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NIGHT TERRORSHallways and Mirrors
By Rose Golden
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 Rose Golden
All right reserved.
A thin gasp escaped my lips as I woke up again. The same dream, the same figures, it was all the same. I watched them exit and fade away in my threshold of my empty doorway and sighed the breath I didn't realize I had been holding since my eyes had opened. Dr. Richards had prescribed another drug for my escalating attacks two weeks ago ... it was suppose to keep me from having dreams ... yeah ... right.
I stared at the various bottles of medication on my nightstand and chuckled sourly remembering one of my sessions of therapy. "No dreams huh?"
More often than not the medications I had been taking the past two months added to my condition rather than be a solution to it. Depacote, Topamax, and now Tofranil all had the side effects of drowsiness and many nights I would go to sleep in fear, not of dreaming, but of not being able to waking up in time. I stared at the bottles until they blurred out of focus and seemed to disappear entirely as my mind wondered.
When I was little, hell, a year ago; I use to love to dream. The things the mind was capable of use to leave me in awe, I could control my own world, my own utopia, my own escape. But that was before ...
My vision seemed to come back to me as I caught a dark object moving out of the corner of my eye, a moment later I screamed. "Kitra!" a high soprano voice exclaimed and my body was enveloped by an embrace. Instinctively I fought to get lose as the voice continued on "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to scare you! It's just me. Kitra! Look at me!"
I felt my face being forced up by pale slender hands; I fought that to, until I brought myself to look up. My eyes met a pair of gray ones full of concern, my body all but going still except from my hyperventilating. Immediately I focused on Margaret, trying to control my breathing for her sake. I didn't want to give my best friend's Grandmother a heart attack. It was her shadow ... just a shadow. Her slender hands moved from under my chin up to cup my cheeks. "I'm sorry." She repeated stroking her thumb across my cheek. "Are you okay?" I nodded a response, unsure if I could even speak with stability.
She looked at me for a moment longer then released my face. "Maybe you should stay home today" she suggested gently. When I didn't answer she went on. "I could call the school and say you weren't feeling well" she offered. If she did, it wouldn't be far from the truth. "Thanks, but I should go, I'm far behind as it is". She looked towards the door then to the window as if looking for an excuse to keep me here. I started thinking up nice ways to explain to her why I had to go, as a line appeared in her already wrinkled brow. "Well, let me at least buy you briefest. Anything you're up for. Don't worry about the price" her lips thinned as an apologetic smile stretched across her face. My jaw dropped in shock. Guilty! She felt Guilty for scaring me!
"oh! Um thanks but no ... I'm actually not hungry". I didn't want her to feel guilty, to feel that she owed me something. After my parents died, she took me as if I were her own granddaughter, if anything; I owed her, I'm the one who should feel guilty. "Kitra, honey, you can't keep skipping meals, your too thin as it is, keep it up and you'll be no more than a sack of bones!" she said half teasingly. I chuckled whipping the beads of sweat from my forehead with the back of my hand and shifted my body to the right side of my bed, focusing my gaze to the window, the light from it drifting in touching my toes.
I could feel her eyes watching me as she spoke, "Well if you won't let me buy you briefest, I want you to at least eat something before you go." Her tone was more suggestive that a command of a parental authority ... which made it hard for me to hurt her feelings, like always. If I ever did, she wouldn't say anything, but I could always tell. There would always be a subtle way she would; for lack of a better word, mope around. She reminded me so much of my own Grandmother before she passed on. "Alright, I will" I amended.
I felt Grandma Margaret weight lift as she stood up and started to walk into the next room across the hall to wake up her real granddaughter, but I didn't look her way. Instead I found my eyes lifting to the window again. It appeared, for at least a while, it was going to be another sunny day in hell.
As I finally clamored to my feet and prepared myself for the day ahead, I couldn't push the thought of my frightened scream out of my mind. It reminded me too much of that night: The scream, from that night.
My reflection in my full length, free standing mirror portrayed a skinny girl with a frightful look I just couldn't shake. The fright in my own eyes I couldn't be blamed for, however the general skinniness I guess, I was partially at fault, ever since I had been taking those drugs I hadn't had much of an appetite. I had always been pretty thin, only six months ago at the height of 5'3 I weighed 120, now I weighed maybe 110 maybe 115.
Pulling my sweatshirt over head, my hands and eyes quickly went to work trying to cover up the purpling bruises around my neck. I was on enough drugs; the last thing I needed was to have anyone thinking I was trying to kill myself. I know what people would think if I told them about how those marks so livid in color, like imprints of large hands had been wrapped around my throat, had gotten there. The thought was crazy. I pulled my school clothes on, wrapping a scarf around my neck as a safety precaution, and then ran my hands through my hair until it fell around in a natural part. Maybe I was crazy.
