Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Something In The Closet

There was something in the closet. Linda knew it, but she didn't know what it was. She didn't want to know. Whatever it was, it scared her.

It wasn't always there. It particularly wasn't there when anybody else was around; it didn't want anybody else. It wanted her. She knew that with the same baseless certainty that she knew it was there in the first place.

It wasn't just at night, either. Mostly that was true, but sometimes she felt it even in daylight. It got to where she wouldn't keep anything in there - nothing that mattered, anyway. Nothing that she couldn't leave behind if she ever found a new apartment. She moved a dresser in front of the closet door, while her clothes sat in neat stacks on her couch.

Her friend Debi thought it might be a ghost, which didn't help much but did make Linda feel less like she might be losing her mind completely. Debi even came over to have a look, but she never felt anything. Of course she didn't; with her in the room, it wasn't there. The closet with just a closet.

That night, as if annoyed by the intrusion, the closet door clicked open. Though the dresser was still in front of it -- Debi had helped her move it back after they checked inside -- Linda huddled under the covers, terrified, until she finally fell into an exhausted half-sleep shortly before dawn.

She made it through work, and then to class, and then went over to Debi's place and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Debi threw a blanket over her and left her there, then went to sleep in her bedroom; so neither of them saw the seat cushion rise on the big stuffed chair on the far side of the living room, or the glimmering eyes in the line of darkness beneath the edge of the cushion.

In the morning, Linda borrowed Debi's shower and then some of her clothes. She didn't have time to get back to her own apartment before class, and after class she had to go to work. It was later afternoon before she finally returned home, and found that the closed door was open. The dresser was still in front of it, but pushed out an angle to make room for the door.

"What is it?" demanded Linda. "What do you want? Are you trying to scare me? It's working." She was gesturing wildly and her voice was rising, but she couldn't seem to stop herself. She stalked toward the closet, too tired and too angry to be scared of it. "Is it me? Am I what you want?" She reached the closet door. "Do something!" She stepped inside. "Do something, or go away." She pulled the door closed behind her.

Then she stood there, in the bright clean light of a single bulb, staring at the two wooden rods with their collections of empty coat-hangers, at the row of shelves along the back wall: waiting.

Nothing happened. It wasn't here.

Shaking, she opened the door and stepped back out into her bedroom. She found a piece of paper, wrote "Fuck you!" in big, black letters on it, and taped it to the inside of the closet door. Then she closed the door, so whatever was inside would be sure to see the message. She considered putting the dresser back, but finally wrestled it into place against the wall. It hadn't kept the door closed, anyway.

That night, Linda woke in darkness. She knew the closet door had opened itself again; she remembered hearing the faint click of the latch drawing back. That's enough, she thought. Whatever this thing was, whatever it wanted, she was done being scared of it. She sat up, turned to put her feet on the floor, and stood.

She was facing the closet, so she could see the thick line of darkness even before it reached up to curl around her ankle. She drew breath to scream, but another one lashed out, whip-fast, closing over her mouth: a tentacle, a tendril, something smooth and cold and foul. Her arms were taken, too, and then she was moving forward, the bottoms of her feet burning as they slid over the carpet. She tried to put her arms out as she went through the door, but her fingers closed on empty air. She had a brief impression of the door swinging shut somewhere far behind her; then there was only the rushing darkness.

Yes, this is part of a longer piece. No, I won't ever manage to get the whole thing done. Yes, it's the direct result of a nightmare - thank you, Secondborn, for waking me up at three in the morning with your coughing. No, this won't be the only part of this that ever gets written.

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