Mist spread across the window then retreated again as the deer inhaled. Lance had never seen a deer up close before – a live one anyway. He was transfixed by its presence, a disorienting sense of awe creeping over his skin like gooseflesh. He propped himself up on his elbows seeking to gain a better vantage without spooking the creature.

Balancing on one arm, he reached the other up to rub his stinging, and probably bloodshot, eyes. He wasn’t used to sleeping at night, but he needed to be well-rested for the funeral tomorrow morning. After managing to stay up all day, this unexpected intruder had awoken him after the briefest of sleeps.

The deer shifted its head back and forth, as if trying to rid itself of a bothersome fly. Lance squinted but he could make out nothing in the surrounding darkness except the vague silhouettes of antlers. A tongue flickered up, licking the nose that rested hardly an inch away from the glass. The deer’s mouth began opening and closing repetitively; Lance sat up a little more to see what it was chewing.

There didn’t appear to be anything in the creature’s mouth, but the movement continued. As he watched he thought it seemed more a gesture of discomfort than eating. Was that foam at the corner of its mouth? Could a deer contract rabies? That might explain its bold presence in the middle of the city.

The deer’s jaw sagged now, enough that Lance could see its teeth and tongue. It opened its mouth further still and Lance struggled to comprehend the next moments, his tired brain striving for a familiar narrative that might explain the deer’s behaviour. For an excuse to disbelieve what his eyes were telling him.

The deer’s mouth continued to open. It became snake-like in its flexibility, as if it were trying to engulf the entire window in its maw. And still it continued to stretch.

There was a crack.

Lance jumped, startled, but unable to drag himself away from the incomprehensible image before him.

There were more cracks and pops as the deer’s jaws separated. The tongue lolled like useless meat, hanging loosely over air as the lower mandible inverted toward the beast’s neck. Lance’s brain was catching up now, if not in understanding of the situation then at least in the knowledge that this was an unknown and unknown meant danger.

He threw the blankets from him and began to rise from the bed, still unable to muster the urgency for flight. There was something else that he needed to see. A detail that he had to clarify in the dark impossibility of the shape on the other side of the glass.

Something was rising from the deer’s throat. The deer’s body shivered and its neck pitched as if it would vomit through the open hole of its throat. Something was rising. Emerging. There was a black slickness – blood – and under it something Lance recognized. Something every human’s brain seeks from the moment of birth. A face. A human face. Birthed from the beast with eyes open, their whites stark amidst the darkness.

Lance finally found the momentum to flee. He ran from the bed, slamming the bedroom door closed behind him. He glanced at the front door but it felt as ominous as the bedroom; he had no idea what could be waiting for him out there in the night. A shadow moved by the living room window. He spun in a circle, finally settling on the small bathroom to his right.

He locked the door behind him. There were no windows in here. No points of entry. He slunk to the cold porcelain floor wishing he had thought to grab his cell phone before leaving the bedroom. Who did you call when something like this happened anyway? The police? He shivered on the floor, naked except for his boxers. He refused to turn on the light, to reveal himself in any way. Sleep overcame him in waves – he would wake from discomfort and sudden panic only to pass out again as the adrenaline wore off.

In his bleary episodes of wakefulness he became disoriented, unsure of the line between dream and consciousness. In the lightless cell of his bathroom it was impossible to tell how much time had passed. He would reach for the door knob until some noise or premonitory sense made him fling his hand away again. Finally there came a time when sleep refused to take him. When he remained awake long enough for fear to exhaust itself into boredom and doubt.

He reached for the knob and this time he did not flinch. When he opened the door he could see lines of sunlight leaking past the closed curtains in his living room. He wasn’t sure how he knew daylight meant the thing was gone, but some animalistic part of his brain told him it must be so.

He dragged his stiff and tired body throughout each room of his small house, but nothing seemed amiss. He left the bedroom for last. Inside everything was exactly where he expected it. Though he could vaguely remember the sounds of footsteps and breathing outside the bathroom door, he attributed them to dreams. Nothing had entered the house last night.

Before he left the room he walked up to the window across from his bed. He looked out onto his wooden porch and leaned down to examine the glass. There was nothing there. No trace. Lance shook his head and looked to the clock. Today was going to be a long day.

In his black suit with eyes downcast, Lance looked like any of the other mourners. Even his bloodshot eyes and dishevelled hair were not so out of place here. No one mentioned anything out of the ordinary as they came to give their condolences for his uncle’s passing. No one except Micah.

