Night Prowler. Flash Fiction.

Tom lay in bed, his breathing was slow and steady but his heart was thumping in his chest. He could just see the dark out line of it pacing around his bed. The movements were smooth and steady, they reminded him of tigers he had seen at the zoo. He closed his eyes, but he could still hear it softly padding about his room. The smell was strong, musky and animalistic. He knew that once the creature left the smell would dissipate quickly but for now it made breathing difficult. The room itself seemed hot, the air thick with humidity, he longed to throw the covers off himself, to open the window and let cool air flow in but he didn’t dare move. Outside a car honked and the creature froze, a second later it was gone.

Tom flicked on his lamp and quickly opened the window, leaning out to breathe the night air. The creature had been coming to him most of his life. He didn’t know what it wanted, it never attacked, never really paid attention to him, but it paced. Moving about the room like a hungry, inpatient beast waiting for its next meal. It had started when he was five, when they moved into the new house. His parents had tried to reassure him, they even moved him into a different room, but it didn’t work. The creature had his scent and from that first night never left him alone. He could feel it, even during the day, watching, waiting for its moment.

The worst was always at dusk, he could feel a tension in the air, like the gaze of the beast was fully awake and trained on him. He never saw it during the day, or at night. It was only ever when he was in bed. It would pace back and forth, sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours, then it would just go. Tom had never tried to talk to it, or communicate with it, after all would it even understand? Or would it take it as some kind of weakness, a cue to pounce and finish him once and for all.

Tom lay in bed, the creature was restless tonight, more so than Tom had ever seen. He had never managed to get a good look at the creature, only watching it through his peripheral vision, too afraid to raise his head. He jumped slightly as there was the sound of breaking glass downstairs. The creature froze, its head turned to stare intently at the door. There were a few more banging noises from below. The creature prowled closer to the door, then it left. The house was silent for a second before there was a horrific screeching followed by the sounds of screams. Tom was frozen where he was, unable to move. He spent the night staring at the ceiling, heart thudding heavily. Occasionally his eyes would start to close before he was jerked awake again. The creature didn’t return.

At 9 A.M. he finally felt safe enough to get up from bed. He moved slowly down the hallway. His front door was ajar, one of the glass panes was broken, glass glittered in the morning light. He called out as he made his way down the stairs but there was no answer, he hadn’t expected one. The living room was in disarray, like there had been a struggle. There was no sign of anyone. A small drop of dark red caught Tom’s eye, it looked like a splash of blood.

He cleaned up the living room as best he could and swept up the glass. He hadn’t heard anyone leave and he was afraid to call the police. What if whoever did it was dead? They’d blame him, he couldn’t very well tell them that a shadow creature had attacked the burglar. He took the day off work, feeling too tired and jittery to be of any use.

That night he lay in bed, waiting for the beast to return, but he never saw it again.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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