It’s Out There

📅 Published on March 2, 2022

“It's Out There”

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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Dave pulled up in front of his friend Ryan’s trailer. He was glad for Ryan when he got land and got out of the trailer park but now that he had to drive out here in the dark after a cryptic text message, he decided he would have preferred an active, well-lit park. When he got out of the car the bang of the shutting door rang out like a gunshot in the deafening silence of the North Carolina night.

Now that he thought about it, it definitely felt way too quiet. This was off the beaten path, rural Carolina, and should have been full of animal sounds at all hours, not to mention the occasional person shouting and random gunshots, but there was nothing. The only sound was his own, the sounds Dave made, his boots crunching dry leaves as he headed to the wooden front porch. In a night where you could have heard a pin drop, it all felt violently loud.

When he reached the top of the stairs, the curtain moved by the window. Dave could have sworn his childhood friend was watching him from inside. Why wouldn’t he just open the door? He’s the one that called and texted me.

Dave knocked on the window in question rather than the door and he jumped with a start at the thunderous snaps that echoed through the night when his knuckles wrapped on the glass. The trailer’s front door came open slowly. Dave sighed with relief but it ebbed when he saw Ryan standing in the doorway, staring at him like he didn’t really see him. Did he see something else? What are you looking at buddy? Hello?

“Hey,” Dave said, doing his best to smile. “I was beginning to think you weren’t home. It’s so dark and quiet out here, a little creepy really. I got your messages but I had to run to the store first. I was out of coffee. You know how I am with my coffee. Ryan, you there?”

Dave looked at his friend curiously. It was clear that Ryan wasn’t listening to him at all, but the way his eyes moved and head turned, it seemed like he was definitely listening to something. He didn’t seem to realize Dave was there, standing on his porch not three feet in front of him.

“Ryan!” Dave shouted, moving his hand back and forth in front of his friend’s face. “Where the hell are you right now?”

Ryan blinked repeatedly and finally seemed to notice Dave standing in front of him. “Hey. Come in,” he said glumly, his voice a strange monotone. “Quickly.”

Dave watched Ryan’s eyes dart back and forth, nervously surveying the night. He rolled his own shoulders trying to play off the chill of fear that he felt. He couldn’t get in that house fast enough but he tried to seem casual about it. His host paid another long look outside before judging it safe enough to close the door. “You wanna tell me what the hell’s going on?” Dave asked when the door shut.

Ryan turned and looked at him. His eyes were grim, bloodshot and hovering above dark bags. The once out-going boisterous man had become aloof and distant, seemingly overnight. It wasn’t a week ago, Dave was sharing laughs with him at a poker party. They’d known each other since Ryan moved down from Raleigh in elementary school and been friends for most of it. Through all of those years, Ryan had never been the quiet one, not ever.

“You want something to drink?” Ryan asked, heading through the kitchen to a cabinet above the sink.

With a sigh, Dave said, “Sure. I’ll have whatever you’re having. I haven’t seen you in days Ryan. What’s up, man? Talk to me. Your messages were a little cryptic, bro.”

Ryan pulled a bottle of whiskey out of the cupboard. He retrieved two glasses from the next cabinet over, and poured the drinks without responding. Dave watched his friend’s trembling hands working to keep the brown liquor from dousing the countertop. He sighed with frustration and took a seat at the nearby table. He’ll fill me in. Just give him time to collect himself. Something is obviously really wrong.

Ryan moved in a slow lethargic fashion then as he put the alcohol back where he got it from. Lifting the glasses from the counter, he walked to the table. Dave’s patience was waning. His friend’s gaze was still somewhere else. Was he remembering something? He still looked like he was listening to something, but there was no sound. Dave had never known quiet like this, even inside the trailer. There was no music, no television. Each sound Ryan made stood out awkwardly.

