By Miriam Averna


Even before I open my eyes, I feel the dark, malignant presence.  It stands motionless in the corner of my bedroom.  The air is cold but thick with a putrid stench that hits me in waves. I can feel its eyes boring into me.  My mind is alert but my limbs are paralysed, fear rendering them so.

What does it want from me?

From the gloom, I can make out movement as it lifts a cloaked arm and extends a bony hand towards the bed.  It slowly unfurls a finger, the joints cracking in the process. I continue to sense its hateful and unrelenting glare.  Panic rises within me but I can do nothing but lie there.   I am unable to move, consumed by terror.

It begins its ritualistic infliction of pain on my wife.  As it sucks her life force, I feel her shudder and sob by my side, never once awakening from her slumber.  I am forced to endure this alone.  The torture continues each night, persistent and with an increasing malevolence: I awake, it is there, pain is inflicted.

There is no explanation and no logical way to stop this.

My sleeping hours lessen as the nightly afflictions continue.  In the daytime I feel its lingering omnipresence as my wife becomes weaker, paler, with each passing day.  Our friends begin to worry for her, regarding me with accusatory eyes.  I am not responsible for this, I tell them.

But how can anyone believe that a creature I myself haven’t observed in the clarity of day, is responsible for my wife’s worsening physical condition?

We struggle to interact as we once did.  I am exhausted and her tears keep coming, a river of pain flowing before my very eyes.  The connection we had before is long lost and continuing like this is futile.

I see no other option and only one way in which the pain will cease for us both.

The last night, before it has a chance to return, I wait for my wife to fall asleep and then kiss her goodbye.  I take a deep breath.  I grab my pillow and tightly place it over her beautiful face.  Her body spasms for a minute and then finally it stills as she finds peace.

With her gone, it does not return.  Neither does the guilt of my indiscretion.

I no longer fear falling asleep, this prison cell is my haven, too small for sinister creatures to hide in.

The increasing shadows on the ceiling perturb me however.

I wonder if I can smoke them out.