The Visitor. Short Story.

Jack looked out the window, the snow had been falling for hours now with no sign of it stopping. Thick flakes fell steadily, it was impossible to make out the house across the street. He squinted, trying to see something, but there was nothing. The news said the snow falls would be heavy, but he hadn’t expected it to be this bad. Still, the house was warm and he had plenty of food and water for the next few days. He liked watching the snow falling, with the gentle crackling of the fire behind him. He saw something moving outside, just where the path would be, a dark shape walking through the snow. Jack shook his head, it was dangerous to go out in weather like that, far to easy to get turned around, or even just underestimate how cold it would be. The figure passed by again, Jack tried to make out who it was but it didn’t look like any of his neighbours, at least by body shape. Whoever it was was tall, maybe six and a half feet, perhaps even taller as they seemed to walk with their shoulders hunched forward. They were wearing what Jack assumed to be a thick black coat, but other than that he could make out little else.

Jack looked out the window periodically, and each time he’d see that figure, trudging back and forth. Before he had been happy he was alone in the house, it made everything seem quiet, peaceful, but now he wished Samantha had come over earlier. He wanted someone else there, just to be sure he was seeing what he was seeing. The figure made him uneasy, he felt like he should call the police, but there was nothing wrong with going for a walk in a snow storm, it was inadvisable yes, but the person seemed to be doing ok. There was a nagging worry though, what if they weren’t all there mentally? They could freeze to death if they were lost or if they had just slipped out. After a while he decided that if they were still out there in another hour or so, he’d make the phone call. He knew it would be easier to just pop outside for a second to ask if they were all right, but his mother had always told him not to get involved. It just made things dangerous and messy. She had spent most of her life getting involved in one way or another. She had spent most of his childhood peering out the windows or gossiping on the phone with her friends. She would sometimes call the cops if she saw something or someone suspicious, but that was the extent of her involvement.

The knock on the door startled him, he wasn’t expecting anyone and even if he was, surely they would have cancelled due to snow. As he walked to the door he wondered who it could be. A sudden image came to mind, that tall, black figure. Were they still outside? He hadn’t checked in a while, truth be told he had forgotten about it, getting too absorbed in the movie he had been watching. He stood at the door, hand on the knob. He wanted his hand to turn it, he wanted to open the door but he couldn’t. His hand refused to respond. The knocking didn’t come again. After a few seconds he moved around to the window to peek out, the tall figure was standing there. Staring at the door. He still couldn’t see them properly, but now he assumed it was a man, mostly due to height, which was closer to seven foot really. They had pale skin though most of it was covered. Whoever it was didn’t move, they just waited, almost expectantly. Jack felt a thrill of fear running up his spine, if this person meant him harm there was little he could do. The snow would probably dampen the noise of a struggle and the police wouldn’t arrive in time. What if it was someone that was lost and looking for a bit of heat or directions? Jack moved back from the window, if they were looking for help they’d have moved to the next house by now. No, whoever it was was waiting for something.

The knock came again, heavy and authoritative. Before he realised what he was doing Jack was standing in front of the door again, hand on the doorknob. Still his hand wouldn’t turn, it was like it was stuck in place. He was being ridiculous, he knew he was, he should just open the door and talk to them. He took a deep breath and released it slowly, then he twisted the doorknob. The door swung in, pushed by a strong gust of wind, there was no one standing at his door. Shivering in the cold he closed it quickly, snowflakes were all across the floor. He shook his head, he had been silly and paranoid and whoever it was had sought help elsewhere. He was getting to be just like his mother, soon he wouldn’t even leave the house. Jack moved back into the sitting room and held his hands towards the fire, heating them. Once they were warm he turned and jumped, the figure was standing at the window, staring in. It was a man, his face was emaciated, his pale skin stretched tight across his skull, his eyes were wide and staring and he grinned. The grin was far to big, and showed far too many teeth. Slowly, the man raised one hand, he unfurled his long, bony fingers and waved slightly. Jack, heart thudding in his chest, raised his own hand in a return greeting. The man outside smile stretched further back, Jack was afraid the mans skull would split in two if it became any wider. The man outside gave another little wave, then he turned and trundled back into the snow. Jack watched as he walked away, the walk was strange, disjointed and unbalanced, almost a lurch. Heart thudding heavily Jack watched the falling snow, waiting for another glimpse of the man covered in black.

Jack took a sip of his tea, he needed to calm down, whoever it was was long gone, the police had already told him that, though they promised they’d get someone out to have a look as soon as they could, but it would be a few hours at best. He sipped his tea as he watched the snow, the snowstorm was ending, the flakes dying off. He could finally see across the street now. He frowned, was their door open? It swung back and forth gently on its hinges, a gaping maw. He felt another thrill of fear along his spine. He moved closer to the window, there was a red streak outside the door, the snow was starting to cover it, but it was there. A knock came at the door, Jack jumped, spilling his tea on the couch. He turned his head slowly to look towards the front door, afraid to make any sudden movements. The man was standing at the door, he was looking in the window, staring at Jack, the grin still plastered across his face. Jack looked down at the pinkish snow around the mans feet. Slowly Jack stood and moved away from the window, the mans head turned to follow him. The knock came again, three heavy pounds. Once the man was out of view Jack grabbed his phone and ran upstairs, there he locked the door to his bedroom and then his in the en-suite, sitting on the closed lid of the toilet, he rang 911 again.

When the police arrived the man was gone, but his handiwork was not. Carved into the door was a simple message, “see you soon friend” gouged into the wood in jagged letters four inches high. They wouldn’t tell Jack what happened in the house across the street, but he could guess by the paleness of the officers.

Jack didn’t watch the news that night, nor did he read the papers. People were talking about it though. Anytime someone tried to talk to him about it he shut down the conversation. He didn’t want to know what happened to the people across the street. What could have happened to him. What would happen to him. He knew that the man in black would return, it didn’t matter where he went he would be found. He had tried to tell himself he was just being paranoid, being silly, but he had seen the madness in those eyes and it had seen him, marked him somehow, he would never be able to escape it.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 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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