Goodnight my little angel,

Goodnight my springtime sun,

Goodnight my little baby,

Tomorrow will bring more fun!

"You have to speak to me, Ellie. If you don't, the images in your head will stay and rot."

"I can't!" I exclaimed, "They want to hurt me!"

Mommy why do you look like that? You're scaring me!

"Ellie, you have to tell me the truth. What do you see?"

"I see a little birdie. It's sitting in a tree!"

"What's the birdie doing?"

"It's feeding its babies... hang on, what's that coming out of its mouth? Oh--oh gross!"

"What is it Ellie? Tell me!"

"I can't!"

They're crawling over the walls!

"I'm your therapist, Ellie. You have to let me know what's going on inside your head!"

"They're tearing me APART!"

When I was little I could see them. They were these... wolf things. They were slightly transparent and their eyes were this bright shade of green. They had eight legs and two tails... and they could crawl on walls perfectly. It was so strange, though. My mother never spoke of them to me, and neither did my father. Come to think of it, nobody ever spoke of them to me. It was almost like only I could see them.

When I was six I saw the first one out in the yard near my friend, Dylan. He was on his bike and was just strolling about. It walked up to him and sniffed him when he stopped to rest. I remember when he pulled out his bottle of water and took a sip. Once he put the cap back on, the car turned the sharp corner and slammed into him. While everyone ran outside to help him, I stared out of the window at the dog thing that pranced away into the shadows.

His mother came out and attempted resuscitation on his bleeding face. All around him were these shadows - I call them the Shadows of Death - and they swarmed his body, entering his open mouth and exiting through his ears.

I turned around so I didn't have to see the shadows anymore. When I did, I saw him, all bloodied and dead, standing on my stairwell. He just stared at me. I-I asked him what he was doing there and he did not speak. He just... wept on the stairs.

Ever since that time, I have seen those beasts everywhere. I don't like looking at them, because when I do they look back at me menacingly. I have seen them crawling through doors and vents to stalk innocent children and working people. It has been ten years since I saw my first Shadow Beast, and now I think I see them more than ever.

There was this mean rumor that went around school when I was about nine. I kept seeing those beasts and asking my friends about them, but they told me I was crazy. Why would anyone think that? The kids I kept asking eventually stopped responding. My best friend, William Ross, was surrounded by those beasts all the time. I liked spending time with him because I wanted to protect him. One Tuesday, I invited him over to play outside in the snow with me. His mother was driving him over when she suddenly lost control of the wheel and slammed into a moving van. The force knocked his mother unconscious, and left him there to bleed. A second car smashed into the wreckage, finally ending William's suffering.

I only knew this happened when he came and told me. He walked through the door and was covered in blood. I asked him what was going on, but he did not speak. I realized that he was not really there when the beasts did not show. I realized he was gone.

The rumor only intensified. To make matters worse, I was teased every day.

'Everyone Elliot ever speaks to dies!'

'Gross I don't want her touching me!'

'No don't talk to me I don't want to die!'

I was admitted by my mother to a therapist. His name was Lennon, and he was super sweet and nice. He would ask me questions about what I've seen, and then write it all down for my mother to see. At first I didn't know that he was telling my parents, but when I eventually found out, I hit the roof.

How could he betray my trust like that? I thought we were friends! I stopped telling him what I saw when I realized what he was doing. It came down to him begging until he broke me again--I could see my mother in my childhood home.

"Ellie, you have to tell me the truth. What do you see?"

"I see a little birdie. It's sitting in a tree!"

"What's the birdie doing?"

"It's feeding its babies...hang on, what's that coming out of its mouth? Oh--oh gross!"

"What is it Ellie? Tell me!"

"I can't!"

I was stalling. The little birdie was in the background of my vision. I saw my childhood home ablaze--burning in a fiery blaze. My mother was running around in the living room with flames bursting from her eyes and mouth.

"I'm your therapist, Ellie. You have to let me know what's going on inside your head!"

"They're tearing me APART!"

