Pseudopod 126: The Ashen Thing

By Paul Mannering

Read by Ben Phillips

I dropped the half-eaten turkey on rye back on my plate and stared
darkly at the new wheel-chair ramp, a big yellow exclamation mark
visible from the sidewalk. Warning! Freak in Residence! Imagining the
whispered concerns of our new neighbors was fuel for the fire of my
self-pity. I was so lost in my gloomy fantasy that I did not notice
the first tapping until it became a knocking, and then a scrape. As if
someone had hit the wooden deck under my wheels and then dragged a
hands worth of nails along it. I glanced around; Tammy had not
re-emerged. I looked down. A glint of something wet. Something like an
eye or wet flesh, staring up from the darkness under the deck. I
twisted the steel rims under my hands and adjusted my position to look
again. The thing was gone. I listened, and for a moment, I heard a
sound like a wet blanket dragging on dirt, then Tammy re-appeared and
the sound was lost under her footsteps and sigh of satisfaction.

“You done?” she asked, indicating my abandoned plate with one moisturized hand.

“Yeah, thanks,” I was still turning the fragment of a moment over in
my mind. I had seen an eye. Someone was under our house. Crawling in
the dust and dirt, under the decking, under the floors, slithering
around the concrete pilings, the ducting of the central heating that
terminated in black metal grills in our floors and doing what?
Listening? Searching for a way to break in?