The Tempter Comes

13) The Niss



13   The Niss


We may not be able to avoid the evil that attacks from without;

but we can always resist the evil that wants to enter in



Thomas was coming down the stairs that morning when he spied Toni sitting at an old desk in the far corner of the living room. He went over and stood next to her. “Good morning. And what are you working on this early—paying bills?”

“And a fine morning to you. No, just writing down some things in my diary.”

“You keep a diary?”

“It isn’t a diary about how I feel. There aren’t entries in it like ‘I was sad today.’ It’s more about events or information that I want to keep track of. I don’t write something in it every day, only when something important happens.”

Thomas put a hand on the top of her chair. “Is this new? You used to have an old kitchen chair here. Now you have a real office chair with wheels and everything.”

“The leper colony was having a garage sale and Mom picked it up there along with some dinner plates and cutlery.”

Thomas yanked his hand off of the chair and held them out away from his body.

“She got your bed sheets there also. They were a great bargain.” She was trying hard to suppress a smile.

Thomas’s jaw locked. Then he looked down at Toni. “Hey, wait a minute; you don’t have a leper colony here.”

Toni let her smile broaden as she snickered.

“OK, you got me on that one.”

Later on Thomas and Toni went up to the small second-story balcony of her house and nestled into the two chairs squeezed up there. It was a beautiful, clear day. They had just finished another wonderful lunch and had a pitcher of fresh lemonade squeezed by Mrs. Donnelee at their sides. They both said nothing and were enjoying the breeze. Toni had her head back and eyes closed.

Thomas was noticing how just beyond the town to the west the plains were flat and straight all the way to the horizon. In fact, if he closed one eye, the flat roof of the house in front of him was exactly level with the dark line of the horizon.

Toni lifted up her head. “I have a riddle for you. I’m not as clever as you are at making them up but here goes. I go up faster than I go down. I grow but never get heavier. People love to watch me but no one wants to touch me. A lot of me can keep you alive but even a little of me can kill you. Who or what am I?”

Thomas closed one eye again and lined up the house’s roof again. Why is there always a secret pleasure in playing an unseen game while talking to someone? This time the horizon was several inches higher than the roof. Thomas brushed it off as his having shifted in his chair and thought no more of it.

He finally said, “Smoke goes up quicker than it comes down.”

“But you can touch smoke,” she rebuffed.

Thomas was thinking a balloon but you can touch a balloon also.

“Give me another hint,” he said.

“You’re giving up too easily.”

“I’m not giving up; I just need another hint. There can be lots of things that fit the bill.”

Thomas could not think of anything that “fit the bill” but he had to say something.

“I make noises but I have no mouth. How’s that for a hint?”

Once again Thomas closed an eye. This time the horizon was easily a lot higher than the roof of the house. “That’s strange,” he thought. He shifted in his chair to try and situate himself in his original position and then he closed one eye again. There was not much of a difference. Then he slumped down. Yes, if he slumped enough then he could bring the roof level with the horizon again but he knew that he was not sitting that low in his chair before. He was practically horizontal with the ground. He sat up again.

“What are you doing?” Toni asked with an emphasized exasperation. “Are you stumped and trying to avoid admitting it? Has my puzzle sucked all of the energy out of you so that you are unable to even sit up properly? Have I actually stumped the great puzzle man?”

“Oh, I’m,” Thomas squirmed a bit. Secret games suddenly become stupid when you are caught. “I was, ah, lining up the horizon with the flat roof of that house in front of us. It’s kind of stupid, I know, but kind of strange, too. Sort of a weird optical illusion, I suppose. But anyway…” He looked at Toni staring at him like he had just begun foaming at the mouth. Feeling increasingly peculiar he felt that he had to say more as to explain why the illusion was so interesting and why he should not necessarily be disqualified as being numbered among the sane.

“It’s just that it appears that the horizon has been getting higher. You know, like the ground is getting taller, heaving up like it is inhaling.” He was about to say “Forget it” and change the subject to something more reasonable like the riddle or even waffles when he noticed that Toni went pale. She let out a faint gasp and jumped to her feet and leaned over the balcony rail as if to see better. Her mouth was slightly open and she was very intently staring at the horizon. Thomas looked out again but it was as though she could see ghosts whereas he was a nonbeliever.

“What?” he asked. He looked at her and then out over the roof again. “What is it?”

