by J. Alexander Greenwood
That was the word. Obsidian. He had read it somewhere. Not ebony, not onyx.
Definitely obsidian. A sharp blackness.
Somehow in his terror Addison thought of that word.
He sat in his leather armchair; the room almost pitch-black save the dull light of the moon. The lamp, on a timer, had switched off. His reading glasses had slipped from his face and jabbed him in a dozing fit, startling him awake.
Adjusting to the darkness, his eyes widened like a ripple in a pond. Just as he was summoning the energy to rise and go to bed he saw the shape in the window. He looked away, then back. There was no denying it. Outlined in his living room window by a halo of moonlight was a silhouette of what looked to be a small man with a round head. It moved slowly, deliberately to the left, then the right. When it moved right it caught the moonlight. Two massive orbs twinkled, like eyes.
The round head turned back to the window and stared into his living room, hell, into him. He felt all the hairs on his arms stand up. Though shrouded in darkness, he still felt the shiny black holes focused on him. He started, as if a spider had crawled across his open palm. Surely it saw him.
Don't move you damn fool. There was a chance that whatever the hell the thing was it did not see him. Its bizarre mineraloid orbs may not observe his slumped form in the beat-up leather chair, a Gore Vidal novel clamped between his knees where it had fallen in his sleep.
He clenched his teeth as a bead of sweat trickled down his forehead. The shape did not move. Addison sat still.
Night terrors. Yes, night terrors, he thought. Pavor nocturnus. He would regain control of his body when he awoke fully and the shape at his window would be gone.
He squeezed his eyes shut and counted to three.
One. It's not really there.
Two. I had a rough week. This is just a manifestation of stress.
Three. It could have been that pork chop on the Hibachi.
His eyes opened, and the shape was gone.
Addison raised his hand to test his lucidity. It rose above the arm of the chair a few centimeters. He blinked, his eyes accustomed to the darkness of the cabin's living room. He saw nothing, just a faint moonbeam unblocked by a shape in the window. He removed the novel from between his knees, placing it gently on the chair's wide arm.
He felt a breeze from the fireplace, the faint ashy smell of last night's blaze in his nostrils. He needed to close that flue, as snow was predicted for tonight and the cabin was already drafty enough, especially when there was no fire.
Addison stood, his joints clicking. He stretched and rolled his head, producing more clicking sounds. Exhaling, he reached for the light switch. He turned it, but it failed to come to life.
The timer. Damned timer needs to be unplugged first.
Addison reached for the large box of long fireplace matches on the mantle, took one out and lit it.
His eyes contracted painfully as the match flared. As he wheeled to find the lamp timer he heard a loud crash outside the cabin, apparently from the wraparound porch.
He dropped the match. It extinguished on the hook rug.
Darkness enveloped him again as his eyes adjusted and looked back to the window. There in the moonlight was the unmistakable obsidian gaze of the shape.
This time, however, it had a companion.
Addison made a split second decision to menace the bizarre voyeurs at his window away with a show of brute force.
The fireplace poker was cold and heavy in his hand. He raised it level with his face, as to show the shapes that he meant business. The shapes did not move. He stood there, transfixed, the poker getting heavier.
A yell strangled in his throat, as if he meant to scare away an alley cat and lost all enthusiasm. He couldn't force the sound out.
Instead he smashed the poker against the fireplace screen. It caved in, crashing with a somewhat satisfying substitute for a scream.
The shapes held their ground.
The moon climbed higher overhead, and the two pair of obsidian orbs were trained on him, even in the darkness. Oh yes, they could see him just fine in the dark; built-in night vision for these chaps. He felt another bead of sweat track down his temple. What did they want? What the hell are they?