NIGHT DRIFTER

written by Amira K. Wolf

(2017)

A silver car pulled into the driveway of a cute, yet obviously old house in the middle of a
suburban neighbourhood. It was an old design - dark blue siding, a porch with an elegant white
railing, a white door with a gold-coloured handle and door-knocker, and a red brick path leading
up to the porch - that stuck out like a sore thumb among all the more modern houses. Yet it only
made the house that more unique.


Inside the car, Miguel turned off his gas and stared at the house with a reminiscent grin
upon his face. He had fond memories of this little house and couldn’t wait to see his
grandparents. But his nostalgia was short-lived as it was shattered by the sudden bang on his
passenger door window. Miguel jolted in his seat and whipped his head towards the disturbance
only to find an all too familiar face smooshed against the glass: his younger sister, sporting an all
too familiar necklace. Miguel calmed himself with an exasperated sigh before exiting his vehicle.


“Jesenia… How old are you?” He rhetorically asked as he walked around to the
passenger side.

Jesenia removed her face from off the glass. “Never old enough not to be the bane of
your existence!” She proudly exclaimed.

Miguel rolled his eyes, grabbed his sleeve and wiped off the oily smear Jesenia had left
on the car window. “You know, regular people usually just say hi or hello , or even what’s up …
Not stick their face on other people’s cars…”


Jesenia smirked with an added shrug.


Miguel sighed again but opened his arms for a hug. “Hey Jesenia.”


Jesenia smiled from ear to ear and went in for a bear hug.


“Oof! Nice to see you too... Okay, enough of that...“ He pried her off of him. “Anyway,
what’s that all about? I thought you lost that old thing.”


Jesenia looked down at her necklace. It was composed of a silver chain that resembled
tear drops linked together, and an elaborate crest carved out of an old, stained piece of wood.


“Oh yeah, turns out it was just in one of my dresser drawers; buried under my stuff, ha
ha!” She looked back up to Miguel. “I wore it to show Tito. Do you still have yours?”


“Of course, I just don’t wear it anymore, and I don’t bury it in my clothes then claim to
have lost it…”


Jesenia pouted in annoyance.


An elderly voice then called out to them from the front door. “The food will be ready and
cold by the time you two get inside!”

Miguel turned towards the door. “Yes, Ita, we’re coming!” He looked back at Jesenia and
motioned for them to head inside.

They walked up to the front door where their grandmother greeted them both.


“I swear, you two should’ve been twins. Arriving at the same time despite living in very
different places.” She noted while moving to each child and kissing both their cheeks.


“Yes, yes, Ita. You always say that,” Jesenia retorted.


“And I’ll keep saying it!” Their grandmother said in a justified tone.


The siblings simultaneously rolled their eyes.


“See? Should’ve been twins… Oh all right, I’ve had my fun. Your parents are in the
living room, and supper’s almost ready.” Their grandmother then raised a finger to prevent
Jesenia from speaking. “ And your tito’s upstairs.”


Jesenia smiled and Miguel couldn’t help but do the same. Thus, they both went upstairs
to greet their grandfather.


The siblings walked up to a slightly ajar door and, though they contemplated being more
subtle, Miguel decided to push it open all the way. “¡Hola, Tito!”


Their grandfather hastily turned around, tie half tied. “¡Niños! Don’t scare me like that!”


“Sorry about that,” Miguel lightly laughed then walked up to his grandfather to help him
with the tie.


“Gracias, Miguel. So, how’ve you two been?” Their grandfather excitedly asked. “I feel
like I haven’t seen you in ages.”


“It’s only been a few months, Tito, but I’ve been good. I dunno about her though,”
Miguel answered then pointed to Jesenia.


“I’m doing just fine, thank you.” Jesenia brushed away Miguel’s finger.


“Good, good! I’m glad to hear it,” their grandfather belted out then noticed Jesenia’s
necklace. “My dear, is that what I think it is?” He said in awe.


Jesenia removed the necklace and passed it to their grandfather. “Indeed it is! I found--
figured you’d want to see it again.”


Miguel raised an eyebrow at her cover up.


“I haven’t seen this in years. Well, you’re all grown up now, so I shouldn’t expect to see
them anymore, but still… They were to keep you safe from a Night Drifter,” their grandfather
said while thoughtfully examining the necklace.


