Squinting into the late afternoon sun, Mel swung her Toyota Camry around the corner and onto the Main Street of the small town. Trying to keep a firm hold on why she was there, Mel studied her surroundings with a critical eye. The center of the town consisted of a pharmacy, general store, fire station (which also seemed to double as the police station) and a Catholic Church that had seen better days. Fall had definitely come early to this small town. Rustic colored leaves swirled around the deserted sidewalks. The rickety fence in front of the church seemed to be succumbing to the pressure of the heavy clouds that hung low in the sky. Mel reached up to twine a lock of hair around her finger only to grasp air. Flipping down the rearview mirror, she glanced at her newly cropped hair in annoyance. What was once long blond and curly, was now a short bob that frizzed uncontrollably.
By the time she reached the end of town, Mel had crossed “social life” off of her “could possibly happen while I am here” list. Grabbing her road map on the passenger seat, Mel glanced down to where her Aunts road had been marked with a red star.
Driving slow so she wouldn’t miss the road, Mel gripped the steering wheel with tension. “Where the hell is it?” Just as Mel finished mumbling the question, she spotted a dirt road on her right. Stomping on the break, she made the sharp right only to slosh her untouched coffee all over the floor when she hit a massive pothole. Stopping to clean the mess, her eye was caught by a faded red street sign. It was almost completely covered by the drooping branches of a pine tree growing behind it. Squinting to see the writing more clearly, Mel pressed her face against the driver’s side window.
“Shadwell Pond,” She murmured, “where is Shadwell Drive?” Glancing at her map again, she double-checked the road name. “This must be it.” She concluded with some annoyance.
Switching on her headlights, Mel started down the dirt road in search of the house. Scanning the trees, she started to get worried that she was on the wrong road. Not ready to give up though, she ventured further in; slowing to a crawl in places to avoid the worst of the potholes. “Where the hell is it?” Mel thought as she gripped the steering wheel with nervous fingers.
Finally, a shingled roof came into view over the trees. She tentatively pushed the Camry over 10 miles an hour. Winding her way around a bend, she was suddenly in front of what she hoped was her Aunt’s house. It was a two-story thin structure with a widow’s peak in the front. The exterior was a faded bluish-grey color. The house contrasted violently with the earthy tones of the forest behind it. It seemed to pierce the sky like a burial stake.
Mel glanced nervously at the front of the house-praying she was in the right place. She took in the windows that were dark and musty looking. Dead leaves gathered by the wind were piled along the front of the house. Over to the left, she glimpsed an empty porch in the same blueish/grey color. The paint on the porch had started to peel giving it a lonely feel. A hundred feet from the porch was a small pond that looked stagnant and congested. Feeling a chill run up her spine at the sight of the house, she thought longingly of her friends back in Boston….
“I can’t believe you’re doing this Mel.” Jen snapped in frustration.
“Really, this is too much even for you. Packing everything up and moving 4 hours away for 2 months! What? Just so you can spend time with an elderly aunt you haven’t seen since you were five! I really just don’t get it.” Jen exclaimed sitting down on the stripped bed.
“Look, I know how this looks Jen, but I have to do this. I’m hoping my Aunt can tell me more about my dad. You know how quiet he was. I miss him, and I thought she could tell me more about him,” she held her hands out imploringly hoping her friend would understand. “It’s just for a couple months. She needs a permanent home nurse, so I’m going to help her out until she finds one.”
“Well, I just don’t get why you didn’t spend time with her when your dad was alive.” Jen sulkily responded.
“They were estranged for a long time. I’m not even sure why, but they were close when they were kids. She is the only connection to him I have left.”
” I just hope you know what you’re doing.” Signing Jen hugged her friend close.
Snapping out of her reverie, Mel sighed with frustration, “There’s no going back now.” Shutting off the engine, she stepped out of the car and walked slowly towards the front door. She skidded to a quick stop when the door was thrown open, and a middle-aged woman stepped out. She hastily pulled the door closed before hurriedly making her way down the front path towards Mel.
“Melanie Draught,” the women rasped.
“Yeah, that’s me. I’m Sadie’s niece,” Mel tried to meet the woman’s eyes, but she kept them directed at her feet. “Are you the visiting nurse?” Mel asked getting annoyed with the woman.
