway down the stairs, Troy listened. He wasn’t sure if the sound had been simply drowned out by the wooden door and thick floors, or if something worse had happened.

It was that silence that allowed a single creak from upstairs to strike his ears like the roar of a gunshot. Gasping, Troy ran down the stairs, feeling the cold of the basement’s concrete floor against his toes. He had to go, somewhere, anywhere, but where? Only a few small windows brought any light into the space, not that there was much to see. Boxes were scattered about, old and dusty, and most were filled with his parents’ old stuff.

He knew that hiding behind one of them was silly, but he did so anyways. Where else could he go? There was a corner where his daddy kept his old home gym, and it was open and exposed, and near the stairs were some of Troy’s old toys but nothing that would keep him safe. So he hid by the far wall, behind a large box, and right beneath an elevated crawlspace.

The creaking upstairs grew closer, slowly but surely. Footsteps. They had started above him, by where his mommy had fought the creature, and they had started moving exactly where Troy had feared. The creaking sounds were moving directly right towards the basement door.

It wouldn’t be any more than a moment now before Troy heard it, and he did hear it. The twisting sound of the doorknob, and the light “click” as the latch was released. The door moaned as it was pushed open, and something stepped into the basement.

As the wooden stairs groaned, Troy ducked back behind the boxes. Whoever was up there on the stairs shut the door, and then Troy started to cry as he heard them coming down the stairs.

It was the monster, he was sure of it. Never was there a doubt. It would hear him crying, it would find him, and it would eat him up. Troy saw it play out in his head, the creature smiling the entire time with its big, nasty teeth.

He would die.

“Troy!”

Troy didn’t believe it! He couldn’t believe it!

“Mommy?”

Troy looked around the box, and she was there. Her limp had grown worse, but was certainly her. It was his mommy! She had survived and found him! Troy came out of his spot.

“Mommy,” he said, running towards her.

“Stop, Baby.”

He slowed, and finally stopped. His mommy was there alright, but she wasn’t okay. Something was certainly not okay.

“Where is it, Mommy?” he asked. “Where, Mommy?”

“I don’t know,” his Mommy said. “It ran off, but you need to hide, Baby.”

“No,” Troy said, unable to see his mommy’s face in the dark. “Can’t we go? We can go, it’s gone! Please, Mommy, let’s—”

“No!” his mommy snapped, clutching at her side. “He’s not gone, Troy. He’s not going to leave us alone!”

Perfectly on time, a howl from somewhere outside echoed in the basement.

“I can’t be near you either, Troy.” Troy’s mommy said, sorrowful and scared. “I can feel it, Baby.”

Troy watched as his mommy stumbled towards the basement wall. He wanted to reach out, help her, hold her, hug her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. It was the anger in her voice that held him at bay, because it wasn’t like his mommy to be mad. It wasn’t like her at all.

She collapsed to the floor, taking strong, deep breaths.

“I’m getting sick now,” she said. “You understand me, Baby?”

“Like Daddy?”

His mommy nodded “Just like Daddy.”

Troy remembered the beast upstairs, and its face. He shook as he asked it.

“Was that Daddy?”

His mommy was still for a moment, several moments, and then she nodded her head.

“Yes,” she said, weakly. “And just like Daddy, Mommy’s going to go through some rough changes, Baby. Awful, awful changes because he scratched me. You hear me? Mommy won’t be safe to be around anymore. Do you understand me?”

Troy didn’t. He couldn’t. It was all too much for his mind to handle, but he nodded his head anyways. He could barely see his mommy’s face in the dark, but he saw her tired eyes fall away from him, and towards the back of the basement.

“The crawlspace, Baby.” Mommy pointed into the dark. “You need to get into the crawlspace. You can’t get scratched or bit. Do you hear me?”

“No!” Troy said, quickly. “It’s too high, it’s dark, and there’s spiders up there, Mommy! Don’t make me go up there! Please! Not in the dark, Mommy!”

She shook her head, heaving and shaking as something invisible rippled through her body.

“You have to, Troy! You—”

She grew silent for just a moment, as did Troy, as a shadow blocked the moonlight for just a moment. Troy turned his head up to the basement window. Nothing was there anymore, but something had been.

“He’s coming back,” his mommy wept. “And soon I will be too! I’ll be coming for you, Baby. You need to go!”

