The light sliced a white beam through the dark, dusty surroundings.
The area closest to him was about what he expected an attic should be: large, empty and dirty. The walls were covered in a thick coat of dirt and cobwebs. A long, cardboard box that was probably older than his mother was shoved into a little corner.
However, moving his light carefully over the area above his room, Alex started to notice oddities.
First and foremost, the floor in this area looked disturbed. Tracks and streaks of clean wood could be seen everywhere in the thick dust. On top of that, empty, plastic water jugs littered the ground all about, particularly in the corners where they were piled in the hundreds. It all led to...
"A kiddie pool?" Alex asked in confusion.
Sure enough, there, at the far end of the attic, situated just above where his bed would be, an oversized kiddie pool sat surrounded by a veritable wall of empty, plastic water containers. It appeared old and worn, the designs having peeled and faded at many points.
Alex, overcome with surprise and curiosity, crawled up into the filthy attic.
The roof overhead was just tall enough to allow him to stand, but not much else. Cobwebs tangled up in his hair and spiders went unnoticed as they fell from the rafters and skittered away.
The flashlight's beam was focused solely on the kiddie pool which, to Alex's shock, appeared mostly full with the exception of several splashes here and there.
Splashes that looked distinctly like footprints.
"Hello?" he asked dumbfounded, moving the beam side to side.
A rustle of plastic and a few falling jugs was his response and he stepped back in surprise towards the open attic door.
"Hello?" he repeated again. "If you're in there: come out now!"
His voice cracked and shook as he spoke, betraying his fear.
Nothing moved this time.
"If you don't come out, I'm gonna call the cops!" he yelled at the suspicious pile of empty jugs. "They'll come and they'll take you away!"
Still no answer.
Alex turned to look briefly at the open attic door one more time. The air seemed to burn his lungs with the stench of dirt and dust and god knows what he was looking at but...
Slowly, he stepped closer to the pile, his beam focused on it once more.
The problem with wandering around in the dark, particularly when you're feeling scared and not looking where you're putting your feet, is you tend to miss things. Alex sure did.
He was already falling backward when he felt the half eaten cucumber under his foot roll forward.
There was a crack and a THUD and everything went dark.
Alex woke to darkness.
Actually, that's not accurate. It was dark, but he could still make out a faint glow.
No. Not a glow. A flash.
Alex sat up in a start and immediately regretted it. His head was throbbing and felt like someone shoved a steel spike into his brain. He shut his eyes tight and clutched his forehead only to feel something warm and sticky in his hair.
Alex glanced up at the noise and saw a very large man sitting in the kiddie pool, fumbling with his flashlight. The beam cut here and there, but failed to illuminate the odd, rotund man before him.
His breath hitched in his throat.
The man, whoever he was, was large. Had he been up here the whole time? Alex could barely make out some sort of a weird, flat top haircut but what was more noticeable was his bulk. The man's torso appeared, quite literally, round.
Alex sat there frozen as he watched the man fiddle with the light.
Who was this man? How was he in his house?
He glanced over his shoulder towards the exit and, as carefully as he could, he started moving back towards it.
Alex made it maybe a foot before the wood creaked loudly. In the relative quiet, it made him flinch with how loud it was.
And it was not missed.
The man turned to look at him dead in the eyes.
Tiny beady eyes.
A long, hooked beak.
Green skin that showed faintly in the flashlight.
He wasn't a man. He was a monster.