Dave watched the liquor move in the glasses Ryan carried, and occasionally splash over the side. His friend didn’t even seem to notice. There was a time when Ryan would have referred to such a thing as “alcohol abuse” had he seen someone else carrying drinks so carelessly. What’s happened to him? Did someone die or something?

Taking a seat across from Dave, Ryan placed the drinks on the tabletop. Dave reached over and took the one poured for him. The way this night was going he wished that Ryan had just brought the bottle. “Tell me what’s going on, man. I’m here for you. You know that. You’re my boy. What’s got you fucked up?”

Ryan nodded. His tongue emerged to lick at cracked sandpaper lips. He grabbed his drink and tossed back a gulp big enough to make Dave cringe. “It’s out there,” he said in that same monotone as he placed the glass back on the table. His hands were so shaky unsteady. How much had he been drinking?

Dave had a small sip of his own drink and took a deep breath reveling in the warmth that flooded his chest. “What is man? Out where? I don’t understand.”

Ryan stared into Dave’s eyes with a sudden intensity. The seriousness of his gaze made Dave squirm a bit. He quickly took another sip of his drink.

“I wish I knew what it was,” Ryan said. “ What it wanted. I wish I could explain it better. I can’t.”

“I’m not sure I follow man. Is it some kind of animal? I think you definitely moved into bear country.”

Ryan shook his head. “No. No. Nothing like that. I wish it was a bear. I know how to handle bears. I don’t know. It’s just… you know how you can feel when someone is staring at you? How it makes your skin crawl? How even when you can’t see who’s staring, the feeling itself attaches to you like something physical, like an itch? How it’s a feeling that is almost tangible, that you can’t shake, and it starts to drive you crazy?”

Dave looked over his shoulder after Ryan’s description of the sensation.”Umm..Yeah. Sure. Of course. Everyone knows that feeling, Ryan. What are you getting at? You saying someone is stalking you?”

Ryan’s fingertips toyed with his stubble. “I feel it all the time. It doesn’t matter where I am. If I’m outside or by a window, it’s there. I can feel it watching me. I can feel its hunger. I can hear it creeping along crunching leaves, breathing, panting, whispering my name, singing even. It’s outside of my house somewhere, everywhere. I don’t know.”

Ryan’s hand went tightly over his mouth then and he choked back a sob. Tears rose up to wet his bloodshot eyes.

Dave rubbed his forehead and bit his lip. Finally, he said, “Have you been feeling okay, Ryan? You didn’t take something, did you? If you did, you need to be honest with me so I know how to help you, man. I’m not going to judge you. I just want you to be okay.”

“No!” Ryan slammed his palm down on the table. The boom made Dave jump and spill his drink on his shirt.

“Shit. What the hell, Ryan?”

Ryan took several quick breaths, his shoulders rising and lowering. He lowered his head then and puts his hands over his face. When he spoke, it was quiet and reserved again. “You think I’m nuts. I’m not nuts Dave. You think I’m on drugs. I literally wish I was on drugs. I can say that to you. That’s why I didn’t call anyone else. I called you. I called you because I can trust you. Now I need you to trust me. If you listen, really listen…you can hear it out there. Just listen. Please. Hear it for yourself.”

Dave downed what was left of his drink. “I do trust you,” he said as he got up to retrieve the whiskey bottle. He cringed at the squeal of the chair legs on the linoleum tiles. “I always have. Look. You just texted and called and said you needed me and I came, right?” He grabbed the bottle from the cabinet, carried it back to the table and quickly refilled both glasses. “What do you hear Ryan? What does it sound like?”

“Listen. You will hear it yourself. Just… listen.”

After a few seconds of silence, Dave sighed. He shrugged his shoulders and sipped his drink. “Alright, man. What am I supposed to be hearing? I don’t hear anything, Ryan. I want to support you, bud, but I don’t’ even hear the normal sounds. It’s creepily quiet out here tonight.”

Ryan slammed his hand down hard on the kitchen table making alcohol splash from the freshly filled glass before him. “You’re not really listening!!!” he snapped.