This whole time lasted a couple of minutes. He looked down at her hands as they grasped the wooden rail. She held it so tightly that he would not have been surprised to see permanent indentations when she let go.

Then she screamed out over the town with a fury in her lungs that was previously unimaginable, “NISS!”

Thomas and his chair fell sideways onto the floor spilling the lemonade.

“NISS!” she screamed again. “The Niss, they’re coming!” She was pointing at the horizon.

Thomas jumped to his feet and looked out across the town. He still saw nothing strange expect that the horizon did actually seem even higher than before. But the townspeople, every single one of them were frozen in place as though a deep chill had swept through the town. Some were looking up at their balcony whereas others were staring to where she had pointed. Time had stopped. Then, as if on cue, everyone ran. They went in all directions but had two things in common, they were all terrified and they were all equally shouting, “The Niss! The Niss are coming!”

Thomas looked like a startled cat, “What? What is going on?”

Just then he heard the church’s bell ringing wildly as if Quasimodo had tanked up on caffeine. This seemed to put everyone into an even higher gear.

“No time right now—we must get going,” yelled Toni.

She grabbed Thomas’ hand and pulled him down the steps. Several times he stumbled and almost went down headfirst. He could hear shouts of “Niss!” spreading across the town. People who had smaller children were picking them up to make greater haste.

When they turned the corner of the house Mrs. Donnelee was at the front door quickly ushering them in.

“Hurry, hurry,” she was yelling and waving. “Where’s Carl? Where’s your brother? Wasn’t he with you?”

There was a woman with three children gathered around her like panicked chicks. She was listening to a man whose mouth was moving like a piston on a steam engine. Thomas recognized her as Janet from church. She said something and then the man pointed and jabbed at the air several times and yelled loudly, “GO! Go to the church now! You don’t have time to get home! Your husband will be safe at work! All of the proper precautions have been made there! You must take your children and make haste!” With that she scooped up the smallest child and they all ran like the Devil was after them.

Toni yanked Thomas into the house.

“Where’s Carl?” again shouted Mrs. Donnelee. “Have you seen Carl?”

“I don’t know where he is,” Toni yelled back.

Mrs. Donnelee was hanging out the door frantically looking both ways. Toni was running from window to window slamming them shut and locking them. She had an incredible sense of urgency.

“What are Niss?” Thomas asked as he chased after Toni from room to room. He also had a great sense of urgency about him but he did not know why.

“This Niss,” Toni said between breaths, “are creatures that swarm in the billions. They’ll smother a town and plunder it.”

“What do they plunder?” The word “plunder” gave Thomas an image of pirates each one with a stripped shirt and an eye patch kicking in doors everywhere. For some reason that dispelled some of the sting of this entire drama. “Besides,” he thought, “there aren’t billions of anything. This whole thing seems overblown.”

“Souls,” replied Toni.

Thomas snapped back to reality. “What?”

“Souls! They plunder souls.”

“Souls?” Thomas questioned in almost a hush. “How does someone steal a soul?” If everyone were not in such a panic he would have found the whole thing rather comical or at least surreal; almost like something someone on a drug trip would say.

Toni continued talking. She was now running up the stairs so Thomas was forced to follow. “The Niss are small, about the size of your thumb. They are shaped like a cigar and are gray with black splotches. They must be hollow or nearly hollow and the same density as air so they kind of fly.” She was running to each bedroom closing windows. “Their back half sucks in and out very quickly and that propels them along. They move very fast. They swarm in the billions. That’s why it looked like the entire horizon was rising up. That was them, stretched across the sky and moving our way.”

“So what are you shutting all of the windows? Are they that strong that they can rip through the screens?”

“Quite the opposite.” Toni was speaking between heavy breaths now. “They are extremely weak but they can get through an opening the size of a button hole. That’s why I think that they’re hollow. They can squeeze themselves very narrow. Everybody knows how to make their homes air tight—to keep them out. If fact, before anyone can move into a home it must first be inspected for even the slightest crack or opening. They’ll crawl all over everything trying to find a way in. Nobody’s been able to kill one and if you get one into a jar it’ll sit there forever and then once you open the jar it’ll fly out at you. Your only hope is to wait it out.”

“So what is this part about the soul?” Thomas was feeling rather overwhelmed not to mention his having to sprint from room to room.

“Now that’s the really horrible part. They will try to get inside of you through one of your nine orifices.”

Thomas knit his eyebrows together and started to count but was quickly distracted.

