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This is getting annoying. It was just a background noise at first, almost like an afterthought as he finally got ready to go to bed, but eventually Minho started noticing it happening every night at 2.30AM. This night too, like clockwork for the past two weeks but probably more, the mysterious chain rattles repeatedly for no more than 30 seconds, absolutely randomly: there's no wind blowing or people passing, he checked.

And there's no chain either. The morning after he first noticed the noise, Minho went around his neighborhood to see where it could be coming from, but he found nothing that could be making that particular sound, no matter how much he prodded and knocked on fences, bins and anything metallic he came across in an attempt to reproduce it.

While looking out of the window, Minho has to do a double take upon spotting the splatter on the garage door across the street. He doesn't remember when he first noticed it. Maybe a month ago. Maybe it appeared along with the chain noise. Being smack in the middle of the shutter, he can’t even blame the stain on a faulty car muffler; they might have splashed some paint on it but it wasn’t as big in the beginning, and he doubts someone has the time to keep up with such a practical joke for so long: what started as a fist-sized dark smudge on the shutter became larger and larger, spreading towards the left and right top corners and trickling towards the bottom with the passing of the days.

It’s effectively looking more and more like a winged silhouette.

Minho hopes it’s just a trick of the streetlights, but he’s pretty sure the wings weren’t in that position last night, nor did they look as spread open as now. Speaking of lights, he remembers when a few nights ago he checked once again for the source of that clinking by looking outside the window, his eyes inevitably gravitating towards the garage door. There are three small lights above it, either activated by timer or motion sensor and just bright enough to highlight the frame; that night they started flickering erratically all of a sudden, not a single one alight at the same time as the others, allowing Minho to barely make out a figure in front of the shutter. It lasted less than five seconds: as soon as the lights settled, the figure was gone.

Not wanting a repeat of that night, the dancer pulled the curtains closed with a nervous snap of his wrist and headed to bed, rolling on his side facing opposite the window to try and fall asleep faster as well as stop spooking himself.

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He should be used to that sound by now, but it’s the first time it resonates a second time during the night. Or maybe it’s the first time Minho is still relatively awake to notice it, his slumber easily interrupted by the metallic noise--which, to be fair, is innocent enough on its own, but a series of factors along with Minho’s fervid imagination made it more unnerving than necessary.

Determined to catch whatever is making that noise, the young man forces himself out of the covers and pads quietly towards the window, where he moves the darkening curtains to the side just enough to open the panes and look outside, his upper body hanging almost entirely out of it. Minho looks left and right expecting to see someone walk past, or a stray dog stroll down the empty streets, or to hear the noise again, but everything is quiet. Eerily quiet, to the point it feels like even the air stopped flowing.

And then he sees it. Emerging from the angel-like shape is a pitch black, humanoid form, its ragged leathery wings still connected to the shutter with sticky strings, seemingly of the consistency of tar even from afar; the creature is standing in a puddle of it not on a pair of legs, but with its bottom half resembling a scale-less snake, most of it still inside the splatter on the garage.

It stares intently at Minho. He can’t see any facial features but he can feel the burning glare the creature is aiming at him. Careful not to make any sudden movement or noise, the young man starts retreating from the window, with all intents and purposes of keeping that thing outside.

It doesn’t matter, because the monster abruptly lurches forward, slithering on the pavement with the help of its hands like an enormous hybrid between a spider and a snake. It moves at incredible speed, its long wiry arms cutting the air with their fast movement, the tar-y substance it’s drenched in and its useless wings not slowing it down in the slightest. After gaining enough momentum, the creature leaps upwards, torpedoing in mid air as it propels in the direction of Minho’s window.

With a choked scream Minho slams the panes closed and hastily rolls down the shutter before flinging himself on his bed, cowering under the covers and muffling the thumping noises of the creature outside with the pillow.




From this day onwards, the splatter on the garage door neither spreaded more nor receded.

From this day onwards, the tinkling stopped resounding precisely at 2.30AM or at any other time.

 

From this day onwards, Minho refused to open his windows at night.



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