She Comes at Night


by Harris Coverley


 

  She first came to me a few months back, around three in the morning, from the rich deep blackness, tapping on my bedroom window.

  I was lost in sleep, and the sound of her ashen knuckles on the glass put my dreams in mind of hail, or a clatter of cups down a staircase, before her persistence broke through slumber’s wall, and I was roused enough to open my eyes and look in her direction.

  At the moment of waking I thought she was but another dream, misplaced in the true reality, but it quickly became apparent that she was really there, continually tapping on the glass, and smiling at me with those big teeth and dark eyes that blended with the night sky behind her.

  Sliding out of bed, I walked over to the window, my body slowly warming up with the sudden movement, my pyjamas crinkling.

  I leaned against the wall and tried to get a good look at her. She stopped tapping and began to speak, muffled but intelligible: “Are you going to let me in then?”

  I unclipped the lower window panel and pulled it up. She swiftly curved her way in on the chill breeze, stood in front of me on naked feet, and put her finger to my lips.

  “Don’t make any sound,” she said, still smiling. “I’m just here for a little warmth.”

  She wore a simple black gown of silky material that hung off her shoulders and reached her knees, her arms exposed. She motioned to my bed, and within a few moments she was lying with me in the spooning position on top of the covers.

  Wrapping my hands around her hourglass middle, my eyes closed, and my nose sunk into black hair smelling of grass and flesh, her own eyes still open, her smile still wide.

  I questioned nothing.

  I was in love.

  Soon I drifted back to sleep, after which she turned over and sank that smile into my neck.

#

  “So, what do you actually do for a living?” she asked me.

  This was the seventh or so occasion of her visit, several weeks after our initial encounter.

  “I’m kind of an executive,” I lied, having already had a plausible but vague answer prepared.

  “An executive?” she said. “Of what?”

  “A company,” I replied. “A big one.”

  That seemed to be enough for her. She was so innocent sometimes, in spite of her condition. She was slowly getting weaker too, as was to be expected.

  We soon lay down in the same old position, I drifted off, and she bore into my neck, as had become the standard model for our engagements.

#

  She came every few nights, usually between the hours of two and four, and was always gone by the time I woke up around eight.

  I would let her in through the window always (I never suggested using the front door of the house, and neither did she), and always she was in the same black gown.

  We often talked before lying down about a variety of subjects, but Schopenhauer’s essay “On the Sufferings of the World” came up several times, especially his criticism of the idea that mankind could endure utopia.

  “Pain is a necessary element for man’s being,” I said, sat together on the bed, our hands conjoined, finger by finger, “and yet pain is a terrible condition for all, unbearable…”

  “Like Dostoevsky’s Underground Man,” she replied, “a painful liver gives foundation to his existence, and he draws energy from his spite.”

  She then asked me, “When was the last time you felt great pain?”

  “I don’t believe I’ve ever been in pain,” I replied in truth, my truth.

  She did not seem to believe me, but before she could follow it up, I asked her, even though I already knew the answer, “What do you draw energy from?”

  “You,” she smiled, also in truth, her truth.

  I did not believe her too strongly. I could tell she was getting weaker and weaker still as her visits went on.

  But I just nodded, lay down with her, and she did her deed as I slept.

#

  By her twentieth or so visit she had become so weak as to have to crawl rather than swing through my window. I had to help her over to the bed, and felt how she was but thin skin stretched over thinning bones and diluted marrow.

  I sat her down and was beside her. She tried to smile her smile, but instead it mutated into a sarcastic grimace.

  “You’ve had me,” she said. “I’ve finally figured it out.”

  “Yes,” I replied, and tried to lie her down on the bed, but with sudden strength she pushed me away, snarling aimlessly, and stood up.

  She started to make her maladroit way to the window, but as she turned back to curse me her body at last collapsed into itself, flesh into bone, bone into hollows, leaving me with a nice bundle of organic matter wrapped in black.

  In the morning I ground her bones into a gritty but palatable paste, which I slowly consumed over the following weeks to utilise the remnants of her life.

  I am very old, and I do not remember clearly where I came from, but I do know that I will continue to attract such creatures, and I will slowly liquidate them all.

  I was indeed very much in love, in love with her vitality

#

  “There are the lamias, and then there are the lamias who feast on the lamias. These beings are the true magistri.” –from the Niger Verba, verses 192-193 (translator unknown)