“Actually they can’t get in through your ears because of your eardrums but all of the rest will do. Once inside, they will slowly feed on your soul.”

“How can you possibly know that? I mean, you can’t even see someone’s soul.” Thomas could hear Mrs. Donnelee screaming out, “Carl! Carl!”

Toni paused at the top of stairs to catch her breath. “You can’t see your soul but you know that it is there. It’s your personality, your conscience, your morals, your creativity. When someone gets a Niss inside of them it’s like they begin to rot. They’ll become more angry or bitter. They might complain more or snap at you for every little thing. Then they might start stealing or getting into pornography or drinking or drugs. Further down the road they are committing adultery. You can see the progression and the more Niss they have in them the quicker it spirals down.” As if she just realized that she just wasted a couple of precious seconds she suddenly dashed down the stairs with Thomas seemingly sucked down behind her in her draft.

“The scary thing is that they are hard, if not nearly impossible, to resist. Some people have gotten caught in the open and try to fight them off but the Niss are relentless. They will probe for any weakness and keep at you and keep at you until you momentarily let your guard down. Then they’re in.

“And believe it or not, some people even welcome them. Sometimes it seems that the Niss know exactly who to go after.

“Many people gather at the church. It seems that the Niss rarely make it in there. Something more than good sealant seems to keep them out.”

Toni hit the bottom of the stairs and nearly catapulted into the living room with Thomas practically tethered behind her. He was clearly sweating although the exact cause was indeterminable. She ran over to the fireplace and pulled on a rope. Thomas could hear a loud bang from up on the roof. “What was that?” he asked.

“Remember that lid that you asked me about? That’s what it is for. It seals the chimney from them. Everybody has one. It’s one of the safety precautions.”

Running over to her mother who was still in the open doorway Toni grabbed her and pulled.

“Mama, you need to come in. Carl is probably safe at someone’s house. We need to seal the door. Come on, Mama.” Toni tugged several times and with great reluctance her mother came in. Toni slammed the door shut.


At the Fullman’s house similar preparations were taking place. The children were shutting windows, closing off the chimney, and pushing rags into any cracks they found. The two children and mother rushed breathlessly from room to room. Meanwhile, Floyd sat motionless in his chair silently watching the door. He made no twitch to the loud calls for him to come and help.


At the church many had gathered. Janet was there with her children. Rarely had the Niss been able to traverse these walls and even then it would only be a few and they would seem to lock right in on their targets and enter them. Every pastor who was there would always keep the front door open for refuges until the very last moment. Then he would pull the doors shut with a decisive bang and turn and speak words of comfort to those gathered while the light dimmed as the Niss covered the windows.

Today there was a crowd in the hundreds. Some were trembling and terrified, others with their heads down dabbed at their eyes. But most stood around the pastor with quiet confidence. On everyone’s mind was the horror of seeing several Niss slip in, then wondering if any would come straight for them. The children with their bravado pictured snatching them out of the air and then crushing them with their hands thus saving the congregation. But even while these dramas played out in their heads they clung tightly to their parents.

 Several came over to the pastor and with great sorrow and sometimes weeping they confessed sins: greed, lust, gossip, unforgiveness. Then their hearts would be strangely peaceful and assured.


From the small box next to the door, Toni pulled out a keyhole shaped plug. Every time Thomas had passed the door he wondered what that box was for. Once or twice he opened it and peered inside, but he was afraid to take the thing out. He thought that it might be an alarm or something and he did not want to set it off. Now he was about to find out.

Toni tried to stick the plug into the keyhole but she dropped it. She quickly picked it up but then dropped it again. “I can’t find the plug,” she yelled as she frantically scanned all around the floor. “We’ve got to find the plug!”

“I saw where it went.” Thomas reached under a chair and produced the plug. Then he firmly pushed it into the keyhole.

Once the door was secured they lit several kerosene lamps. “No guarantee of electricity,” Toni said.

Every street was empty and every house was quarantined. There was a suffocating stillness like a giant wave was able to strike.


Russell was out at his favorite place. He had just finished filling the troughs with seed and was sitting on his rock on the edge of the pond. The angels glided beneath the surface, bobbing up occasionally to snatch the offering that he periodically dropped from his bag. He closed his eyes and listened to the joy surrounding him.


At the Donnelee house they gathered to the front window and could see that the Niss had reached the far edge of town. It would only be minutes before they hit. Mrs. Donnelee closed her eyes tightly and thought of Carl.

