Illness filled my head with fever and heat. Strange dreams always accompany a fever.
I was a paranoid Iowan teen living in back-woods Arkansas. I always locked my bedroom door. The locks wouldn?t keep a determined nut out, but the noise would at least alert me to the trouble. This sick afternoon was no different.
Many Arkansian houses are built one story tall. There is a central corridor with rooms on each side. My bedroom sat at the back end of the house and extended to the hall. My bed was situated so that, from the head, a person could look down the corridor if looking sideways.
The illness locked me in my bed for several days. The door was locked to keep out the imagined red-neck threat. My blankets pinned me heavily to the mattress. Only my head stuck out.
Consciousness crept slowly up from the back of my head. My eyes opened to see the bright light of late afternoon. The white ceiling and walls seemed dreamily normal. My head rolled to the side to face the door.
The door quietly flew open. The crash of the door trickled through my muffled ears.
At the far end of the corridor sat the thing. It was a small creature with long, spindly arms and legs. A small paunch of a belly hung from its little torso. Its skin looked like brownish orange leather. Its head, a slightly flattened sphere, held two large black orbs for eyes and a short, sharp beak.
After a moment of staring at me from down the hall, it jumped. In a couple of short hops it bounded up the corridor toward me.
I followed the standard procedure for this sort of thing. I pulled the covers up over my head. Things went black.
When I next awoke, a sense of relief flowed over my body. I remembered the little, orange creature and I chuckled. Strange dreams accompanied a fever.
My head rolled to the side to look at the door.
The door stood open. The bar that normally bolted the door sat on the floor where it fell in the dream. The corridor was empty.