“But—” Troy started, but in a flash Mommy whipped out her hand and pulled him in close. She hugged him, just for a second, and then she let go. As they parted, her hands found his, and Troy found a metallic object placed on his palm.

Troy looked down to see that he was holding a silver dagger. It was heavy and sharp, and it felt warm in his hand.

“Take that,” his mommy said. “Take that, and you use it if you need to.”

“Use it?” Troy asked. He’d never been given a knife before. They were for big kids and adults, not for little boys like him. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do.

“If Mommy, or if Daddy, comes for you, then you use it! You cut Mommy and Daddy, ok?”

“Cut?” Troy asked “I don’t wanna, Mommy! I don’t wanna!”

“You have to!” his Mommy barked in pain and desperation. “Mommy’s sick! Daddy’s sick! Mommy’s going to want to hurt you! Don’t let Mommy hurt you, Baby. Promise me! You hurt Mommy if she tries! Promise me! Promise you’ll be safe!”

Troy nodded again, terrified as his mommy started to shake and shiver in the corner.

“Then go!” she shouted. “Go! Climb on the boxes! Get into to the crawlspace!”

She gasped, collapsing forward, and Troy rushed to her side.

“Mommy!” he shouted, but she shoved him away so hard it sent him toppling back into a pile of nearby boxes, dropping the knife on the floor. He cried as he stood up, but his mommy was slipping quickly away. She lay, twisted on the ground, like she was fighting against her own body. The whole time, she spoke.

“You need to go, you…delicious, fleshy boy!”

Troy stood, still weeping. He watched as she shook upon the ground, in the shadows of the basement, screaming and speaking. With each word, her voice became more and more unrecognizable as a darkness took hold.

“I won’t! You can’t make me—Kill the boy! I’ll kill him! Eat him! He is prey! Prey! PREY! He will—I love Troy! I love Troy! He is my—dinner! He will be dinner! His blood will taste so sweet! Sticky like syrup! Rip off his arms! His fingers! Bite his legs.—Help me!—Gnaw on his skull! So young! So tender! I want to eat!—Troy! Run!”

He wanted to, but he couldn’t. He couldn’t leave her. He couldn’t leave Mommy. She was in pain! She was begging for help, and only Troy could hear. He had to help her. He took a step forward.

She looked at him, and Troy froze. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t. His mommy’s brown eyes were still there, but as she leaned forward, into the moonlight, a rotten yellow reflected back at him. The evil color shimmered, and it smiled. Mommy had lost the fight.

It was changing now, and Troy couldn’t turn his eyes as muscles, skin, and bone twisted, snapped, and changed beneath his mommy’s dark skin. She should have been screaming in pain, but she only smiled. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her changing face pulling her smile wider as if she were enjoying the rapid, disgusting change. It was when her face cracked within and started to stretch that Troy finally realized that he needed to move. There was no time left.

Alone, Troy bolted towards the back of the basement. There were boxes there tall enough for him to climb on, and he started to mount them. He had even managed to grasp the crawlspace’s edge when a horrible, shocking thought occurred to him.

He’d dropped the knife.

He didn’t want to turn, but he knew desperately that there was no other way. He noticed the knife’s silver handle glittering within the moonlight, and he also saw just how much his mommy had changed. Her change was nearly complete. Her clothes started to shred as she grew larger, stronger, and the black, coarse hair of a wolf started to sprout all over her body. There was still time.

But would it be enough?

He leapt from the boxes, and he landed with a smack onto the concrete. He raced to the knife, never taking his eyes off the monster in the corner. Troy avoided looking at the beast for only a second, only one moment, just to make sure he grabbed the right end of the knife. In that second as he grabbed it, the change was completed. When he looked up, the yellow eyes that used to belong to his mommy stared right at him. Mommy was gone.

The monster was only a few feet away.

Troy should have run, he wanted to, but the two stood frozen and staring. One was frozen in fear, and the other was frozen in pure anticipation. Smiling, the beast waited considerately for Troy to make the first move.

Yet, the next move surprised them both.

Troy took a step forward. Knife in hand, and eyes frozen shut in fear, he swung the blade wildly. It connected below the creature’s eyes, and Troy heard a sizzling hiss and a horrifying howl. He spun around and charged towards the crawlspace, and once he reached it he managed to hide within its darkness, grasping the knife tightly before the beast had the time to gather its focus.

The silver had hurt it, but its smile hadn’t faded. It looked like it was having fun.

