A scratch at the window woke me. Rubbing my eyes, I sat up and looked out into the darkness. There was only the empty field that stretched out for miles and miles in front of my house. I shrugged my shoulders and buried myself deep under the covers. There it was again. Frustrated, I walked over to the window to inspect the noise further. Still, nothing. Pressing my face against the cool glass, straining to see further into the dark abyss that encompassed my house, I saw something. A flicker of warm light. A cascading shadow. In the distance, just beyond where my eyes could take me I saw the slightest of movements. There were figures moving around. The moon was hiding behind clouds as it peaked but once again quickly was hidden.
For a moment I stared squinting past the darkness. The figures were hunched over almost dragging themselves towards my direction. I blinked rapidly trying to make an excuse to what I was seeing. The light came back again I saw it coming from the first floor of the old house. I was living with my grandmother, she was getting up in age sometimes forgetting what she was doing or how she ended up in a part of the room. Being a nurse I decided to live with my grandmother. The doctors had said she was suffering from dementia but I hadn’t believed it…or I just didn’t want to believe the last of my living relatives may die.
I pushed myself from the window turning to grab my robe. I slipped my arm through the holes tightening the belt around my waist. I took the stairs two at a time seeing the flickering of the old kitchen light turn on and off. I could see from the staircase my grandmother standing in front of the open door. I knew I had locked the screen door in case she had ever wandered around managing to ease this old door open. It didn’t take much, perhaps a simple breeze to force the door open. It didn’t have a lock. Her old wrinkled hand was on the light switch next to the door up and down her fingers went matching the tempo of the lights switching on and off. I saw her face pressed against the screen staring out into the darkness.
I approached her slowly as I entered the small yellow and white kitchen. Pots and pans were on the floor from the cabinets. The refrigerator door was wide open with food spilled out onto the floor. I looked around with my mouth hanging open. What had she done? I had just went shopping for her yesterday. I took a deep breath calling from my grandmother.
“Fiona.” I called for her when she didn’t respond to me calling her Nan.
She made a sound as if she recognized me calling for her. The lights kept flickering on and off. I reached for her putting my hands softly on her shoulders. I leaned in pressing my head against her and closing my eyes.
Click. Click. Click.
“How did you manage to make such a mess without me waking?” I asked her.
“I’m going to help you get back to bed.” I told her pulling on her. Surprisingly she was solid.
“No.” She told me resisting. She was strong.
I sighed feeling the air of the country pass through the screen. I looked out squinting at the figures moving in the distance. Ignoring the annoyance of the light turning on and off I began to see colors out in the fields.
“They’ve been out there for a long time. Do you think they see us now.” My grandmother asked looking at me finally.
“Who are they?” I asked watching dark figures shuffling closer.
I squinted again stilling my grandmother’s hand as the light flickered off. She tried wrestling me to turn the lights back on.
The wind carried soft clicking sounds from the field. My eyes finally adjusted to the night and without the moon I could see about a dozen beings moving around. There was a round object sitting in my grandparents field. It was humming as I listened, hushing my grandmother each time she tried tearing my hands away from the light switch. At the moment they weren’t paying the house any attention as the clicking sounds and shuffling bodies continued.
I heard the scratching again.
“Stay here.” I told my grandmother hoping she’d understand.
I unlocked the screen door feeling the warm breeze on my bare legs as I made my way across the wooden porch. I could feel the dogs food beneath my feet, the bowl was tipped over. The leash where my dog was usually kept tided to the banister had been chewed off. I felt the tip of the leash feeling the moisture. The door opened and my grandmother stood smiling at the field. I knew she was going to come out.
“Had you seen Minnie when you came downstairs?” I asked her.
She nodded. I waited for an answer.
“Well?” I asked as the humming started again.
I looked back out into the field once more, the people were coming closer. I could see their features a bit more as the clouds thinned in the patchy sky. They were hunched over their eyes reflected like an animals.
“They took her.” Fiona said leaning against the porch.
I gasped before asking, “What? Why?”
I saw the thin smile spread across her old face. “They were hungry.”
My stomach dropped as the figures came closer. I backed away dragging Fiona back into the house. I locked the screen door then dragging the kitchen table in front of the door hopefully blocking them from coming in.
