You wake up in the middle of the night. Your cat is cozily nested behind your knees and the weight of your blanket warms your tired body nicely. You sigh happily.
When you are about to drift again into a sweet slumber, your cat hisses and runs frantically off your bed and hides behind the curtains.
She has never acted so oddly before, and that upsets you. You look around in your room for anything that could have startled her but nothing is out of the ordinary.
You stay still and listen for anything unusual. You can hear your cat drinking water from her bowl in the hall, making that disgusting slurping sound that always disturbs you.
Relieved that nothing is wrong, you lie back down and pull your blanket up to your chin.
But before you close your eyes, you see the shadowy silhouette of your feline friend ducking under your desk, her hair standing up. You gasp.
If it isn’t your cat drinking water then where does the sound come from?
Slowly and as silently as possible you get off your bed. But despite your best efforts, the old wooden framework groans loudly. You freeze. The slurping sound stops for a second before it resumes.
Any doubts that this was your imagination’s doing are cast away.
Heart pounding on your chest, you tiptoe your way to the door. You step out of your room and look across the hallway, towards your cat’s bowl. And there you see her.
Your mother, crouching on hands and knees. Her limbs are long and skinny and her fingers are gaunt and bony. Her messy hair covers her pale, distorted face; her skin stretched against her cheekbones.
She is licking greedily the water in your cat’s bowl with a tongue black as coal and twice the normal size.
Suddenly, she stops. She slowly turns her head towards you. She stares deeply into your eyes; her pupils two unmoving dots of malice.
You jump in panic and run back into your room while your mother gallops on all fours towards you.
You close the door behind you, moments before it starts shaking violently; loud bangs echoing across the house. You quickly throw your body against the door, blocking it.
The whole doorframe quakes fiercely, but you hold firm.
Then, the banging stops. An otherworldly sense of stillness hangs in the air. After a few seconds of excruciating silence, the knob starts turning.
“Honey, is something wrong?” you hear your mother’s soothing voice from the other side. “Why did you close the door? I am worried. Please, let me in.”