A desperate, maddening fear scratched at the chalkboard of my mind as I stared at the woman and plunged my knife into her stomach. She let out a painful moan and clutched at my wrist. I wanted to pull away, to let go of the knife, but I couldn’t. Instead I just stood there, dumbly.
The woman slowly looked down at her wound and then back up into my eyes. As she did, she pulled my hand toward her and pushed the knife deeper into her stomach. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t take my eyes from hers. I’d watched the life go out of them earlier that evening. Seeing her again should have been impossible. It was impossible; and yet, there she was – right in front of me.
The woman smiled fiendishly as blood began to run down her mouth. That, finally, was enough to break the spell. I tore my knife out of her and stepped back. As I did, I slipped and fell onto her beige carpet – only it wasn’t beige anymore; it was brown and matted with filth. The walls had changed, too, and were a sickly, streaked yellow stained with old blood.
My heart began to pound hard enough that I thought I would die. Where was I? I had no idea, but wherever it was wasn’t good.
The woman took a slow, menacing step forward. “What did you do to me?” she asked, her voice garbled because of the blood in her mouth.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t even contemplate getting back to my feet. My entire body trembled as my strength completely abandoned me. I needed to run. I needed to get away. Standing was impossible, though. Instead, I desperately tried to pull myself backwards. As I did, the woman sneered at me and took another step forward. “Going somewhere?”
A scream tried to escape my lungs but died in my throat. I was too afraid – too terrified to make a sound.
The woman bared her teeth and leaned down to look me in the eyes. I didn’t want to look at her. I didn’t want to see her gray eyes, but I couldn’t look away. Try as I might, I couldn’t. “Please,” I whispered.
She cocked her head curiously to the side. “You stabbed me and now you’re begging for mercy?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but not even air would come out. The woman stared at me for a moment and then began to laugh. It was soft at first, almost quiet, and then it exploded. Blood shot from her mouth and splattered across my face as her laugh grew loud and psychotic. “You don’t get to ask for mercy,” she hissed between fits of laughter.
I wanted to wipe the blood from my face, but I was frozen. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. As her laughter began to die down, the wicked glint in her eyes told me she knew it, too.
She reached for me with a cold, dry hand and grabbed my throat. The suddenness of her touch sent pure terror through my soul. I needed to get away but, before I could even consider trying to move, the woman tightened her grip and completely cut my airway off. After another second, I could feel my blood flow begin to slow, too. I had to do something. If I didn’t, I would die. Her hold was so strong, though, and her breath so rancid that I couldn’t think.
So I didn’t. Instead, I gripped my knife tightly and jammed it into her throat. The woman’s wicked smile morphed into a silent scream as she let me go and wheeled back. Finally free, I began to choke and sputter as I took short, shallow breaths. Even so, I didn’t take my eyes off of the woman as she vainly clawed at the knife in her throat.
With her distracted, I tried to force myself to my feet. I made it partway up, but fell backwards. My legs felt like jelly. Live or die, there was no possible way I could run.
I looked back up at the woman as she dropped to her knees. She glared at me with nothing but hatred in her eyes. Then, slowly, she began to slide the knife from her throat.
I did the only thing I could: I turned around and slowly drug myself away. The light, I noticed, had all but vanished, leaving only her floor of filth barely visible. I couldn’t see any of the walls – those were all completely cloaked in darkness. Even so, I crawled for where I thought the front door was. I had to escape. I couldn’t spend another second in the woman’s twisted nightmare of an apartment.
A strange feeling of resolve and determination washed over me. I was glad I had stabbed her. I’d felt horrible about it before, but the specter that wanted me dead was another story. I would have done anything to get as far away from it as I could. With a knife in her throat, I didn’t think she was going to be able to come after me.
“You little shit,” the woman’s voice screamed. It was deeper than before. My heart seemed to beat even harder, but my blood stayed still, frozen. I tried to scramble away, but it was no use; I could hardly move. How she was talking, I didn’t know. It shouldn’t have been possible. She was dead. I’d killed her. Twice. What was going on?
Cold fingers wrapped around my ankle and yanked me backwards. I tried to fight, but my legs wouldn’t listen to me – they wouldn’t kick at her hand. My arms, too, failed me as I tried to hold onto the carpet. I wasn’t strong enough. No, that wasn’t it; strength had nothing to do with it. The light had completely vanished. There was no more carpet for me to hold on to. There was nothing but darkness.
“You killed me,” the woman continued as she spun me around. Somehow, even without the light, I could see her. She’d changed from her pink tank top and jeans into a white, bloodstained nightgown. Her skin was even more pale and sick-looking than before, contrasted only by the black mascara that ran down her face. Most terrifying of all, her eyes themselves seemed to be lit from within.
When I met her gaze, I knew I was trapped. No matter what happened, there was no way I could look away. She grit her bloodstained teeth and wrinkled her brow into the most hate filled expression I had ever seen. “You stabbed me. What have you done?”
She didn’t wait for my response. Instead, she let out an otherworldly scream and pounced on me. My arms wouldn’t cooperate. It was a matter of life or death, I knew. If I wanted to live, I had to push her off, but I couldn’t.
The thought of dying made me cry as I began to tremble even harder. It was my fault. I was the one who had killed the woman. I hadn’t known what would happen. I hadn’t. I had done it for God. Where was He? Why didn’t He help me?
“For the same reason He didn’t help me,” the woman hissed as she slapped me across the face.
I tried to move my arms to cover my head, but even that was too much. I was pinned to the ground, stuck.
She let out a feral, guttural growl. “Murderer.”
I shut my eyes so that I wouldn’t have to look at the bloody horror she’d become. “I’m sorry.”
She grabbed my hair and pulled my head up off of the ground. “You don’t get to be sorry.”
Before I could answer, she smashed my head back onto the ground. It sent a jarring pain throughout my entire body, which finally woke my arms up. As I moved to grab my head, the woman grunted and put both hands around my throat.
“You’re next. You’re coming to Hell with me,” she said. Even with my eyes closed, I could feel her foul breath as she lowered her face to only inches from mine.
Something wet dripped onto my mouth, most likely from hers. Blood. I was going to die. I was too weak to stop her. Too afraid.
Suddenly a burst of strength erupted in my chest. I couldn’t let her kill me – not without a fight. She had wanted to take me away from Saint Helens when she was alive, so I killed her. I couldn’t let her take me away just because she was dead.
I defiantly opened my eyes to face her, but she was gone. I was in bed. Alone. Tears welled up in my eyes as warm, thick bile shot up my throat. I couldn’t understand what had just happened, but I was about to be sick.
I tried to jump out of bed and cover my mouth, but my body refused to cooperate. I still couldn’t move.
Panic replaced my short-lived courage. What was going on? What was wrong with me?
Then, suddenly, I knew. Father Sebastian’s voice echo in my head. He’d told me I would be haunted forever because of what I’d done. Terror sized my heart. He’d meant it literally.
Before I could think about what that meant, a crushing weight settled onto my chest. I couldn’t see her, but she was there. The woman. She wasn’t done – she was going to kill me.
I tried to breathe, but I could only take a shallow sip of air. The pressure on my chest was too much. I couldn’t die. I just needed to move. Why wouldn’t my body move?
Slowly, I felt my throat begin to constrict. I needed to scream. If I couldn’t move, maybe someone else could help me.
I opened my mouth, but my throat only tightened more. Struggling was futile: I couldn’t breathe, let alone make a sound.
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