The flame flickered in the small breeze that blew through the open window. He looked up from the little light that was given off by the small candle. It waned as the breeze made it shimmer. When it started to settle his head went back down and the began to scribble on the parchment with his quill. The letter was important, the most urgent thing he had ever written in his life. The speed at which he was moving the ink filled device was starting to make his wrist hurt. His mind was moving faster than his hand could keep up
He went to place his instrument into the well that held the vital liquid which enabled him to pass his message along to those that could help him. It was at this point that he saw it was low. There was only a small amount left. It was barely enough to satisfy his quill one last time. He quickly pulled it out and continued to write more words. By this time his brain had compose the next page or two. He was falling further and further behind, this was started to make him believe that he would never finish the words let alone sending it off.
His quill ran dry again. A small smudge was where it was when the valuable liquid ran out in mid-word. He went to draw of it, but there was none, he had forgotten that he was out. In almost anger he tossed the item on the desk. Now he was opening the drawers looking for more ink. He always had extra somewhere. But each time he would have to search, because he would forget where it was. This was not normal for him because he was usually good with details. His memory was sponge like, at least he thought so. Others had told him as well.
His usual business was numbers, that might have made the difference. It didn’t matter at this time. He was in such a frantic mode that it wouldn’t have mattered. He was tearing through drawers and cabinets. Soon the room was a mess. Then he stopped. He had found what he was looking for. The last vial of ink. He pulled it down from where he found it and went back to the desk. He managed to get the top off of it and then went to his inkwell. He was carefully attempting to pour ink into its new home.
Then it happened. The door to the office, that had been closed, locked, and barricaded by several pieces of furniture shook from a massive force that hit it on the other side. It was so much that the dead bolt almost snapped from its insertion point. The writer just stood there and stared at the door. He was shaking. Now the ink from the container was finding its way onto the desk. He recovered and looked down. He recovered and managed to save some of it.
Then he realized the real problem. His letter was now one big blotch. Worse all the paper that he has left was underneath that. It was now all soaked in ink. Even if he wanted to rewrite the letter he now had nothing to compose on. Instead he ran to the window and looked out. The wind was picking up and the fist few drops of a storm were coming down. A far-off lightning strike lit up the field beyond his yard for just a moment. But it was enough for him to see down to the ground, which he was three stories above.
The split-second flash also revealed another one of the things. One was already inside and was slamming into the door of his study. There were more though, there always was. They had been coming to his home and invading it for some time now. He still was unsure of what they were or what they wanted. His guess was to get at him, at least that is how it was portrayed in their intensity of trying to get in. He did his best to stave them off.
At first they were a bit timid, or at least seemed that way, since their initial incursions were only into the yard and the house. He thought they were just building up courage, then his thoughts on them shifted and it seemed more like they were probing. Once they knew a certain thing they became more emboldened. Like they figured out the house was easy to get into after their third appearance. Then it was a case of exploring the first floor over the course of the next two visits. The second floor came next, and finally the third. The only place left as the attic, and he refused to go there. So, if they did not get him this time, he was sure the next visit would be the final confrontation.
One thing that did confuse him was that there never seemed to be more than two in the house at any given time. When he would look outside or hear certain things he was sure there were at least four, if not more. If they had all entered at the same time, especially from the start, they would have surely gotten him month’s ago. They did not though. It might just be as simple as those that stayed outside were there to make sure that he stayed inside.
He should have tried to reach out for help a long time ago, but he never saw the need. He had been able to simple section off a part of his home and hold out for the night each time before. He had even bought a gun to protect himself. Earlier this night though saw his concerns turn desperate after one tried to get into his bed chamber. He blasted the door while it was being struck. The thing kept going as if the shot did nothing. Two more shots followed and had the same effect.
That was when he went into his study and barricaded the door and started the letter. His goal was just to make it through the night, which he was sure he could, but the next monthly visit would be his last. All he could now is dwell on the past and try to wait it out. The clock on the wall said that he only had two more hours to go. The banging on the door had subsided for now. So all he could do is wait.
