Death Awaits

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This is a mystery and Suspense but will have romance in it as well. This is a piece that will be in the book later: There was a long, piercing scream followed by a screeching noise of blades scraping together. She watched in terror as the man cut into her only loved one. The stench of death thickened in the air. She watched the blood ooze down the table and onto the warehouse floor. Her knuckles whitened as she gripped the side of her chair. She yelped in pain, as he tightened the ropes around her wrist and ankles. Her eyes widened in fear as her heart began to pound its way out of her chest. The man slowly inched towards her with a glistening, silver, red knife.

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1. Unbearable Dreams

“Amanda, Amanda, Wake up!” I open my eyes frantically to see my mother with a distressed expression. I look down at my hands and see the sweat drenching down my palms. My palms feel wet and grimy. I wipe them down the sides of my shirt, attempting to dry them.

“Are you okay?” my mother asks. I nod slowly, not being able to trust my voice.

Except for the fact I keep being haunted by recurring nightmares. I contemplate to myself.

“Come downstairs; breakfast is ready”, my mother mentions making her way down the stairs. She glances back towards me, unsure if she could leave me alone.

“I’m okay, I promise,” I say, attempting to reassure her.  I slowly make my way out of bed, placing both feet on the icy wooden floor.  I plummet instantly to the ground from the numbness in my stiff body. I groan in agony. As I carefully get up, I detect, on my mirror, a note written in red ink. I raise my eyebrows in bewilderment. What is that?

I shuffle over to my mirror as I rub the sides of my arms. Brrrr. My mom keeps it frigid in the house. Then again, I am always cold no matter what the temperature is. I skim the three words written sprucely on the sticky note that is attached to my dresser mirror. “I’m watching you.” I read these words over and over again, wondering what they mean. Maybe Mom let Liam inside, Liam is my best friend. Oh, Liam and his pranks. He loves to prank people. I laugh nervously not fully convincing myself that what I just told myself was true. The hairs on my neck stand with uneasiness. I scan around my room looking for something that stands out. I don’t see anything that’s peculiar. I take the note in my hands and observe the writing. The writing is disorganized. It’s cursive and print all jumbled together. I place the note in a box that was my great grandmother’s, a box that my mother passed down to me.

I walk back over to my mirror and take my long, curly, brunette hair in my hands and twist it into a messy bun. I pick up my contacts and put them in over my honey brown eyes. I stare in the mirror at my reflection. I’m short, and skinny with curves. Even I could lose a few pounds. I stare at the burns on my arms I had acquired from work. One burn is long and stretches from my elbow to my thumb. Could you ever believe a cookie sheet did that? You could if you knew it was 350-degree cookie sheet. I rub my arms hoping I could just make them disappear. My mind ruminates on its own, and I think back to the times Liam had said to me, “You are always beautiful to me and that’s what matters the most”. I smile to myself and look down at my arms again and run my fingers along the length of my burn. I turn around and start to walk down the squeaky stairs. My hand glides down the handrail, feeling the smooth dark wood underneath my palm. The smell of pancakes and sausage fill the air. My stomach growls like vicious dogs ready to pounce. I laugh silently in my head. I walk into the kitchen and saw that my mother had left a note on the gray marble countertops.

It reads, "Honey, I know you're not feeling well and all, but I went to work early, called in for an emergency meeting.  See you tonight. Love, Mom".  I sigh and crumble up the note and throw it in the trash. I love my mom, but our relationship has been shaky recently. I shake my head slightly. It’s probably my fault, I don’t have a very good reputation to think before I speak. Luckily for me, one of my best friends comes trotting down the hallway.

"Shiloh!” I call out and bend down to pick up my Beagle and Chihuahua mixed pup.

"How are you, buddy?” I said scratching behind his right ear and then move down to rub his long, white back. Shiloh let out a happy bark at me in response.