Dave’s heart jumped at his friend’s outburst. “ Damn it. Stop doing that, okay? Shit. Fine. I’ll listen. Okay? Tell me what to do.”

“You gotta be completely silent. Don’t even breathe. Hold your breath. Don’t move. Just listen. Listen hard, like you’re looking for someone that’s hiding from you. You know what I mean right? Like when you’re playing hide and seek and you know they’re there somewhere but they’re trying to be quiet coz they don’t want to be found so you listen really intently to catch the slightest thing like their breathing or moving or something.”

“Yeah. I got it.” Dave took a deep breath and another sip of whiskey. He swallowed a lump in his throat. “Okay. Let’s listen.”

He did as Ryan said and held his breath, straining to hear any sound that might still be there in the thick silence. His heart quickened its pace and his held breath escaped him when he actually heard it. Dave stared across the table at Ryan, who met his gaze and nodded. “See. You heard it didn’t you?” Ryan said. “It’s real and it’s out there.”

“It’s so subtle,” Dave said, shaking off the chill of the phantom fingers that traced the contours of his spine. “It sounds like someone breathing, like papers being shuffled, boots crushing leaves, knuckles cracking, nails scraping glass. I don’t know. It’s fucking weird. How long has this been going on?”

“Three days.”

Dave stood up. He didn’t care about the volume of his chair scrape anymore. “That’s ridiculous, man. Come on. We’re going out there. If someone is out there, we’ll find them, together. No more games.”

“Sit down,” Ryan told him. “It’s dark out there. What are you gonna see?”

Dave tilted his head and looks at his friend like he was crazy. “You’ve got a flashlight, don’t you? If you don’t, I’ve got one in the car. You can’t live like this, let whoever is fucking with you have power like this. We’ll drag them out and make them explain themself.”

“No. Just sit down, okay?” Ryan’s words were laced with fear. He scratched at the back of his neck.

“No.” Dave turned his back and headed towards the door. “You can’t go on like this,” he said. “If some freak is hiding out there, I’m gonna find him and kick his ass. Three days. This is crazy.”

“STOP!” Ryan screamed.

Dave turned and looked back. Ryan stood from his seat. He was trembling so badly that he almost fell. “Don’t you think I tried, Dave? I went out there on the first day, damn it. I looked for hours…hours. I found nothing, but I felt it staring at me the whole friggin time, watching me. I could hear it breathing, even feel it’s breath on my skin giving me goosebumps. I could hear it whispering to me, but I couldn’t make out what it was saying. It was nowhere and everywhere all at once. I knew it wanted me but it was waiting for some reason. I don’t know what for, but the point is, I never found it but it always found me. You won’t find it either Dave, because it doesn’t want to be found.”

“Have you called the police?”

Ryan took a step towards him on unsteady legs. “And say what exactly? And even if I manage to get them to come out, what good would it do? They would come out here and find nothing. They would just think I was crazy or on drugs too. You know I’m right.”

Dave sighed. You’re right, he didn’t say, but they might be right too. He did his best to massage some of the tension from his forehead. “Alright then,” he said. “Let’s get out of here. You can come crash at my place for a bit.”

Ryan shook his head. He turned and walked into the living room. Dave reluctantly followed. “Come on. Get your stuff,” he said as Ryan all but fell onto the couch.

“I can’t,” Ryan told him. He wiped fresh tears from his eyes. “It won’t let me leave. Don’t ask me how I know. I just know, okay? I can feel it. It wants something, needs something but I don’t know what. It isn’t going to let me leave before it gets what it wants, whatever that is. I wish I knew. I would give it whatever it wanted just to make this end. I can’t take it anymore.” His eyes roamed around the room following the fluttering notes of sound that reached out to him like icy fingertips. Dave knew because he could hear them too now. He wished he couldn’t. He wished he could go back to the silence that blanketed him when he arrived, but there was no going back now. Dave squeezes his hands into tight fists. He was growing quickly frustrated with the whole situation and the sound of that thing breathing in his ear was nerve-racking to say the least. “Well, what do you want me to do? We can’t just sit around and go crazy, Ryan.”

Ryan cast his eyes toward the floor, quickly averting his gaze. “I don’t know. I was just afraid. I guess…I didn’t want to be alone. I don’t know. Maybe you can help me figure out what it wants from me?”

Dave grumbled but said nothing. He walked over to the couch and took a seat next to his friend. Putting a hand on Ryan’s shoulder, he said, “Alright, man. Don’t worry about it. It’s cool. I’m here. Let’s click the TV on huh? Let’s see if we can’t find something to lighten the mood. At least maybe it will drown out the sound some. Then we can talk and see what we can figure out.”

Ryan nodded. He closed his eyes and took a slow deep breath. When he opened his eyes he seemed slightly more relaxed. “The remote is next to you. I’m gonna run inside and get my drink. You want yours?”

“Yeah. Sure. Thanks,” Dave said as he located the remote control. Pointing it, he clicked on the television and started flipping through channels. When Ryan left, he hit the mute button. Dave wanted to make sure he could hear Ryan in the kitchen. He frowned at himself, realizing at once that his friend’s paranoia was rubbing off on him, but it wasn’t paranoia if someone was really trying to get you, right? Dave could hear it, even now, chanting in whispers, scraping at the paint on the walls, clicking its tongue. It sounded like it was in there, walking around the room, but the feet were stepping on dry leaves instead of the dull gray carpet. Dave felt suddenly afraid, nervous. He wanted to drown out the sound. He moved to turn the volume back on when the sound of shattering glass made him jump out of his skin and drop the remote to the floor, cussing under his breath. “Ryan?! What the hell was that? You okay? Ryan!”

When no response came, Dave jumped quickly from the couch. He raced towards the kitchen, prepared for confrontation. He didn’t know what to expect, what the owner of such sounds would look like. His heart pounded in his chest, and chills danced their way up and down him. Stopping outside the kitchen doorway, Dave grabbed one of Ryan’s old football trophies off of a nearby shelf, knocking down a framed photo of the championship team in the process. It’s not the best weapon but it will have to do. I will not go down without swinging something.

Dave didn’t see anything, but he couldn’t stop hearing it. It sounded like whispering and a breeze whipping through trees, crunching brittle leaves and heavy labored breathing, scratching nails on glass, squealing, shuffling feet like those of a shackled prisoner, and then the faint quiet notes of an eerily beautiful song. They sounded so far away but also like they were all around him. Dave didn’t know what was real anymore.


His hands were shaking and he found it hard to breathe, like the air was thick, sludgy. He uselessly told himself to stay calm. Then he stepped over the threshold into the kitchen, and Ryan wasn’t there. Whatever he was expecting to find, to fight, it wasn’t there either. Dave was just alone, alone with the incessant sounds of whatever was out there, stalking them.

He took another step into the room, and another. Something crunched under his foot and he gasped. Were the leaves really in the house now?

Dave looked down and saw broken glass and spilled liquor on the floor at his feet. The leaves were only in his ears but the relief of that knowledge was fleeting. The broken glass meant that something did happen to Ryan. Where the hell was he?

Dave looked up quickly because he could feel someone watching him. He couldn’t see them anymore than he could Ryan, but he knew they were there. The whispers returned on the whistling wind. He could feel hot breath on his arm, the back of his neck. Moving in a circle, glass crunching under his boots, Dave looked all around the room, but there was nothing to see. It could only be heard, felt. It made him feel dirty, crazy, in need of a shower, fresh clothes. He had never been so frightened in his life. He was suddenly overwhelmingly alone. “Ryan?!” he called out, hearing the fear in his own voice.

