Morrigan, a nocturnal, sleep-paralysis demon, hid inside a dilapidated shed. She pondered evil thoughts while waiting for daylight to pass. An aching desire to inflict humans with her toxic breath ebbed away at her patience. The long, black-haired fiend peered through a small hole in the wooden door. She gazed at nearby homes in the remote Midwestern town, and the approaching dusk filled her with an impish glee. Darkness equated to swallowed light—the removal of a safety net for pitiful people.
A short time later, nightfall arrived, ushering in chilly temperatures and profound blackness—Morrigan’s favorite things. She flew out from the shabby storage building and soared high above the treetops. Her black, lacy gown and veil flapped in the wind. The malicious demon headed toward an old Craftsman home, one that had grabbed her attention while she waited inside the shed.
Closed doors, windows, and walls weren’t a problem for the atrocious apparition. Her body penetrated solid objects with ease. Morrigan reached the desired house and slipped her head through a top story window. Inside the room lay a teenage girl, sound asleep in a queen-sized bed.
A baleful smirk spread across Morrigan’s face. She eased her way inside the window and glided toward the bed. The demon positioned herself over the girl’s body with her lifeless black eyes inches above the teenager’s face. Anticipation of her victim’s eyes springing open—and the fear they’d spew—caused her body to vibrate.
Morrigan pointed a bony finger at the girl. She waved it back and forth to inflict her victim with paralysis.
Startled, the teen’s eyes flew open. Floating inches above her was a gaunt-faced apparition. Paralysis stifled her movements, including the ability to call out. Unable to escape or turn away from the levitating fiend, terror washed over her.
The demon tilted her head and opened her sinister mouth. A thick, black, foggy substance oozed from her throat. Copious amounts spewed into the air. The toxic fog swirled, then came together, and formed a hand with elongated fingers.
The girl’s breaths quickened as the hand-shaped black matter moved toward her face. All attempts at escaping failed, causing her heart rate to surge. The hovering demon glared into her victim’s eyes as she sent the mysterious haze into the teenager’s throat. Delight filled her when she spotted tears rolling down the young girl’s cheeks. The gagging sounds
erupting from her victim gratified Morrigan.
The girl’s eyes rolled to the back of her head, and her body convulsed.
A black substance continued to flow into her throat and filled her insides. Her skin tone faded to a milky white, matching the evil demon’s pasty- colored skin.
Several minutes passed before the young girl awoke. She sat up and stared with a blank expression at the wall. The room temperature plummeted, causing white clouds upon every exhale. Her body shivered in the inky darkness. The teenager remained in a trance, unaware of the demon—unaware of everything. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
The demon pulled the black veil over her face and hovered near the ceiling in the far corner. Watching the afflicted girl brought her joy. An evil grin possessed her face.
With a honeyed voice, the demon whispered, “Go—be free.”
With robotic movements, the teenager climbed out of bed. She headed toward the window and peered outside. With force, she pounded her face against the glass until it shattered.
The girl’s parents heard the commotion and stormed into her bedroom. Confused by their daughter’s state of calmness, they halted in the doorway. Their daughter turned toward them and gazed through glossy, unaware eyes. Her bloodied face horrified them.
“Kiera?” her father gasped. He slapped a hand over his mouth.
The mother stepped toward the injured teen. “Sweetheart, are you okay?” Kiera turned away from her parents and jumped through the shattered
window. A sickening thud filled the air. The violent landing snapped her neck and forced her head into a grotesque position.
Satisfied, Morrigan slipped through a wall and headed back to the dilapidated shed. Daytime approached, and its light cocooned the pathetic humans in its protective folds. The demon took refuge inside the shabby structure and waited for nightfall to return.
Early the next morning, dawn’s chorus arrived, forcing Morrigan’s clammy skin to crawl. She hated birds and their songs as they cascaded throughout the air. She’d much rather listen to bony fingers scratch a chalkboard or the squeals of a slaughtered pig. Or, better yet, listen to one of her victims take their last breath. She glanced out the small hole in the wooden door, intending to send a curse to the noise-makers. Movement from her left halted the spell-casting.