"Good," I say as I pat him on the head and cup his face with my hands. I give him a small peck on the tip of his wet, heart-shaped, black nose. Shiloh was long and white with light brown patches. I always refer to him as being a Weiner dog more than a Beagle, or a Chihuahua. Shiloh returned to his blanket in the living-room and continued to relax in the soft material. I return my attention back to the kitchen. Behind the gray marble countertops was a black backsplash. The walls were painted a bright, yet dull, red. Though the paint chips on the wall made it possible to inquire they need to be repainted.

It is silent right now, except for the central air conditioning humming throughout the house.  I take a quick glance out the window behind the sink and take notice it was quite foggy. I see the cool cloud slither across the leaves on the ground. I peer towards the sidewalk and street and notice the dark dirty puddles. I pull away from the window and look around the kitchen. I can hear a car slowly drive past my house and the water being splashed and thrown around as the car drove through them.

I jump slightly as a  knock at the door echoed throughout the house. I wonder who that could be. I walk over to the front door and peek through the small hole. It’s Liam.

"Hey, come in,” I say opening the door and let Liam slip in.

"Hey," he says, giving me a small hug and smile. He smells like a cinnamon.

“Your mom made cinnamon rolls again?”

“Yeah,” Liam says bringing his shoulders to his neck. He rubs his arms uncomfortably. “She has not been able to sleep since … dad left.”

“Right,” I say shifting uncomfortably. “So, what’s up?”

"Oh, you know I was in the neighborhood,” he said quoting my favorite movie, Spider-man.  I chuckle lightly at him and gently shove him, pressing my hands against his black shirt that grasps tightly on his firm body.  He laughs at his own childishness and says, "Nah, I was just coming over to check on you. I've been missing you." He leans his shoulders against the wall and crosses his arms, attempting to look cool. Yet, he did it without even trying. I have always wished I could be as relaxed as him.

"You just saw me yesterday. Plus, I should be the one checking on you" I reply, laughing.

"Yeah, I know ... ” he replies, removing eye contact with me as his cheeks flush a deep red.

"Oh my goodness, Liam, are you blushing?” I exclaim laughing at him.

"No ... ” he says shyly.

"Awe, come here. That is so sweet," I say as I embrace him in a gentle hug.  "Hey, do you want anything to eat, mom made pancakes?"

       "Actually, my mom wants to know if you can come over tomorrow for a picnic at Fountain Park?"

     "Sunday,” let’s see, nothing, just church in the morning, “yeah sure. I can make it," I say smiling.

"Great, well anyway I have to go get my chores done, or my mom is going to freak out on me," he says with a stressful look on his face.

"Okay, well I'll see you later," I say casually walking him to the door.

"Yeah, I'll see you later."  He says giving me a hug and a quick peck on the cheek. It feels warm against my soft, cold skin. The kiss lingers as he pulls away.

"Bye," I say as I call out to Liam as he closes the door behind him. I press my hand against the cheek he kissed and inhale and exhale a deep sigh. I lean back against the door feeling nothing but butterflies swarming in my stomach. No, I am not allowed to have feelings for him. He would never go for me, we are just best friends and I am SO not his type.

I shake off the feeling and make my way back into the kitchen. I walk over to the cupboard and grab a plate. Without any warning, I couldn’t move and something, some presence, took control of my body. My breath is stuck in my throat, choking me. I am gasping for air. I begin to struggle as the grip around my neck is firm and solid. I suddenly hear voices creeping towards me, getting louder and louder. These voices start out as faint whispers, then they become blaring screams. I can only make out some of the words that they were speaking.

"Help us…” a young boy’s voice cries, that trails off and disappears into the distance.

"He’s coming for you", another voice spoke. Only this time it is a woman’s voice. It too trails off.

The apparition yanks the plate out of my hand, sending it flying through the air and smashing against the wall with a clash. My chest burns like fire in hell. I collapse to my knees where bruises suddenly form and scream.

I fling my hands up to my ears and try to block out the screeching of the voices. No matter how hard I try, I couldn't. I receive the flashing images of my dream again. A knife, blood, and the low groan of an unfamiliar man’s voice. Soon, everything around me was black and I’m unconscious.

