Prompts: There is a glass scratching sound on your house's windows and you get up out of bed to check it out. You look toward the windows and don't see anything. All of the sudden the glass breaks and something jumps in! What is it and what do you do next?

Creature

Miranda Smith

I sigh contentedly and lean back into the comfort of my sofa cushions, the soft material moulds around my body, feeling warm and comfortable like a hug. I wrap my fingers around the mug, in which steam is rising, in tight, dizzying spirals, warming my cold face.

It's nice to get in from the cold. The temperature has barely risen above zero since the beginning of October. It's unusual for this time of year, but I'm slowly adapting. In all honesty, I've felt uncomfortable being out on the streets, ever since the news of the escaped tiger reached the news. The thing is most likely rabid by now, with all the rabid dogs and cats that litter the streets and surrounding forests.

I try to feel sad about the poor, beautiful creature that is lost out in the big city, but I remind myself that it is a wild animal, it would hold no mercy if it cornered me in a dark alley. Dark reports have been drifting from the box, each more grim than the last. People have been found all over the town, chests slashed open by what could only be claws and faces ripped to shreds by the gaping maw, a look of abject terror frozen upon whatever is left on their faces, eyes wide open, frozen and unseeing.

I shudder at the mental image and snuggle further into the cushions. I hope they catch that tiger soon, and put it out of its misery. I don't know how much more my nerves can take. The news has just came on, and another person has been killed. My stomach churns as the grim looking newsreader recounts the details. His hands are shaking slightly and it makes me wonder if he's seen the body, another one on the list of countless victims.

I turn the TV off quickly, unable to bear any of the gory details that are being recounted and rise reluctantly from the couch. The absence of the flickering, buzzing light has bathed the house in darkness, leaving only the moonlight to filter through the grimy looking windows, casting a thin corridor of light across the room.

I clutch my thick, knitted blanket around my shoulders and feel my way through the room, which is bathed in a crepuscular light, allowing large, hulking shadows to wrap themselves around the corners of the room. I shudder and quickly dash from the room.

I take a detour to the kitchen to drop of my mug. My gaze falls on the open kitchen window, it is icy cold in here and the curtains are flapping lazily in the breeze. I think I see a shadow flit across the garden but I just shrug it off as paranoia and slam the window shut, feeling instant relief from the biting cold.

The garden is in complete darkness, the trees serve as a backdrop of utter darkness, that is only broken up by the snow that is fluttering softly to the ground. Once more, I think I see a quick, darting shadow flit across the garden, and it immediately sets my heart racing. Swallowing nervously, I shut the curtains and hurry from the cold kitchen.

Despite the coldness of downstairs, upstairs is warm and stuffy, and I am immediately put at ease. There is something about the warmth that calms my nerves.

I waste no time in clambering into bed, and pulling the covers up to my chin. I perform the cursory once over of my bedroom, to be sure that there are no monsters lurking in the shadows waiting to pounce. It's a habit I picked up from childhood, that I haven't grown out of.

Sighing in relief. I close my eyes and let sleep start to take over.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

My eyes shoot open and I squint through the gloom, trying to figure out what is making the noise. There is no noise, but for the apple tree outside tapping against my window in the wind. I laugh to myself and close my eyes again.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.

I open my eyes once more and sit up, frantically scanning the room. I am getting more than a little nervous now, my heart is fluttering uncomfortably as I survey my surroundings. I prick my ears for the direction of the sounds, but there is a silence so dense that I can feel it pressing on my eardrums. I curse myself for my stupidity.

This stupid animal incident is getting away with me. I take a deep, steadying breath and climb out of bed. Almost on autopilot,I pad across the room, my feet sticking to the thin carpet as I head to the window. For some reason, my legs are shaking and my palms are sweating. I reach out a hand and sweep the curtains aside.

For several seconds, all I see is blackness, and my own eyes blinking back at me through the gloom. But then the gloom seems to change, the air shifts as if something large has moved and disturbed the air. Right before me, my own hazel eyes morph into a pair of bright yellow cats eyes, that have a reddish glow to them.

I freeze for several long seconds, trying to comprehend what I am seeing. It's like I am looking out into the dark, and the dark is staring back at me. The scream that I have been preparing to utter dies in my throat as a sort of strangled sob as the window shatters, causing a shower of raining glass and a loud cracking sound that reverberates through the cold night.

A large, heavy weight is on top of me, and I can't breathe. Large, gargantuan paws are pressing on my chest and I can feel the bones cracking under the pressure. I cannot see the beast that holds me, but I just know that it is the wild tiger that has escaped the zoo. This neck of the wood doesn't get a lot of wild animals. They are usually rounded up and released into the mountains.

With a surprising burst of adrenaline and agility, I manage to twist from under the creature and push myself under the bed. I can hear the howling and snarling of the beast as it prowls around my room, the room has suddenly turned icy cold, but it has nothing to do with the hole where my window used to be.

The tiger thumps across the room, its gigantic paws making the floorboards creak loudly. It is making a feral, terrifying sound as it tries to get to me under the bed, and it's taking all of my willpower not to cry out in fear. A paw reaches in and swipes at me, catching my face and causing blood to gush out in torrents.

I cry out in pain and roll away from the paws. Unfortunately, that means I have rolled from the stark safety of the bed and I am now the other side of the beast, more or less exposed. It's only then that I realise that it is not a tiger that I am staring at.

