So anyway, in some parts of the world, it is a really bad idea to live in a single family home, but if there is no way around it, at least make sure that none of the bedrooms are on the ground floor. That goes especially for children’s bedrooms . My neighbors had to learn that the hard way.
They had just moved into that old house at the edge of town. They probably didn’t even know that there was anyone else living nearby – I rarely go outside during the day, watching life pass me by from the comfort of my one bedroom apartment, the only one still in use in my entire building. Whether there are others like me, I can only guess. Though there is no doubt in my mind that at least some of the other apartments must be inhabited by lonely mummies, slowly crumbling away in their beds and rocking chairs, behind boarded up doors and signs that read “whatever you do, DON’T GO OUTSIDE (and don’t vote, both parties are the same”).
Anyway, the newcomers were lovely people, from what I could tell. A young couple, from the fabled inner cities. I saw their children running around the block, laughing and crying, chasing one another, digging up deformed skeletons. I remember thinking to myself, it’s good to see life returning to this town.
Though of course life is struggle. Life has teeth. Or flabby gums, for that matter. This goes especially for places like these, who haven’t been claimed by new human settlers for years. People with big, white smiles, long flowery dresses and polo shirts, they only see the wild flowers, the blackberry bushes and the tall grass, but they don’t really know what it all means.
But who am I to judge? I didn’t expect what happened next any more than they did.
The first thing I remember are the screams. So much screaming. Wailing. It was so unsettling that for the first time in years, I darted out of my building in the wee hours of the morning.
There was already a patrol car parked in my neighbors’ driveway.
The door of the house flung open, and the young father threw himself outside, collapsing into my arms, with glassy eyes. Overwhelmed, I could only half-heartedly pat him on the back. We were soon joined by the rest of the sobbing family and our local ranger.
Slowly, little by little, I learned what had happened to them.
The family used to have four children, the older ones already in elementary school, the little twins barely four years old.
The twins had gotten their own little bedroom, higher than it was wide, with the tiniest little windows just below the ceiling. The family had not been able to secure proper beds for themselves yet, so they all slept on mattresses or in sleeping bags, like they were camping. It was all in good fun.
Except what you need to know about the house, most of the doors had pretty substantial gaps at the bottom. Most of the year, it was so warm that you’d welcome a little draft, and in winter, you could probably just plug them with towels or something. There were no truly dangerous insects or venomous snakes tiny enough to pass through the gap. No one thought it would be a problem.
Except the night it became a problem.
The surviving twin told his parents that he and his brother had woken up in the middle of the night because of weird noises. The pancake man had already started squeezing into the room at that point.
It was a pale, vaguely orange colored creature with moist, hairless skin, stubby arms and legs, googly eyes and a wide, toothless grin. Even though it had been able to penetrate the room through the gap, the family described the pancake man as “fat”, like a big, round air mattress.
It squeezed into the room wheezing and squeaking, its round eyes stupidly shimmering in the moonlight, transfixed on the terrified children.
One of the twins wriggled out of his sleeping bag and pressed himself against the wall, crying and screaming for his mommy. Or at least he was trying to; he really only managed to get out a few panicked sqeaks. The twins had asthma. The other one, I learned, also suffers from sleep paralysis, so when it all went down, all he could do was stare as the pancake man slipped into the room.
At first, the pancake man tried to swallow the boy on the floor, starting with his feet. But soon it decided that the sleeping bag was too much for it to stomach. So it spat him out and focussed on his brother instead.
It all happened very fast. After bringing its body into position, the pancake man slid accross the room with surprising speed. The boy kicked it straight in the face, but that didn’t seem to bother it in the slightest, with its soft, spongy flesh. It did, however, give the pancake man an opportunity to get a hold of the boy’s foot. It knocked the kid to the floor, and then it started swallowing.
The boy kept struggeling as hard as he could. His brother could see the legs kicking inside the pancake man’s belly, their form clearly visible as they stretched their fleshy prison to its limits. To no avail.
For a few moments, the boy’s outline was still visible, the other brother could hear his muffled screams. But the pancake man remained completely still, and then, with increasing speed, it started to regain its former shape, the boy inside fading away.
Only then did the kid’s parents arrive, just in time to see the pancake man belch up their son’s pyjamas and glasses.
The father immediately lunged towards the intruder, kicking its side, sending it tumbling across the room.
With a panicked squeal and flailing limbs („Maga!!“, it made, „Maaaga!!“; they were very adamant about that part), the creature floated across the bedroom like a hovercraft, managing to wriggle past the raging parents into the hallway. If anything, eating had only given it more agility. They pursued it for as long as they could, but with breathtaking speed, it raced through the house until it found the same narrow gap through which it must have come inside in the first place. And that was that.
Needless to say, the surviving family moved out after that.
The ranger decided to organize a hunting party, but they never managed to get a hold of that beast. The search only turned up a few smaller specimens, barely larger than sofa cushions. A quick research revealed that pancake men kept growing their whole lives, but rarely reached a size at which they posed any danger to humans.
Years later, another family with small children reported that a somewhat large-sized pancake man had entered their home at night and had desperately tried climbing up the stairs. Luckily, it hadn’t been able to get past the first few steps and one of the older children had managed to impale it with a pitchfork. It wasn’t clear if it actually would have been able to attack any of the children, but with the nursery being on the first floor, it certainly seems that it had been hell-bent on giving it a shot.