“You’re not doing too good, huh?” he whispered in Lance’s ear as he sidled up next to him.

“Rough night,” Lance said, trying not to think about the vision that had kept him from his bed, “They’ve got me on nights. I’m usually sleeping around now.”

Micah ignored his explanation, “You were always close with Uncle Bern.”

“Yeah,” Lance answered, turning his attention to another distant relative who had stopped to express his sympathies.

“Guess he lived a long life. Makes you think about Noah though,” Micah paused, not hiding his inquisitive look, “You think about him lately? Sometimes I still can’t sleep, thinking about it.”

Lance felt a strange wave of nausea rise from the depths of his stomach. He turned to his cousin, his eyebrows descending over the wide bridge of his nose. Noah? His head felt full. A dull ache grew behind his eyes, as if his skull was stuffed so tight that there was no room for them. Closing his eyes and massaging them with this thumb and forefinger he tried to remember.

Noah had been Uncle Bern’s son and Lance’s cousin. They had been good friends, and because Lance’s parents were so often away on business or vacations, Lance had spent many summers living with him. He recalled Noah’s death but the emotions that he knew should accompany the memory felt distant. Diffused. It had been a long time ago.

Lance shrugged, “Haven’t thought about it in a while. We were kids.”

Micah’s expression was discriminating, his lips pursed as Lance greeted new mourners. When they moved on he said, “You’re really not okay, are you?”

Lance looked up in surprise, “Why?”

“You watched it happen, Lance. I only saw the aftermath but man… you watched him go under. You saw the tractor…” Micah couldn’t continue, his shoulders rising with the deep breaths that followed.

Had he seen it? Lance tried to remember. Again he could recall the details, but it felt impersonal – like watching a film. Maybe it was the shock of witnessing it, revived by his Uncle’s sudden heart attack. Was that why his nightmares had been so gruesome? So real? He looked at his black shoes, at the scuff on the right one that he hadn’t had time to shine. He rubbed at it with his left shoe, only serving to elongate it.

“Louise is at her mom’s this week. Why don’t you come over tonight?”

Lance looked up. Micah’s mouth was raised in a weak half-smile. After Noah died when Lance was seven, he had stayed with Micah’s family whenever his parents went away. After all this time there was still no one who knew him better than Micah.

“Come on. It’s been a while. Lucy misses you.”

Lance nodded and though the gesture felt slow and reluctant, he was desperately grateful that he wouldn’t need to sleep in his own bed tonight.

He arrived at Micah’s house at sunset, an overnight bag in one hand and a six pack of Labatt’s in the other. He rang the doorbell with his elbow.

Micah opened the door but was quickly shoved aside by Lucy. She pounced on Lance, making him drop his bag. Thankfully he held tight to the beer and managed not to fall over completely under the weight of the massive Great Dane. She licked his face frantically.

“Lucy!” Micah called to her, “Lucy get off of him. You’re going to kill him.”

She removed her long legs from Lance’s shoulder but skittered about at his feet, her tail wagging like a puppy’s. Lance petted her head before reaching for his bag. Lucy snatched it up first and bounded into the house.

“Lucy!” Micah called after her, “Idiot dog.”

“It’s alright,” Lance smiled. Micah had gotten Lucy as a puppy almost a decade ago and Lance was used to her antics. They were familiar, predictable, and therefore a great comfort to him despite the chaos they caused.

Once the bag was tracked down, stolen again, and finally taken away from the dog’s playful reach, the men settled down in the living room. They ordered pizza, drank the beers, and turned on the television without really watching it. Mostly they reminisced and filled in the gaps growing up had left in its wake.

“Nights must be hard,” Micah commented, getting up to fetch another beer from the fridge.

“Haven’t you trained Lucy to do that for you yet?” Lance joked. He thought for a minute about his job, the boring machine work he had resigned himself to for years. “It’s not that bad. You get used to it after a while. Everything is open late now, so I don’t even bothering switching it up on weekends. It makes you feel kinda special really. Like you’re a vampire or some shit.”

“You’ve always been a weirdo,” Micah said, sitting in the arm chair and fighting Lucy off of his lap. She resigned herself to lying on the couch beside Lance instead, resting her heavy brown head on his lap. He petted her as he thought.