                                                                         ****

I open my eyes and see white everywhere, white walls, white doors, and a white floor.  I can hear the steady beeping of the monitor beside me. I try to move but can’t.  It aches to move.  My head is pounding like my brain is screaming in agony.  I feel a hand interlocked with mine, and squeeze it lightly.

The person beside me jolts up with sudden energy chanting my name.

“Amanda, Amanda!”

I recognize the voice as soon as my name left his mouth. I know it apart from anyone else’s.  It is Liam’s voice.

“Liam”, I mutter, trying to lift my head to get a better look at him.

“Amanda”, he says. I look up at him in his ocean blue eyes and smile briefly. He returns it.  “God, Amanda are you alright?” he asks. As I was about to reply, My mom comes rushing in. My mom is in her early forties. Her face is smooth with few wrinkles. Dark circles appear under her eyes, indicating she has not gotten much sleep. Sandra, my mother, has a slight smile and her dark brown eyes are glossy and red. Her tinted pink cheeks are tear-stained, as some still flow. Her long, curly, dark brown hair is in a ponytail with a few strands framing her face lightly.

"Amanda! You're awake, thank the Lord! Are you alright sweetie? How are you feeling?" I chuckle lightly at my mom.

I look at Liam and reply, “Yes I’m fine Liam, thank you.”  He smiles brightly at me and kisses the tips of my fingers. I look at my mother and tell her the same. My mom comes over to my side and holds my other hand to her chest and she sobs quietly.

“Amanda, what happened?”, my mother asks interrogating me. Before I could answer the doctor walks into the room.

“Amanda, I see you’re awake”, he says.

I respond, “Yes.”

"How are you feeling?” he asks cautiously.

"A little woozy, but I'm okay."

"Good, well your vitals seem okay, but you do have a minor concussion and we want to keep you overnight for observation, but we can remove your IV if you would like?”.

I reply, "Okay, thank you so much Dr.” He nods and leaves the room.  While he was leaving, I could hear the chattering throughout the halls about MRI's and CT scans.  The nurse comes in and I read the name "Rose", which is pinned to the nurse’s floral shirt.

I smile and say, "Hello, I'm Amanda."

Rose looks up surprised and smiles back kindly and replies, "I'm Rose." I must have caught her off guard. Rose begins to move over to the side of my hospital bed. "Okay, so what I'm going to do is remove the IV from your arm and then you will be able to leave. It will feel a little cold when I remove the needle.”

I nod, "Okay." Rose begins by turning off the monitor and removing the needle from my arm.  I can feel the cold cannula slowly sliding out of my skin. The chill gave me goosebumps.  While Rose is doing this process I glance at my mom.  My mother is looking at Liam smiling sweetly with a small glint of happiness in her eyes. Confused, I take a small glance at Liam and realize he is smiling down at me. He has an ardent look in his eyes. As I begin to connect the dots slowly, I laugh at myself.

"What?” Liam asks in curiosity.

"Nothing", I reply with a smirk on my face, as I return my attention back to Rose. Maybe it is a possibility, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. Rose puts a cotton ball over the place where the needle was inserted, and a piece of medical tape over it, which pulls at the ends of my skin, sort of like a long lasting pinch.

"Okay, we're all done here," Rose states as she sways back on her feet, and rubs her hands together. "Just drink plenty of fluids and I am going to go notify the police station to let them know you are awake, they have a few questions about what happened."

“Yeah that’s okay”, I say trying to hide the uneasiness in my voice. Rose nods making her way out to the crowded halls.

My body is still aching but I still try to move.  I get up from the bed, grasping the bars on the side.  I notice the small cabinets across the room which look like they hold some medicine containers. I also notice the otoscope the doctors use to look in patience's ears. I look at the wall and see a small purple box that contains the rubber latex gloves. I smile at the memory that comes with those gloves. When I was younger, I used to blow the medical gloves up and make them into people or turkeys with the help of a sharpie marker or pen.

“Hey, Mom,” I say as I look towards my mother.