“Yes, I am. I was,” she looked up and back at the house. “I have to go,” she whispered and started walking off.
“Wait!” Mel shouted.” Aren’t you going to tell me what needs to be done? I thought you would be staying until we found someone permanent?”
Continuing to walk away the woman barely glanced back when she barked, “I have to go, NOW!”
Turning back to the house, Mel sighed. At least she knew she was in the right place. Starting to make her way up to the front door, she was startled to feel a hand grab her shoulder.
“Don’t stay.” The woman pleaded, gazing at Mel with so much intensity it was Mel’s turn to look at her feet. As the moment passed and Mel didn’t respond, the woman seemed to give up. She turned without another word and walked away.
Mel watched her disappear around the bend. Where was her car? Grimacing in annoyance, she started walking towards the front door again. “Great! Just freakin’ great,” Mel muttered, “Glad to know the locals are bat shit crazy.”
Cautiously letting herself in, Mel found herself in a dim foyer. Waiting a moment to let her eyes adjust to the gloom, she inspected her surroundings. The walls were painted a dark blue shade, and there were smudges on the wall where pictures had once hung. The floor was covered with an old oriental carpet that was so thin in places you could see the hardwood floor beneath it. There was an overwhelming musty odor to the air, and the house creaked and groaned like it was complaining of aches and pains.
“Aunt Sadie?’ Mel called uncertainly. When there was no answer, Mel started to venture further into the gloom. Walking into the room at her right, Mel found herself in what looked like the living room. She spotted a hunched figure sitting in an old fashioned wooden wheelchair.
“Aunt Sadie? It’s me, Mel? David’s daughter?” Not getting a response she inched forward. “Aunt Sadie?” she whispered. For no reason she could see, the hair on the back of her neck pricked. She was nervous she realized.
“Get ahold of yourself.” She scolded herself harshly. Inching forward, Mel now stood in front of the figure. Shoving away her wariness, Mel took the opportunity to study her Aunt. She was a tiny woman; frail and gaunt. Her head was bent so far forward her chin nearly touched her chest. She held her age-worn hands loosely in her lap. Hesitantly, Mel reached out to touch the back of her hand. Before she could touch her, the old woman’s head snapped up suddenly. Mel yelped with surprise, stumbling backward and tripped over something hard.
Scrambling to stand up, she pushed the stool she had tripped over out of the way. She could feel the heat race to her cheeks over her clumsiness. “This house (or is it Aunt Sadie?) is making me jumpy.” Mel thought with frustration.
“Are you all right m’dear? That was quite a tumble you took. Sit down and catch your breath.” Her Aunt chuckled low in her throat. Still feeling ill at ease Mel smiled weakly. “Aunt Sadie?” She queried
“Yes of course, m’dear. Were you expecting someone else?” she chuckled again with her throaty laugh. “You must be Melanie. I am so happy you have come to stay with me. A soul gets lonely all the way out here alone. Please sit down. I hope you didn’t hurt yourself too badly.” Sadie slanted a concerned look at her that didn’t quite reach her eyes.
Chalking her nerves up to fatigue after the long trip, Mel sat down on one of the upholstered wooden chairs. She rested her elbows on the arms and sat slightly forward to better examine her aunt in the gloom. Sadie’s white hair was pulled back in a severe bun. Her paper-like skin was stretched taut over her bones. Small brown eyes peered out at her from tiny bifocals resting on the tip of her nose. She had small hawk-like features, and a small smile played about her thin lips.
Not sure what she had been expecting, Mel felt as though she had never met this person. It had been 18 years, Mel reminded herself in an effort to calm down. Still though, she felt like this woman could have been 185 instead of 85 years old. Even though Mel was doing her best to relax, she nevertheless, felt a shiver run up her spine.
“I’m happy to be here. Dad always spoke highly of you.” Mel ventured weakly.
“Ah yes, David. God rest his soul. He spoke highly of you too, you know. It’s a shame we were not able to see each other more often before he passed, but that’s all ancient history,” she waved airily dismissing the thought, “Now, I assume you have brought all your treasures with you?” At Mel’s nod, she indicted a staircase Mel hadn’t noticed before. “The two rooms in the back are yours to do with as you wish m’dear. I believe one will make a nice bedroom, and perhaps a sitting room will work well for the other.” Sadie stated essentially dismissing her niece.
“Thank you, Aunt Sadie,” she murmured. “Umm, I saw your nurse leaving when I pulled in. She didn’t give me any…umm…instructions on what to do. To help you I mean.” She could feel herself getting flustered for some reason.
“Nothing to it really,” Aunt Sadie smirked again. “I can manage to take care of myself quite well, but I do need some help with heavy cleaning and lifting. Also, I no longer drive. I will need you to run to town every so often. We have groceries delivered so it won’t be too often, mind you. I hope that’s not too much for you?”
“Of course not, Aunt Sadie,” Mel fought the urge to roll her eyes at being informed she was going to be a glorified maid. Feeling a burst of her old confidence, Mel decided to confront Sadie about the not long departed “bat shit crazy” nurse.
“Aunt Sadie, if you don’t mind me asking, why did your nurse leave? I mean, I thought, umm, she was going to stay until someone permanent could be found.” Mel was annoyed to find that she was stuttering. “It’s pretty unprofessional to leave like that. Plus she seemed a little…weird.” She decided to add.
“Oh pooh, Wendy scared easily. Silly creature. Nothing to worry yourself about, though. Now, you must be hungry? Why don’t you find something to eat while I take a nap? We can chat more later.” Sadie turned away without waiting for a response.
Realizing she had been dismissed, Mel slowly made her way towards the stairs. Glancing back over her shoulder into the dimly lit room, Mel watched her aunt turn her wheelchair and propel herself out onto the porch.
Four days later the uneasiness Mel felt when she first arrived had not dissipated. After her brief interview (as Mel thought of it) with her Aunt, she had climbed the stairs to find her rooms; expecting the worst. Her intuition, she realized, was still working. The two rooms Sadie had “given” her were more dark and shabby than the living room. Every surface was covered in a thick layer of dust, and the musty odor of stored linen was pungent. Attempting to lighten the rooms, she had scrubbed the windows until her fingers were raw, but she could not coax the sun in to brighten up the space.
At first, Mel assumed the rooms had belonged to the departed nurse. Annoyed that the woman had left all her belongings, Mel went to work clearing out the space. It soon became apparent to Mel, however, that the room (or at least the contents) did not belong to “Miss bat shit crazy” at all.
“Who the hell leaves all of their stuff like this?” Mel asked after about an hour of packing up old clothes. Mel’s interest had been caught, though. The style of the clothes was from two or three decades ago. Not only that, but they were clothes very out of place in New England. Mel examined a cowgirl type pencil skirt, and a horrendous denim button-down blouse with rhinestones glued all over the breast pockets. It was in the last drawer of the bureau, however, that Mel discovered an old hatbox. Lifting it out of the drawer, she was surprised by the weight of it. Mel sat down on the edge of the bed and gingerly removed the lid.
Hundreds of photographs greeted her. She scanned the contents of the box; many of the pictures were black and white, but all were definitely old. As far as she could guess, most of the pictures were taken in the 1970s somewhere in Texas judging by the wide spaces and old school oil rigs in the background. “Who the hell are these people?” Mel thought mystified. She didn’t recognize a soul.
As she continued to comb through the pictures, one face kept popping up. She was a pretty woman with brown hair and blue eyes. She was tall, athletic, and had a genuine smile in every picture. “Why would you leave all your stuff behind?” Mel asked the empty room; convinced now that the belongings belonged to the woman in the photos. “Maybe she vacationed here?”, she mused, “But why would you leave all your stuff?” Knowing there would be no answer; Mel fell exhausted into bed; resolved to ask Sadie about it in the morning.
Her days, so far, revolved around cleaning, reading, and peeking over her shoulder looking for something that was going to grab her. She hadn’t seen much of her Aunt. Besides meal times, Sadie stayed pretty much to herself. The only exception was in the morning when her Aunt gave out the daily chore list. After days of being cooped up inside, and dusting her aunt’s endless porcelain doll collection, Mel desperately needed a break. Checking to make sure she would not be missed, she let herself out the living room door onto the porch.
Happy to be away from the confining house, Mel absentmindedly started making her way to the pond. She drew in deep lung fulls of crisp air as she watched the leaves swirl overhead. She hoped to walk off some of the nervous energy that never left her in the house. Despite how uneasy she felt in the house, she had made an effort to gain some insight into her Aunt.
Sadie was an eccentric old lady that kept to herself. She spent hours on top of hours sitting on her porch looking at the pond. If she was being honest, it was her aunt, more than the house, that made her uneasy. There was something that Mel couldn’t put her finger on. She tried to rationalize away the apprehension she felt by telling herself she was just homesick. There was something definitely missing from her Aunt though; she was cordial but something was off. She didn’t behave as a normal Aunt would. Try as she might, Mel couldn’t seem to get comfortable in her presence. She noticed it yesterday …
“Well, you are handy with a vacuum, Melanie. I can’t push that thing anymore, you know,” Sadie called from her wheelchair.
“It’s not a problem, Aunt Sadie. I played a lot of sports in high school and college, and I maintained most of my strength,” she called over her shoulder as she moved yet another upholstered chair out of the way.
Finishing up, she wiped the sheen of sweat from her forehead. “Aunt Sadie, I’ve been meaning to ask you about something. There was a box of pictures and other personal things in my room. What would you like me to do with them?” Mel asked studying her closely.
Glancing up from her knitting Aunt Sadie grimaced slightly, “Oh those belonged to the young girl who stayed with me years ago, m’dear. Nice young girl. Couldn’t mind her business though, silly creature”
“Do you know where she is now?” I don’t mind sending the pictures to her if you know where she moved to?” Mel asked still thinking about her Aunts previous response.
“You don’t need to bother. She drowned in the pond, don’t you know. That’s why her things are still here,” she laughed softly as she bent her head back to her knitting.
Sighing, Mel rolled her shoulders to ease the tension. The conversation about the girl had bothered Mel. Sadie had been so cold. So unfeeling about a woman she knew that had died at her house. Her tension only continued to grow as Mel also realized Sadie would not talk about her father at all. Every time Mel brought it up, her Aunt would withdraw with thinly veiled hostility.
Surprised to find herself at the ponds edge, Mel gazed out across the water. Absentmindedly, she crouched down and picked up a fallen leaf. Tracing the delicate veins, Mel thought about the woman in the picture. Why would she go into the pond? It was congested with muck, fallen tree limbs, and lily pads. Mel couldn’t imagine anyone would willingly step foot in the murky water.
Suddenly, feeling a chill creep up her spine, Mel sprang nimbly to her feet. She felt an unexpected need to get away from the pond. Turning quickly, Mel started back toward the house picking up speed as she went.
A consuming feeling of being chased washed over her. Increasingly nervous, Mel was almost at a full sprint by the time she reached the porch stairs. Risking a quick glance behind her, she searched the pond. There was nothing but a blur of decaying foliage, but she could have sworn she felt eyes on her back. Slamming the door, Mel put her hands on her knees and sank to the floor.
Sitting crossed legged on her bed a few hours later; Mel pulled the box of pictures onto her lap. She had almost managed to convince herself that, whatever was going on here, was all in her imagination. “You’re being stupid!” she berated herself. She knew though, it was time to go. “Whatever haunts this place is not good, and not going to get any better.” Mel whispered.
She didn’t want to leave without getting some answers about her dad though; no matter how much her instincts told her to run. For some reason, she felt like her Aunt was holding something back about her dad. Pulling a random picture from the box, Mel stiffened with surprise and sudden terror. She had not noticed this picture before. It was a picture of the woman who drowned and Sadie. They were standing in front of the Pond. Sadie had her arm around the girl’s waist in an awkward pose. Sadie’s face held the same smirk she always wore for Mel; cold and without humor. The pond behind them was pitch black; odd-especially as it seemed to have been a sunny day.
What caused Mel to tremble with fear, however, was the woman’s expression. She was not smiling like she was in every other photo, but that was not it either. It was her eyes. They bore into Mel’s with the same terror that she was feeling at that moment. Trying to breathe deeply, Mel leaned back against the headboard. “Stop being stupid! It’s nothing! You just need to go home!” Mel chanted trying to calm herself.
Try as she might, Mel couldn’t shake the feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach. Her aunt knew more about what happened to this woman than she said-she was involved somehow. “What is she hiding about my dad? Maybe they’re connected?” She pushed the pictures onto the floor. Hopping off the bed, she went in search of Sadie. She would get her answers…then she was gone.
Downstairs, Mel spotted Sadie in the kitchen. “There you are darlin’. I thought you were gonna sleep the day away. Come sit. I’ve made us some soup for supper.” Sadie drawled. Startled by her accent, Mel halted then slowly walked over to the table. Peering into Aunt Sadie’s face she asked, “Are you okay, Aunt Sadie? You sound different.”
Wheeling herself to the table with two soup bowls on a tray, Aunt Sadie smiled up at her bearing her teeth, “I’m just fine. Sound the same as I did yesterday, I’ll bet. Now, eat up this good soup before it gets cold.”
Not understanding what game she was playing, and feeling even more agitated, Mel decided to let it pass. Picking up her spoon, she took a tentative sip. The soup, though delicious, might as well have been ash. “Aunt Sadie?” Mel whispered timidly. “I wanted to ask you something about dad. Why didn’t you guys talk or visit more? He said you were close when you were kids.”
“Who do you mean darlin’?” Sadie looked confused.
To upset by her own thoughts, Mel didn’t respond. Reaching up to twirl her hair around her finger, Mel let her hand drop back to the table when she again found only air. Looking at her Aunt from under her lashes she found Sadie staring at her with a big smile that didn’t look right one her face. The smile sent a fresh wash of misgiving through her, which only doubled when she looked directly into Sadie’s eyes. “I’m tired Aunt Sadie. I think I’ll turn in.” Mel almost shrieked and took off for the stairs at a dead run.
Mel threw herself on the bed and stared at the ceiling trying to control her breathing. Try as she might to convince herself she was homesick, or just jumpy, Mel knew there was something not right about her Aunt. Why would she start talking with a Texas accent? She would have felt better if she thought her Aunt was just pretending, or playing a joke, but something told her it was neither.
Suddenly feeling chilled, she burrowed under the covers trying to warm herself. She rolled onto her side and hugged her knees to her chest. Squeezing her eyes shut she promised herself she would insist on answers about her father tomorrow…and then she would tell her aunt she was out of here!
The next morning Mel sat on her bed in her pajamas staring at the floor. Rolling her head from side to side, she studied the carpet under her feet. She felt tired after a restless night of disturbed sleep. The feeling of dread from last night had been replaced with dull fear. Deciding on a hot shower to ease the tension, she grabbed her shower bag and headed for the bathroom.
Feeling a little calmed by the hot shower, Mel decided to confront her Aunt about her father and the woman from the photos. She found her Aunt out on the porch staring fixedly at the pond. She was relieved to find that she was back to talking like herself, again though.
“Can we talk, Aunt Sadie?” Mel asked with as much confidence as she could muster.
“I am really rather tired, Melanie. Perhaps another time,” she sighed “I had hoped you would run into town and pick up my prescription though. If you wouldn’t mind, m’dear.”
Even though she wanted her answers now, Mel couldn’t stop herself from jumping at the chance to get away from the house…and her Aunt. “Of course, Aunt Sadie. Can I get you anything else while I’m out?” she asked quickly.
“No thank you, m’dear,” she said and picked up her knitting.
Turning off the engine, Mel sat in her car in the driveway gripping the steering wheel. It was dusk. She had done a lot of thinking while she was in town. She wanted to go home. Something was definitely not right here, and she wanted to get away from the constant feeling of dread. Maybe when she got home, with some distance and time, she could figure it all out. She knew there was some piece of the puzzle right in front of her, but the constant tension and fear kept her from seeing it clearly. Mel had managed to find a home nurse agency in town, and they were willing to send out someone temporary until someone permanent could be found. She asked the manager to send the temporary nurse out the next day.
“Only one more night.” She assured herself.
The one promise she made to herself was getting her Aunt to give her some answers before she left. She knew her Aunt was holding something back, something dark, and she wanted nothing to do with it. She would not leave without more information about her father though…Sadie owed her that much. Feeling helpless yet determined, Mel slipped out of the car and started walking towards the side of the house. She knew where Sadie would be.
Spotting her Aunt on the porch, Mel slowed down and took a deep breath. Squaring her shoulders, she stepped onto the porch. “Aunt Sadie? I need to talk to you.” To her chagrin, she could hear her voice tremble slightly.
“Where have you been? I thought you would have been home earlier,” she said sharply.
Deciding to just come out with it, Mel ventured, “Aunt Sadie, why won’t you talk about dad? I feel like you aren’t telling me something. Why did the two of you never visit each other?” “Melanie, this is not an appropriate subject at the moment,” Aunt Sadie snarled.
Taken aback by the strength of her anger, Mel decided to try pleading with her, “Please Aunt Sadie tell me! I just want to know more about him. He was so quiet. He never talked about himself, and I miss him so much.”
“I will not say another word to you about this Melanie. Now. Is. Not. The. Time.” she said between her clenched teeth.
In desperation, Mel blurted out the one trump card she had, “I’m leaving tomorrow, Aunt Sadie. Please, just tell me why you were estranged. Please”
Sadie was glaring up at her with a look of contempt. “You fool. He knew what I was! He knew what I do! He wanted to protect you,” she shrieked with more force than Mel ever though she had in her. Feeling a thrill of fear run through her, Mel shrank back… “What do you mean,” she squeaked. “Don’t ya know, honey. Your daddy knew. Oh ya, he knew all about me,” she taunted lapsing back for a moment into the fake Texas accent.
“Aunt Sadie I don’t understand,” she stammered feeling the beginnings of panic. She tried to tell herself there was nothing to be afraid of, she’s a tiny woman confined to a wheelchair, but she couldn’t stop her limbs from trembling.
“Oh, but you will understand honey,” she smiled. Her eyes bore into her with hatred. “The old need to feed.”
Mel felt her knees unexpectedly buckle. Sinking to the floor, she grimaced in pain. She tilted her head back to see Sadie staring at her with her cruel smile. As Mel watched in disbelief, her skin began to change color. Tiny pinpricks of black were forming on her exposed skin. As the spots expanded, black oily liquid began to trickle down her arms and face.
The horrible liquid oozed from her pores. The musty odor of stagnant water and decay hit Mel like a cannon. She stared up at her in frozen terror. The liquid had begun to gush faster. Her fingernails grew dark and started lifting from her skin. The black liquid started to trickle from her ears. It leaked from her eye sockets and out of her nose. The fetid odor was suffocating. Mel gaged and retched while she struggled to get up. Her limbs felt like lead. Her body was useless held by invisible hands in cold terror.
“Melanie,” Sadie growled through clenched teeth. Her teeth had grown too big for her mouth. Her gums, black from the liquid, bulged and ripped. Her Aunt’s voice had taken on an inhuman pitch that rattled Mel’s bones making her ache in agony.
“Stop…Please Aunt Sadie…Please.” Mel screamed in utter torment. “Help!” she called out to an empty forest.
Unexpectedly standing up, Sadie loomed over the prostrate Mel. Her eyes were black as death. Madness contorted her features. Malice and hate looked down into Mel’s face with glee.
“Help,” Mel shrieked uncontrollably as tears streamed down her face and burned her skin.
Sadie watched her closely. Leaning down, she pushed her mutilated face right next to Mel’s. In fear-stricken agony, Mel whimpered. No longer able to scream, she gulped in air trying to think. Sadie’s mouth opened and expanded. Mel could hear the bones break in her Aunt’s jaw, as her mouth continued to jar apart. Her eyes bulged from the strain. Muck dropped from her open mouth to the floor with a sickeningly watery thud. Nausea rolled in Mel’s stomach as she smelled the decay of evil.
Struggling again wildly, Mel sobbed brokenly, “Please God help me. Please help me…help me.” She continued to chant as her strength began to run out. “No one is going to help you.” Sadie hissed hatefully, the sound coming from everywhere.
In her terrified state, some part of Mel’s mind realized what she was dealing with. The answers she sought were in front of her. The shock of the truth hit her, and suspended her in time, in a haze of clarity for a moment. Mel looked at the gruesome and horrific thing leaning toward her. “I know now.” She thought as viciously as she could manage. Somehow hearing the thought, Sadie reaching out savagely and grabbed a handful of Mel’s hair. Twisting it with brutal force, her Aunt swung her by her hair like a rag doll.
Mel realized she was being dragged across the porch. She could feel the black liquid dripping on her scalp and running down her cheeks. She could taste the fetid water mixed with her salty tears. She could feel the piercing heat of Sadie’s leg against her shoulder.
Summoning all her will, she tried to regain her feet only to be whipped back. Clutching at the hand holding her hair like a vise, Mel screeched in pain as she slid down the stairs on her shins. The pain radiated everywhere as the wood splintered and ripped her skin open. Crying uncontrollably once more, Mel reached up again to pry her Aunt’s fingers from her hair. Inhuman strength kept her locked in place however; she could not budge her Aunt’s grip or find purchase on her oily skin.
Continuing to struggle desperately for her freedom, Mel started to feel the hair being ripped from her temples. Trying to stand again, she reached up hoping to find a weak spot. Somehow her Aunt was able to anticipate every move. She yanked Mel back with a vicious force causing every nerve ending in her body to burn like white-hot metal spikes were being pushed into her spine. Mel’s vision blurred and went dim. She gratefully waited for blackness to overcome her, but the haze blew away as quickly as it appeared.
They were on the grass Mel realized. She was being dragged on her back through the wet yard. Rallying once more, she desperately fought to gain her footing. She dimly realized nothing could stop this thing. The inhuman rage radiating off of her was suffocating. “We need a new one.” Sadie whispered sending chills into Mel’s heart. “We have to have another.”
Cold, wet grass was suddenly replaced with the stinging grit of sand on Mel’s back. In shock, she realized they were at the pond. Stomach rolling with renewed panic; she fought again to free herself from her Aunt’s strength.
“No, please no!” she wailed in despair.
With one last vicious yank to her scalp, Mel was free. She landed on her hands and knees at the water’s edge. Sobbing in uncontrollable gasps, she determinately got to her feet. Sadie stood in front of her. Her appearance had been somewhat restored during the walk to the pond. Her eyes remained black and dead, though. Her cruel smile remained as well and widened as she stared at Mel with a joyful malice.
Unable to speak any longer, Mel stood shaking uncontrollably; desperately trying to think of a way to escape what she knew was coming. Feeling something cold and hard close around her ankle, Mel looked down only to have her feet whipped out from under her. Landing flat on her stomach, she screamed out in silent fear as all the breath left her body. Panic seized her fully as she felt herself being slowly dragged into the water.
“Help!” she called again weakly knowing there was no one to help her.
Reaching blindly down, Mel frantically tried to release her foot. The taste of hot fear burned in her mouth when she could not feel anything to release, yet she continued to be pulled into the pond. Turning over again, Mel screamed out a shrill, ear piercing shriek of all consuming terror. She blindly clawed at the sand in front of her trying to find anything to grab onto. She fought wildly to stop the inevitable descent into the water. She could feel her fingernails rip from her fingers as her hands encountered rocks that would not stop the slide.
A small part of her rational mind penetrated her terror enough for her to notice how surprisingly warm the water was on her legs. Glancing up at the house in panic, Mel could have sworn she saw a woman in the window of her bedroom. Not understanding, she continued to thrash against the pull. Up to her thighs in water, Mel’s adrenaline spiked through her as she clawed desperately in the muck. Voice hoarse from screaming, Mel sobbed and pleaded for Sadie to help her; knowing she wouldn’t.
Her Aunt stood silent and terrible; she only watched.
Feeling the water reach her upper torso, Mel tried to flip herself over so she could sit up only to find her legs were cemented in the muck. Muscles aching, she felt the suffocating water at her chin. Mel’s lungs burned from lack of oxygen as her nose slipped beneath the surface. At that moment, she felt strangely adrift from herself. Her vision began to dim. With one final effort, Mel tried to raise herself above the water. Defeated, she sank down into oblivion as the foul water rushed into her lungs.
Sadie sat on the porch staring out at the pond. The wind whipped from high in the trees and sent a slight shiver down her spine. Distantly, she could hear a car door open and close. The sound of hurried footsteps came from around the side of the house. Before she could gather a smile to her worn face, a big-boned redhead in white scrubs came hurrying up the porch steps.
“Miss Sadie? I am so sorry I’m late! Your niece told us she was leaving today, and I hoped to speak with her before she left.” The nurse stopped for breath and gave Sadie a sheepish smile.
“She left already. You missed her.” Sadie explained as she reached up to twine a piece of white hair around her finger.
CREDIT : Shannon MacDevine
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