I lay on my bed with my eyes fixed on the ceiling. It was four more days to Christmas and the preparations were on full swing. My room was dark and damp and little cherry lights hung across my room. It would be lit upon Christmas eve. I had heard mom and dad talk about our Christmas gifts late in the evening before I went for choir practice. I wanted a guitar as my gift whereas my elder brother Dan wished for a video game.
‘Ah! He go nuts for gizmo gadget things.’
The cuckoo clock that hung on the adjacent wall ticked loud enough for me to hear. I had bought it from Switzerland when dad took me there on my eighteenth birthday. It was 2 A.M which meant four more hours for sunrise. The darkness was killing me. All the windows and doors in the house was locked as usual then covered with charcoal black curtains to prevent even a spark of moonlight from entering the house.
It has always been a mystery at least to me about why people are not allowed to go or look out during the darkest hour of night which starts from midnight till the sunrise.
“Tuck, Tuck, Tuck” The knock started on my window. Yes I was awaiting it. This started a week before. When I talked to my parents about they just asked me to simply avoid it and have a tight sleep.
‘Yes avoid it, That is what I should do.’ I again fixed my eyes on the ceiling trying to imagine a sunny day out at the beach.
“Tuck, Tuck, Tuck” The knock grew louder and harder this time. The thing outside was out of patience I think. Bile started creeping up the back of my neck. I swallowed it down and turned sideways then pulled out the wooden beaded rosary from under my pillow. Fr. Mcfarlene had gifted it to me last summer.
“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only chance you have.” Fr. Mcfarlene said smiling as his wrinkles went wide and his eyes small.
I started counting the beads of my rosary reciting ‘ Our father in heaven’ and ‘Holy mary’.
“Tuck, Tuck, Tuck ” The knock was violent this time reminding me that it was still waiting, waiting for me.
‘The best way to overcome your fear is to face them.’ Dad told this to me when I freak out seeing cockroaches and other creepy reptiles.
“Dad I will face this fear today. I will be strong. ” I told myself getting up from the bed pushing the comforters to one side. My knuckles went white as I clutched the rosary hard inside my palm.
I slowly moved towards the window glancing at the wall clock one last time. It showed 2:15. Just fifteen minutes had passed but to me it felt like eternity.
“Show me your ugly face.” I spat as my fingers grasped the charcoal black curtains and pushed them aside.
The first ever ray of moonlight in the history of our house struck my room making the things appear silvery. As my eyes adjusted to the gentle light I was still holding the curtains to the side.
A shadowy figure now made its appearance outside the window. His face was pale with tiny black hairs all over it making him look like an ape. His blood red eyes stared at me with fire raging in them and an evil smile played on his lips that partly covered his blood dripping canines. I stood numb behind the window staring at him as if I was hypnotised.
“Click” I heard my bedroom door unlock and turned back leaving the curtains cover the window. Darkness enveloped the room as the door flung open. I stood rooted to the ground awaiting the uninvited guest. After twin seconds the door shut close again making my heart leap a beat.
“Jesus” I said turning back, pushing the curtains aside to face the monster but it was gone. I waited for him to appear but no it didn’t come. I ran towards the door leaving the curtains behind.
I wanted to see my parents. I wanted to see Dan. I wanted to make sure that they all were fine. Moreover I wanted to get out of my room but alas the door was locked, locked by something evil. I turned the knob left and right but the door never opened. I clutched the rosary even harder than before when I heard footsteps in the hallway.A ray of hope made its way to my heart. What if it’s Dan, mom or dad?
They will help me out of this room.
“Dan, Is that you?” I called out for help but silence was the only reply.
“Dan, mom, dad, somebody please open this goddamn door.” I shouted at the top of my lungs hitting and kicking the door in an effort to open it.
An evil smirk followed by a thunderous laughter entered my room through the solid door. I hadn’t noticed that I was shivering all this time.
‘ No, no, no Lissa. It’s nothing. It’s just a bad bad dream.’ My inner voice told me. I curled my fingers into a fist and started hitting the door hardly. Before long the metal cross from the rosary pierced into my palm. Blood oozed out making its way down to the floor. Pain shot through my arm as I pressed the wound hard.
