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The Starer by Carys Crossen

Every night, unfailing. Regular as a metronome, he would peer in, eyes as pale as mushrooms and blank as boiled eggs. From darkrise to darkset, he would stare at her.

She tried drawing the curtains, taping newspapers over the glass, moving the wardrobe in front of the window. His gaze burrowed through paper, cloth, wood, no matter where she hid herself. Even when she shut her eyes, she could see his, as if painted on her eyelids.

In desperation she went to sleep in the pantry, the only room in the house with no windows. She passed the night petrified by the eyeball glaring at her through the keyhole.

Another night. Though he was a thin man, he somehow blotted out every flicker of moonlight, starlight and streetlight. Everything was subsumed by shadow, and all she could see were those dreadful eyes.

Perhaps it was the sleep deprivation. Perhaps it was the desperation. Perhaps she just hadn’t watched enough horror films and so was unfamiliar with the standard script, which called for her last-gasp, valiant resistance before being overcome by the monster.

Whatever it was, the unfairness of the situation needled and nagged her until anger overrode fear. Rage, boundless and black as the night-time rose up in her and contracted her into a single mindless desire. To sink her thumbs into those wretched eyeballs and obliterate them.

She grovelled around her room, fingers snatching at anything weighty, adamantine. Her hand snapped shut on a carved bookend, and she hurled it with vigour towards him.

Perhaps the bookend struck a weak spot in the glass. Perhaps it was heavier and tougher than she’d realised. Perhaps the fates were on her side. The glass splintered, fell from the frame. She lunged for the starer.

Shocked into immobility, he failed to avoid her grasping hands. She dragged him into the room, flung him to the floor and fell on him like a wolf.

He collapsed. Robbed of his power, he ceased to be. He deflated like a cold soufflé, leaving only his eyeballs rolling around dizzily. She sat, staring at them, till the feeble grey light of day crept in through the broken window.

She strung them on a thick chain and wore them as a necklace, hanging it by her bed at night, when she slept peacefully. The old bastard couldn’t complain. She was fulfilling his greatest desire.

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