“Yes, honey?”, her eyes averting to my direction.

“Do you remember the times we used to make turkeys out of those gloves?”

“Yeah, I do. In fact, I am pretty sure when Liam got bored he made one,” she says laughing and pointing towards Liam.

I turn towards Liam, “Did you really make one?” I ask laughing.

“Maybe … “ he replies, pulling the rubber glove turkey from behind his chair. The turkeys’ facial features and feathers were drawn on with a black sharpie.

“Oh my,” I say as I bring my hand over my mouth, trying to hold in my laugh. “That is so cute.” I let a small giggle slip from my lips.

Liam laughs. “Uh huh, shut up”, he says trying to hold back his smile.

I return my hands back to my sides and continue to observe the room. I look at the small round table beside me and find a single white rose. I smile to myself as I make out the tiny note beside it, which has a signature with an "L". Liam is putting his ‘turkey’ back on his chair when I pick up the rose and smell its sweet scent.

There is also another card. Which I lean over to pick up. I read the card and realize it is a get well card, which is signed by my mom. I place the card back down on the table and smile once again.  As I go to take a step towards the bathroom, I trip on my own two left feet. I start to wobble and shake. I fall. As I am preparing for the pain to hit me hard, two strong arms catch me around the waist and gently pull me back up. I look up and see Liam holding me protectively around the waist.

“Thank you, again,” I say to Liam. He laughs.

“No problem”, he says giving me a quick wink. My cheeks blush a bright pink. My mom rushes over to help Liam support.

“Geez Amanda you are such a clutz,” my mom says to me laughing.

I laugh, “ I know, I can't help it. I'm accident prone.” They laugh, shaking their heads in agreement. The help me to the bathroom. I close the door and I go to stand in front of the mirror. I take a few deep breaths feeling my diaphragm expand. My hair is all over the place and looks like a birds nest. I take my hands and run them through my hair trying to smooth it out.

What am I supposed to tell the cops? A ghost attacked me?! I comb through my hair again, this time, out of stress. That doesn't even sound right, a ghost. Honestly, I don’t even know what it was. I try to recall the different possibilities of what happened to be. What would be believable? Break-in? No. Nobody would have seen anybody entering. I groan in frustration.

I hear a knock on the door, and I knew it was the moment of truth. With a sigh, figuring there is no way I can wait any longer. That there was no way I can avoid the situation. I open the door and I see mom and she gives me a knowing smile.

“Honey,” she says, “The police are in the waiting room, they want to ask you a few questions.” I nod, swallowing the air and saliva running down my throat. With my vision slightly blurry, I squeeze my eyes shut as tight as possible and open them and my vision starts to clear. Even in this terrifying moment, I manage to think of what Liam’s smart comment would be. I can imagine him singing the lyrics by Johnny Nash, “I can see clearly now the rain is gone.” I smirk to myself as my heart skips a beat.

We step out into the hallway. The nurses and doctors buzz around us heading to their next patient. I can hear the news channel buzzing in the room across from us. The light of the TV flickers off the curtain in the room. We turn left and make our way to the waiting room and it feels like I am walking to my death, and it seems to last forever. The fluorescent lights seem to resemble ones in a horror movie, flickering away. They seem to get dimmer the farther we go down the hall. I can feel my breath getting caught in my throat again. My hands soaked with sweat even though I am freezing. We finally get to the waiting room and I see two men in blue uniforms. This is the moment of truth or the possibility of lies. Eh, maybe even a little of both.

“Hello you must be Amanda,  I am Officer Black and this is Officer Gomez.” He motions to the Latino officer beside him. “ Is it alright if we talk about what happened?” He said with a gentle voice as he places a single hand on my left shoulder. His skin is pale white, and he has icy blue eyes that compliment his dark brown hair. Officer Gomez reaches into his back pocket and pulls out a miniature memo pad.  I nod my head ever so slightly as I rub my hands down the back of my hospital gown.

“S-sure, but I don’t know how much I can remember, it is still a little fuzzy. I may be of no help.”

