It starts as a flicker in your peripheral vision. You never catch a look that tells you anything. You don’t even know what it is.
Yet you know it’s there.
The second time, it’s in the distance ahead of you, but once you realize something is there, it disappears as if it was a figment of your imagination. You swear you’re not going crazy.
It starts to happen more often. The time between seeing becomes shorter and shorter; you begin to imagine things at every turn. You anticipate catching it.
Then you begin to notice something.
It changes. It begins to hang around longer, enough time to process a quick thought as to what you see. Then it’s gone.
You explain to people you know what is happening, but you miss one crucial detail.
You forget what it looks like. It becomes indescribable as soon as it disappears, yet you know it is something.
It begins to get closer. The appearances happen increasingly, and each time it stays longer. It pulses with a feeling of uneasiness, you feel sick, your body locks up.
It becomes ruthless. It appears in the dark corners of your house. The most unsettling is that it moves. It sways, it rocks back and forth, but never covers any distance.
Then you start to hear it. It sounds like laughter, like a slow chuckle from deep within. It’s a sound you know nothing can produce, but it’s in your head. The sound pierces you like thin strings of glass.
You start to lose sleep. The visits become so frequent and intense you spend all your time darting your eyes around and listening.
Many people get professional help. Anti-depressants, sleeping pills, harder drugs to try to calm the visions. Many people die because they notice the medicine losing effect. They overdose because they fear so greatly that their bodies fight the chemicals.
Then, it appears, but something is different. There is no noise, no gentle leaning.
Its moving. Slowly, towards you, jumping forward with every blink.
You are paralyzed.
It crawls over you, climbing delicately, never making contact. You can hear joints grind and creak, but it’s motion remains fluid. It looks frail, yet feels immeasurably strong. An unbearable pressure surges everywhere in you body. It stops once it is near your face, radiating a nauseating wave through you, as every muscle in your body strains to pull you apart.
It leans in and whispers to you. Something unmentionable, a dark and horrific thought seared into your mind. It’s different for every person, and yet nobody dares speak the words it spoke.
Then it leaves, as suddenly as it came every time before. It never returns. Those who made it this far never recover. Some take their lives, some are committed, others retreat to solitary confinement. They refuse to talk about it, often getting angry and violent when it is brought up. Those who lived are forced to keep looking, to check everywhere for something they can’t forget. Something they think is coming.