When she opened them again she could see someone nonchalantly turn the corner and cockily stride towards the house. It was Carl. He had a defiant grin. It was obvious that he could see everyone watching him through the window. He gave a wink. Mrs. Donnelee rushed to the door, pulled out the plug, and flung the door open.

“Carl!” she screamed, “Carl, come in here. You can make it. Hurry!”

He simply stood there grinning. Just then Thomas and Toni knew. They felt the blood drain from their bodies as their jaws sank down.

“Carl, come here now! You can still make it!” screamed Mrs. Donnelee. She was about to lunge out to grab him when Toni rushed over and restrained her by wrapping her arms around her mother’s waist.

“Carl!” she was now shrieking, “Carl!” She was fighting to pull away but Toni had her firmly by the waist. Carl never moved; Thomas was frozen.

“Mama, no” yelled Toni as she was being pitched about.

The Niss were now only a couple of blocks away and coming fast.

“CARL!” she continued to shriek.

She was now starting to drag Toni partially out the door. It would only be a matter of seconds now. Thomas ran over and wrapping his arms around both Toni and her mother pulled them both in.

“No, no,” Mrs. Donnelee was pleading just before she collapsed with Toni to the floor. She was sobbing hysterically. “No, no.”

Thomas slammed the door and stuck in the keyhole plug. He ran back over to the window.


Russell’s eyes sprung open. He heard the frantic clanging of the church bell. It was a ways off but its warning was like a punch in the head. He sprang off of the rock. He knew he had no time to waste. He grabbed the empty wheelbarrow and with a more exaggerated limp because of his rushing he pushed towards town.

When his pace was leisurely this was never a problem. In fact, the frequent stops to watch a scampering lizard or admire some toadstools were welcome. But at this quickened pace Russell’s limp swayed the wheelbarrow violently so that it would bang into trees and tip over far too often. Russell was pouring sweat trying to bully the wheelbarrow and yet the bell sounded no closer.

At one point the wheelbarrow aggressively tipped and pulled Russell onto the ground. He rolled over and stopped face down in some dried leaves. His hand struck a rock hard, but He did not have the time to see if he was hurt. He struggled to his feet and wiped his hand against his pants leaving a dark streak.

He was forced to leave the wheelbarrow on its side and half skip home. It was the fastest way that he could move. He would never do this around others but no one was here and the situation was desperate.

As he reached the edge of the woods he had to bend over and lean on a tree trunk. The wheezing of his labored breathing drowned out the sound of heavy drops of sweat falling on brown leaves.

“Please, God, get me home safely.”

He looked up and saw that the town was already deserted. Then he looked to the west. They were coming—a dark, pulsating wave that looked ready to crest across the town.

He gathered himself and like a wobbly pogo stick headed for his house. His mind went blank as his whole energy and focus went into movement.

He was only two blocks from his home. He did not hear the people banging on their windows urging him to come in.

He was getting closer. He could see his house on the next block. The stitch in his side was excruciating. He turned. The Niss were but a half a block away and coming like a train. He looked back at his house. He would not be able to make it. He cried out, “Save me!” and then did the only thing that he could do; he fell to the ground. He curled up into a tight ball, squeezed his eyes, pinched his nose with one hand and pressed a handkerchief that he had ripped out of his pocket tightly over his mouth.


The Fullmans finished securing the house. They gathered in the living room with the children clutching their mother with all of the strength that they had left. They gaped at Floyd wondering if he had become paralyzed with fear or went insane. From the look on his face they determined that it was neither. “Floyd, what are you doing?” Mrs. Fullman yelled. “You’re just sitting there.”

Floyd sat motionless as if no question had been asked and no one was near him; his arms rested firmly on the armrests, his fingers curled around the edges. He simply stared at the door like a waxen parody of a life spent isolated unto himself. The dictator was content to let others run the show. In a situation where he would be in his glory barking commands—“You secure the kitchen,” “You take the upstairs!”—rather he sat in rigid silence with the faintest smirk.

The children were confused and frightened, their lips quivered. Tears ran down the cheeks of the girl. The three of them then rushed to the corner of the living room and huddled in a tight ball.