The Shadow Beasts were crawling all over the walls. I cried out for him and ran for the door only to find that it was locked. I knew something was wrong--my father took me for the appointment today, and not my mother. Lennon approached the door and pulled my hand away from the knob. "You have to tell me what you see, otherwise the images will never go away."

I told him everything. "My mother's in danger! I see the dog-beast-demon-whatever things all in the house and they're killing her!"

The door suddenly opened on us. My father was standing there in tears. "Ellie we have to go-the-the house is-"

And I ran to him and hugged him tightly. I knew she was gone.

From that night onward, I saw a lady in my slumber. We stayed at my Grandmother's until we could find another place to live after the mourning. The lady was dressed all in white and had no face. Her eyes were empty and black--her head was a mere skull with white hair streaming back like burning embers. There was blood on her white gown and skeleton hands. On her left and right arms were chains that carried two Shadow Beasts behind her. They would try and pounce but would be pulled back.

I called her the White Queen. I would see her standing in the hall of my bedroom every night before I slept, and, for some reason, I felt... peaceful.

The next time I returned to the therapist was nearly a year later. I walked inside and grabbed the handle to Lennon's office. The door slammed open on me, and out stepped a man of about eighteen years. He had really short cut brown hair and was in a military outfit. On his left arm was tied a bandanna with a crudely written message in marker that said 'sinner'. He bumped into me and apologized, and then frantically left the room.

I entered and fluffed by blonde hair, and adjusted my blue skirt. I sat down and stared Lennon in the eyes. "That outfit looks pretty on you, Ellie."

"Thanks," I told him, "I'm glad you like it. What are we doing today?"

"I would like to start with an apology. I know it's been a while and it's a touchy subject, but your mother was a good woman. She didn't-"

"Let's not, doctor," I told him.

"Alright. Have you seen any of the... what do you call them?"

"Beasts. And no- I haven't. They stopped showing up when... you know," I spoke. I tilted by head down to my lap and twiddled my thumbs. If I told him about the White Queen, he would probably find a way to make her go away. But she made me happy when I saw her.

"Is there anything you want to talk about? We have an hour."

"Who was that boy who walked out before me?" I asked, curiously.

"I'm not allowed to talk about other clients."

"I thought I was your best friend."

"...If you must know, his name is Brandon Witz. He's a mental patient who says he experiences night terrors and fears demonic dogs eating him in his sleep."

"So you have two crazy people who dream about demonic dogs?" I asked, hoping for some sarcastic response about how both were false.

"His stories were never true. Your story, at least the last one you told me, was."

"I didn't tell you a story last time."

"You freaked out in my office and cried at the door, and your father came in saying your house was in flames. How about you tell me what you really saw?"

"Ashes and embers. That's what I saw. Ashes and embers."

I stood and walked towards his door. "I think we're done today, Doctor Lennon." He sighed and let me leave. I exited into the lobby to find my father curiously reading a magazine about fishing or something. I asked him to get up--that we were done.

Though curious at how we were finished to quickly, he just nodded and walked out with the keys to our van in hand. The boy who left earlier, Brandon, was standing there. My father entered the van, and as I was about to open the door, he said my name.


It was a humble tone. I turned to him and he waved. "Hi?"

"Look out for them. I know who you are and they certainly know who you are," he said with caution in his voice.

"What do you mean by that?" I questioned.

"You were born of sin. I was born of sin. We're both sinners, Ellie, and they want us to know it. Don't you ever question why you see them?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," I nervously replied.

"You see them because you are a sinner. You will burn in the ashes of hell because of the people you love. You will burn in the ashes of hell the same way your mother did a near year ago!" he shouted.

As I had opened the door with him saying that, I slammed it shut and turned back to him. "You do not get to talk about my mother. I don't know who you are and I really don't care. If you see them too then maybe you should know to look out for them and save yourself."

"You will thank me one day. Once you can accept that you're a sinner and deserve your fate, you'll be worthy of wearing the cloth."