“That's okay, maybe we can help you with all the little details. My partner and I have already visited your home. We took notice that you must have been in some kind of attack, is that true?” He takes a step back and waits for my response.

“Yes.” Officer Gomez scribbles my answer down on his notepad.

“Okay,” Officer Black proceeds, “Is there any details you can tell us about the attack?” I attempt to take a solid breath, but it comes out shaky anyway.

“Um, not really. All I can tell you is I was knocked unconscious.” Hopefully, they believe that because if you are unconscious you can’t really know what’s happening around you, right?

“I see, did you see who knocked you unconscious? I assure you that any details you can remember will help.”

“No, I did not see them.” At least that part is true.

“Okay. So Amanda, how can you explain the plate that ended up across the room? We have evidence of the plate fragments on the wall.”

“Oh, right. Well you see, I tripped over my pup Shiloh and the plate flew out of my hand and hit the wall, hence the plate fragments on the wall. Also, that is how I got the bruises on my knees as well.”

“I see.” Officer Gomez writes profusely in his notebook and the two officers share a knowing look. “Well thank you, Amanda, that seems to be all that we need right now. We will contact you if we have any further questions.”

I sigh in relief as the tension leaves my body. “Great! Thank you so much!” I shake Officer Black and Officer Gomez’s hands and we exchange small smiles. I watch them leave as they talk to each other in low voices. They take a glance back and I quickly turn towards my mother. I hope they didn’t see me. My mom, Sandra, is waiting in the chair in the corner of the waiting room reading a TIME magazine. I take a brief glance at the clock. It’s 5:30 at night and I am already getting tired. My stomach grumbles like a pack of dogs and I place my hand on it like I am trying to hold them back.

“Hey Mom, I am going to head back to my room, can you see if one of the nurses or if someone can bring me food? I am super hungry. Oh, and by the way, where is Liam?”

“Sure hun, I’ll meet you back in your room. Oh, Liam when back to his house to grab some clothes and his school work. He insisted that he stays with you” She says getting up and placing the magazine on the side table next to her. My cheeks turn a bright red knowing that Liam wanted to stay with me overnight. Sandra puts on a loose grey jacket and heads over to the reception area. I rub my arms as the draft passes over me. I start to walk down the hall and before I know it I am already in my room. I climb into my bed and turn on the flat screen in the corner of the room.

Yay! Friends is on! I turn the channel to Friends and watch the final episode. This is the episode Monica and Chandler find out they are not just getting to adopt one baby, but two, and they’re twins. Before I was even aware of it, the dark engulfs me and I fall into a deep sleep.

 

*****

I wake up the next morning to someone kissing the top of my head. I blink a few times and see those ocean blue eyes that I love.

“Hey, Liam.”

“Hey Amanda,” he says putting his arms on the rail of my bed and resting his head on it.

“What time is it?”

“10 in the morning. The doctor came in earlier and said you can leave when you are ready.” I stretched my arms over my head and yawned. My mom comes in a few seconds later.

"Okay sweetie, you ready to go back home?” My mom asks.

"Actually mom, can I just hang out with Liam at the park for a little while?"  My mother sighs and looks at my strictly.

"Amanda, you were just in the hospital. I don’t think that’s a good idea. Why don’t you come home for a couple of days then you can start going out again.”

"Okay, I guess I can do that", I say with a little too much gloom in my voice.  My mother nods with a small smile on her face, but with concern in her eyes.

"Okay let’s go home, baby girl”, she says sternly with a hint of gentleness.

“Miss. Gordon”, Liam intervenes, “Is it okay if I tag along?”

“Sure Liam”, Sandra says sweetly, smiling.

