The knock came to my door late, far later than a girl of her age should have been out by herself. Her face was veiled by the hooded sweatshirt that she wore, which combined with her downcast glance made it impossible to see her features clearly. “Let me in,” she said in a flat voice, not raising her head to address me.
Participating in neighborhood watch, I held the door open. “Sure, come on in,” I responded. “Is there something wrong?,” I asked, concerned. “Is someone after you? Are you being followed?” Bullies were not unknown in the neighborhood, and reports had also been made of strangers trying to lure children into their cars; I thought that this might be such a situation.
The girl swept on in. “No, I’m just really tired,” she said softly. With that, she made to the couch in my living room, lying down upon it and curling into a semi-fetal position. I could see her face to some degree now peeking out from under her still raised hood, but her eyes were closed. Her skin appeared uncommonly pale and devoid of color. The poor thing must have been exhausted, for she appeared to fall asleep almost immediately. Questions I supposed could wait until later; it was most important for now that she was safe from whatever had driven her to my door. Distant flashes of lightning appeared along the horizon; a storm was coming.
“Honey, do you know this girl?,” I called to my spouse, Claire. She entered the living room from the kitchen, and we surveyed the small figure on the couch together. She looked like dozens of other kids that were about; faded and torn jeans, running shoes, and a hoodie. Her pale skin and black-painted nails might have marked her as one of the goth kids about, who tended to keep to themselves and their chosen peers and appear rather spooky to anyone else.
“No, I don’t know her, Ron,” concluded Claire. “Should we call the police, or the school authorities?,” she asked.
“Probably not yet,” I decided, “not before we get a chance to talk to her a bit, and see what the problem is.”
“Do you suppose she’s drunk or on drugs?,” speculated my better half.
“Sure hope not, but these days anything’s possible,” I replied.
“She’s sleeping. Let’s give her a few minutes, and grab a bite to eat before dinner gets cold,” suggested Claire.
I nodded in agreement. It had been another long, hard day, and I was hungry. We settled at the dining room table, occasionally casting a glance in the girl’s direction. She moved but little from her prone position as we ate. Good thing that we had gotten the girl inside; the wind was up, and rain was beginning.
“Good dinner!,” I complimented my wife, patting my belly for emphasis. “Say Hon, I’m really tired. I’m going to lie down for a few minutes. Keep an eye on the girl for me, and call me when when she wakes up,” I asked.
“Will do,” Claire agreed.
Whether it was from overeating or my hard day, I was soon soon sleeping soundly, and for longer than I intended. When I woke up in an hour, I felt disoriented and confused, as if I had slept through the night although it was still dark. I had a strong, almost overwhelming feeling that something was wrong, terribly wrong. Still groggy, I staggered to my feet and called out my wife’s name, but there was no answer.
Growing increasingly concerned, I tried a light switch only to find that the lights were off; the damn electrical storm must have knocked out the power. Still calling out her name, I made my way into the darkened hall, stubbing my toe painfully. Cursing, I momentarily turned my attention to my throbbing foot, looking up a second later to see a dark figure standing in the blackened hall. “Claire, thank God!,” I said through my pain. “What’s going on?,” I asked, confused and seeking answers.
“You’re hurt,” she said. “Let me help you,” she offered as she came close and extended a hand. Thunder boomed outside; the storm must have been directly over us.
I seized Claire’s extended hand and began to straighten up. “I’m fine, really,” I began to say, freezing in mid-sentence as a sensation like a hundred tiny needles jolted my hand. Instinctively I tried to pull my hand away, but it seemed to be transfixed, as if pinned by the needles that I could feel but not see.
“Claire, what…” I began to ask, being interrupted by a loud clap of thunder and flash of lightning that illuminated Claire’s face, although it was no longer my wife. In the momentary illumination provided by the lightning, I could see that her features were pale and fixed, almost waxy. Behind her in the hallway stood the hooded girl that we had taken in. Most terribly, both sets of eyes which now regarded me were as black as night, as if the darkness itself had penetrated them.
The girl regarded me with eyes as black as slices of night. “I’ve come to collect you,” she said evenly without expression in a chilling voice devoid of humanity.
Insanity gripped my mind then, and I struggled desperate to pull away and flee. The hand which held me was strong, however, and the invisible needles which penetrated me had injected some kind of paralyzing agent. My panic was insufficient to overcome the potent drug which quickly seeped into my mind and obliterated consciousness.
I’m awake now in the dark coolness of this mortuary drawer, my mind again functioning but my body unable to move or respond. I pray that I can somehow communicate to the mortician that I live before the embalming fluid enters my veins, and I’m plunged into the eternal darkness where the black-eyed girl awaits to tear my soul apart…