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Have you ever had that feeling? The feeling of being followed down a dark alley, the feeling of invisible hands caressing your skin. The feeling of curses whispered in your ear or the receding silence as you walk below a lamp post? This is a sign of the Night Crawlers, creatures of the night who feed on flesh and delight in nothing short of paralysing fear.
Picture it. You have left the glow of the bustling town as the bell strikes midnight. Only the cold autumn wind surrounds you as you head to your home on the outskirts. Suddenly, you feel it, like plunging into an icy lake, a presence. You stop, looking around you in trepidation, only to be greeted by the creeping darkness and the sound of creaking branches. You continue to walk, slightly quicker now, eager to be home in the warmth and safe. Behind you the darkness surges forward, pursuing you. Then you come across the inviting glow of a lamp post, one of few dotted along the dark path home. With the light comes a sense of relief. The sensation of eyes watching, staring at you from the dark has ceased. Composing yourself, you venture out from the halo of light and continue onwards.
The hairs on your arms rise, but you put it down to the cold wind that rustles through the old oak trees. A shiver runs down your spine as the feeling of being watched returns. You imagine being leapt upon from the darkness, of a blade plunging into your heart, blood spurting out as a serial killer cuts you into tiny snippets of flesh. You spot the warm glow of another lamp post and start to run towards its safety. Behind you the darkness growls in fury, reaching its finger like tendrils across your body, hissing curses into your ears as you rush to the light. In your haste you trip and fall to your knees beneath the flickering gleam of the lamp. You clamber to your feet and look around in sheer terror. You are rooted to that spot, looking out into darkness. Darkness, not Night Crawlers.
Remember what I said? The feeling of being followed down a dark alley? Keeping you safe. The feeling of invisible hands caressing your skin? Trying to stop you from falling headlong into danger. The feeling of curses whispered in your ear? Warnings to stop, to turn around and run. The receding silence as you walk below a lamp post? This is a sign. I Never said they came from the darkness. Nor did I say they feared the light. The silence around a light is a warning of the Night Crawlers territory. A flickering light means it is watching and waiting, for its next meal.
As you stare out into the darkness, the Night Crawlers creep out of the light and hover silently above you. Even beneath the light, their facial and bodily features are obscured, and no shadow appears to alert you to the impending death that awaits. The only body feature accounted for is a thin spiked tail, that slowly slithers down to your head. The light flickers out. You scream in darkness as the tail wraps around you, impaling your body and snuffing the strength from you. The scream is cut off as the tip of the tail plunges down your throat. Then a slimy ooze begins to secrete from beneath the scales of the tail. On contact with your clothes, they begin to fizz and spit as they dissolve. Meanwhile you can feel the slime sliding down your throat burning your flesh as it eats you away from the inside. Unknown to you, the tip of the tail of a night Crawler is a mouth. The bodily secretion is used to liquify your flesh to make eating you simpler. While that is happening, the tail continues to tighten around your limp body, causing your bones to splinter and shatter. Its not known when you died in this process, but the next day the news reported that the husk of a female had been found beneath a lamp post, impaled all over, blood drained, bones reduced to dust. The outer layer of your flesh is all that’s left, nothing more than a shedded skin.
The Night crawlers are long gone, never far from cities or bustling towns, but always waiting, luring, their next meal into the light. Next time, someone might listen, might accept the creeping darkness over the assumed safety of the lamp posts… but whoever said they just lived outside?