A snippet from A Lonely Night in June, one of my stories I am fond of.
Josh froze rubbing the back of his neck, and this time he was positive there was someone in his closet because the face didn’t disappear. Not really a face though, no eye’s or mouth and just two slits angled in the center of leathery skin, Almost like the shell of a walnut, if the walnut was grey and rotting. Long black hair, greasy and dank, framed the horrible face that turned to the side like a dog, sniffing. Josh had the feeling of being studied and felt a shiver run up his spine. He wanted to scream, or run out of the apartment, but the fear gripped his heart and he couldn’t move as the blank face seemed to lower, then move forward to the other side of the bed. It then disappeared downward and Josh’s breath stopped in terrible anticipation, it fluttered thru his mind that he was being a coward but dismissed the thought as irrelevant at this point. Two hands came up, followed by the face between them. The hands gripped the comforter and in a blink it sprang up landing on the edge of the bed directly in front of him. He lurched back in the chair, pulling his feet down a second before the thing would have landed on him. It leaned forward until the face was a few feet from his. Head leaning side to side seeming to sniff as Josh was breathing heavy with his terror. He could smell something rotten coming off of the creature, something foul and somehow frightening all by itself. Then with another sudden movement, it leaned back to crouch on the side of the bed and a voice came quite clearly, childlike and almost sweet, lisping.
“Hello Joshua, You are the one I have been searching for. What would you say if I told you tomorrow morning you could save the life of a child. Or maybe next week stop a man from killing an innocent? Would you do it? Would saving a life be worth a risk or two?”
Joshua managed to control his breathing and not to faint, which, he thought was an accomplishment. Since the creature had move away he was able to calm down a little.
“Who… are you? What are you?” He said, finding his voice. He heard a sickening childlike giggle come from the thing, from where he could not tell.
“Manners, I had forgotten you humans have those. My pardon, Mmmm…A name? Your speech could not duplicate my language, at least not without considerable practice. Just call me Dan. Yes, that is a human name, perhaps having a human name will make you more comfortable with me, yes?” Joshua was pretty sure nothing was going to make him comfortable with this Dan, he did not answer.
“Feline has your inner appendage?” Dan questioned. Joshua was surprised into replying,
“What?” Dan cocked his head to the side, sniffing again.
“That thing in your mouth, does a feline have….” Joshua realized what he meant.
“Oh, cat got your tongue? Is that what you meant?” that laughter high and shrill made his blood go cold, but Dan seemed quite amused.
“Yes! That is it! I just love your kind’s quaint sayings. Maybe someday you can teach me more. Ahh but to business first, you never answered my question. Would you, if given the opportunity, save a life? Is that important to you?” Despite his fear Josh felt some irritation. Obviously this Dan had a pretty low opinion of humans, and while Josh did from time to time as well, he felt he at least he should stand up for himself.
“Of course, most people would.” He answered as bravely as he could. Dan shook his head and the straggling hair swung eerily side to side.
“I was not speaking of others of your kind. I was speaking of you. Would you?” He leaned forward slightly towards Josh again, and Josh was surprised at his insistence on such a question. Of course, he thought, none of this makes sense and maybe I am mad.
“Yes, if given the chance I would save someone’s life. Why? Why are you here? What am I to you? In fact, what are you?” Dan leaned back on his haunches hearing Josh’s answer. Josh noticed for the first time he was wearing a jump suite of some sort. Black, offsetting his slick, wrinkled grey skin.
“Very well, I assure you, you will not like it.” Dan answered.
“I already do not like it.”
“Then I will tell you”, he began, “you are my savior. Surprise! I am from what is commonly known as Hell. Hatched and raised there, thankfully. Recently I ended up, quite by accident, in a bit of trouble. It was not my fault, not really. The punishment for this is that I must come to this place and find someone to save lives. Odorous duty I assure you, but thus is life or death, depending. You agreed that you would save lives and in the process myself. I thank you, very kind.”