Outside Your Window

(This is the start of Claire's story. The rest may be found under this tag)


Claire pulls her blankets tighter, burrows a bit deeper into her bed's comforting warmth.


She pointedly turns her back on the window.


Her patience breaks.

"Will you stop already?! I'm trying to sleep here!"

The glare she directs at the darkness outside her window could power her entire town, if it were ever properly harnessed. It is her most powerful weapon, and it frustrates her to no end that the darkness appears to be immune to it (as are her teachers, classmates, and parents).


She's had enough.

Her room's window is four steps away from her bed: a distance too short for doubt to creep in to her thoughts and just long enough for the cold autumn air to begin prickling her bare legs. The furnace hasn't kicked on yet, maybe won't for weeks—

Claire's hands aren't steady on the window. She's too angry for that, and the glass shakes in sympathy as she slams it open.


Slowly the darkness turns to regard her from one baleful eye. The pupil is large enough to swallow her, ringed with less than a finger-breadth of silver, and it's only that ring which gives it form enough for her to understand what she's seeing. Doubt swirls against her face; the air outside is hot, humid, floral; as sweet as rot.

"Just let me sleep. Please."

The eye blinks once—slowly, silently, as inevitably as the setting moon. Something presses against the house's wall; not another bonk but something softer, more gentle, more forceful. The house creaks in alarm; a window breaks.

"... please ..."

The darkness—the shape in the darkness, that vast thing—closes its eye and presses up against the house. Claire imagines she can feel it curled up out there, filling the sad little lawn and the forest that's always encroaching on her parents' back yard (not hers; never hers).

After a while she creeps back into bed and falls asleep.

In the morning she'll wake up to the first morning breeze banishing the unnatural heat that fills her room; she'll wake drenched in sweat and peer out the window to see the traces the darkness left behind.

In the morning she'll decide to leave another blank page in her dream diary, and she'll drink orange juice and eat cereal and think about whether she'll need to lie about why she left it blank, and whether anyone would understand if she said that the dreams weren't hers.