Old town legends didn’t concern Michelson, but they should have. The townsfolk had whispered ominously even before he took possession of the house and yet he paid no heed. The workshop behind the house was enormous and it suited his needs perfectly.
He’d attributed a few of the sleepless nights to the rumors creeping into his subconscious. He’d chuckled to himself when various passers-by, even subconsciously, crossed the street to avoid what was really a well-crafted and stately home with a pristinely manicured lawn. And he’d laughed all the way to the bank at the steal his new home had been.
It’s not as though he didn’t feel it. He just chose to ignore it; that nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right. He again attributed this to what he’d heard. About how the first owner had performed bizarre and grotesque experiments on any drifters who took him up on his offer of a hot meal. About how the seemingly happy couple who took residence after slit each other’s throats in the night. About the next occupants who ran screaming from the house one afternoon and had died nearly a month later at the hospital, only able to mumble incoherently about ripping and tearing.
It came and went; that dark foreboding feeling. And as he worked this evening it suddenly filled him with such a sense of dread that his hands began to shake, his wrench clanging against the floor as it slipped from his grasp. He rose from his tinkerings and looked around the shop uneasily. Was he being watched? He cleared his throat nervously to himself and shook his head at the thought. Of course not! No one in this town dare set foot on the property. And yet…
He stooped to pick up the wrench when something caught the corner of his eye. He flicked his gaze to the west wall, completely bare save for a picture of him and… wait, was the picture moving toward him? No, the entire wall was moving toward him. But that wasn’t right either. The brick wall, which had been solid as brick walls tend to be, seemed to take on an elastic quality. To Michelson it looked as though a single finger was pushing against a thin sheet of rubber. Little did he know how close he was in that analogy.
Six feet from the ground the point protruded further into the space of the shop. The picture hanging just below, and the nail which to which it held, dropped to the cement floor. Michelson heard the glass shatter but didn’t move his eyes from the point that seemed to be reaching out to him.
Still stooped he snatched up his wrench and flung himself back against the opposite wall, the fleeting thought that at least this wall was still obeying scientific principles bringing little comfort. His thoughts begged him to flee but his legs wouldn’t respond. His eyes couldn’t tear themselves from this one point that grew larger, invading more of the space it had no right to exist in. He feared that the cold dread filling him would drive him mad as the brick and mortar coned out toward him.
Then, very slowly, the wall began to pull back to its original position. As it receded, that which had created the point remained. First a finger. Then a hand. An arm. It flattened against the tall gaunt form of a man and retreated around him. Michelson could see that the wall stuck to this intruder’s back for a moment before snapping back into place, a ripple quaking through it before relenting to its previous, flat state.
His heart pounded hard in his chest but the sense of utter fear was already fading, for now he was faced with a man, and an unarmed one at that. He clenched the wrench tightly in his fist and studied this intruder.
The intruder stood motionless for several moments before throwing his head back and opening his mouth, exhaling a mist blacker than coal which hung in the air as one’s breath on a cold winter day before dissipating. He stood before Michelson, eyes closed and panting, before falling heavily back against the wall from whence he came, which indeed appeared quite solid once again. The intruder’s heavy breathing began to subside, as did the appearance of the black mist. Michelson scraped up whatever courage he had left, and it wasn’t really much, to speak and could only manage, “What the…?”
Malevolent red eyes flashed and found him quickly. The intruder’s mouth yawned open again and Michelson’s entire world focused on the two long white fangs that slid into view. Though the intruder looked as though he hadn’t eaten in weeks he moved with swiftness that Michelson had never seen, nor ever would ever again have a chance to. The intruder was upon him and before he could even think to bring the wrench to bear or utter the weakest of cries. After what seemed like an eternity of feeble protests Michelson lay dead on floor of his cherished workshop.
The intruder rose from his meal, not allowing a single drop of this veritable feast go to waste. He inhaled deeply at the rich clean air around him and surveyed his surroundings. He was truly back. Home.
His ears twitched at the sweetest sound they’d picked up in years. It came from a rather kind but stern voice approaching the shop door.
“Jeffrey Michelson! You were supposed to be in half an hour ago! My parents are expecting us for breakfast in the morning!”
The intruder’s eyes darted to the picture in the broken frame showing a man and a woman standing before their new home. Smiling he approached the door and waited. His need to feed was paramount, and yet one word burned endlessly through the chaos that ruled his mind. Before moving to his next meal, he whispered in a harsh, gravelly voice, “Melnik…”