The fat, elderly homeowner hobbled his way toward the shed—her hideaway. Though tempted to use a spell and force the man’s walking stick to drop, Morrigan opted to conceal herself. She hid with the tarp- covered riding mower.
Clyde leaned his walking stick against the shed and retrieved keys from his pocket. The November morning brought chilly temperatures, but a lack of wind made it seem warmer. Clyde hummed away as he slid the key into the padlock.
Morrigan despised his singing—loathed his cheerful mood; it grated
on her nerves. Her eyes narrowed into small slits, and her black pupils threatened to sear the tarp in which she hid. As her abhorrence grew, so did the frigid temperature inside the shed.
The lock clicked and slid open. Clyde pulled on the double doors to swing them outward, but a force yanked them closed.
“What in tarnation?” the elderly man exclaimed. He gazed around at the nearby trees. Stilled branches confirmed the morning air lacked a breeze.
His brows furrowed as he stepped toward the doors to give them another tug. This time, they opened without a problem. Clyde shrugged a shoulder and entered the shed.
“Jiminy Cricket!” He zipped up his jacket. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this shed was air-conditioned.”
Puffs of white clouds came from his mouth with each exhale. A pungent aroma invaded his nostrils, and he crinkled his nose in disgust.
“Pheewwww,” he blurted while he scratched at his chronic five o’clock shadow.
Clyde walked around the stored items within the old shed and wondered if a dead rat or opossum existed. He flinched when his eyes glimpsedmovement under the tarp draped over his riding mower.
“Ah-ha! Come here, you little varmint.”
He stepped toward the mower, and the shed slammed shut. The startled old man flinched and leaned on his walking stick to peer behind him. Darkness diminished visibility, forcing Clyde to squint. He stepped with caution toward the double-doors. After easing them open, he glanced outward.
“Hhhmm.” He rubbed his chin. “Darn warped hinges. Wonder if I have an old can of WD-40 in here,” he muttered.
The containers on the shelves held various items. There were cleaners, rusted tools, cans of paint, and replacement parts for appliances. Unable to locate the can of lubricant, Clyde stood in silence—lost in thought. The old man considered consolidating items into his larger shed but wasn’t sure if he was up to the task. A whoosh sound—and a wisp of icy breath on the back of his neck—broke his reverie.
Clyde turned his attention back to the mud-colored tarp. His body stiffened, and apprehension set in. He gritted his teeth and edged his way closer.
After a brief pause, he extended a shaky hand toward the mower and gathered a handful of the tarp. With caution, he eased it upward—one inch—two inches—three inches—
“Clyde!” Edith, his wife, yelled from the doorway. “What the hell are ya doin’ out here in this shitty shed?”
Edith’s cussing could shame a trucker. Though her husband never swore, she often spewed enough for the two of them. She placed both hands on her hips and glared at her husband.
Clyde let go of the tarp and turned toward his wife. “I came out here to get my old shovel, Edith. Old stuff always works better than the modern crap that gets made today.”
The ill-tempered wife stepped into the shed. “This hell-hole is not only too damn cold, but it stinks like shit! You told me you’d get rid of this piece of junk after the new one got built.” She pointed her finger at her husband. “Well, Clyde, five years have passed! Son-of-a-bitch needs to go!”
“Yes, dear,” Clyde responded. He stood in silence with his arms placed at his sides, like a scolded child.
“And another thing,” Edith continued. “You ain’t gonna find no damn shovel under that tarp!” She pointed at an object hanging on the back wall. “It’s right over there. Are you blind?”
“You’re right, dear. Thank you.” Clyde knew better than to argue with Edith. He headed toward the shovel without uttering another word.
Edith turned and stomped out of the shed, mumbling as she left. “Goddamn abomination!”
Morrigan smirked under the tarp. I like that witch!
Later that day, the bronze sunlight faded. It welcomed Morrigan to an evening full of evilness. The malicious demon peered through the hole in the shed door to gaze at the nearby homes.
“Eenie Meenie Miney Mo—which direction should I go?” She cackled and toyed with a lock of her black hair.
