Tuesday, March 26, 2019
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    Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

    Deep within the covers of her bed, Lucy snuggled into the warmth that she had built up within her cocoon of quilts, smiling to herself sleepily as she began slowly drifting off for the evening. The apartment was partially unpacked, with her furniture and TV’s all placed where she wanted them. A few boxes remained containing clothes and knick-knacks, but she otherwise was savoring a good day of unpacking, her aching muscles slowly unwinding as she relaxed in her bed. She’d even been able to unpack the newest collectible to her figurine collection, a Chinese Princess swathed in blue robes. She’d bought it online for a ridiculously low price, the owner even paid for shipping.

    She gave him five stars.

    A loud creak from the hall leading towards the bedroom made her pop her head out of the covers, an action she immediately regretted due to the cold of the room. Shivering, she squinted her eyes to look around in the darkness for anything that would have made any kind of noise. Seeing nothing, she slid back beneath the covers and decided to drift off to sleep.

    That is until she heard a crash coming from the living room, the sound of one of her decorative figurines hitting the tile floor.

    Throwing the blankets off herself, she shivered angrily as she was forced to drop her feet out of bed to pull on some pajama pants, her long tee shirt already providing enough cover for her in case there was an intruder. Reaching into her side table, she withdrew her .45 revolver, a gift from her grandfather many years ago. Slipping out of bed, she padded around it and looked out into the hall, where a dim light glowed from a lamp.

    The hall had two doors that led to spare bedrooms before opening up into the living room; a hard tile surface against Lucy’s exposed feet. Dancing from spot to spot, Lucy walked over to the lamp and looked from her vantage point into the two rooms, their doors slightly ajar from all of the moving.

    The room to be her office was dark; shadows gathered beneath stacks of boxes, stretching out to cover the small mahogany and glass desk Lucy had the movers place in the room, along with her desktop tower, a dark monolith in the dim lighting. The other room, which Lucy had planned to turn into a guest bedroom for her sister when she had enough money, was bare save for some of the old furniture she’d brought along with her. It had all been stacked and pushed into a far corner of the room, allowing Lucy to come and go within the room.

    “Is anyone out there? I have a gun,” she threatened, holding her gun up to point in front of her, allowing her to walk slowly around the corner into the living room.

    The tile gave way to a throw rug, which was placed in the center of the room beneath the sofa and a small glass table. It took Lucy a few moments of looking around the room before she reached out with one hand and flipped on the light switch, casting a brilliant glow over the room, chasing away the darkness and revealing anything that might be hiding within the shadows.

    Which turned out to be nothing.

    “Huh,” Lucy said, lowering her firearm. “Wonder what that crash was?”

    Walking over to the mantle where she kept her figurines, she quickly did a head count before frowning.

    One was missing.

    Specifically, an old Laotian Buddha that she’d picked up when visiting the country. Looking at the blank spot between her new Chinese Princess and the porcelain piglets, Lucy spun around to look around the round for any sign of the Buddha. Sadly, she couldn’t seem to find it… that is until she looked up.

    Across the room, over the sofa and into the open kitchen, her fridge sat with a slight dent in the metal door, shattered pieces of statue scattered around the tile flooring, Buddha’s smiling head sitting on its side, his smile almost taunting Lucy of her loss.

    “Son of a bitch!” Lucy swore, walking carefully over to the kitchen. Looking around, it looked as if someone had flung the small statue with a great amount of force into the fridge, breaking it apart into hundreds of sharpened little pieces that littered the kitchen and tile around it.

    Stepping over the mess, Lucy fetched the broom from her pantry and began sweeping the pieces up into a neat pile, cursing beneath her breath. She stopped when she heard the low creak again, a blur of movement coming from the living room.

    Barely moving in time, she dodged the porcelain piglets as they slammed into the fridge, exploding in a magnificent display of fine dust and yellow shards, spraying over Lucy in a wide arc, causing her to scream.

    Looking over into the living room, for an instant she saw a young girl, no older than ten, standing by the mantle. Impossibly pale with spidery webs of dead veins in her temples, she wore blue robes that matched her lips and fingertips. Her sunken eyes looked as if she had never slept, a raccoons mask of darkened eye socket surrounding her glimmering eyes. She was there one instant, and gone in a flash; Lucy didn’t know what to do or say and reached for her gun on the counter.

    A shrill girlish scream at Lucy’s elbow made her jump away, the small oriental girl now standing between Lucy and her only means of defending herself. Lucy swung the broom at the little girl, who vanished the moment the broom would have met skin. Lucy gasped for air, looking around to see if the apparition as going to appear again. Lunging forward and grabbing her gun, Lucy dropped the broom and ran from the kitchen and the mess, back towards her bedroom. She closed her eyes as she passed by the spare rooms, the doors slamming shut seconds before she ran up upon them, a thudding of small feet hot on Lucy’s heels.

    Lucy slammed the door to her bedroom, locking it, before leaping into bed and pulling the covers tight over her body as if they could keep the spectral child at bay. For several minutes, all Lucy could hear was her own labored breathing. Peeking out from under her covers, she looked around the room, sighing when nothing immediately spewed forth from the darkness.

    “What was that?” She muttered to herself, shivering beneath her quilts, this time, not from the cold.

    CREDIT : Nicholas Paschall

     

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