The soft hiss of air engulfed her like a warm shroud, wrapping her in folds of heat that thawed her icy heart. Her exhale whooshed out shallow…fear stealing her breath. Fingers fluttering over the keyboard like a bat’s wings, she stared at the monitor glowing white in the pitch-dark room. A lone bulb battled the night like a lone warrior against an enemy onslaught garbed in black.
“Kate’s hand clasped the handle, her heart pounding out the pulse in her throat. ‘Why can’t I be brave?’” The whispered words floated, bodiless on the air. A hiss slithered past her lips, indecision the culprit barring her way. The door was right here, but what lay behind it was…the cincher. It could make her reader’s groan, laugh or click the novel closed.
She’d die if it were the later. “I can answer that. Because you’re a woos. And you’re afraid of what you’ll find inside.” Like me. She leaned in, her eyes inches from the screen to re-read the last page. Tension formed a knot between her shoulder blades, the eeriness of her set up like a magic spell that could be brought to fruition. All she needed was to whisper the magic words…so she could downspiral into wickedness.
Her mind reaped the only thread hanging on and coerced her fingers to do its bidding. “Dru groaned, ‘All I need is an extraordinary word to give me the power.’” She sighed, wanting to groan herself over the dreadful dead end.
“Shazam.” Nah, she couldn’t see that written in blood on the wall or as part of a collaged ransom note. One hand lifted from the mouse and the other shied away from palming the keyboard to delicately. Together they perched around the heart-shaped plastic game piece. A clear center reflected the ornately lettered board underneath.
Her heart turned cold, the breath in her lungs trapped and threatening to choke her. She had to decide. Do it her way or the spirit way.
A scrape screeched against the glass, worse than nails on a blackboard. Her body jerked to the side, away from the intrusion. Her old chair grumbled, the leather creaking a warning. Was this a sign? Her eyes turned to slits, her vision tunneling on what lay outside. Twin green eyes stared back, a wet nose stuck to the barrier as if pleading to come in from the cold.
Her breath puffed out, the mouthful a white cloud that hung in between them. Her smile shrunk, disappearing as fast as her sense of comfort.
The game piece drug her hand, eeking out a first letter—G. Then came another in slow motion. Horrified, yet curious she couldn’t lift her hand. A shiver tripped across her nerves, shaking her limbs like the trees outside buffeted like skeletons to the elements. Creeped out, her trembling index finger pecked out the message.
Meow! Casanova’s nails scratched again, his cries banshee shrill. He wanted…needed in.
If I go to the door, I’ll miss out on the end of the message. Kneading her lip with her teeth, two twin shots of steamy air burst out from her nose. A tendril of hair sliced across her nape, sending her straight up to her feet. A cold sweat bubbled atop her skin.
Thunk! A pounding wham sounded against the front door. Short but not sweet. If she hadn’t risen, she’d have popped up at the noise that could’ve woken the dead.
She o-ed her lips and exhaled a long trail of air. Clear as plastic wrap. Whoever had been here was long gone. Her fingers lifted from the now warm plastic. She’d only gotten half of what she needed—Got to….what? Great, now she had to fill in more blanks.
Pulling her satin robe closer, she cinched the belt tight. Her bare feet caressed the thick carpet, tickled enough to wiggle her toes in deeper. She stopped at the end of the hall, her hand immediately going to the light switch.
A shadow heralded across the shade, outlined like a face in profile. Her heart stopped, her mind accessing options for another vantage point to see the lurker. No…the stoop was a blind spot. Her incisor nipped her lip. The salt of blood registered to her taste buds. She’d rather have a spoonful of ice cream pooling there.
No rattle came from the window to her right, nor did eyes peek in through the slats to pin her in place. Should she leave her safe haven? Her eyes flicked to the kitchen’s counter. That would make a sizable shield. As fast as the thought processed, her muscles bunched for the jump.
She landed soft as a ballerina, her fingers tracing the edge of the sink to find the utensil tray. A handle arched like a podium grave marker. Black handle, steel blade. That oughta work in a tussle…if she could muster the guts. With a deep breath, she knelt and peeked around the wooden cabinets. No silhouettes arced across the front door’s cover.
She crawled forward on all fours, then inched up beside the barrier. The fuzz on the back of her neck rocketed up. She sucked in her breath, raising her hand to the shade. One, two…three. She jerked it forward to find Casanova perched on the railing. Winded from anxiety, she slumped forward for a second before she twisted the lock.
A mew greeted her as withered orange leaves scuttled inside, scratching against the tile floor. Casanova didn’t follow. He stared down at the landing, his paw outstretched as if to say, “It did it.”
A fat yellow envelope lay there.
With a suddenly calm hand she plucked it up and turned the package over to find WRONG ADDRESS scrawled across the corner in red. Mr. Cross’ block letters again. She sliced open the end with glee, the fibers flying like dried mummy wrappings. Inside lay a stack of typed pages and a single crummy letter.
More food for her power shredder. Or perhaps she should splurge on an elaborate ceremony with flames, that little black dress in the back of her closet and a few scented candles. She slipped the knife into her pocket, tucked the envelope under her arm and picked up Casanova like a big, furry baby. “Gotcha.”
The black cat’s hum started loud and strong…rumbling like pocket-sized thunder. Lightening struck her to the core. That one word made every spooky situation frighteningly right. “Shall we open Dru’s fridge and see what’s lurking inside?”
Her foot landed on something wet with a little give. She looked down. A tapering tail stuck out. Ew! She wiped her foot across the concrete, smearing a short arc of blood beside the dead mouse. “What have I told you about bringing your kills home to mom?”
This was a little something I cooked up from stuff I’d rather not hear or see go bump in the night. I do believe in ghost stories and always get a little freaked watching anything to do with the supernatural. (I don’t watch Ghost Whisperer!) Once when I slept over at my bf’s parent’s house, I stayed awake all night...and not for the fun of it. They’d decided to watch a show about true ghost stories in Southern plantations, which seriously weirded me out.
I still recall the night my sister, my cousin and I used a Ouija board to talk to a dead relative. We didn’t get him, instead we got a spirit who was mean and liked to cuss. Just remembering that night still gives me the heebie-jeebies. I haven’t touched a board since.
On the off chance that I watch a horror flick, I always tune in during the day. And I don’t do slasher/hack `em up movies. Yeah, I’m a woos. Therefore, it’s no surprise my heroine in the short story above is too:0) And yes, I really use to hide in the hall like her when I was a lock-key kid...sans the knife.