Noticing it was ten-thirty at night, Samantha told Stephen that she was going to say goodnight so that she could get ready for bed.
He reluctantly agreed to let her go, since they had already been talking on the phone for two entertaining, engaging hours.
"I love you very much, sweetie. And I'll be dreaming of you all night until we see each other again tomorrow at school," he told her.
She seconded the sentiment, and added another "I love you," and then hung up the receiver.
Lying upon the bed, she heard his warm sensitive voice echo through her mind. Though they had only been dating a mere few months, she yearned and thirsted to be with him like a flame needed oxygen; his name and voice was etched into her mind eternally.
She sighed with satisfaction and drifted off the bed with wild emotions. Drawing her journal out of the desk drawer, she brought it back to the bed and added another poem.
What is love?
Not a courtship, nor a system, nor a struggle for truth.
What is love?
But a wisp, and a dream, everlasting from youth.
What is love?
Come the dusk, just as sure as the day.
What is love?
Just a touch, from my angel, just a heartbeat away.
Closing the book, she set it back and left her room.
After brushing her teeth, she closed the medicine cabinet door and left the bathroom. Stopping short of her bedroom door, she looked up to the attic and remembered how cruel and insensitive she had been to Kelly in front of Julie. That childish, stupid display had been eating at her conscience like crazy since.
She should have apologized to him; he deserved it. Supernatural events were going on here constantly and she had witnessed several of them. If only her big bad ego didn't prevent her from telling the truth. The way her mom looked at Kelly every time he brought up the subject of ghosts, she'd think Samantha was crazy as well, and she wasn’t about to lose her mother’s trust and respect now.
She looked over to the attic door. Kelly said pictures were up there. If there were some proof I could show her, then she'd have to believe us.
She edged closer to the rope.
What was in the attic? She had never been up there before, and as far as she knew, he could be making everything up. But it was worth a try. If she could find anything that would help their situation, she would have to go up there.
She looked over to Kelly’s bedroom where he lay asleep. "I hope you're having pleasant dreams, while I'm on some sort of crazy detective case."
Grasping the knotted rope, she pulled the ladder down.
The darkness was even greater than she had imagined. Not a single object was detectable above.
"Great, I don't even have a clue to where the lights are at."
Going to the hallway closet she withdrew a plastic flashlight, clicked on the beam of light and began to ascend the stairs. The white spotlight illuminated and trailed across the ceiling as she made her way upwards. Nearing the top step, she redirected the flashlight beam at multiple angles inside of the attic, but revealed nothing significant. She crept up through the door opening and stood upon the attic’s wooden floor, peering around in the dim room.
She felt foolish. Why was she doing this? She should be fast asleep in bed, not roaming around in a dusty dark attic during the middle of the night. “No one would be crazy enough to do this," she lamented, "not even Nancy Drew."
The beam of light passed over a stack of boxes in the corner of the attic. Finding them, she turned the light back upon it.
"Yes, there they are! Cool." Walking forward, the floorboard squeaked underfoot. Her stomach felt queasy.
There are only boxes up here. Only boxes and nothing else, she repeated calmly to herself as she approached them.
Then she heard a sound that froze her heart in mid-beat: the sobbing of a woman.
Samantha stopped abruptly; the noise was right behind her.
Coldness touched upon her shoulders, almost hand-like.
Her lips trembled. Afraid to move, she kept the light directed upon the boxes.
The crying of the woman’s voice ceased, but was immediately replaced by a rubbing noise above in the rafters.
I have to get out of here. I can't breathe! I can't breathe! She panicked as claustrophobia began to overcome her.
As Samantha turned around, the flashlight beam struck directly upon the bluish face of a short, brunette woman who was hanging from the ceiling by a noose. The dead woman's eyes were opened in tortured shock, and her purple, split lips were apart in silent scream.
Sickened by the repugnant cadaverous face, Samantha dropped the flashlight to the floor and ran past the ghoulish sight. She trampled recklessly and noisily down the short flight of stairs, lifted and locked the ladder back into place and ran into her room. Shutting and locking her bedroom door, she turned the light on, then curled up into a fetal position on the bed. As if on cue, a loud, deep guttural moan arose somewhere in the attic just above her, which was then followed by heavy footsteps that seemed to wander aimlessly back and forth, pacing restlessly.
