Halloween night just after dark… just after the streets and sidewalks had come to life with small figures running door to door begging for handouts. One not quite as small figure that didn’t beg for anything huffed up his crumbling sidewalk tossing aside the heavy sack of candy he’d just snatched away from one of the small ones. He didn’t need it, he didn’t like it and he didn’t want it, he just wanted to take it. He wanted to see the fear and shock on the small face…hear the pained wail…hear the pleading cries. He would have truly loved to pick the small form up and taste the tears streaming down the face but even he had his limits of caution at times. That wasn’t very often either. He could count those rare moments on one ancient gnarled hand if he really needed or wanted to.Some people are just bad…just plain mean, hateful. People that have no real reason to be the way they are but they just are. Oz was one of those people. Actually Oz was the most profound example of this disturbing fact one could encounter.Born Oswald Dwight Ducos he had taken on the nickname Oz years before any movie with that in the title had even been dreamed of. A boy in grade school had thought it funny to collectively use his initials and try to hang the name “Odd” on him but that lasted less time than it took to think it up. Seems the boy didn’t care to find human feces in his coat pockets. Oz had turned eighty seven on his most recent birthday and while he never celebrated birthdays in the traditional manner it was a celebration for him to remain alive even as others from his generation were dropping around him.Born and raised in the automotive industry area around Ypsilanti, Michigan he was the only child of immigrants from Bulgaria and obviously the family name had suffered many changes over the years. By no means was his blurred identity a hindrance to Oz. Rather it set the stage for his lifestyle. Oz chose to blend in with the obscure…a ghost in the mist as he thought of himself during his more creative moments. Oz had never worked at a regular job…never worked at any of the huge factories or any of the number of satellite factories that had sprung up in the area. That was fine on both sides of the employment fence too as Oz made people uncomfortable just being around. Even responding to the draft during the height of the Second World War had proven pointless. Each or the usually enthusiastic recruiters hastily shoved his paperwork away when they were sent to interview the strange looking little man with the beady eyes and wispy hair sitting on the thick wooden bench in the outer lobby. That act itself had more than likely saved the lives of dozens of American and Allied lives just by keeping Oz separated from the war effort at large.His entire existence had been one of hateful behavior. He’d carried a peeling nickel plated thirty two caliber Colt revolver he’d stolen from a car when he was fourteen and had used it to dispatch his neighbor’s cats and dogs over the decades with no emotional hesitation. He pulled that same revolver from his pocket now and laid it on his night stand next to the nearly full pint of Old Crow whisky that had been in the opposite pocket. The same foul cheap shit whisky that Oz pickled his innards with for nearly seventy years, three pints a day. He was back home late again and just like every other night in his solitary existence he would shed his cloths and pull on his thread bare pajamas and crawl into the cold bed alone. Oz never shared a bed with a woman and likely never would now at his age and he didn’t miss it one bit. As cold in his heart as he was in his bed he was placing his version of love in pillow cases and burlap bags that he lowered on a string into the unused heat ducts throughout his dilapidated house. Banks couldn’t be trusted…hell, it was banks and their damned stupidity that had created the opportunity for him to increase his wealth several hundred fold in the past few years. Wealth that originated from the life’s blood of the hapless citizens that Oz tapped and drained at every unguarded moment.The mortgage debacle had allowed him to buy up dozens of houses around the town he’d grown up in and now he all but monopolized the home rental field for miles around. The same town he had ravaged since his early youth with petty crime and vandalism…where there wasn’t a vending machine around that he didn’t have a duplicate key for and he’d even stole every parking meter on Main street with a pipe cutter one bored evening. His hateful acts of vandalism ranged from racially motivated to downright disgusting. He urinated in every dryer in the only laundry mat in the mostly black neighborhood of what was at the time a practically segregated community when the establishment was empty. And then he stood outside and watched happily as the windows fogged up when the patrons ventured in and dropped coins into the slots. He wandered in and freshened his coffee cup, cackling inwardly while the steamy stench turned noses up and filled baskets of once clean clothing into heaps of stinking despair. He even peed in the Mogan David communion wine used at the Catholic Church his parents dragged him to twice a week until he was old enough to refuse to go, snickering to himself as he watched each and every adult at worship get a taste of his own golden nectar.Getting older and bolder his range broadened and the level of intensity increased. If someone possessed something that he didn’t and wanted he would likely kill their pets or set fire to their car or even poison their shrubs and flower beds. It didn’t give what he wanted but it rewarded him with what he needed. He stomped on a homeless man once that lived beneath the railroad bridge after following him for weeks just for the experience. A few days later the guy was found dead by some kids and the image of his rotting bloated corpse would haunt them for years after. Oz wasn’t a big man and he wasn’t frightening to look at…not in the usual sense anyway. But he did make people uneasy when he entered a room. He was often suspected of things but was never charged or even questioned. Even so it was an accepted understanding that he was not a man to be trusted. In addition old Oz had milked his hometown for every cent he could in any way he could and planned to continue to do so. The plight of the family’s lost to despair over their ignorance in investments mattered not to Oz…he had no friends and wanted no friends…needed no friends.The sour faces that greeted him on the streets were his nourishment. He fed on their sadness. Their grief was like protein and he filled his diet. While his body stayed sickly skinny the only thing that ever fattened was his inner darkness. The