Though daytime offered stillness, nightfall brought glorious gusts of wind. Perfect for a demon to sail throughout the skies.
Morrigan’s soulless eyes fell upon a gray-colored ranch-style home. “Bingo!”
She soared through the darkness, relishing the chilled air. Her gown and veil danced in the wind as she made her way toward the single-story home—toward its inhabitants. Morrigan arrived at the low-pitched roof and paused. The demonic apparition hovered above the eaves. She took a moment to breathe in the night air and contemplated potential evil deeds. Delight surged, sending vibrations throughout her entire body.
With a baleful smirk, she entered through the enormous picture window at the front of the house. The spacious living room was messy and cluttered with laundry and garbage. The occupants left scattered trash instead of using a proper receptacle.
“Filthy pigs. I hope they squeal like one when they die,” Morrigan mumbled.
She zoomed around the room once more before heading down the hallway toward the bedrooms. One door of many remained closed, piquing the demon’s interest. Morrigan slipped inside and sailed over to the foot of the bed. The sleepers, a male and female, lay under a quilted blue comforter in the king-sized bed.
The black-haired demon gazed around the room. Layers of clothes sat piled high on the wooden desk and its chair. And the floor had blankets, towels, jackets, and other clothing peppered throughout.
The demon turned her attention back to the filthy inhabitants. She cocked her head sideways, then thrust a finger at the male, waking him into a state of paralysis.
The male woke to a hovering demon with malicious eyes that bored into his face. His heart raced and breaths quickened. The pasty-skinned apparition scrutinized him with dilated pupils. The immobile state disallowed the surging scream from erupting. And tears filled his eyes, which delighted the evil presence floating above.
Morrigan smirked, exposing a set of yellowed teeth. She opened her sinister mouth and discharged a black, foggy substance into the air. Profuse amounts gushed from her throat and swirled before coming together. The demon formed a thick-handled knife with her black, toxic haze.
The mysterious matter glided toward the man’s face and entered his mouth. He gagged, then shifted his eyes left and right, and struggled to break free. But the toxic cloud filled his body and stifled his strength, causing his eyes to roll to the back of his head. He gave a few shudders before his movements dwindled, then ceased.
A cackle escaped from the demon’s lips as she flew to a dark corner of the bedroom. She concealed her face with the black-laced veil as it was time to sit back and observe—her favorite part. Morrigan believed her mind was colorful, creative, poetic even.
A short while later, the man, devoid of color and emotion, roused and sat up. He stared straight ahead—in a drunken stupor—and exhaled white puffs into the frigid air. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.
The demon gazed at the afflicted man, and her venomous voice whispered, “Go—be free.”
The oblivious man got out of bed and headed toward the tall dresser. He reached up and grabbed a metal object from the cluttered top. With a firm grasp of the item, he made continuous whacks against the furniture.The noise echoed throughout the room.
Startled, his wife awoke and sat upright. She gazed around the bedroom, searching for the source of the unusual clamor. Felice’s eyes came to rest upon the backside of her husband as he made repeated strikes against the dresser.
Confused, she stuttered, “Wh-what the hell are you doing?”
Felice climbed out of bed, walked over to her husband, and placed a hand upon his back. His frigid skin spooked her, and she yanked her arm away.
“What’s wrong with you, Tim?”
Tim turned to face Felice and gazed at her through dilated, incognizant eyes. He raised a hand into the air, revealing a pair of scissors.
Felice gasped, and her mouth fell open. “What... what are you—”
A nescient Tim swung the scissors downward, impaling her in the eye socket. Felice stumbled backward and fell to the floor. A scream erupted from her throat as blood oozed from the orbit and trickled down her cheek. She wanted to yank the scissors out but didn’t know if it would cause further harm.
Tim stepped toward his panicked wife.
She edged backward and cried out. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you doing this to me?”
He bent and reached for the scissors, then yanked them from Felice’s eye. A squishing sound permeated the air. The husband stood and turned his head sideways to gaze at her. In a swift motion, he forced the sharp instrument into her neck and severed the carotid artery.
