I penned this on November 18, 2007.
The rush of icy air filled Sarah’s lungs and brought her senses back. She was in her bed, but the dark creature from the tree had followed. It hovered above her, levitating by the magic it used to lure her to its lair. Her scream burst from her mouth. She thrashed and kicked at her bedcovers to get away, but they held her fast.
The creature disappeared when her bed lamp clicked on. Mother’s worried face replaced the spot the creature had occupied moments ago. Her warm embrace took away the cold shivering through Sarah.
She helped Sarah out of bed, led her to the bathroom, and left her to undress and shower away her chills. Sarah felt the place on her forehead where the ghost of Susie had touched her. Her warning about Julie echoed in her mind. “She has the power to be inside you. She’s using you to look for me.”
Sarah fell to the floor and wept. She had gone insane. There was no other explanation for the strange dreams. She pounded a fist to the floor and yelled, “Ghosts and monsters aren’t real.”
They couldn’t be real. If they were, then what was Julie? A ghost? Or a monster?
Bile rose in her throat. She vomited into the toilet, watched the yellow sour liquid spread tendrils and flow like ooze to the bottom of the bowl, and wondered what was real. She pinched her right cheek to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. She felt nothing, so she dug fingernails into flesh and made her left forearm bleed.
“I’m not real. Or maybe I’m dead.”
But the delayed pain of her pinches and scratches told her she was alive. But she didn’t want to be. Not after what Julie had done to her.
Another odor, not as sour as the vomit, drew her attention to her armpits. She was very much alive and in need of a shower, now.
She let the shower’s pulsating spray of hot water massage her back. She shivered and shuddered as the anxiety of her recent ordeal left her. She closed her eyes to the warmth running through her. When she opened them, Julie stood in front of her, naked and radiant. Sarah yelped in surprise. She hadn’t heard the shower’s glass door slide open or close.
“Get out,” Sarah said.
Julie reached out. Sarah yelled louder. Pain crossed Julie’s face.
“Don’t you love me?” she asked.
“No. Never. So get out. Now.”
Julie’s gaze seemed to harden then, the way they had when Sarah had rudely used the F word on her.
“Why not?” She grinned, then licked her lips as though delicious syrup covered them. “My Sarah doesn’t know what she’s missing.”
Sarah flew open the door and stumbled out. Julie’s voice erupted from inside the shower. “Get back here.”
Sarah’s legs wobbled as she went to the towel rack. She wrapped a long towel around her.
Julie laughed. When Sarah turned back, the shower was empty. Water from the showerhead spilled to the floor. Sarah turned off the water, then sat on the toilet and shook. She tried to cry but the tears would not come.
A hand stroked her left cheek. Susie stood in front of her. Sarah bolted through her and ran to her room, threw on a pair of sweats and her tennis shoes, and ran from her mother’s haunted house. She was never going back. And no one was going to make her.