It was dark all the time. The house was cold.
He found that he looked at their photograph constantly, even when he didn’t want to. When the morning light came through and hit his face, he’d wake up still drunk with the photo in his hand. A bottle in the other hand, usually empty. He’d tried to burn it once, but the thing wouldn’t catch. It was a Polaroid, it should have burned. But the paper didn’t catch, and his lighter ran out or stopped working or something, and it was still there, same as always, lying where he always left it on the kitchen table. The photograph.
The first time he saw one of them, it was past three in the morning. He was drunk and blurry. He hadn’t left the house in six days. The cat had left him months ago, so at first he assumed the tiny shape running across the kitchen floor was a mouse. The next day, he put traps down. There was nothing in the traps for two weeks, so he threw them out.
The second time he was lying back in his big chair, his body moulded into the groove of the leather, trash and bottles piled high around him. He’d been watching The Twilight Zone on DVD. It was early morning, and he’d gotten halfway through that episode where the pilot crash-lands in the desert and wanders away, only to come back and find his plane decayed, crumbling from age, and half-buried in the sand. He could never remember how that one ended. He’d fallen asleep, and when he woke up, the DVD’s menu screen was looping over and over again. Rod Serling in a suit and tie, tumbling through space.
He looked down at his side. They were standing on the armrest, staring up at him with their mouths open. They were tiny, only a few inches tall, and both of them looked washed-out, as though their colours had faded. They were dressed just like he remembered, in the same clothes they’d worn on the last day he ever saw them.
He screamed and fell forward out of the chair. He ran to the kitchen, missed the doorway, cut his elbow open on the doorframe. Holding his arm, he stumbled to the table and grabbed the photograph. Then he moved to the front door and front windows, checking the locks. He closed the blinds. He put his back against the door, and he slumped down. It was then that he looked at the photograph in his hand.
They were gone. They were missing from the photograph. He fumbled in his pocket for the lighter. From the kitchen, he heard the sound of something moving across the floor. It sounded very much like tiny feet.