When the shadows grew long and the sun slid down and you went inside, and when your parents tucked you in and told you it would be all right, their icy eyes were focused, and their psychic tendrils were already coiled to grab you.
There is a certain time of morning when the soul stirs. Not merely your own, but those of the others, the ones you thought you grew out of, the ones you always knew in unseen corners of your mind but never wanted to acknowledge consciously.
When the shadows grew long and the sun slid down and you went inside, when your parents tucked you in and told you it would be all right, their icy eyes were focused, and their psychic tendrils were already coiled to grab you.
There is a certain time of morning when they seek and find even the most guarded sanctuary. You may not wake, but part of you feels them there. They watch you stir, listen to you breathe, and as the clock progresses through those strange hours, they decide whether or not to take you away.
Don't squirm underneath their prodding. Those deemed most fearful are chosen. Age often does not matter to them, but it is said they favor young children, those least believed to be rational, those whose filters haven't yet been established. Clean slates.
If you happen to wake while they are considering you, don't give any indication. Do not move. Keep emotion flat and still. They will always know when you're afraid, but if they think you're asleep, assume it is just another dream.
And maybe, when the sun returns and ushers them back to their origins, they will leave you be.
There is a certain place inside you where they would love to go. A burning wick in an otherwise dark room, waiting to be pinched into nothing by eager hands.
They're not merely the shadows under the bed or inside the closet or in the depths of cellars and basements, not merely the dead trees whose limbs rattle like bone, not merely the hand on your shoulder or the chill down your back when you're supposed to be alone, but the shadow in you.
The bond. The mark. It is there, and if it catches their eye, they will merge with it once more, and once they do, no amount of running or hiding will make them go away. They'll dig up your memories and fears and use them against you. They'll chase you until your legs give out. They'll inspire screams so raw your throat will cave in on itself. They'll split your mind in two.
And then, through decisions and motives humankind may never be able to understand, they'll either leave you in quiet misery or take you to where daylight never shines, to the belly of a lumbering behemoth choking green smog into the air, to the fate they knew awaited you as your soul woke in the morning hours where fear stirs and sees.
Small drawn faces tinted orange by the campfire, their preferred prey the children, named them Spookymen. Others, in worlds far stranger than this one, called them Observers. The events that inspired their legend, starting as a thick cream but gradually diluting into water, were obscured over time. We were happy to leave them in the realm of make believe, but they will never leave us.
Regardless of name they are the living embodiments of primal terror and search for you as intensely as you search for them, as intensely as our ancestors, faces also aglow in the gaze of fire, regarded the woods as they twinkled with animal eyeshine.
They are associated with still and murky bodies of water such as lakes, bogs, and ponds. Their physical forms—if in fact that isn't another illusion to mislead us-- are suggestive of being amphibious. They also have some connection with the moon, being said to derive power from rare eclipses.
Some have cast them as malevolent nature spirits, punishing the unwary for trespassing in special zones.
It could be that they just play along with our superstition by creating consistency in this matter. They are very sly. They enjoy the legends and encourage them, the equivalent of planting seeds in fertile soil, then tending to them like dark gardeners.
They like our perception to be shaped by irrationality, so we see them not as mundane shadows a child fears, but tangible monsters who know us to our cores.