Oh God, this can’t be happening. But it is, Samantha repeated to herself, shaking with chill. My God, it's real!
* * *
The light over the well swung back and forth and then caromed against the side of the basement wall. Drops of water dripped slowly down the side of the inner well wall into a darkened abyss, and as they landed in a small pool collected below, a reverberation echoed back up.
The beast slowly placed its hands upon the outer edge of the well's rim and pulled itself upward out of the base. Its misshapen head appeared, deformed and mutilated as though a sledgehammer had beaten the skull. Bulging white eyes darted and scanned the small furnace room, searching for anything in its path to pull down into the darkened hole. Inch by inch, it clawed and pulled out of the well to the surface, straining with every muscle to be free. Hunched in the shadows, the creature lifted its head, sniffed the air for its victim’s location, and then began to walk through the darkened corridor. Its three-inch long sharpened claws dragged across the concrete wall, screeching like a knife upon a chalkboard.
Its milky-white moist flesh smeared fresh blood and pus upon the walls as it slithered up the basement stairs.
Moving through the dimly lit kitchen, the beast dragged its infected, deformed leg as it continued and headed upstairs, leaving a trail of blood soaking into the kitchen carpet. The beast licked at the corners of its mouth with a dark green eroded tongue as it ascended the stairs. Creeping onward, it stalked slowly, cautious of not waking a single soul, and its eyes were alert and focused intensely. Sniffing the air with its pig like snout, it recognized the smell of human blood and quivered with delight.
The reptilian face studied the first door. There was life inside of the room, but not the life it was interested in taking.
It reached a second closed door and grinned with delight, dripping saliva from its fangs.
The door opened slowly, and there in deep slumber slept the boy, unaware of the silent force within his room.
The beast's huge eyes transposed into slanted snake eyes as it moved in on the child.
Directly over him now, its chest heaved with uncontrollable excitement, and strands of hot mucus dropped from its cracked nostrils onto the blanket covering the sleeping child.
Kelly's eyelids fluttered and then lifted once he felt the hot, vile breath of the beast upon his face.
Still grinning, the creature placed its sharp fingernail upon Kelly’s throat and began to stroke his soft, white skin gently.
Its eyes were staring and piercing through his skull like a laser as it stood over the bed, watching patiently.
What was it waiting for, he wondered? Why wouldn’t it finish him off?
Kelly's skin was sheer ice as his body shook underneath the covers.
The tight muscles in the creature’s jaw twitched spastically.
Its sharp claw continued to stroke over Kelly’s skin and the roughness of its edge caught and sliced, drawing blood down the side of his neck.
He whimpered and grimaced from the pain, but remained still, trying not to make much noise.
Tears began to well up in his eyes. He desperately wanted to scream or run, but he knew it wouldn’t do any good.
Blood began to trickle out of his wound faster and in larger spurts. The bed sheet was sopped in crimson red fluid.
The massive creature stood over the top of him, pleased at the sight. Its eyes darted back and forth from the sliced wound to Kelly's eyes.
Kelly looked down at the bloody sheets; terrified, he finally gave in to panic and thrashed and kicked his feet upon the mattress of the bed and screamed for help.
Blood gushed from his cut like an active volcano and covered his face and body in a warm pool. The pain was excruciating and unbearable. The more that he tried to scream out, the faster blood would spray out of his neck onto the bedroom wall.
Still the beast stood calm, unaffected by the sight and sounds of the child.
Kelly's pale, sweaty face stared back into the creature’s solemn eyes. He was sure that it was waiting patiently for him to die.
Blood spilled upon the floor and stretched out toward each corner of the room. The white carpet was masked in red.
Kelly tried to scream once more, but only blood gurgled out of his mouth.
With his last attempt futile, the end was only a heartbeat away.
The last thing Kelly remembered before succumbing to darkness was the wicked grin of the satisfied beast as it licked and tasted its dampened red finger.