The Hooded Figure Outside my House
by Kenneth Stevens
It was a little over a year ago when I first heard about the meteor shower that was supposed to start around two o'clock in the morning. I was really excited about it and had planned to set an alarm and go to sleep first, but then I started worrying that I would be too tired to wake up, so I decided to stay up instead. I spent the time reading articles about the meteor shower on my phone and finding out where in the sky to look. The forecast predicted a hundred to two hundred meteors an hour, so I was really looking forward to it.
As it approached two in the morning, I quietly got out of bed so as not to wake up my wife of fifteen happily married years, and made my way outside onto the deck. The sky was perfect for viewing. There were no clouds, and the brightness of the moon didn't overpower the tiny stars in the early morning sky. I pulled up a chair and leaned back, staring up at the sky. After just ten minutes, a bright line moved across the sky, and I hoped it would be the first of many shooting stars. But nearly an hour went by, and there was no more activity. My house was partially blocking my view, so I unlocked the gate of the fence surrounding my deck and walked around to my driveway. The silence of the night was broken by the creak of the hinges and the clang of the gate as it closed behind me.
As I scanned the star-filled sky for movement, a faint crackling sound behind me caught my attention. I assumed it was a opossum or raccoon and continued watching the sky. More time passed, and it became clear the shower was a bust as I had still only seen one meteor. At least I was enjoying the warm summer air and beautiful star-filled sky. However, this enjoyment was cut short by the loud snapping of a stick coming from the back of my yard. I quickly turned around and caught a slight movement about forty feet away, just beyond the small grouping of trees in the middle of my yard. The movement stopped when I fully turned around. My eyes had grown accustomed to the dark, but it was still difficult to make out the details of what I was seeing. What I could see was a dark human-shaped silhouette with arms hanging limply at its side and wearing what appeared to be a hooded black robe. The face was shrouded in darkness, and it made no movement whatsoever as I stared at it. Goosebumps formed on my bare arms and legs, and the warm summer night suddenly felt twenty degrees cooler.
I ran up the stairs to my deck and quickly locked the gate. I looked back to where the figure was standing, and it raised its arm and pointed at me. The moonlight cast an eerie glow on it, and I caught the semblance of a smile on its pale face just before it vanished into nothing.
Although I convinced myself that it was just my imagination running wild from a lack of sleep, I was uneasy walking through the dark silent house toward my bedroom. Shadows danced from the dim light of my phone, and the floor creaked and groaned with every step I took. My heart was pounding in my chest as I opened the bedroom door, expecting the figure to be waiting for me on the other side. But there was nothing but the dark room and my wife's soft breathing. I climbed back into bed, and sleep quickly overtook me.
I started having a dream that I was in a dark room hearing voices all around me. Shadowy figures encircled me, grunting and growling as they moved around. My body tensed up in fear. Dark urges flowed through me. Anger replaced fear, and my hands balled up into fists. Then I reached for the figure closest to me, grabbed its neck and started squeezing. I could feel the figure turning toward me, but it didn't put up a fight. As I tightened my grip, the figure let out a scream that grew louder and louder until the room began to fade away.
Suddenly, I was brought back to reality by my wife's gasping breath and wide eyes. I had been squeezing her neck in my sleep, and she fell back onto the bed, coughing and struggling to catch her breath. I apologized repeatedly and told her about my dream, but the worst part was what she said next. She told me that I had been twitching violently in my sleep and that I had been grinning madly with my eyes wide open when I grabbed her neck. Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep the rest of that night.
A few weeks passed, and everything seemed fine. We chalked it up to a crazy nightmare and hoped that nothing like that would ever happen again. But then, one night as I was closing the blinds in our second-floor bedroom, I caught a flash of movement out of the corner of my eye. I turned to see the figure in black standing on our deck, looking up at me. Its face was like mine, but scarred and pale, with a bloodshot gaze that seemed to pierce through me. It turned its head to the left, exposing the scar on its right cheek, and then jerked it back to me, flashing a toothy smile before fading into the night.
