This article is part of the That Insidious Beast series.


Summer of 1983 - The Backyard


The grass is cool beneath my bare feet. The cicadas have fallen silent. The only sounds are that strange, soft rustling and the gentle tinkling of Mrs. Harding's wind chimes. I look down at my toes and squeeze them together so that the blood from my cut foot oozes up between my big toe and the toe next to it.

It doesn't hurt so bad. Maybe I should just go home. I can walk on my heel and keep my toe up off the ground. I'll come back for my bike later.

Why am I so afraid to take that last step? Why am I afraid to open the gate and walk into Mrs. Harding's backyard?

I'm just a silly little boy. When I wake up at night and need to go pee I'm afraid aliens will jump out at me. Even with my parents sleeping a few feet away I have a vivid fear - nearly a terror - of a giant white face looming out of the darkness. In my imagined horror some property of the face deadens all sound. I can't cry out for help.

"Shhhhhhh," it says as it fills my view.

My mouth opens in a silent scream.

"Shhhh-shhh," goes the sound of rustling in Mrs. Harding's backyard.

Silly little boy! Tara has every reason to tease me and call me scaredy-cat. What would Admiral Collins say about a coward like me? The Lunar Lancers would never win a battle if I were around.

I sigh and push open the gate.

The giant white face looms out of the darkness.

"Shhhhhhh," it says as it fills my view.

"Shhhhh-shhh," goes the sound in Mrs. Harding's backyard.

My mouth opens in a scream. I am not a silly little boy.

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