amount of cash money hidden in the walls was never even counted. In fact no plans were ever made on how to spend any of it other than occasionally lifting a heavy sack up and removing enough to buy yet another foreclosed property to add to his holdings.Now wearing the same stinking pajamas he’d worn the past seven or eight years he slipped beneath the blankets that hadn’t been washed for nearly the same amount of time and reached out to turn off the dim light next to the bed. Instantly the darkness cloaked the entire room. No moonlight tonight and no stars…the heavy drapes that hung over the dirty windows to shield from prying eyes would have denied entry to any ambient light regardless. It was completely dark and Oz was just fine with that…the dark was afraid of Oz.But this night the darkness didn’t silently join him in sleep. Just as he was beginning to drift off he was certain he heard a noise and he stabbed his hand out to the lamp, bringing light back into the room. He was sure he saw movement near his coat where he’d hung it on the hook on the wall by the bedroom door. And hadn’t the closet door been shut when he came in. The newspaper he’d liberated from the next door neighbors porch was on the chair and he was positive he had put it on the dresser where he would read it in the morning. He craned his old neck seeking the foolish intruder. There was only a time or two that anyone had ever entered this house while Oz lived here and no other human had ever entered the bedroom during that time.Just a bit tense now, he reached for the pint bottle and spun the cap off and upended it pulling in a long swig. Feeling the warming burn as it washed down his dry throat before setting it back on the nightstand he switched off the lamp again and settled back into the stinky comfort. Again, just as he was drifting off he heard a whoosh and a rustle. The light blinked back on and he was sure he saw the coat that was on the hook now just dropping to the floor in the middle of the room. And the newspaper was on the floor too! Did something just move in the closet…just out of his sight?“Who’s there…?” Oz demanded in his creaky ancient voice. Of course no reply came and he resorted to the bottle again to ease his jittery hands. Again he clicked off the light and again he buried his head into the smelly comfort of his chilly blankets. Again he drifted a bit and for sure, again the noises came. This time closer and he felt something heavy settle on his bed as if crawling up to join him.His old hand jabbed out and turned the lamp on once more. The coat was just coming to rest on the foot of his bed…deflating as if it had been occupied and the occupant had turned to mist, evaporating from within. The newspaper was there too, unfolded and lain open on the other side of the bed. His legs kicked and his arms swept out heaving the coat and paper to the floor. Across the room the contents of the closet were now strewn out the door and the drawers of his dresser were pulled open and socks and t-shirts had spilled.Another longer pull from the pint, nearly emptying it this time and he slid the nickel plated pistol, pitted with age to the edge of the dresser. Oz had no belief whatsoever in any of this boogyman crap. He examined the bottle thinking that probably the contents were contaminated somehow by some screw up at the place where it was made…probably some Mexican or some black or some Jew had done something stupid and now he was paying for it. Be making some phone calls about that in the morning by God!He slid the nearly empty bottle to the far edge of the nightstand and once more killed the light. He tugged the blanket up near his chin this time and drew his legs up too, almost into a fetal position. It took longer for the sleep to come to him this time but with the help of the cheap whisky it was more or less inevitable. Seemingly inevitable was the return of the noises that had roused poor Oz earlier…but now, so much closer. The weight on the bed was as real as if two or three more people were climbing onto the bed. Oz felt his already cold heart drop several degrees and an icy chill crawled up his spine. His hand jerked out in reflex but knocked the lamp from the table. There was a brief flash of light when the bulb exploded, like from a photo flash that bathed the room and to his horror Oz saw the coat, full once again and with coat hangers from the closet shaping hands and an insane kind of head…the newspaper was taking on a similar shape and the rustling sound it made as it moved, well…Oz groped for his gun and pointed it in the general direction of his unearthly assailants. He pulled the trigger and in the muzzle flash saw the coat shape closer, now the coat hangers were forming the head more clearly and the newspaper shape was clearer too. He pulled the trigger again and out of the corner of his eye saw the contents of the closet, now risen from the floor and crossing the room as if in flight. Oz shrieked in terror and pulled the trigger three times in rapid succession, creating an old time movie like effect. The shapes were upon him now and the useless gun was slapped away by a coat hanger clawed hand. He could smell newspaper filling his nostrils like foul breath. More weight clambered onto the bed, joining the foray there and Oz felt all hope leave as the blood began to drain from his body. Teeth and claws composed of all sorts of items from coat hangers to buttons to zippers joined in and sank through his flesh all the way to his hateful bones. Crunching and snapping sounds mixed with the shrieks and moans were like background music to the hellish scene that played out in the dark till there was no sound at all other than the paper rustling softly to the still bed.Morning takes the place of night hours later and a single spear of light finds its way into the room from above the heavy drapes. Oz is very, very deceased and his blood has dripped from the bed to the floor coagulating among the items of clothing that on the previous night had caused the gruesome damage. The newspaper is laid open across the foot of the bed now, open to an obscure page five story about a supposed coven of witches found dead in the rundown shack of a house they rented far on the south side of town. The cause of death for each of the thirteen female occupants was suspected to be carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace and several copies of letters written to the property owner supported the belief that he had refused to have the furnace repaired. The story further reported that all attempts to contact the property owner had been unanswered but the proper authorities were intending to conclude their investigation by the end of the next day.