Watching the Leaves Fall

My back was sore from the workday so I decided to spend a little time relaxing in my favorite chair. I plugged in the vibrating heater that in the past had given me so much relief and settled down to write another chapter (or two) of my horror novel.

My eyes roamed over the paper before me. Messy scribbling that only I could decipher stared back at me. Chapter 9 was scrawled near the top of the page, as if confirming the distance that my pen had traveled so far. A steaming cup of tea sat on a small end table next to my chair.

As I tried to involve myself with the latest perils faced by the characters in my novel, I couldn't help but be distracted by the view outside the window. More than once my concentration on my work was sidetracked by the beauty of the autumn day just on the other side of the glass. Oak trees as tall as small buildings towered over my house in all directions. Each had a base girth of nearly five feet and jutted up from the mostly- hibernating lawn like great arms stretching to the overcast sky. Being autumn, a lot of the trees had already shed their leaves, leaving bare skeletal branches that looked ominous to say the least. But they were still beautiful to look at.

My mind swung back to my writing. My main character was at a soul-searching point in her development. It was crucial to have the right mindset to fully exploit her thoughts.

My eyes wandered back to the window.

As I watched the leaves fall harmlessly to the ground I was struck with an interesting idea for my novel. I wanted the antagonist to be unique, different from the run-of-the-mill villain or monster. I wanted it to transcend the normal boundaries that confronted characters in fiction. I wanted it to be special.

With relish I renewed my writing, frantically jotting down reference notes and thoughts that would help me furnish a compelling adversary for my main character.

She'd never see it coming.

But as I laid the foundation for my idea down on the paper I couldn't help but look out the window yet again. More leaves were falling, so many in fact that I had to admit I was startled. I watched as they silently drifted down, detaching from their lofty perches high above. Each seemed to have its own trajectory. The breeze directed their path but they all fell in a distinct way, almost like you'd see in a movie: choreographed, planned out.

All but one.

One leaf (and don't ask me how this particular one caught my attention) fell differently from the others. It drifted down with...with...

purpose.

Looking back now I fully realize the relevance of that ill-fated observation.

I watched this leaf spiral down toward the ground in a slow but steady fall. It seemed to want to reach the ground. As if it had a destination that it was striving to get to.

A part of me entertained the idea of dropping my writing pad and rushing out the door. If I could catch the leaf before it touched the ground I'd somehow prevent disaster. But the fact that it would be impossible to locate the right leaf stopped the wild notion in mid-thought. I'd never be able to find it.

Maybe I should've tried to get it though. At least then I'd have a chance.

I pick up my pen and try to get the next passage of my novel down on paper. I want to believe that the idea of experiencing one's own hardships is the best way to create something, but when you're writing a horror story you don't really want that to be the case.

Trust me.

My eyes wander from my writing pad over to the window. The leaf is still there, plastered on the glass like some crazy refrigerator magnet. It's bigger than it looked when it was falling, and a different color too. It's almost like…blood.

But that's not what scares me the most. It's what I see on the underside of the leaf.

A mouth. A mouth with teeth. Sharp teeth. Dozens of little curved serrated things that scrape against the glass.

The leaf is watching me. It knows I'm in here. All the leaves know I'm here. There are hundreds of them falling, and now I understand that they're not really leaves, and that they're not falling from the trees.

They're falling from above the trees. From the sky.

More are coming at the window, sickly things that drift against the breeze. They're going to join their scout.

It's getting cold in the house now. Ever since the first leaf stuck to the window (when it made contact with the house) there's been no power. Even the phone doesn't work. Nothing. I can't open the doors. They're stuck. Probably the leaves, I would guess.

So I'm doing the only thing I can: I'm writing. I'm trying to incorporate the horrors that await me into my novel. And so far it's working. I just hope there's someone left in the world alive to read it.