Carl took a step towards the cornfield. The light from the front porch behind him touched the base of the plants. He held his shotgun across his chest. There was no reason to aim it, he couldn’t see anything, but there was something there.

Every breath he took was short. At each inhale, the urge to call out swept up, and was cancelled. He stared into the fields.

The dribbling winds from the west had the cornstalks tapping against each other sporadically. It was like a deadened crowd of onlookers.

Behind him, his cigarette burned down to the filter in the ashtray. The rocking chair was coming to a halt.

Carl sniffed; the smell of vanilla came from the cornfields. But it was masking something much more hideous. The mixture of smells was nauseating.

“No amount of vanilla can cover up what you did,” Carl said.

It surprised him to hear the words come out. He had been struggling to think, and this was combative. Although he had the shotgun, it was loaded with rock salt, and he never had desire to use it.

A weak gust of wind, the plants tapped a tiny, patronizing applause.

Carl put the shotgun to his hip, aiming out at the corn beyond the manicured yard.

“I got rock salt coming yer way if you come my way. I can tell you form experience that this shit stings like nothing you’ve ever felt,” Carl said.

Something moved from the corner of his eye. Carl shot a glance and spied the night moving towards the porch. It was as if the darkness itself was reaching towards the light bulb.

Carl’s throat tightened, cascading waves of cold went from his head to his toes.

He retreated towards the porch, keeping the limb of darkness in his periphery. Once at the porch, he watched the indefinable tentacle slowly pulling itself towards the light above his head.

The light was eating at it. Little wisps of black burned away like steam as it approached.

Carl looked around, his jaw held shut.

“Fuck it,” he said.

Rock salt flew through the blackness. It made holes that seemed to seal themselves immediately. Like stabbing oil on the surface of boiling water.

Carl fired again, to the same affect.

“What the,” he retreated backwards, towards the screen door, “…fuck are you.”

He pulled the door open, hitting himself with it. Inside his hands fumbled with to find the light switch.

The limb of pure blackness was close to the bulb. Carl could see a swirling mass at the outskirts of the porch light’s range.

He flipped the switch to the light inside. Nothing happened. Carl turned inside the house. The swirling mass had already gotten to that one.

“Shit,” he heaved the word as he slammed his front door shut. The blackness sank against the door, inside the house.

On the porch, the single outstretched tentacle neared the light. Carl shot at the limb again, going through all the remaining shells in the shotgun.

His ears rang, his heart raced. The shotgun clanked to the wooden porch and he shot his hand out to grab the shade.

Carl’s hand gripped it like it was solid, but it was like holding onto a jellyfish’s tentacles. Pain shot through his body. He was paralyzed.

With terror in his eyes, he watched as the limb touched the bulb. A loud hiss, then a snap. Darkness fell on Carl.