Short Story
                                     The Things We Don’t See
                                                                             By Aaron Padley


     The creaking. It pulsated around the haven of life like a methodical tremor rupturing that served as a
horror that arrested him with its restlessness. His pedestal sat unconvincingly above the horde of unknown
entities which clawed like something that he couldn’t really think of - they were so alien to him that he
couldn’t make a comparison to them. He knew that they were just below the bulk of his protection.

     But he thought… he knew that if he was stupid. If he did anything unwise, he would surely be grabbed
by them - even if it was only by his dangling foot. They hissed silence, and the ruptures were eerily
capricious in their appearances, coming when they were sure to burrow into his skin and make it crawl. A
crackle burst out from behind him in small, hesitant steps that grew into unbearable restiveness. It was
coming for him, pounding from all around him, still coming like a devil from hell. Still coming, still scratching
and scathing.

     Nothing more went on for much longer, it burned out - but the worst burn that it had made was the
flaming handprint that caressed his mind, telling him that it would be okay. It would be all okay to just stop
worrying about it. To go to sleep, and with that they would come - all together, they would fall upon him. He
would awake from the sleep that they advised. He would wake up screaming in the dark. Screaming alone
and afraid as they took him into their world.

     There could never be those emotions that he found so hard to verbalize again; their place held many
secrets, but he did know one thing - that if he let the things get him, then he would be stripped of things that
aren’t meant to be stripped, robbed of things that aren’t meant to be robbed. What would it be? Emotion
would surely be one. But would they wear his skin like coats? Would they wear his eyes to see those he
loved, and use that to take them? Rip out his voice box to simulate his voice, then lure those that he loved
into the same grave that he had allowed himself to fall into?

     He couldn’t give in. It wouldn’t be long until their hunger lost its grip, until those things would lose
interest, until the menace stopped circling him with its hollow, creaking noises. But he knew that they were
watching him. The thing that circled him like a vulture was watching him. Muffled talking was going on
somewhere below. He couldn’t see the source. He thought of shouting, of jumping off his protection to run.
He could make it, the solace was waiting.

     There was talking, it was getting louder. It was like the drum from a marching band was getting closer.
Slowly, but surely. He wanted to shout again… the noises stopped. All of them. He thought that the
talkative survivor may be attracting the night terrors towards it. There was a bloodcurdling scream. The
talking was dead, someone had been attacked. He was too late to warn whoever it was that was once
there.

     His skin turned an ill pallid and he almost succumbed to the night. But only if dawn would be gracious
enough to call, he would be saved - they would surely explode into flames with the birth of goodness and
light. A mild swoosh swung to the left of the sole survivor. The malice was palpable, it warned him that he
should look only if he wished to go insane with the severity of a thousand madmen.

     Yet he could only fight the temptation of wonder for so long, and he turned. He turned and was thrown
into a static flicker, it went through his bladder and popped like a wet balloon. A single eye was mere feet
away from his own. It peered at him like through a slither of an opening. Its blood snaked through the
whites and towards the dead black that waited for him. The stare was not one of consideration or discreet
stewardship, but it was one that tasted him. Its imaginative pupil undressed him of his pristine, innocent
life. The sweet fear that lingered long after his death would serve well.

     It drew back into darkness with one blink, and he looked away before it had time to reopen. But he
knew that it was still there. Watching.

     It giggled maniacally - hungrily.

     “We’re waiting for you.” Its wretched voice called. The ghastly tone drifted in the air and broke through
his shields like it was nothing. He realized that the pedestal wasn’t there to keep him safe, it was there to
serve him to the invisible threats. The monsters. He was marinating for them. They were teasing him, the
things that waited below him were sharpening their claws, ready for the satisfaction of digging into him like
barbed wire ripping flesh apart in long, sliding motions.

     Footsteps began their ascent from seemingly nowhere. The patting was closing in. Whatever it was,
was going to take the first lunge, and then he’d know nothing, but feel everything. The darkness started to
open up with a light. Was it the fire of hell that was persuading the night to move? Steps came through.
They were light but tremendous. So tremendous that they vanquished the darkness.

     A shadow stood in a pathway just beyond his reach.

     “Honey?”

     “Mummy! Mummy, what was that noise? It was scary. It scared me so much.”

     “I was just watching a silly film. Go to sleep now.”

     “I’m still scared. There’s a scratching at the window. And… and creaking.”

     “Don’t be daft. It’s just the tree knocking on the window because of the wind. And old houses creak
sometimes. Simple as that. And here. I’ll even check under your bed for monsters… nothing there, see?
Night, honey.”

     She smelled his mistake wafting from under the sheets.

     “I’m sorry.” he said, recognizing his childish mistake.

     “It’s okay, wait outside for a minute.”

     He stood, as instructed, for what seemed to be a lifetime in the darkness. The only comfort was his
mother in the room next to him, it sounded like she was sighing. The noises from the TV were still there.
He realized what a mess he’d made. His pajama pants were soaked, and his forehead was also soaked.
The aroma of regret was thick, and the safety of reality flooded back in.

     “Come in and take of those wet pants.”

     He did so.

     “You’ll have to sleep without the bottom sheet… just for tonight.” she said, closing the closet door as
she took out some new bottoms. “Here.” The door moved back to its original position slowly.

     “Night, night.” he said.

     The beautifully brave woman kissed him on the head, turned the light switch off and descended to the
noises that he foolishly thought to be people locked in a nightmare of his minds making.

     Alone again.

     He turned onto his left side to go to sleep, and in the unshut closet was a singular eye peeking out at
him.

     “Go to sleep,” it said.

     The sudden release felt like another balloon popping.
About Aaron Padley
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