The dark had long descended over the quaint Bradshaw house and the owners had long retired to their bed. One, however, a Mrs. Cecelia Bradshaw tossed and turned, her aging limbs seeming to resist the thought of sleep although her eye lids fell temptingly heavy over her eyes. So when the first noise sounded she jolted from her half sleep, a sense of fear traveling through her blue veins, winding its way to her heart.
She looked around the shadowy room and out into the hallway. Nothing seemed to be amiss so she lied back down next to her husband and let her eyes begin to close. It was the creaking of an old house, she told herself. It happens all the time, she reasoned.
And then it happened again, the pounding reverberating through the halls.
No, that was definitely not an old house sound.
“Robert, did you hear that?” Cecelia whispered to the man lying beside her. He snorted and turned his back to her.
“Robert,” Her tone was pleading now as she nudged at his shoulder.
“Did I hear what?” He grumbled, only wanting to get back to sleep.
“That bang bang-bang.” She attempted to imitate the sound.
“Cece, please, this an old house and I’m an old man who needs his sleep. I didn’t hear a thing.” He sighed and fluffed his pillow before sinking back into it.
The silence between the aging husband and wife stretched through the dark for moments that could have been minutes or possibly seconds, Cecelia couldn’t tell but as just as her eyes threatened to close once more the sound echoed through the halls to their small bedroom, more urgent sounding than either of the times before.
“Robert,” she urged once more. Cecelia was a woman who followed her gut and right now that pounding sound was turning her stomach into a knot, and that knot was telling her something was wrong.
Robert Bradshaw sat up in his bed, listening intently; he wasn’t going to deny that he had heard it the last time, and the sound left a cold feeling creeping through his bones. Cecelia followed him as he stumbled through the black hallways, switching on every light they passed; she held an old baseball bat gripped in her frail hands. They both jumped as the beating sound began again, the front door shaking from the force causing the noise.
As they reached the end of the hallway the harsh sound stopped at once but was followed by a single hollow sounding thud.
The two shared confused and slightly fearful glances before Robert reached for the doorknob.
“Step back, Cecelia,” her husband’s voice was so sharp. He had never used that tone before, never, and frankly, it scared her. She took two steps back, gripping the baseball bat so tight her knuckles turned ghostly white. Robert turned to his wife once more and took a deep breath. Quicker than she had thought possible for her grey-haired spouse, he threw the front door open.
Immediately the two were struck dumb. There in the shadows just outside the door a body swayed, moonlight warred with the lights from the house, causing only part of the body to show, and that part alone was gruesome enough to nearly give the two elderly a pair of matching heart attacks. Mud caked feet led to crisscrossed slashes marring thin legs; blood seemed to trickle from everywhere.
Cecelia and Robert stood there for seconds cleverly disguised as minutes staring at the young girl. She took one swaying step out of the shadows and into the house, revealing even more unsightly incisions and bruises. The bruises were like beautiful splashes of paint on her ivory skinned face that clashed with the blood of a wound hidden on her hairline. Her hair was matted with soil and blood.
Her eyes, glazed with fear, traveled over the plump woman and the scrawny, balding man before following their gazes to her own body. Rivulets of scarlet blood traveled down her legs and arms, landing on the snow-white carpet.
“I-I’m s-sorry—“ Just as the final syllable escaped her lips, her legs gave out and her body crumpled into the old man’s shaking arms.