Sometimes, things that go bump in the night are real.
My name is Whitney Lane. I’m sixteen years old and at first, I thought I was crazy.
I kept seeing shadows move along walls, and hearing whispers around corners, but whenever I looked, there was never anything there.
Until one day, there was.
Our world isn’t what we think. There are things around us, good things, bad things, scary things.
Things that we tell ourselves aren’t real, but they are.
They’re very real, and they’re terrifying.
I’ve been swept up now, in a battle of good and evil, confused about love and what is supposed to be love, but isn’t. I don’t know what to think anymore. I can’t trust my emotions and I don’t know what is true.
There’s only one thing I know for sure.
Nothing is what it seems.
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Sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real.
Happy birthday to me.
I close my eyes and burrow into my pillow as I try to sleep, as I try to escape this life.
It’s a life I never thought I’d have, a life I most certainly don’t want.
I’m still feeling sorry for myself as the blackness of sleep finally overtakes me.
I don’t know what time it is when I shoot straight upward like a rocket. Something had yanked me from the oblivion of sleep, something loud and shrill scraping my window.
My room is completely dark and I glanceat my clock in confusion.
As my heart pounds hard against my ribcage, I quickly scan every corner of the room.
In the last few hours, dark shadows had migrated onto my pink walls, but they’re familiar, nothing out of the ordinary, although in the night, they seem twisted and scary.
I remain motionless as I allow the sleep-induced fog to clear from my brain.
As I sit, I feel common sense and logic slowly returning.
Of course nothing had touched my window because my bedroom is on the second floor. Nothing can reach it. And there are no trees near enough to brush against it. It was just a dream.
It was only a dream.
I chant it silently to myself like a mantra as I consciously slow my breathing down, hoping that my racing pulse will soon follow. It was only a dream.
But just as I’m calming down, I hear it again.
A high-pitched shrill shriek, reminiscent of fingernails on a chalkboard, scraping down my window. I gasp and pull my feet up to my chest, which is when I notice the temperature.
I notice because I can see my breath.
Timidly, I blow a puff out again, watching the way my breath turns white in the air.
Holy crap. Oh my God.
What the hell?
The sound stops and stillness surrounds me once again, the silence so loud that it echoes in my ear.
Nothing moves around me, the shadows are perfectly still as they twist across my wall. They look like mangled fingers and arms and legs, but they don’t move.
My legs are weak and shaking, but I know I have to move. I have to move off my bed because it feels like something is under it. Something terrifying.
With a leap, I bound across the room, my feet hitting the floor several feet away from the edge of my bed.
The floor is ice cold, as though it had been covered in a blanket of snow.
I’m trembling as I race to the far wall and check the thermostat. Because that’s the only explanation. I must’ve bumped it earlier, I must’ve turned the AC way down.
But the luminous numbers stare at me in contradiction.
It must be broken. It has to be broken.
My breath is coming in pants now, terrified, anxious pants.
My fear isn’t logical. I know there’s nothing here. I’m the only one in this room.
Or am I?
The air seems to push at me from all around, something dark, something heavy, something real. Something unseen.
My fingers shake, my legs tremble, and then all of a sudden, they can no longer support my weight. I go down like a pile of bricks, collapsing onto the floor. I lie still because I can’t move, because something seems to sit on my chest, holding me down.
The shadows start to move, to slither across the walls, to reach and pull and dance.
I struggle to focus, to see what it is.
But all I can see are the numbers on the thermostat suddenly moving, rapidly counting down from 74 to 20.
The air is frigid as I suck it in, as I try to pull the ice crystals into my mouth so I can breathe.
All of a sudden, there’s a blackness in front of me. It hovers over me, a shapeless mass, sucking in the cells of the air, the atoms and the molecules. It’s darker than the blackness of my room, blacker than the blackest black.
Something is here.
“Dad?” I whisper in a white puff. Because what else could it be?
I reach out a finger to touch it, and then I can’t see anything else, because the darkness of it surrounds me, bleeding into everything else, even my vision. The shriek is back, screaming into my ears, bleeding into my brain.
Then there’s nothing.
Courtney Cole is a novelist who would eat mythology for breakfast if she could. She has a degree in Business, but has since discovered that corporate America is not nearly as fun to live in as fictional worlds. She loves chocolate and roller coasters and hates waiting and rude people.
Courtney lives in quiet suburbia, close to Lake Michigan, with her real-life Prince Charming, her ornery kids (there is a small chance that they get their orneriness from their mother) and a small domestic zoo.
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