> Read a Story > Mythos Nocturnal
Fritz was a good
companion. He stayed by your side and he didn't beg over much. He was white
and had a small face and when you would wake up he would be there looking at
you, cocking his head as if something interesting was happening. Unfortunately,
he was next to useless as a watch dog. He would bark through a door but as soon
as the door was opened he would run back ten feet or so and then just observe
with a nervous stare. He was little. I liked him though and that is why I was
quite startled when I woke up in the dark of night to find him missing.
Moon light came in through the windows illuminating things in silvery gray and my eyes came open seemingly of their own. I could not say what woke me but I sighed and lay very still. If Fritz had heard me he would be in my face within seconds. I knew I had sighed too loudly and I waited for Fritz to come stare at me. He didn't. I frowned as I lay there, curiously awake, and looked about the room from the position in which I lay. Then with a small groan I sat up. I looked about, becoming more confused at the absence of my small pet. I looked to the door to find it closed and I knew with certainty that he had been inside the room with me when I had gone to bed. I looked under the bed and beside the dresser before going to the center of the room and looking about. Then, with some nervousness, I looked to my closet.
I lived in an old house. It was built at the beginning of the twentieth century and it had all the oddities of the era. I had no sliding mirrored doors for my closet but instead a simple thin wooden door. Inside the closet was deep, going in nearly ten feet despite its narrowness. One of the things I made sure to do each night before I went to bed was to close that door. If I did not, Fritz would whine and look at it nervously. In fact, quite often after moving in, Fritz would jump upon me in my bed and bark if I had forgotten to do so. It disturbed him a great deal to have it open at night. Oddly enough, the previous owners, a kindly old couple who had passed away of old age in that very house, had installed a bolt upon the door. It seemed useless to me but I had yet to get around to taking it off. I did not however use it. And now the closet door hung open. Surely I had closed it before going to bed. It was my habit.
I called for Fritz and received no answer from the dark interior of the closet. Slightly annoyed, and certain he had chased a mouse into the closet or something similar, I stepped across the room and into the closet. My clothes brushed against my right shoulder as I moved inside I called his name softly again. I heard no sound other than my own movements and I stopped, now concerned. What if Fritz had fallen ill and crawled in here in his sufferings. I dropped to my hands and knees and felt about because I had not bothered to turn on the light and I could see almost nothing at all. I felt shoes and boxes and even my tennis racquet I had forgotten about. I called his name softly as I crawled forward on the bare wood floor as the darkness at the back of the closet became complete.
I do not know when I realized it, but in my searchings I began to feel a space on the closet floor that contained no boxes or other stored items. That was odd, I remember thinking. I knew there was little floor space left. I crawled forward then, with my hand outstretched, knowing I would find the wall if I moved only inches. I moved a bit farther than I expected and found nothing. At that moment I checked the clarity of my mind. There were far too many senses I was aware of and too many details for this to be a dream. I was wide awake and I knew it. With uncertainty I crawled forward more and still my hand met empty space. The wood floor beneath my other hand was rough, rougher than it should have been. I ran my hand back and forth over the boards but could not find the seams between them. It felt cold and in the spot I touched it seemed to have lost its smooth finish. I almost imagined it felt like stone.
The hair on the back of my neck rose and I turned back toward the door. I could see nothing and with an odd feeling of unease I stood swiftly. I nearly lost my balance as I realized there were no walls on either side of me and no rack full of clothing.
I spun about, searching with my hands and with an even greater feeling of dread I realized I had lost my sense of direction. My mind was numb with the impossibility of it. I had only gone into my closet. I could not be anywhere else. As I stumbled about, I realized the surface beneath my feet had lost its levelness and I now stood on something more natural than a man made floor, something like rock or dirt. A pebble crunched under my slippers.
Where was I?
My confusion did not dissipate despite the passing of time. What was happening was impossible and no leap of logic would explain it. I knew the lay out of my house and behind the back wall of the closet was another room, and on either side as well. My mind reeled as I fought to explain it.
Then, at a great distance, I saw a light appear. When I saw it my heart skipped a beat. It was easily a mile away. How could it be? I watched as it bobbed closer, aiming directly toward me and I soon realized it was a torch held by a walking man. I could see his shape, a bent haggard man, clearly elderly, walking with bowed legs toward me. The torch illuminated old man poorly and the space about him seemed to absorb the light. In fact, the torch seemed barely able to cast its glare onto the man holding it.
As the distant figure approached, I became more disturbed. His legs were too thing, his head too large. This old man was not normal. When at last I understood the torch bearer had come within a dozen paces of me. He was not an old man at all.
He stood no more than three feet tall and his face bore an ugly knobby head with an large nose and oversized ears. His hair was sparse but showed none of the gray of old age I had expected. This small deformed man seemed in his youth. And as he came in close to me he scowled at me with disdain and I saw his eyes. Large and dark. Too large. This thing with the torch seemed inhuman.
Then he spoke to me in a gruff tone full of energy. Despite his terrible appearance he seemed quite fit. "You," he grumbled. "How did you come here?"
I stood transfixed, unable to speak and he barked at me, "Out with it!"
"I'm in my closet," I stammered.
He seemed startled for only a moment and then he smiled cruelly and laughed at me. "You're in your closet, are you?" he taunted.
"Who are you?" I demanded. "Where am I?"
He bared his teeth at me then, not liking my tone and my eyes widened as I saw that every one of his teeth ended in sharp points.
"What the hell are you?" I gasped.
His shaggy brows came down and he said in a dangerous tone of voice, "You should not be here."
I was at the end of my wits and as his tone struck me as a threat I reacted with little rational thought. I kicked out at him and caught him in the chest. He gave an angry startled cry and fell over backwards, dropping his torch. Empowered by my success I rushed at him but in an instant he was on his feet and he dashed away into the darkness. The absolute darkness.
In an instant I grabbed the torch up and peered around. The vile little creature was gone. For a moment I heard his scurrying footsteps but before I could get a fix on the direction of the sound, it faded away. I waved the torch around and could see nothing. It did little against the darkness of this place. I then knelt down and scanned what was beneath my feet. It was barren ground. The wooden planks of my home were not there.
Where in God's name was I?
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November 19, 2002
by David Kraybill
©2002 Beard-Kraybill Studios