by MIRACLE AUSTIN
orest Wiseman never slept without her nightlight, affectionately known as “Mr. Wigglesworth”, an iridescent worm with an open-mouth smile.
She woke up one morning and Mr. Wigglesworth had vanished from his home, the outlet in the wall parallel to the bed.
Forest hurled the heavy covers back, jumped onto the carpeted floor, and ran into the kitchen to find her husband, Gabe, leaning against the island.
“Honey, where’s Mr. Wigglesworth?” She was flustered, panting heavily, as she paced up and down the canary linoleum floor with arms crossed tightly around her chest.
“The nightlight? Babe, you’re 36. Calm down… You don’t need that sort of stuff anymore. You got me. I’m stronger than any stupid nightlight.” He flexed his muscles like a weightlifter.
“What did you do?” She scowled with beads of sweat outlining her fiery red hairline.
“I tossed him in the garage sale across the street earlier,” he spurted out, as he stuffed an over-sized, blueberry bagel in his mouth.
“Mr. Wigglesworth was our protection.”
“From what?” he asked with a mouth full of bread.
Forest snatched her cell phone from the table, opened the front door, ran outside, and sprinted in her flannel pajamas across the street towards the garage sale.
She began rummaging through all the tables.
Mr. Wigglesworth was officially missing.
She felt the hairs on the back of her neck raise.
Mrs. Humphrey, an 88 year-old, retired junior high hall monitor and the nosiest neighbor on the block, asked, “Honey, what are you searching for?” Her hands rested on her rounded hips.
“Hey,” Forest pulled out her cell phone from her back pajama pocket without any eye contact. She scrolled through the photograph. “Did you notice if anyone purchased a nightlight that resembles this picture?”
A plastic worm wearing squared eyeglasses, holding a blue cane, and dressed in a black and white polka-dot vest popped up on her brightly lit, cellphone screen.
“Oh, yes. A gentleman purchased that one and a few others. He was in a hurry too. Never seen him around here before. He was some serious eye-candy, though. He caught my attention immediately.” She battered her eyelashes.
“Thanks.” Forest staggered to the side some, but caught herself before falling.
“Honey, you want some water or something? You’re sweating terribly! Come here and sit down for a bit.”
“No, I’ll be okay. Thank you, Mrs. Humphrey.” She turned away from her only to find Gabe rushing up from behind.
“Man, you’re fast. What’s all the fuss, Forest? It’s just a nightlight. I mean, you know that, right?” He tilted his head to the side, while he scratched the side of his bearded face.
Forest took his hand and pulled him under a large oak tree, away from Mrs. Humphrey, who was trying to listen in with her large, spying ears.
The sun had been out when she’d started her search for Mr. Wigglesworth, but now titanic gray clouds were rolling in and ushering the darkness.
“They’ll come for us tonight,” she uttered slowly, as a tear dropped in unison with the first raindrop.
“Babe, you’re really making me nervous. Who’s coming?” He pulled her close to him and wrapped his arms around her, while wiping more tears from her face with the palm of his.
“Dim Feeders,” she whispered, as she looked up into his wide eyes and stared at his painted smirk.
“Dim…What? You really need to stop reading those horror books?”
“Stop it, Gabe! Listen to me, dammit!” She stomped her feet and pulled away from him.
“Alright…alright,” he tried to look at her seriously, as he pulled her back in close to him. Forest appreciated the effort, but it wasn’t enough.
“They’re vengeful, shape-shifting ghosts. They roam the world in search of their enemies, to rip out and absorb their souls. Each time a Dim Feeder devours a soul, its power increases.”
“Okay, I’ll go with you for a moment,” he silently chuckled.
“Gabe, this is really serious! Listen,” Forest huffed.
“Okay, this is my serious face. Please continue,” he pointed his finger towards his stern expression, while fighting back laughter.
“A Dim Feeder can then break out of his or her chaotic world in order to enter our world to cause more havoc, eventually total destruction.”
“Now, why would these so-called…Dim Feeders…be coming for you, I mean us?”
“When they were human, they were murdered, brutally.”
“What does that have to do with you, Forest?”
“Mr. Wigglesworth wasn’t really a night light. He was a Protector, like the ultimate Guardian Angel. He prevented any Dim Feeder from trespassing into our world…our home.” More disbelief bloomed into his eyes.
“Babe, how do you know so much about them and why would you need protection from them?”
“Gabe, I’m not who you think I am… I did things in my past…Things that had to be done.” She squeezed him tighter.
“Excuse me…” Mrs. Humphrey cleared her throat, as she interrupted them by tapping her on the shoulder.
Forest turned around slowly. She assumed that Ms. Humphrey was going to ask for their help in putting everything up, before the rain became heavier.
“Mr. Eye Candy’s back, and he really wants to meet you.” Mrs. Humphrey whistled him on over, while waving her hands back and forth in the air, like she was guiding an airplane in to park.
Forest looked over and immediately locked eyes with him.
His sinister eyes flickered like an untamed, vicious candle flame.
She knew that her finale was near.
Goosebumps raced up and down both sides of her arms.
Her entire life flashed before her and then he was standing right there, in front of her.
While Mrs. Humphrey saw eye-candy, Forest’s eyes beheld something else entirely.
He was taller than any she had ever encountered, almost ten feet. Long, white, stringy and knotty hair rested in the middle of his puffed up chest. An over-sized scarlet fedora titled down to conceal half of his transparent, skeletal face.
His nails were long and curled under. A large glistening, golden/red, black widow shaped nugget ring squeezed his right index finger.
Forest’s entire body shuddered, as he placed the tip of his index finger onto her mouth.
She couldn’t speak.
Her lips felt like they had been super-glued together.
Gabe grabbed her hand with his trembling hand, closed his eyes, and whispered under his breath close to her ear, “Please, forgive…”
Before he could utter his last word, an umbrella of darkness swallowed the entire block and everything in it.
Miracle Austin works in the hospice world as a social worker. She is an emerging author who enjoys writing diverse free-verse poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. She's been writing off and on, since junior high. She dreams to complete a novel in her future. She resides in Texas with her family.
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