The Girl Who Cried Vampire - Chapter Two
SKYE MCCREA, DESPITE being just nine years old, had never been afraid of the dark. Most of her friends found fear in the dark places of the world and could not sleep at night without a light on and some sort of stuffed animal or doll.
But not Skye.
Skye had never been much afraid of anything. Even as young as she was, she just seemed to understand the futility of fear. Being afraid was a waste of time for Skye. On some baser level she understood that whatever would happen would happen, and so she slept like a baby and never worried about future problems; like trips to the doctor or dentist.
Tonight however, after she had said all of her prayers, after her parents had tucked her in, even after she’d given her father’s beard a rigorous scratch—something that had become somewhat of a nighttime routine in the McCrea house—something cold crept along her spine once the lights had been turned out and her mom and dad had gone to bed.
She tried to ignore the feeling at first, dismiss it, laugh it off and concentrate on sleep, but each time she closed her eyes the sensation intensified. So she lay there with her eyes open, listening to the sounds of the house at night, but something just wasn’t right. Then she recognized the feeling for what it was.
Something was in the room with her.
She got out of bed and turned on the light. Nothing was there. Just her bed, her dresser with her collection of piggy banks—she had five of them now—and her rocking chair where she read during the day. But that icy feeling remained deep inside her.
She thought about going into her parent’s room. She knew they’d be awake, she could still hear the television from their room at the other end of the hall. But in the end she just turned off the light and got back into bed.
She pulled the blankets up around her, turned on to her side with her back to the room, yawned, and burrowed herself deep into her expansive pillow. She had just closed her eyes when she heard it: a soft exhalation of breath from somewhere behind her, from somewhere within her room.
Her mom had often been known to come by in the night and check in on Skye one last time before officially turning in, and Skye might have dismissed the sound for her mother doing just that. But if that were the case, wouldn’t she have heard the door open? Wouldn’t the light from the hallway be spilling in and shining on her wall right now? Wouldn’t she see her mother’s shadow on that same wall?
She lay still for a minute or two and heard nothing more than the laugh track from whatever show her parents were watching. So once again she rolled out of bed and turned on the light. Once again nothing was there. She laughed and shook her head, feeling silly over the whole thing. She turned out the light and got back into bed.
The ice still played along her spine. She shivered and pulled more of the blankets up around her and closed her eyes, allowing herself to fall asleep at last.
The nightmare began almost at once.
She stood at one end of a damp hallway made from brick and stone. The light from torches bounced weakly from the walls, creating more shadows than light. Along the wall on either side were dark, wooden doors with small, iron barred windows set near the tops. Behind these doors she could hear rustling, groans, and weeping.
Something dark and unnatural waited at the other end of the long hallway. She couldn’t see it crouched there among the shadows, but she could hear it breathing, even over the cries of those imprisoned behind the wooden doors.
She turned and found an escape behind her. There at her end of the hall, just three steps away, was an open door with sunlight shining through. She took a step toward it, then another, and then another, only to find the doorway still three steps away. She tried again, walking and then running to the freedom the sunlight promised. But regardless of how fast she ran, how far, or how hard, the door consistently remained just three steps away.
She stopped, her heart racing, sweat pouring out of her, her breathing short and quick. She bent, resting her hands on her knees, her head hanging low. She watched her sweat fall to the stone floor and knew on some level that this place was not real. She knew that this was a nightmare, and yet there was nothing she could do to change anything.
The breathing behind her continued, louder than ever before. It seemed to be right on top of her. She spun, looking for the source and finding nothing. She continued to spin, the breathing was all around her, she turned and turned, faster and faster, until suddenly there was a face before her.
It was a man, pale and hairless, with yellow eyes like a snake. The man opened his mouth to reveal row upon row of jagged teeth, yellowed and razor sharp.
“Skye!” the man said, his voice like a rusty hinge.
She woke in her own bed with a start, her breathing heavy and labored. She sat up and looked around. The faint glow from the digital clock on the dresser told her she’d only been asleep for an hour. She could no longer hear the television from her parent’s room. She thought about getting out of bed and turning on the light, maybe going into the adjoining bathroom and getting a drink, but she dismissed the thought with a shake of her head.
As she snuggled back in under her blankets, once again lying on her side, her back to the room, she almost laughed at the silliness that was her fear over a dream.
But still . . .
She could still hear the breathing from her dream and she tried to shake it off. She’d never had a dream affect her like this, and she didn’t much care for it.
The breathing continued, and she realized that it wasn’t a remnant from her dream. The breathing she could hear was real and was coming from behind her.
Soft. Measured. Inhale and exhale. Calm and deliberate.
Someone, or some . . . thing, was in the room with her.
She wanted to turn around, wanted to scream, wanted to do just about anything other than cower there under her blankets with her back to the room. But that icy feeling that had started in her spine had quickly migrated throughout her entire body and she was unable to move. Her fear, something she’d thought she had no use for, had her rooted to the spot. The only parts of her that seemed to be capable of motion were her eyes, and she struggled to find a way to turn them enough to see what was behind her.
Then, somehow, the room became darker.
That’s when she did scream. At least she tried. Before any sound could escape her, something cold clamped down over her mouth, holding the shout in and forcing it back down her throat.