Soft droplets hit the glass without making a sound.
The rain started earlier that day and continued on into the late afternoon. No one else in the house had noticed it, except for the young boy, Nathan. He sat in the living room, on a couch far too big for his size and stared out of the bay window in front of him.
He saw something very different to the sunny world to his right. This world, which as far as he could see was only separated by a pane of glass, had a much darker sky with no noise. Droplets would hit the glass every so often and slide down the window and out of view. This world was quiet.
He held a few scraps of paper, on the back were words and images of someone long gone, and a box of crayons. His fascination too went unnoticed as those around him merely passed him by.
Nathan’s family, which consisted of relatives from far and wide, had been in the sun all day, laughing and cheering, telling stories of things the boy didn’t remember. Everyone had brought food to put over a roaring fire, salads to accompany the meats, and ice creams for dessert.
His family continued to pay no attention to him as the day went on. He couldn’t remember watching cartoons that morning, playing games, or anything else children his age did. All he could remember was the bay window.
A few people merely passed in front of him, never breaking his gaze and walked on to the kitchen. Their laughing, debating and gossiping, never once wavered while fetching plates, or making food, or finding ice for some or other beverage. At some point, he thought they were crying, but he didn’t pay it any attention.
And while they didn’t notice Nathan, he continued to notice that world outside. When the boy looked to his right, out through the sliding doors, he could see his father standing over a metal drum, fire blazing, while poking at lumps of flesh. His mother was sitting, surrounded by a range of people Nathan knew, but whose names he didn’t care to learn. After all, if the adults ignored him, he would do the same, not worrying about what they were up to or talking about. Every once in a while, he heard his name mentioned in conversation, and though his ears perked up, his brain shut out the noise.
The people in the sun began to dish up their food, top-up drink glasses, and sit down to eat. Some dipped their feet in the family’s saltwater pool, while others chose white plastic chairs scarred by past summer suns to furnish themselves. Almost all of them ritualistically said a prayer before eating. The father, the son and the holy ghost were the choices of the day.
No one, of course, had called for Nathan. It’s not often that anyone did, and when they do it’s only in hushed tones.
It didn’t matter, anyway, because Nathan wasn’t hungry and never really was. The thought of food paled in comparison to the marvel before him. Two separate places that only he could see, or at least the adults chose to ignore.
The rain came down harder now with much heavier drops. Their numbers quickly multiplied; they never made a sound. The sky grew ever darker as the clouds swirled in a frenzy he had never before seen.
He picked up a sheet of paper, emptied the crayons out of their box and began to draw. He thought the drawing would be able to capture this odd raining day with coloured wax and paper. The other side held faded words and pictures of someone long gone.
The rain fell harder and the sun dimmed as the afternoon passed into evening. While the world in front of him was dark and blue, the one to his right was a bright red with splashes of orange and yellow thrown in for good measure.
The light of the setting sun obscured the adults outside. Their figures had turned to nothing but black silhouettes with rays of yellow and white peeking out from behind them. Just a few more minutes and Nathan would be able to see his family as normal once more, once the sun passed behind the trees on the horizon.
The booming sound of thunder rolled through the window. Nathan jolted and whipped his head to look back at the darker world. Another thud hit the window. He pushed himself off of the big couch and shuffled towards it, wanting to catch a better look at the raging storm. If there was something out there he needed to draw it.
Nathan put two hands on the window and gently pressed his face against the glass for a better look. It was cold. He squinted as hard as he could and after a few seconds finally began to see something. There was a dark, red figure atop a pale greenish-yellow horse standing at the bottom of the garden, facing the house. The figure’s head was cocked to one side and it seemed to be staring at the sunny world to Nathan’s right.
In an instant, it whipped its head around to face the boy, its eyeless visage gazed at him.
It dismounted in a single motion and began to approach the house. Nathan stumbled backwards. The boy wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do in a situation like this. All he knew was that he wasn’t supposed to talk to strangers and if someone came to the door then either his mother or father would speak to them. Those were always the instructions. Except for once.
It was finally at the window, staring at the boy. The rain poured down even harder and almost completely disguised the thing as just a shadow. “Come and see,” he thought it whispered.
It slowly lifted one hand and began to push through the glass. Several of its nailless fingertips penetrated the window without so much creating a single crack or splinter.
To Nathan’s right, the silhouettes were now replaced with more human figures and long shadows. The adults continued on their merriment.
The figure’s head slid through the wall of water and the window. Heavy droplets fell to the carpet as more of it began to emerge.
The boy ran back to the couch, fumbled for his crayons and roughly sketched the red thing in front of him, keeping his eyes fixated on it.
When the creature was too close for comfort, he jumped off the couch with the drawing in hand and ran towards the world of light. He had to tell his parents, someone had to do something about this, he was just a kid.
As he stepped outside into the light of the sinking sun, the humid air stung his skin. It was too much and he instead hovered in the doorway and called out to them. No one noticed him.
He called his parents both by name and the more familiar “mom” and “dad.” He even shouted names of the people he thought he knew, but they were too intoxicated in their own way, some were already asleep.
He tried again. Still nothing. He looked back and the thing was now completely in the living room, leaving no trace that it had entered through the window.
It began to make its way towards him, gliding effortlessly.
Nathan shouted at his mother one last time at the top of his lungs, waving the picture above his head as frantically as he could. His mother finally saw him. She saw Nathan standing at the entrance to the house.
She gasped and stumbled out of her chair, her glass tumbling out of her hand. She clumsily made her way towards Nathan, but it was too late. Within a second and out of sight, the red figure had placed its hand on Nathan’s shoulder and gently lead him back into the shadow of the house with a smooth, powerful motion.
Nathan’s mother finally reached the open doors, her legs staggering, and peered inside. The floor in front of her was wet, as was the bay window, but there was no trace of Nathan.
As she approached the window, she saw a moist piece of paper with one side of faded words and pictures of someone long gone.
She turned it over and only had a moment to take in its imagery. As her intoxication finally set in, she dropped the paper and herself to the floor.
The drawing lay in a puddle, slowly soaking up some of the water on the floor. The image of Nathan with four dark shadows, one of them red, quickly vanished and would never be seen again.
And from the dark world beyond the bay window, the sound of thunder rolled in the distance.