The only response was a soft whistle. Dave’s head whipped around. He still saw nothing and found himself trembling like Ryan had been. How had his friend survived days of this? Dave’s stomach twisted in knots. Nausea worked it’s way up his system. He puts a hand over his mouth. Then he noticed it.

The window above the sink was open, thin yellow curtains blowing inward. The whistling he had heard was the wind, the actual wind. Dave laughed. It was comforting that it was something real, something he could make sense out of. Did Ryan go out the window? Did he climb out or did something pull him out? Did whatever was out there drag him off into the unnaturally dark night? It happened so fast. There was no scream, no struggle, just the glass breaking and then nothing.

Holding his breath, Dave approaches the window. Leaning slightly, he tried to see outside, to spy Ryan or whatever had taken him. The darkness was total, complete. Everything looked the same. Dave put his finger in his mouth and bit down on it. If something really did take Ryan, and in a blink like that, then there was no way he could chance running out to the car for his flashlight. He would never make it.

It’s not gone. I can hear it whispering to me, feel the moisture of its breath wetting my cheek, but it won’t kill me, not yet. It wants something, but what? Dave could feel it staring at him, through him, eyes roaming over his form like molesting hands. “What do you want?!” he growled. “Just tell me what you want!”

The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Dave could feel those phantom eyes piercing his back no matter which way he turned. Somehow they were always behind him. There was a sound right by his ear like a tongue lapping up water. The cacophony of whispering voices fluttered around his ears like the buzzing of mating insects.

Was it in the house or outside? Maybe it never left. Maybe it consumed Ryan and stayed hidden somewhere, waiting for him. Dave whipped around in a hurry to find that the eyes still remained behind him. That’s crazy. I’m going mad. This whole thing is mad. Where the fuck is Ryan?

Dave stood as perfectly still as his shaking nervous limbs would allow. He could hear those damned leaves crunching under heavy footfalls. The whistling wind drew him back to the open window. He shot across the room and slammed it shut frantically. Panting, he fumbled with the lock, but he knew in his heart that wouldn’t keep it out. Whatever was out there, if it wanted him, it would get him, just like it did Ryan. It just didn’t want him yet. It was waiting for something, but what? The wondering and not knowing anything was driving him insane.

Dave paced the kitchen. He chewed the nails off every finger on his hand. He was going to die here and no one would know. He had to call someone for help, but who could he call for something like this? Ryan was right. The police would laugh at him or lock him up, maybe even blame him for Ryan’s disappearance. If he was going to call anyone, it had to be someone he could trust. Dad. Dad will believe me. We’ve been through everything together. He’ll come and he’ll listen.

Dave ran out of the kitchen. He had to find Ryan’s phone. He had left his own sitting in the cup holder of his car’s dash in, along with the flashlight in his glove box, both completely useless to him. He couldn’t go out there. It was out there. Ryan’s phone was the only chance he had. Now that he’s heard the thing that watched, heard it clearly, he couldn’t unhear it. He had opened a door that couldn’t be closed. The hairs on his neck and arms were standing on end like there was static electricity.

It could be anywhere and he had no idea how much time he had before ti came to take him. Would it give him days like it did Ryan or would it be hungrier now that it had a taste? Dave wasn’t hopeful. He scrambled around the house in a panic, searching, tossing things over his shoulder with loud bangs and clangs. He looks on every table, every shelf, under the cushions on the couch, in the dresser and the hamper, the cupboards, the bathroom. When he came up empty he started to get hysterical.

Dave told himself to stay calm, but it wasn’t working. He tried to listen for the phone the same way he listened for it. Maybe the volume was off but he would hear it buzz from under something if he listened well enough. No one had to be calling. Ryan had a thousand apps that gave regular notifications. It was bound to chime if he was patient. What if Ryan had the phone in his pocket? Then I’m screwed. I’m going to die here. I don’t want to die. I can’t give up.

