Emily kept her head down, taking the same position she was taught to take at school during a tornado. She sat on the floor, knees pulled to her chest, and her arms wrapped around her legs.
She was the last one left.
At eight years old, she didn’t know what to do now that the lady had taken her older sister.
She could only huddle there on the floor, shaking with fear and softly whimpering.
It had only been twenty four hours since her family had their first dinner in their new home.
They all laughed at a joke her father had made as they passed the food around.
“Well girls,” her dad asked. “What do you think of our new home?”
Emily and her older sister, Shannon voiced their approval.
“I’ve never seen a house this big,” Emily stated.
“I know,” her dad responded. “I was very lucky we were able to get it. We’ve saved up a lot over the years, and when I saw this house up for sale, and close to what we could afford, I had to jump at it.
“It’s a bit of a fixer upper, but I think when we’re done, it will be even more beautiful. And, of course, I love the amount of land we have.”
Emily and Shannon couldn’t wait to explore in the morning. They both looked out the window simultaneously and knew it would be too dark to do anything that night.
“Maybe we can all go out exploring together in the morning,” their mother replied, reading their expressions.
The girls nodded in agreement.
After dinner, they all went into the large living room to relax until bed time.
It would be another day or so before their internet was hooked up, and none of them had good cell reception.
As they pulled out their various devices, the tablets, laptops, and cell phones stood out among the old house with its wood walls, antique bookshelves, and oversized fireplace.
The girls had a hard time finding outlets that worked.
“Well,” their dad started. “I guess I know what I’ll be working on tomorrow while you girls are exploring.”
Since they were limited in what they could do with their devices, it didn’t take long before they all were ready for bed. They knew the next day would be better, and they couldn’t wait for it to arrive.
“Do you want to sleep with me tonight” Shannon asked her younger sister, seeing that she was apprehensive about sleeping alone in this big house. It looked more menacing at night with the dim lights, and cobwebs.
Emily nodded vigorously.
“Okay, come on in,” Shannon said opening the door wider to let her in.
Shannon was four years older than Emily and seemed unaffected by the creaking noises the house made as it settled.
Emily could here Shannon’s breathing change as she slowly drifted off to sleep, but she could also hear the constant creaking of the house.
Unable to sleep, she then needed to use the restroom, but was hesitant to get up. Part of her wanted to wake her sister, but another part of her felt she was silly for being afraid to go to the bathroom in her own house.
She slowly swung over the side of the bed, and lowered herself to the wooden floor, where the floor seemed to creak in protest.
She collected her courage, and as quietly as the floors would let her, she exited the bedroom, and slowly walked down the hallway to the bathroom.
As she walked, she shivered as the air around her seemed to get colder. She stopped walking just long enough to watch her breath come out of her mouth.
She continued to the bathroom at a much faster pace. Part of her wanted to run back to her sister, but she knew her bladder wouldn’t wait much longer.
She was almost at a jog, when she entered the bathroom, and quickly closed the door.
The temperature around her seemed normal in the bathroom, and when she breathed, she couldn’t see her breath.
She still felt cold, though the room wasn’t, so she turned the water on hot when she washed her hands to help warm herself up.
By the time she finished washing her hands, she couldn’t see her reflection in the mirror because of the steam.
The door creaked as she slowly opened it. She knew she only had to be brave a little bit longer.
Seeing nothing waiting for her in the hallway, she walked out of the bathroom, unaware that something had been written in the fogged-up mirror.
It simply read, ‘Run!”
From downstairs, a grandfather clock began to chime the hour, making Emily jump and walk as fast as her legs could move.
Once she was back in her room, she crawled back into bed with Shannon, but couldn’t stop shaking until the sun came out.
“Emily, you look exhausted,” her dad pointed out when she sat down at the breakfast table. “Did you have trouble sleeping last night?”
She could only nod.
“I’ll stay home with you while mom and Shannon go exploring,” her dad continued. “I’ll stay with you while you get some sleep. How does that sound?”
Emily nodded again.
Emily’s mom and Shannon came into the room, and seeing how tired Emily looked, they kissed her goodbye, and told her they’d be home soon.
Once they were gone, Emily’s dad carried her up the stairs, and laid her down in her bed. He grabbed a book and began to read as she fell asleep.
The sight of him reading was the last thing she saw as she drifted off.
She woke up to her mom gently stroking her hair.
“Hi, mommy,” she said smiling.
“Hi, honey,” her mom replied. “Where’s daddy?”
Emily groggily looked around the room and said, “He was sitting there reading when I fell asleep.”
She was a little disappointed that her dad wasn’t still sitting there when she woke up, but she still felt better now that she had gotten some sleep.
“Where’s Shannon?” Emily asked.
“Downstairs making a sandwich,” her mom explained. “Would you like one.”
Emily nodded and sat up. “I’ll go downstairs.”
“Go ahead, sweetie, I’ll go find your dad and be down soon,” she said with a smile.
