Appearance and Reality: A New Telling of an Old Urban Legend.

Snow, thick and clumpy, layered the yard as Katie slowly settled into the warm depths of the sofa. Having been lounging on the sofa for most the morning, it was now invitingly warm and comforting, the only area in which she felt herself to be at one with. The television opposite her blared its broadcasts, blinding her with bright light, as an advertisement for vacuum cleaners slid across the screen. Signing, Katie rubbed her eyes vigorously, and proceeded to reach for the popcorn bag next to her, in which she had eaten already half of the contents. Her parents were not home, having been called away on a business trip, in which they had to attend a conference of some distance away. Her younger brother, Owen, was asleep upstairs.

For the first time, Katie felt a slight probing into her comfort. The wind chimes at the front of the house jangled discordantly, adding some sense of fascination and wonder: the sweet, chiming jingles diffused slowly to her location, bringing with it a sense of the outside world. The house seemed then to be infinitesimally quiet: silence crept about in the corridors, curled around door-frames, and whispered their presence to all. Strangely, the noises from the television seemed to have  died down, fading into the shifting background, with a connotation of muffled voices, discordant voices, which did not dissipate when Katie concentrated more on watching the program. Slowly, her resourcefulness and her comfort was being eaten away; she nervously returned her outstretched arm back into the blanket.

The wind chimes jangled again. This time, they seemed to herald something else, something unrecognisably distant, something that crept about the house, avoiding human sight and the light…

Something stirred, far back from Katie’s vision. Something indefinable had started to proliferate, to expand.

A being slowly moved out of the shadows, and slowly ambled towards the glass back door, towards Katie’s position.

It knows, she thought. It knows what it wants to do…

The thing slowly came nearer: its sprite became larger, but its features did not get any more vivid and clear. Does it even have any features? Katie thought, as wave after wave of panic crippled her; made her helpless…

As the thing approached her position, it slowly slid one of its arms into its jacket pocket.

No, Katie thought.

A thin, wicked, steely gleam pierced the snowy scene. The thing was coming closer, closer. Any moment now, she’ll see it…

The thing filled the entire window: it reached its fingers forward…

Screaming, Katie finally forced her arms over her head, and pulled the blanket over herself, in one quick move; she could still imagine it coming closer, unimaginable horror in the depths of deep snow.

There was no one in the house: Owen was still asleep.

Shaking uncontrollably, Katie huddled on the sofa, eyes forcefully shut, small, pitiful whimpers coming out of her lips. She imagined the blanket being torn off, imagined the thing towing over her, wielding an unearthly weapon.

However, feeling the interior of her jacket, she found her mobile. Panicking, gasping, her face flushed with tears, she started to dial.

The police van reached her five minutes later. Then, Katie was visibly under enormous panic and stress. Huddled on the sofa, still unable to move, she cried out the events of the previous half-hour. Sergeant Kimble, who had been called away from his coffee break, felt a slight sense of annoyance at her. Having categorised Katie as a imaginative person, he was inclined to explain to her the role of the police: How could she have led the Police on a wild, rambling tale that was evidently illogical and false?

But the expression of genuine joy she gave when she saw him made him reconsider. He proceeded to calm her down.

“Look, love, there were no footprints outside in the back yard, where you claim to have seen the figure: and since no snow fell during the past half hour, we can safely assume that any footprints would still be present. Therefore, I can only say that the figure was part of your stressed mind, playing foolery on you.”

Having seen the sign of relief from the girl, he decided that he had done quite enough. Straightening his jacket, he called the girl’s parents, and advised that they return home: until then, Katie and Owen would stay with their friends.

He did not think that he should elaborate further: not even about the wet footprints that ran from the front door, which was invitingly open, and which curled slowly around the door to the living room, until it reached the back of the sofa.

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