“Maybe I am. I saw something last night Micah. Like a hallucination or something.” He took a drink of his beer, telling himself that one more sip would somehow make the story easier to tell. “I was trying to sleep but I couldn’t. I’m sure I was awake. And there was this deer at my window.”

“Your bedroom window?”

“Yeah, man. Like just watching me from out there.” Lance stared at Micah as he spoke, focused on the man’s olive skin. On the blemishes and acne scars on his cheeks. On the stubble already growing on his newly shaven chin. He obsessed over every detail to prevent him from remembering that scene.

“I didn’t even know deer came that far into the city.”

“I don’t think they do. I mean, it wasn’t a deer. Or it was, but then it changed. Or something came out of it,” he couldn’t help himself now. His eyes were trained on Micah’s face but he could no longer see the scars or skin or hair. He could only see the deer and its misty breath on the window.

“What came out of it?” Micah sat on the edge of his arm chair, his beer forgotten in his right hand.

“A person.”

Micah’s laugh broke Lance’s trance, but he couldn’t laugh along with him. He tried to smile, but it died on his lips.

“You’re shitting me, man.” Micah continued to laugh, “You had me going though.”

“I’m not joking Micah.”

“Seriously?” his laughter subsided, but occasionally bubbled up in between his words, “A person. You… you really think… like were they in a costume?”

“No. Micah, I told you. I don’t know if it was real, but it felt real. There was blood and… I could hear the thing’s bones cracking. Maybe it was a ghost or something. Or maybe I’m nuts.”

Micah’s expression was suddenly sober, his frown deep as he looked at Lance. “Did you ever see anyone? After Noah died?”

Lance waved the thought away, but he couldn’t quite ignore the nausea that stole over him once more.

“No, I mean it. I did. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. His hand sticking out of the blades and… and Uncle Bern crying. We were just kids. I still dream about it sometimes. Don’t you? I mean, the timing seems a little convenient. Uncle Bern just died and now you’re seeing this shit.”

Lance thought about it. He hadn’t dreamed about Noah’s death. Something about that seemed wrong. Incongruent. From the time he was a small child he had always been a vivid dreamer. Especially about anything that scared him. He shook his head, not sure what to think.

“Will you call someone? A therapist or something. It’d make me feel better. I can give you the number for the woman I saw, if you want.”

Lance nodded. He wasn’t ready to make a decision, but he would at least ease Micah’s concerns.

They both went to bed shortly afterwards when Lance could barely hold his eyes open. He slept on a pull-out bed in the basement. Before he lay down on the hard springs of the mattress, he dragged his exhausted body around the room, shoving blankets and pillows in the two small windows near the ceiling. Then he dropped onto the bed and quickly fell asleep.

Lucy woke him not long afterward. She was whimpering.

“Go back upstairs Lucy,” he moaned, rolling over and placing a pillow over his face so she couldn’t lick him. She continued to whimper. He turned and looked at her, confused by her reluctance to simply climb on top of him. She’d done it many times before.

She sat with her head tilted to the left side. Every now and again she shook her head slightly, the tags on her thick collar jingling loudly. She began scratching her left ear.

“What’s wrong girl?” he asked, reaching his hand down to help her scratch. He snatched his hand back when he felt something warm and wet. It was hard to tell the colour of the smears on his fingertips, but he knew they were blood. “Wait here girl.”

He walked to the light switch and turned it on. The light was dim, hardly better than the near-darkness it replaced. Lance cursed, reminding himself to let Micah know to change the bulb. He knelt down, face to face with the distressed dog. He reached for the injured ear again. Something moved there, and he leaned in closer to discern the shape amidst the blood.

He fell backwards as it touched him. Lucy began tilting her head the other way, scratching at her right ear this time. He could see them emerging now. Human fingers, wriggling out from the flap of her ear.

“Micah! MICAH!!” Lance shouted. He heard no reply.

Lucy whimpered, her eyes fluttering as hands followed the fingers. She began to stand on her hind legs, up, taller than Lance. Her mouth began to open. Arms spread out from behind the hands which were now reaching to hasten the stretch of her jaws.

Lucy, or what had been Lucy, stood between Lance and the stairs. He heard the crack of bones and his body moved involuntarily, forcing him to flee now. His brain eventually caught up to his legs, hastening them toward the stairs before whatever-it-was had eyes to see. He tried not to think of the pop and crack below him, of whether he was hallucinating or not. None of it mattered. Right now he had to escape.

