a postcard story that I need you to read right now, please, it's an emergency

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Don't Open Your Eyes

a postcard story that I need you to read right now, please, it's an emergency

Years ago, my cousin taught me the staring man’s game. We'd squeeze our eyes shut and look for shapes in the colour bursts. Try it. Close them and search for the outline of a man. He’ll seem to stay in the same spot, even if you move your head.

Keep your eyes closed. Pretend your vision is a camera and move it toward him. When you get close, you'll see his arms hanging at his sides with long, thin fingers. It'll feel like he's staring back. Stay calm. Ignore the sensation that he's standing right in front of you, reaching out with slender hands. Wait until you hear a low, angry growl inches from your face. That's when you have to open your eyes. Have you tried it yet? Good, good. Thank you.

I’m sorry. I lied. You're not supposed to open your eyes until he leaves, otherwise you'll see what my cousin saw: he’s there in front of you, eyeballs straining like he's screaming, except he's smiling with lips pressed so tight they’ve gone white. After that, my cousin saw him every time she shut her eyes, always getting closer. She moved two states away, but he followed. One night, she called crying that he was in the house. She begged me to play the game and draw him off. She sounded so scared. What could I do but agree?

We’ve been swapping ever since, letting him get close, then calling to trade. But last week, when I was on a trip, my cousin didn’t call. Car accident. Coma. My family waited until I got back to tell me, and by then... Well, no one saw who broke into her hospital room and tore her apart with surgical tools, but she must have. Her eyes were open so wide when they found her.

Since then, I’ve been on my own with him. I’m so sorry, but I didn’t know what else to do. It had to be a stranger, someone far away. Just pass him along before he gets close. And if you do feel him nearby just remember: Don’t. Open. Your. Eyes.


Short story written by Peter Chiykowski

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Story prompt taken from a photo by Mitchell Griest

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