I ignored everything and just got into the van and drove off.

When we arrived home at my Grandmother's, I walked into the living room and sat down. I turned and saw a beast climbing the stairway. My father came in and just went into the kitchen to make something to eat (I really didn't know and didn't care). I followed it up the stairs and saw it crawl into my room. I followed it only to find it curled up and lying down in my bed.

The next week I went to visit Lennon again. I sat down in his office and he stared at me. "You're a pretty girl, you know that?"

"You say that every time I come here."

"Well, it's true. Hopefully you won't walk out on me like you did last time. Have you seen any of them lately?"

"...There was one laying on my bed. I walked in and it looked like it was sleeping."

"That's strange. Did you see anything in particular?"

"Not at all, but the boy you were talking to told me to look out for them. Told me I was a sinner and that they're gonna get me or something."

"I'll have a talk with him and ask him to apologize. People shouldn't be so rude to such a pretty girl."

"Uh... yeah," I said awkwardly.

When I arrived home the hour later, the beast was still sleeping on my bed. I went in and just sat there, staring at it sleeping. I waved my hand through it cautiously, only to find that it passes completely threw and did not disturb its slumber. I turned to my doorway to find the White Queen and her two pups just standing there. She walked into my room both slowly and ghastly. She approached me and reached out to my face, stroking my cheek. Her breath was icy cold.

"Ellie? Can I ask you something?" my father asked. I heard his footsteps arriving from the hall, and the White Queen burst into thin air. He walked inside.

"Does Doctor Lennon ever... you know... compliment you or anything? Do anything inappropriate?"

"Not at all. Why?"

"Just curious."

The following Thursday I entered his office again for my next appointment. I sat down and adjusted my earrings bulging from my lobes. "Welcome back, Ellie. You look-"

"Pretty," I interrupted.

"I've been thinking, about you, and I think you might need longer visits. I'm very curious about you and your stories. Do you mind if I do a home visit... say, tomorrow? You can show me where your pups go."

"My pups?"

"Whatever you call them. Shadow Beasts."

"You would need to ask my daddy."

And he did. My father gave him full consent to visit the next day. We waited there all day for him, but he never showed. My father told me he and Grandma were going to the store and would be back soon, and then left me alone. It was midnight at the time when I got a call over the land line phone.

I answered, "Hello?"

"Ellie, it's me, Brandon. Don't ask me how I got your number... just don't let-" and the line died.

As it died, there was a knock at the door. I turned back and opened it to find Lennon in his black suit and tie and (tacky) jeans. He carried a medical case and asked to come in. I showed him the way.

"Dad went to the store. He should be here soon," I said, facing him and smiling. I looked up to the stair well to the right of the living room couch where he sat. The Shadow Beast from my bed was staring down at me. I ignored it and stepped aside so as not to see it.

"You see something?" he asks.

I whispered to him, "One of them."

He stood and approached the staircase and looked upward. Of course he didn't see a thing. He just turned to me and laughed but when he laughed, it pounced from the stairs and landed at the bottom. It growled at him just as two others emerged from the windows.

"You are a very interesting girl, Ellie."

My mother's words when I was a baby, singing in lullaby, returned to me at that moment.

Goodnight my little angel.

He approached me and smiled. He grabbed my shoulder and massaged it slowly.

Goodnight my springtime sun.

And the voices returned to my head. I saw more embers burning through the house. I saw them floating to the roof with smoke.

Goodnight my little baby.


"Just call me Lennon."

Tomorrow will bring more fun!

His hand reached down to my waist. I jerked away and turned back toward him. There were four more Shadow Beasts clouding the room and growling at him.

"Don't deny me, Ellie. I know you want to. Why else would you have had me come over for a house visit?"

I backed away without speaking. I headed to the front door and grabbed the knob.

"Don't leave me, Ellie."

I opened the door and turned around in panic. I began to head out when I saw the White Queen standing there with her Beasts. I screamed and turned back around, only to be grabbed by Lennon. I struggled but...he wouldn't let me go.