This would be the eleventh visit from these monsters. It seemed ironic that they would get him on the twelfth. It would be a year to the day in which it happened. The loss of his most precious belonging. His son. It was a tragic day. The boy was only five when it happened. The man remembered the day fairly well. They had breakfast in the dining room. His cook had made the boys favorite. They both laughed at the jokes his son made while eating his eggs. Then he went off to play. The man had business to conduct. The next time he saw his son would be the turning point.
It was at this point that he realized the error he made. Next month would be the twelfth visit of his persecutors, but tonight was in fact the year anniversary of his son’s death. They first appeared a month after his passing. With this correction in his mind he fell into a further despair, though it now had nothing to do with his wellbeing. It was remembering his boy. The reason he had for living. His mother was the love of his life, but she passed bringing the child into the world. He vowed to raise the baby in her honor and make him the best person that one could be.
He thought he was doing that before the day he died.
He placed little restrictions on the child except when it was time to be with the tutors. A year ago had been one of his free days and he set about exploring the large estate that he lived in. He wandered off that morning while the servants went about their chores and the man conducted his business. When the time came for dinner and he had not seen his boy for most of the day he set about looking for him. It was the gardener who found him.
It was the attic. To this day the man still had no idea how the small child got up there. The stairs were the kind that you had to pull down from the ceiling to get at. He was too small and too weak to do such a thing himself. Besides the fat he had no idea where the pole was that allowed even a fully-grown person to get to them. In any case, he had gotten up there. A crypt among the living. All of his mother’s things had been placed there with other older and forgotten things.
Her things were not forgotten. The man would occasionally go up there and be among them to remember her. What his son found up there he still did not know. It might have simply been a new place to explore and discover to the young boy. The result was he would never come down again. When they found him, he had a large bruise on his head. The conclusion was that he fell or tripped and hit his head on one of the cross beams hard. No one was sure if that is what killed him or if it was slow bleeding inside when no help was given. In either case it caused the man grief. One more than the other.
The months that followed saw him grieve more and more. He eventually dismissed the entire staff. No one would confess to helping his son get into the attic, so he let them all go. He had tried to replace some of them, but word had gotten out that his once happy home was now a place of despair. No one wanted to be in the company of someone in a constant state of mourning. He soon found he could do most of what needed to be done on his own. He started to take his own deliveries almost a month after his son’s death.
It was during dinner when he first heard the things. He spent the first night looking out of various windows trying to see what was trying to get in. He was not too worried though at first. He thought is was just strays. It wasn’t until they made it into the house that he knew these were not normal animals just looking for food, at least not the regular kind. They wanted him. It wasn’t normal.
Of course, he had tried to reach out to the local authorities. But his initial try was met with funny looks, as if he was being ignored. They obviously did not believe him. He even reached out to the local clergy. His wife had been devout in her beliefs. After her passing though he stopped attending. When he went to the church the Father just stared at him blankly as he tried to tell him about what he thought might be demons sent to right the wrong he had committed to his boy.
The letter he had tried to write on this night was to be sent to an old friend who could find and send the best hunters. The man knew his story did not have to be believed by people that he paid to hunt these things and money he had plenty of. They would gladly accept his coin, even if in folly. It was just a job to them. He should have thought of it sooner. Now the local town folk thought him insane in addition to being sad.
All of this thinking was interrupted when the bashing at the door started again. It shook the man from his thoughts. He quickly stood when the third crash was followed by the distinct sound of the metal bolt snapping. The door was opened slightly now, only a crack, but it was a start. All of the debris he had placed in front of the door might hold for a few more of the creature’s attempts to get in. Where would he go then?
