Child of Frost. (Nanowrimo novel 2014)

My NanoWrimo 2014 ghost story. Entry for the Nanowrimo competition.

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2. Chapter Two

Christine sat in the kitchen trying to finish her dinner, while pretending not to notice Danny occasionally checking on her while he was rushing about packing the last few things for his trip to DC. He had to catch an early evening flight as he was going to testify in a high-profile murder-case first thing in the morning as part of his job as a detective. Luckily she rarely had to travel to testify, as the district attorney tended to prefer the highest ranked detective on the stand.

Despite the early hour of his flight, Danny had spent most of the afternoon working on the nursery instead of packing and getting ready for the trip, and despite now being late, it seemed more important to him to make sure she was actually eating. Struggling with morning sickness, she wasn’t always able to eat much, something that had caused them both a lot of worry until Christine’s doctor had assured them that it was perfectly normal.

 

“I am eating,” She said as Danny once again appeared in the doorway, sporting a sheepish smile as he realized she’d long seen through him. “and I will make sure to eat plenty while you’re gone as well, now finish packing.”

 

“I am almost done.” He assured her and went upstairs for a few minutes, before he came back, leaving his suitcase in the hallway and making his way into the kitchen.

 

“Are you sure you’ll be okay alone?” He asked. For a brief moment she wanted to smack him for asking that same question for the 7th time that afternoon alone.


“We’ll be fine. It’s just a couple of days, Besides, Don will be watching over me as if his life depended on it.” She said, laughing as Danny posed with a theatrical frown.

 

“His life does depend on it.” He told her, before a smile once again appeared on his face.

 

“I’ll be sure to tell him that.” She said, as she pushed herself up and went to put her plate by the sink. Danny made his way toward her, for a second looking completely lost in thought.

 

“Did I remember to ask you to call me if the plumbers show up?”

 

“Danny, I’m sure I can point them toward the downstairs bathroom.” She said, trying to hide the fact that she was more than a little amused by his protective nature.

 

“Right, sorry.” He put his hands on her hips, drawing her into a tight embrace.  She happily offered him a kiss goodbye, before she gently pushed at his chest.

 

“Go get a killer convicted.” She told him. He reluctantly let go of her, and turned to leave, though not without telling her to take care, to which she simply rolled her eyes.

 

“Get out before I kick you out.” She said, smiling as he muttered fine, before he finally waved goodbye and disappeared out the front door, suitcase in hand.

 

Christine leaned against the counter, sighing at the thought of two days on her own. Even though she prided herself by being more than capable of handling her own, she preferred having Danny home.  The house was already unusually quite without him there, and even though he didn’t always say much, this silence was different. It was the heavy silence caused by being alone.

 

Wanting to distract herself from her sudden solitude, she made her way into the den, ready to settle in with the book she’d been planning to finish for a few days, however a quick inspection of the coffee table revealed that she’d left the book upstairs in the bedroom.

 

She turned and made her way toward the stairs, at first thinking nothing of the rustling of the plastic sheeting upstairs, but as she made her way up the steps, the noise was replaced by a scraping noise. One she couldn’t quite identify, but that sounded to be coming from the still unfinished nursery.

 

Dismissing the noises as the product of wind and an old house, she headed for the bedroom but as the noises persisted, her curiosity and the slight feeling of uneasiness they caused got the better of her and she changed her direction to the nursery instead.

 

As she got closer, what sounded like a hand against the wall blend with the dull scraping sound. She stopped a few feet from the door, holding her breath as she listened to the almost rhythmic thud. Her head raced with suggestions to what could be the cause of the sounds, but none of them seemed able to cut through the uneasiness that grasped her.

 

Ready to turn and leave, she took the last few steps until she was able to see into the nursery. The light from the hallway cast a dim light into the empty room. Only a few cans of pain stood in the corner, arranged neatly exactly like her husband had left them. There was nothing unexpected in the nursery, but as she stood in silence, it occurred to her that the noises had stopped.

 

Paranoid now, she looked around, finding no immediate source of the sounds, but that didn’t do much to calm her. In fact she wanted nothing more than to act on the impulse to run away and hide.

 

Despite the fear clawing at her from all sides, she slowly turned away from the nursery, checking just one last time that everything was as it should be. The light from the hallway was still struggling to reach the corners, but though she felt something lay hidden just out of sight, Christine began slowly making her way back toward the bedroom.

 

A gust of cold air struck her, just as the sound of footsteps hurrying across the floor behind her made her spin around, her arms clutching her belly. Slowly backing away along the wall, Christine stared at the swaying plastic sheeting at the other end of the hallway, as if looking away would cost her dearly.


It wasn’t until the bedroom door offered her escape, that she finally tore her attention from the plastic ghost and went to get the book she had come for.  It was only the fear of falling and hurting the baby that prevented her from running down the stairs as fast as her legs would allow.

 

-o-

 

After reading just a few chapters, Christine had dozed off on the couch and woke up a few hours later. She didn’t know what had woken her, but she had to resist the urge to go back to sleep right there on the couch. Instead she decided to go to bed and hopefully catch up on some sleep after a few nights of very little rest.

 

She pushed herself up from the couch, still holding the book, she had been reading. Though the book fell from her hand, when the noise from earlier was once again heard from somewhere up the stairs.  

 

Reminding herself that it had turned out to be nothing but a figment of her paranoia, she went into the entrance where she stopped by the foot of the staircase, listening to what to her sounded like the thuds of small footsteps before she drew in a deep breath and began her ascend up the stairs. Each step was slower and more cautious than the previous, and by the time she approached the top, her eyes once again fixed on the plastic sheeting across the hallway, only this time her breath froze in her throat as she tried to draw in air, and for a second she felt as if she was falling backwards, down the stairs, though she stood firmly on the third step from the top.

 

Where the plastic sheeting had formerly swayed gently in the draught, it was now held still by a small hand, grasping the plastic as if the child it belonged to would fall over without the support.

 

Though all she was able to see through the plastic was the silhouette of a small child, Christine felt its gaze fall on her, beckoning her closer but she was frozen where she stood. Only just able to move her attention downward to below the sheeting, were the child’s bare feet were visible. As if aware of this, the child curled its toes. An endearing action, that despite its innocent nature, made Christine sick with fear.

 

“Hi there.” She said, her voice weakened by the grip of dread that tightened around her throat, even more so as she held her breath and listened for any reaction by the child, but neither a child’s voice or a single breath was heard. Only the fingers grasping at the sheeting moved. The child released its grasp and the young boy ducked and looked out under the plastic, his strikingly blue eyes watching her with caution. 

 

“Where’s your mom?” Christine asked, the boy didn’t move but his attention seemed to shift and Christine was at once aware that he wasn’t watching her. He was looking behind her.

 

Unable to move her feet, Christine turned her head, slowly, acutely aware of a shadow just outside her field of vision. But upon regaining the ability to move, she spun around only to see the empty entrance behind her.

 

She turned back toward the boy, but there was nothing but plastic sheeting rustling slightly in the draught, as if it hadn’t just been disturbed in its delicate dance. 

 

Distraught, Christine made her way sideways along the wall until she reached the safety of her bedroom where she shut the door and climbed into bed, not bothering to change into her PJs before she hid under the covers, already trying to convince herself that what she just saw hadn’t really happened.

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