I burst free of his arms inside of the house and dashed upward to the stairs. "Come back here, Ellie. You don't want to do this!"

I hid under my bed upstairs and slid my way to the back wall and cut my breathing. I smelled a sudden cloud of smoke, and peeked outward at the hall to find smoke rising from the stairs.

Lennon arrived from the stairs and entered my room. "Are you in here? You can either give yourself to me or you can die. It's your choice, and you don't have very long."

He threw down his bag. Inside was a lighter and several matches--even an empty water bottle that smelled of gasoline. He sat down on my bed and giggled quietly. The Beasts arrived from the stairway and growled further at him. The blaze arrived at the top and began spreading into the room. The air was so horrible--I couldn't breathe. I climbed out from the bed and ran towards my left wall, where a small window was attached to the wall. He dove and grabbed me, pulling me back.

"I don't think so, Ellie."

"Let me go!"

"I can't let you go, Ellie. You're a sinner. You're like your friend, Brandon. Only reason I can't touch him is because of the brand. The brand of a sinner. You have no brand, Ellie."

I struggled but he held me tightly.

"You will burn, Ellie. Burn for your sins."

He turned me to face the flames. It spread into the room and he held by head forward. Before it could touch me, I noticed the White Queen in the hall. She entered the room, breathing onto the flame with her icy breath.

"Why won't you give in and die? Die like your mother!"

I glanced again and noticed her face. Her eyes---my mother. The Queen was my mother.

Mommy why do you look like that? You're scaring me!


I broke free and shoved Lennon to the side. I grabbed him by the collar and shoved him into the window. The glass shattered free and I climbed out onto the roof of the patio. I looked up to find the fires burning through the wood of the home and spreading outward. He dove out toward me and grabbed my leg. I screamed and attempted rolling over and possibly fall off of the roof to some kind of safety, but it didn't work. The roofing shook, and I noticed a wooden beam collapsing. A large, sharp piece of wood stuck out at the bottom of the foundation on the ground, aiming directly upward.

"Burn for your sins, Ellie!"

I grabbed his hand and tried to break free. It failed--but he did scream. The flames were on him, burning his suit. He dove out of the window and frantically screamed while shambling toward me, menacingly. "I want you, Ellie!" he screamed, before falling and rolling.

I quickly kicked him and tried pushing him off. He rolled off of the roof but grabbed onto the gutters. Still burning, he screamed, and accidentally pulled the gutters down with him as he fell and landed on the sharp beam, piercing his stomach. I lept from the lowest portion of the rooftop and landed on my knees. Despite the pain, I stood and approached him.

I turned to find my father and Grandmother in the van, arriving back from the store in awe.

"Ellie!" he screamed for me, just as the roof collapsed, bringing down the patio and part of the front of the house. I limped toward the van, trying to get there as fast as possible. I dove into the back seat and looked upward to the ashes of the house.

"What happened!?" my father begged me to answer. He continued asking, but to my ignorance; there were hundreds of beasts in the ashes of the home being lead by the Queen. The shadows of death surrounded the house and beamed in and out around the collapsed roofing.

"Drive!" I demanded, and he backed out and drove toward the city.

It has been three years since the incident with Lennon. Brandon spoke to me a few nights after the event and apologized for his rudeness. He handed me a white bandanna with the tag 'sinner' on it. "Wear it. It may not be attractive but it will save your life."

I could have asked why I had to wear it, but it did not matter. If it kept people like Lennon away from me, I would wear it. And, to this day, it is worn tightly around me left arm.

I no longer see the beasts. I no longer see the Queen. I no longer see anything out of the ordinary, and I finally do realize what Brandon meant.

We were born of sin. My mother did terrible things as a child and repented for her sins all the time--I just never noticed the effects. Because of her sin, I suffer. I suffer by seeing the death of people around me. The only way not to suffer anymore is to brand myself.

I am a sinner. I may burn for my sins one day, or I might not. But one thing is for certain:

All hail the White Queen.

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