The Little Man
Ellen wasn't entirely sure when exactly the little man's mysterious silouhette had first started visiting her. All she could recall about the fateful day was walking home with twin bruised knees and that same night three taps at her window, and then as if a torch had been shone on her window through the blinds, the siliouhette of a plague doctor appearing. At first she hadn't even been sure whether or not he was real. A parent-led exploration of her window had revealed no traces of any kind of demon or ghost. All she had known for sure was that every night he arrived the same way: three knocks at her bedroom window. Then, after the terror had set in her little heart, three simple words.
Let me in.
Ellen never had let the little man in, childhood warnings of stranger danger had ensured that, but that didn't mean she hadn't been tempted.
One such night had been after a particularly bad day at school.
That night the little man was more talktative than usual. After the initial demand, and customary three knocks, the little man had spoken once more.
"Ellen." He had begun, immediately catching the frightened girl's attention. "Your parents are upstairs discussing your report card." He finished simply, as if talking about the weather.
Morbidly curious, Ellen had snuck upstairs, and stood quietly behind the door to her parents' bedroom for little over an hour.
Exactly as the little man had described, her parents were discussing her latest report card, and not in a complimentary way.
As she had returned to her bed, Ellen had felt unusually compelled to open the latch to the window, and let the little man in. That feeling had been almost as frightening as the little man himself. After that, Ellen swore to herself that she would never open the window.
The little promise didn't dissuade the demon from trying to convince her though. The additional conversation became a regular part of the nightime hauntings. Sometimes the little man told Ellen about things other children at school said about her. Other times, the little man played to her fears, telling her about every creepy crawly in every crevice of the house.
Ellen grew up with the little man. As she did, her fears changed. Her fear of spiders turned to a vague desire to avoid them. Her problems with bullies became so distant they were laughable.
She grew up into the kind of teenager who wore bright shades of lipstick she couldn't pull off, who drank her parents' spirits when they were not looking. The little man remained, but he was fading.
His once terrifying form of a plague doctor at her window now seemed over the top and silly. Such was her apathy for the little man that some nights he didn't bother to come to her window. Ellen felt she had defeated the spirit that had kept her awake at night for so long.
During this period, Ellen liked to spend long periods of time at her grandma's house, only walking distance from her school. There, among the floral curtains and buttered scones, she spent many hours discussing the ups and downs of life with the elderly woman. Ellen found her grandma to be very wise. On one such excursion to the old bungalow, Ellen even found the courage to bring up the little man. Of course, she didn't mention that he still haunted her occasionly at current time.
To her credit, Ellen's grandmother didn't laugh at her granddaughter's descriptions of the spirit in the window and the words he spoke. Instead she offered some advice simple advice that would stick with Ellen for a long time. She told the still young teenager that she should never feel that she has to deal with things on her own, and that if anything like that ever happened again, she should come and talk to her.
Ellen's grandmother didn't quite realise the magnitude of what she had done. Just like that, the little man was gone, seemingly to never return.
Ellen waited for the silouhette to return to the window, but it did not. Ellen felt she was at the highest point in her life, she had never felt so free and happy. When out on the street she found she no longer felt watched by every passerby. She stopped fumbling with her words so much when talking to new people.
It all felt too good to be true.
And it was.
One day, once winter had settled over the sky again, she found the little man waiting at her bedroom window once more. For a reason unknown to her, she knew he was stronger than he had been for a while.
He knocked three times, as was the tradition.
Then he spoke, his voice surprisingly malevelont.
"Let me in."
"No." Ellen replied quickly, placing her bag on the bed. "You have nothing on me. I don't care what you are going to tell me, I won't." She insisted.
"Ellen." The little man said, seemingly oblivious to what she had just said. "Your grandmother is dead." His words were suddenly calmer and spoken in a more comforting tone, as if he was consoling a child.
Ellen felt suddenly lightheaded. She sat down on her bed.
"No. You're lying." She said, but her words were quiet, and weaker than they had been a few seconds ago.
"Let me in." Was the little man's only reply.
Ellen didn't know why, but she somehow knew that he wad telling the truth.
"Why?" She whispered. She had known that her grandmother was frail, but this was so sudden.
"Let me in." The little man insisted.
For the first time in years, Ellen considered pulling open the window. Her grandmothers advice still stuck in her head from all those days ago, but it was going quieter, harder to hear amongst the many things buzzing in her brain.
"Let me in."
No. She thought. I musn't...
It was a meek protest.
Without her noticing, tears had begun to form in her eyes, and now they dripped down her face, leaving sticky trails down her cheek.
"Let me in."
Her hand started moving of its own accord, drifting towards the window latch.
I musn't ...
Thre words were all it took.
Let me in.
The next morning, Ellen's mother opened the door to Ellen's bedroom wondering where on Earth her daughter had got to. It had been half an hour the alarms in the house had collectively gone off, and yet Ellen was nowhere to be found.
As the door swung open, the poor woman let out a horrified scream.
There, on the bed Ellen lay, her eyes closed, and such a peaceful smile on her face that you could almost think she was asleep. Of course, the two long scratches down her both her wrists, bleeding out across the bed would give a rather different impression.
After Ellen's mother screamed again, her husband came running down the stairs to see what the matter was.
"No." Was all he said. "Not our Ellen."
After the all the trauma of that day, after the many police officers taking notes and photos and concerned neighbours offering their condolences, Ellen's parents lay in bed, struggling to sleep. Neither of them could wipe that image of Ellen from their eyes.
Because of the state they were in, neither found it notable when three loud knocks sounded at the window.
Nor when the silouhette of a plague doctor appeared at the window.
It was only when the shadow began to speak that they felt the fear that Ellen had experienced for so long.
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