“Yes, Mom. I’m great.” Thunder booms outside.
“Ooooh. Sounds bad out there.”
“It’s just a thunderstorm, Mom. I’ll be fine.”
“Oh, I know you will. I’m so proud of you being out on your own. Your father says he wants to – ” My living room goes dark.
“Stupid storm,” I mumble as I look out the window. I glance at a clock. 9:34. I’m not tired. I pick up a flashlight, then walk carefully toward the stairs that lead to my attic. One step. Two. The third step I take causes the stairs to creak a little. A light flickers in the attic. I quicken my steps, being a little less careful. The last dark step into the attic, I fall. Unconscious.
“Oh, you’re awake,” someone says. I look around, instantly alert.
“Who said that? Who are you?” I ask, to no reply. I guess I imagined it. I gather myself and get to my feet. Pulling the string to the light reveals that the power is still out. I grab the flashlight and start towards the trapdoor.
“Leaving?” a voice asks from behind me. I turn around. Nothing.
“Who are you?” I scream. “Get out of my house!” I run to the trapdoor and try to yank it open, to no avail. “Why … won’t … you … OPEN?” I scream, and pull some more.
“You can’t leave me here alone.” The voice is from my right this time. I turn, and see a girl. She looks to be about 16. She’s smiling.
“Why are you in my house?” I scream. She mimics me. I grab at her, only to watch her vanish into the air. I scream again. The light blinks on, then off again. Stupid thunderstorm. “Where did you go?”
“I’m right here,” she says from the large bay window. The trapdoor flies open. “Leave if you want. I’ll let you live in my house.”
“Kid … this is not your house.”
“Oh, but it is, you see. It’s always been my house. I’ll let you live in it, but only if you’ll be my friend.”
“I’m calling the cops!” I scream, and panic toward the trapdoor. I scramble down the steps and run to my phone, pick it up and listen to nothing. I had forgotten about the storm. I shove on my coat and grab my keys, heading toward the door. I make a large show of opening the door, only to watch it slam shut and lock. The word ‘no’ sounds as a whisper in my ear. I run and sit under my dining table.
“What do you want?” I whisper, and a tear rolls down my face.
“Why, I just want you. Here,” the girl says, standing by the doorway. “Always.” She disappears, and then appears beside me. I panic and run out as fast as I can.
I’m in the kitchen before I realize she’s in front of me.
“You’re staying with me, Courtney.”