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Darkness devoured Neanderdad’s dwelling leaving only a fragile cone of light around the television for Neanderdad to huddle.  Neanderdad’s offspring were in bed.   Neanderdad’s mate was out for the evening.  So, being alone, Neanderdad watched TV and ate a cold chicken leg from a paper towel.  He was looking forward to spending a quiet evening relaxing but there would be no relaxation this chilly, fall evening.   Dark forces were stirring in the shadows.

The wind started first, buffeting the house and rustling leaves in the yard.  As he ate his meal, he could feel the wind pull and pry at the dwelling, looking for a way to come in.    The walls and ceiling creaked slightly under the onslaught.   Suddenly, Neanderdad was startled by a loud thump.  Something large was being knocked down and dragged around on the driveway.   Neanderdad’s pulse quickened.

Neanderdad jumped up out of his chair, almost dropping his meal.  He half rushed to the front door, thinking he would have to venture out to investigate the unknown.  He reached for the door handle with trepidation, listening.  Then he realized what he was hearing.   The wind had taken down the empty  garbage can that Neanderdad had forgotten to put away.  Neanderdad relaxed and turned to sit back down.  He would  pick it up later.

As he was about to sit down a  fierce, shaggy, black beast with white teeth bared, burst from the playroom.   It exploded into furious barking, filling the house with a savage racket.  Neanderdad jumped back, dropping the chicken leg on the floor.  Then he cursed.   It was the dog.  The damnable beast.  It was always slow on the uptake.  Apparently the canine had been awakened from its nap in the playroom by the falling garbage can.  Now the mutt was apparently taking a belated stab at guarding the house.  Adrenalin surged through Neanderdad’s veins and he bellowed back at the beast, causing the dog to stop dead in its tracks.  Uncertain, the dog stopped barking and looked at Neanderdad, confused.  There was a pause as they stared at each other.  Then, in a remarkable display of tactical flexibility, the beast opportunistically went for the chicken leg from the floor.  Neanderdad charged forward threateningly and sent the canine cowering back to the room from whence it had come.   With a final, bellowing curse at the dog, Neanderdad picked up the now soiled chicken leg and dumped it into the trash.  His meager meal ruined, Neanderdad grabbed a string-cheese stick from the refrigerator and settled back into his chair, fuming.  However, dark forces were still at work on this night.

Out of the darkness of the hallway to the children’s’ bedrooms came a cry.  This sound did not make Neanderdad jump.  It was a sound he had heard many times before.  One of his offspring had no doubt been awakened by the cursed dog.  He waited, expecting whichever child that had been disturbed to fall back to sleep.  But the cry became more insistent and panicked.  This got Neanderdad’s heart beating faster again and he rushed down the hall.  It was the boy and he was troubled.

Because the television had been so bright, Neanderdad unadjusted eyes forced him to enter his son’s room blind.  He paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust, then was unnerved by what he heard in the darkness.  First, there was a rustling sound and labored, raspy breathing.  No doubt, the boy was struggling with the bed coverings.  But as things started to clarify with his vision, he saw that the boy was actually sitting up on his bed, rocking back and forth.  The boy stretched open his mouth and snapped his jaws closed in a grotesque in unnatural manner that Neanderdad had never seen before.  Then the boy started to speak.

“No.  No!” the boy said, in an insistent but far-away voice.  “No. No.  No!”

“Shhh,” Neanderdad said, trying to soothe his son.  “Sleep.”

“They won’t let me,” boy said, urgently.  “They won’t.  I can’t because they won’t let me.”

Neanderdad moved toward the boy, kneeling beside the bed and reaching out to put his hand on the boy’s shoulder.  He expected that this would calm the boy.  Instead, the boy lurched backward, away from his father’s touch.  Because of the darkness, Neanderdad could not see the boy’s face clearly, but he could see his son’s jaw working.

“No!  I can’t.  I can’t.  Because of…of…the people.”  The boy’s voice took on an ominous timbre.  Neanderdad fell a chill run down his spine.  Spooked by his son’s odd behavior, Neanderdad tried to talk the boy into consciousness.

“People?” Neanderdad asked in a whisper.

“The people,” agreed the boy.  Then the boy raised his finger and pointed past Neanderdad and proclaimed, “The PEOPLE!”

Despite himself, Neanderdad wheeled around.  He half expected, in horror, to see a gathering of ghosts standing behind him.  But all that he could see was the glowing, lighted humidifier on the dresser and a pile of clothing on the floor of the open closet.

“The people don’t want me to move the mountain…” the boy trailed off.  And then he lay back down onto the bed.

The boy slipped back into slumber after a few restless shuffles, then Neanderdad, relieved that the boy was only having a waking dream, pulled up the covers and tucked him in.  He patted they boy’s head and was about to leave when something  slimy and very much alive touched his hand.  Neanderdad recoiled and barely contained his urge to scream.  He spun around wildly, looking for what wrait was after him.  But in the dim light of the room, he could see a faint black shape with a wagging tale.  The infernal hound had somehow snuck into the room while he was tending to the boy and nosed Neanderdad’s hand.  Neanderdad growled and chased the dog out of the room.

Neanderdad barely got settled back down under the warm light of the television when another ragged cry echoed through the house.  Neanderdad returned to the boy’s room, which seemed even darker now.  The boy was sitting up again. This time he was weeping quietly in his bed.  When Neanderdad reached out to reassure him, the boy grabbed his hand and pushed it away.

“No!” the boy said in that same, strange, far-away voice.  “No.”

“What,” asked Neanderdad, slightly unnerved.

“Her!” said the boy.

At that moment, a flash of light pierced through a crack in the closed drapes covering the window of the boy’s room.  Just for a moment, the boy’s face was illuminated.    His countenance was grim.  His eyes were open but focused far away.  In a flash, all was dark again.  A car in their cul-de-sac, Neanderdad reasoned.  Then Neanderdad heard the boy speak again.

“Ellas’ mother.”

“Who?” Neanderdad asked again, afraid of the answer.

“Ellas’ mother,” the boy said with great dread.  “Tell her to stop.  Tell Ellas’ mother to stop!”

Again, the boy raised his arm and pointed just over Neanderdad’s shoulder.  He stretched and snapped his jaws.  Neanderdad turned around again, half expecting to see the terrifying specter of Ellas’ mom, whoever she might might be.  But again there was only the colored lights from the humidifier, the shadows of discarded clothing and toys, and the dark shadows that covered the unseeable.

Neanderdad continued to calm his son for several minutes, finally getting him tucked back under the covers.  Then the boy fell back into slumber.  The boy only stirred again as Neanderdad tried to back his way out of the room.

“Tell her to stop,” intoned the boy, again.  Then he sighed and went back to sleep.

Neanderdad sighed too, glad it seemed over, then turned around to leave only to find the face inches from his own.  He leaped back with a horrified cry and almost tripped on the pile of clothing on the floor.  Clearly, the boy had been trying to warn him about this horrible apparition, thought Neanderdad.  He prepared to fight to defend his extra-sensory son against this terrifying spirit.

“Sorry,” said the specter with a chuckle, “did I scare you?”

“No,” lied Neanderdad to his wife, who had apparently returned back home.

Neanderdad had barely caught his breath when the dog—who had slept through the boy’s strange awakenings, the arrival of Neanderdad’s wife in her car, her entrance through the front door and Neanderdad’s startled yell—suddenly appeared and began to bark and howl with great alacrity.

This outburst by the beast woke not only the boy, but also their daughter who had been sleeping soundly in the other room.  Both started crying and calling for their parents.

Then the horror truly started.

 

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