“Heh, last time I heard that I was like eighteen, I think… Night Drifter, the equivalent of
the boogeyman,” Miguel skeptically stated with a chuckle.


“Really? You’re still denying that happened?” Jesenia asked in disbelief.


Miguel frowned. “Yeah? I was suffering from chronic nightmares at the time. That night
was no different.”


Jesenia shook her head. “If you say so…”


***

With a scowl upon his face, twelve-year old Miguel sat at his desk doing homework
when a knock at his bedroom door caught his attention.


“Go away,” he demanded, turning towards the door. But it still opened, with a loud creak,
to reveal a ten-year old Jesenia holding a plate of food. The necklace she wore dangled from her
neck as she poked her head inside. “I said go away, Jesenia!”


“But Mama said you didn’t have supper yet.” Jesenia walked into the room despite
Miguel’s wishes.


“I’m not hungry…”


She approached the side of his desk and placed the plate of food by the far corner of the
table so that his arm wouldn’t accidentally push it off. Jesenia then noticed something strange
about Miguel’s person. “Hey, where’s Tito’s necklace?”


“I took it off,” Miguel bluntly answered.


“Why? Tito will be sad.”


“Because boys don’t wear necklaces… That’s what the other kids at school said and they
made fun of me, so I took it off…”


“That’s stupid!” Jesenia shouted. “Those kids sound stupid, Miguel! Tito said they would
keep us safe, so we have to wear them!”


Miguel’s face wrinkled with frustration. “You can wear it then, but I won’t! Now get out
of my room!”


Stunned and angry, Jesenia yelled back “I’m telling Mama!” and ran out of the room.


Miguel turned away from the doorway, feeling a bit sad for being so mean. He then
opened his desk drawer where his own necklace laid atop a notebook. He stared at it, regretfully,
for a moment before donning a look of disgust and slamming the drawer shut.

---


Later that night, Miguel tucked himself into bed and fell into a deep sleep.


For what felt like a while, his mind was only filled with nothingness. Not a sound, not a
colour. Emptiness. But in time the void became clear, and he found himself standing at the very
top of a rope structure in the middle of a playground. The sun was blaring, and no one else was
around but him.


Miguel happily climbed around the structure and through the gaps created by the ropes.
He did different tricks and hung upside down, all while laughing. However, he eventually got
bored of the rope structure and climbed down to head towards the slides. But on his way there,
he noticed something strange. Right next to the slides, there was a red seesaw. The same red
seesaw that he and his sister used to play on so many times before, but...


“What’s that doing there?” he muttered aloud. “Wasn’t it taken away last year?”


As those last few words left his lips, the reality of the dream immediately broke. It was a
strange yet amazing feeling to go from believing everything displayed before oneself to realising
it was a dream. There was no better freedom, and Miguel was prepared to take full advantage of
that.

His very first thought was to find Jesenia and play with her at the park. He had been all
alone thus far, so a playmate would be fun. But he didn’t really need to search since she appeared
as soon as he thought of her.


“Jesenia, come on, let’s play on the seesaw!” He gleefully shouted.


Jesenia didn’t verbally reply, but agreed with a big smile. So, the two jumped on to each
end of the seesaw and began to go up and down; laughing every time one of them either hit the
ground too hard with an “ouch,” or lifted off their seat after going too high with an added
“whoa.” But Miguel soon became bored, like before, and tried to think of something else that
they could do. He didn’t want to go on the slides anymore, nor did he want to play on the swings.
“Hey, let’s go, uhm… Go visit Ita and Tito!”


Jesenia rapidly nodded her head and Miguel smiled. The seesaw then balanced itself out
so the two siblings could safely and easily dismount, and Miguel grabbed Jesenia by the hand
and flew off into the sky.


They flew up as high as Miguel was comfortable with; past the cloud line, almost
touching the Milky Way, then let themselves free fall back down to Earth. But right before they
hit the ground, they slowed down to a crawl and ever so gently planted themselves right on the
red brick path of their grandparents’ house.


Miguel let go of Jesenia’s hand and ran up to the front, followed closely behind by his
sister. He rang the doorbell that was strangely at his eye-level, and in no time at all their
grandfather opened the door.


“¡Hola niños! Come in, come in out of the cold!” Their grandfather loudly exclaimed.


“Sí, come in or your tito will eat all the cake!” Their grandmother added from down the
hall.


