“What’re you doing after school, Ellie?” Sarah asked, catching up to me in the hallway. We were on our way to science class, the last class before we finally get to go home. I hated school, naturally. I was tired, and just wanted to be home.
“”Oh, uh, probably nothing,” I muttered, silently cursing myself. I loved Sarah to death, but just wanted to be alone for the rest of the day.
She put a little skip in her step, chanting, “Why not?”
“Come on, we’re going to be late.”
When the bus pulled up to my house, my dog wasn’t out on the porch like every other day. I didn’t think much of it, and got off the bus nonetheless, striding up to my front door. My hand wrapped around the door handle, but it didn’t budge. Locked. I gave a quick pound on the old wood.
“Ellie?” my mother called from behind the door. “Is that you?”
“Yeah, open up.”
A loud click came from inside, indicating the unlock of the door. The doorknob twisted and the door creaked open. My arm was suddenly grasped and my body was yanked into my home.
“Woah, what’s going on?” I heaved, whirling around with wide eyes.
“Sit down, Elle,” she gently demanded, closing the door behind me, taking an unfamiliar key and locking it.
I rigidly sat down on the couch, feeling my body tense, even after coming in contact with the cushion that is meant to comfort me. My mom’s frantic motions caught my eye.
“Mom,” I started, “what’s going on?”
“Ellie, just give me a moment,” she snapped back, running her fingers through her thinning hair. “Okay, I don’t know how to say this.”
Her wild eyes darted around the room. A shiver shot down my spine, dread filling my thoughts. I went to place my hand over hers but she hastily retracted her arm.
“Your dad’s been released.”
A few nights after I found out, I had been staring at the ceiling for over two hours, barely blinking, let alone falling asleep. But the exhaustion creeping behind my eyes forced my eyelids shut and I was forced into a slumber.
“Wake up, Elizabeth,” his voice rang out, making my blood run cold.
“Dad, w-wha-what are you d-doing here?” I heard myself stutter. My voice had never been so shaky. But, he wasn’t even there anymore. No, he was back in the asylum; and so was I.
I could smell the antiseptic scent, like I was admitted to a hospital. It physically hurt my brain. I always had nightmares about being here when I was younger. All that had done was scarred me.
“Hi sweetheart, welcome to Satin Gardens Mental Asylum. Why don’t you hand me your ID number and we can direct you back to your confinement,” a lady shrilled, seemingly coming out nowhere. Why isn’t she facing me? Her thinning black hair faced me, as well as her thin and bony figure.
Slowly, her head turned around to face me. The rest of her body continue to face forward.
I launched up out of my comforter. I was dripping in sweat. Tears streamed down my face, the saltiness staining my lips.
I guess my subconscious was more scared than I knew.
Instinctively, I reached for my phone resting on the bedside table. I unlocked it, and went to text Sarah.
‘get here ASAP. terrible nightmare, don’t wanna be alone rn’
I rolled over, phone in hand and pressed my face to my pillow.
“Ellie,” a soft voice whispered from the darkness. My eyes shot back open. A thin silhouette came into my view, framed by the vague moonlight shining through the window. Goosebumps tickled my skin as I propped myself up on to my elbow.
“Your father is here.”
I suddenly recognized it as my mom’s voice. I didn’t even focus on the words coming out her mouth, just that she was invisible in the pitch black of my room.
“Are you listening to me? Your father is here. He’s trying to break in!” her voice came out as a more harsh whisper. The thought finally settled into my mind.
I felt her cold hand wrap around my forearm, yanking me up from my bed and causing me to tumble to the hardwood floor. My bare knees thudded into the floor, pain erupting up from there. I tried to scramble to my feet, but my mom was pulling me even harder now. I felt my phone release from my hand, and heard it crash to the floor.
“Mom, my phone!” I tried to yelp, but her hand came crashing down over my lips.
“You don’t need it, Ellie!”
Now, I could feel her breath on my neck, causing my hair to rise. I couldn’t comprehend what to do next, cowardly just kneeling in my place. One last tug on my arm and my head bashed into the door frame. I shot to my feet and tugged my arm free of her grip.
“To the basement. You’ll be safe there. Just go,” she coaxed
I stumbled down the stairs. Then the second flight. I ran until I could feel the cold cement under my feet. The basement door slammed shut behind me. I exhaled, watching as my visible breath traveled into the empty air. I shivered, this time not out of fear but out of the sudden drop of temperature.
The dim light bulb flickered from above, dangling on a short chain. I reached up and tapped it gently with my fingernail, hoping to rid of the flicker. Nothing happened. I tapped it a little harder.
The room engulfed in darkness.
I was stuck in the pitch black of my cellar. I started to hear my own heartbeat. It was deafening. My breathing caught in my throat.
Think Ellie, think!
The door to the basement slowly creaked open. A sudden thud slowly came down the stairs. One..at..a..time.
The voice got closer. I tried to scream, or run, or anything. But I was frozen. My breathing increased, my heartbeat nearly blowing out my eardrums.
I bolted, unaware of what direction I was headed. My foot slammed into the first stair and I plummeted forward. My arms flailed out, streaking down a body. My hands smeared in thick, warm liquid. I scrambled back, gripping to the wall and letting out a blood-curdling scream.
A hand came down harshly over my mouth. Something hit the floor at the same time. My legs crumbled beneath me, forcing me to the concrete, scraping at my knees.
I made eye contact with them.
My mom and Sarah were lying across the basement floor, laying in a pool of their own blood. I screamed again.
A large hand wrapped around my shoulders. Lips were pressed closely to my ear and a warm breath fanned on to my skin.
“Shh Elizabeth. We can be together forever now. No one is taking me away from you again.”