The Pattering - The Pattering

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The Pattering
Jim Carnicelli
7/23/2021   |   8/2/2021   |   7/12/2024   |   469

469 words
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Kira Carnicelli
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The Pattering

by Kira Carnicelli

7/23/2021    8/2/21    469    2:05
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I wake up in the middle of the night to footsteps near my bed.

I live alone.

I listen, keeping my eyes shut. Perhaps it’s my imagination. A dream I’ve carried too far into consciousness. But I hear them. It’s not a dream or imagination. The sound of tiny footsteps. The patter of tiptoes. Someone – or several someones – creeping through my bedroom.

I stay utterly still.

It took me years to stop being afraid of the dark. Even now, in my twenties, I sleep with a nightlight. If I open my eyes, the dim glow will let me see the shadows of my intruders. I knew in my youth that if I could see them, I was safer.

But now I think the safety came from seeing that no one was there. As a kid, I’d sit up for hours with that creeping feeling just building and building in my chest, certain that at any moment, the monster would burst from my closet.

But it never did.

I eventually forced myself to turn off the fear. To lie back down and shut my eyes. At first, I knew that the moment I shut them, the monster would appear. That I would feel its finger gliding over my skin, the hot breath on my hair.

But after long enough, I guess I took for granted I was wrong. I also planned for if  I ever awoke to danger. Leaping to my feet and letting out my best shout would have to repel anyone who meant harm. Because realistically, any intruder would be a person, not a monster. Which should be a relief because you can’t fight monsters, but you can fight a person. And monsters don’t exist.

Or so I told myself.

And yet here I lie, frozen in bed, refusing to see the beings in my room, who are making those creepy puttering sounds around me. I don’t believe they are human.

Because they’ve made no other noise, I’m more scared. It’s not how I imagined. It’s too real, too dangerous. I feel the adrenaline in my body. Realize how small and uncoordinated I am. I can’t throw a punch. I can’t block an attack. I can’t outrun someone faster than me. I am completely unprepared.

Even if they were human, and one shout was all it took to frighten them away, I’ll wait for them to leave. That feels cowardly but better than taking them on.

Then I hear the pattering right by my head. I feel its presence. The breath touches my ear as it whispers something so soft I can’t understand it.

The footsteps pick up, faster, louder, but still small. Still pattering.

And then they attack.

I open my eyes and scream but see nothing through the blur of agony.