Sophie tossed and turned beneath the comfort of her pink comforter and hand quilted blanket her Grandmother made for her. Each panel in the quilt depicting a moment in Sophie’s ten years on this blessed Earth. Her birth, first steps, first word, school achievements, talents and hobbies, all represented on her favorite blanket. Her soft little brown eyes open, fully dilated within the dark room. She sits up and glances at her sister Amanda still sound asleep in the black hours just past midnight.
“Not this time.” Sophie mutters under her breathe as she throws the comforter off of her body. Her tiny feet touch the floor next to her bed as she tries to shrug off enough sleep to stand. Tiny fists rub gently against her closed eyes. Eye lids flutter as Sophie turns back to the bed to retrieve her favorite blanket. With a heightened sense of security, Sophie ventures off to use the bathroom. The old floor boards creak and whine with each step. Sophie had imagined all her life that the old house was speaking to her. It was there to soothe her in times of sadness, and encourage her in times of joy. The house whispered to Sophie when someone came looking for her during frequent games of Hide and Seek. When Grandma would wake and move to the kitchen downstairs for coffee, or when Mom or Dad came home from work, the house would let Sophie know. She loved the old house, and the surrounding land that served as her kingdom. To the rear of the 15 acres of land was the Thornhill Cemetery. The closest neighbor was a mile down the road. The Nilbogs. A retired farming couple that chose to spend their remaining days tending smaller gardens and a good sized patch of corn. Sophie had her own little space in their garden and helped tend it whenever she was allowed to leave the house and visit the Nilbogs with Grandma. The next visit was in the morning, and Sophie was determined not to wake this time with wet sheets and pajamas. The hallway stood still and dark from her room. Nine paces from her bedroom, the bathroom door hung slightly ajar. Its ancient hinges sagging slightly so that any movement by the door had a voice of its own. With a creak and a pop, Sophie opened the door and closed it tightly. The tiny lock turned to keep out intruders. Mainly, the intruder was Amanda. Since the time both children could walk, it appeared their bladders were connected somehow. Without fail, if one had to use the bathroom, the other was sure to follow. Sophie managed to finish her business moments before she heard the house tell her Amanda was out of bed and heading for the bathroom door. Three tiny knocks echoed outside the locked door.
“Sophie? Are you in there?” Amanda whispered.
“Yes. I am just cleaning up.” Sophie replied as she turned on the cold water in the sink to wash her hands.
“Please hurry! I really have to go!” Amanda quietly pleaded.
Sophie grabbed the sliver of soap from the bathroom counter and began rubbing her hands together under the stream of water.
“Sophie? I am about to make a mess!” Amanda , slightly irritated, whispered through the door.
Sophie continued her strict ritual of hand washing by beginning her ABC’s . This was to be repeated twice before rinsing off her hands.
“Please!” Amanda whispered again while trying the locked knob of the bathroom door.
“E F G H… use the bathroom downstairs if you can’t wait a few more seconds!” Sophie replied.
The house let her know again that Amanda began her decent down the stairs to the second bathroom. As strict as Sophie was during her hand washing , by the time the second set of her ABC’s were recited, the pace always seemed to pick up speed.
“G H I J K” Sophie stopped abruptly. Her eyes turned to the door. The house was deathly quiet. The only sound within Sophie’s ears was her heart beat and the sound of the door knob slowly being turned one way and then the other.
“Amanda?” Sophie whispered.
Silence was the answer, except for the turning door knob.
“Amanda? Is that you?” Sophie slowly put her ear near the door.
“Sophie… open the door.” Amanda’s voice whispered.
Sophie stood still. A puzzled look stretched across her tiny face. She hurriedly finished rinsing her hands and drying them on the bathroom towel that hung by the sink.
“How did you get back here so fast? I didn’t hear you come up the stairs.”
No answer was given, but the door knob continued to turn back and forth.
“I’m not opening the door until you answer me.”
