Fiction by Devin J. Meaney
It was drizzling and the copper creeper was hiding in the bushes outside an abandoned house. He was waiting for the sun to set, then he was going to break into the derelict building and steal all the copper from its crumbling walls. His beady eyes dilated at the sight of precious metal. The creeper wiped his nose with his sleeve, leaving his shirt badly stained with disgusting snot residue. He was hard up for money, and would do just about anything for a stray dime.
Eventually, the sun set, and the creeper made his way to the building. He pried at the wood nailed over a small basement window. He tore it from the side of the house and cast it aside. He entered the house, dangling in the air for a moment before he descended with a thud into the basement. He knocked something off a shelf as he fell, and he bent down to retrieve it. It was a leather bound book with a title that insinuated it was occult literature. The creeper had no time for make believe, so he put it back on top of the shelf and got back to work. He pulled a hammer from the depths of his hoodie and plunged it into the basement wall. It was night time now. The house was on the outskirts of town, and nobody would hear the creeper hammering into the night. He hammered and hammered until his wrists felt like they were on fire.
The creeper was smashing at the wall for about another twenty minutes or so when he heard a sound coming from upstairs. He assumed it was just a few rats or other undesirable critters, so he shrugged it off and kept working. A few moments passed, and he heard it again. It sounded like footsteps running across the hardwood floor upstairs. The creeper put down his hammer and strained his ears to hear what or who was upstairs, but the footsteps had died out. The creeper laughed, telling himself that his mind was just playing tricks on him. He picked his hammer back up and thrust it into the second basement wall. By now, he had managed to attain a large pile of copper. When he was through in the basement, he was going to move on upstairs and start harvesting copper there as well.
Just as the creeper was starting on his third wall, a deafening bang came from above him. It sounded as if a door was slammed with so much force that it almost came off its hinges. The creeper threw his hammer in fright and it smashed into the floor violently. Cowering in fear, he remained silent. Something was definitely up there. He desperately wanted to make his way back out the basement window to safety, but for some strange reason, the creeper wanted to see who or what it was that was making the racket. Calming down, he decided that it was probably teenagers. He needed to confront them, nothing or nobody was going to scare him away from his copper. He ascended the basement staircase leading to the first floor of the house, trying to be quiet so that the denizens upstairs would not hear him coming.
When he reached the door to the main portion of the house, he strained his ears to see if he could hear any movement on the other side. He opened the door, and at first glance, he could not see anyone. He checked the kitchen and the living room. He also checked the bathroom and the small part of the house leading into the front porch. Nothing. There was a spiral staircase leading upwards into the decrepit mansion. The creeper desperately wanted to leave and go back to his lovely copper, but his morbid curiosity got the better of him. He climbed the stairs, trying not to breathe heavily so as to not startle anyone or anything. After a few moments he came to the end of the staircase. The upstairs portion of the house was in bad shape, forcing the creeper to the side of the hallway so he would not fall through the floor-boards.
There were a few bedrooms and an upstairs bathroom, but nothing seemed to be there. The creeper even checked the closets, but they were as empty as his conscience. He laughed to himself once more, telling himself again that the ruckus was nothing more than a group of rodents desperately searching for stray crumbs. On his way back downstairs to his precious metal, he heard what sounded like a child sobbing. He made his way back through the upstairs hallway, realizing that there was an attic hatch leading upwards. After a few moments of mustering up his courage, he decided to make way into the attic and see what was wrong. The creeper did not like children, as he considered them to be nothing more than annoying, sniveling creatures. He cared for children in the same way that a slum lord cared for his tenants. Not at all. However, if the child was lost, there might be some kind of reward. Being a hero was never a main priority of the creeper, but his empty pockets lusted for a free meal ticket.
When the creeper opened the attic hatch, he was taken by surprise. There were three corpses on the floor, adorned in black robes. Blood, bones and feathers were scattered across the floor in grisly fashion and black candles were left unlit on a makeshift altar in the center of the room. The windows were covered, allowing no light to enter, but the room was still lit by one small lightbulb dangling from the ceiling in the left corner of the small space. The foul stench of death and decay assaulted the creeper's nostrils, forcing him to gag and wretch violently. It was pretty obvious what had happened here. He remembered the occult book he found in the basement and he put two and two together. This was some sort of seance gone wrong. He didn't care about these people, but he sure as hell did not want anyone to think that he had something to do with this. It was time for the creeper to go home. He would take his copper and leave.
Just as he was about to leave, the attic hatch shut violently and locked from the other side. The creeper tried desperately to pry at the hinges, but they would not move even an inch. Even when he attacked the hatch with his hammer, he couldn't put a dent in it. Just then, the bulb in the corner of the attic flickered out, and the creeper was left in darkness. He froze, desperately trying to comprehend what was happening. Suddenly, he could hear the child sobbing again. This confused the creeper, as he knew he was alone in the room. Or was he? He put out his arms, reaching for the unseen child. His hands found nothing but air. The sobbing grew louder and more persistent, and the hairs on the back of the creeper's neck stood up on end. This was not normal.
The crying eventually changed its tone. Instead of a child crying, the sound transformed into low-pitched gutturals, as if a pitbull or some other breed of large dog was crying over its dead owner. The crying eventually turned into a dark laughing sound, making the creeper freeze in position once more. Whatever this was, it was no child. The laughter grew louder and more maniacal, terrifying the creeper to his very core.
Suddenly, he was thrown against the nearest wall. Pinned there by an unseen terror, the creeper could not move. He could not see what was attacking him, but the creeper knew he was done for. With one swift motion, the sound of his snapping neck could be heard ominously throughout every room of the house. The creeper's lifeless body hit the attic floor with a thud, blood trickling from his mouth like a leaking faucet. The creeper would never steal copper ever again, and nobody would miss him, as he had stolen from pretty much every family in town. There would be no funeral, no service, and without a doubt, no tears. The creeper died as he lived. Alone, surrounded by darkness.
If there is anything to be learned from the creeper's descent into thievery, it is this:
Next time you break into an abandoned house, make damn sure that it isn't haunted. The living may never catch you, but the dead never sleep. If you live your life in darkness, the darkness owns your life.