Early morning’s dim light crept over Alec’s sleeping body on the floor. He stretched his limbs out and slowly rose. His half-closed eyes scanned the room.


The sun awakened him for the first time. His father’s knocks had always brought him back from dreamland. Alec hustled to the door and grabbed the knob. He stopped. Never had he got out alone.

His father would be back soon. He always came back.

Alec went to the window. Every rat and rabbit was gone. All the crows were, too. Muggy air poured in as he opened it. Not a sound could be heard. For a minute, he stood still, straining to hear anything.

“Daddy!” Alec cried out.

Only his echo answered him, “Daddy!”

He slunk down against the wall. He wrapped his arms around his legs and sat his head on his knees. Thoughts raced by so fast he could barely keep up with them.

He must be hurt. I should have went. I should have went. Please come back…

He gazed at the spot on the floor where his father usually slept. Tears started welling up.

Did they get you, too?

Vague memories of his mother came: her long brown hair; yelling at him for running downstairs alone, no stories that night as punishment; his father’s knock at the door, opening it to see him crying. The monsters had gotten her. Now only he and his father were left in the world.

Alec pounded the floor with his fists.

A faint noise sounded between each slam; a murmur that echoed against the walls of the concrete canyon. Alec’s tears and fists stopped. He held his breath and listened. Closer and closer it came. Louder and louder it became.

He crept up to the window and leaned out. Back and forth he looked. Nothing could be seen in either direction, nor could he tell from which the noise came. He leaned further, but still he couldn’t tell. The murmur soon grew into a roar. The street reverberated with its ferocity. It came from everywhere.

Alec froze in horror. His mouth moved without words. His fingers dug into the frame. They were coming.


The scream ripped from his throat and rippled through the air. Their roar became frantic. They’d heard him.

Panic consumed Alec. He was at the door within seconds. It didn’t budge. He pulled and pulled. Not an inch gave.

The roared filled the room. Alec kept pulling, but still nothing. He punched the heavy wood and kicked the bottom. He screamed, “Open!” and the monsters responded. They were right outside.

“Please! Please!”

He looked up. There it hung. He had forgotten all about it: the latch.

His toes pushed his body up. His fingertips slid the latch back. CLACK! Adrenaline going, he yanked the door open, took one step, and stopped dead.

He started heaving, whimpering, shaking; for there at the edge of the stairs, dripping blood, stood his father.


This is an excerpt from Craig Langley’s new novella, There’s Only Us, coming this Friday from Terror House Press.