Sophie stood at the bathroom door. Her arms crossed with childhood stubbornness, waiting for her sister to reply. The only sound came from the bottom of the stairs. Each step slowly announcing the weight put upon it as someone ascended. The door knob stopped its slow revolutions back and forth. Sophie grabbed up her favorite blanket and wrapped it around her in an attempt to protect her from the uneasy feeling quickly washing over. The footsteps coming up the stairs finally reached the second floor and stopped. Sophie opened her mouth to speak, but nothing would come out. Her throat tightened as she stretched her blanket tighter around her body. One more footstep reverberated beyond the door, followed by a gasp and a soft whimper. The floor boards creaked one final time as something pressed against the bottom of the bathroom door. Sophie backed herself as far from the door as possible, pushing herself into the farthest corner. Her tiny hands and face trembling in this new experience. True fear. No longer the creation of a child’s imagination. No trick of shadows or raccoons in the attic. Something was out there, and it had Amanda. Sophie turned to the bathroom window. One time before, she had climbed the tall tree next to the house and crawled through into the bathroom. Her parents were so furious about the dangerous stunt, her father installed child proof latches on the window. Sophie began wrestling with the locks. Her tiny fingers fumbling in panic. Tears now streaming down her face, she feverishly pulled at the latches, but the locks were too strong and would not oblige the strength of a ten year old girl.
“Sophie. Open the door.”
The hair on the back of her neck tingled. Sophie stopped her attempt to open the window and slowly turned back to the door. It was Amanda’s voice calling to her, but something about it seemed different. Aggressive and slightly mature.
“Go away!” Sophie said softly. Her fear choking out any volume. The door knob began to twist and turn again.
“Sophie. Open the door and we will play a game.”
“I don’t want to play a game! I want Mommy and Daddy!”
“Mommy and Daddy are sleeping. Open the door and we can wake them up.”
“I don’t want to open the door!”
Silence crept into the room like a heavy fog. The door knob sat motionless. Sophie’s heavy panting and sobbing drew back as she held her breath. Her ears straining to catch any sound. The house fell mute, except for a strange hissing sound emanating from somewhere beyond the door. The bathroom door suddenly heaved inward as if a weight was quickly pressing on it. The old wood and sagging hinges moaned and whined under the pressure.
“Open the goddamn door you fucking sow!” It started as Amanda’s voice, but turned into something guttural and low.
Sophie’s eyes widened as she gasped for air. With the fuel and fear, her tiny throat shrieked. The outburst brought a steady flow of tears. Blood, just below the bathroom door, began creeping into the room. Ebbing tides of hot red puddle and throb, seeking out the spaces between the tile floor. Sophie, now paralyzed with fear, can only scream as the assault on the door increases. Pounding and thrashing mix with the sound of wood splintering.
“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR, SOPHIE! I AM GOING TO GUT YOU LIKE THE LITTLE FUCKING PIG YOU ARE!
Sophie’s screams cannot drowned out the verbal and physical cacophony just beyond the door. Something silver and deadly sharp pierces the space above the door knob between the door and jam. Twisting and prying, the knife splinters wood and the lock on the door gives way. All falls silent except for Sophie’s screams. The stillness is broken by the bathroom door slowly creaking open. Amanda’s body lay in a bloody heap at the base of the opening door. Her tiny face stares without eyes into the bathroom.
Looming just behind her, a dark shape appears to be hovering. Two silver knives held crossing each other at its chest reflect in the bathroom light. It slowly floats over Amanda’s body, dragging its rotted naked feet across her back. Entering the light, Sophie’s screams let out a final burst of desperation as her fears are illuminated. The smiling yellow teeth rotting inside the tight decaying lips of the hovering corpse do not move. Its’ cold grey eyes fixed on Sophie do not blink. The decomposing flesh spattered in fresh viscera looms closer and closer while dragging Amanda’s blood with it.