"Hey you!" someone shouted from the top of the stairway. "Grams had to take the car with her just now. But she said she would pick us up after school". Even Holly's voice seemed gentle this morning, another guilty one? When does it end? "Alright, um" I paused slinging my backpack over my right shoulder, the faces staring me down. "Go on down stairs, I'll be right down". It took a moment as she tried peering down the hall to see my face, then changing her mind; I heard her footsteps half way down the hall then dissipated to my hearing as she went down stairs.
The Faces were convincingly chilling as they stared on; their smiles filling me with ironic doubt. I walked out my door; on my dresser the picture of my parents and me from my 16th birthday party lay undisturbed.
The walk to school was quite, and felt alien. Holly and I use to walk to school together all the time, our houses only a couple of blocks apart. Now instead of waiting for Holly to come down the street, we left at the same time. Instead of giggling at our perverse sense of humor for the sake of our being bored, we paced ourselves in silence. Our friendship had changed a lot ... or maybe it was just me. I didn't use to be this boring, with nothing to say. I use to allow myself to be happy, to have fun.
My feet stopped and I held my ground. 'Happy thoughts Kitra' I told myself as I looked up. Holly stood a few steps ahead of me looking worried; her eyes exchanging back and forth to her right, then to me. As I looked to my right I realized she was worried, not that I had stopped, but that I would look where my eyes took me. "Kitra?" her voice was soft, like it was underwater, maybe my ears were going funny. My vision was clear though, I stood in front of a white picket fence and mailbox that read 4452 East Madison Street. The windows all over the house had been knocked out with rocks, the walls tagged, and the door kicked in, hanging on its hinges. Vandalizing the place was one thing, this time someone had gone too far. Someone had broken into my house!
I swung myself forwards through the gate before I could help myself, and didn't stop until I was at the threshold. I wanted so badly to go in ... but it was like there was a slate of bullet proof glass in front of me, too thick to budge. What kinds of people do this!? I felt my vision go red with rage then I heard it ... Bang!
I looked to my best friend who was standing right behind me now as footsteps fallowed. "Kitra, no! Let's just go, we'll call the police!" she pleaded taking out her phone. But I was already picking up a couple of decent sized rocks and was ready to kill whoever was inside, destroying my house. The glass had disappeared and I stepped through the door way, holding my finger to my lips to silence Holly as she continued her pleas in near silent whispers.
I peered my way into the kitchen when I heard glass shatter above my head, then voices. They were upstairs. "Be careful!" a female voice scolded. There was more than person. A male voice chuckled "why? It looks like they already beat us here." I tiptoed my way up the stairs.
"We're not here to ran-sack the place!" The female voice was hostile, as if this was her home, and she sought to leave it in one piece. The male sighed "I don't know what you're getting yourself bent out of shape for, it looks like someone hasn't lived here in months. And if your target had lived here, look no further than the blood on the walls and floor."
My feet froze midway up the stairs. 'Target!?' I thought then my blood ran cold in realization; 'my parents'.
The female scoffed "You think I came here knowing nothing? I checked the police report pecker-head. The blood doesn't belong to our target. It belongs to her parents." the rocks in my hands fell.
"What was that?" the female cautioned. "Don't look at me! I didn't touch sh—"Shhh!" she hissed.
"Kitra? please come out of there!" Holly hissed into the house from the doorway. There was another bang, and I found myself running; this one different from the first. Instead of something dropping, it sounded more like a gunshot. "Someone's down stairs, hurry!" The female hissed. I ran for the door shouting at Holly to run with me, instead she stood still. I managed to get myself behind an oak tree across the street right before I heard her scream. I stifled my own as I pant in panic listening to another loud bang. 'This can't be happening! Not to Holly! Dear god, please!'
After moments of surreal silence I brought myself to peer from behind the tree. "Holly?" I mouthed out in a silent whisper, tears running down my face, my eyes scanning where I last saw her. I was expecting to find her dead on the porch of my house. But I didn't. The man and woman were gone, and so was she.
Chapter TwoCrimson Eyes
The blue jean jacket I had put on that morning suddenly felt really thin, the cold bit at my skin. A late winter storm front was beginning to move in and the temperature had been forecasted to drop. But I had planned on going to school and coming home. I hadn't been prepared for this.
I had however become acutely aware of how cold it had actually gotten when I got into the police car and rode over to the station, not my favorite place in the world. Numbly I remembered calling the police, hiding behind the tall oak until they arrived. It had been the same officer who had been on duty the night my parents were murdered who had picked me up. Officer Kale eyes had widened and his face seemed to fill with despair, he remembered me too.
The police were trying to reach Grandmother Margaret and notify her of what had happened while I waited in the interview room and inevitably, I started to think about the last time I was here.
