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Misfortune seems to always follow my little boy, Sam. Take for example on his fourth birthday: the entire family was gathered in the backyard having one of those typical birthday barbecues. Except for Sam. I searched the house for him. I searched the yard. Hell, I even searched everybody's cars just in case he had been playing hide and seek with his cousins or something. He was gone. My wife and I were worried sick. We ended up calling the police. I mean, it was the last option that we had. We harped on their asses the entire day as they searched for my little boy. By the time the sun went down, there was no luck in finding him. He was gone. Vanished. The cops called it a day and I was left a nervous wreck. There was nothing that we could do except wait for a fresh set of hours under the sun. As you can guess, I drank myself to sleep. It was the only way I could rest after the day's events.

I woke up from my drunken slumber to a familiar nudging at my shoulder. Mentally preparing myself for the sunlight to cause my head to hurt tenfold (thanks to the night before), I slowly ease my eyes open to see a small figure standing beside my bed. It was Sam. And he was filthy, as if he had been rolling around in the mud. I didn't care. I snatched him up into the biggest hug that I had ever given him.

"You smell terrible." I said to him, laughing. "Not as bad as you, daddy!" He retorted. I missed him. It felt like he had been missing for years. When I finally put him down, I saw that he was covered in, at first glance, mud. Allowing my emotions to bring me back to reality, an even more foul stench filled my nostrils, almost making me vomit. It smelled like something had well, died. And the mud that had covered my son's tiny body wasn't mud at all. It was blood. He was drenched in it. His blue tanktop was now stained a more purple like color and his white cargo shorts looked as if they had taken a dip into a blood bank. Poking out of his larger side pockets on his shorts, was some kind of snout. A dog? Cat? Maybe he had found a dead animal somewhere and thought it was cool. I reached into his pocket to get whatever it was out, as it had to be the source of the stink. The thing was covered in wet fur, and was still warm. I gagged as I pulled it out of his pocket, blood dripping onto the floor. I threw it down in disgust. And on further inspection I realized that it was the head of a raccoon. Strangely, the head looked to have been cruelly ripped off, judging by the thin strips of meat and muscle still hanging from the disembodied neck. Its eyes had even been gouged into its now empty sockets.

"Sam... did- did you do this?" I asked. He remained silent. I was probably overthinking it. He was just a child after all. A perfectly normal, if not a little morbidly curious, four year old boy. I apologized to him for thinking something like that and promptly took him to the bathtub. He was more dirty than I thought; the blood and grime was all but caked onto some parts of his body and filled the underneath of his fingernails.

Sam never gave his mother and I many problems as he was growing up. He was a straight A's student, a boy scout, and one of the most gifted athletes I had ever seen. He was perfect. I wanted him to be a child forever. Of course that wasn't to be the case. The only way to keep a child around was to simply have another one. So that's exactly what my wife and I wanted to do. We tried so many times. I wanted to stop after the second miscarriage, but she insisted that we have another child. The fourth and final attempt also ended with another miscarriage, and the downfall of our marriage. Sam was ten when my wife left us. She walked out one morning without saying a word. He was devastated. I didn't even know what to do for myself. All I knew was that I needed to keep Sam happy. Thankfully, my now ex wife gave me full custody of Sam in exchange for most of my money. What we lacked in finances, we made up for with contentment with what we did have.

Probably the worst part about the divorce was how empty our home became. Sam and I did our usual thing every day. I'd go to work, pick him up from school, take him to football practice, go home, do homework, eat dinner, and finally go to sleep. Around bedtime was when I'd really notice how lonely we were. There was no longer someone sleeping next to me every night, and Sam didn't have anybody to tuck him in anymore. Of course I tried, but he's at the age where he doesn't want me to "treat him like a baby" anymore.

