The cold fingers on my neck squeeze until I open my eyes. This is a dream. This is still a dream, I tell myself before the strain in my chest says otherwise. The man in the mask puts a finger to his lips.


“Shhh,” he says. “Don’t make a noise.” He pulls out his knife and lays the face across my cheek.


He repositions my arms underneath his knees and sits on my stomach. He’s mock shaving me now, gliding the knife across the lengths of my neck.


“Wha?” I whisper shakily.


He grabs my lips and squeezes. “I said: ‘Shhh’” He says giggling. “Now is that so hard to understand? Comprende?” He grows louder and harsh, like his larynx is made of sandpaper. “Capish?”


I nod yes as tears roll down the my face and pool behind my ears. He mimics my nods and slaps my cheek lightly.


Slowly, he shifts his weight to lower his face to an inch from mine. His breath reeks of beer and garlic. He sniffs my face and I try to turn. A rough hand snaps my face back.  


“You filthy animal, you.” He says, spitting freely into my face. “You live…like this” He sits up and shrugs. His eyes scan my room, my belongings, me– I feel naked. Privacy dashed in the blink of an eye.


He nicks my cheek with his knife and jumps up to stand over me. “You seem too gone. The pizza boxes, clothes on the floor, scattered odds and ends. There’s no organization. How do you live like this? In this squalor? This, this sty? You can’t. You absolutely can’t. Human’s don’t live like this.” A boot comes down on my chest. “You mustn’t be human then, eh? Maybe I should just put you down?”


He crosses his arms and throws his head back. “But, you only came here to take a few things– not make a mess.” He sighs. “You’re right. You know, when you’re right, you’re right. We can always come back.” He nodded and turned back down towards me, his grin razor sharp.


He jumps down, landing on my chest. “Well,” he whispers in my ear. “We’d love to stay and take of you and this terribly disgusting mess you call a room, you unclean freak… but, we’ve got a hot date.” I see the light catch on his knife. “A parting gift,” he grunts, sawing a chunk of my hair away, “to remember you by.”


He stands and runs for the door. At the threshold he stops, turns, and makes a kissing sound. “Ciao.”


Prompt: You are woken gently by a thief in your house in the middle of the night. He gently says, “you live like this?”


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