There’s an urban legend in my home town, like many other small towns around the world. Like the others, no one knows which parts, if any, are true, or when the legend originated.
The creature is approximately five feet tall, very bird like in appearance, and it moves best slowly. As the legend goes, though, it doesn’t have to move fast. The hypnotic stop-motion like movement, paired with a mirrored face, render the victim motionless; helpless.
The victims disappear without a trace, most never returning. Some, however, are found months, even years later, mumbling incoherently. They’re filthy and wearing the clothes they disappeared in.
One man had been missing for fifteen years, and when they found him, he looked exactly the same.
None of the victims had any idea how long they were gone, or where they were. Nothing linked the victims together. They all had one thing in common, however; the appearance of this creature. And its name.
Ngaro came for me tonight while I slept. At the time, I was dreaming vividly; I was walking through the woods at dusk, from where I’m not any more sure of than where to. The trees were dead, the wilted and fragile leaves strewn about the ground, exposing the naked trees. The further I walked, the more the trees looked like large hands reaching up from the earth, stretching the finger-like branches towards the deep red moon.
I hadn’t noticed that the sun had set until the eerie tinge from the blood moon painted the trees a warm crimson, accentuating the already unnerving scenery.
A rustle in the leaves behind me broke my uneasy eye contact. Something large and darker than the night around us was looming over a fallen tree trunk. It was easily five feet tall, its massive wings partially raised as if it were about to take off. The massive wingspan adding to the formidable size, I almost didn’t notice the face. Or lack thereof. It wasn’t a mirror, like in the lore. It looks like black smoke, swirling in slow motion. After a few moments, the smoke begins getting lighter, the swirls not so random. It begins forming a face; cheekbones, eyes, a nose and a mouth, all very familiar.
I realize in horror that the face was identical to mine, down to the scar on my left eyebrow. It wasn’t a mirror the victims were seeing, but a perfect mirrored face on this creature, mocking the look of absolute fear they no doubt were wearing.
I couldn’t move. The head was swiveling left and right like an inverted metronome, clicking to a stop at the end of each movement, at half the rate that my heart pounded.
Still unable to move, all I could do was watch as it moved towards me, every movement resounding with a click, its stop-motion movements nearly causing my heart to leap out of my chest. The closer it gets to me, the louder the clicking grows.
Click. Click. Click.
I finally turn my head to the side just before it reaches me, and wish instantly that I hadn’t. Where there were once trees, there are hands, reaching no longer towards the sky, but instead for me.
My eyes close and I succumb to my fear, hearing only the sound of the creature clicking in the back of my head, lulling me into unconsciousness.
The dark room I wake in fills me with an anxiety I’ve never felt before. Where am I?
My body aches, the harsh concrete floor cold and unimpressed by my weak body. This was what I assumed it felt like to have been rolled down a 40-foot flight of stairs and then kicked half to death.
Despite that feeling, the anxiety and desire to leave this dark hole were overpowering and I bring myself to my elbows.
Looking around frantically, I can’t see a thing – I can’t even see my hand in front of my face.
“Hello?” My voice sounds alien; hoarse and quiet. Like I haven’t drank water or spoken in weeks, but that’s not possible, it can’t be. My heart is beating so fast that I’m worried it’s going to beat out of my chest. One deep breath after another, it slowly improves, the blood rushing through my veins finally slowing to a point that it’s not felt in my ears.
It’s only when that whoosh, whoosh sound dissipates that I hear it. A slow drip to my right. The promise of water, regardless of its source, was overpowering. Before I knew it, I was slowly bringing myself to a standing position, and ignoring the light-headedness, I took one step forward.
My left leg felt heavier than the right; something was attached to my leg. I let out a faint shriek at the sound it made when it dragged across the concrete floor, reaching for the cuff on my ankle. It’s about an inch and a half thick, the seam near my Achilles tendon lends to the thought that it’s welded shut. There has to be a way to get this off.
I feel around the cold metal cuff for a keyhole, a break in the metal, something. But there’s nothing. It’s solid, up until the first loop of the chain.
It’s sturdy, but if I could get something substantial to hit it with, I could break it.
