Work Header

Not there

Chapter Text

John first saw him when he was nine years old.

It was in the middle of the night and he had gotten up to get a drink of water. His mother kept a very clean house so he had no fear of stumbling over a misplaced shoe or toy. He hardly needed to keep his eyes opened and spent the entire walk to the kitchen in a half-doze. By the time he finished his little plastic cup of water, he was a little more awake.

That's when John saw him.

For a moment he thought it was his father standing on top of the stairs. But there was no explanation why his father was wearing a suit in the middle of the night. Or why he had no face.

John rubbed at his tired eyes and looked again. The strange man was gone.

The second time John saw him it was on his fourteenth birthday party. He'd spent most of the day running back and forth through the small house, chasing his friends.

Harry, young and slightly jealous of the attention given to her brother, angrily stuck her foot out. Later she claimed she thought John would jump over her leg, not trip over and cut open his hands.

John lay sprawled on the floor, clutching his stinging hands to himself. The moment the pain subsided, John thought as he rolled over, he was going to kill Harry.

And that's when he saw the strange man on top of the stairs again. Now older and wiser, John immediately noticed all the oddities.

The man was incrediably tall. At six foot, John's uncle Henry was the tallest man at his party. The man on the stairs was taller, thinner, wearing a black suit and...

Dear God, had no face.

John's attentions was ripped away when his mother gave a gasp at the sight of him. John looked back at the top of the stairs and found the tall, slender man to be gone.

He'd asked his friends, his parents if someone was trying to play a prank. Everyone assured him they saw no such thing at his party.

There were no patterns to the sightings. John saw him when he was alone in the house, when his parents were home, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the night. The sightings happened within weeks, or even months apart. And it was only John who saw him.

Sometimes they were only brief glimpses, making him believe it was a trick of light. Other times John would literally stand at the bottom of the steps for ten minutes at a time and just stare.

It wasn't a prop. Occasionally the slender man would cock his head and once took a step down the stairs. That move spooked John so badly he'd slept at a friend's house for two days.

He thought he was losing his mind.