Jared stared at the stream of blinking notifications on his phone. They all said the same thing. ‘Look at the sky’. ‘The sky is beautiful tonight, isn’t it?’. ‘Hey, have you seen the sky tonight?’. Hundreds of these had appeared in the last ten minutes. Jared had considered doing what the messages said after he finished his TV episode, but it was getting a bit too ominous for there to be no doubts about it in his mind. In Jared’s bedroom, a mechanical clock rhythmically drummed to a constant beat. His pet corgi, Rocky, purred softly; head tucked into his body as he rested on a cushion in the corner of the room.
Jared yawned and wiped his eyes. On his phone screen which had gone dark, he saw his black eye bags emphasized against the slightly flickering light above. He glanced at the time. Eleven fifty at night, the middle of the day for him. He often stayed up for hours after midnight, to the disappointment and annoyance of his family.
He pressed his finger on the phone and it greeted him with a welcoming home screen. More notifications. They were coming from everybody he knew – his close friends, his teachers, even people he had never actually spoken to before and only knew by name. The same message, or a variation of it. All telling him to look at the sky. Jared was certain there was something strange happening – it was so suspicious it could be paranormal. Just what the hell was going on? He looked at his door. Locked. He looked at his translucent blinds. Shut. Maybe it was time to really see what was really happening.
The wooden bed screeched softly as Jared slowly shifted his weight onto the floor. He slowly walked over to the blinds. He reached up to pull it aside, but a small grunt from beside his feet made him freeze. Rocky was up. He was never up this late. Jared could only think of one word to describe Rocky in that moment – Scared. He stood as tall as he could, all fours straining in an attempt to make him look bigger. His eyes were deathly low, casting a fearsome glare at the still blinds. The crevasse of his mouth was bent into a threatening snarl. His tail quivered restlessly, tucked between his legs. Jared knew in that moment – there was something horrible behind that thin veil separating him, and Rocky, from the outside.
The room was completely silent. Too silent. The mechanical throat of the clock had choked shut. The busy chiming of the phone as new messages came in had died. The flickering of the light became increasingly noticeable. In the split seconds of darkness brought by the failing light, the pale white streetlamp of the outside screened silhouettes onto his blinds like a dim projector. It was hard to see, and very faint, but it was there. It moved like a fluid… a morphing shadow without form… it enveloped the window in a churning hive of boils and lesions.
The light went out. The room plummeted into an abyss of moving, unnatural darkness.
The movement of the shadows stopped at the exact moment darkness fell. It froze, and started to coalesce at the centre of the window. It drummed incessantly on the glass, as if it was searching for the weak points in a shell. Rocky started to bark loudly, desperately, crying out for the invader to leave. They were futile. Jared stood transfixed, unable to move his body. This could not be happening. It was too surreal. He slowly turned his head towards his phone, which monotonously chirped once at the arrival of a new notification. Jared could just barely see the contents of the message. The sender was from an unknown number.
Close all curtains.
Block all doors and windows.
Turn off all lights.
Do not go out in the night.
When the sun is down, DO NOT LOOK AT THE SKY.
Behind the blinds, something cracked.
Written by Rayman Tang, published on 05/02/19. Header image courtesy Dragan Bibin