I can hear them eating, under my bed.
The bones smacking and popping, blood pooling at the base of the headboard.
When they first came to the neighborhood, there was little notice. The sleepy homes with their precisely manicured lawns and gleaming SUV’s were left unaware by the slowly creeping darkness.
At first it was just small pets – Hamsters, Guinea Pigs and the like.
Mickey Drapes found the crumpled remains of his ferret, Ferguson, shoved into his mighty mouse pillowcase. Sandy Figgins didn’t speak a word for a week because of the placement of her puppy’s face on the ceiling. When she finally spoke, it took four teachers to get her to stop screaming. “They are going to kill us all!” she screamed, her voice horse with fear, “They are coming!” She passed out, cracking her head on the floor.
As more and more pets disappeared, the PTA called an emergency meeting. With no suspects other than their precious children, the parents began to panic. They said the violence was a manifestation of ADD, video games and Japanese cartoons. The Consensus decision was a communal silence and to not acknowledge anything was wrong. Positive encouragement and sugar cereal.
But it was too late.
Jacob Reese disappeared on Tuesday morning.
His mother found the bed torn apart, the word “They” painted in blood on the wall, a streak of blood leading under the bed.
I knew Jacob. He lived across the street. I could see his light from my window.
Susan Johnson, the clerk at the county library, was found in a pile outside the drop box. Martin Forster, the deli owner, was identified only by his dental charts. Both with the word “They” splattered on the wall. They both lived at the end of my street.
“They” became a whisper at the edge of each wide-eyed schoolyard conversation, a darted glance to those in the check out line at the grocery store, the silence at every dinner table.
After each death, the darkness swelled a little more. Every inch of the neighborhood seemed to be enveloped in the swooning blackness.
One by one the houses would empty. The Richardson’s on Monday, the Marcus’s on Tuesday… the entire west side of the street was vacant by the weekend.
Classes had to combine as less and less students came to school. In the end, there were five of us. Two third graders, a fat second grader, my sister and myself. We spent the majority of the day staring at our feet, waiting for the teacher to come. The teachers never came.
“They” finally came for us, the only lit house on the block, after dinner on a Thursday. The ripping noises from my sister’s room… The stifled screams from my parents… No one would come. No one would help. The blood seeped under their doors, turning my socks a sticky pink.
I can hear them eating, under my bed. The bones smacking and popping.
“They” had come.
Pat Moran is a writer from Portland, Oregon. His work has been featured in journals such as Apparatus Magazine, 4and20 Poetry, Defenestration, Poor Mojo's Almanac(K) and many more.