Scritch, scritch. Scratch. Scritch, scritch. That was the only sound he could hear. But there was another one. It sounded like faint drums. The drums got louder and faster as he heard one long, high-pitched shriek like nails scraping against a chalkboard.

Andrew Pike pulled his head under the covers, knowing that doing so didn't ward off the Boogey Man when he was five, and it wouldn't ward off any kind of monster he convinced himself was real now or ever. The drums got louder until it seemed his head was going to rupture. He listened to them. They beat in pairs, like Bum-bum…bum-bum. He forgot his terror for the moment as he realized it was his heart.

Andrew looked over to the window next to his bed, expecting to see a branch scratching against the glass, but instead saw one long, bony finger slowly scraping its grotesquely long nail down the snow-covered pane.

He quickly looked the other way, telling himself it was just a branch, and that, for once, having his imagination was not so good after all. His imagination had gotten him a career, fame, fortune, and a future—everything has its price, and this was his. He was a writer, and like all other horror writers, even his own fictitious characters scared him.

Andrew had convinced himself by morning that the long, bony finger he had seen last night had been nothing but a branch. He could even see the tree in his mind, brushing persistently against his bedroom window, scaring the wits out of him. He wanted to check outside to see if he could get that tree positioned away from his window, but he knew he had a deadline for his newest novel. He was halfway through with writing a horror novel, and it was due the next day. He knew he had to get started right away, or the day would quickly turn into midnight, and he would have about three pages written. But he just had to see what that noise was.

"Mydriad's more important," Andrew said out loud to thin air. Mydriad was the title of his book that was due, and was also the main character. It was a strange creature with eighteen tentacles, one eye, and a green gooey-like body. It had a mouth filled with nothing but razor-like fangs, and feet like the talons of a hawk. The most unique thing that separates Mydriad from any other ferocious character Andrew Pike has ever created would be the single, scrawny finger. One of Mydriad's hands was a stub; the other hand only had that one finger.

Mydriad was one of Andrew's favorite characters he's ever thought of, too. Actually, that must have been his absolute favorite character. He had never figured out why he liked Mydriad so much, but he did know that the two of them seemed to have some unspeakable connection. Even though Mydriad was an evil, ugly little creature, Andrew still thought that it was one of his best creations that his mind had ever come up with.

Andrew poured a cup of coffee and went on the porch to get the paper. And, maybe he might just wander over to the tree by his window and adjust it. You know, because he's already over there, and he could start working on his book right after.

He bent down to pick up the newspaper, but stopped when he saw the green slime all over it. He picked it up with his thumb and index finger pinched together tightly and let out a horrified shriek that sounded less human than a dog would. There was a mass of bloody bones underneath. They all looked like something different. What looked like a finger- a few teeth- there was even a rib somewhere in there, but by now Andrew was too terrified to even notice any more. He was looking at the bike. It was snapped like a twig cleanly in half. One half was on the walkway, the other on the lawn. And the bag. There was a canvas bag strewn carelessly across the other side of the lawn, and it was stained with blood and surrounded by undelivered newspapers.

Andrew fainted with intense trepidation. When he woke up, he was in bed again. He had no idea how he got there, but somehow he knew exactly what had happened.

It was back. He could hear it first, and then when he opened his eyes to the oozing, one-eyed face staring at him through the window, he didn't scream. He didn't even flinch. It was like he was in a trance.

"Hello, Mydriad. I've been expecting you." That was the last thing Andrew said before the glass suddenly shattered. Everything else was screams of terror or muffled cries for one last chance.