Karen Heslop

Playing Possum

The night light flickered so Nichelle propped herself up and shifted the blanket to look over my shoulder. When she gasped and yanked the blanket back over her head, I flopped over on my back to peek. I slowly inched the blankets down my face. Glowing red eyes stared out from the crack in the closet door and dark red claws snaked around it.

As my eyes widened in alarm, Nichelle sprang into action. She threw a part of her shawl over me, lending me invisibility. She dragged me towards her and whispered urgently in my ear.

“Be still Bette. The creature won’t come after what it can’t see or hear.”

I closed my eyes and willed my frantic heart to beat in time with the steady rhythm Nichelle’s strummed into my back. The emerald creature ripped the blanket off exposing itself but not us. Its snout twitched as it sniffed the air. We held our breaths. With a grunt, the creature hefted its bulk out the window. Despite the danger, I wished I could have seen its reptilian skin in the glow of the full moon. I freed myself from the shawl.

“The portal threw us a new one. What was it?”

“A demon minion from the nether world. Vicious but not that bright.”

“I know the Council of Light only protects the future demon stalkers but you’d jump in if someone else was going to get hurt right?”

“Yes. It’s probably just out to collect ingredients for its master. I’ll stay close so you can stay under the shawl.”

I tossed and turned before falling into a fatigued sleep. My mother’s yell woke me.

“Dan! Jesus…did you see that?”

“You mean the hand hanging off the gurney?”

“Yeah, it’s like the flesh was – was ripped off! That poor girl.”

I turned to Nichelle. Her red rimmed eyes could not hold my gaze.

“It wouldn’t have helped if I had told you,’ she whispered.

I looked at the closet door which was now firmly closed. Next time I won’t play possum.



Karen Heslop writes from Kingston, Jamaica. Her stories have been published or are upcoming in Bards and Sages Quarterly, Grievous Angel and Fantasia Divinity Magazine.