The Visitor

by Sarah McKenzie

     Sherry lay calmly on the top bunk of the double bunk bed that was shared by herself and her sister. Minute beads of perspiration made her skin feel sticky in the humid air around her. If only she could open the window behind her bed, she would feel some sort of relief. However, the howls of her sister Cindy who would suddenly be drawn out of her deep, seemingly drunken sleep, would cause her to close it again anyway.

     Sherry started tossing and turning, amazed at how this didn't wake Cindy, until she seemed to settle her body into the most comfortable position she could find. Slowly, sleep crept up on Sherry. She felt her eyelids closing and her body becoming relaxed as she let herself sink into oblivion. "Scratch, scratch, scratch." From somewhere far away Sherry could hear a scratching, almost scraping sound. She felt herself being pulled out of her confinement of sweet sleep. As she started to regain awareness of her surroundings she began to wonder if Cindy was sleepwalking again. The scratching continued as she tried to wrench herself out of her state of much deserved, restful slumber considering how long she took to get there.

     She sat up and sensed that Cindy was awake. "Sherry, do you hear it? " The scratching continued. It sounded as if there were some small animal scraping away at the floorboards on the ground next to their beds. Sherry reached for the flashlight that she always kept beneath her pillow and positioned its beam on the spot where she thought the sound was coming from. The sound stopped instantaneously. What was just mild concern suddenly turned into throat gulping worry. Cindy whimpered as Sherry shone the flashlight around the room. "There doesn't seem to be anything there," muttered Sherry, "Maybe it was nothing." Cindy, who didn't seem much reassured, quickly pulled the covers up to her neck and took small comfort only in the fact that the sound seemed to have stopped.

     Sherry switched off the flashlight and pulled her own covers over her body as she realised that the air wasn't humid any more. As a matter of fact, it was suddenly downright chilly. Both girls tried to calm themselves and felt sleep once more stealing its way into their blood."Scratch, scratch, scrape." Veins in both girls immediately grew cold as their blood froze. Sherry grabbed the torch and once more tried to see what was making the sound. As soon as the light hit the floor, the scraping stopped. Both girls felt panic creeping up their legs. Sherry switched off the light and once more the now fear inducing scratching started again.

     "Oh God," said Cindy as panic started clawing its way up her belly and started grabbing for her chest. Even Sherry who though younger and was the more level headed of the two felt the icy fingers of fear reaching for her neck. She quickly put on the torch again. The scraping stopped. "Crash!" Both girls let their eyes follow the direction of the noise. An ornament that was on a nearby dresser had slid of and shattered for no apparent reason. Panic was now like a knife stabbing at their hearts as they contemplated on almost a telepathic level about what they should do. Sherry now turned her head slowly to her right as a book that she kept next to her pillow started sliding of the bed and landed with a thud on the floor that made Cindy choke with a scream that formed a lump in her throat.

     The air in the room suddenly started moving as though one of the windows were open. The girls immediately looked behind them to see if they were indeed open. They were shut tight. Both Sherry and Cindy sat on their beds and felt the dry tears run down their faces. They were terrified at the thought of even moving from where their bodies now seemed heavily cemented so that they could reach out to each other. They were both convinced that there was some sort of entity in their midst. "Knock, knock!" Four eyes shifted to see an almanac flapping about and knocking on a wooden door on which it hung. The dry tears turned to liquid as the flowed freely down their faces.

     The curtains on the windows behind them slid open in one sweeping motion as though moved by a pair of invisible hands. The girls looked on in absolute horror at what they had just seen. They were now absolutely sure that they were not alone. "Knock, knock." Hearts skipped beats and bodies grew limp as both girls turned towards the door to their room. "Is everything all right?" A father's voice never sounded so angelic. Instantly a rooster crowed as it heralded the dawning of a new day. The atmosphere of the room returned to normal and the girls wondered if what they had just witnessed was only a figment of their imaginations.

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