The smell of death consumed the January morning. Not the metallic smell of human blood, but the sweet surrender of hope and dreams as life sleeps. Humans believe the slumber of nature is the source of their winter blues, but it’s really knowing that each year ends and begins sadder than the ones before. The key to craziness is to test their eyes when they are young.

Carefully I explored the neighborhood I crashed in. Lights are mostly out by 9pm, and life forms beyond the occasional cat or rodent are difficult to come by. I do know why some adults are awake though. The chosen few adults over 30, nestled by as minimal light as possible, comforted by their vice of choice. If these adults were the ones to see me, it would be such a waste. Belief in misery beyond themselves is already gone.

Carefully I tread between homes and climb quietly to upper story windows. Young children, with open eyes and big imaginations, are often in the upper level of human homes. I need the perfect child to see me. The one who looks like they showered two days ago and have not combed their hair since.

Finally, the fourteenth house on the left side of Ivory Street brings my victory. He crawled out of bed as soon as he saw my light getting closer to the window. I could see the cheap white blinds raising slowly. He sees me! I saw his jaw lower quickly with surprise. Immediately his eyes went from my face to my arm, and up to the balloon I was carrying. After several moments he was brave enough to open his window just enough to ask me a question…

“Excuse me” he asked with a high and innocent tone, “Where did you get that balloon?”

They never ask who you are. That is only happens in the movies here.

“Oh, this little thing?” I replied with my three digits pointing…. “I borrowed it from my dear friend.”

With almost no time expiring after my final word, the little boy’s breath stopped as he slammed down the window and began screaming for his parents. By the time the lights were on, and they rushed in the room, I was gone from sight. I was nice enough to leave the balloon on a limb of the front yard tree, though. It’s important that they believe that their little boy truly saw something, or the nightmare can’t be complete.

Years of counseling, and interviews with government folk, would be in this family’s future. Hypnosis would reveal he indeed saw something, but would never be clear what exactly, or who exactly, it was. People in town would always remember his name, and he would forever be known as that “crazy little boy.” He would know, and his parents would know, enough of the truth to recluse themselves from almost all public interactions for years to come. Like the others in the past, a future with the vices they choose will be forever tied to that New Year’s morning in 2022.

Yes… my routine may be cruel, but there is nothing better, then starting off a town with a New Year’s Fright, and to tie a few lives forever to one night.