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I poked my head out into the hallway, looking left, then right. All was clear, though that fact did little to nothing to calm my perturbed mind. Who was in the house besides me? Were they criminals? Murderers? More than one?
My fear-crazed mind leaped at any conclusion to cross its path, though most were irrational and the sort of things expected to be found in the thoughts of a child. I straightened up and took a deep breath in. I was no child. I was sixteen, and no fool besides. But...one night alone could drive anyone crazy . Besides, what's a little fright? Of course I would check if I heard the usually-still wooden floors creaking. I proceeded to conjure every soothing, normal thought I knew, doing a rather poor job of convincing myself of the house's purity.
I flung myself down on my bed, floundering among the thick blankets until I formed a sort of half-cocoon around my shivering body. I reached for my phone, which lay on the bedside table. Just as my hand closed around it and drew it back to me, it vibrated. I shrieked in my alarm and promptly dropped it. I heard a thud and a loud crack, and I filled with dread. Peering over the edge of my mattress, I spotted glass shards and part of the plastic frame. My parents are going to kill me!
But more than that, it was the terror of reaching under my bed and groping around in the dark and dust for my phone that petrified me, because I knew part of it was down there. There could be something- No. I cut that thought off as quickly as I could, knowing that to cash in on that line of thought was the way to insanity.
I leaned farther over the edge, and was about to dart my hand down into the unknown when I realized how violently I was shaking. I clenched my fists into tiny knots of denial. I will NOT be such a coward. I repeated this over and over. Before I even knew what I was doing, I had the phone, accompanied by a dust bunny, in my hand.
I sighed. See? Was it that bad? Yes, evidently, it was. The shattered screen of my phone was biting into my skin, and a thin trail on crimson blazed across my arm and pattered off my elbow.
“Ugh. Way to go,” I said to myself, disgusted and annoyed.
I whirled to face my door, the blood draining from my face and hairs raising on my neck.
“Wh-who s-s-said that?!” My eyes and ears were peeled as I scanned the room, floor to ceiling. I almost expected an answer and was disappointed not to receive one. The shaking took a hold of my whole body, and my teeth begun to chatter.
The old baseboards in the hallway squeaked under the weight of footsteps again. Something fluttered against my window, and I cried out in my fright. I whirled every which way, heart pounding against my chest with a terrified tenacity.
I felt something I had never felt before: claustrophobia. The walls suddenly seemed too tight, the ceiling much too low. Any second now, I would be crushed. Was there still oxygen even? My lungs demanded air but seemed to get nothing.
I raced out of my bedroom and down the stairs, grasping for the front door. It's handle would not budge not matter how hard I twisted, kicked, or pulled.
“Dammit, dammit, dammit...” I was crying now, hot tears streaming down my cheeks and leaving a faint trail behind me where ever I fled.
I ran to the back door, but that one was stuck too. I spun around and darted away. As I ran I felt a cold hand brush its way down my spine. I screamed and swatted behind me. Dark laughter haunted me as I raced around the house. My mind flung all rational thoughts away, and filled with delusions of monsters and demons pursuing me. I had no phone, no one else, no way out.
The laugh resounded again, right beside my ear.
“Who are you?! Please...leave me alone! Leave me alone!” I screeched. I might as well have been talking to myself, for nothing answered.
As I fled upstairs, thoughts of my parents arose. My mother, saying in that soft, lovely voice of hers, “We'll be home at one o-clock. It's a late movie and dinner, but you should be just fine on your own.” I thought she fussed too much about me staying home by myself, but I wished more than anything she and my father were home right then.
My heart did a somersault in my chest, leaping for joy. My breath caught in my throat. Could it be? Are they really home? I pivoted on the last stair, slamming down them again, filling myself up of hope with every step.
I practically crashed through the front door in my descent. I snatched the knob, twisting it harshly. It opened easily, offering no resistance. There stood my mother and father, looking slightly haggard and tired after a night in town, but happy.
“Baby! What's wrong?”, my mother exclaimed, while my father grabbed me and pulled me in a tight embrace.
“Sweetie, what happened? Did someone break in?”, he demanded, face full of concern.
“Uhh...no. I just- no. I'm okay. I broke my phone, so I guess I'm just upset over that. Sorry.”
“It doesn't matter.” Now that was weird. A two-hundred dollar phone broken, and my parents just wave it off like it was nothing? I looked down at my wrist-watch. Midnight exactly. My parents should still be in their movie, but...
I turned around to ask them what happened, but instead of my parents standing there, it was something. Something hulking and huge, with taloned fingers, horns, and eyes like coal. It had to hunch over to fit in the house, but even then it's size was overwhelming.
“Having fun yet?”, it asked in a gravelly, abysmal voice.
Not even stopping to think, I ran to my room and locked the door behind me. Rummaging through my closet, I found what I was looking for, and I knew what I had to do. I sobbed over the old hiking rope I held, the desperation of my situation hanging over my head like a thunderhead. I swallowed the bottle of aspirins I kept in my dresser in one gulp. Fitting the rope around my neck, I climbed on my chair and fixed the other end to the ceiling fan.
I sent a quick prayer to whatever god was listening, and jumped.
* * *
My parents got home at exactly one o-five that morning, tired and ready to sleep. They peeped into my room to check that I was safe and asleep, and got the shock of their lives. They called the police, and they concluded it was a suicide. They found the broken phone, the doors that my parents locked for my own safety, the disarrayed house, and, of course, me. They did not, however, find any demons, robbers, killers, spirits, break-in, haunting, or anything of the sort.
The only thing in the house that night was me and my fear.