It was a thumping sound in the middle of the night that woke me up.
My eyes snapped open; I had only been dozing lightly anyway, and I tried to silence my pounding heart to try and determine what it was. At first I thought that I had only dreamt it, maybe I was still in that state where you’re not fully conscious but you’re not asleep either. Everything was pitch black, one of the setbacks from living in the middle of nowhere. There were no street lamps and the moon was too hidden to provide any form of light.
Another thumping sound had me sitting up straight in bed.
‘What’s that?’ my sister’s voice could be heard from the other side of the room.
‘I don’t know,’ I frowned. ‘Should we go check it out?’
‘It’s probably just a car passing by.’
‘Riley, it’s coming from the door…’ I was genuinely scared now. Our nearest neighbour was two miles away, around us stretched vast countryside hills, shrubbery that lined the narrow country road and the comforting sounds of crickets. I had loved living in such a remote part of the country, but now all it seemed to bring was fear.
‘Robby go back to sleep,’ she yawned and I could hear her shifting in her bed.
I shut my eyes and tried to sleep, but the fear still kept me awake.
A large crash from downstairs caused us both to jump.
‘Okay what the hell is that?’ Riley’s voice had gone a few octaves higher.
‘I told you,’ I hissed back. Before I really knew what I was doing, I had thrown the duvet off of me and made my way to the landing. I could hear Riley’s heavy breathing behind me, too close, blowing the hairs on the back of my neck. All at once, everything was silent. The crickets had stopped chirping at exactly the same time making the whole thing a hundred times creepier.
Footsteps came from the stairs a few metres away from me. Peering downwards into total darkness, I tried to move but couldn’t make my limbs work. Riley’s grip on my forearm tightened, her nails digging into my skin.
Someone was on the stairs. And they were coming closer.
I whirled round, trying to shove Riley away from me, but she wasn’t there anymore. Her grip hadn’t loosened and in her place was a rotting corpse, fat maggots wriggling in the place where her eyes had been moments before, flesh falling from her face in bloody chunks and marred teeth snapping towards my face.
Something grabbed me from behind and pulled me into the darkness.
I sat up suddenly, sweat pouring down my face. It took me moments to grow adjusted to my surroundings. The walls were made of material and there was a faint glow beyond that. A tent. I was in a tent. The whole scene from seconds before crumbled away from me as I realized it was just a dream.
Just a dream.
‘Riley,’ I whimpered.
The noise she made then resembled that of the corpse in my dream so much that for a few moments I was frozen solid, terrified that she was one of them.
‘What?’ she grunted. My body seemed to melt in relief.
‘I had a bad dream.’
She sighed, still half asleep, and stretched her hand out. I clutched it desperately.
‘It’s okay,’ she murmured into the pillow. ‘It was only a dream.’
‘It’s not okay,’ I shook my head. ‘Our parents are dead and the world is crumbling around us. It isn’t okay.’
She didn’t reply.