Though she liked Jess, Sarah was a little afraid of her because of the hypnotic light burning inside her, and seemed that it wanted to whisk her away from everything she knew.
The light was familiar, reminding her of what she’d seen the afternoon the monster chased through the woods and into the house, scaring her at the top of the stairs. She’d fought against its pull then, and she didn’t want to be near anything like it again.
Blake had it, too, but it wasn’t as demanding as that of his mother, allowing her to follow him around the house without feeling the constant pull. She didn’t know what it was, and didn’t care to learn its truth.
She was happy to be around Blake. Finally, someone her age had come into the house. Chloe, on the other hand, wasn’t as nice as she tried to make people believe. Sarah remembered other older girls who had acted that way in Day Camp. Always giving a good appearance to the Guides and other adults, but when they were alone, they taunted the younger kids, but not as much as some boys had done.
After the men in silly uniforms had finished walking through the house, Sarah waited inside Blake’s room, deciding to tell him about the monster that came at night. She wanted him to know to keep his door closed at night, so it wouldn’t find him, and that there was no telling what it would do if it caught him.
Jess closed the door, filling the room with darkness. Blake sat up, eyes wide, reminding Sarah of a clown she’d seen on TV. She wanted to laugh, but contained her amusement.
He stumbled out of bed to the window, and flung the drapes away, allowing light from the stars to brighten the room, though slightly. Returning to bed, he glanced at the tunnel, but didn’t seem unnerved by it.
Sarah waited until he was back in bed before she stepped from the shadows, the soft light from the sky illuminating her. Blake sat up in bed, shaking. She hadn’t meant to upset him, but she had. He screamed, and without giving her a chance to calm, he flew out of bed to the door.
Anxious footsteps clamored on the stairs, giving her no time to flee the room via the landing, forcing her to use the tunnel.
She shivered at the entrance, the silvery light beckoned to her from an unfathomable distance as a chilling breeze reached through the abyss to caress her skin.
All the tunnels that had opened since the beast had come into the house had the same walls looking like they had been carved through a mountain with gossamer and dark roots clinging to the walls. In places, flecks of mica or quartz sparkled in the hazy light.
The moment she had crossed the threshold, a soothing touch tempted her to move at leisurely pace, but she didn’t obey now or anyone of the other few times shed taken the course. Terror filled her as she ran, feeling like eyes watched her, and unseen hands reached for her.
She ran, glancing occasionally to the floor for roots or rocks that might trip her. The journey never took long, though the perceived distance was immense, and she jolted to a stop in her room with Jess’s things decorating the space.
Without waiting another heartbeat, Sarah hurried into the only safe place she knew with the lovely flowers on the wall waiting to give her comfort.
Moments later, the room’s door swung open, and Jess came in, franticly pulling the blanket from the bed. Taking it and a pillow, she left the room as quickly as she’d entered without peering inside the closet where Sarah hid among the dresses hanging from the rod.
Relieved at hearing the door click shut, she left the safety of the closet to stand near the edge of the bed waiting for the beast to awaken, and taunt her from the other side of the door, but it never came. The typical sounds of the night didn’t come with the chirping of the crickets in the wetlands, the expected static didn’t fill the air with crackling, leaving her more unnerved than normal.
Her young mind couldn’t comprehend why the beast came at night as when it first had chased her it had been late afternoon. When it knitted itself together each night, the memories of the day it had chased her filled her, but this night they didn’t come.
Slinking quietly to the door, she listened to the silence filling the house as her mind slipped a moment to the when her mother had had the couch and the chair in front of the fireplace, then for whatever reason had switched the dining room with the living room; Sarah liked it better this way, and was glad Jess had returned.
Having the dining table in front of the fireplace didn’t feel right to Sarah, because when it was chilly out, sitting on the couch facing the picture window made it uncomfortable and not cozy.
That was the first of many strange things that her mother had done. Besides becoming distant when they sat in the new living room having their Sunday tea without answering her when Sarah spoke, she would stand near the fireplace as Mason sat rigidly at the table holding a fork while glaring at him as he struggled to hold it without shaking.
Footsteps below shook her from her stupor, and she returned her focus to listening to what was happening beyond the door. Sarah wanted to see who had gotten up in the night to use the bathroom, but didn’t want to risk coming face to face with the beast, leaving her only choice the tunnel.
The nice thing about the tunnel was that all she had to do was think of where she wanted to be as she ran through it, and where she’d find herself when she emerged from the other end.
She stared at the vastness, and shivered, not wanting to go through it again, but she wanted to know who was awake, and forced herself inside, appearing seconds later in the empty dining room.
Peeking around the doorway, she had a good view of the kitchen and bathroom doors. The toilet flushed, then a second later the warm light filtering below the door went out and the door opened.
Mason stepped out into the murky hallway, his large, bare feet slapping the floor. He had changed since leaving home, and she thought he was more handsome now than he had been as a baby.
She stepped back into the dining room as he approached. A whispering voice said his name, kind of like one of the voices she had heard when she had been in the tunnel. Dropping to her hands and knees, she peered into the hallway again.
Mason had turned abruptly, looking back toward the kitchen door, a noise came from him, somewhere between a gasp and a scream. Sarah crawled farther into the foyer. Her mom stood near the kitchen door, reaching a hand toward Mason.
Sarah winced when she heard Jess ask him what was wrong, afraid she’d been found by the woman, and quickly retreated into the dining room to the tunnel at the same time her mom came through the kitchen door.
Lunging into the tunnel, Sarah thought of the safety of her room, and stepped into the dark room. She turned to the tunnel, expecting to find her mom behind her, but all she saw was the vast tube with the silvery light glowing at the far end.
At her normal position at the door, she listened, but there was no sound beyond the door. She slowly turned the knob, and opened the door a crack to peer on the landing. Her mother stood at the top of the stairs under the chandelier that moved slightly from side to side.
The door to her room stood open, and a dark figure twisted on itself inside, its gleaming eyes and smile fixed on her. Sarah closed the door, and backed to the bed, waiting for it to come and try to break in, but it never came.