“Mom,dad” I heard Dan screaming format the hallway.
“Dan” I called out pulling the metal cross out of my palm and throwing it on to my bed.
“Lee, Lee save me Lee. ” Dan’s screams filled the house and I heard the front door click open.
‘He is taking Dan out. Where is mom and dad? Why aren’t they saving him? Maybe they are locked up like me.’ Questions flooded my mind as I stood there shifting on my legs.
“I have to get out of this room to save Dan. It’s no time for questions now, it’s time to find answers.”
I looked around in order to find a way out. That is when my eyes landed on the window. I can easily break the glass panels with the metal vase that rests on the bedside table.
“It’s now or never Lee.” I told myself before grabbing the vase and throwing it at the window. The glass pane broke into smithereens making a loud noise. I jumped out of the window hurting myself with wounds all over my body.
“Somebody help me please.” I heard Dan’s voice and saw the monster drag Dan by his leg into the woods.
“Dan” I called out and made my way forward. This is the first time ever in my life that I had been out at this hour of time.
The monster turned and looked at me then growled and took Dan on his shoulder, running more deeper into the woods.
Dan always told me that I was his responsibility but now here I was running behind a monster to save him at the darkest hour of night. We ran for what felt like a lifetime when finally my legs started burning. The monster was still darting forward. Dan had stopped crying and was now lying lifeless on the monster’s shoulder, his legs and arms swaying.
‘You can’t run anymore Lissa. You better try stopping the monster.” My inner voice told me and my eyes roamed around in search of something good to stop the monster. I stumbled upon a woodlouse and tumbled all the way down until my body came to rest near a river. I sprang up and found no sign of monster or Dan. I stood there not knowing what to do next when I felt a sudden bang on my head and then the whole world went black.
I slowly opened my eyes avoiding the throbbing pain on my head. The sun was up throwing it’s golden light over the world. For the first time in the history I was overwhelmed to see the sunrise. The soil was damp and moist at the place where I was lying. Last night’s events raced back to my mind. I got up wincing. My whole body ached but I was still in the woods safe and sound with only some minor wounds or so I guess.
But what about Dan? Is he alright? I never knew so I trotted back to my house following the sun. My house was still silent, the front door was left open. I darted inside and found my mom sitting on the love seat weeping while my dad tried consoling her.
‘Where is Dan? Did something bad happen to him?” Was the only thought that crossed my mind.
“Lissa!” A voice from the kitchen drew my parents attention towards me.
‘Wait, was that Dan’s voice?’ I thought to myself as my eyes located Dan standing near the kitchen door with a mug of hot coffee in his hand.
“Lissa, Where have you been?” “Where did you go?” “What about these wounds?” “What happened to you?” My parents hugged me and shot all these questions at me.
“Dan is safe.” Was the only thing that came out of my mouth.
My mom made me sit on the couch and then hugged and patted me on my head while my father went inside to get the medical kit. I looked at Dan and saw him staring at me with an emotionless face. After covering up all my wounds with gauge and bandage I was taken to my room. To my excitement the door was unlocked and open. I shivered as I made my way in. My mother gave me a gentle squeeze on my shoulder before leaving me there to freshen up. I looked to my right and found the glass window that I had broken last night to be absolutely fine with not even a scratch. I ran my fingers across the glass pane to make sure it was not my hallucination.
As I withdrew my hand I saw the same shadowy figure appear outside which made me fall back in terror. The curtains covered the window again as a result and I got up but didn’t dare look through the window again. I turned back to go to the washroom and saw the rosary lying on my bed. The blood on the metal cross gad dried up. I took it in my hand and started counting the beads. That is when I noticed Dan standing at my bedroom door with the same evil smirk that was plastered to the creature’s face last night. I stood rooted to the ground while Dan turned back and vanished into his room.
Everything about that night still remains a mystery. I never heard those knocks again. Dan still behave weirdly. He is not the same anymore. I tried to forget all that had happened as Christmas was near and we had things to complete. All of us or rather me believe in the darkest hour of night strongly. The marks and scars from those wounds had vanished but the patches of fear in my heart still remains.