Miguel beamed with excitement and turned around to pull Jesenia into the house, but to
his shock she wasn’t there.


“Jesenia? Where’d you go?” He looked down each side of the porch and its surrounding
area, but she was nowhere to be found. He even tried to will her into existence again, but she
wasn’t appearing. “Maybe she’s already inside?” He then figured and apprehensively made his
way back to the front door. However, upon arriving at the door, his grandfather was no longer
there to greet him, but the door was still open.


For some reason this made Miguel very uncomfortable, like something wasn’t right, but
he couldn’t explain what it was. Thus, he still walked inside, but with a cautious step.


Every room he passed was empty. Lifeless, in fact. There was furniture, but it didn’t feel
like anyone even lived there. The hallway also felt longer than it should’ve been. By the time it
took him to get to the dining room, he would’ve been already by the door that lead to the
backyard. It was then that Miguel felt a chill run down his spine. No one was in the dining room,
or the connected kitchen. Not Jesenia, not his grandfather, nor his grandmother. No cake or food
of any kind. It was barren.

Miguel tried his hardest to summon someone, anyone into his dream as not to be alone
again, but they’d only flicker into the scene then disappear just as quickly. He didn’t understand
what was going on. He knew he was still dreaming, but it was as if he no longer had control.


“I… I should wake up now,” he said and tried to force himself awake, but it was no use.
He still stood in the abandoned dining room.


Just then, Miguel turned towards the sound of three distinct knocks coming from the back
door window. He peered past the dining room entrance and down the hall to see what had made
the noise. The door leading to the backyard was wide open, displaying a suddenly bleak and
dank exterior of an overcast sky and pale grass. But what disturbed Miguel the most was the
ominous and intimidating forest that loomed exactly where the back fence would’ve been. The
bark of its trees were black as tar, and it was impossible to see past the first couple of rows. Not
because of its density, but because it was as if there was nothing else to be seen. Miguel knew
there was no forest behind his grandparents’ house; only the backyard of another house. He had
never even seen a forest like that before.


He turned away to look down the other end of the hallway, but found that the front door
had vanished, leaving the back door as the only exit. Thus, Miguel stepped out from the dining
room and made his way towards the back door. He stood at its edge, staring down the forest and
the eerie feeling it produced.


He stepped outside.

---

Outside the realm of dreams, Jesenia was sound asleep in her bed when a loud creak from
down the hall awoke her. The only door in the house that creaked that loudly was her brother’s,
and she could hear footsteps coming from his room’s direction. Thus, she crawled out of bed,
grabbed her flashlight from off her night table, and went to her door to take a peek at where he
was going at such a late hour.


As she looked through the crack of her doorway, flashlight cutting through the darkness,
she saw Miguel aimlessly saunter through the hallway. He lightly swayed from side to side as
though almost being made to walk instead of walking of his own volition.


“Miguel, where are you going?” Jesenia quietly asked after widening her door. She
received no response. She then stepped out of her room and grabbed the sleeve of his shirt to
stop him, but he didn’t stop. So, she walked ahead of him to cut him off, but to her surprise his
eyes weren’t even open.

---

Miguel felt a sharp tug of his arm as he was about to walk off the patio.


“Huh?” He wondered as he examined his wrist. The sensation was faint but it acted as a
reminder for something he was about to forget. He raised his head to look back at the house but
the back door was now all bricked up. “W-Why am I outside? I don’t wanna be here anymore…
I don’t wanna be asleep anymore...”

He began to cry and sniffle since he didn’t know what else to do or where else to go. He
cried for his mother, his father, for his grandparents, and for Jesenia, but he didn’t even receive
his own echoes. He squatted to the ground and continued to cry.

---

Perturbed, Jesenia stepped aside and watched as the sleepwalking Miguel descended the
staircase. She contemplated getting their parents, but she didn’t want to bother them because it
was so late. So instead, she stood at the top of the stairs, not quite sure what to do.


Miguel’s sleeping body then stopped at one of the bottom steps and sat down.


“Miguel?” Jesenia whispered. Receiving no answer again, she began to creep down the
stairs. “Miguel? What are you doing?”

---

Face drenched in tears, Miguel immediately reacted to the echoed voice he had just
heard. It had called out his name and its familiarity was uncanny.


“Miguel... “ It echoed again… From deep within the forest.


Miguel wiped his tears as best he could and stood up. “Jesenia?”


