I dropped my wine when I saw it. Glass smashed on the kitchen floor tiles and merlot hit my feet and I just stood there dumbly. I wanted so much to run but my legs were having none of it. My stomach was a swirling black hole at that moment and I imagined my body being sucked inward like water down a bathtub's drain. That would be great, though, right? I'd disappear. Then I wouldn't be peering through the window, into the dark of the yard, right at the yellow-eyed thing that I couldn't believe was real.
The light from the kitchen cast a sickly glow on my prowler. A horror film director couldn't have set the scene any more perfectly. Its flesh was the color of ripe artichokes and sort of wet-looking. Was it sweating? Did it catch my scent and run hard and fast to find me? The idea of that chilled me through and through. The idea of being prey to some grotesquerie living in the woods. Watching. Waiting.
The hair on its head was scant, gray, and hung limply over its protruding brow. The skin of its face was covered in scars; were they defensive wounds? I suddenly had the feeling that the thing was old. Very old. How long had it been hunting in the dark places of the world? Had it been driven out of its natural habitat by mankind's so-called 'progress'? My mind raced as I continued to study the creature. Nostrils flared beneath its hooked nose and dry lips retracted to reveal jagged teeth. There was meat between them.
It lingered--hunched and poised to move at any moment. The loincloth that covered its genitalia swayed as it lurched back and forth. I could see the pumped muscles of its thighs twitching. I felt nauseated. It tapped a gnarled foot on the pavers. The bastard was growing impatient. This game of chicken couldn't go on forever.
I hazarded a glance to my left--to the back door that led out into the rear yard. Pro: I could make for the back gate and into the lane behind the house. Con: I'd have to run past the thing to get there. I looked over to my right, at the door to the garage. Pro: I could hop in the car and drive until I ran out of gas. Con: my truck was unreliable at best. Would it start? Would I be a sitting duck? Did this awful, greasy creature have friends?
When I worked up the courage to run for the door to the garage--the door that led to freedom--I didn't. I felt like an antelope locking eyes with a lioness: one false move spelled certain, grisly death. I felt warmth in my crotch as my bladder voided itself. I hadn't wet myself for thirty-odd years. I didn't know how to feel about it.
I scanned the room--moving my eyes and only my eyes--noting anything that could be used as a weapon. There was a disturbing lack of available knife ware. A kitchen with no knives! Bloody ridiculous!
I spotted an unwashed spoon in the sink and a tin opener. Being the neat and tidy type was doing me no favors. Were I more lax in my washing up habits, I might have had more of an arsenal at my shaky fingertips. The slobs would inherit the Earth it seemed, if there were indeed more of these ... things.
Needless to say, things weren't going great. I had a friend who used to drone, "No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse." I always thought it was a needlessly negative take. I let his words bounce around my skull as the creature licked its fissured lips. Then things got worse.
The sound of a key scraping the front door lock echoed down the hallway and hit me like a punch in the guts. I wanted to call out but I couldn't risk it. The knob turned and the door opened. "I'm home!" called a voice from the doorway. The voice belonged to my ten-year-old daughter.
I wasn't expecting her. She was away at her friend's house--they were supposed to be having a sleepover. Poor little thing must have wet the bed again. 'Like father like daughter' I thought to myself, laughing in spite of the horrific circumstances. The things demeanor seemed to change then like it was offended by my candor. It looked satisfied when it thought I was terrified. Not so much when I appeared grimly amused, I guess.
Stupid monster. Didn't it get that my laughter was really thinly veiled terror? Subtlety was lost on this ghoul. I took a punt and yelled over my shoulder toward the front of the house, "Don't come into the kitchen, sweetie!"
"Why not?" answered my only child.
"There's broken glass!" I replied, trying to sound as together as I could.
"Okay! I'm gonna' go to the bathroom!"
"Take your time!" I called back. My bed-wetting theory seemed to hold weight. Hopefully, that meant that she'd be a while and I could deal with our intruder. A rush of adrenaline surged through me and I shook, no longer out of fear, but with sheer anticipation. I was going head to head with this fucker. And I was going to win.
That's when the creature displayed more perception than I expected: its brow furrowed and it nodded. It looked for all intents and purposes as though it had read my thoughts and it was agreeing to some sort of duel. Silly beast--I had something to fight for and it was just here for what? Food? Sport? It had grossly underestimated its opponent.
Through force of will, I bent my knees and turned to run for the back exit. The things eyes scanned right and it grinned. It knew what I was planning. It lifted an arm and extended a long, clawed finger, pointing it at the fly-screen door. The unlocked flyscreen door. My heart drummed and my ears rang and all strength left me for an instant. The creature's eyes met mine. Its smile was gone. It writhed as it began to mumble unheard things into the night. Then the lights went out.