Chapter Two

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The next morning I woke up exhausted, unable to fall completely asleep after my nightly visitor. No matter how many times I told myself it wasn't real, I couldn't find it in me to let my guard down. I'd lain awake, jumping at every creak in the house.

Trying to forget the night before, I busied myself with yard work. It looked like no one had mown the grass in months. Around midday, I noticed a trio of people standing at the end of our driveway, staring at me. Thinking they were our neighbors, I waved and walked over to them. "How are you guys?"

The group looked eerily similar, aside from their age. It looked to be a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. All long and lanky, pale blonde hair cut in the exact way.

"Thank you for coming," the little girl said softly, holding the toy ball in her hands tightly.

A chill spread through me. That wasn't exactly the greeting I had expected. "Uh, sure. No problem. Thanks for coming to greet me."

The ball slipped from her hands, rolling across the dirt, and coming to a stop at my feet. She made a move to retrieve it, but her grandmother shot out her hand, yanking her firmly to a stop and hissing something at her. Her eyes widened and she stumbled back a step.

This is getting weird...

Clearing my throat, I kicked the ball back to the little girl. "Well, I have a lot of work to do, so I'll get back to it. Nice meeting you."

And instead of doing what normal people would do and walk away, they all stood there and stared at me as I walked away. I shuddered a little. Of course we would get stuck with creepy neighbors.

When night fell, I was feeling a little better about the place. Over the course of the day I'd convinced myself what happened last night had clearly been some kind of anxiety dream. I kissed Emily good night and laid down, ready for a full night's rest.

3:00AM. My eyes shot open. I tried to move my body and once again found myself unable to manage a twitch.

Tap, tap, tap.

Immediately my gaze went to the foot of my bed. A shadow shifted in front of the bedroom door, stretching as high as the ceiling. A warbling sound started, growing louder and louder as the shadow grew closer. It felt like my ear drums were going to explode. I could feel them vibrating. Whatever was coming, it was breaking the sound barrier.

I tried to yell. I tried to thrash. All I could manage was to become more panicked, locked in place by a spiritual force.

A grotesque hand gripped the sheets, the white of its bones shining in the moonlight. Claws replaced fingernails, razor-edged and threatening.

Two glowing eyes peeked over the edge of the bed. Hollow, yet conveying the depths of Hell. I felt like just maintaining eye contact would suck my soul out.

Clack-clack-clack.

The creature came to its full height, its jaw snapping furiously. Slowly, it climbed onto the bed.

This could be the moment I die. My breaths came out in short rasps as I tried to fight the terror crashing over me. Its claws could easily slice through me.

I prepared for it to pounce.

It didn't.

Instead, it became motionless, remaining in place at the foot of my bed like some sinister mannequin.

And it stared at me.

I stared back, afraid that if I looked away it would take the chance to move closer.

And that's the way we stayed until I was finally released from the paralysis as the first light of day shone into my room. In a fraction of a second it slid off the bed and retreated back out the door.

I switched on the bedside lamp, this time leaving it on, trying to control my breathing. I knew I wouldn't be getting any more sleep that night.

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