He opened the basement door, slamming it behind him. His eyes flew to the back door but he willed his body to the left.

“Micah!” he continued to call.

There were footsteps on the basement stairs, but he continued on. He ran up another staircase, to the second floor. He found Micah’s door as he heard the basement one fly open. He stumbled with the handle, falling inwards as it finally opened.

“Lance, what the hell!?” Micah shouted, sitting up in bed.

“We have to go, come on!” Lance grabbed him and pulled, but something made him pause. Two large brown eyes looked at him from the other side of the bed. Lucy lifted an inquisitive head, tilting it in a gross replication of what he had witnessed downstairs. Lance dove backwards, pushed himself up against the wall.

“What is wrong with you!?” Micah shouted again, reaching to turn on the bedside light. This bulb burned strong, purifying the room of all darkness.

“Lucy. She was downstairs with me. She was bleeding. Th-th… there were hands…”

“Lucy’s been here all night. I only went to bed maybe an hour ago,” Micah rubbed his eyes with his wrist and inhaled, seeking patience as much as oxygen, “You had a bad dream.”

“No. Micah, I…” The light had banished some of his panic, but he was still certain. There was something downstairs. Something was coming for them. He whimpered at the creak of the bed as Micah stood.

“Come on Lucy,” he said, and the two of them trotted past Lance and through the bedroom door.

Lance wanted to remain, uselessly hidden against the wall, but he was more afraid of not knowing what was happening. He anticipated a scream from Micah, a bark from Lucy, and he would rather witness than wait. He pushed himself to his feet but continued to use the wall for support because his knees seemed about to buckle.

He followed Micah this way, through every room of the house. Again, nothing was out of place. They came to the basement door. Lance could feel tears coursing down his cheeks.

“Micah… don’t.” He grabbed his cousin’s white t-shirt, but his grip was still weak with fear and Micah easily pulled away. Lucy followed him downstairs. Lance did wait this time. One breath. Two. Three. Silence. He gritted his teeth and forced himself down the stairs. The light here was dim, filtering from the kitchen above, but he could see a brighter light coming from the room ahead.

“That’s impossible,” he whispered.

“It was a dream,” Micah repeated, gesturing at the untouched room around him. The light was bright here – there was no dim bulb, no evidence of any intrusion, and no blood. Lucy sat placidly, undisturbed by any presence – human or otherwise.

“But… no. No!” He was shouting and Micah gestured at him to lower his voice. Lance hardly noticed, “It wasn’t a dream Micah! It wasn’t. I saw it, I touched it. He looked down at his fingertips before sinking to his knees. He raised them up so Micah could see.

“There’s no way,” Micah shook his head, staring at the almost-black streaks of dried blood, “It’s yours. You cut yourself running around the house in the dark. Something.”

Lance shook his head this time. He didn’t even bother looking for a wound.

“But Lucy!” Micah objected, “Look at her. She’s fine.”

“Maybe it wasn’t her. Maybe it just looked like her. Pretended to be her.”

“Then where’s the rest of the fucking blood!?” There was anger in Micah’s voice now, and Lance flinched at it. He didn’t have an answer to give. He looked around frantically, trying to make any sense of the past two nights.

“The light was wrong when I was down here.”

“Dream,” Micah said.

Lance ignored him, “The dog wasn’t Lucy, and the real Lucy didn’t notice anything wrong. You didn’t hear me scream.”


“There was blood. It must have fallen on the floor, but there’s nothing. Except on my hands. On me.”

“It was a dream, Lance. Or a hallucination. Either way, that’s it. We’re taking you to the hospital,” Micah ran his hand through his hair and then through his dog’s fur. Lucy looked back and forth between them.

“It’s like I was the only thing in common. Like you and Lucy weren’t even here,” Lance felt the pieces coming together in a way that was perhaps only possible in his extreme state of fatigue. They felt right nonetheless. “It’s like I was in a different place entirely. Like I was inside a dream.”

Micah laughed this time. It was a violent sound, full of anger and frustration. It pierced the quiet brightness like a gunshot. “You’re nuts, man.”

There were so many holes in this explanation, so many questions, but Lance clung to it like a lifeline. It couldn’t be a hallucination. His memories were too clear, too persistent.

“Look, either I’m taking you to the hospital or I’m going back to bed.”

