Creatures crouch beneath the eaves. They are there when I look, still and passive, but when I look away their teeth grow long and sharp and their eyes dark. They’ve never overtly threatened me or made so much as a move in my direction. Like demented lawn gnomes, they just sit and stare with vaguely off expressions into the middle distance.
Their teeth breed anxiety. It’s like when you’re sleeping but your eyes are open and the wardrobe door is open, too, but you just can’t move, because sleep paralysis is a thing that 10% of people experience in their lifetime. It’s the feeling of knowing the danger is there but being unable to do anything about it. And worst of all, the wardrobe door is open only because you forgot to shut it, and not because Mike Wazowski is lurking there, evaluating you with his cyclopean stare. Tension resolved by mundane explanations is tension left unresolved.
When I approached the creatures crouched beneath the eaves, they reverted to their non-peripheral form, all malevolent grins and stifled mocking chuckles. So I kicked one, right in the face. That got the attention of the others, and they started exchanging stilted whispers and worried expressions – were they going to have to rise to my challenge and reveal themselves? Understand that their dilemma was decidedly non-feudal. It wasn’t a matter of besmirched honor or letting slights go unpunished, but something far simpler. Having kicked one and seen its teeth grow sharp in feral anger, would I proceed to apply my unprotected foot to the others? Their self-interest compounded into a far greater sum, until levees burst and fear flooded through.
The under-eaves are deserted now, the creatures left to go inhabit some other poor sod’s lawn. Did I defeat them? Not really. At night, there is still the chance that I will wake up and experience the terrifying lack of movement of a body held captive by REM atonia even as my consciousness fights against the suffocating hallucinations that so often accompany these waking nightmares. A loss of agency is one of the most horrifying fates imaginable – to look on helpless as your captor’s teeth grow long and sharp around you.