Luke Peace

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Walnut Street

I have vague memories of moving into that house. The only thing I remember before then is that I was happy. We used to live in a pretty little farmhouse by the river, surrounded by hills, and family members lived nearby, who we would eat dinner with every Sunday. My best memory is my uncle letting me ride one of his horses on my fourth birthday.

At that age, I didn’t understand the concept of moving. I had this idea that the moving crew we hired was actually going to remove the house we wanted and replace our old one. I imagined it looking the same, only painted purple.

When I shared this idea with my parents, they laughed, and told me that the house wasn’t moving, we were leaving this place for good and were going to live somewhere else now. I wasn’t ready for that.

Years after the fact, my parents told my sister Cassidy and me that on the first day we moved in to the new house, we were both in tears begging Mom and Dad to take us back to the farmhouse. They told us we were frightened and that we kept them up for hours with our crying all through the night. I don’t actually remember that. However, I see old fragments of memories shifting around: driving down that street for the first time, getting my first glimpse of the house crawling up into view, feeling a sinking discomfort that soon replaced the joy I had back on the farm.

We moved into a small historic town, filled with neat houses. They were pretty, and various kinds of trees lined the streets in which birds and squirrels came to nestle. I was actually thrilled by the sight; compared to the town neighboring the farm, this was a ritzy city.

Cassidy and I had our windows pulled down pointing at every beautiful house we came across. “Is that our house? Is that our house? Is that our house?” Each enquiry was met with a disappointing answer from our parents as they continued to drive.

They announced as we turned onto our street. The houses were bland compared to the ones we had just seen. Neither of us were piping up anymore by the time the car finally pulled up against the curb. “Here we are girls, it’s our new home!” said Dad all jovially.

Our new house was taller than the one back on the farm. It was made of brick and was painted a darker shade of red and had three windows on the top floor.

What set it apart was that it was adjoined to another house. It wasn’t as tall as ours, but it was wider and had more windows. It had a flat roof contrasting against our triangular one, and its brick walls were painted with this peach color.

“Who lives in there?” asked Cassidy, motioning to the peach house as we got out of the car. “Nobody,” answered Mom as we were led through the door of the red one, “at least not for a long time, according to our realtor.”

“Does that mean it’s ours too?” Cassidy apparently liked it better than our side. That made Dad chuckle. “No, honey, we bought this house, because we can actually afford it.” At that, Cassidy pouted and hung her head low.

I on the other hand hated both, and I wanted to go home. Home where the farmhouse was and the river and my uncle with the horses.

Over the next couple years, things were pretty normal, except that each morning, when Cassidy and I would come down to the kitchen for breakfast, Mom would inform us that during the night we had been screaming and shouting horrible things like “get out of my room! Get out! I’ll kill you!” She and Dad would break the door open only to find us tossing and turning in our beds, muttering. However, neither of us could remember anything that occurred the next day.

One time our parents had enough and decided to get to the bottom of it. They rummaged through our video cabinet to see if we had stolen any of their rated R movies. They demanded to know if we had watched anything inappropriate at any of our sleepovers, to which we obviously answered no—in spite of the fact that the only thing we ever watched at our friends’ house was Stephen King tapes—but those movies made us laugh. Ironically, the only thing we possessed that actually scared us was our copy of Where the Wild Things Are, which Mom and Dad bought for us.

Mom and Dad were then convinced that we had some sort of sleeping disorder, and they took us in to see a specialist. It was her professional opinion that Cassidy and I had something along those lines, but to be sure she set us up for a sleep study where we stayed overnight, and she’d evaluate our brain activity. Funny thing was, just days before the appointment, the night terrors stopped. We had nothing to show for it at our sleep lab, and the specialist found nothing out of the ordinary.

As the years went by, something seemed to be worrying Mom and Dad. I would often find them whispering in the kitchen, and they’d tell my sister and I not to go in until they were done. During the day, they would warn us not to talk to anybody we didn’t recognize, and if a stranger asked us to come alone with them, to run for it.

This had me scared, and Cassidy was suspicious of Mom and Dad, being older than me and smarter at the time. “I know something is going on guys. I’m going to freak out if you don’t tell me what.” That only made them angry and defensive. “Don’t talk to us like that! You and Amy are going to be fine, because we’re not going to let anything happen to you.”