Liam quickly takes out his phone and texts his mom that I am okay and that he is riding with us back to our place. My mom signs the release forms and I can feel that my head is fiercely pounding with a migraine very rare to my experience. We make our way out to the concrete parking garage. As we exit the sliding doors, a chill runs up my spine as a soft wind pushes against my skin. My shoulders fly to my neck pressing hard, trying to preserve any body heat remaining. We climb into my mom’s 2007 black Trailblazer. Liam and I sit together in the backseat. Liam is seated by the window, on the driver’s side of the car. I am in the middle, sitting beside him. When I sit down, I can feel the small lump in the seat where the cushion is raised. The fabric is soft and smooth to touch. It is comfortable too, but, it isn’t great for long 2-3 hour trips. The car ride from the hospital back to my house takes about 10-15 minutes. Once everyone is buckled up, Liam drapes his arm around my shoulders; pulling me close to his body. I can still feel a migraine pulsating throughout my skull and I massage my temple hoping it would go away.

“Hey Amanda, do you want the radio on sweetie?” my mom asks sweetly.

“Sure Mom, thanks” I reply smiling towards my mother's reflection in the rearview mirror.

Soon, some soft pop music comes on and fills the car with soft rhythms. Sandra pulls out of the Van Wert County Hospital and starts the drive to our home.

“How are you holding up, love?” Liam asks me softly with a concerned look on his face.

“Better”, I say smiling up at him. He brushes his hair to the side and I couldn't help noticing the piercing veins in his forearm. I lick my lips uncomfortably

“Good,” he says giving me a light squeeze and a kiss on the cheek. My cheeks flush a bright pink, for the second time. Really, again? I bury my head in the side of his shoulder.

“So, guess what?” he asks cheekily, his smile stretching ear to ear.

“What?”, I ask, my voice muffled from the fabric of his shirt.

“You’re cute”, he says with a cheeky look; his eyes brightening up.

“You’re a dork”, I say looking at him with a straight face then bursting into a laughter. I peer at him jokingly. “It’s a good thing you’re cute too”, I say giving him a nudge with my shoulder and laughing. He laughs with me while shaking his head slightly.

“Yeah, I know”, Liam says giving me a quick wink. I giggle at his adorability.

“You know,” Liam begins to say seriously, “I am really proud of you. You have a great future ahead of you”. I look up at Liam and Liam looks back into my eyes and leans in and places a soft kiss on my forehead. I smile and press my head against his shoulder. Right now all I felt was relieved and just protected, as long as Liam is by my side, I’m safe. I close my eyes and Liam took my hand in his and begins to draw small circles in the palm of my hand with his thumb. I never wanted this to end.   

“Can you two just date already and by the way we are home”, mom calls out from the front, turning off the engine. Liam laughs at my mom's remark and glances down to see my expression, but notices that I am ‘asleep’. I really just don’t want to get up, I just want to stay here with Liam forever. Liam gets out on his side and slides his arms under my legs and arms and helps carry me inside. My head is resting on his chest listening to the steady beat of his heart. My hand placed gently against his chest, relaxing on the soft blue fabric of his shirt.

“You can lay her on the couch, Liam”, mom says, motioning towards the living room.

“It’s alright, I’ll carry her upstairs to her room”. He hesitates for a moment. “ If that is okay with you anyway … “

“Yes, that's fine Liam”.  Liam starts his strides up the stairs. As Liam carries me up the stairs to my room, I can feel him always stealing glances at me. He knows I am insecure but never knew why. I nuzzle my head deeper into his chest, attempting to hide my face even more. Liam lays me on my bed and pulls the covers over my fragile body.

“Thank you” I whisper.

“For what,” he asks sounding a little puzzled. I sit up and pull him into a hug, and wrap my arms around his neck.

“For everything” I whisper smiling into his neck.  

“No problem beautiful”, he whispers into my hair.  We pull away and Liam kisses my forehead. “Goodnight, Amanda”. Liam gets up and walks downstairs leaving me alone in my room with only my thoughts.

I fall into a deep slumber where my memory and sight is swallowed by the dark, where I am now unconscious and have the possibility to be attacked by my nightmare again.  The next morning, I wake with a fright; still finding to have the recurring nightmare. It seems so real, so unnatural, and so fragile. Why do I keep having these dreams? Why do I keep hearing these … these voices! Why are they here?! Maybe they are not dreams.

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