My parents had been high school sweethearts, the kind of relationship everyone dreams of having. The romantic couple, who got married on Valentine's Day, as my Grandmother would say, then called them love crazed fools. After all, only fools would get married at my age right? Grams hadn't expected them to stick to it. A decade down the line, they were celebrating their tenth anniversary and mom was pregnant with me. They had finished high school, went to college, became successful, and bought a house, all before deciding to have children.
For their twenty-sixth anniversary, I wanted to go all out for them. I just got my first pay check, and I wanted to thank them for the wonderful surprise birthday bash they threw for me. The morning of I asked if it was alright if I spent the night at Holly's and my mother didn't put up any arguments, and that made me sense that she got my drift. She realized what I was doing, she knew me to well.
They stood in the doorway all dressed up like they were ready for their second prom and I couldn't help but smile. "Now, we'll be back around midnight" my father said, completely unaware of the arrangement I had confirmed with my mother. "Keep the doors locked and call if you have any problems."
I shook my head and rolled my eyes "Yeah, yeah, now get out of here."
My parents chuckled "yeah yeah," my mother mimicked in a deep voice "get out of here so I can invite the boys over". My dad's smile turned into a grimace and he cleared his throat "boys?" he said through clenched teeth.
My mother and I erupted with laughter. All you had to do to make his roller coaster come to a screeching halt was put the 'B' word in front of it.
They walked down the driveway to the car, my mother taking my father's arm. At the last moment they turned and waved and I returned the gesture with a smile. That was the last time I would see them alive.
I set up the house with as many decorations as I could before I left for Holly's. That night as my best friend and I gave each other manicures and pedicures, I pictured their entire evening. Most people would be grossed out thinking of their parent's anniversary, but I was just happy that they were happy. Most couples didn't last the first five years of marriage, and after my best friend's parents went missing when she was five I didn't want to make her sad and talk more about my parent's big night, so I just kept these thoughts to myself.
Their evening would be perfect, absolutely and completely perfect. First a romantic dinner, then a romantic comedy at the theater, and finally they would come home and see my gifts to them. The fallowing afternoon, I went home.
Reaching around my neck, I pulled off the keychain I had worn to Holly's and unlocked the door. It was almost dinner time and I was starting to get hungry. Grandmother Margaret offered to buy me something before dropping me off, but in my drowsy state, I politely refused.
I shut the door behind me "Mom?" I called walking into the kitchen then the living room. "Dad?"
Standing at the base of the stairs I pursed my lips, my backpack dropping down to my fore-arm. They must have turned in early. I scoffed. 'And they worry I might grow into pulling all nighters' I thought sourly heading upstairs.
Shaking my head I went into my room and slung my backpack onto my bed. I wasn't use to the house being this quite, they never slept in like this. Oh well, I would be the responsible adult they were trying to model me into and wake them up for dinner. My stomach growled loudly and I chuckled. But first, a sandwich.
With a full stomach, I treaded my way up the stairs again. Instead of turning into the left hallway I turned to the right. First I would wake them up, and then go to bed myself. One nightmare had been my limit for the night so I had stayed up most of the night watching re-runs of the three stooges when Holly was still passed out.
I closed my eyes and with a yawn I entered their room, a strong scent of smoke and something else stinging my nose. Opening my eyes I saw the maroon curtains had been pulled too and it was hard to make out details in the dark. Even still I could make out my dad's figure lying in bed, beside him, the bed was empty. I looked vaguely to the left side of the room, towards the door there. Mom must have already woken up, the bathroom door was closed. I edged my way towards the bathroom door until I was in knocking range, and then whispered as I did so, "Mom? Can I come in?"
She didn't answer. My paranoia took off with me as I thought of all the things that could go wrong, for a reason she wouldn't answer me. She was in there, wasn't she?
"Mom?" I said louder. The silence stunned me. She could have slipped in some water and fell, or drowned. An unnatural chill came over me and I shivered. I couldn't torment myself with ridiculous thoughts anymore; I had to check on her. "Hey mom, I'm coming in, okay?"
I looked down as I entered, and that was enough to tell me she wasn't in there. The light being off, I turned it on to reassure myself and turned around towards the bedroom. It didn't smell like smoke or that other foul scent in the bathroom. As I looked towards the nightstand, and in the dim light I could see a champagne bottle on top wax drippings along its front. I turned off the bathroom light, and headed towards the window by the nightstand.
They must have forgotten to put out the candles before they hit the sack. That was rather stupid. They could have burned the house down. I pushed back the curtains to either side of the window, and instantly regretted it as with a whoosh, the very last steams of the days sun flooded the room. The Smell of smoke was strong here, and it fogged the room. The other lingering scent made me a little queasy. I knelled at the mess beside the bed.
Excerpted from NIGHT TERRORS by Rose Golden Copyright © 2012 by Rose Golden. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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