Dave stood poised between the rooms. He didn’t move or even breathe. He just listened. The sound of the phone never reached his ears. He just heard it. It was out there, breathing, watching him, calling to him in its own way. It almost sounded like a song, a song sung too far away for him to make out the words yet he still knew they were for him. He could feel it within him, touching the core of his being in a filthy unwanted sexual way. His skin was crawling. “What do you want?” he said shakily with tears in his eyes. “What do you want from me?

Dave snapped back to reality when he heard the chime of Ryan’s phone coming from the kitchen. He lets out a big exhale and thanked God. Then he ran. Dave followed the sound and found himself standing beside the round table facing an open front door. No! Wind whipped through the door carrying the whispers and crunching leaves with it, the song of death, he decided. How did it get in?

Dave heard the chime again and he realized the phone was laying at the foot of the open door. He swallowed a lump in his throat. How was this possible? Was it tempting him with it? Could it be giving the phone back, toying with him? Dave shook furiously as he approached the open door, moaning wind and grinding teeth blowing at him from the darkness. Scratching nails and heavy footfalls, lapping tongues and salivating hunger.

Dave prayed to God. He bent slowly, his head still up, gaze upon the blanket of blackness that covered the house. Looking up and out, his eyes like moths at a light, he reached down blindly and felt around for it. When his hand came over the phone, he grabbed it quickly, afraid to have his guard down any longer. The staring eyes were penetrating him like knives of darkness. Dave gasped and dove backwards into the house, kicking the door closed. He sat there trembling on Ryan’s kitchen floor, panting and staring at that door in wild terror.

Dave felt like something was touching his back, gently caressing it, and he cried out, rolling and jumping away from the sensation. Had something snuck through the open door and come in with him? Was this how it got Ryan? Of course, there was nothing to be seen, only felt and heard. There was a tapping at the window. Dave knew there was no tree on the other side, nothing to make such a sound yet it continued like drummer’s fingers on the glass. He couldn’t help but look but just as he knew he would, he saw nothing. How did Ryan live like this for three days? Dave felt like he would go insane long before that. He left the kitchen to put distance between himself and that window.

With the phone in his hand, Dave started to pace the living room. He dialed his dad. His heart pounded in his chest while he listened to the ringing in one ear and the whispers in the other. “Pick up, pick up.” He chanted the words like a mantra. “Pick up, pick up.”

“Hello?” his dad’s voice answered.

“Dad!” Dave cried. “You know where Ryan lives?”

“I haven’t been to the new place yet. Is something wrong? What’s going on?”

Dave bit his lip. He looked around the room. He tapped his foot nervously and struggles to fight the urge to break into sobs. “I’ll send the location to your phone. You can GPS it. Dad. Can you please come here? Like right away? I’ll explain it all when you get here okay? Just come, quickly.” The whispers. The faint touch. The rhythmic breathing. The crunching leaves. A rising crescendo of erotic moans followed by snarling dogs. Dave bit down on his fist.

“Sure David. I’ll come…but…what’s going on?”

“Dad please!!!” The incessant sound of crunching leaves. The song dancing around him, touching him like the lightest legs of insects.

“Okay. Okay son. I’ll be right over there okay? Just sit tight. Send me the location.”

“Yeah. Bye, Dad.”

Dave hung up the phone. He quickly did as he said he would and sent his father the location. He would be safe soon. His dad would know what to do. Now it was just a waiting game. Dave had to hope it left him alive long enough for his dad to get there. He knows it was waiting for something and now he was waiting for something too. He only hoped they were not the same thing.

Dave prayed for his father to get there and make it inside the house safely. He was too anxious to breathe. He began to pace again, unable to settle down and steady himself. His hands fidgeted, and his foot tapped. The eyes were everywhere. The sounds constant. It feels personal somehow, violating. Dave felt like he was losing it. What happened to Ryan? What’s going to happen to him? Was it death that awaited him in the darkness or something else, something worse? Did it just say his name or was it his imagination? It definitely sounded like it knew his name. There it is again. Why can I understand it now? What has changed?