Cassidy and I were fourteen and twelve at the time. One day we were rooting around in Mom and Dad’s room, and I found a stack of old parchment at the bottom of Mom’s sock drawer. It was yellow and crusty and tied closed with string. “Look!” I handed it over to Cassidy. She immediately tore off the string and pulled the sticky sheets apart. Her eyes widened, and her face flushed as she read the contents.

Let me see your children.” She said aloud. The handwriting looked like chicken scratch, but it was still legible enough to make out.

I’m so sad and lonely. Your children make me happy. Let me see your children. I get sick when I can’t see them.” Cassidy’s hands were trembling as she held the papers.

I was confused, and scared of Cassidy’s reaction. “Did Mom write that?”

“No!” a tear came down her cheek as she continued to flip through the yellow sheets. “Somebody wrote this to Mom, they’re all like this!

Each day I get more frustrated that you won’t show me your children. They’re so pretty. Everything is ugly accept your children. One touch and I’ll be happy…”

“Cassidy, who wrote this?” I yelled and snatched a piece from her. “I am angry. This won’t end well for you.

I’m coming.”

“FUCK!” Cassidy shouted and began to sob.

There was the sound of rapid footsteps coming toward the bedroom. The door swung open, startling us. “Cassidy, Amy, what do you think you’re doing?!” Mom stood in the doorway, enraged and horrified at the sight of us holding her letters. “This isn’t your mail!” she lunged over and snatched them out of our hands. “You’re both grounded! You especially, Cassidy, I never expected to hear such language come from your mouth!”

Cassidy’s face tightened, her fear boiled over into rage. “Someone is after us; someone is threatening to kill you just so they can get to Amy and me, and you were never going to tell us? What kind of bullsh—“

“Hold it right there…” Mom’s eyes were lit up wildly. I think she might have actually been scared of her in that moment, but I was scared. I was always scared when she got like that. I cowered back behind my sister.

“No I won’t ‘hold it right there!’ You thought you could keep this a secret, but I knew something was wrong from the start! Did you think I was too dumb to understand? You already knew I was on to you; I was already scared, if that’s what you were trying to prevent. This is cruel!”

Mom was beginning to tear up. I think she broke, and that was somehow more upsetting than when she was angry. “Cassidy…I wasn’t trying to belittle you.”

Cassidy stormed out of the room. Leaving me alone in the room with Mom.

“Are…we actually grounded?”

Mom sighed and shook her head, sniffing.

I pointed at the letters in her hand. “Can you tell me who that is?”

She shook her head again. “I don’t know. I have no idea.”

“What are we going to do?”

“We’re going back to the farm tomorrow. I’m dropping you and Cassidy off at Aunt Malinda and Uncle Drew’s, and you’re going to stay with them. The police are looking for the freak that sent us these and your Dad keeps a loaded rifle locked in that closet. Nothing is going to happen to my babies, I’m not going to let it.”

I ran up and hugged her, and she held me tight, but then I remembered Cassidy, and decided to go looking for her.

Through the window, I saw her going out the back gate, and I ran out to meet her. “Where are you going?” I asked her.

“I’m blowing off some steam.” She answered, turning right, and I followed.

“Mom doesn’t think you’re dumb, and she’s not trying to be sadistic.” I piped up, but she didn’t acknowledge that I had said anything.

“Those letters weren’t folded,” She started.

“Cassidy, what does that have to do with anything? I’m trying to tell you something,”

“If they had been sent in the mail, the shithead who wrote them would had to have folded them so they would fit in an envelope. You can’t send a letter through the mail if you don’t have a mailing and return address on the front of the envelope. That means these letters didn’t come through the mail. That creep delivered them himself…”

I froze.

“Either that or he sent someone to do it for him, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re close by. He’s seen us before. That much is clear from what he’s written…” she was cut short from a loud knocking sound coming from our right.

We turned and looked in the direction of the peach house that was attached to ours. We saw nothing, but the knocking grew louder and faster, and we finally looked up.

An old woman was peering through one of the windows, furiously knocking on the glass.

I screamed and clutched onto my sister’s arm; something was horribly wrong with the face that glared down at us. It was gaunt, skeletal. It was as if one layer of her thin, gray skin were stretched over her skull. Her white hair had fallen out in clumps; only a few strands remained on her bald head, and her eyes…They reflected yellow light the same way a dog’s would when it’s pitch black.

When she realized that we saw her, she stopped knocking on the glass and then waved. We could see by the light of her eyes that she was laughing.

Cassidy pulled me in the opposite direction, and we fled away from the house.

