Sitting on the tattered seat in the family’s den, I hesitantly downed the volume on the TV. The plaited window shutters were ajar to my front, my back exposed to the bare bay window behind me. Shadows of crooked branches clawing the sky crept across the pumpkin pine floorboards. But it was the clunk from the basement and that dang buzzing that drove me batty. I wondered if Frederick Heating would come take a peek at the furnace.
The ancient stairs to the upper floor creaked and groaned; the whooshing wind shook the foundation. I sighed and pressed the off button on the remote control; George’s Banana Stand commercial vanished from the screen. I knew I’d disappointed three-year-old Sabrina. She’d wanted me to read another story from the book I’d brought, but the latest episode of Vampire Diaries had started. Was it too much for a love-starved junior in high school to want to escape into such a scrumptious show?
Practically punching my clenched fists into the cushions, I stood and made my way toward the skinny staircase to check on her. Having a conscience sucked worse than thinking about the dress Mom bought for me to wear to the Homecoming dance. Okay, maybe not that bad but pretty close.
As I ducked under the archway, the buzzing got louder. I detoured down a narrow hallway, dark and dingy with floor-to-ceiling shelves on both sides. Rustic family photos lined the walls. The dank corridor slowly swallowed me, the darkness consumed my sight. Then, I saw a line of light pulsate a few feet ahead of me. Palming the air, I felt a door and opened it to find a well-lit bathroom. The wallpaper was from a time gone by and so were all the fixtures. Seriously, I was sure these were the first fixtures ever made. The sound faded and then stopped.
A tad miffed and now with no intention of checking on Sabrina, I left the door wide to light my way and rushed for the den; my vampire fix needed a feeding. Air burst past me, as the door slammed shut. All went black. I froze; my feet rumpled the frayed area rug. Spider-like prickles needled my spine, the tiny hairs on my limbs in salute. Crouching, I inched toward the door just like the stupid blonde in some B horror flick as the chainsaw splattered raw. I was drawn, a force tugged me.
My fingertips brushed the dirty doorknob. I yanked them to my chest, as the door moaned open and the thin corridor flooded with light. Every inch of the nasty wallpaper was crawling with bugs. I cringed and clamped my hands over my ears. The jumbled hisses pierced the air. Blinking my drying eyes, I stumbled backward. The heel of my shoe wedged between floorboards.
“Where are you going?” The raspy voice asked, and slithered up one side of me and down the other. The bugs hovered in one speckling clump and took shape.
A shallow breath was all I could manage. “Sabrina?”
“We said we wanted another story.” Her body was one, but her voice was many.
I had no intention of answering or of staying here, let alone reading any story. She broke apart into a minion of bugs, as I bolted to the den, the books and creepy photos mere blurs now. Shadows clipped at my heels.
As I rounded the corner, the TV clicked on. Stefan from Vampire Diaries gaped at me from the fuzzy screen, my book from Children’s Book Seller shown tattered in his palm. A breeze fluttered my hair, as he rumpled the pages. My gut panged.
“It’s about time you join us for dinner and that story,” said Stefan.
“We couldn’t agree more.” The buzzing hive that was once Sabrina encapsulated me.
I screeched and wriggled but the grip was too much. The hive dragged me into the TV screen, into Stefan’s waiting arms.
“Come now.” His eyes rolled back as he captured my scent. “Let me read you a story.”
© 2009 Sheri A. Larsen All Rights Reserved.