A ray of moonlight cuts through the blinds and washes over the yellowed wallpaper of my room. Over the Wallpaper Man: ten-inch serrated fingers fall past a set of disjointed knees. Angular shoulder blades. Bones that slope sharp into a razor-blade neck. His skull is long and segmented and punctuated by a jaw that curls inward, bones crackling, when he speaks. Ridged eye sockets bulge from either side of his head and shift when he moves. Four eyes in all. It’s like something from one of those Alien movies, but so much worse because I can’t see all of him. I’m forced to imagine what he looks like. Forced to picture the true horror that lies beneath the wallpaper. The slick, black rows of teeth that sometimes flicker against it when he speaks. The skin I imagine to be thick and pocked and reptilian.

“Threeee. Has it brought them to me? Gives me the names and I will takes the pain, yesh?”

The wallpaper ripples as he slides through it like oil, his joints working in a sick, unnatural fashion as he moves. I think of an arthritic centipede. My stomach sours at the sight. The putrid-sweet odor of his breath washes over me as he nears, his foul exhalations awaiting my response. Night—after—night the same question: Will I give him his gifts? Will I give him his three? And night—after—night I croak out a wet-gurgle no, my voice a weak, dry breeze. Baby vomit. I don’t want him to hurt anyone. But tonight, something’s different. Tonight, something cold boils through my blood at the prospect of having to face another day with Roger Elliot in it.

Without thinking, I whisper his name.

Read the rest of the story in Hinnom Magazine.