“Mom and Dad said that no one lived there!” I exclaimed through shortness of breath as we ran.

“That’s what the realtor told them. Apparently no one would buy our home knowing there’s a crack den on the other side of the wall.”

“Where are we going?”

“We have to go around the other way. We need to leave today.

We climbed over the fence on the left side of our house, out of sight from the windows next door and ran inside through the kitchen. Dad and Mom turned toward us startled. Then they gave us suspicious looks. “What’s wrong? And where were you too?” asked Dad.

“We have to get out of here, now!” was Cassidy’s answer. Mom turned pale.

“Oh my god,”

“We know whose been writing the letters. There’s this methed out old lady hiding in the peach house. She’s been spying on us for years, and we saw her out in the back alley. If we don’t get out of here, she’s going to kill us!”

Our parents turned to each other with worried looks, but then Dad responded, “Girls, that’s impossible.”

That took Cassidy by surprise, but she sprung right back. “What? What do you mean ‘that’s impossible,’? We saw…”

“That house was the first place the police searched. They combed that place in and out and didn’t find anything.”

“Police? What police?”

“Haven’t you noticed all of the officers in town? They’re looking for our stalker.” Dad then turned around and gestured toward the kitchen window. It looked out onto our backyard and the alley behind it where Cassidy and I had just come from. “Look, there’s one right now.”

We ran to the window and looked out. However, I was unable to see what Dad was pointing to.

“Dad, what are you talking about?” Cassidy couldn’t see it either. Dad frowned and got up from his chair and walked over between us, “See? He’s right in the middle of the alley. We’re safe.”

“Dad…” I stammered.

“What are you trying to pull?” Cassidy yelled angrily, making a sweeping gesture at the empty alley. Dad looked intently at us both. His mouth was open, but he couldn’t decide what to say.

Now Mom came to the window. She pushed it open and waved at the alley.

“Hi officer!” she laughed as though embarrassed, “sorry to bother you when you’re working, but could you…say hi to my daughters? They’re really scared…ha-ha, okay, we’ll come over to you.”

My sister and I looked at each other, terrified, but Mom and Dad made their way to the kitchen door and motioned for us to follow them outside.

I was trembling in fear, but Cassidy needed to know what was going on. She followed them out, and I realized I didn’t want to be left alone in the house, so I came after.

We walked through the back yard and stepped out into the alley where we had just been. I was hoping that the man would be there, that we were just looking in the wrong direction and he would just walk up in front of us. A tall, handsome man with a warm, reassuring smile and armed to his neck.

That seemed to be what Mom and Dad saw when they stopped right in the middle of the alley. “Hi officer, this is my youngest daughter, Amy and my oldest, Cassidy.” Mom blushed and looked over at the two of us impatiently. “Girls…That’s enough! He’s right here…say hello.”

“H-hello,” I said to the open air. I had no idea what to do. Nothing was making any sense. Mom and Dad continued to talk to the invisible and inaudible policeman and would react as if he were talking back.

“We did try that Presbyterian Church over on the corner, but we decided the folks there were a little up tight. We haven’t actually taken the girls anywhere since the letters started showing up.

Hah-ha! We would love to take you up on that offer, but we’re actually heading out of town tomorrow. We’re staying with family for a while…”

Cassidy elbowed me in the shoulder and pointed at the peach house. I desperately did not want to look up, but I felt like I had to.

The withered old woman was there in the window closest to us. Her face pressed against the glass and her yellow eyes widened with sick glee. She was talking or mouthing several words. Each time she stopped, Mom and Dad would respond to the nonexistent policeman. Dad made a really lame joke, and I saw the old woman rear her head back and cackle. What was left of her teeth were brown and cracked. Mom and Dad were laughing now.

“Cassidy,” I whispered, “I don’t think meth-heads can do that.” She didn’t answer me. She only held on tightly to my arm.

The ordeal ended with our parents telling their hallucination goodbye. The hag had on her face a mockingly warm smile, and she turned away from the window, but before she disappeared into the recesses of her hideaway, she glared at us. Her mouth sprouted into a grin that was too wide for her withered face. Her gray skin cracked visibly and her face contorted more than it already had been, and then the curtain closed behind her.

Later, we all sat in the living room with the TV on. Dad had ordered pizza, and we were trying to enjoy the movie that was airing– Galaxy Quest, that spoof starring Tim Allen and that guy who played Snape on Harry Potter. Cassidy and I couldn’t.

