By Dominic Tramontana
Bill poked his head through the doorway, his son Tommy, tucked in bed. “Goodnight, son.” He flipped the switch, leaving only the night light to cast an orange shadow over the room. He worried how long his son would rely on the little light. The room was baby blue with white clouds painted on the ceiling. Stuffed animals sat where the floor met the wall.
“Dad?” Tommy said. “Can you tell me that story again?” He had his mother’s eyes. One look at his son was enough to break him He was soon at the red, waist high bookshelf. He slid out the slanted book. The book talked about goats and sheep and all animals found on the earth and all the people too. A little red book with white binding. The pages were thick cardboard.
Bill walked to the bed then stopped when the doorbell rang downstairs. He had no clue who would be visiting at this hour. He returned the book to its shelf and said, “I’ll be right back.” He walked downstairs. The bell rang again. This time, two rings consecutively.
Bill unlocked the door and opened it slightly. A man-like silhouette with a strange antler headdress stood on the other side in the cold autumn night.
A chill wind spilt through the crack, cooling Bill’s face. What could have made that? he wondered. ”Can I help you?” Bill asked. The being took wheezed breaths followed by more cool air. Bill reeled back and coughed. Losing patience, he said, “Listen, pal. I’m about ten seconds from shutting this door.”
“We come in search of the text.” The man spoke with a hazy voice layered by bass and phlegm. Smoke wisped through the mysterious man’s mouth every time he spoke.
Bill looked even more confused than before. “Look, if this is some prank or whatever I’m not having it. It’s late and you need to get a life.” Bill shut the door. The door came to a thudded stop. He looked up and saw the man’s hand clasped between the door and its frame. His hand resembled black ash. His nails curled like bent blades and shined like black oil.
“We do not leave until we have what we require.” The man pushed the door open.
Bill tried his best to push back but the door blew open with a gust of wind and smoke, sending Bill to the floor.
The man stepped forward. His naked, hairless, and dark body, almost pure shadow, swooped over Bill. The antlers twisted like barbed wire. Each branch had intricate swirls painted across. “Where is the text? We seek the text.” Bright ruby-colored eyes surrounded by shadow made up his face. His mouth was a small, narrow hole.
Bill covered himself with his arms and said, with tears on his cheek, “I don’t know. Please, I just don’t know what you’re talking about.” All he could think about was his son’s safety.
The man laid his callous hand on Bill’s head and twisted it back and forth. The crusty skin scraped his scalp and pulled up his hair.
Bill squirmed at the feeling. He swung his hands in defiance which met nothing but air.
The dark figure stood there momentarily, then released its grasp. “He is right. He knows nothing.”
A series of voices slipped through the creature’s mouth that sounded like whispers. Each voice caused the creature to look in a different direction.
“How could he not know?”
“We seek the text.”
“Only the text.”
Bill sheltered himself with his arms during the cascade of whispering voices.
In an instant, they stopped.
“We will search. And if it is here, we will find it.”
The creature wasted no time. It flew around the house like a puff of black smoke. The sound of a whipping tornado blew out light fixtures and glass panels. It went upstairs.
Bill got up from the floor and chased after him.
The demon flipped furniture without effort. Glass shattered in every room it entered and the wallpaper looked as if the creature’s presence alone caused it to rot. It flowed past Bill.
Bill slammed against the wall and slid down to the floor. He sat there and caressed his left shoulder.
The creature returned to Bill after more searches. “It has been found.”
“What—” Bill watched the creature flee his house without further conversation. He picked himself up and locked the door. His first instinct was to check on Tommy.
Bill ran upstairs. His heart sank.
The door to Tommy’s room stood wide open. To his surprise, when he entered the room, it was exactly how he left it. Tommy was asleep. The windows remained untouched as did the bed and the stuffed animals. He sighed with relief and went to the door.
Tommy sat up slowly and looked at his dad, rubbing his eyes. “Dad? Is that you?”
Bill rushed to his son’s side. “Of course. Are you alright?”
“I had a scary dream.”
“Oh, Tommy.” Bill hugged his son like if he let go, he’d disappear.
“Can you read me that story now?”
“Sure thing, pal.” Bill ruffled his son’s hair. He limped to the bookshelf. Bill was wrong.
The whole room was not how he left it. The little red book was gone.
Bio: Dominic Tramontana is a published writer, video game writer, and poet. He
writes constantly and lives by the privilege of learning the art of
storytelling. He can be found at his website HERE. Dominic has also published the flash fiction story, “Plasma‘ on The Yard: Crime Blog