She heard it: footsteps in the dark. Fauna Evergreen, age twenty two, was shivering under her blankets in the blackness of her room as she listened to the footsteps draw near. The curtains were drawn and no light was in the room, and instinct told Fauna that she was practically invisible in the blackness. But she did not feel invisible. Her sharp teeth bit her lip, almost drawing blood. Her heart jumped like a deer.
The footsteps had climbed the stairs. Fauna heard a creak with each step they laid. The steps were stealthy, pausing at each doorway. The rug muffled them, but they could still be heard. Closer, closer, then a sudden bump, an ugh. The steps had walked into the hall table. Fauna couldn't help but smile.
But the hall table stood right outside her bedroom, and it was abruptly to late to change her hiding place for a better one. The door eased on back on its hinges, letting in a shaft of soft light. Fauna held her breath, peeked past the bedspread's hem. The maker of the footsteps was carrying a candle, a long white taper taken from the dining table. It's flame cast a quavering circle of orange light. It radiated its glow onto the face of a woman wearing a mask, a gas mask. The silvery goggles reflected the flame as a pair of burning pupils. The canister below them heaved like a horrible snout. At the sight of this monster, Fauna almost screamed. Almost.
The woman stopped in the center of the room. The light grazed the the hatstand, the old television, and the bookshelf. The masked head turned slowly to the window. The woman was not puffing, but the mask made her breath sound like paper on fire. She felt amid the curtains. From beneath the bed Fauna watched, her heart thumping on the floor. When she didn't find her in the drapery, the woman turned and pondered the darkness again.
She didn't need to hear her say, I know you're in here. Three strides you the wardrobe. She threw back it's door with a passion. Fauna nearly shrieked. She wasn't in the wardrobe, but she felt like she was. Now the woman knew she wasn't in the wardrobe. She turned painstakingly, on her toes. The hand that held the candle was spotted with white wax. A haze of candlelight fluttered over a wall. The flames that were the woman's eyes fixed themselves onto the bed. She had no voice, but Fauna heard her say, Come out from under there.
She couldn't bite back the tension any longer, she squeaked. Instantly the intruder dropped to the floor, flinging aside the quilt. The candle sent its rays onto Faunas horrified face. The woman reached out an arm, dotted with wax. The hand closed on Fauna's wrist like a noose.