Ghouli derives from the word ghoul (defined as: an evil spirit or phantom; robs graves and feeds on dead bodies), but this is a misnomer. Especially when people tack on the little cutesy “i” on the end, like it could be a pet kept in a cage or kennel. Bunny. Puppy. Ghouli.
It is not a phantom that feeds on the dead.
It is not a furry friend for cuddles at night.
And this is how I know. Exactly one week ago, I was walking through my local graveyard at midnight—you know, enjoying the general ambiance of shadowy reverence and hoping to stumble upon a ghost—when I tripped on something. This happens often on my cemetery excursions, so I didn’t think much of it. I picked myself right up and continued strolling with my flashlight in hand. But then I tripped again. And this time, I saw what had caused me to fall.
Sunken into the ground were huge, clawed footprints. Massive claws upon two cleft toes, plus a third nub in the back. I’d never seen anything like it before! Curiosity, not fear, consumed me, and I followed the path of the footprints across the graveyard, over the wrought-iron fence, and into the surrounding woods.
Naturally, I thought I followed some kind of two-legged humanoid beast, perhaps a werewolf or a vampire. This was my chance to see something supernatural with my very own eyes, and my heart raced with life-affirming anticipation. However. The trail ended in a clearing, and the only thing there, silhouetted in silvery moonlight, was none other than my middle-aged neighbor from down the street. Harriet-Something-Or-Other.
She didn’t see me, of course, because I had the good sense to hide behind some foliage. Harriet hurried away, and I emerged to inspect her footprints. Only average, run-of-the-mill human tracks. Strange that she was barefoot, but not strange enough to pique my interest further at the time. Werewolves and vampires I was willing to hunt, but a neighbor? No, thank you.
And that’s when the disappearances began to happen. Every night since then, someone from our neighborhood has vanished from their home. Gone without a trace. The only clues are the same clawed footprints from the graveyard scattered about the lawns.
People started calling it Ghouli. Look out for the ghouli. The ghouli’s out to get you. Crap like that, but then I remembered Harriet. And I realized that ghoulis aren’t the things we should be afraid of.
The monsters are inside us—sleeping until the moment something awakens them.
We are the monsters: our neighbors, our friends.
You and me.
She, I can take care of.
Tonight. I will do my part and end this madness, but what will you do? How will you fight the monsters that lurk next door?