This is my first time posting here. It’s Saturday night and I’m drunk as hell so fuck it, I might as well tell you.

I’ve read everything that’s been posted so far here, and as paranormal forums go, you’re pretty close to the mark, but I can tell some inconsistencies between certain posters and the mods are all asleep so I doubt anything’s going to get cleaned up, so I might as well tell you my story, from the beginning.

I’m a native, although I doubt that’s the correct term to use if we’re splitting hairs. I was born in Northeastern Utah. There are still Navajo here, so I guess they’re the true natives.

My childhood wasn’t particularly weird or anything. I can remember collecting baseball cards and remember trading my Rickey Henderson rookie card for some chewing gum with a kid at school. Now that’s a true regret right there.

So my parents never mentioned it, but they knew. You just weren’t allowed out after dark. I always thought it was because of child abductors or roving gangs, but now I know better. It was just something that you didn’t know was weird until later.

Mothers weren’t supposed to cry and wail if it was eight in the evening and they couldn’t find you after calling out that supper was ready. Fathers weren’t supposed to scream and holler the house down.

And then I burst out of the airing cupboard because I thought it would be a fun prank and they just looked at me, not saying a word. My dad pelted me with the newspaper across the neck and I can remember crying hot tears whilst eating the cold broccoli and potatoes in my room later that night.

I remember they brought me a NES that Christmas, though. No clue how much those things are worth now. I’d alt-tab and Google, but it’s probably not important.

Anyway, my parents made a huge deal about home privacy. We live pretty much on the edge of the dust bowl, but there’s a giant pine forest behind the house. I was never much of an exploring kid, so I never really took it upon myself to explore it. It’s also just kind of a giant mass. Just trees and trees and trees forever that seem like they’re going to swallow you.

And sometimes they spit something out.

So my parents went out for the evening, I think they had a dinner reservation somewhere, and they made sure to watch me bolt the front door as they left. I thought watching your child lock their front doors was ordinary. I thought most front doors came with several padlocks. If I’m honest, I was a little sheltered because I lived out in the wilderness. I kinda envied the townie kids at school when I was growing up, to be honest with you.

So I was watching TV and eating one of those TV dinners in the little plastic containers. Lumpy and congealed gravy with tiny carrots and sweetcorn with some kind of beef. I kinda liked those dinners, but looking back now, maybe I only liked the salt content.

I remember I was watching a movie, a black and white Clint Eastwood rerun. Don’t really remember which. Anyway, the movie cut out and there was a breaking news segment about a car collision near the highway not too far away.

I remember my heart stuck in my throat, but then they showed the victims. Some smiling picture of them at a campout or something, arms around each other. I relaxed and then felt a little guilty. I was glad it wasn’t my parents, but it was a shame people died, I guess.

The movie goes back on after the news segment and I watch Clint Eastwood for a bit.

And then I hear a knock at the door.

Only it’s not a knock on the door, not really. You know when you knock on a door you might rap it three times, musically or whatever. I’m not saying you’ll do it to like a tune of something, but there’ll be a rhythm to it, you know? I feel like I’m not explaining it properly, but at the time, I’m eight. And it’s just a bang, bang, bang followed by a pause and then a bang, bang, bang.

I go on to the door and go to unlock it.

bang, bang, bang

I feel that if I’d have timed the noises, they’d be exactly the same time. It was the unsettling nature of the knocking.

We have a glass peephole at the top of the door. It’s not a fisheye one, just a basic glass peephole.

I look through at and watch as the figure on the porch raises his arm and then punches the door three more times. Later for one of my birthdays, I got a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot. I smiled and pretended I was happy, but the way their fists just acted like pistons? It just reminded me of the thing I was looking at.

I’ve read people leaving comments like they wear the victims’ skin or something and that’s where they get their name from. It’s not. There wasn’t any cuts or marks or anything. It wasn’t like Leatherface or something; I was staring at a human that had stopped knocking.

It grinned at me and stopped knocking. Its eyes focused directly on me. Somehow, the creature could tell that I was looking straight at it. I almost pissed myself, as there was something in the expression of the creature that was just horrible. It opened its mouth.

“Hi can I come in.”

If I type that, it gives you some idea. Like one of those godawful text-to-speech things when you put it in your own language. No pause after the greeting, no question mark dangling at the end. Just a statement.

It seemed to realise its mistake and shifted.

“May I come in. Please. Jared.”

The thing knew my name. For some reason, I actually considered opening the door. I don’t know whether it was hearing my own name or something else, but my hand lifted for the bolt.

And then I remembered the breaking news segment. It was the guy killed in the car crash. Or, it wasn’t. The thing was pretending to be him. I looked back through the glass peephole. The thing was standing there, just waiting. The grin had gone and the thing stood stock still. And that’s when I started to notice things. All of his fingers were the same length. I thought the thing was wearing a T-shirt, but it didn’t flap in the breeze or anything.

Oh and one thing I forgot to mention.

It was raining out. Like, properly storming. But yet the clothes on the thing weren’t wet. And the more I stared, the more I wondered if those even WERE clothes.

The thing looked at me again, straight through the keyhole. Grinned, turned away, walked off into the rainy night.

I went back to the living room. The Western had finished and so I just bundled myself up on the sofa and waited for my parents to come back.

Not a very exciting story in all, but the next day, a farmer probably a mile down the road claimed something got into his barn and massacred his sheep. The news reports were all going on about a spate of wolf attacks, but the farmer was adamant it was a human. But something was weird about it. Distended jaws and awful screeching. Claims he shot it with his shotgun and it simply went from two legs to four legs and scuttled out of the barn, making its way towards the old woods, chuckling apparently.

I’m an adult now. Both my parents passed not too long back. Natural causes. I sold the house. Didn’t want to go back. In fact, I’m no longer in Utah, I’m a 16-hour drive over in Texas building AI in one of the new tech startups that have moved out of Los Angeles because of the housing prices.

I was talking to one of my friends who works for a different tech firm specialising in automation just the other day. You know, customer service robots and that crap. Having a beer with him, and he was talking about the problem with robots. The problem of the “uncanny valley.”

It doesn’t matter how realistic you make them, the most perfect grade of silicone, the quietest moving parts; people are ill-at ease with them. They don’t feel comfortable around them. He thinks it’s because of a primal drive, because you can’t mate with them and procreate. It’s a biological thing.

I remember finishing up my beer and walking home, on another rainy night, nowhere near to those old woods now famous for skinwalkers. A deer was wandering in the road, ears twitching.

You can put up a stuffed deer and it’ll try and mate with it no problem.

Humans are the only animals that aren’t tricked.

I wonder, perhaps, if some time ago when we all sat in pelts around campfires if there was something particularly good at mimicking other people that we developed that strange feeling I felt when my hand trembled next to the bolt on the front door when I was eight.

I wonder about those old stories of the Navajo, often involving a smiling creature that wasn’t to be trusted, often appearing from the dense woods. The true natives I’d met growing up were always kind to me, and my parents told me they’d told such stories of smiling people coming out of the woodlands for over a millennia.

I wonder about the old woods with no territories.

I wonder about the creature who came out of it, who knew my name.

I wonder why it grinned.