Felice grabbed at her spurting neck. Her skin went pale, and her body slumped to the floor. She surrendered to blackness.
The altered state of consciousness continued for Tim as he stepped away from his dead wife. He walked toward the edge of the bed. The oblivious man sat and gazed at the pool of blood that formed around Felice. His expressionless face looked on while he stabbed the scissors into his own neck. Tim gave a few forceful wriggles and caused a red fountain to erupt. He fell backward onto the mattress and bled out.
Morrigan gave a mirthless laugh. She glided around the room to garner one last look at her bloodied victims. Filled with contentment, the demonexited through the window. Her flight back to the run-down shed was delightful. She soared high above the treetops, replaying the horrific images in her mind of every bloody, violent detail.
After completing several chores around the yard, Clyde headed to the old shed. He needed to gather a few supplies. The stubborn doors required a forceful tug, and he stumbled backward when they gave way.
“Jiminy Cricket,” he uttered.
The elderly man stepped into the shed and crinkled his nose. Rank odors and frigid temperatures continued to bathe the inside.
“Gonna have to call an exterminator,” he said aloud, speaking to no one. “Gotta be a dead animal.”
He stood with his hands placed on his hips as he gazed around the inside of the shed.
“Talking to yourself again?” Edith taunted. “Don’t you go all crazy on me.” She waved a finger a few inches from his face.
Clyde inhaled. “I ain’t crazy, Edith. I’m sure you smell it too. I’ll get someone over here.”
“If ya just get rid of this piece of shit—ya won’t have any more worries. I’ve had it with this abomination,” Edith raised her voice. Her reddened face glared at him.
There she goes again—temper flaring. It’s time to bring in the big guns—the only thing guaranteed to settle her attitude.
“Do you need anything else before Gracie comes later today? I’m going to the store.”
Little Gracie. Their granddaughter. Edith’s pride and joy. The adorable five-year-old had a head full of long, blonde locks. She was chock full ofpersonality and entertained her grandma for hours. Gracie got pretty much anything she wanted. All she had to do was gaze into Gamma’s face with those vibrant blue beauties.
“She loves that character-themed macaroni and cheese. Why don’t ya grab several boxes since she’s spending the weekend,” Edith said with a softened tone.
“Sure, sure,” Clyde nodded. “And some of those fresh strawberries. She gobbles those up.”
Edith’s smile grew, and she clapped her hands with joy. “I’m gonna go make a pitcher of lemonade,” she exclaimed as she sprinted toward the house.
Clyde struggled to stifle his laughter. Any mention of little Gracie never failed to soften Edith’s mood.
Morrigan hid under the tarp. Her anger flared. She wondered about the Gracie character—the one that caused the witch’s berating to vanish. The demon waved a finger and caused the shed door to swing, scraping Clyde’s arm as it closed.
Clyde rubbed at the scratch on his upper arm. He locked the shed, then headed out to pick up a few items for little Gracie’s overnight visit.
A short time later, the old man arrived home and backed his truck up toward the front door. He carried the grocery items into the kitchen, then headed back outside. The day was warm and calm—ideal for planting. Clyde had picked up a plum tree while acquiring Gracie’s favorite foods.
The elderly man retrieved his favorite shovel from the old shed and headed out to scan the yard. He chose what he felt was the perfect location for a plum tree—halfway between the house and shed. It offered full sun, and the soil drained well. Digging was hard work for the old man, but he was proud of getting it done.
Edith burst from the front door and made her way toward him. She yelled, “Why the hell are ya diggin’ a damn hole in the ground, Clyde? Did ya forget that Gracie is comin’ over today? Look at the mess you’ve made!”
“That’s exactly why I’m digging a hole, Edith. I picked up a plum tree for her. She’ll love having her very own tree planted. Little Gracie can check on its growth every time she visits.”
Like magic—the elevated temper simmered, then descended. Hhhmmm was the only audible sound that came from her lips as she turned and stomped back toward the house.
The moment Clyde finished planting the tree, a white Jeep drove up the driveway. His precious granddaughter’s blue eyes peered out the side window. Her rosy cheeks and toothy grin brought a smile to his face.
