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Dusk begins to settle into our quiescent neighborhood. I am curled up on the couch, my feet tucked under me as I open up my book. A hush has settled over the area. Not a sound can be heard, as if the animals have been frightened away; a foreshadowing of events to come. It gives me a slight shiver. Wrapping my hands around my mug of tea, I ignore the goosebumps on my arms.
The full moon casts a pallor over my yard. The plants reemerge as mythological creatures. There's a wind that blows through the curtains and plays tricks with my mind. I suddenly wish my husband didn't have a client event tonight. Did I lock the gate outside?
A bloodcurdling shriek resonates through the house; the shrillness reverberating off the walls sending chills cascading down my spine. My heart stops and a few hot drops of chamomile splash onto my lap. I don't even notice as it streaks down onto the leather. What was that?
The house is still. Was I imagining things? My ears strain to pick up the sounds of anything out of the ordinary. There is nothing but the drumbeat of my racing heart. I unsuccessfully try to convince my shaking hands that it was all in my mind. My eyes turn back to the novel as my blood pressure slowly decreases. I am well into the chapter and the noise is but a distant memory.
Ice flows through my veins. I pick up the whimpering sounds of a wounded animal. There's no one here but me to help. Looking around the room for a weapon, the only thing in my line of vision is an umbrella. I grip it like I'm Manny Ramirez, prepared to defend myself from this monster in my home. Why does my husband have to work late tonight of all nights???
Tiptoeing up the stairs and trying to ignore the weakness in my knees as I inch closer to the sound. There's heavy breathing mingled with growling. In my peripheral vision I see a small animal cowering and trying to make itself invisible. I will check on it later.
I slowly open the door, feverently praying it doesn't make a sound and ruin my element of surprise. My eyes adjust to the dim light and spy the owner of these feral noises. Her hair is matted and dreadlocked from lack of care, her eyes crazy as they dart around the room looking for her next victim. She is filthy, hungry and horrifying. Dropping a decapitated bunny, she turns on me and growls.
"Lena. For the love of God. What are you doing? Your room looks like a bomb went off and I just cleaned it! You were supposed to have put on your pajamas and brushed your teeth. And why are you yelling like that? I've been asking you all day to put this umbrella away in your closet. I'm not going to ask you again. If you scream like that one more time you're going to bed."
I freakin' hate that hour before bedtime.