I was reading Stephen King's The Stand when the stranger visited the first time. I was in bed, next to my sleeping wife, Melinda, when I heard my garbage can tip over outside. It was after midnight and the can sits inside my fenced-in yard, so I went to the window to check it out. There he was, black with shadow from the streetlight behind him, staring directly up at my window on the second floor.
I went downstairs without turning on the light and grabbed my baseball bat, then peeked out the window of the diningroom, but he'd gone. Hopped the fence, I supposed.
The same thing happened the next night. As soon as I opened The Stand, I had déjà vu: I knew he was down there. And he was. Only this time he was at the front door. I could barely see him when I pressed my face against the cold window and peered straight down. As soon as I caught a glimpse of a grey sweatshirt and bluejeans, he disappeared entirely, though I heard footsteps downstairs.
I called the cops, and sat in bed holding onto the bat until they arrived. They said they found the front door open, but no one in the house. What I didn't get was, I'd locked the front door, and bolted it. I'd made damn sure to do it.
The next night I sat in bed with my book, afraid to open it. I kept an eye on the yard, and Melinda had me check the bedroom window every ten minutes after sunset. There was nobody there, I told her the guy was probably nuts or drunk and lost, and we'd never see him again. And the figure didn't appear again...until I'd finally opened to the page where I'd left off. But this time he wasn't outside.
He was standing at the foot of the bed.
Without the shadow on his face, I could clearly see his piercing eyes, wide jaw and pursed-lip smile. There was no doubt--it was Stephen King! I was dumbstruck by the absurdity of his presence in my home. I didn't even reach over to wake up my wife. I just sat there, mouth agape.
"Do you like my book?" he said, eyes glittering behind thick glasses. I nodded. I did like his book. "Would you like me to read it to you?"
I was terrified. I nodded again, but he walked to the side of the bed where Melinda was sleeping, opening his mouth wider than any man should be able, and ate her face in one giant bite. Then he left.
I'll never forget how she clutched at me, screaming without a tongue or eyes, blood flowing onto me, and our bed. My beautiful Melinda.
She died, of course. There was no way to survive it. And there was no evidence to support my case. It was an easy conviction for the jury.
Buford is my cellmate, a big fellow. I can hear him snoring right now. On my first day, the jailor had barely slammed the bars behind me shut when Big Buford pulled out his toenail clippers, held me down and clipped out my front teeth. The guards ignored my screams. I didn't know why he was doing it until after, when he pulled down his trousers. You can't bite without teeth.
But I'm not worried. I can get a bridge or two when I get out of here. I'm staying optimistic. You see, today they let me visit the library, and I made sure to get a copy of The Stand. There's only a sliver of light to read by this late at night, but that's okay.
I know someone who'd love to read it to me.
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