Troy watched as the creature stalked about. It didn’t come straight for the crawlspace, instead, it took a longer route about the basement floor. It sniffed the air, and circled the boxes like a shark. Troy thought, naively for a moment, that it had forgotten where he’d gone. Perhaps, just perhaps, he would be safe there after all. He placed his hand on the wall, and he brought his head right next to the window in the crawlspace.

Then, it all went wrong.

With an ear-splitting screech, the other creature, lurking just beyond the house, plunged its arm through the window. Glass shards sprayed across the crawlspace as the creature reached in, flailing and grasping wildly. Troy fell back, screaming, as the other creature, the one that used to be his mommy, had made a beeline for the crawlspace.

The creature pounced into the crawlspace and swatted at the intruder’s arm. The two growled at each other, and quickly they were at each other through the broken window. Their faces, snouts, snapped and barked at each other, each spraying spit and rage, though neither noticed as Troy backed away. He slipped away, further and further. Past the old boxes of Christmas decorations and ornaments, he found his corner. His last hope.

It was a space he’d found before. A little alcove that only the spiders and he could fit inside. He moaned, feeling the sticky spiderwebs wrap about his head as he entered, and he twitched as he felt one of them scurry across his neck with its sharp, spiny feet. He squeezed himself in, deeper and deeper, feeling the dirt and bodies of dead bugs crunch beneath his naked feet. The two monsters fought, while he reached forward, grabbed the large, torn box that held their family Christmas Tree, and, with all of his might, pulled it in front of the hole.

Alone in perfect darkness, he waited as the night dragged on.

Troy didn’t sleep that night, even though he was exhausted. Somehow, his hiding place had worked. The sounds of the fight died down not long after he hid himself, and beyond that the basement had stayed silent. The only noise he recalled was the sound of something moving on the stairs, and Troy hoped more than anything that it had been the sound of that thing moving on. Giving up.

Time didn’t move for Troy, at least not in any noticeable way. He couldn’t tell how long it had been, but he cried silent tears for he knew that it had been long enough. It had been far too long for this to be a nightmare. Everything that he’d seen had been real. His parents were gone.

Those tears flowed, and they quickly became less silent. They brought sound back to Troy’s throat, he trembled as he felt more spiders creep across his skin. Troy was alone, with only his quiet, growing moans, and the awful spiders, to keep him company.

That was, until, something moved the box out of the way with a sharp snarl.

Troy screamed as the moonlight beyond highlighted not one, but two sets of glaring eyes in the crawlspace. The two, together, had found him. With his back against the wall, Troy brought his knife up, and he started swinging wildly. He screamed at them, hoping his cries would make them think twice. Perhaps he could find his parents in there, somewhere, and he could bring them back. Make them spare his life.

In their smiles, however, Troy saw that his parents were long gone. Only the beasts remained. One moved in closer, the one that used to be his mommy, on all fours, and slowly it reached in after him. Its deadly claws nearly reached him when Troy sliced downwards with the blade. The beast howled, swung its arm wildly, and unintentionally knocked the knife from Troy’s hand.

Troy gasped as it fell out of the alcove, and right by the feet of the other beast. While the one that used to be his mommy groaned in awful pain, the one that used to be his daddy crept forward. It pushed the other one out of its way, and with a grin it reached into the space.

Troy pushed himself back, further and further until he was sure his body could flatten and fit no more. The razors passed inches by his face in slow motion, and he noticed that the beasts had to stretch. It reached and reached, but it couldn’t touch him. He was out of its way, but just barely. The claws fell by his belly, and they gently raked the shirt. He realized it might snag it. It would snag his shirt and pull him out, so quickly Troy stopped his wailing and held his breath.

Sucking in his gut, he pulled his shirt away from the beast and it worked. The creature’s claws found thin air once more, and he heard it snarl. Troy was winning, and he was safe, but only for a short while. He would have to breathe again, and when he did it could try and snag his shirt once more. All it had to do was wait, and Troy was certain it could wait longer than he could hold his breath. The beast must have come to the same conclusion, for its arm hung there in the open. It’s claw twitching, ready to snag the cloth.

Troy had to breathe.

