The Attic.

Mine was in the attic.

It was in the attic of the small home where I grew up and it was above the hallway right outside my room. A small square of drywall in the ceiling could be lifted and slid to the side, revealing the attic within. It lived up there and it watched me. You know what I’m talking about, you understand. I know you do. Maybe yours was under the bed or in the closet, but you did have one. You had a monster. Something that watched you turn out the light and get in your bed and stared at you as you lay there frozen with fear because it knew you would not move, could not move. Even if you managed to move, to scream, to shake, to stutter out what you saw, no one would believe you. Because only you could see it. You were the only one who could see it because you were the only one it wanted.

This is the story of my monster.

I was six years old when I first saw it. It was a July summer and it was hot. I had hopped out of my bed to use the bathroom during the night like I usually did. I liked going pee at night because on hot nights the coolness of the tile floor felt good under my bare feet. It was dark in that bathroom, but not too dark to see thanks to the slivers of moonlight that tricked in from the small window and through the plastic shower curtain. I never turned on the light when I went to the bathroom because we lived in a small house and my Father told me never to turn on the light because it wakes him up and he hates that. My Father yelled a lot, especially when he was tired and I remember him being tired every day and every night. He also told me to sit down when I pee because it’s too loud. He said I could stand up and pee when I was either not in his house, or I was a man.

This small version of me sat quiet as a mouse on that cold toilet seat, buttocks resting on the ceramic, my paltry form so small only the sides of my hips kept me from being swallowed into the plumbing. Then it happened. A feeling of being watched, studied, like the very air itself was poking me. I knew in that instant I wasn’t alone. My breath stopped and the hot night turned cold quick. My eyes widened and my skin rippled. Without thinking, I turned towards the hallway and slowly looked up at the ceiling. The attic tile was there, but I saw something different: an open sliver of darkness where the attic tile had been lifted and slid to one side.

Something was watching, looking at me. In the inky black of that attic, two dark pinkish eyes faded into view and stared right at me. I sucked in a breath and quickly glanced away. I wanted to scream, move, run. But I didn’t. I didn’t dare move. Maybe I chose not to move, or maybe I couldn’t even if I had wanted to. But I do remember feeling that if continued to look away and not meet its gaze, if I just didn’t stare back at it, it wouldn’t notice me. It would leave. It would slide that piece of drywall back into place with one of its black spindly legs and skitter through the splintered eaves of the roof of my small house and hungrily stalk some other prey. Someone else. Some other kid. Dear God, any other child in any another house, just not me. I sat there shivering for what seemed like hours. I didn’t dare make a sound. Then I heard a breathing, a rasping. Something was breathing with an open wet mouth and using nailed hands to inch that ceiling tile open even further. I wondered if it knew I saw it, or if it thought it had the element of surprise and in any instant it would pounce from that attic shadow and rip into me, chew on me, and feast. I felt I was going to die. I was going to die because I knew it had done this before. It was birthed by an endless age of carnivorous instinct and its thirst for flesh had sniffed out Me, a tiny human child. I started to silently cry when my eye caught something fall from the attic above. It was a silvery drip of pale saliva syruping onto the tile floor inches from my left foot and I screamed.