At the church, Dan was kneeling at a pew but rather than praying feverishly like the others he was looking around. The pastor’s words were a background hum to him. He might as well have been in a wax museum as oblivious as he was to everyone else. He kept thinking about his pornography magazines. He knew that the Niss would find them under his bed and in his closet. He could just see them crawling all over them and in between the pages. That did not really bother him. What was really squeezing his guts like a fist was that he thought that everyone here somehow knew. And despite their histrionics and overplayed distress he knew that somehow they wished that some of the Niss would get him. “Look at Dan,” they were thinking, “He’s not praying because he’s got pictures on his mind.”

He looked around the room, his upper lip was moist. He caught Jackie staring at him. He was unnerved. “I knew it! She knows and she’s going to blurt it out. Then this group will probably throw me outside. They act pious, but all they care about are themselves. But I’m not going to be anyone’s scapegoat. They’re not going to throw me outside just to save themselves.” He clenched his fists. Then he looked back over at Jackie, “who, of all people in this room is she to look at me? Her reputation is certainly well known. She should be clutching the foot of that cross and praying for all she’s worth—which isn’t much—rather than sitting there looking at me.” He turned away with a sneer. “Just let her dare say anything about me.”


Carl gave his family one last grin and turned to the west. The Niss were only a block away. Mrs. Donnelee’s face was buried in her hands. She was unable to look. She was still sobbing uncontrollably, her body shaking; Toni had her arms around her with her face buried into her mother’s neck. Thomas could not tear himself from the window. It was like watching a car accident about to happen.

When he saw the Niss, Carl turned towards them. Then he raised his arms like a cross, opened wide his mouth, and leaned back his head.

Then they hit.

The leading edge reached Carl and several dozen Niss flew down his throat. He fell backwards onto the ground and several more poured in. His flesh went pale, his back arched, and he twitched violently.

Thomas gasped and backed away from the window and braced himself against a chair. The Niss hit the house and swarmed all over its skin. They quickly covered the window and the room went dim.

The Niss probed everywhere for an opening. One might disappear under a cedar shake, find a dead-end, and come back out. Not a single inch of any house could be seen anywhere in town. It was like a gray undulating sheet had been laid over everything. Families huddled in corners like lambs hearing the howling of wolves roaming outside. The Niss groped in masonry cracks, under shingles, and tears in screens. They crawled all over the chimney lids and pocked into keyholes. They made no sound, which only made the invasion that much more horrifying. If they found an overlooked crack in the foundation of a neglected house then thousands could be in the room next to you and you would not even know it, yet.

The only place left uncovered was the church. The sun still shone through the windows illuminating those huddled inside. Many were on their knees praying loudly, some, it seemed, overly dramatic as though God would be more entreated by their acting than by their faith. Others just kept looking from window to window to window as though the glass might shatter and the flood pour in. The pastor was calming others, “Do not be afraid little flock, for the Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.”


Floyd Fullman stood up and without any hesitation walked over to the front door and put his hand on the knob. Mrs. Fullman’s scream of “No!” echoed unrequited. He pulled open the door and they rushed in. Mr. Fullman went down quickly and convulsed hard on the floor. His legs were kicking violently. Hosts were never treated cordially.

Mrs. Fullman covered the children’s mouths and noses with her hands and screamed, “Close your eyes!” They were swarmed upon in a second. The children’s muffled screams deterred none of them. They crawled through their shirts, up their pants’ legs, and into their ears. Mrs. Fullman shook her head violently but did not let go of her children even though she could feel them sliding on her stomach like garden slugs. Her hair was entwined with them and some had worked their way between her shoe and the bottom of her feet.

The boy could resist no longer and he opened his eyes but for a moment. Two of the Niss crawled under his eyelids and disappeared.

The girl pressed one hand tightly against her mother’s hand which was pinching the girl’s nose. Her eyes were scrunched tight. With her other hand she kept pushing them off of her face only to have dozens more fill their place. Her cries were muffled by her firmly pressed lips.

Though she had fought hard to resist, several of the Niss crawled in through Mrs. Donnelee’s nose. As they entered it was an almost warm, pleasurable sensation. She was tempted to relax and enjoy it nearly wishing that more would enter. But the screams of her children quickly startled her back and she once again joined the battle even though it was too late for her.


Russell was covered. He could feel them probing into his ears. It was like being covered with slugs on amphetamines. Through firmly pursed lips he kept making two quick squeals followed by two longer ones. This pattern was repeated over and over again and again. Try as they did, yet, they could not get under his skin.


