A drop of sweat trickles down my nose and drips onto my leg. The scratching against my door continues, the sound drowning out any other noise that I could possibly hear. I push my legs against my chest a little harder and clench my eyes shut, my nails digging into my shins. I sit like that, once again in my closet, for a few more minutes before I decide I have to do something. I have to call someone or… or just something.
I get up, my hands still shaking, and slowly push the doors aside.
“Sarah…. Sarah,” the voices hiss from outside the door. Their claws grind against the door, causing my ears to ache.
“Shut up,” I spit. They quiet down for a few seconds but soon start up again. I try to be as calm as I can as I walk toward my bed and latch onto my phone, though I know if I could see myself I would see how stiff I am. I try to think about Julia, how she somehow always manages to be calm in situations like this, but it doesn’t help root me down any. I’m not her; I can’t stay calm when there’s some maniacs literally outside my door.
Call Julia, I think. She said to call if I need anything. She’d be over here fast.
No, another voice says; the voice that always seems to have something to say about everyone, whispering in my ear day and night. You can’t trust her. She’s not your friend; your friend is gone. She’s one of them now. If you call her it’s just going to get you caught.
She’s…..one of them now?
Yes, the voice says. She’s one of them.
I glance at the door for a second, then go back down to my phone. My fingers glide across the screen and dial someone’s number before I can think about who. It’s become too natural for me; practically to the point of muscle memory.
“Hello?” he answers. His voice sounds tired even through the phone. I glance at my clock to see it is past midnight; I hadn’t realized.
“Lucas? Um… sorry if I woke you. Are you busy?”
“Of course not,” he says immediately. “Is something wrong?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know,” I sigh. My fingers ruffle through my hair and I peek toward the door again out of the corner of my eye. “Can you come over?”
“On my way,” he says, and I hear a rustling through the phone so I assume he’s up and moving. “Is there something going on?”
“Um….sort of. Maybe–I’ll tell you when you get here, okay? Come in through my window.”
“Your window?” he questions. “Why your window? Are your parents home or something?”
“Just…. be quick, please, Lucas. I’ll be okay, and I’ll–I’ll explain what’s been going on when you get here.”
“Okay. I’m in my car so I gotta go now so I can drive. Will you be okay if I hang up?”
“Yeah, I’m–I’m good,” I stutter. “See you in a bit.”
“Alright. Bye.” I hang up and throw myself on my bed, breathing deeply into my sheets. They smell like lavender laundry detergent, the scent my mom always buys because my dad is allergic to the other ones; he breaks out in a red rash any time we buy any other kind. Why can’t they be here now? They’re never here anytime something like this happens.
You should go open the door, Sarah, the voice says, interrupting the thoughts about my parents. Open the door.
Why? I think, clenching my sheets. Even after all this time, the creatures outside are still terrifying. I would've thought after everything they wouldn't seem so frightening, but they still are. Although a part of me–a very small part–has gotten either braver or just more irritable because now they make me angry on occasion too. Why are they after me? Why can’t they just leave me alone? Every time I see or hear one of them, I wonder if it’s going to be the last time I do. I wonder if they’re finally going to kill me, or abduct me, or whatever it is that they want. It seems like everyone is after me nowadays. Everyone but Lucas, the most unexpected person of all to be the trustworthy one.
Just open the door, it repeats.
OPEN THE DOOR! OPEN IT!
Okay, okay, I think. I slowly lift myself off the bed. Chill out. I’m going. The voice repeats itself several more times as I tiptoe toward the door, somehow finding the conviction to obey the voice and open the door. I shake more and more the closer I get to it, though the scratching has stopped. I can’t hear them saying my name anymore either.
The tips of my fingers brush up against the silver doorknob, the icy touch sending goosebumps down my skin. My hand locks around it.
Open the door.
I turn the doorknob and swing the door open in one fluid motion, my breath hitching as I realize that I’ve made a mistake. Why did I listen to that stupid voice?
I’m still holding my breath when I find that there’s no one on the other side of the door. Eyes still wide, I glance side to side down the hallway, but there’s nothing. They’ve already left. A breath of relief comes out of me and I look back at my door.
No scratches; no proof. Yet again, Lucas isn’t going to make it in time to catch them, and yet again I’m not going to be able to prove it to him.
I decide that I’ve had enough bravery for one day and I turn to go back into my room without checking the house when I notice the doorknob. It’s unlocked. I didn’t unlock it to open it. Which means I never even locked it in the first place. Those men--creatures, hybrids, or whatever you want to call them--could’ve walked right in.
So why didn’t they?
Though my breathing is suddenly very rapid, it feels like I don’t get in any air for a solid minute as I slam the door shut, lock it, and slowly back away; all the way until I bump into my nightstand across the room. It scares me and I flinch, but at the least it knocks me out of my daze. I force myself to blink hard a couple times, still staring at the door.
Is the door locked? Are those things still gone? Is this even happening? Am I even awake?
A knock on the window behind me causes me to jump, and all the thoughts in my head dissipate instantly. I can’t even remember what I was thinking about.
I fling the window open and help Lucas inside. “Sorry if I scared you,” he says. “I thought I was going to fall out of that tree.” Once he gets to his feet he takes a good look at me as a shiver runs through my body from the cold wind blowing in from outside. “What is it, Sarah? I know that something has been going on.”
I sigh, running my fingers through my hair. “Sit down.” He does as I tell him while I close the window before joining him on the bed. It takes a few minutes for me to tell him about the creatures. About their claws, their teeth, their eyes, how they show up here at night, how no one ever catches them, and how they’re following me in the daylight now, too. I don’t tell him about the voices. He wouldn’t realize that they’re real; he’d just think I was crazy. Nor do I tell him how I keep forgetting things all the time, or how things that used to make sense to me don't anymore.
