The Quiet

I followed her gaze to the other side of the room, where there were two windows. One was closed tightly. But the other was opening slowly. I could see some kind of shadow come over the bottom.

Someone was coming inside.


21. Attack

The noise had come from upstairs, and it wasn’t thunder, that much I knew. I looked at Lena and Clay. I opened my mouth to say something, but Lena cut me off.

“That didn’t sound too friendly.”

“Stating the obvious,” Clay murmured next to her. She threw him a glare, but he just continued. “Now, before you go wandering upstairs to play the heroine of this horror story, what did the asshole say to you?”

“That’s very creative,” Lena said, smirking. “You’ve always had such a good imagination, Clayton. Aren’t you afraid of what’s up there? It could come down and kill you.”

Clay rolled his eyes. “There’s nothing up there. Something probably just fell over.” He looked at me. “Are there any windows open?”

I shook my head.

“Alright then, come on.” Clay stood up and looked at Lena. “You should go first, you know, since you want to show off how brave you really are.”

Lena scowled and rose from her seat on the couch. “This is ridiculous. Clay’s right, it’s just the wind.”

I smiled. “It looks like you’re scared.”

“I am not scared!” Lena shouted. Her hand trembled slightly, and she almost dropped the candle, but her reflexes were quick.

As we turned to go up the stairs, something caught my attention in the window behind the couch the led to the backyard. I thought I saw someone moving through the trees near the shed. I reached out and gripped the person closest to me.

“What are you doing?” Lena snapped. “Let go.”

“Someone’s out there,” I whispered.

“Oh please,” Lena hissed, prying my hand off her arm. She stepped away from me, and knocked right into Clay.

“Stop it,” he ordered. “I’m going to prove to both of you that there’s no one outside or upstairs. You can stay here if you want.”

“Great,” Lena said, “you can stay here, Cari. Clay and I will go see what all that noise was about. And we’ll check for the boogeyman as well.”

“That’s not funny,” I said. “I wouldn’t lie about someone being outside.”

“It’s raining and it’s getting darker,” Clay reasoned. Then he reached down and grabbed my hand. “Come on.”

Behind us, Lena made a noise that was between shock and anger. But she didn’t budge from her spot by the couch. I didn’t care. Neither did Clay, it seemed, as we walked up the stairs to the bedrooms.

A long hallway stretched as we got to the top — my room, the bathroom, then on the other side, my parents room and our guest room.

The noise had come from the guest room. I told him where it was.

“Wait here,” Clay whispered, looking at me. “I’ll check it out.”

It was hard enough getting up the stairs in the dark, but to have him go into a room that had no light, and might have a psycho standing in it, waiting—

I closed my eyes. That was stupid. When I didn’t hear anything but the rain and thunder, it worried me. But then I heard something. It sounded like a shrill scream, and then I knew.

This, all of it, was a distraction. I did see someone outside.

A shadow emerged from the room, and I almost cried out, until a hand touched my face and he hugged me to him.

“There’s no one here,” Clay assured me. “Cari?”

I was trembling. “We have to get back downstairs. I heard a scream. I think Lena’s in trouble.”

“She probably just freaked herself out. I’m going to go check the other—”

But he didn’t get to finish the sentence, because we both heard more than a scream from below.

There was a low, whimpering sound. I could hear it getting closer. Then, somehow, I could hear the stairs creaking. I looked toward them, with Clay’s hand wrapped around mine, and gasped.

Lena was staggering up the stairs, candle in hand. Her black hair was disheveled and her face was streaked with blood. Her green eyes were wide and scared. She opened her mouth and uttered one word, before she collapsed against us.

I took the candle from her.

Clay lifted her and disappeared into the guest room. He came back seconds later. “Whoever did that to her really fucked her up, but she’ll be okay. What did she tell you?”

I looked at him, my heart hammering in my chest, and spoke.


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