By April Wahlin
Edited by Travis Noble
When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Simone stared out the kitchen window. The neon hotel sign in her backyard reminded her of the haunting encounter with the shadowy man. Darkness. It wasn’t every day one had an intruder in their house, but it had been a few days since the incident. She should have gotten over it by now, right?
Yet, she had nothing else to occupy her mind. Her parents argued too much to pay her any attention. Even when she tried to tell them about the strange intruder, they ignored her. They probably thought she was crazy. Simone couldn’t blame them, she wasn’t entirely sure she had seen the shadowy man.
Simone tried to call one of her friends, just to have someone to talk to, but there was no answer. All of her school friends had stopped calling. Of course, it was summer break, naturally some of them would be away on family vacations, but why did they all have to go at once?
This had to be the worst summer of her life.
The sky darkened and shadows crawled along the backyard fence. The only positive about the end of such a boring day was night time programming and the hope of a better day tomorrow.
With a sigh, she grabbed her snacks, and headed to her room. Her parents were out for the night. Again. For how much they fought they sure went out enough. She wished they would take her with them every now and again. Even if she did have to listen to her mother’s wailing—the woman cried at the drop of a hat. Someone on TV once called it ‘the change.’ Her mother had changed all right, but as far as she could figure, it just meant lots of tears and complaining about the weather.
Nearing her room, she heard the steps to the second floor creak loudly. She turned in time to catch the flash of a dark foot hurrying up the stairs.
Her heart raced. Had she really seen something? Or had she been thinking about the shadowy man so much that she was seeing things again?
Then came another loud creak from the second floor. Suddenly she felt as though something were calling her. Not in words. It was a feeling, a lost sort of feeling.
Nervously, she crept up the stairs. For a moment she thought about bringing her foam bat, but that hadn’t done much good last time. She would just have to rely on her feet and run at the first sign of trouble.
The second floor was entirely empty, it felt as if no one had been there in a long time. Across the hall, the attic door creaked, summoning her attention. It stood open a crack. Strange. That door was never open. In fact, she was pretty sure her parents kept it locked.
Simone opened the door and looked up the thin stair leading into the attic. There came that lost feeling again. Slowly she ascended. Simone had never been in the attic before. Even as a kid it had always been locked up and forbidden.
Cresting the top stair, she couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. There were nothing but cobwebs, a few pieces of old furniture, and there was a small window facing the backyard.
Why lock a door if there was nothing up there?
The ceiling was low and sloped up at the center of the great room. She walked to the little window and looked out. There, perfectly illuminated, stood the motel sign. She was about to turn when she noticed movement beneath the neon letters. There was something beneath it, multiple somethings in fact. Were they people or shadows? It was hard to tell in the dim light.
Simone jumped in shock and turned, narrowly avoiding a bump to the head on the low ceiling. Across the room she saw a large wardrobe. Something had bumped it- Something had moved it. She took a deep breath and cautiously approached. Had a raccoon gotten into the attic somehow? Once more, Simone felt swamped with the lost feeling. It was stronger than ever now. She was nearly to the wardrobe-
“What brings you up here?” his voice called from behind her.
Immediately she turned and there he stood, casually leaning against the small attic window like he had been there the whole time. He could almost be mistaken for a shadow cast in the moonlight.
“Darkness—” she replied in shock.
“Darkness?” He smirked. “’Suppose I’ve been called worse.”
A hundred questions flew through her mind. Where had he come from? Why was he in her attic?
Just then, the wardrobe shifted again.
There was definitely something hiding behind it.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Darkness called, commanding her attention.
“What brings you up here?”
“I thought I heard something,” she replied. Why was she explaining herself to him? He was the one in her house. “Wait, who are you? What are you doing up here?” she asked when—
“I wouldn’t,” Darkness called as she turned to the furniture behind her. She could now see what had been making the noise.
Standing with its back against the large old dresser was a tall thin figure wholly unlike Darkness. This man, if you could call it that, was old, with thin scraggly hair and a tragic expression etched upon its semi-translucent face. The sad creature was a ghastly muted green-blue color normally reserved for toads. The creature stared deep into her eyes, as though trying to read her very thoughts.
She gasped in terror and chills ran down her spine. Before she could stop herself, the word burst from her mouth.
Ready for the next part? Click here for the third part of The Friend That Wasn’t There series: The Friend in the Yard.