He walked closer to the forest. It looked more menacing than before; sinister, even, but
he needed to know if his little sister was in there… Somewhere.


“Jesenia, please come out if you’re in there… I don’t wanna play…”


He heard nothing back. A feeling of dread then washed over him and he took a step onto
the forest’s dry soil to begin searching for Jesenia. However… As soon as he entered, the reality
of the dream set in anew. Miguel no longer remembered that this was all in his head, and he
desperately ran through the trees searching for someone that he should’ve known wasn’t there.

---

Right before Jesenia arrived next to Miguel, he suddenly stood up from off the stairs and
continued walking until he reached the front door. There, he stood completely still. At this point,
Jesenia decided that it was time to get their parents, but right as she turned around to head back
up the stairs, something caught her attention from the corner of her eye.


A pitch black smoke, darker than any of the shadows within the house, oozed through the
door. The smoke was separated into numerous thin threads that floated through the air like
weightless whips and moved in such a way that was elegant yet malignant. Some of them were
even twisted around each of Miguel’s arms and legs, and one around his neck; like the strings of
a puppet. The smell of dry wood and cedar leaves filled the air.


A few of the threads lifted Miguel’s hand and unlocked the door. They then moved his
hand to the doorknob and turned it. As the door opened, making Miguel step back, what stood
before them was an entity of complete shadows. It had no real shape, or rather, it consisted of
many shapes. What could be considered its hair was long and flowing, but constantly merged
and separated from whatever was its body. Its arms were just the same but seemed as though
they only appeared when needed since they caressed Miguel’s face then disappeared back inside
of the mass of shifting black smoke. It had no legs, and its mouth was unclear. But its eyes… Its
eyes were just pure white sockets. No pupils, no eyelids, no reflection.

Jesenia screeched as it began to lead Miguel out of the house. She ran upstairs as fast as
she could and was about to head towards her parents room, but quickly changed direction as she
remembered something their grandfather had told them. A Night Drifter is made of shadows and
leads children out of the house by catching them in their dreams. But they don’t like certain
things, so always keep this necklace with you.
She burst into Miguel’s room and began to tear it
asunder to find where he had placed his necklace. She checked under his pillow, his backpack,
his dresser drawers, then his desk drawers where she finally found it. Jesenia bolted back to the
staircase and rushed down them to the front door where she was horrified to see that Miguel was
already at the end of the driveway.


“Miguel!” She screamed and ran towards him.


The Night Drifter hissed at Jesenia’s presence and swiftly approached her to scare her
off, but it backed away because of the necklaces. It hissed and cried in anger as it had to move
further away the closer Jesenia got.


Once she was next to Miguel, Jesenia hugged him tightly, warding off the threads around
him. Miguel dropped to the ground and awoke in a panic.


The Night Drifter tried to reach Miguel, but was denied by the proximity of the
necklaces. Thus, it howled, growled, and cried before vanishing into the night in a stream of
smokey shadows.


***

“I do say so… I dunno what you saw then, but I’m telling you it wasn’t some ghost-thing.
Our street was dark, I was sleepwalking, and your ten-year old imagination got the better of
you,” Miguel explained with an air of frustration about him.


“Dios Mío, Miguel… I had a flashlight!” Jesenia harshly replied.


Their grandfather chuckled at their banter. “I remember that story quite well, but whether
you saw a Night Drifter or not doesn’t matter. I’m just glad that both of you were and are okay,”
he said, putting the necklace back around Jesenia’s neck. “Now, let’s go before--”


“Supper’s ready! I didn’t slave away in that kitchen all day to have it all go cold!” Their
grandmother shouted from downstairs.


“Like clockwork…”


The siblings and their grandfather all laughed then made their way out of the room. Once
downstairs, a thought suddenly occurred to Miguel before they reached the dining room.


“Hey, Tito, I never thought to ask this until now but… You never actually told us where
you got those necklaces.”

Their grandfather stopped by the dining room entrance. “Really? Well, my boy, they
were given to me when I was around the same age as you were when I gave them to you and
your sister.”


“Okay, then who gave them to you?”


“Someone I had never met before.”


Miguel opened his mouth to further inquire, but was interrupted by his grandmother.


“Are you coming or not?”


“Can’t you see that I’m right here…” Their grandfather said then walked into the dining
room, leaving Miguel to ponder on what exactly he meant by his last statement.


END