The noises began around five months after the divorce was made final. I remember being half asleep, and suddenly being woken up by a loud scratching sound. It was too big to be from any rats or anything. I got up out of bed and slowly crept out into the hallway outside of my room. The scratching was louder now. I quietly eased my way down the hall towards the scratching noise, armed with a baseball bat that I had grabbed on my way out of my bedroom. The farther I got down the hallway, the better I could determine where the scratching was coming from. It was coming from Sam's room. I squeezed the bat even tighter in my hands now. Sweat began to form on my brow. Tears were welling in my eyes. I didn't know what I would do if something were to happen to my little boy. As I reached for the door handle to his room, I could hear Sam talking to someone. I eased my grip on the baseball bat and walked into his room to find him sitting in the middle of his bed; alone and staring at me. He must have been playing or something. But none of his toys were on the floor.

"Everything okay in here, buddy?" I asked, confused. "Yes, dad. I didn't mean to wake you up." He responded. "It's okay, son. Go to sleep, will you? Don't need a grumpy kid wreaking havoc on his school tomorrow. Love you." I said playfully. "Love you too, dad."

Sam was such a good boy. I truly felt that I was doing a much better job than most parents would at raising him. Life went on as usual. We continued on about our routine lives. And we were happy. Until a couple of months later when the scratching started again. Every single night I would be woken up by that same scratching sound, and every night I would enter Sam's room to find him staring at me from his bed. Until one night it was no longer Sam in the bed.

The scratching was especially loud tonight. It's gotten to where I can't even sleep. It's almost like somebody was trying to grab my attention. I went through my normal routine of going to Sam's bed room to see what was going on. As I neared his bed room, I could hear him laughing. This was new. No more scratching or anything. "Alright, Sa-" was all I could get out of my mouth as I opened his door and turned on his light. The thing sitting in the middle of the bed was NOT my son. I stood in the doorway frozen in fear as the creature slowly got out of my son's bed. It stood about seven feet tall and naked. It had pale white skin with a green undertone to it that stretched over its incredibly bony figure. Its arms and legs were disproportionate to the rest of its body, as they were far too long. Its knuckles hung down past its gangly knees and ended with long black talons attached to its large fingers. The torso was covered in all types of ritualistic markings with the most obvious being the crudely carved pentagram on its stomach. It had greasy strands of obsidian black hair stretching down past its chest.

Before I could get a better look at everything, the creature began to ease its way towards me, its knees buckling with every step it took, as if it were a child first learning how to walk. I stood still, paralyzed with fear. As it walked I could hear a high pitched wheezing coming from its now smiling mouth. And then it stopped about an arms length in front of me. It was hideous. The mouth was stretched into a large smile covering most of its face filled with a row of sickly yellow, razor sharp teeth, some of them being broken off, creating even equally dangerous looking points in its mouth. Staring at me were two tiny red dots lying in the recesses of its empty eye sockets. A now pungent odor began to fill the room. It smelled exactly like Sam had smelled when he returned from wherever he had run off to all those years ago. It smelled like death. I threw up right then and there all over the floor in front of the thing. It was still staring at me, gaze unbroken and smiling.

I turned and ran to my bedroom, while looking behind me to see the thing take a now larger but still unsteady step into the hallway. I slammed my door shut behind me, locking it in the process. The creatures heavy footsteps dragged down the hall and then came to a sudden stop. Its shadow now blocked any light at all from coming under my door. Then the scratching started. This thing had been in the room with my son this entire time, and now it was toying with me.

I'm so scared right now. I don't know what to do. I can't leave the house without Sam. I hope he is alright. I won't be able to make it without my sweet little boy. I've gotten my phone out and have been writing what I feel is my own eulogy. Damn, I left my phone charger downstairs, so it's only a matter of time until my phone bites the dust...

The scratching has finally stopped. But its still standing there right outside my door. I don't know how much longer I can handle this...

Oh, God. It's laughing at me. It sounds like the distorted laugh of a child...

It finally left from in front of my door, but I can hear it skulking around in the house...

I just heard Sam! "Daddy, I'm scared" is what he said. I'm going to go find him. I have to. I can't afford to lose him again.