Night Walker

Two pairs of dark eyes stare out of a small window into the darkness. A small strip of light illuminates the forest, casting wide shadows that blend together and create mangled claws of darkness. The two pairs of eyes widen in delight or fear and their pupils enlarge to see through the darkness.
I step forward and clear my throat. "What's out there? Anything?"
The oldest of my brothers tilts his head, not even turning towards me. "We don't exactly know."
"It's behind that tree," the younger boy Marty fills in while slurring his words together. He points with a stubby finger to a large sycamore tree. "Is it a bird?"
"That's not a bird, stupid," the other boy Carter remarks. "Birds aren't that big."
I push him aside and kneel beside the window. I stare at the sycamore's peeling bark that looks almost rotten. I search the area around the tree, flick the outside lights on and off as I go. Nothing moves. I don't see anything except the trees large shadow. "Do you mean the shadow? I don't see anything out there besides the tree."
"It's not there anymore," Marty says with a sigh. "I don't understand how you didn't see it. It was right there!" He looks at me as if I'm missing something important.
"What did it look like?" I glance back out the window.
"It was big and it was just standing there, looking." He squints in thought. "Maybe it was Bigfoot!"
"Bigfoot's not real," I chide as I switch the light off. "It was just a shadow, everything casts a shadow. You need to go to bed."
Marty whines, obviously scared in a paranoid little kid way. "You're wrong, shadows don't have eyes and shadows don't move like that." He stares at me with annoyed eyes, "and I know what a shadow is, Charley."
Carter smirks, an idea forming in his devious head. He bends down so he's eye-level with Marty. "That's right, Charley's wrong, it wasn't a shadow. It's the Night Walker. Have you ever heard of the Night Walker?"
Marty shakes his head, holding on to every word Carter has yet to say.
"A friend at school told me about him," Carter says, his beady little eyes darting around at me in case I decide to step in. "He hangs around houses in the woods where he knows children sleep. When parents decide to leave their kids home alone, he begins to walk around the house and scratch at the door with his claws." Carter makes sure to pace slowly around Marty, crouched low and with his fingers drawn like claws.
Carter continues with his monster tale. "But he can't get in unless someone says his name three times, like that Bloody Mary thing but without the mirror and darkness."
I roll my eyes at this; Carter is always making up these stories about monsters that only attack children when their parents are away. I'm used to them by now, but Marty is still young enough to scare at each story.
"When someone says his name, the Night Walker comes into the house and eats them. I've also heard stories of him taking their skin or something or maybe I'm confusing that with another story." Carter shrugs and salutes me. "Goodnight and don't let the Night Walker get you."
Marty just stares at him as he walks down the long hallway to his room. His eyes dart to the window and to the door. "Charley, lock the door so they don't get in!"
I can hear Carter laughing from his room. I feel my face burn red in anger; stupid Carter, always scaring Marty before bed. I lock the doors to appease the kid and make sure the windows are shut tight. "Nothing's going to get you. Carter's just trying to scare you."
Marty clings to my side like hair to a wet bar of soap. "That's easy for you to say! You're not a kid, you're a teenager. He'll get me! He'll eat me and you'll never even know what happened!"
"Don't worry," I roll my eyes and pick him up. I carry him to his room and sit him down on the bed. "Go to sleep, mom and dad will be here in the morning."
"But what about the Night Walker?" He covers his mouth as he says the words. "I said it once."
I roll my eyes and sigh loudly, "Marty, go to sleep. It's just a scary story. I'll say it three times. Night Walker. Night Walker. Night Walker."
"Charley," Marty whines, covering up in a Star Wars blanket. He looks around the room as no Night Walker appears. His face softens and he giggles. "I guess you're right. It was only a story."
"Of course I'm right," I say and plug in his nightlight. "Now get some rest and no more believing scary stories." I stand and turn out the lights, turning from his room into my own. I shut my door and lock it that way Carter can't come in and prank me while I'm asleep.
It takes a minute or two for me to fall asleep, but when sleep does come, it's violent. I've always been a lucid dreamer but I can't wake myself like I normally do while in the clutches of a nightmare.
I eventually wake up in a cold sweat, fear paralyzing my limbs and causing me to stare into the darkness with blind vulnerability. As my eyes come into focus, the light from a nearby streetlamp illuminates my room. The light is comforting and slowly eases away my sleep paralysis.
The soft childish voice suddenly echoes around in my head. "Charley."
"Marty is that you?" I whisper back. "What are you doing? It's getting late. Don't tell me it's because of that stupid story." I sit up in my bed, ramrod straight.
I suddenly realize something, I locked my bedroom door. How did he get in? I start to ask but my blood runs cold.
The thing staring back at me is not Marty. It bears a faint resemblance to Marty in its childish features, but it's not my brother. Marty's eyes are completely black.
"Charley," the thing that is not Marty whispers. "Say my name Charley. Say it again."
"No," I mutter as the thing starts to near me. My legs are like wood and I can't move an inch. "No, go away from me! What did you do to my brother?"
"You said my name," It whispers again, smiling with teeth that aren't my brother's. "Say my name again, one more time." It tilts its head in an almost comical way, its white teeth gleaming in the lamplight.
"No, go away from me! You're not real!"
"I'm real," it says in a voice that begins to sound less and less human. It raises one of Marty's hands and I see his small fingers are claws. "What's my name?"
Something inside of me breaks as the thing impersonating Marty nears even closer, rustling my bed sheets. I feel desperation well up inside of me and with a stutter in my voice I say only two words. "Night Walker."
The street lamp busts, clouding my world in darkness.





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