Maybe he should see a doctor, Lance thought, but then he imagined the room. What if they put him on lockdown? What if he was trapped and it happened again. No. But what could he do? Waking Micah had seemed to help, had pulled him out of… wherever he had been. People, he had to be around people. Micah was one person and he wasn’t sure he could convince him to stay close. Not if he didn’t believe. Lance ran upstairs, searching for a clock.

1:37 am. There were still a couple of buses running. If he could get on one, get to somewhere with people. A bar. A 24 hour pharmacy or grocery store. Anything.

“Micah, please. Do me one favour and I’ll be out of your hair. I swear I’ll get help, but not tonight. Please. Not tonight.”

Micah dropped Lance off at the stop down the road, waiting in his van with Lucy until the bright head lights of the city bus approached. He drove off then, revving his engine loudly and refusing to acknowledge Lance’s presence. Lance was too tired to care. It was a problem for the daytime. For safety.

The bus pulled up in front of him and opened its doors. Lance climbed on, appraising his environment. The lights were bright and comforting. There were four or five others on board near the back, most dressed in the fashion of their profession – scrubs or steel-toed boots. One couple seemed to be on their way home after a night out, their conversation loud and slurred.

This would work.

He looked up to the driver as he inserted his ticket into the machine. The man was familiar, a regular driver on the route Lance took to work. He was hard to forget – younger than most of the other drivers with a constant scowl and tattoos that snaked over his forearms and up his neck. He scowled more than usual tonight as Lance took a seat not far from him.

As they drove, Lance tried to think of a destination. If he stayed on too long he might seem suspicious to the driver, or worse, be forced off at a stop away from any likely havens. Doubt interjected his thoughts, making him question his conclusions, reminding him that he had essentially invented the entire theory out of sheer exhaustion and adrenaline. Eventually his eyes closed, his thoughts and doubts swirling into oblivion.

When the driver woke him some time later, no one else was on the bus. They were pulled over on the side of a highway in a large lot with a long, glass shelter. The end of the route.

“Y’alright?” the driver asked, leaning down to peer into Lance’s face.

Lance nodded, sitting upright and wiping the drool from his lip onto the sleeve of his jacket.

“I’ll be heading out again in about ten minutes. That’s the last run for tonight though, so you better let me know where you want off.” His tone was terse, but not quite impatient. He walked back to his seat and opened the door to let in the cool night air. He sat sideways in his driver’s seat and began digging through a backpack on his lap.

“Thanks,” Lance said. He was awake enough now to feel awkward, imagining how he must look to an outsider. Unsure whether he was anything different than what people must assume him to be.

The man shrugged, pulling out a bottle of pills and downing two. He put the backpack away in a compartment behind him where he retrieved a pack of cigarettes and then fished a lighter out of his pocket. He lit the cigarette, ignoring the sign above his head that prohibited his riders from doing the same.

“I know,” he said, though Lance hadn’t spoken, “Bad habit.”

“Not my business,” Lance answered, certain he was in no position to judge this man.

“I get headaches. They say it’s stress. Only thing that seems to help them.” He took a long drag and exhaled in the direction of the doors. “I swear though, whenever I smoke I have the weirdest dreams. You ever have weird dreams?”

Lance grimaced, his muscles tensing in anticipation of another strange episode, but the man continued to stare out into the night. There were no signs of anything sinister about him. “Yeah. A lot lately.”

The driver looked at him then, chewing on the corner of his lip. “ ’Bout what?”

What the hell, Lance figured. “Humans coming out of animals.”

The driver raised an eyebrow. “How come?”

“What?” Lance hadn’t tried to make sense of what he had seen – the episodes seemed so devoid of any kind of logic or coherence.

“Well they say dreams mean things, right? Something about our brains processing old memories. You ever have dreams like that before?”

“Yeah,” Lance realized, “Yeah, you know… when I was a kid. My uncle was a taxidermist. I stayed with him a lot, hung around his shop. I always had these dreams that I was trapped inside of the animals. That I had somehow been stuffed inside of one of them and no one knew I was there.”

It seemed so obvious now, he wasn’t sure how he had failed to remember. His stomach tightened and the familiar sense of nausea returned. His head felt foggy again, like there was something concealed under a large cloud that he just couldn’t budge.

“Any reason you’ve been thinking of that again?” The driver was looking away, but Lance could see him glancing in the rear view mirror occasionally, as if assessing Lance’s reactions.