The window was a choice, but he couldn’t go down. More of those things would get him if he did. He could only go up. To the attic. Is that where they have been trying to drive him this whole time? Could them wanting to devour him for some sin not be the truth? It didn’t matter he had to think and think fast. After two more loud bangs to the door he decided to go up. To the window he went. The two adjoining panes of glass swung open. The slow rain from earlier was now a steady stream, soon to become a downpour.
He turned his back to the window and stood on his desk chair he had brought over. Then he reached up and out of the window. He felt the lip of the roof and grabbed. With all of his strength he pulled himself out and up. Then he swung his right leg up and it landed on the roof. With two firm positions on the roof, he slowly pulled the rest of himself up. He was careful since it was wet. He didn’t want to get ahead of himself and fall to his death. Just as he finished getting his left leg up on the roof he heard the pile of items in the study scatter across the floor. The thing had gotten in.
He clawed his way up the tiled roof a way. One of the windows to the attic was close. Once he reached it he tried to open it. It was locked. He peered in to see if the lock was firm of if there might be a small gap he could jimmy. As his eyes looked in a flash of lightning from the other side of the house illuminated the entirety of the attic. It was only for moment, in that time though he could swear that he saw someone in there. If might also be a figment of his imagination. It might also be someone who controlled the beasts. This might be the reason or person that was causing his grief.
The waiting was getting to him now and the storm had decided to become worse. He stood, using the window as a brace and he kicked out the glass in the top corner. Then he reached through and released the lock. The window slid up easily and he crouched as he went in. It was time to end the charade and confront anyone here. At least the things couldn’t get up here, or so he thought. In the back of his mind he actually didn’t know if they were capable or not since he had never seen one.
He stood to his full height as he entered the attic. The rush of ill feeling came over him as he was back in the place where he had found his son a year ago. The steps into the darkness were small at first. Then a little longer. Soon another flash of lightning lit up the far side, and this time he did see someone there. He picked up his pace and went straight for the man. He called out to him, no answer. Then he was on top of him. He stretched his arms out at the object.
He expected some kind of resistance. There was none. Instead of falling though the body swung as if holding onto something. Then the man froze in his tracks. Had one of his former servants snuck into his attic and hung themselves? Was it one last act of defiance? Could this have been the one that helped his son get into the attic and as a final act of contrition? He wasn’t sure. Now he reached out and spun the corpse around to get a look at the face. Just as if was looking at him, or what could pass for looking a bolt of lightning hit very close to the house.
There was enough light to see the truth. He stopped. He let go of the body. Then he shouted at the top of his lungs and fell to his knees. He had looked into his own eyes, if there had been any there. The gaunt shallow holes of where they had been was familiar enough to him to know who the victim at the end of the rope was. He covered his face with his hands and he started to cry. Then the truth came back to him as did the memories.
After the death of his son he had fallen into a deep depression. He had been on the verge of it since losing his wife, but his devotion to the boy had staved it off. When he was gone it came on with a vengeance. When the staff had left, and he found himself alone shortly after the burial of his beloved progeny, he found himself in the attic on many occasions. The last time he was up here he had found some rope. He was to far gone at this point. What came down from the attic after the act was not the full man that had entered, but a mere shadow.
It took several moments for him to realize that the light that had exposed his own corpse to him had not subsided. His hands slowly came away from his face when he heard a voice. It was telling him that he had suffered long enough. It was time to move on. Fate had been trying to get him too for many months now, but the man had not heeded the signs or the messengers. He had even blocked the fact that he was not of this world anymore.
When he looked towards the light he saw who had spoken. A small frame and a familiar face stood there smiling at him just inside the light. A little arm raised, and a small hand opened ready to take his, if he wanted. His tears stopped, and he stood. He slowly walked to the light making sure that what he saw was real. Then he reached out and took the small hand. The touch confirmed it. He smiled and said he missed the small person. Then the other small hand waved him into the light. He followed. Soon both of them were on the other side. The light slowly faded. When it was completely gone the old house fell silent. Anything that had been there to harm or usher anything else faded too.