The TV was set against the wall to the right of the front door, the same wall that was shared by the adjoining house. I could feel the presence of the old woman on the other side. She was probably resting against the wall, listening to everything that was going on in our living room; she had to have been doing it all these years. I wondered if there were any peepholes that she had been looking through. What had stopped her from just walking through the front door?

There was a knock at the door, and I about lost it. Dad got up and patted me on the head. “That would be the pizza,” he said and went up to get the door. I couldn’t see what was going on but I heard Dad greet the man outside warmly. “Ten dollars? Sure thing, and here’s a five for your trouble.” If the pizza guy said anything, I didn’t hear it.

Then Dad came back into the living room with a perfectly content look on his face.

Cassidy frowned at him. “Where’s the pizza?” He stopped, at first with a confused expression, but then he looked irritated. “Cassidy, there’s a reason why your mother and I didn’t tell you about the stalker. We know you have a habit of taking things too far, and you get Amy worked up too. I don’t know if this is something you’re doing for attention or what, but it needs to stop. We’re leaving tomorrow, and everything’s going to be alright. Just enjoy the pizza, nobody’s going to hurt you.”

Meanwhile, I was looking at Dad’s hands. They were outstretched as though he were offering something to us, but they were empty. There was no pizza. And there had been no pizza guy at the front door.

But I had heard the door knock.

Dad placed what he imagined to be a pizza box on the coffee table, and he made a motion as if he were opening it. Then our parents began pulling out slices and placing them on our paper plates situated on the coffee table. “Ick,” Mom took a paper towel and pretended to dab the grease off of her slice before lifting her empty hands up to her mouth.

“What’s the matter Amy?” Dad asked me as my eyes were fixed on the door.

“I…don’t feel so good.” I answered. He nodded and gave me a hug. I almost felt better, but then he said: “I’ll save you some leftovers if you get hungry,” and I immediately wanted him to let go of me.

“Amy can’t see the pizza,” Cassidy blurted out. Dad glared at her, “that’s enough.”

“I said, Amy can’t see the fucking pizza!”

I thought Dad was going to flip the coffee table. He was definitely about to hurl a string of angry words himself, but I stood up on the couch, facing him. “Daddy, please listen to us!” Tears were streaming down my face.

This time he softened, and he turned away from Cassidy. He crossed his arms and stepped away from us both. “I’m sorry. Tell me what you think is going on, and I’ll listen this time.”

Cassidy was about to start off again, but I cut in. “Dad. Come out side on the front porch with me, I want to show you something.”

He nodded. He shot my mom a frightened look, but he complied.

We stepped outside and I pointed down at the welcome mat. Dad bent over and found the bills that he had given to the pizza guy. He picked them up and stared at them for a moment, and then he glanced over at me. “You knew this would happen.” It was less of a question than an observation. I simply nodded.

He turned and walked back into the living room, rubbing his head in a perplexed manner, but then he put an arm around my sister. “Cassidy, I’m sorry for losing my temper at you. If…you couldn’t see the policeman– or this pizza, for that matter…then I believe you.”

“You get that they’re not real?” she said hopefully.

His sighed heavily and grimaced. “I believe something is going on. We’re leaving first thing tomorrow morning. I’m going to get us up early so we should probably get to bed early.”

I don’t know why, but having Dad listen to us made me feel a little safer. However one thing still bothered me.

I heard the knock when the delivery guy showed up at our door. That wasn’t a part of Mom and Dad’s hallucination.

That night, I got out my old night light from the closet. My sister and I had shared the same room for most of the time that we spent in that house, but by the time she’d turned twelve, she’d decided she was too old to share bedrooms. I’d never told her, because I didn’t want her to think I was pathetic, but that hurt my feelings, and I missed having her on the other side of the room, and chatting and gossiping with her about all the things that didn’t really matter, but meant something to us.

As afraid as I was of what might happen, I was glad that she decided to sleep in our room… and that she asked me to get the old night light out. Earlier that evening, I was sure that I’d be up all night, paranoid, with my eyes glued to the window, but I was worn out from the terror today, and I was surprised to find that I felt safe enough to fall asleep.

The house filled with the sound of screams and gunfire. My eyes snapped open, but all I could see was pitch black. The screams turned into groans of agony, and they slowly faded into silence. “Mom! Dad!” was what I tried to yell, but no words came out of my mouth.

Then I realized that I was in my own room, and I tried to get up off of my bed, but I couldn’t move my arms or legs. I remembered Cassidy, and I looked over to her to see if she could help me.

She wasn’t there.

Then there were three quiet, yet distinct knocks at my door.

I could feel my heart skip several beats. Maybe it was Cassidy returning from the bathroom. Maybe Dad was coming in to wake us up.

The knob clicked, and the door slowly creaked open.

The old woman peered through the crack as the door moved further and further ajar, the light from her yellow eyes revealing her gaunt, decaying figure and the cracked, rotting teeth in her smile. I made another attempt to scream as she crept slowly toward my bed, but it proved just as useless as the first time. Clearly, she saw what I was trying to do, and she held a boney finger to her mouth.

Shhhhhhhhhhh!

She smelled like rotting meat.

I expected her to wrap her cold, dead hands around my throat, or pull out a knife that would be concealed in her night gown. However, she walked past my bed. She continued over behind me and opened up my closet. The rancid smell filled my nostrils as she turned and looked down into my face, and for the first time, I realized she had a small hole in her throat.

“Do you want to hear a story?”

That voice.

I remembered that horrible voice. It sounded like gravel, and I’d heard it over and over again, night after night several years ago. I was trembling all over.

Oh come now, I used to read to you girls all the time. This one was your favorite,” She held a thin book in her hands, presumably one of my old picture books.

Then she sat down on the edge of my bed and open the book, and I immediately knew what it was. Mom and Dad were always confused as to why I hated it so much.

“Where The Wild Things Are…Story and Pictures by Maurice Sendak.” She turned her head over to me as if hoping for a reaction. Her withered face contorted from her wide smile and her yellow eyes glowed jovially. Then she began to read in her gravelly, distorted voice:

That night, Max wore his wolf suite and made mischief of one kind and another. His mother called him ‘WILD THING!’ and Max said ‘I’LL EAT YOU UP!’ so he was sent to bed without eating anything.

“That very night, in Max’s room a forest grew… and an ocean tumbled by with a private boat for Max, and he sailed off through night and day…to where the wild things are…

“They rolled their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws…

“’And now,’ cried Max, ‘let the wild rumpus start!’…

“Then all around from far away across the world, he smelled good things to eat, so he gave up being king of where the wild things are. But the wild things cried, ‘Oh please don’t go, we’ll eat you up we love you so!’ The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws—” And abruptly, she slammed the book shut and glared at me.

That’s how the story will end for you and your sister. And you have your parents to thank for that.”

Suddenly, whatever invisible force that had kept me pinned down to my mattress and my voice silent sprung off from me, and I jumped her.

“GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY ROOM! I’LL KILL YOU!”

Her eyes went wild as she began shrieking with laughter,

Let the wild rumpus start!”

And then I was rolling head over heels down onto the floor.

I knocked my forehead against the side of my door, and suddenly everything changed. Daylight was pouring through my window. My nightlight was still on as if it had been left untouched throughout the night.

I pulled myself up and looked around frantically. Cassidy was still missing. That, and her sleeping bag was torn clean in half, and tufts of cotton lay scattered on the carpet.

I ran down the hallway to Mom and Dad’s room and stopped dead in my tracks.

Red liquid was pooling under their closed bedroom door. “Mom! Dad!” I screamed and broke the door open with brute force. Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw behind that door, not even what had transpired last night.

My parents lay sprawled on the floor, lifeless. Their blood spattered all over the room. Dad’s rifle lying next to him.

I stood their silently for an untold amount of time. I couldn’t process anything that I was seeing.

But then I remembered last night. The screams. The gunfire. Her voice. This was a game she’d been playing all these years, and it all culminated last night.

And Cassidy was still missing.

Something inside me snapped. “You’re dead!” I shouted at the wall to my right, on the other side of which was the adjacent house.

There was no reply. That didn’t change the fact that she heard me. She was always listening to us. But I was determined to put an end to it. She killed my parents. Cassidy was next, and I was being saved for some special entertainment.

I snatched the riffle off from the floor and ran downstairs.

I burst through the front door and raced across the sidewalk with a loaded rifle. Anyone could have seen me, yet I was not stopped, no one could have gotten in my way if they tried. I arrived at the peach house, and I kicked the door open.

What greeted me in the unlit living room were several dead bodies strewn about the living room. Many were wearing police uniforms, but one lying closest to my feet had on kakis, a red polo shirt, and a pizza box lying beside him. The smell of rotting meat permeated in the room.

A scream came from further within the house, and I immediately ran after it. The old woman’s cackling resonated from every corridor of the house. I heard the front door slam shut far behind me, and this weird rhythmic sound suddenly began to ring out closer and closer from behind me.

Instinct told me to veer left, so I obeyed, and I followed a long corridor from which the scream emitted from again.

At the end of the hallway, I got a glimpse of Cassidy.

She was tied to a wooden chair in front of a dusty, unlit fireplace. She was gagged, and her eyes were wide with terror. She continued to scream however loudly she could with the cloth tied around her mouth, and she began shaking her head back in forth violently.

That didn’t stop me. I hurried over to her and struggled to untie her. It felt like years trying to unravel those knots.

Suddenly, there was someone standing in the archway. I quickly jumped over to guard Cassidy and aimed my rifle at the shadow. It was the old woman, but she was changing. She was growing—so tall that her head hit against the ceiling. A full mane of gray hair came billowing down to her ankles. Her brown stumps for teeth fell out of her gums, and fangs grew in their place. Her yellow eyes flashed angrily, and large talons sprouted from her bony fingers.

OH, PLEASE DON’T GO…I’LL EAT YOU UP, I LOVE YOU SO!” was her cry, and then she lunged at us, tearing through the walls of the archway as she went.

I don’t know why I did it, but as I lifted my rifle, about to fire, I shouted, “BE STILL!” and then the gun went off.

She wasn’t even phased by the gunfire, but apparently, my words stopped her right where she was at.

What did you say to me?”

Cassidy managed to get the rest of the knots off from her while I stood in front of the chair and ripped the gag out of her mouth. She then stepped out in front of me with her hands stretched forward. “You heard her, you cunt, she said ‘BE STILL!’”

The creature reared back and gave a low growl at us. Her sickly yellow eyes flashed back and forth between us, apparently realizing something that upset her greatly. When Cassidy saw what was happening, she went all in.

“Do you actually love us?”

The creature did not respond. It was seething with anger.

“I think you’re a sick old woman who never learned what love was. You were abandoned by your family weren’t you? You were alone in this house for a long time. And when you were most in need, there was no one there to help you or comfort you.”

The monster roared at that, and gnashed her teeth.

“That’s right. In your depression, you looked to cigarettes and booze to keep you entertained, but that led to cancer. The last year of your life was the most miserable experience you ever had. You were weak from the chemo, and no one wanted to visit you because your hair was falling out, and your voice scared them from that implant in your throat. You died alone in this house. No one even knew about it or cared.”

The old woman howled mournfully. I was beginning to feel sick in my stomach.

“That’s why you’ve been hanging around. You wanted someone, anyone one to come visit you, and perhaps give you the attention that you’ve never gotten. But your view of the world got so…fucked up. You want love, but all you know is self-destruction.” Cassidy apparently ran out of things to say, but I hadn’t.

“I don’t think you do love us. I think you envied our parents because they had each other and a family of their own, and I think you hate us, because you know that we don’t belong to you.”

Something was changing. The creature was shrinking back to her original size. The mane of hair fell out once again, the claws retracted, the fangs vanished, and last of all, the yellow light was gone from her eyes. She was now the old woman, but she was different.

She looked no different from a sad, elderly woman alone in a nursing home. “Oh…” she moaned. “The bad thoughts won’t go away…the voices never stop…oh dear god!”

Cassidy had no response for this, but I did. I felt that I was beginning to understand what was going on. I gently pushed her aside and walked over to the woman. “What’s your name ma’am?”

“Zelda,” she sobbed, “my name is Zelda,”

“Zelda? Where going to get help for you.”

“Amy, no! It’s a trick!” Cassidy grabbed me and pulled me down. The woman withdrew a knife and lunged at us.

We scrambled out of the hallway and ran as fast as we could to the front door. She chased us through the living room, resuming her form of the monster. “NO! PLEASE! I DIDN’T MEAN IT! COME BACK! I’LL KILL YOU! I’LL KILL YOU BOTH, JUST LIKE I DID TO YOUR PARENTS!”

With a vicious cry, I shot the door knob, and it swung open to reveal precious daylight and the sound of birds chirping.

She roared her terrible roars and gnashed her terrible teeth and rolled her terrible eyes and showed her terrible claws.

But we escaped.

We escaped and we fled that old historic town, and never looked back again.

We fled into the night of Aunt Malinda and Uncle Drew’s house on the farm where we found supper waiting for us.

And it was still hot.


 

 

 

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