My scream filled the room, brought mother running. For weeks, I thought I'd simply been having nightmares, but I'd surely been awake just now, when I saw for just a moment, the flash of a hideous apparition shambling outside my window. A vegetative mass, countless squinting eyes, and many mouths from which long tongues flickered. I didn't expect mother to believe-- she thinks me a child still, though I've turned thirteen, already.

But she more than believed. She spoke:

"Ryan. Little darling Ryan, you must know something. About your father."

"Y-you told me he disappeared. After I was born."

She tilted her head, pondering an explanation for the inexplicable.

"I was teenaged myself. . . . We-- some girlfriends-- found a spellbook. We summoned something. A demon, to torment girls who bullied us."

I turned sharply, to the window.

"Yes. That creature, that tormenter; it did our bidding, but exacted a price. It required one of us to-- to mate with." Mother's eyes darted away momentarily, then locked into mine. "I was chosen. That creature. . . . is your father."

And it was there, its bulk filling the window frame. Floating. Many eyes transfixing me.

Mother clasped my hands. "Be brave, little darling. You’re thirteen. Meet your father; invite him in."

I felt mesmerized. "C--come in," I whispered toward the silently bobbing monstrosity.

The window opened. It seemed so big, yet passed without difficulty.

Mother still grasped my hands, ever more tightly.

"Mother, let go-- my hands. Mother?"

"My little darling Ryan," her gaze turned sadly back to me. “I’m so sorry. There was a price to pay." A hundred long tongues enveloped me, drew me in. The last thing I heard before the darkness was mother's voice: "Take your son, my love."


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