Darkness fell and stole the bright colors of daylight, removing the human’s safety net. With little contemplation needed, Morrigan decided her evening’s mission was to end Gracie’s life. She brought far too much joy to Edith. It was imperative the witchy lady return to her natural miserable state. Her misery brought misery to Clyde, which brought pure joy to the sleep-paralysis demon.
Morrigan set out to execute her brilliant idea. The demon circled the property a few times before descending toward the colonial-style home. Her eyes flickered with glee. Recalling Edith’s gripe to install a new child gate at the top of the stairs informed her of where to find the young girl. Sheheaded straight to the second-story bedrooms.
The first room Morrigan entered was a monochromatic tan-colored guest room. It was devoid of little Gracie, so she headed for another. Though winds were minimal throughout the day, they had turned blustery. Howls echoed throughout the house. The intense gusts emitted an ominous tone—even for the sinful fiend.
She glided into a muted green bedroom with a twin-sized bed. The pink comforter, princess-themed, concealed the tiny, sleeping body of Gracie. Her blonde curls sprawled across the pillow, and she cradled a teddy bear in the crook of her arm.
The demon tilted her head and opened her sinister mouth. She flicked a finger in the child’s direction to send a dose of paralysis. The apparitionwanted to assure immobility upon her transition from sleep to wakefulness.
The girl awakened, and her big, blue eyes flew open. She sprang upright with the teddy bear clutched in an arm.
Perplexed, Morrigan’s evil eyebrows furrowed. She directed another shake of her finger at the small child to inflict a stronger dose of paralysis.
The girl set her stuffed animal on the comforter, then crossed her arms and glared at the demon.
Morrigan glided closer and loomed over the small child. “What the hell are you?”
Gracie batted her lashes, and the corners of her mouth turned up. She gazed into the gaunt face of the apparition.
Morrigan opened her mouth and discharged a heavy dose of black fog. With force, she blew it toward the child’s mouth.
An invisible barrier stopped the toxic matter before it reached little Gracie. The shield directed the fog upward, away from the girl.
The levitating fiend placed her hands in front of her body. She swirled them around to create a potent paralytic curse. A bright orange orb formed and floated above her upturned palms. With an evil smirk, the fiend sent the tainted sphere at the young child.
The vivid orange ball stopped short of Gracie’s body. It hovered a moment, then dissolved into midair.
The little girl’s blue eyes narrowed, and her pupils began flickering a faint tint of amber. The color spread from the center of her eye and replaced her blue-colored irises. It intensified to a vibrant orange, matching the demon’s glowing orb.
Confusion and terror washed over Morrigan. She glided back a few feet and maintained her gaze on the fiery-eyed five-year-old.
“Morrigan,” the child spoke, her voice soft and sweet. She lowered her head and scowled at the levitating demon through eyeballs ablaze. Her voice dropped several octaves, then turned into a male’s deep rumble. “I’m your worst nightmare! Go—be free.”
Morrigan’s body convulsed. A throbbing sensation surged inside her head and caused her hands to shoot up and cover her ears. A scream seeped through her clenched teeth, and her body writhed in pain.
Gracie’s eyes dimmed to a soft amber, and she reached for her teddy bear. She hugged the stuffed toy and watched in amusement as the demon flailed. The sleep-paralysis demon went limp, then disintegrated. She left behind a faint, blackened cloud.
Little Gracie giggled and climbed back underneath her covers. The doorknob turned, and her grandmother stepped inside the bedroom.
“Gracie, you okay? I heard some commotion.”
Gracie sat up and smiled. “Yes, Gamma. Teddy fell out of bed, and I had to pick him up.”
Edith tucked her granddaughter under the covers. She gave her a kiss on the cheek, then headed back to bed.
The moonlight shined in through Gracie’s bedroom. The older she grew, the less she became fond of lights. She slid an arm from under the blankets and pointed at the drapes. Thick, black smoke spewed from her fingertips. It formed a hand with elongated fingers. The mass glided toward the curtains and pulled them closed. The fog thinned and dissipated into midair.
Gracie smiled, then rolled over and drifted back to sleep.