The steady drip of water continues, and I begin moving again. There’s nothing in my path, and that makes me wonder if there’s anything in this room that I will even be able to use to break free.
Suddenly, I walk into something waist level. The pressure on my hip sends pain radiating outward like a wave. I inhale sharply and hold it as long as I can, focusing on eradicating the pain. The object is a sink. I’ve found my water source.
Cupping my hands under the slow drip, I lean in to enjoy the fruits of my labor. But I stop. The water smells metallic. The pipes must be rusted, and it’s dripping out, mocking me. The pain in my throat intensifies, like nothing I’ve ever felt before. It’s excruciating. Like something is clawing its way out. I don’t have the luxury of bottled water, so I bring my lips to the tepid water and sip.
It tastes like pennies and soil. The moisture hitting the back of my mouth creates a pang of pain in my jaw, like I just sucked on a lemon. But the feeling of my throat being cooled, the pain almost instantaneously relieved, outweighed the eerie sensation, and I continued to drink.
The veil of darkness in the room began to lift. It seemed the sink was built into a cupboard, and the doors opened. Inside was nothing other than the plumbing for the sink, which happened to be very rickety.
The pipe came out with very little effort; despite the easy removal, it’s very solid.
I could probably use this to break this chain off.
The pipe heavy in one hand, I sit on the floor, feeling each chain link for a weak spot with the other. The third link has a large crack, creating about a quarter-inch gap. Sighing with relief, I adjust my position and lay it flat on the floor in front of me.
I swing. Hard. The impact sends vibrations through my arms, shaking me to the core. I feel the chain link but it’s still in tact, so I set it again and swing. I repeat this several times before, finally, the link gives way with a metallic snap. My arms, screaming with pain, collapse into my lap and I drop the pipe to the floor.
My eyes are full of tears. Bleary-eyed and weak, I bring myself to my feet and stagger to the door.
The knob turns freely, the quiet whine of the hinges instilling a sense of paranoia that I’ll be caught.
Click. Click. Click.
Without a second thought, I fling myself at the door and close it behind me.
The room is dark and silent, the only sound coming from the door that shut behind me. When I look back, however, there is no door. The walls, ceiling and floor are tiled in black and white, dimly lit from a source that I cannot seem to locate.
The silence is suddenly interrupted by a scratching somewhere in the distance.
“Hello? Is someone there?” I ask of the derelict room, to no answer.
Another scratch, this time closer.
Ignoring every instinct, I walk closer to the sound. My footsteps punctuated violently by the deafening silence, it’s impossible to relocate the scratching noise. Suddenly, a large grotesque hand erupts out of a black tile to my left.
The skin is paper-thin and translucent. The veins paint it a vile grey color, nails brown and splitting from decay, fingers missing chunks of skin, flailing about towards me.
I shriek and jump back, nearly falling into a hole where the black tile I had just recently walked across used to be. All of the black tiles in sight are gone. My escape is looking less and less likely, but I leap diagonally to the white tile to the right. As soon as my foot leaves the dirty tile, I feel a whoosh of air. The hand slammed down, the entire platform covered by that gnarled thing, and my heart sank.
Seemingly displeased with finding nothing, the hand slowly raised a few inches from the tile and then retreated into the darkness.
Mocking myself internally for being relieved that the hand couldn’t see, I drew my attention to finding an exit. About 100 yards ahead of me, part of the wall juts out just enough to catch my attention. Just beyond that, I see what can only be a doorknob. Exhaling slowly, I set about the task of navigating the white tiles to my freedom.
It came from behind me. I resisted the urge to look, leaping from tile to tile, until I heard it again.
Heart in my throat, deafened by the erratic beating in my ears, I slowly turn my head. Behind me is nothing. Absolute darkness.
This time, I break into a run, leaping from tile to tile, closing in on the door. About fifteen feet short of the door, the hand ascends, stopping me dead in my tracks. I peer to the right of it, and then to the left, mentally mapping my route.
My left shoe must have come untied at some point, allowing for easy removal. Silently placing my foot on the ground, I aim towards a tile far off in the distance and throw the shoe. The hand vanishes the moment the shoe hits and I book it to the door. The cold knob surprises me, causing me to jump back and gasp.