Then there was a knock at the door. Dave rushed over in a hurry. He moved with urgency, panic racing through him, his heart in his throat. He moved the curtain to peer out the window beside the door. His dad was standing outside on the porch. Thank God. Oh, thank you, God. Dave knew he could trust his dad. He ripped the door open in a hurry. The voices were singing and whispering and breathing heavily all at the same time, a chorus of the damned. How many were there? Maybe there was an army of evil things out there.

“David. I’m here. Tell me what’s going on,” his dad said. “Where’s Ryan? David?” Dave wasn’t paying attention. He was staring past his father into the dark night beyond. He was listening.

“David!!” his dad shouted, waving his hand in front of his son’s face.

Dave finally looks his father’s way. “Come in. Quickly,” he said.

His dad moves past him into the house. Dave gave one last look out into the darkness and then shut the door with a shiver, his nervously fidgeting fingers going to his mouth. “You want something to drink? You might need it with what I’m about to tell you.”

“No David. I want you to tell me what’s going on.”

“I’m gonna have something to drink,” Dave answered. He poured liquor into the glass he’d been using and sat at the table. His father followed and sat across from him. Dave’s gaze followed him as he craned his head when he noticed the broken glass on the floor. “What is this?” he asked. “Did something happen to Ryan? David, what’s going on?”

Dave twitched his head and tapped at his ear, but the crunching leaves and whistling wind still nagged at him with their distant song. It never ceased. It never fucking stops! Please, stop!

His dad sighed, obviously growing frustrated and annoyed. “Can you tell me what’s going on now, David? I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.”

The endless breathing. The piercing stares. The damned dry brittle leaves.

Dave took a big gulp from his drink. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and placed the glass back on the table. Then he met his father’s eyes. His dad shivered when he met Dave’s intense stare.

“It’s out there,” Dave said. “It’s watching, listening, and it never shuts up.”

His dad shook his head. His hand pulled at his face. “What is out there, David? Out where?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere, everywhere. Just listen. Really listen. Don’t breathe. Don’t think. Just listen. Okay? Please.” How could he not have heard it before Ryan made him focus? How could anyone not hear it? It’s so constant and penetrating, an assault. Maybe it’s always there but you don’t know until you open yourself up to it.

His father frowned. “I don’t hear anything David,” he said sympathetically.

Dave knew it was there. He could feel it, hear it moving, breathing, whispering to him, licking the inside of his ear. “That’s because you’re not really listening, not the way I asked you to. Block out everything and just listen.”

His father sighed with frustration but nodded. “Okay,” he said. Then he closed his eyes and sat there across from Dave. He was so still, his eyes fluttering beneath closed lids. Then they flicked open and went wide. He stared at his son intensely and Dave nodded, because he knew his father had heard it. “What is it?”

“I don’t know, but it took Ryan. I’ll be right back. Stay right there. Don’t move.” Dave ran to the bathroom. He glanced at the window just long enough to be sure it was closed and locked. Then he doubled over and vomited into the toilet. Once his stomach was empty, he turned the sink on full blast and rinsed his mouth, splashing water on his face as well. Then he heard it, the thing’s approval. It was happy with him. He knew at once what it wanted. It was waiting for him to call someone else, to keep the chain going. Ryan’s three days had been a gift because he endured them alone before calling Dave. Dad!

Dave had to warn his father, to tell him not to call anyone, no matter what happened. He shut the water off and turned towards the door in a hurry, but he felt wind on his back, and gasped knowing the closed window was now open. Dave made to scream for his father but something covered his mouth. Then he was dragged away into the darkness without so much as a sound, his father in the other room, waiting for him to return.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Chisto Healy
Edited by Craig Groshek and Seth Paul
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Chisto Healy

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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There's Something Terribly Wrong With My Son
After the Kool-Aid is Gone

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