“Why are they here?” I asked shutting off the light and looking out the kitchen window.
Fiona hadn’t say anything. I saw her standing next to the closed refrigerator. She stood silent her night gown too big for her shrinking body. Did she know something? I opened my mouth again when the scratching came again, I jumped.
“They want to come in.” She said in a small voice.
I crossed the small space separating us and took her hands into mine.
“Fiona, you have to tell me what’s going on.”
She stayed silent until I heard banging coming from the front door. I turned and saw nothing. Taking the kitchen phone I began dialed 9-1-1. The rings never came. Replacing the rings was a high pitched wailing. Instinctively I threw the phone to separate the sound from my sensitive ears. Once again I asked my grandmother to stay she nodded this time which put me at much ease. I climbed the stairs towards my room. My purse was sitting on a chair next to the window. I searched around the content of the purse coming across my cell phone. I opened it up dialing the same three numbers. There wasn’t a wailing in my ear the phone simply wouldn’t dial.
I looked up towards the window the curtains were drawn from where I had looked out before. I saw something looking at me its eyes reflecting with no need of light. Its skin tone was a dark gray its smile stretched across its long face. Its mouth was darker then the rest of its gray complexion. Being this close I could see bits of hair decorating its angular jaw. I controlled my urge to vomit where I stood.
It started tapping on the window, at first while I backed up clenching the phone towards my chest, my heart hammering loudly. The tapping then turned into scratching, it wanted to come in.
I turned from it heading downstairs where my grandmother was standing in front of the door. It stood wide open, people were on the porch. I could count six figures standing hunched and silent. My grandmother was talking to them asking them where they came from and if they knew who she was.
They looked past her and directly towards me.
“Fiona, please close the door.” I called to her feeling tears sting my eyes.
She turned around at me and smiled. “Hello there.” She said. She never smiled that wide unless we had guests over.
I didn’t want to turn around hearing the soft breathing and the scratching behind me. I wanted to scream. Why was it always tapping? Why were they here? What was out there creating all those colors?
“I can make some tea.” Fiona said walking towards the cupboard for the tea kettle.
What sounded like a rough ‘no’ came behind me. The voice was deep the sound was as if English wasn’t its first language. My grandmother froze looking over at me. I swallowed squeezing my eyes shut feeling the first tears falling from my eyes and down my cheeks.
I felt something on my shoulder squeezing it painfully. I looked at the hands, the fingers were long and rounded at the tip. I felt its head come close to mine its tongue running along my neck. Quickly as I stood I was on the floor, it hovered above me. I still held onto my phone as if it was life line. The screen door burst open. I could hear my grandmother screaming. I saw them take her, their long fingers penetrating her mouth and eyes. I saw the blood in the darkness as the moon finally escaped its prison.
They were eating her.
I turned over and threw up my meal from that evening. I coughed and gag trying to get rid of the image of my now dead grandmother.
I was picked up roughly. I kicked out to my assailant. My foot connected with something but they never made a sound. The only sounds were their scratching. They pulled me out of the house, my arms and legs burning from my efforts to get away. My throat was rough from my screams. I knew no one would hear me. We were out in the country. As a little girl I had always loved visiting my grandparents with my older brothers. Running through the tall stalks of the corn field playing hide and go seek. As a teenager it was a great place to bring the boys from other houses from miles away to make out in the dark feeling invincible.
Since my grandfather died, the corn died and so did the business, slowly following was the house. I was miles away from any other living creature. It seemed the insects didn’t dare come out. Would the silence of this night be my last farewell?
I neared the object that slowly seemed to breath. Each breath it sent out colors of yellows and oranges. They tossed me nearby. The reaction of the sphere pulsated blinding me with each beat.
“Welcome to the Scratchers.” I heard inside my head before the light overcame me.
Its like a dream to go to chosen victims windows using my foreign fingers to wake them up. To scare them is a thrill. I’m not quite myself anymore. To be human was a memory. But now feeling the life in my hands as I drag men and women out of their homes to use them for questionable experiments. My organs were harvested, my blood replaced. Its okay now to scratch during the night. If you ever hear the scratching my advice to you is to never answer.
I hope you enjoyed!