The Gaunt Man

I wake up suddenly in the middle of the night. At first, I’m not sure why, but then that uncomfortable awareness of being watched, washes over me. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle, sending an icy shiver down my spine.

I roll over and see something that pulls my entire body rigid, my heart pounds fiercely in my chest and I desperately wish it would stop beating so loudly. A strangled scream tries to slip my throat but I’m so paralysed with fear only the smallest cry escapes. Standing in my open doorway is a figure so tall it has to crouch to fit through the frame. Its silhouette looks of a tall, gaunt man but I know deep down it’s not human. I want to scream out to my parents but my voice doesn’t seem to work.

The dark figure in the doorway takes a step forward into the shaft of light from the open window in my room as my eyes widen in terror. The creature is covered in what looks like rotting scabbed flesh, its fingers have long claws, sharper than knives. Its mouth is just a gaping hole in its scabbing face, and where its eyes should be are nothing but empty rotting sockets – but there is no doubt in my mind its staring directly at me.

I snap my eyes shut as tightly as possible, pleading with myself to wake up from this nightmare. When I finally open my eyes – I see nothing but the door. I feel my blood pumping through my veins. My heart is beating so fast I can hardly hear much else. I start to feel relief.

And then I hear it.

A scratching on the side of my bed.

The sound reminds me of fingernails running down a chalkboard. Prickling fear rises through my body. Too afraid to move, I shift my eyes towards the sound.

I see it. Crouched by the side of my bed, clawing at the wooden bed frame. It’s so close I can see the maggots squirming inside its eye sockets. It slowly starts to rise, towering over me, reaching its clawed fingers for me. I feel a spasm of fear and find my voice as I scream hysterically for my parents.

They come rushing to my room and flick the light on – the creature is gone. I tell them the creature was real, it wasn’t a dream. They check everywhere. There’s nothing in my room. They tell me it was a nightmare and I start to breathe again. Nothing. There’s nothing in my room.

My parents still let me sleep with them for the rest of the night.

The next morning I wake up feeling embarrassed over my nightmare. I promise to sleep back in my room and not to worry my parents again.

That night, my parents head out – leaving me home alone. I crawl into bed and before I switch my lamp off I decide to check under my bed – relieved, I see nothing.

As I start to climb back in bed I see something that makes my heart skip a beat.

Along the side-running rang of the bed-frame – are clawed scratch marks etched into the splintered wood.

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