There were several audible gasps at the church with fingers pointing towards the ceiling. Then people scampered in unison like a herd of sheep towards the opposite corner. Those who were praying twisted unnaturally to look up. Several—maybe eight—Niss had somehow squeezed in. They entered in a tight clump but then split off like fighter jets. They appeared very deliberate in their trajectories. One clump of three flew straight to Dan. He hardly reacted other than blinking once. They shot into his mouth. He responded as though someone had merely bounced a Ping-Pong ball off of his nose.

Two others bulleted at Jackie. She at least screamed and wavered her arms in a wildly random fashion. They disappeared into her fully extended mouth corking her screams. She staggered a few steps back and then fell on her butt. She sat there dazed.

One each targeted Patrick Eggers, Joey Riddledale, and Melinda Nemes. None of them put up much resistance.

No other Niss entered the room.

Everyone else including Janet and her children had taken refuge behind the pastor who was praying with a calm yet urgent fervency. After several seconds of breathless silence Pastor Goldsmith ran over to the infected five and hurriedly ushered them into a side room. Several times he had to pick Jackie off of the floor as she kept collapsing. After getting them in he slammed the door shut.

He was in there for several long minutes. People were mixed in their expectations. Would he simply open the door and return to the group smiling and reassuring them that all was OK or was he going to be hurled through the splintered door by some demonic force. Those with the former opinion were rewarded.


At the Fullman house, satisfied like a sated vulture flying from a half-eaten carcass, the Niss left exiting en mass through the front door.

Floyd Fullman lay on his back still slightly twitching. Mrs. Fullman was gently sobbing. Her son was a like a pale mannequin with a frozen startled look as if he had been unexpectedly paddled on his behind. The girl was likewise crying and still brushing away phantoms from her face.


Then, perhaps sensing that no more could be done, the Niss disappeared from everywhere. They gathered at thirty feet above the town pausing like a massive sheet and then they left. At all of the houses the sunlight appeared first in speckles and then within seconds fully flowed throughout the house. All over town houses could be seen again, grass, trees, and roads reappeared as if a winter snow had melted. People exhaled heavily.

At some houses, like the Fullman’s and at Terese’s, there was the prediction of worse times ahead, for others there was relief and drawing closer together over a shared victory.

Yet no doors opened. The signal had not yet been given. Activities within the houses increased but from overhead the town still appeared deserted. Someone in a plane at that moment would have expected to see a column of army vehicles with everyone in white biohazard suits driving down the streets.

Fifteen minutes passed. The only indication that anyone was there were anxious faces peering out from behind thick curtains.

The first door to open was the church. At first just a crack, then like the slow lifting of a lid on a casket from within the door opened more. Pastor Goldsmith stepped outside and quickly shut the door behind him. He checked every direction, every overhang. He went into the street and examined a full circle. He stood for a while watching for any slight motion. He seemed to have a greater sense of the Niss than most people did. He knew when they might be close and when they might be lying in wait for someone.

After many minutes he relaxed into a smile and walked back to the church and flung the doors wide open.

“Everyone can come out now,” he proclaimed. “They’re gone. It’s safe.”

As the crowd left the church the pastor went over and rang the bell. The signal was given.


Russell was perhaps the last to stir. Unlike everyone else he was unable to watch the departure. He could never drop his defenses for even one second to take a peek since he could not know what might be lurking and ready to worm into him. The Niss were crafty and were not beyond setting traps. Only when he heard the bell ringing and the doors opening and people calling out his name did he feel safe enough to squint a look.

Several rushed over—glancing up at the sky the entire short trip—and helped him to his knees.

“Did you get any?” asked George.

“No, no, I don’t think so,” answered Russell.

“Well, if you did you’d know it. You’d probably look a lot different than you do,” replied George.

They brushed Russell off and helped him to his feet. He was still shaking.

“That’s a nasty cut you’ve got on your hand,” someone said. He took out a clean handkerchief and wrapped it around Russell’s hand.

Thomas looked out the window. People were gathering and talking excitedly. Carl was no where to be seen. He went over and helped Toni and her mother to the couch. They looked like the losers of a ten-round amateur boxing match, unmarked but clearly beaten. Thomas was too fearful to open the door. Maybe the others knew the behavior of the Niss well enough to go outside, but he did not. He was not convinced that they might not be lurking behind a hill or even suddenly fly out of the sewer drains. Unconsciously he was rubbing his arms and chest as though something were crawling inside his clothes. But there was nothing there.

Copyright Bob La Forge 2011        email: