Squeaking

By: J.J. Cheesman 

Recently I had to move from my home. The new job I’d landed was about an hour away from where I worked, so changing location was only natural. I found an affordable one bedroom apartment that was perfect for me, and I rushed in as quickly as possible. My first night there though, I ran into a small issue.

I lay in bed, ready to get some shut-eye before my first day at work, when I heard squeaking from the other side of the room. Sitting up in bed, I peered through the dark. The slow-metallic squeak crept ever closer along the far wall, and ended near my closet. Then there was a sound like air escaping a pipe, then came a sharp *thud*.

I sat in quiet for a few moments, not daring to move and slightly freaked out. The hot water heater was on the other side of my closet, and I’d taken a shower before bed, so I decided that was what was making the racket and laid back in bed. There were no more disturbances that night, and I slept soundly.

In the morning, I got dressed and filled a thermos full of coffee before heading out the door. I made a mental note to talk with the landlord later about the funny sound the pipes were making. As I locked the door to the apartment, the neighbor across the hall popped his head out. She was a small mousey woman, and her voice cracked slightly as she spoke.

“How did you sleep on your first night?” She asked.

“Oh, good I guess, thank you for asking.” I told her, a little startled.

“I hear it from your apartment when I’m coming home from work late at night, you know.”

“What do you mean?”

She sighed, and shook her head.

“Listen, that crooked landlord of ours probably didn’t say a thing, but the guy who lived in there before you had it bad. He was a handicapped fellow, in a wheelchair ya know? I guess it made him real down. He had depression and a couple other mental issues as well.”

I nodded, and she continued.

“Anyway, one night he came home and got pretty hammered. After that, he wheeled right into his bedroom closet, and threw a plastic bag over his head. He suffocated to death.”

He suffocated, I thought, and it probably sounded like air escaping a pipe

“They didn’t find him until his rent was way past due and the landlord came looking. They found him face down on the ground.”

She didn’t have to speak any further, I knew what she was going to say.

“Thing is, I thought it was a joke at first. His wheelchair was old, real squeaky, ya know? So loud that I could hear it from my apartment, and I hear it every night still.”

 

Squeaking

Happy Turkey Day

cove-girl-003

By: J. J. Cheesman

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us, for those who celebrate it, and it will be the first one that I don’t have a turkey that I personally shot myself. You see, that is usually my tradition. For about eight years now, my buddy Peter and I would go out to his dad’s cabin a few weeks before Thanksgiving and we’d bag us a couple of birds before the Holiday. His dad’s property was deep in the backwoods outside of our little rural town, and to get to the cabin you had to drive down a dirt road with thick brush on either side. The road is only wide enough for a single vehicle, and the woods made it impossible to turn around or let someone pass until you were at the very end, so if two cars met out there, somebody was having a bad day.

I became acquainted with Peter when I first began working at the Department of Transportation. He and I shared an office together. Even though I was the new guy, Peter had no quarrels with immediately striking up a conversation, and we made fast friends. It wasn’t long before he asked me if I hunted. I told him I didn’t but I had always wanted to. That’s when he told me about his dad’s cabin.

So, I got acquainted with using a bow, took a hunter safety course, and soon enough I was out there in those woods while Peter explained all the hunting basics and showed me all the signs to look for when hunting turkey. I bought my own ground blind, which is basically just a camouflaged tent with flaps for shooting out of, and Peter showed me exactly where to put it for the best results. It was the second day of hunting that I bagged my first bird, and I’ve made time for every turkey season ever since.

Last week on Monday I called up Peter, and I asked him when he wanted to meet at the cabin.

“I won’t be able to make it this time friend. The wife wants to go to Tennessee to spend time with her folks this year. They got a pretty big place so we’ll be staying there for about two weeks.” Peter sounded disappointed, and I could tell he wasn’t enthused about going out of state.

“But don’t worry about me being there brother, you can still use the property.”

“Are you sure?” I asked him.

“Yeah, I’ll just let dad know you’re coming, you might meet him out there too. He was saying he might be out there this weekend.”

Fast forward to Friday morning and I was bumbling down the old dirt road that led to the cabin in my pickup. The first snow of the year had fallen the night before, and a light powder covered every branch and bush on the way. Once I reached the end of the road I looked around for any sign of Peter’s dad, but his truck wasn’t anywhere around so I figured he’d decided he wasn’t coming. The Cabin’s electricity ran off of a generator placed in a shed built behind the cabin, so that’s where I headed when I first stepped out into the crisp autumn air. I checked to see the generator had plenty of gas, turned the choke valve, and hit the ignition switch. With an initial bang, the generator rumbled to life, and I headed back to the truck to start bringing my things into the cabin. Once I got everything moved in, I wasted no time in going back out into the cold and heading out into the woods to place my ground blind.

The woods on the land that Peter’s father owned extended for nearly sixty acres, but to be fair, I’ve only seen as far as about fifteen. If you were to walk five minutes into the woods from the back of the cabin, you would find yourself at the bottom of a valley rife with fallen trees whose roots could not withstand their weight on the incline of the slope, and foliage that had grown plentiful where the break in the tree line allowed for plenty of sunlight. It was within the valley that the turkeys would nest in the fall, and it was a couple hundred feet away from there that I set up my blind. Once I made sure it was secured to the ground, I walked back the way I came, dropping food pellets as I went, in the hope that if the birds made their rounds, they would find them.

I made it back, and entered in through the back door of the cabin. Once in, I spent some time lighting the fireplace and unpacking my gear. I made sure all my arrows were sharp and double checked the sight on my bow. The fire cracked and grew hot as I worked, making the cabin cozy and inviting.

When I finished, I packed up my bow and arrows in their case, and made sure I had my beef jerky and the latest novel I had been reading. I would likely be spending a long time out in that blind waiting for a turkey to walk by, so a snack and some reading material were essential. Once I had everything together and slung over my back, I grabbed a stool and headed out of the back door and into the cold air once more.

The roughly beaten path to my blind had changed slightly and it wasn’t until I was half way there that I realized what was different. The food pellets I had laid were gone. My heart began to race and I surveyed my surroundings. The turkey’s taking food so soon after it was dropped was simply unheard of, I thought for sure there still had to be one pecking around near my location. For a moment, I was very quiet, but I didn’t hear or see any movement. Once I was sure my prey was nowhere to be seen, I walked on toward my blind again, but I moved cautiously.

My senses were now heightened. The discovery of the missing food had made me excited, and now my ears were sharp, listening for any sounds other than my own. Once inside the blind, I sat the stool down and opened the window flaps. I sat down on the stool, but made no move to pull out my bow just yet. I just sat, listening, waiting. Without the sound of my own footsteps polluting my ears, the only thing I could hear was my own breathing. There was no wind or animals moving in the brush. It was perfectly still air.

Finally, I put down my bow case and unzipped it. I pulled out two arrow shafts first, fitting them with brand new golden-colored expandable broad heads that I had bought just the day before. Once the arrows were finished, I pulled out my compound bow next, and nocked one of the arrows, letting it sit on the arrow rest. I waited, and waited, and after a while of no movement, I sat my bow next to me and pulled out my novel, but I was so anxious I kept looking up from it through the window of the blind expecting to see a bird trotting in my direction, one never came. Minutes passed, and minutes turned to hours. Soon it was dark, and I had to pack up and head back to the cabin for the day.

That night I laid in bed, and every time I was about to fall asleep I thought I heard the warble of a turkey from just outside. My eyes would flick open, and I would wait and listen. Once I decided I was hearing things, I would finally start to doze off, but then I would hear it again and would be wide awake. At some point I finally did fall asleep for good, and I woke up in the early hours of the morning.

I got out of bed and made a pot of coffee, the only thing Peter’s dad kept stocked in the cabin besides canned beans. Snow had begun to fall outside, and I watched it absent-mindedly as I waited for the coffee to brew. Once it was finished I filled up my thermos, and headed back out to the blind. This time I was more sure of myself, more relaxed. With my bow once again nocked and ready, I pulled out my book and begun reading, and only took breaks in between pages to take a sip of coffee.

I was so enthralled with my book, I almost didn’t notice a low sound that was coming from the direction of the valley. It was a warble.

I dropped my book and readied my bow at the window. The snow fall had gotten a bit heavier, and every time I thought my prey was walking just out of the corner of my vision, it was just the snow playing tricks with my eyes. The warbling call that rang out into the forest was low but consistent, one would come after another, with and interval of about 8 seconds in between.

It wasn’t right. It was somehow… artificial. Mechanical and unnatural.

An uncontrollable shiver ran down my spine and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. All of a sudden I didn’t want to be there in that blind anymore. I wanted to be in the safety of the cabin covered in the warm glow of the fire.

Then, the warbling stopped. Everything was quiet once more. I realized I had been breathing very hard, and my heart was beating rapidly. I let out a nervous laugh, and felt my heart beat begin to slow. You’re being silly, I told myself. You were spooked by Thanksgiving dinner.

I lowered my bow and decided that I would creep into the valley to see if I would get lucky and get a good shot there without disturbing my prey. Once that day ended, I would be heading back home, so I had nothing to lose.

I stepped out of my blind, one arrow nocked and ready, and crept slowly toward the valley. Before I even made it sixty feet further into the wood, I noticed movement not far ahead through the falling snow. I knelt down real low and slowly inched forward to see what it was. That uncontrollable shiver returned to my spine once more. There was a clicking noise, mixed in with a wet smacking sound. As I drew closer, I recognized the movement ahead was what appeared to be a naked man hunched over.

His skin was marble-white, and his body was completely devoid of hair. I wanted to call out to him, ask him if he was okay, but my instinct told me to keep quiet. I didn’t know what was causing that clicking sound that I was hearing, but I recognized those wet smacks well enough. He was eating.

The man stopped all at once with his meal, and he lifted up his head. He then let out a sound that made my blood run cold. The warbling from before, coming at 8 second intervals, it was coming from him. That’s when a wind blew, sending an odor into my nostrils that smelled of death and decay. I was so focused on the strange man, I hadn’t noticed what lay on the ground all around him. Dozens of torn apart and ravaged turkey carcasses.

A shocking truth became strikingly apparent to me in that moment. This thing was not something that could be called human by any stretch of the imagination. It was somehow able to mimic the sound of the turkeys, use their calls to lure them to his location, and eat them alive. I decided then that my best course of action was to back away slow and leave. Once I was home I would call Peter and notify the police. I took a step backward, and my foot touched down on a branch, sending a cracking sound echoing out into the air.

The creature stopped its call, and snapped its head back toward my direction. I saw its face in clear and broad daylight, and god I wish I hadn’t. Its mouth was terrifying mesh of several pincers that clicked together. Two horn like protrusions sprouted out from its forehead, but worst of all was its eyes. Its eyes were wide and unwavering. The outer parts of the eyes were white, they had a brown iris, and black pupils. Jesus, they were human.

The creature stood, and readied itself. My reflexes caused my body to move on its own accord. I lifted my bow, drew back the arrow.

“Stay back!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.

The creature stopped for only a moment at my words, then he charged at me. I loosed the arrow, and the tip of the expandable broad head found its mark in the creature’s shoulder. It reeled back and screamed an agonizing wail, and even its scream was human. The scream was somehow familiar. It was hoarse and croaky, like the shout of someone who smoked far too much.

I wasted little time in turning around and bolting toward the direction of the cabin. As I ran I prayed under my breath, please don’t let it catch me, PLEASE. All while my feet thudded against the powdered floor of the forest I could hear my own voice shouting from somewhere behind me.

“Stay back! Stay back! Stay back! Stay back!” The creature shouted over and over.

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was copying my voice perfectly.

“Stay back! Stay back! Stay back!” It continued.

At the sound of its mockery, I was filled with a primal fear that sent adrenaline rushing through my veins. My feet pounded the ground faster and fast, and when I broke through the tree line I didn’t stop until I made it to my truck. I jumped into the cab, threw my keys into the ignition and floored the pedal in panic. My pickup barely budged in the rising snow. I hit the switch that activated the four-wheel-drive and hit the gas again and this time my truck began to move. I drove the whole way off that property checking the rear-view mirror, expecting that thing to be behind me, but I never saw it again.

Once home, I couldn’t stop shaking. My first thought was to call Peter, but I remembered he was in Tennessee, and it wouldn’t help anything to worry him. I went into the kitchen and poured a stiff whiskey. I took a long gulp, and let the amber fluid burn my throat. The warm sensation helped calm me a little, and the thought occurred to me to get a hold of Peter’s dad. Peter said he was thinking about heading out there, and it would be bad if he ran into that thing.

That’s when a memory came flooding into my mind, and I knew it was too late for Peter’s dad. A memory where Peter, his dad and I all sat around the fire at the cabin. Peter’s dad stood from his chair, and walked into the kitchen. He stubbed his toe on a leg of one of the chairs placed around the table, and he cried out. Peter’s dad lived a hard life, and his scream was hoarse and croaky, like the shout of someone who smoked far too much.

Happy Turkey Day

You are Asleep

cove-man 

By: J. J. Cheesman

I have suffered from sleep paralysis for a good portion of my life. To my recollection, it began when I was twelve years old. In my room, I was lying down on my bed, and my door slowly creaked open. I tried to crane my neck, to look and see who was coming through my door, but I found myself unable to move. In horror, I watched as a tall figure crept into my room just out of my line of sight. It glided about, keeping its form mostly in shadow. I could see its misshapen head and gaunt shoulders, but I could not make out any details. As it moved effortlessly around my bed I realized the shadows that shrouded its form were unnatural, and seemed to follow him wherever he went, keeping his visage mostly hidden. It hissed and croaked, and I could do nothing but silently pray for a miracle until, all at once, it vanished, and I was able to move again. Once I regained control over my body, I screamed until my parents rushed into see what was wrong. That was my first experience with it.

 I was so scared that I didn’t tell my parents exactly what had happened and just said it was a bad nightmare, I was afraid of what they might say. It was only after a few repeating days of falling asleep in class and screaming in the night that I had to admit what was going on. I was taken to my primary physician, and he referred me to a sleep specialist named Dr. Mueller, who diagnosed me with ‘Recurrent Isolated Sleep Paralysis.’ For those of you who don’t know what sleep paralysis is, here’s a quick run-down. During REM sleep, your eyes move back and forth rapidly as you dream. While in REM sleep, your muscles are locked down and unable to move to prevent you from acting out your dreams, which is a good thing. I’m sure you’re already imagining a crazy recent dream you’ve had or heard about that would be absolutely bonkers, not to mention dangerous, to be acted out.

Sleep paralysis occurs when you awaken before REM sleep is finished. While your body is unable to move, you are completely conscious. Then, the scariest part happens. You start to experience audio and visual hallucinations. Being unable to move while awake sends you into a state of panic and fear, and that fear is manifested into frightening images and sounds aided by your brain’s activity under REM sleep.

Often, sleep paralysis will occur in your teen years, and then continue into your twenties and often your thirties. Though it is rare, individuals can experience sleep paralysis at any age. I was one of those unlucky cases. My parents did everything they could to help me cope with it. They made sure I had a nightlight on at all times, they would make periodic checks on me until very late at night, and they would always assure me if I needed anything they were right down the hall. My parents were handling the situation the best they could, and they meant well, but no matter what they did the tall figure still came.

Every night I would go to sleep, and when I awoke unable to move, it would be there. Sometimes it would creep into the room, not having arrived yet. Sometimes it would be somewhere out of sight in the corner of the room or in my open closet, and I could only hear its guttural croaks. But on the worst nights, I would open my eyes, and it would be staring straight back at me as with its back on the ceiling. On those nights, I still couldn’t make out its face, it was hidden by those unnatural shadows that were cast all around it and it never ventured into the glow of my night light, but its eyes were clear. They stared me down, striking the fear of the devil in me, burning a bright orange. It was as if there were fires in those eyes.

Every morning I awoke seemingly more exhausted than when I fell asleep, and I was so on edge that I was jumping at every little noise. I was prescribed pills that were supposed to help prevent me from waking up while in REM sleep, and although they did make the waking nightmares less frequent, it was still an issue I would have every other day. My parents felt terrible that there was little they could do to help what was happening to me, and they said very little to me about my lackluster performance in school.

One day my mom came home with a cassette tape. She told me that Dr. Mueller had recommended it, and had ordered it weeks before. The first twenty minutes of the tape was nothing but blank audio. After that, a calm soothing woman’s voice would say “You are Asleep”, over and over on a loop. The idea was that it was supposed to keep me calm if I happened to awaken during REM sleep, reducing my level of panic and in turn, making my hallucinations less threatening. So, that night, mom and dad set up a cassette player by my bedside and when my mom tucked me in, she said.

“Love you,” and turned on the cassette before she left the room. I listened to the whirring of the gears in the tape spin slowly, and already I felt somehow more relaxed. I fell asleep long before I heard any voice. Like nearly every other night that week, I awoke sometime in the very early hours of the morning unable to move. My eyes darted this way and that, searching all corners of the room and scanning the ceiling for my towering late-night intruder. I spotted it.

Its form was hovering just beyond the door frame, just outside of the threshold to my bedroom and I could just make out the shadows whipping around it. It hissed a croaked, but it made no move to enter. I began to panic, but then I heard it.

“You are asleep.” A woman’s soft voice sang out in a melodic tone out in the dark. The creature of shadow croaked, and it seemed to retreat further out into the hallway.

“You are asleep.” The relaxing voice came again, and I could feel my heart rate slow. The creature pulled out of my line of sight as it fully receded into the darkness of the hall, and I could no longer hear it make any sound. A few moments passed in silence, and the voice rang out one last time,

“You are asleep,” then I became once again, unconscious.

The next morning, I awoke refreshed and earlier than I’d had in a long time, and I burst into my parent’s room to tell them the good news. It was such a tremendous relief to all of us. The tape had worked, and my nightmare was finally over. Or so I had hoped. The next night however, I wasn’t so sure.

 Before I fell asleep I laid in bed wondering if it was a fluke. Maybe the tape worked as a one-time deal, and now that my mind was familiar with it, I would see the tall intruder again. Twenty minutes later, my eyes were heavy, and I vaguely remember hearing the words, ‘You are asleep’ before losing consciousness. When I woke up… it was morning. To my astonishment, I had slept the entire night without incident. I was elated, and so were my parents.

Night after night I slept like a baby while that tape played. My grades became far improved, my energy was at an all-time high, and I wasn’t the skittish mess that the waking nightmare had turned me into. Dr. Mueller, though elated himself, was a little surprised.

“We don’t usually have this kind of response with using the audio recordings as treatment with cases as severe as yours, but if it is working for you I definitely want you to keep using it!” He said,

“But just to be safe, I’m going to keep you on your prescription. I don’t want anything to halt your improvement.”

When we left the doctor’s office, my dad was complaining, saying,

“Of course he is going to continue the pills, they have to get our money somehow.”

My mom gave him a stern look, but he just smiled and that was the last he said about it, and truthfully I think he was just making light of the situation for his own sake. I know it wasn’t easy for either of them.

So, life went on like normal for a long time. Eventually I graduated high school, and moved out into my own place. I have, since I was younger, upgraded a bit. I found the same audio file from the cassette online and downloaded it to my phone. I am able to play it on loop through my speaker on blue-tooth. Sometimes when my phone needs to charge I break out the old cassette player, but I never once slept without playing that calm and relaxing voice in my bedroom. I’ve thought about it once or twice before, keeping the audio off and seeing if I experienced paralysis once again, excluding the recording from my bedtime routine would mean I could actually have a normal relationship with a girl. I never got the courage to do it and see what would happen though. As it turned out, I didn’t have to.

Last night, I came home from an unusually exhausting 12-hour shift at work, sanding down car parts on a product line, glamorous I know. I stumbled into my home, kicking my boots off at the door and made my way into the bedroom. My fatigue was so great that all I could do was check to make sure the blue light on my speaker was on, before I opened up the audio file on my phone and hit play. I then immediately collapsed onto the bed, work clothes and all, and fell instantly to sleep.

I woke up to the sound of an absolute and indescribable silence. My eyes flitted open and darted around the room, searching all around as I listened. Nothing but silence.

I was basked in the very soft glow of the light coming from my living room lamp, but all corners of the bedroom were dark. Then a sound cut through the quiet. A low guttural croak, coming from the part of the ceiling above my bed. My heart rate began to increase, and I stared up into the darkness. There was a shape there in the black, one that wasn’t immediately prevalent to my eyes, but as I concentrated on the space I recognized the tall shape of my old nightmare. As if in answer to my terrifying realization, it opened its eyes, wide and piercing with their glowing orange color, and stared with them straight into my own. My pulse became a rapid thud with in my chest, and my breath became shallow as the creature lowered itself through seemingly sheer willpower and stopped just above where the light from the living room would not touch it. It held my gaze in its own, and I felt my own eyes grow wide. The thing then let out a series of rhythmic croaks, low and breathy. It took a few moments of hearing the sounds it was making before I knew it for what it was.

Laughter.

I tried to scream, but of course, I could not. I prayed and begged to hear the calm soothing voice wash over me and say those three words I longed to hear, but it never came. Confusion and fear filled my head, drowning out all rational thinking. How was this possible? What was going on? Why wasn’t the audio playing?

Slowly, fearfully, I turned my head. My neck craned and I looked at my phone which lay next to me on the bed, and my stomach lurched. The screen was dim, but illuminated, notifying me that my battery was critically low and it had switched to power-saving mode. I cursed myself for not plugging it in before I fell asleep, and I heard that awful laugh once more. Craning my neck back into position to look again at my intruder, I realized my breathing had become labored. The thing had come just a little closer now, so close it could reach out and touch me.

‘He isn’t real,’ I thought, ‘Just calm down, he isn’t real.’ No matter how I tried, I could not calm myself, and my head begin to pound. The orange glow of the eyes seemed to grow more intense, and they were burning into my brain. My skull felt as if it were on fire, and I saw for the first time the creature produce what could be called an extremity from its shadowy form. It took the shape of a hand, and began to glide towards my face. At this moment, the pain became so intense, that I blacked out.

I awoke sometime in the late morning with the worst headache I’ve ever experienced. Looking to my clock on the nightstand confirmed that I only had thirty minutes to get to work, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Cradling my head in one hand I reached for my phone and to my dismay it wouldn’t turn on. That’s when I remembered the details of what happened last night and groaned. I plugged my phone into its charger and gave it a couple minutes to get some juice while I searched for aspirin in the kitchen. When I made my way back to the bedroom, I called into work. Once off the phone, I decided to call Doctor Mueller’s office to let him know what had happened. As far as I could recall, no sleep paralysis episode ever caused me to have a headache, so I figured it was best to follow up with him.

When I reached his office, his assistant answered the phone. I explained to her what happened, every bit of the story, and she listened intently as I heard her scribble down notes. When I was finished, she said,

“Okay, I’ll be sure to run this by the Doctor, but, I should mention something that puzzles me.”

I waited for her to continue as I rolled over and stared absent-mindedly into the darkness of my open closet door.

“You say that you turned your head to look at your phone, meaning the muscles in your neck were functional.”

The pounding in my head was loud, but I was trying hard to focus on what she was saying.

“If you could move your muscles, you could not have been in REM sleep, meaning you weren’t experiencing an episode. It is very peculiar, but as I said I’ll run it by Doctor Mueller.”

My breath caught in my chest, and I hardly heard a word she spoke after that.

I realized that as I was staring into my closet, something with orange eyes was staring back.

 

 

You are Asleep

Grandmother’s China Doll

melancholy-finishedBy: J.J. Cheesman

 

My sister Katie and I had a bit of a rivalry growing up. She knew I absolutely hated dolls. So, sometime in the middle of the night she snuck into my room and planted an old china doll that our grandmother had given her before she died. I would wake up and see the doll sitting on my dresser as it stared straight at me and have a small panic attack. I never even touched the thing. The thought of handling that creepy mockery of a human girl sent chills up and down my spine. So, I would leave for school with it still sitting on my dresser and when I got back, Katie had it moved.

Now. I was never a mean-spirited girl, I enjoyed my sister’s playful prank. It was true that dolls absolutely freak me out but I never let anyone know how badly they bothered me. I kept exactly how scared my irrational fear made me a secret.  I was never smart enough to get her back with any practical joke of my own, my brain just didn’t work that way. So, I would just deal with morning after morning of having a near heart attack.

Then the day came when my sister was moving out of the house into her own apartment and I rode with her to help her unpack. As we went through box after box removing their contents, I noticed something.

“Katie, where is the china doll grandma gave you?” She looked up at me from the box she was unpacking.

“Oh, I’m not taking it, since you wanted it so badly I just left it at home in your room.” I hesitated for a moment, confused by her words and then I laughed when I realized she must be joking.

“Katie, I hate dolls, especially that one, they give me the creeps.” This time, Katie looked puzzled.

“Then why did you move it to your room every night?” Her words unsettled me, and I became very uneasy.

“Katie, I didn’t, you did to try and scare me.” “Amanda, stop messing around you’re going to make me angry. I know you always resented that grandma gave me that doll, so now it’s yours, I don’t want to hear anything more about it.” Her face became hard and her voice became angry. I stood there, mouth agape and bewildered. Was she being serious? Was this just part of some elaborate joke? Her face softened.

“Look, I’m sorry. I got a bit angry over nothing. Let’s just finish and we’ll order a pizza and have a sister’s night. You’re still staying, aren’t you?” I nodded, deciding not to argue with her.

We finished getting everything settled in her new home, then Katie and I began watching movies while we waited for the food to arrive. When we were done eating we were both beat from the long day of moving, so we turned in early. I made my bed on the couch while Katie slept down the hall in her bedroom. I briefly thought over what Katie said about the doll and I wondered why exactly she lied about moving it into my room at night. Exhaustion overtook me quickly however, and soon I was fast asleep.

The next morning, I awoke to a low and rhythmic banging sound. Rubbing sleep from my eyes, I sat up and looked toward the front door. It stood open, and the wind was blowing it against my shoes that I had taken off and placed on the mat in front of it. There were brown and red leaves blown in from outside, and my gaze followed them all the way to the coffee table that sat inches from the couch, and I screamed.

Sitting on the coffee table, staring directly at me, was my grandmother’s china doll.

 

 

Grandmother’s China Doll