“Okay, Peter. Tell me, why have you developed this sudden aversion to windows, of all things?” interrogated Mr. Freeman, the principal of his middle school, with noted chagrin.
“This has been happening for three weeks now.” Peter trailed off as his eyes had scanned the lone window of the dark, ambient room for the object of his fears. “At first, only at night. But sometimes during daytime, too.”
“What, what are you seeing? Is it a person, a thing, an event? Help me to understand, Pete,” probed Mr. Freeman further; eager to extract every strange, circumstantial truth from the boy.
“It’s… a thing. I thought it was a person at first, but…” Peter sighed with a weary heaviness, and buried his head in his hands, weeping silently.
“Now, have you told your mother about this? You children are surely prone to overactive imagination. Perhaps you aren’t getting enough sleep? The mind tends to wander when fatigued, Peter.” Mr. Freeman replied calmly, attempting to disarm the shuddering child.
The boy shot a look of indignant disbelief at the man, inhaled with exasperation, and said, “I was getting sleep when I started seeing it. And my mom knows, ever since the first family portrait it appeared in…” He paused, then choked, “…in place of my dad.”
Peter and his mother had long suffered since his father had come up missing about six years back from then. Gone, with no explanation, other than the strange men’s group he belonged to that was later revealed to be a cult. The principal found that comment odd, yet regarded it solely as the product of a troubled child’s fractured mindscape. “You’re at a tumultuous time in your life right now. I know that you must know deep inside that this is just your imagination,” asserted Mr. Freeman, eyes not straying from the frightened gaze of the boy.
“No.” Tears began to manifest once more in his eyes as he appeared to fixate on the window.
“Describe to me this thing you’re seeing. Things like this cannot hurt us, we must understand that they are make-believe.”
“Tattered hospital gown. Big, happy, white mask. Peering through the window at me. If I look straight at it, it pulls away. If not, it sits there. And…”
“And?!” Prompted the captivated principal.
“And the mask… gets happier.” Finished Peter, wincing at the memories. “Sometimes… it even *sings* to me… But I hear it in my head.”
“So, a peeping tom trying to creep you out, and an overactive imagination? Next time you see anything like that, just call the police or get your mother. It’s most likely a fabrication of your imagination, and it’s definitely not a ‘thing'”.
“Shut up,” whispered Peter, “I’m not stupid, I’m not crazy,”
“I said neither of those things!” Retorted the aging man quickly.
“I know it isn’t a peeping tom. Not a human one. Things get darker when it’s watching me. I was going toward the upstairs bathroom yesterday night…” Began Peter, his story punctuated with Mr. Freeman’s nods and ‘mm-hm’s’.
After he collected himself, he continued, obviously in pain, “I pushed past the door, and reached for the light switch. Everything was totally black, which was weird for a full moon and street lights beyond the window. I felt a clammy hand brush against mine as I flipped the light. And all I saw… Was that happy mask in the window, twisted in the most unnatural expression.
The eyes were evil and, like, popping out, and the mouth of the mask was open. It’s tongue was long and swirling around. It dropped immediately down as soon as we made eye contact. I just fainted, and was lying there until my mom found me. Still think it’s not a thing?” He was rocking with terror as he finished the account.
“I… I dunno what to say, except that things such as this do not exist in reality. I promise, if you cut down on the scary movies, you will stop seeing whatever figment you’ve made up. Stimuli is perceived through the senses, and transmitted into the mind. Sometimes creations of the mind fool us into thinking they were actually sensed. Do you understand?” rambled Mr. Freeman, leaning closer towards the end of his tirade.
The color from the boy had been utterly sapped; his pallid face aghast with fear-struck wonder. The moment Mr. Freeman realized what was happening came after the already dark room plunged into a void of black. He looked over his shoulder, and was transfixed instantly with sheer terror as he beheld it: tattered hospital gown; big, happy mask; deformed arms with twisted, fused, and gnarled fingers raking back his neatly combed toupee.
A soft, ethereal male voice began cyclically reciting a chillingly dissonant melody:
“Come, come away – where no one will stray – and your dreams are sent high to the clouds!
A magical site – scream as you might – and none will have heard a sound!”
As the couplet droned on through repetition, the voice became increasingly disturbing; sounding deeper, demented and psychotic, as if the being were shedding an unnecessary disarming facade.
Somewhere, off in the distance it seemed, that pleasant baritone that Peter so bittersweetly remembered as his father’s was wailing out in torment. Others could be heard as well, droning choruses of agonized wretches, in the wake of this malevolent apparition. As the hovering ghast loomed over them, it had began to shed its beaming visage. Sinew and shapeless strips of flesh had clung loosely to the crimson face of the phantom; its severely dilated, lifeless eyes had been as wide as the mask’s, and its nose seemed to have been carved out along with the rest of the area necessary to accommodate the cavernous, razored maw that had been its mouth.
The boy, paralyzed with horror, had gone catatonic upon hearing his father’s voice from the phantom’s gullet:
“Peter, come with me! Your mother and I are both here now! Be… with your daddy again?”
That moment had been the last for Peter and Charles Freeman. The principal disappeared inside of the vacuous, gaping aperture of the descending phantom. All at once, a visceral symphony had sounded: the whirring of the apparition’s dental razors; the creamy purée of the man’s innards sloshed around and slurped in a continuous, cacophonous sip; and, of course, the unrelenting screams from an unseen congregation of tormented souls – which Freeman’s voice was instantly welcomed into, as if he were sensing the butchery his now-deceased remains were subjected to beyond the parameters his human vitality would allow.
Look at the window. You have a visitor.
(thanks to Damon Roark for the submission!)