A tiger is not this terrible looking, or ugly. A tiger does not give off the ugly, evil aura that this beast seems to exude. It stands at eight feet tall, its spiked head brushing the ceiling as it looms over me, crouching in my bedroom. It is more a beat than anything.

It is covered in a sparse coating of thick, woolly white fur that reminds me of sheep hide, yet rougher. Unusually elongated arms end in long, curved claws that could rip you to pieces within seconds. My eyes travel up its face, and I have never seen anything so horrifying, so terrible.

It's face is like that of a humans', combined with a monkey's. Evil yellow eyes, slant down towards a large flat, snakelike nose that sniffs the air, as if trying to smell my fear. Long, sharp incisors protrude from the creatures mouth, blood drips slowly from the teeth, causing the overwhelming stench of copper to circulate around my room.

The room is starting to spin, I have lost a lot of blood and I can feel unconsciousness start to take over, but fear is keeping me agile and moving. Adrenaline pumps through my veins and as I stare at this creature, getting ready to pounce, I know what I need to do.

I have to kill it.

The beast snarls and yells and darts forwards, I roll out of the way, over the bed and it crashes into the wall, causing the house to shake and a large, spider web crack to snake its way up the ceiling. The lampshade sways ominously.

A roar of rage erupts from the creatures mouth, and it is so terrible, so agonised, that I pause, fear taking over common sense. My second of weakness has left me vulnerable, and I am suddenly thrown into the opposite wall. My head makes contact with the hard concrete and my leg crunches painfully, causing a spike of pain to shoot up to my hip.

I scream, tears of agony working their way down my cheeks, but resilient nonetheless, I use the wall to pull myself up, trying to ignore the grinding of my bones and the warm, sticky blood, that is trickling down my neck.

The creature almost seems to sneer as it lunges again and I duck and roll, finally appreciating the years of gymnastics that I was forced into by my dad. I never thought that it would come in handy. Its claws get stuck in the wall and it spits and snarls as it tries to free itself.

Using this opportunity, I grab the heavy metal lamp, a prized heirloom left to my by my grandma and smash it over the beasts head. It howls in agony as the heavy steel makes a dent in its skull, blood bursts out as the creature continues to thrash and attempt to free itself from its self made prison. Huge chunks of plaster are raining down from the ceiling and I watch in horror as the beast finally frees itself with a loud, terrible roar, pulling down the corner of the house in a thunderous cacophony of tumbling bricks and debris.

I dive out of the way, just in time for a breeze block to smash into the ground where I just stood, slightly dazed. I land on my bad leg and the room spins for several, agonising seconds. I get my equilibrium back, and stagger to my feet, holding onto the bedpost for support.

The beast has freed itself from the rubble and is advancing towards me. Its eyes speak of an evil that I know not of. This beast, this demon, whatever it is, has done evil, despicable things. It has killed and maimed and injured and taken pleasure in it. I am suddenly angry.

The beast lunges, but I dive out of the way of its massive claws, feeling the air whoosh by my ear. I remember the sawn off shotgun behind the headboard. My ex, James had left it there many years ago after a spate of robberies, in the hopes that I would be able to protect myself. I had shoved it down the back of my bed, never intending to use it. I'd never imagined that I would actually have to use it.

I am thrown onto my back and the beast is pinning me between its prodigious limbs. Its weight presses into my chest, slowly suffocating me. I can't breathe and I can see white spots begin to dance in my vision, reminding me grimly of the dancing hippo's in Fantasia.

My hands are inches away from the cool metal, I can almost taste it underneath my fingertips, but my body won't provide me with the strength to reach out and grasp it in my shaking hands. The beast roars and swipes at my face. Blood pours out, almost hitting the ceiling, the thick, coppery substance blinds me and fills my mouth, making me gag and slowly suffocating me simultaneously.

The pain is unbelievable. It is as if somebody has set my nerves alight, I can feel bone protruding from my face and I know, that if I get out of this alive, I will be permanently disfigured. With a cry of desperation, I reach out and my fingers scrabble against the cool metal of the gun, the beast is attacking at my chest with a desperate frenzy. Skin, flesh and blood are pouring out around me, and I can feel my attentiveness slipping away, as I fumble with the gun.

The creature seems to sense danger, as it stops and peers almost curiously down at me. The claw, which is held high in the air, glints almost greedily in the dim light provided by the moon as I cock the gun and aim it straight for its head. Slowly, with all the strength that I can muster, I pull the trigger, just as the beast brings its claws down for the killer blow.

The beast is blown backwards by the force of the blast. And had I not been laying down, I would have done so too. It hits the opposite wall with a resounding shake and, slides down, reminding me of a serpent slithering over a concrete floor. I clutch at my bed and pull myself unsteadily up, slowly, with my heart rapidly fiering, I peer at the creature.

It is evident right away that it is dead. Its head lolls at a funny angle on its shoulders and the yellow cats eyes are blank, glassed over by the throes of death. Blood fans out across the wall like some obscure art piece and I can see the thick, spongy material that is spread out like thick globs of jelly around the creature.

I smile to myself and let myself drop to the floor once more.

"I did it." I whisper and close my eyes...

I sit up with a gasp, my heart is racing in my chest and my stomach feels as if I have just gotten off of a funfair ride. I look around the room and see no damage. Almost imperceptibly, I sigh in relief. It was just a dream. A horribly vivid and realistic dream. But still, just a dream.

Smiling slightly to myself. I set back against the pillows and close my eyes.

Scratch, scratch, scratch.