“My uncle died.”

“Hmm,” was all the driver said.


“Dunno. Were you that scared of your uncle being a taxidermist?”

Lance thought back to the animals, rigid and not-quite-lifelike. They had been slightly grotesque but as a kid that only made them seem cool. He couldn’t remember feeling any particular fear about them. Bile burned his throat, but he swallowed it down. “Guess I must have been.”

The driver’s brows furrowed, but he continued smoking in silence.

“What do you dream about?” Lance asked.


Lance chuckled a little, but covered it with a cough. He must be tired, he realized, to laugh at someone else’s nightmares after what he’d been through. But the answer had seemed so childish coming from such an intimidating man. “Ghosts?”

He nodded. “They seem so real sometimes, but I’ve learned to move past them.”


“Accept them.  Meet them without fear. It’s the only way to reshape our dreams. Otherwise they consume us.”

“The ghosts?”

“The dreams.” He threw the small stub of a cigarette out the door then, closing it before starting the engine.

There were fewer riders this time and the driver remained silent. They passed grocery stores and bars and pharmacies, but Lance didn’t pull the cord. He thought about what the man had said. He asked to be let off a block from his house.

“You should get off nights,” the driver said as Lance stepped off, “Not good for your health.”

“Yeah,” Lance said, “I think I’ll do that.”

He took a couple of steps on the cracked sidewalk. He looked back to see the driver still staring at him, and he thought for a moment that he saw him wince as if in pain. The doors remained open until Lance had walked the entire length of the bus, though no other passengers disembarked.

The deer was waiting for him, just inside his front door. Lance’s heart raced, but he stood his ground. He watched in morbid fascination as its maw stretched once more, a head emerging from its distended throat.

He wasn’t surprised by the face or its mirror-like resemblance to his own under all of the blood and saliva. This was him. This was his fear. It was over.

Lance reached over and flicked the light switch. The hall light shone brightly and the other him flinched. A muscle twitched in his cheek. Lance blinked and the hall was empty.

“Uncle Bern is dead. I was afraid, but I’m not anymore. Have a good night.”

Lance turned then, walking away to his bedroom. His legs shook and there was fear in him, but it was an old fear and faded quickly. As his hand reached for door knob he buckled over, clasping his heaving stomach. He felt muddled, disoriented. An image rose from within the haze. A hand. A human hand glimpsed from the window of his uncle’s workshop.

With that one image it was as if the cloud suddenly shifted, leaving what was underneath exposed like a full moon in a clear midnight sky. He remembered sitting in a truck while Uncle Bern went into the bank. Remembered the girth of his wallet. Remembered a fearful kind of confusion when his uncle left him alone in the truck again to visit the funeral home. Arrangements, he had said, but Noah’s funeral had already taken place hadn’t it?

A door, slamming in the middle of the night. The creak of the stairs as Lance had slipped down to see what was happening. His desperate wish that his parents had returned to take him away from this nightmare. To be away from the place where his best friend had died.

The light from his uncle’s workshop. An unfamiliar chemical smell laced with a touch of rot. The large buck looming in the corner, the one Uncle Bern had saved for himself. The one he was preparing for the living room. And the small hand that he held in his large, calloused ones. The face. Noah’s face. Eyeless and dead. Flecked with his father’s tears as he prepared him. As he concealed him inside the deer, closer than the cold and empty grave would ever be.

A cracking sound tore Lance from the past to the present. He wondered when the lights had dimmed. He turned and faced himself. The deer skin lay discarded by the front door. He watched his mouth open and simultaneously felt the motion of it. In a duality only possible in dreams he both watched and was the man standing in front of him.

He felt his jaw unhinge, felt his ribs snap and expand. Felt the hands rise in his throat and saw them emerge from the mouth that was and wasn’t his. Small hands. The hands of a child. Any hope he had of screaming was long past, and any chance of being heard gone with the ever-dimming lights.

He watched and felt himself be shed like an outgrown skin, though the being that emerged was smaller than he. A familiar eyeless face stared out and how Lance still watched he couldn’t be sure. Surely he must be dead. As dead as the limp skin strewn across the floor. The skin that was and wasn’t his.

The boy smiled and walked away, leaving Lance behind. He remained, a silent witness, as the light evaporated like the morning dew, enveloped by the empty dark of the infinite night.