The second attempt was less jarring, and the knob turned easily. The ecstasy of escape was short-lived. The room beyond the door was exactly like the one I have been struggling to escape. Tears welling in my eyes, a deep sense of hopelessness overcame me.
I’m never going to get out of here.
My breath caught in my throat and I turned slowly to face the thing behind me.
It was there alright; that massive, decrepit hand, my shoe dangling from the thumb. It would have been comical if the smell wasn’t so thick and visceral. The smell of death, no doubt the smell of previous victims.
I have no choice but to try my luck in the next room. My feet are moving before it notices, and I grab the handle, yank the door shut behind me and brace myself against it. After all, I just left a gigantic hand on the other side of the door. But that’s the least of my worries.
This room, like the previous room, was tiled entirely in black and white. Identical. Except one small detail. A sea of grotesque hands, all moving rhythmically, in a hypnotic left to right motion.
I reach for the doorknob, but it’s gone. The door has vanished, leaving me in a room full of the things, no escape in sight. Incredulous, I let out a single noise.
The sea of motion suddenly stops. In an attempt to control my breathing, I place my hand on my chest. Suddenly, the hands begin disappearing before the floor. More and more swallowed by the darkness, followed by that horrendous scratching. It’s maddening, surrounding me. Filling my head, vibrating my entire body.
When the final hand vanishes below the floor, the scratching stops. The silence is short-lived, though.
To my left, a white tile drops out, swallowed by nothingness. Then another, and another. I start running towards the door, in hopes that I can make it before the entire floor is gone. But I misstepped and lost my footing.
My gasp got the attention of one of the hands. It flies out of its hiding spot and snags me from my fall. Despite how frail it looks, the hand is very sturdy, like stone. It’s gripping me so tightly that I can’t breathe. The yellowed fingernails, their jagged edges digging into my torso, have something underneath them. It looks like dried blood.
I cry out in pain as they dig deeper, swinging with all my might with the one arm that remained free, kicking my feet to no avail. It’s too strong.
At that moment, the hand plummets down into the darkness so fast it knocks the wind out of me. My stomach feels like it’s going to come out of my mouth, the air is moving so fast that my eyes can’t even stay shut.
Then the hand begins slowing, and I can see light below me. Bright, blinding light. It turns me on my side and lets go, and I land on a tiled floor. Although the floor is like the other rooms I’ve been in, the walls and ceiling are actually a pale pink. This isn’t the horror filled room I just left.
Oh, how cute.
There’s a tea party at the table to my left and nine of the ten seats are full. But something is different. Something is definitely wrong, here. The partygoers are very pale, and they’re not moving. Their bodies are tied to their chairs, and their hands are attached to their tea cups. Their eyes are glazed over, mouths hanging open in a grotesque manner.
My jaw drops. They’re dead.
Suddenly there’s movement in the back of the room. “It’s tea time!” Squeals the giant figure.
It’s a girl, at least it looks like a girl. She has to be at least ten feet tall, with pallid skin and a dirty dress. In her pale, filthy hands is a metal tea-tray and in the middle is a floral tea-pot. Her long, knotted, stringy hair is strewn about the tray, creating a mane that struck terror in my heart. It was nothing, however, compared to her face.
Her eyes, black pits, seem to be sightless; soulless. The skin on her face is nearly translucent, I can see her skeletal structure through it. But her smile was the most unsettling. Nearly ear to ear, chipped and yellowed teeth pointing in all directions. What should be a smile looks like a grimace of pain.
For a moment, her face darkens. The lines become swirls of smoke, the head rotating to the left, then to the right.
Then suddenly the face is back to normal. It rotates quickly to the left with a resounding click. The smile returns.
She takes a couple steps towards me, setting the tray down, extending an arm. All of the sudden, I hear a high-pitched whining noise. Her steps are staggered to a halt, and her face is painted with pain. Shock and awe follow next, and then anger. The noise stops, and I realize that it was coming from me. I gasp for air, suddenly feeling like I was kicked by a horse, and try to run away.
The girl runs after me and grabs me with one swipe of her hand.
The hand seems oddly familiar; surprisingly sturdy, yet pale and frail looking. And the blood under the fingernails, oh god.