30 Day Challenge Day 20!

I made it in under the wire!  It is 10 minutes to midnight here!

Day 20

Write a story that will make your reader afraid to turn off the lights at bedtime

tonight…

I will admit this is based on a childhood fear of mine so it might be more terrifying to me than anyone else.

“How do I let you talk me into this stuff?” Izzy wrapped her arms around herself as they walked home. The theater was not far from her house, but it seemed much further tonight.

“But it was so awesome!” Jessica enthused as she skipped along. “Those demon things were the shit, man!” Izzy could not suppress a shudder. Those ‘demon things’ as her friend so eloquently called them were the reason she was not a happy camper. The movie itself was lame and predictable. Teens go into woods on camping trip, horrible things happen to teens on said trip, horrible things are caused by horrible monsters. Normally this was not too much of a problem for Izzy, she had grown up on Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Not that her mom knew that. She would flip if she knew her daughter was watching those kinds of movies. This was the woman who was stilling buying her Disney princess movies for Christmas at the age of 16. The problem was the monsters in this movie.

These had looked so real, like a cross between a gargoyle and a nightmare. She seriously thought she could hear the flap of giant leathery wings on the other side of the cemetery wall, as well as that dry whispery sound of their voices, like the scratching of leaves across pavement. Jessica had not stopped babbling the entire time. It was like she was completely oblivious to her friend’s discomfort.

“Seriously, we need to go back again,” Jessica practically skipped down the sidewalk, her blond curls bouncing with each step. Izzy noted, not for the first time, that her friend looked like the girl that always died first in the horror movies. The thought gave her the shivers tonight.

“So we staying at your house?” Jessica looked over her shoulder at the trailing Izzy. “I don’t feel like taking the bus home.”

“Sure!” Izzy blushed trying to hide her eagerness. Her parents were not home tonight and the thought of staying in the creaky old house they moved into last year had been weighing on her since they left the theater.

“Cool,” Jessica kept walking. “We can see if Nightmare on Elm Street is on!” She either had not noticed Izzy’s strange behavior or was actually a little scared herself. They were coming up on the part of the cemetery where the high cement wall gave way to pointed wrought iron spikes and Izzy was dreading this part of the walk. Her house was actually just past this stretch, and the two girls frequently joked about zombies and vampires coming out of the graves. Those had never scared her, but tonight she was afraid of what might be on the other side of the fence.

The street light on the corner had that horrible yellow color to it, making everything look sickly and strange as they came to the end of the wall. Jessica paused only briefly, and then kept walking, forcing Izzy to either keep up, or be left in the dark by herself. Izzy took a deep breath and scurried to catch up. She could hear the slap slap of her sandals on the pavement and her own slightly ragged breathing, but nothing else. The light cast shadows from the fence into the graveyard, making stripes on the grass and stones closest to the street. They shifted and wavered as the girls hurried past. At least it was clear that Jessica was scared as well now.

What was that? Izzy was certain she heard a sound like wings behind them; her nerves were wound so tightly that she almost bolted forward as her heart hammered in her chest. She cautiously turned her head, afraid that something horrible would be behind them, she head it again, this time with a distinct dragging sound. The wind had picked up, and behind them skittering their way was a plastic shopping bag from the Kroger’s down the street. She let out her breath and felt the heat and nausea of adrenaline burning out of her system. Of course it was just a bag. What else would it be? Flying demon things?

The door to her house was now in sight. Her mother had not left the porch light on, but she could see that the light in the kitchen was on, burning low and warm behind the curtains. The house itself was a cute little Victorian with an oval glass cut out in the front door and lace on the front windows. Izzy thought it was a bit tacky, but her mother was enamored of the whole thing, even the lack of closets and squeaky floor boards/

Her key missed the lock the first two times she tried to get it in, but with the help of the light on Jessica’s phone she was able to get them inside. Her own phone had lost all its charge hours ago and she had not even tried to pull it out of her pocket. The familiar smells of her house surrounded her as they let the door click shut behind them. Izzy threw the dead bolt and checked to see that it caught firmly. She could relax now. She was in her house with her best friend. Everything was fine now. She kicked off her shoes.

