She’s gotten one step closer every night, and I think tonight will be the last.

I first saw the her at the end of my driveway. She’s probably 5’7”, gauntly thin, with greasy, shoulder-length brown hair. She is always wearing the same thing, a blue and yellow floral print dress that stops just above her knees; she’s also barefoot. Her arms are like sticks, and they just hang at her sides as she stares at me. Her pale skin looks as if it’s half a size too small, stretched tight over her limbs. All that is off-putting enough, but it’s her face that is the part that just…gets under my skin…that face.

The first time I saw her was 41 days ago. She was standing at the very end of my driveway, and I just happened to look out the window when I was about to go to bed, otherwise I wouldn’t have even noticed her. I don’t know how long she’s been around, I just know that that was first time I saw her. I stepped out onto my porch to ask her what she was doing there, but that’s when I saw her face.

From my distance I couldn’t make out the particular details, but I could see that her eyes were sunken in, as if she hadn’t slept in weeks.  As I said, her hair hung to her shoulders in greasy brunette strands, a few of them swept over into her mouth. And her mouth……it hung agape, and was slanted, like one side of it was dislocated, giving her a crooked sort of…extreme underbite.

I could feel her staring directly at me, and I can say with confidence that it was the most frightening thing I’d ever felt up to that moment. She was locked on me, focused, like there was nothing else in the world around us. I eventually overcame my initial terror-stricken silence.

”Are you okay?” I’m pretty sure it came out as nothing more than a whisper.

She didn’t say a word, didn’t move a muscle, just stood there; it didn’t even look like she was breathing.

”Do you need help?” I asked her, but I got the same blank stare in response.

I asked her a few more times what she was doing there, was she lost, etc., but all I got in return was her dead gaze. I decided I needed to call the police, because by my guess, the woman was either ill or intoxicated; whatever she was, she wasn’t moving. I called the police, said there was a woman who looked injured and was conscious but unresponsive standing at the end of my driveway, and when dispatch connected me to an officer in the field, it turned out he was only a few blocks away.

I stayed on the phone as the officer made his way to my home, and when he turned down my street, I thought to turn on my porch light; I’d been looking at the woman under the light of the moon and the streetlight p to that point. Until then I’d kept my eyes on the woman, but I needed to step back and turn to the adjacent wall, but in the split-second it took me to look at the switch and look back, the woman was gone.

The officer arrived moments later, and I told him what had happened. He radioed for another unit to survey the area in an effort to find the woman, who had presumably run from where she’d been standing. The officer took the report, and said they would keep an eye out, but based on my description of the woman, he told me she was likely homeless, potentially mentally ill, and potentially on any number of drugs. He also assured me that he would be surprised if I ever saw her again, and that I more than likely wasn’t a specific “target”, that our house just happened to be the one she decided to stare at.

My wife had eventually come down, and I told her what happened. I got an uneasy sleep that night; something didn’t feel right. Nonetheless, I got on with my life, and the next day went as it would’ve had the strange occurrence not happened the night prior. Then around 8:00pm, I got the feeling that I was being watched. I looked out my window, and there she was.

Where she’d been maybe two steps into my driveway the night before, she was now that many steps closer. She just stood there, her floral dress swaying lightly in the breeze, her jaw still unhinged and hanging down, her eyes still vacant of life. I quickly called Kimmy downstairs, telling her to call the police and to leave our daughter up in her room. When Kimmy got downstairs, I again looked away for only a split second, but in that time the woman was gone. Kimmy told the 9-1-1 operator that our daughter had accidently made an “emergency call”.

The next night the woman appeared a step or two closer. I kept my eyes on her as I told Kimmy to look, but I blinked and, of course, she was was gone. My wife was getting worried, and I was too; was I hallucinating a deranged woman? Every time I saw her, she didn’t move, she didn’t speak, she just…stood there.

She got closer and closer and the days passed, and as those same days passed my anxiety went up a hundredfold; I had the sinking feeling of knowing something is wrong, only I had it all the time. Every time I tried to show her someone else, she would vanish, only returning after I stopped. Before long she was on the sidewalk to our house, halfway to our front door. It was then that I decided I need to stay away from the house for a night. Kimmy and I took our daughter to a hotel for a mini-staycation, but when I went to the vending machine around 1am, I turned around and there she was.

In the middle of the hallway, a step or two closer to our hotel room door than she was to the door of our home, she stood, eyes blank and gaping maw on macabre display. Leaving the house didn’t do anything. She just seemed to move a step or two closer every day.

13 nights ago was when she finally made it into the house. My office is at the end of the hall, in line with the front door. In an effort to curb the constant state of panic I fall into every time the sun sets, I threw myself into my work. Around 2am I sat in my desk chair, my eyeslids heavy. I decided I was going to sleep so I shut my laptop, and in retrospect, it was the first time since that first night that the woman hadn’t been on my mind.

I stood up and stretched, and when I opened my eyes I was looking at the window in my office, I saw her in the reflection, standing down the hall, her back to my front door, just a few feet away from the staircase. I turned around and stared back, unsure of how to proceed. The police told me to stop calling since the four times they’d come out they hadn’t found any evidence of anyone being there.

I took a few cautious steps down the hall, for the first time advancing towards her rather than the other way around. I got within about ten feet of her before I stopped. She stood as still as if she were made out of marble, her jaw dislocated and hanging, arms at her side, eyes milky white with pale blue irises, completely void of any sentience, but locked on my own.

I decided against going upstairs. I wrote a note to Kimmy and said I was admitting myself to a mental health facility. I was there for four days, but the woman still followed, getting a step or two closer to where I would sleep every night. I had no idea what to do, no medicines helped with the “hallucinations”, and I have no idea who or what this woman is, or what she wants. I eventually claimed that what was going on must have been from stress, so as not to ge remanded to the facility for even longer. I decided that if I’m going to die I’m going to be with my family when I do. The woman seems to want nothing to do with my wife and daughter, so if it’s me she wants, she can have me.

Last night I stood face to face with her as she stood a few feet from our bed. Kimmy asked what I was doing, and when I went back to getting ready for bed, the woman was gone. I got into bed last night and kissed Kimmy goodnight, told her I love her, and she asked if I was okay. I told her I am, there’s no use in making her worry about something she or I has no control over; I want what limited time we have left to not be overshadowed by fear and concern.

My resignation to defeat might seem abrupt, but over the course of the last 38 or so days, I’ve reached out to all manner of people, done all manner of research, and whatever this woman is apparently has never been recorded before. A few people offered what help they could, and I took their advice, though none of the potential solutions did anything to stop the woman from getting closer to me. I feel that if I’m dealing with a problem that will ostensibly end once this woman gets to where she wants to be, and that there’s nothing I can do about it, I’m going to make what little time I do potentially have left a happy time.

I woke up around 4am to find the woman standing where she had been all night, only now her arm was outstretched, as if she were reaching for me with her thin fingers and unkempt nails. I know that tonight will be the night that she is close enough to where I sleep to do whatever she is going to do. And I know that whatever that is isn’t anything good.

The sun is setting now, and I’m typing this from my bed. Tonight may very well be my last night alive. I don’t know who this woman is, I don’t know what she wants. But I know that any moment, she will be at the side of my bed.

Her eyes sunken and lifeless. Her hair greasy, stringy and hanging to her shoulders. Her blue and yellow floral dress covering her pale, emaciated body. Her bare feet on our hardwood floor. Her spindly arm reaching towards me, jagged nails at the tips of her fingers.

Her jaw dislocated, unhinged, an egregious underbite hanging to the right, the crooked entrance to her cavernous maw.

She won’t be able to get any closer after tonight.

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