He woke to the sound of falling rain. He lay there , not wanting to get up , letting it sooth him , as it often had when he was a boy. It was after midnight. All was quiet , but for the rain , and the white noise static of the television , which cast a ghostly blue light.
He switched it off and headed upstairs to check on his daughter before getting into bed. Lauren was fast asleep , a smile on her cherubic face. In his own room across the hall , Frank slid quietly into bed , trying not to disturb Sue. But almost immediately he noticed that she was not there. He pulled back the covers and felt her side of the bed. It was still warm. And a hint of her perfume lingered in the air.
He smiled. He went back down stairs , calling her name softly , despite the steady drone of the rain. As he eased open the kitchen door , he was startled by a sudden flash of lighting and a deafening blast of thunder. In the brief illumination he glimpsed a silhouette seated at the table. “Sue , is that you?”
No answer. Frank hesitated momentarily before placing a hand on her shoulder. She flinched at his touch. Her skin felt clammy , despite the fact that it was a comfortable seventy degrees outside.
“Why are you sitting in the dark?” When she didn’t answer , he said , “Do you mind if I turn on the light?”
“No! Leave it off!” she whispered urgently. “Please!”
“Why? Sue , what’s wrong?”
“I don’t want you to see me like this.”
“Like what? What are you talking about?”
There was another flash , followed by another blast of thunder , but this time in its light , Frank saw something he refused to believe. For a second or two he thought … no , he could not have seen what he thought he had seen. It must have been a trick of light and shadow. Slowly he reached for the light switch. “I’m turning on the light , Sue.”
“No , Frank , I don’t want you to see me!”
When Frank flicked on the light , his eyes widened and he cried out , stumbling backward through the door and into the living room. He landed hard on his back , not daring to take his eyes off the door , waiting for Sue to come out. After a few seconds , the light was switched off and she came out.
“I told you to leave it off , Frank!” she hissed. “I told you to leave it off! Why didn’t you listen?”
When he switched on the light , Frank had seen something that would disturb his dreams the rest of his days : Sue’s entire face had been missing!
She reached for him — to embrace him , or to punish him for not listening to her , Frank was uncertain — hissing repeatedly ,”Why didn’t you leave it off?!”
For a brief moment , he wondered how she could talk with no face — and then he was scrambling up off the floor , and up the stairs for Lauren’s room , shouting her name. The girl stood in the doorway. Frank ran into her , knocking her over. He didn’t have to turn on a light to know that her face was also gone. He ran back down the stairs , losing his footing on the fourth step , tumbling the rest of the way. But he was unhurt.
He picked himself up , and stumbled to the front door.
“You can’t get away , daddy ,” Lauren said from the top of the stairs. “It wants you , too.”
Frank froze. How the hell could she speak with no face?
Before Frank could reach the door , it blew open , letting in a sudden blast of wind and rain. Something monstrous stood in the doorway. Something that caused all of the saliva in his mouth to dry up , and his bladder to loosen. Even in the intermittent flashes of lightning , Frank could see that it had no real , discernible shape. It was nothing more than an amorphous mass of stinking , pulsating flesh.
Before Frank could scream , the thing latched onto his face , and began feeding.