The Thing in the Eaves

Serpents have long been viewed as wicked, at least in Western iconography, tarred by the truly despicable things that ape the strange and alien ‘otherness’ of their form.

 

 

Named, albeit baroquely, for the description given in the diary of Robert Thacker, the first victim generally agreed to have fallen prey to the machinations of this abhorrent fiend, The Thing in the Eaves is a cruel, calculating and cold-hearted killer. Thacker, a man of fairly meagre means and a melancholic disposition, was a cobbler in York in the late 1700s when he became plagued by a voice that came whispering and muttering at night as he tried to sleep.

 

Initially merely irritated, Thacker wrote it off as noise from his neighbours, someone on the street just passing by in a stupor, but over the next few nights the voice grew clearer and appeared to be coming from just above and outside of his window. Thacker searched, but couldn’t find a source for the noise that robbed him of fitful sleep and, as he understood more and more of the words, it became apparent that the voice was speaking directly to him alone.

 

After the clarity came the cruelty, the previous non sequiturs refining down to a razor-sharp edge of insight aimed at destroying Thacker’s sense of self. He wrote about how the voice seemed to know him, seemed to be speaking to fears and doubts that he had never managed to put into words, much less expressed to anyone else, and how it aped and approximated the voices of those he called friends and family and used them to attack him.

 

Thacker consulted a priest, who performed a blessing on Thacker’s room, despite The Thing in the Eaves refusing to speak when Thacker wasn’t alone, and an exorcism when the blessing failed to relieve his suffering. Describing the voice’s effect, the diaries detail how - over the course of a few short months - Thacker was reduced to ruin. No longer able to work from nervous exhaustion, unable to eat more than the barest scraps, he finally snapped.

 

That night Thacker named his tormenter, writing a last entry that served as a suicide note. He described his despair and how, as the thought of suicide came to him it was simultaneously offered, in the same terms, by the voice. Stepping to the window he looked out into the bluster and gloom of torrential rain and, beyond his own reflection, it appeared briefly before him. He wrote a brief goodbye, cursing “the thing in the eaves” and hanged himself from the rafters.

 

Several such tales, either recovered from diaries or the notes taken by the doctors consulted by those being hunted as they feared losing their minds, mark The Thing in the Eaves’ first appearances in the north of England and onto London and its eventual passage to the cities of North America, moving from New York through Boston and Chicago before apparently settling in Las Vegas. Nonetheless, the timorous, tentative wavering described by Thacker is unique - whether it was where The Thing in the Eaves found its voice or if it came to be from nothingness, a self-loathing inner monologue given form, the pattern of its masterfully manipulation was set and it has hunted thusly ever since.

 

Though it has occasionally been witnessed, The Thing in the Eaves more often goes unseen, preferring to slither through and within the darkness of night and the shadowy overhang of rooftops, its physical form as shocking as its modus operandi is sickening. Those who have been so unfortunate as to catch a glimpse describe it, almost to a one, in very much the same way: A human head, its face blankly androgynous and non-descript in both features and pallid, inhuman hue sat beneath a bare pate with its flattened, vestigial ears melted into the flesh.

 

This head, evocative of a death mask, balloons grotesquely out of a dark, olive-green anguilliform body that glistens slickly, sickly in colour and appearance and viscerally disturbing to both the eye and to the mind. To watch it move, slithering bonelessly with raised head bobbing and swaying and gaze darting from side to side, makes its animal and human aspects jar even more disturbingly, particularly when it moves up the side of buildings almost unbeholden to gravity - except where it chooses to hang limply upside down from some perch, tongue lolling like a bloated, bilious corpse as it surveys its hunting grounds.

 

Whilst it appears to subsist primarily on vermin or small birds and occasionally even an unwary pet, eaten whole and disgorged once they are dissolved down to the bone - a litter of corroded skeletons might be one of the first signs that The Thing in the Eaves has taken up residence in a building - it is theorised to be a psychic vampire of sorts, feeding on the piquant despair that marks the moment where all hope is abandoned and suicide becomes a stark inevitability.

 

Whether this is true is as yet unproven, perhaps it is merely a sop, a salve to balm the fear that such a creature could come to exist, could come to hunt and prey upon people in such a sophisticatedly barbarous manner, but do so not out of a need to survive but instead to sate its own macabre cruelty.

 

As vicious as it is, The Thing in the Eaves is an impatient and opportunistic predator, appearing to either lose track of - or interest in - any potential victim who spends more than a few days away from their home at a time. If the building still has residents it might switch to one of them, though seldom another person from the same family or dwelling, but if the building is left empty it simply moves on.

 

Either way there were no records of incidents, direct or reported, that I could find to suggest that it might return to torment a victim who fled or otherwise escaped from its attention. This, the absence of resolve in its own malice, might be the only positive quality we can attribute to the being or to the very existence of The Thing in the Eaves: its inattention keeps it from being an even more effective, even more murderous monster.

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