He did, and the creature tried to snag his shirt but it missed! It roared in fury as Troy held another breath, but it was no matter. Troy knew it was a lost game. He had failed, and what happened next was inevitable. His face contorted as he thought about what his mommy had said earlier, all the awful things as she turned. He saw her, recovered now, peering in behind his daddy. They both waited, wanting the same delicious prize. He hoped it would be fast.

He took another breath, but the claw fell away. In fact, both of the creatures fell away, releasing awful shrieks that Troy hadn’t heard before. They sounded like they were in great pain. Both stumbled out of the crawlspace, and he heard them collapse to the basement floor below. They wailed and squirmed there for about a minute more, and then they were silent. Troy cautiously took the chance, and he seized the knife back. Retreating back into his hide-out like a meerkat, he sat and waited.

He waited and waited, watching as the light filled the basement. He watched as somehow it grew lighter and lighter. It took him a long time to realize that the light flooding in wasn’t from the moon, but from the morning sun. The night was finally over.

Then, he heard movement on the basement floor, and he raised his knife. Breathing heavy and fast, he watched with wide eyes as something moved beyond the ledge of the crawlspace. Something with black hair. It turned, and looked at him.

“Troy?” his Daddy asked, confused. “Oh my God. Troy, what are you doing up there?”

Troy screamed wildly at his daddy as he stepped up onto the crawlspace.

“Easy, buddy!” he said, creeping forward. “Easy! Troy, come here! It’s ok, buddy. Come on. Come here, Troy. Are you hurt? Let me see you.”

Troy didn’t see a monster, but he didn’t lower his knife. He felt like his arm had been frozen in place. He didn’t move as his daddy touched his arm, and he collapsed limp as his daddy pulled him out of the crawlspace.

“It’s ok, Buddy.” His daddy said, taking the knife away. “It’s over. It’s over.”

He hugged him tight. Troy hesitated, still unsure, but eventually he did hug his daddy back. It was a warmth he never thought he’d feel again.

“Troy?”

Troy looked up to see his mommy coming to her feet. She looked tired, ragged, and had a new scar running across her upper lip. She brought her hands to her face seeing Troy, and her tears spilled over.

“Oh my God,” she said. “Oh my God, you’re ok, Baby. Thank God you’re ok!”

She jumped up with them, joining in on the hug. Terrified, Troy closed his eyes and let the two embrace him.

It had taken most of the month, but the shelter was impressive. It sat where the old shed used to be, but took up much less space. The only part of it you could see was the entry hatch on the surface.

“Fully submerged,” his dad told him, holding his hand. “Steel. You could survive a nuclear blast in there, Buddy. You know how strong one of those is?”

Troy nodded, smiling a little.

“Isn’t that cool?” asked Dad.

“Very,” Troy said.

His dad patted him on the shoulder, and the two exchanged a quick hug before his dad moved down into the shelter. On his other side, holding his other hand, his mom was very nervous. She looked to the red horizon, and then to the shelter, and finally to Troy.

“This is scary for me too, Baby.”

Troy looked at her, and silently hugged her torso. She kissed him on the head, and knelt down beside him.

“You set your alarm?” she asked. “I don’t want you to be late for school.”

“Yes,” Troy said, looking at the naked dirt below.

“You know where the key is, right?”

“On the counter,” Troy said. “Next to the toaster.”

“That’s right, and as long as the sun is up then it’s ok to let us out. Don’t you dare do it a moment too early.”

“But try not to forget us either, please,” his dad joked with a smile.

“That too, Baby. You ok?”

Troy looked up at his mom, and into her still brown eyes. He nodded once, smiling.

“Ok,” she kissed him on the cheek and hugged him once more for good measure.

“It’s time,” Dad said, sternly. His mom nodded in agreement and offered Troy a quick smile.

“See you tomorrow, Baby,” she said. “Good night, Troy.”

“Good night, Mommy.”

She stepped down into the bunker, and Troy quickly went and shut the door. Just like they’d shown him, he locked the latch and he double, triple, and quadruple checked it. They were sealed in there tight, and as the sun set Troy entered the house.

His bed remained empty that night. The house was empty and silent. Troy had made his way down to the basement, and he pulled himself up into the crawlspace. Pulling himself far inside, he squirmed inside the alcove, holding his knife close, brushing away with ease the lone spiders that strayed across his skin. He looked to the empty basement once before pulling over the heavy box.

He sat there all night, listening to the hellish howls that echoed from somewhere outside.



Written by Ryan Brennaman
Content is available under CC BY-SA

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