Josiah woke with a start. He rubbed his eyes and looked around, not fully remembering where he was. His mind started to put it all together: he was in his chair in the front room. His book was in his lap. The light on the table next to him should have been on. He must have turned it off as he fell asleep.

Realizing where he was, he looked out the window into the night. The moon was bright, but not full. The wind moved the trees and bushes and helped create sepia images of darkness and less darkness in the woods around the house. He’d stared out and let his mind make shapes for years.

As he watched the shadows change, he realized there was a large shadow moving oddly across the woods. He thought it was a bear. The base primordial areas of his brain were trying to fit a regular animal into the irregular shadow. Other primordial areas of his brain started to worry him. It was bigger than any bear he’d ever heard about. It was long. Its unusual movements didn’t seem like walking; it was undulating across his field of view. Then it stopped. The shadow seemed to grow longer, as if it were sprouting a new appendage. The appendage grew, and it crossed into the light of the moon. It was a sickly gray color in the half-light. The wrinkled, leathery skin seemed to have a sheen of mucus on its surface. By now, the appendage looked like the neck of some prehistoric dinosaur. The appendage turned towards Josiah’s house, and he could see the end of it. A few feet from the end of the trunk were three huge compound eyes that reflected the moonlight like some sort of prism. They shone with flashes of red, green, yellow, and blue. They unblinkingly looked in all directions, as though they were seeing everything in color, heat, and motion. Past the eyes towards the end of the massive stalk were many sphincter-like orifices that opened and closed. When they opened, a tassel of waving tentacles shot out of them and seemed to sample the air and ground as the neck moved. At the end of the trunk was a much larger round orifice surrounded by a thick lip that was studded with irregularly shaped teeth.

Josiah was frozen in his chair. He disbelieved what his eyes were seeing, but he could not blink or look away. He sat. Sweating. Panting. His fingers dug into the arms of the chair. He was filled with fear and panic, but immobilized by some primal instinct to remain perfectly still. The thing in the woods began to undulate again, slowly shambling off away from the house. The wind blew clouds across the moon, and the shadows devoured the thing in darkness.

Josiah’s wife found him the next morning. Catatonic in his chair. Alive but trapped in his body. She thought it was some sort of seizure or stroke and called for the rescue squad to come and take him to get professional care.

(Editing provided by my buddy, Kevin.)

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