“Snack time,” she grinned. “I know Mom left some cookies.” Sock clad feet padded across the living room toward the light in the kitchen. Izzy also switched on a lamp on the table near the door and one in the short hall leading to the stairs. The house was not full of warm happy light and the cold fear that had knotted her stomach since the first 15 minutes of the movie began to let go.

She stretched up to reach the tin on top of the refrigerator; her fingers were almost in it when the lights went out.

“Not funny, Jessica,” she scolded into the now pitch darkness.

“Don’t look at me,” her friend protested. “All the lights are out, not just the kitchen.” Izzy noticed that this was true, even the light that normally spilled in from the street lights was gone.

“What the hell?” She made her way to the front windows, tripping over her shoes and stubbing her toe on the coffee table in the process. Pulling aside the lacy curtain she could see, or not as the case may be. That the entire street was now dark. There were not even any cars on the road to break the darkness with their headlights.

“Freaky,” Jessica breather behind her. “That is just way too trippy.”

“Yeah,” Izzy agreed. “Screw cookies, I am going to bed.”

“OK.” Jessica sounded unusually meek.

“I’ll let you wear the sweats that say PINK on them.” Izzy stumbled to the stairs. How was it possible to trip over her own shoes twice? The steps squeaked and creaked like normal as they started up, moving faster and faster as they went until both were running as she flung her bedroom door open. Of course it was just as dark up here, and more of a hazard to walk around, but it was her room and she felt more confident in here. She grabbed a couple pairs of sweat pants off a pile she was fairly certain was clean and couple tee-shirts from the same mountain of cotton and handed one set to Jessica. She was half out of her leggings with one foot still trapped when the first stair creaked.

“What the hell?” Izzy breathed into the darkness. The second stair protested as weight was put down on it.

“Oh shit, shut the door!” Izzy lunged in the direction of the door, but tangled her feet in the half removed garment and collided with Jessica who was apparently doing the same. They struggled with each other and the clothing. It felt like they both had 8 limbs and no thumbs as Izzy finally got her fingers on the edge of the door and slammed it, all the while hearing the creaking on the stairs getting closer and closer to the top. One step at a time. There was a part of her that knew she was going to feel stupid if it turned out to be her mother, but her heart told her that her mother would have called out from the bottom of the stairs. Besides her mother was not going to be home for two more days.

The door slammed shut and both girls huddled, shivering against it. “Call 911,’ Izzy whispered urgently. “Someone is in here with us.”

“No shit, Sherlock.” Heather sounded like she was on the verge of tears. “But my phone must be down in the kitchen, I put it on the counter when we went for cookies.” Outside the room it was silent. The creaking had stopped, no footsteps, not old house protests. Where were they? Where they just standing at the top of the steps hoping that Izzy and Jessica would forget about them?

“What do we do?” Jessica was crying now.

“How the hell would I know?” Izzy whispered back. “My phone has been dead for hours.”

“What about-“ Izzy had no idea what Jessica was about to say net because her vision went white with terror. Outside the door was a dry scratching sound, like claws against the wall board followed by a leathery flap.

“Did I just…” Izzy’s hands shook and she felt her stomach trying to crawl up her throat. The scratching came again, at the floor just in front of the door. Claws on the polished hard wood. There was no doubt that was what they were hearing, but now it was accompanied by a low growl. It was so deep it was felt more than heard. Both girls scrambled away from the door in terror, not thinking about the fact that there was no way to lock it. The old hardware had a hole and presumably the mechanism for locking but no keys had come with the house. They backed up until their backs were pressed against the bed spread.

“Sometimes,” a dry voice like dead leaves on pavement said from the dark as the door creaked open. “Sometimes all it takes is knowing a thing to make it real.”

~Heather

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