I tried to play it cool when my wife entered the room, but she could tell that something was off. She asked me if I was feeling okay, and I told her that I was just tired and needed to get some rest. But I lay awake for hours, unable to shake the feeling that something was watching me.
When I woke up the next morning, I was drenched in what I thought was sweat. There was a piercing pain in the right side of my face and when I looked down at my hands, I saw that my fingernails were caked with blood. I ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror to see a jagged cut across my right cheek. My wife took me to the hospital and I ended up getting eight stitches. The doctor said that there would likely be a scar, but I told him that it was from broken glass to avoid being committed.
On the drive back home, I confided in my wife about the figure, but she didn't seem to believe me. Eventually, she convinced me to see a neurologist, who ran tests and scans of my brain, but nothing out of the ordinary was found. Still, the large scar on my cheek was a constant reminder that something was terribly wrong.
For months, I didn't see the figure again. But it was always on my mind, and I was constantly on edge, especially at night. Then, one night, my wife woke me up and asked me to get her a glass of water. I groggily agreed and made my way down the stairs, but as I reached the landing, the nightlight flickered and went out. I continued down the stairs in darkness, relying on my memory of the layout. The loud creak told me that I had reached the last step.
The moonlight peeking in through the kitchen windows provided just enough illumination for me to make my way through the living room and into the kitchen. My throat felt parched, so I had a quick glass of water before filling one up for my wife. As I turned around, a familiar creaking sound stopped me dead in my tracks. I shuddered as chills ran down my spine.
"Honey, are you there?" I called out. But there was no response. "Hello?" I tried again, my voice trembling.
Silence lingered in the air as I stood motionless, my heart pounding in my chest. Then I heard faint footsteps nearby, possibly coming from the dining room. The hair on my arms and legs stood up as the sound grew louder. I walked over to the wall and flipped on the light switch, but nothing happened. Suddenly, the pace of the footsteps quickened, and it sounded like they stopped right behind me.
I was frozen in fear, unable to move. Seconds felt like hours as I heard no more sounds. Then, I felt it. The warm breath on the back of my neck. I tried to scream, but no sound came out. I closed my eyes tightly and waited for my fate to be sealed.
After about a minute of nothing happening, I gathered the courage to open my eyes. The brightness of the living room lights temporarily blinded me, but as my vision cleared, I saw a blurred figure rushing toward me. In a panic, I threw the water cup at it, causing my wife to exclaim, "What the hell?"
She wiped the cold water from her face and explained that she had come down to see what was taking me so long. After I told her about the noises and the breath on my neck, we searched the entire house, turning on all the lights and making sure all doors and windows were locked. We found no sign of any intruder.
The next few days felt like a blur, as every sound caused me to jump and shake. I spent nights lying in bed, covers pulled tightly over my head. My wife did her best to comfort me, but it wasn't enough. I began taking sleeping pills to make it through the night, and I refrained from looking out the window after sunset.
After a few months of taking the pills and having no more sightings of the figure, I began to feel more like myself again. I stopped taking the pills and slept soundly with uneventful dreams. But that all changed last night.
As I woke up to the sun shining through the open blinds, I realized that I must have forgotten to close them last night. My body ached, and I felt exhausted, even though I had slept all through the night. I shielded my eyes from the sun as the memory of last night's dream slowly came into focus.
In the dream, I was outside, walking hunched over with the moon and stars illuminating the ground beneath my feet. I heard footsteps behind me, but I saw no one around. The memories of the dream were fading in and out. Soft ground under my bare toes. Trees all around me. A shovel. Rocks and dirt. Digging. A scream. Blood.
I pulled the covers off and saw that my feet were muddy. Dirt and dried blood were all over my hands and underneath my fingernails. I called out to my wife, but there was no response. I ran through the house calling for her, but she was nowhere to be found. Her car was still in the garage, and her keys and purse were on the counter. As I stared at my pale scared face in the mirror, I told myself that she must have gone for a walk or was picked up by a friend.