There was a loud crash in the hallway. A stack of boxes left over from moving, still packed, slamming down to the floor.
I woke to the crash, heart hammering in my chest. I clutched the blankets under my chin, white-knuckled, my whole body locked up in a statue of fear.
There was something out in the hallway.
I heard a rustling out there, something moving among the detritus that spilled from the boxes onto the floor.
I turned my head, ever so slightly, to the door. Peeled open my eyelids and let them adjust to the near darkness, the only light coming from so far down the hallway, a lamp left on in the living room.
I couldn’t move. Fear paralyzed me. There was someone – or something – in the house in the middle of the night. Roaming my halls and the new rooms. Making messes.
I wanted to call out “Who’s there?” or lie and say that I have a gun, which I don’t, which I never would, because guns are dangerous and I can’t bear to touch them. I wanted to be strong and get out of bed, go to the door and open it, see what was out there, but I couldn’t move.
I heard another noise, a shuffling of cardboard, and my tense muscles tightened further. My hands became claws wrapped in the fabric of my sheets, unwilling to let go of their lifeline.
I closed my eyes again. Breathed deep and slow and quiet. Maybe if I just close my eyes it will go away. If I could get back to my dream, that picnic by the stream in the middle of a beautiful green valley, that dream – If I could get back to it, maybe this would all go away.
There wouldn’t be someone – or something – out in the hallway.
There would just be me, sleeping in my bed, not worrying about all the horrible things out in the world.
And then, a footstep. Unmistakeable. And then another. Coming toward my room.
I squeezed my eyes shut tighter, a sound like a pig’s squeal came from my throat and I kicked my feet under the covers, my body telling me to get up and run, but some broken animal part of my brain telling me to cower, telling me I’m not a fighter. I’ll go early in a zombie apocalypse.
The door opened, and I looked – I had to look.
A shadow in the doorway, stepping forward.
“Mommy,” my daughter reached out to me in the darkness. “I had a bad dream.”
This was written for Yeah Write’s Speakeasy writing challenge. The challenge this week was to use the first line: “There was a loud crash in the hallway.” and to make reference to this beautiful image that was provided:
This is the first piece of fiction that I have written and posted here on The Janie Doh Daily – tell me, are you interested in reading short fiction here in the future, or should I keep a separate blog for my writing challenge pieces?