Sharon’s Note: You go next door for help because you were told it was your best chance. Here’s hoping it was good advice. Warning: Curiosity killed the cat, but what you don’t know can hurt you.
I dash away from the thing in the kitchen doorway. My shoulder hits the wall in the hallway as I barrel through, nearly causing me to fall. In my panic I fumble with the door lock and sob. I look back over my shoulder. The thing is lurking in the shadows, peering around the corner into the hall. Its eyes gleamy gray in the small amount of light from the living room.
The door opens and I spill out into the night. I slam it shut behind me and brace my back against it, sobbing. Nothing hits the door, nothing tries to open it. I bite my lip as I build my nerve, then wrench myself away to throw myself at my neighbor’s door.
“Ms. Dantas! Lorena? Please let me in! Please? Please!” I slam my fists against the blue painted wood. I keep casting looks back at my side of the duplex to see if there’s any movement. The second I saw something I was ready to bolt.
The door opened and I nearly fell in. The woman standing in front of me made me want to turn around and run out into the night after all. Her face was young but her dark hair was streaked with gray where it was pulled back into a tight bun. She wore a long black dress that started at the base of her jaw and ran all the way to the floor but it fit the contours of her body like a glove. The look in her eyes spoke of age and hardship and even more than I could see her, I could feel her. Her presence was like a weight and made me shudder as much as the thing I’d just fled.
“P. . .ple. . .please?” I stuttered. “The. . .there’s. . .”
“Something in your side of the house?” She asked flatly, seemingly unsurprised. I could only nod and she moved aside with a heavy sigh and a roll of her eyes. “Very well. Come in. Have a seat.”
I stumbled inside. Her side of the house was an odd mixture of normality and the peculier. The couch was old and thread-bare with a faded pattern of roses. She had a fireplace in her living room and there were bundles of dried flowers tied up to hang in front of the cold hearth. Little odds and ends lined the mantle, including small animal skulls and bronze medallion with a pentagram. Next to a battered recliner sat a small table with an old, leather bound book. The leather was a dark, almost bloody red.
Lorena closed the door and then went into another room. I was assuming from the location that it was the kitchen. She came back in a moment with a bottle of water and a plate with a couple of cookies. Dinner all over again.
“Sit there and eat your cookies. I’ll check on everything next door and be back in a moment.” She didn’t seem particularly bothered by anything going on, except she was vaguely annoyed.
I moved to get up. “No, you can’t go over there alone. That thing. . .”
“Sit!” She hissed. I sat. “I will take care of it. Now wait here and don’t touch anything.”
She frowned at me, and her eyes briefly flickered to the old book before she shook her head and whisked out of the house. I shivered. There was no immediate scream, no sound of violence. I didn’t know what was going on. Taking a bracing breath I: