Thursday, March 24, 2011

While You Sleep...

This is a piece that was runner-up for Best Suspenseful at Lit Fest Magazine. It's called

While You Sleep...

Noticing the open window, my excitement grows exponentially. Only a harmless and weak metal screen stands between us. That won’t stop me. It never does. Being both adept and confident at removing them quietly is usually rather easy. Experience has taught well. Very well…

Normally, it would only take a small push and the square metal fabric’s frame typically comes loose, especially on older homes. Occasionally, it won’t. Of course, pushing on the screen itself will, most of the time allow and force it to tear, leaving a large gap. However, it can also create a quiet tearing sound that in the black of night will surely become deafening and that’s where my jet black handle, razor sharp knife will come into play. It’s always sharp. Keeping it that way does have certain advantages. And, I do…

Lingering and lurking, hidden in the shadows and ever so deft, being quiet and unseen is absolutely crucial and enticing at the same time. I can always see you but you’ll never see me. It is that one single offering that compels my search. The quest has a simple goal; just one unlocked door or one single open window is all it needs. It’s just a matter of time and choice. And I will find it. I always do…

Testing and wiggling the screen, it is loose, but a somewhat noisy endeavor. The early morning dew begins to saturate my shoes. It feels comforting and cool. I wait underneath the window, verifying that someone didn’t hear my doings. At three a.m., every noise seems to amplify in the still darkness, and I must be sure. There is no room for error. Obviously, the knife will be needed this time. Pulling it out and flipping it open, the blade glistens in the full moon light. I don’t dare look up to share its brightness. Both eyes and ears are equally important, and I am quite aware of this. Of course, I will still patiently wait until I am absolutely sure. Sure that no one was disturbed, that my noise infraction was not noticed…that I didn’t inadvertently wake an internal light sleeper. Time isn’t crucial and I wait, crouching in the wee hours of the darkness. Impatience causes accidents. Early morning light is my only true enemy but there is still time. So, I wait....

The summer breeze gently blows and I listen as it slowly rustles through the trees. All the better to disguise and override my actions. I can smell the faint odor of flowers as it invisibly rides with it. Along the tree line, a cat slinks in the distance and I watch as it ever so meticulously places one foot in front of the other as it seeks an unknown destination. It is creeping around too and I admire that. It hasn’t seen me either, and I watch as it disappears into the darkness. It is time…

Standing at the window, I pierce the blade into the bottom corner of the screen itself and let it slice across, through, and fully around the perimeter of it just an inch or so away from the metal frame. It is a wonderfully clean cut and the screen comes off easily and quietly. I drop it to the ground and wait, contemplating the climb in. Being a single story home, it is not too high and I will certainly be able to pull myself up and in. I listen intently for any sign of inner movement. But, there won’t be. It was too quiet. It always is…

Climbing in is the hardest and most nerve-wracking part of it all. Along with any inadvertent noise making, it is the fear of the unknown on the other side that frightens me the most. An accidental knocking over of something will surely break the silence. Even a small out of the ordinary wooden based squeak or squeal, or the scraping of a body against a metal frame is unacceptable. A rudely awakened previously sleeping pet could be dangerous and ruin everything. It would immediately force the quest to quickly terminate. Usually, a small table or stand located directly below the interior of a window is all that will need to be dealt with. Often there will be a lamp on it that can be the worst part. But, it is not the lamp itself. It is the attached electrical cord that poses the greatest risk. However, if one is cautious, simply lifting the table and the lamp simultaneously and placing it just slightly off to the side is the most profound and dependable solution. But, there is no need to worry about that tonight. Tonight it is a window directly over a kitchen sink. However, the window is smaller than most. But, I can fit. I can always fit…

Pulling myself up and in through the window, I slowly, gently and ever so quietly squirm through it. Gradually I make my way over the stainless steel faucet and onto the marble covered countertop. Lowering myself off of it, my feet firmly plant onto the hard tiled floor and I am standing, ever so still, in the darkness while being safely enveloped by the comfort of your home. The moonlight coming in through the window offers just enough light for the ability to see. A wooden block rack of knives is on the counter. I truly want to pull out the largest one and feel it within my grasp. But, I don’t dare. It could lead to a catastrophe if just the tiniest clank was to ring out. Must be silent. This is a good thing and I can hear my heart beating in my head. It is a loud drum. But, I know that it is simply for only me to hear. So, I listen…

Eventually, my loudly beating heart calms, the sound fades, and I begin to notice the home’s other sounds. Muffled bubbles lightly gurgle in a distant room. I have heard this before and it fills me with relief. It is the one single type of pet that never frightens me at all, an aquarium. The continued silence, wrapping and encompassing the occasional bubble sound verifies that you still don’t know I’m here. This close…

The time has come and I slowly begin to creep through the house, cautious of every single step. Passing through the kitchen’s threshold I notice that the next door is fully open. I can hear faint consistent breathing coming from it. It is a bedroom. Your bedroom. I peer in and see the moonlight cascading in through the window and casting eerie shadows on the wall. I watch as the bed’s blanket slowly rises and lowers with every breath you take. There you are…

I enter the room and make my way to the side of your bed. I stand there and hover directly over your helpless sleeping body. Your breathing quickens. I wonder if you are dreaming and what it may be about. You stiffen somewhat and I tend to think that it very well could be a bothersome dream. Taking a deep breath, you roll onto your side. Exhilarating terror fills me and I remain completely motionless in the silent darkness hoping and almost praying all the while that you never open your eyes. Please don’t…

My body is taunt and tense from head to toe. Your breathing eventually calms down and your relaxed face indicates that you have settled back into a deep sleep. This comforts me tremendously and I can finally unclench my body’s tightened muscles. As the moonlight reflects and brightens it, I look at your face. The face that the public rarely sees…free of make-up and pure, complete with blemishes and impurities. I ponder the thought of blood slowly trickling down over it. I watch contently and soothingly. The knife begins talking to me. It wants to. It wants to feel your warm flesh fully surround it, over and over again with my plunges. Wickedness fills my heart and I somewhat savor it. I sincerely want to. I want to listen to the knife and can almost feel what it describes. Yet, something stops me. Something holds me back. It always does…

Maybe it is just a small shred of goodness that is left in me. Maybe there are still leftovers of love somewhere in this increasingly blackening heart. I do know that, as with anything, the very first time is always the hardest. And, yet again, I sense that this will still not be that first time. The knife protests as I gently turn away and leave the room. Standing back in the kitchen, I reconsider for just a split second to no avail. Coming to terms with it, I ease my body back onto the counter and out the window. But, before I fully leave its confines, I reach out to the knife block and latch hold of the largest one. It has an overly wide blade and as my feet land steadily on the outside ground below, I notice the moon reflecting brightly off of it. My trusty black handled one asks why? I don’t answer and simply tuck the new one away right beside it. They will become friends. I know they will…

Taking a deep, somewhat frustrated breath, I discouragingly walk away into the early morning darkness knowing, I will try… again. Skills are perfected. Open or unlocked doors and windows are in abundance. Choices are unlimited.  Maybe next time I will succeed for, I am close…ever so close. When it finally does occur, my heart, if that is what is exactly holding me back…will never doubt again. It is this unknown invisible barrier that is the most difficult aspect now. Some day soon, I know that this will all change…and I will begin listening, hearing, and abiding. Yet for now, I am once again content with simply knowing that I could have. 

And, I’m the only one who knows it…

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Stay Scared,
Thomas