Night Shift

The sun peeked over the horizon, ensuring everything was as he’d left it.  The earth, clearly pleased to see his return, snaked long wispy tendrils of steam upwards, celebratory streamers heralding the return of her luminous lover.

Fred yawned and stretched, reaching his fingers high into the early dawn sky.  Night shifts were starting to take their toll on him.  He ran a hand over the soft furry down that now covered the bulk of his body.  He’d need to shave soon.

He glanced down at his bare feet, and noted passingly that his toenails needed clipping, and he’d have to scrub the pumice stone over his callouses again.  What he’d give to wear his sturdy lace up Timberlands, but he would be heard too easily stomping around in them.  The need for silence, stealth, superseded his trifling concerns with comfort.

He rubbed his eyes.  It had been a fruitful night, at any rate.  Probably his most successful yet.  The weeks of careful planning had paid off, he’d managed to target more households than ever before.  He was getting good at this.  Where previously his entry to a house had elicited screams of terror, now he was so furtive that he remained unnoticed until he pounced.  A small smile quivered across his lips, giving a glimpse of yellowed, keenly sharpened incisors.

Fred felt the evaporating morning mist meander through his hair, leaving behind a frame of curlicued ringlets as it went.  He jostled out of his smug reflections and retrieved his clothes from behind the tree where he’d hidden them.  Carefully, methodically he dressed himself, making sure to cover as much as possible.  He wanted no chance of being recognised.  He shrugged himself, at last, into his large brown coat.  Several sizes too big for him, the sleeves hung limply halfway down his hands.  Pushing them up, Fred bent to the task of lacing his beloved boots.  He tripped his fingers over their soft suede exterior, wishing he could wear them always.  Tugging at the laces, he tied a firm knot, patted the shoes, and righted himself, letting the sleeves of his coat dangle over his hands once more.  Finally, he fetched his hat from its hiding place, adjusted it on his head, and tugged at the brim till it sat just beneath his eyebrows.  No-one would recognise him now.  They could barely see him, nor he, them.

He gave a satisfied nod, and set clumpingly off for his home.  Food and sleep were his priority.  There would be many more long nights this frightful season, but he didn’t want a repeat of last year’s dismal failure.  He would never be mistaken for a cuddly teddy again.  Oh, no no no.  He was determined to be the Most Terrifying Nightmare Monster, 2015 at this year’s Scarecademy Awards.

©Asha Rajan

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