A short story to start off your week. To see the full original animation of the picture, visit

Art used with the permission of the artist: Copyright 2019

Story by Kate Smith

Every night it’s the same. City lights flickering against my walls. Sirens howling, curling around tall buildings.

My eyes widen. I peek into the blackness, waiting, fear quivering down my spine. Clammy palms, a frigid chill as it creeps up on me.

I close my eyes, summoning my power, drawing it from the very tips of my toes. A flicker, then nothing. I suck for air, struggling to control the rasp in my parched throat. Tremulous breaths.

I shudder, ears straining in the ominous silence. It’s there. It’s always there. Not that a single sound gives it away, it’s the feeling of the thing, that imperceptible change, that sour tang biting my nostrils.

Black hooks reaching, reaching, creating a slippery shadow, clutching at empty space, seeking, always craving unwary, tender flesh.

I settle deeper into the mattress, plucking at my stiff covers, pulling them upward, inch by careful inch, leaving little exposed. The atmosphere changes, an icy bitterness sweeping over my bed.

Concentrate. Spark that which is deep within.

It’s almost here. That dark, rising shadow. A harsh, raking at the wooden floor, the tremor of my bed as the thing slithers farther into the room, freeing itself, unsheathing its talons. Inky blackness.

Shut your eyes. Don’t look.

Gleaming, reflective eyes. Twisted, spindly claws. A presence so dark, pitch black, growing, looming. A flash of yellow fangs. The stench of putrid frigid breath brushing over the sliver of exposed flesh.

I burrow my fingers into the small space between the sheets, tensing as I peek through the slits of my eyelids.

Every bit of space consumed. The air thickens. Oppressive weight. I fight lethargy.

Not tonight!

A flicker. Warmth rushing outward. The weight lifting. A greenish glow.

I dare a peek, digging in. Fighting back. Its advance halted. Gnarled, ebony appendages hovering above me.

A hum, illumination, growing brighter, reflecting upward.

It makes no sound, but its cat-like eyes glitter, narrowing as it retreats, shrinking, slithering back to its lair, twisting into its corner, lurking. Until tomorrow.