Emily wiped away her fogginess, and then walked downstairs, leaving her mom, who walked the opposite way towards her bedroom.
“You want a sandwich?” Shannon asked when Emily entered the kitchen.
“Yes,” Emily replied, nodding.
Half way through their sandwiches, they suddenly heard a crashing sound coming from the basement.
They looked at each other, and then at the basement door.
Gaining strength from each other, they walked to the basement door and slowly opened it.
“Daddy?” Shannon called down.
Neither of them wanted to go down, but if their dad was hurt, they knew they needed to be brave.
Shannon pulled out her cell phone and turned on its flashlight.
Together they walked down the stairs, wincing with each creaking step.
“Daddy?” Shannon called out again when they reached the bottom, though more quietly.
Emily stayed clutched to Shannon as they shuffled around the basement, looking for the source of the noise.
As they rounded a stack of boxes, they saw something shiny on the floor. It was a liquid that looked like it had spilled.
Initially, this relieved the girls, since they knew it must have been the source of the crash.
Using her phone flashlight, she followed the liquid to see if the can it spilled from was laying nearby.
They both screamed as instead of seeing a can of paint, they found their father laying in a pool of his own blood.
Instinct told them to run away and to their dad at the same time, but the drive to run to him was stronger.
They began to run to his body when all of a sudden, they heard their mom scream from upstairs.
Half wanting to escape the bloody scene in the basement, and the other half needing to help their mother, they left their father laying on the ground, and ran up the stairs to where their mother was.
“Mom!” Shannon yelled, half dragging Emily behind her.
“Mom!” Emily yelled trying to keep up.
They reached the main staircase just in time to hear their mother scream again.
Shannon was running as fast as she could with Emily in tow up the stairs, and into the hallway where their bedrooms awaited them.
The hallway was vacant, but both the girls could feel a coldness, though they couldn’t tell if it was internal or external.
They wanted to reach their mother as quickly as possible, but something felt wrong, and they moved slowly down the hallway to their parents’ bedroom.
They both stood frozen as red liquid seeped through the bottom of the door, and they both knew right away what it was.
“We have to go for help,” Shannon stated, and they both began slowly walking backward toward the stairs.
“What about mommy and daddy?” Emily asked.
“We need to get them help,” Shannon explained. “There’s nothing we could do better than the doctors.”
As they turned to run down the stairs, they both let out a sharp cry. Standing at the top of the stairs staring at them was an old woman dressed all in black.
She looked ancient, wearing clothes as old as the house itself. Her gray hair was frayed and unkept. Her clothes were in a state of decay, and while her skin seemed as smooth as porcelain, both the girls could see noticeable cracks throughout her exposed skin.
The woman stared at them with menacing eyes and the girls could only stare back, uncertainty holding them in place.
It wasn’t until the old woman began to walk towards them, that they were able to break from their trance and they immediately ran to Shannon’s bedroom, screaming the entire way.
Neither of them looked back as they ran into the room and slammed the door.
The air was warm in the room when they entered, but their hearts skipped a beat when they quickly felt the air temperature drop.
Suddenly the closet door swung open from across the room, and both girls let out a cry. They held each other, shaking uncontrollably.
The closet was pitch black, and neither of them could see what was in there.
Shannon was knocked down by an invisible force, and that same force began to drag her towards the closet.
Emily grabbed Shannon’s arm and tried with all her strength to pull her sister away, but no matter how hard she pulled, Shannon kept sliding towards the closet.
“Let go!” Shannon yelled out to Emily.
“No!” Emily cried back and continued to pull as hard as she could.
The invisible force continued to drag them both, and seeing that there was no stopping it, Shannon tried to wiggle out of Emily’s grasp, but despite her size, Emily held on with a death grip.
Unfortunately, Shannon’s fate was beyond both their control, as suddenly, Emily was knocked across the room by another invisible force. She hit the wall across the room hard, but not hard enough to knock her out.
She laid there on the floor against the wall and had no choice but to watch as her sister was dragged into the closet screaming, with the door closing behind her, silencing her forever.
Emily pulled her knees into her chest and cried.
She kept her head down, taking the same position she was taught to take at school during a tornado.
She was the last one left.
The closet door slamming open snapped her back to reality, and out of the blackness the old woman emerged, not walking, but floating towards her.
Emily fought her paralysis, and slowly slid up the wall until she was standing.
As the woman approached, Emily quickly ran to the door, expecting it to be sealed shut, but relieved when it opened.
She ran as fast as her little legs would let her. She ran down the stairs and straight to the front door.
She swung it open with all her might and ran outside.
She quickly scanned the road at the end of their driveway, and her heart leapt when she saw a man changing a tire.
She called out to him but was cut short when she felt something cold engulf her.
Suddenly, she was pulled through the air, back into the house.
The door slammed shut.
Hearing the door slam, the man stood up and looked at the house. All the lights were off, and a thick fog began to engulf it.
Not wanting to get stuck in the fog, he turned his attention back to changing his tire.
He gave the house a passing glance as he started the car and drove off.