It's gotten to the point that part of me wonders if one of those creatures got into my room while I was sleeping at night and did something. Or if–if one of my parents did. Or one of my friends. The voice did say Julia was one of them. Did she do this to me? Is she the reason why I keep forgetting things? Why I can’t seem to focus on anything?
I can’t even focus enough to watch TV. When I watch it, I’m either listening to what they’re saying or watching what they’re doing; I can’t do both at once. I can’t read anymore either. The words look familiar, but I just can’t...can’t process them. They don’t make any sense. I'm failing most of my classes because of it. I don't think I've ever failed a test, let alone a class before now.
This all couldn’t have just happened to me. Someone had to have done something to me. It seems like it’s been getting progressively worse, like it’s leading up to something. Some big event. Maybe it’s God planning something for me, or maybe someone else has a plan. Whatever it is, it feels important. I’m important. Maybe the reason people seem to be after me is because they know how important I am. They’re trying to prevent me from reaching my destiny.
All I know for sure is that the only person I can trust right now is Lucas. He’s the only one. As for everyone else….. I’m going to keep an eye on them.
“Sarah?” Lucas says, distracting me from my thoughts. His eyes show concern and I realize I stopped talking and was just staring off into space.
I clear my throat. “Sorry. What was I saying?”
“You were saying something about Julia and what happened that day at school.”
“School?” I ask. It takes me a moment to remember what I was talking about. “Oh, yeah. The creatures showed up there, too, but they disappeared before Julia could catch them. That’s when you walked in. Julia has told Elijah and Parker about everything and now they’re all taking turns keeping guard over me.”
“So…” Lucas looks around. “Where are they? Shouldn’t they be with you all the time?”
“Um...yeah,” I say, rubbing my neck. “I–” I glance down at my sheets again and suddenly whatever it was I was going to say gets lost in my brain. The wrinkle on the sheet...what is that? The way it’s sunken in in one spot, with the area around it puffed up to compensate for it. The outline looks like a handprint. But whose? It’s too big to be mine and I don’t remember Lucas setting his hand down any. Someone’s trying to tell me something. They’re trying to send me a message. But what–
Lucas shakes my shoulders, waking me from my thoughts once again. I realize he’s been saying my name and put his hands on my shoulders a while ago but I didn’t notice it. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” I say. I rub my eyes and blink a few times. “I just got distracted for a moment. What was I saying again?”
He drops his hands away and stares at me for a moment or two. “You look tired. Have you been sleeping much lately?”
“It’s hard to sleep when someone is pounding away on your door in the middle of the night.”
“Hmm,” he says. He glances up at me and his icy blue eyes make me feel like I’m falling into the ocean. They’re captivating. He says something while I’m staring at them, but I don’t hear it.
“I said I’m here now, so you don’t have to worry about that. You can go to sleep, and I’ll be here when you wake up. We can talk about this later. Nothing's going to hurt you.”
I’m still gazing at him and taking in the details of his face a moment later when I say, “I love you.” He seems taken aback.
“I–I love you too,” he stutters after a few seconds. I wonder why he seems so hesitant before it hits me that I’m probably not the first girl he’s been in love with. That would be Logan. The same Logan who is dead and Lucas blames himself for that fact. I’m not sure how I should handle that fact, but it takes me a couple seconds to realize that I’ve already started kissing him without thinking about it. I don't care that he was in love with someone else. I don't care that the only reason he's with me is because his previous girlfriend died. I love him. We've only been together for maybe six or seven months now, but I love him.
After a minute or two it hits me that I don’t want to wait anymore for sex with him. I start taking off my shirt before Lucas sets his hand on my arm and stops me. “Are–are you sure?” he asks. “You’ve been kind of...out of it lately and I don’t want you to do anything you’re gonna regret. Maybe you should get some rest first.”
“I’m not gonna regret it,” I say. “Are you?”
He shakes his head. “Definitely not. But–” I cut him off with my lips, and it isn’t long until things have escalated and we’re both getting undressed. That was all I was waiting for.
He falls asleep next to me on the bed when we’re done, though I’m too riled up to sleep myself. I stare up at the ceiling for who knows how long trying to figure out the pattern it holds. I've never done something like that before. With anyone. It wasn't like I expected it to be but....I did like it. With Lucas, anyway. I'm pretty sure he's done that before. At the least, I wouldn't mind doing it again.
While I'm laying down thinking, the voice is there in my ear again, whispering. I’m not sure who it is; if it’s God or someone else...but I trust whoever it is. They’ve consistently given me warnings about the others who are after me, and I think the voice is on my side. Right now it’s telling me to be wary of my parents and Julia. They might not be who I think they are. So if Julia comes over tomorrow like she says she is, I need to be extra-cautious around her. I can’t figure out if she really is one of them like the voice tells me, or if she’s still my friend and I can trust her.
Either way, since Lucas is with me, I’m gonna try to convince her of his decency while she's here, in case it really is her showing up. I know now that he didn’t mean to do the things he did. He wasn’t himself. And I know how much he hates himself because of it; I know that he won’t be able to convince Julia himself because he thinks she’s right. He thinks that he’s some kind of monster, which isn’t at all true. And she needs to know that, whether or not the girl I see tomorrow morning is her or some other person. I honestly can’t tell the difference anymore.
I don't know how long it take for me to fall asleep, but I eventually do. Sleep equals dreams, and my dreams are the only places I can go to escape the voice in my head. The only place I can escape the threats and the enemies and the killers. Besides Lucas, it's my only safe haven. It's a shame I'm not safe enough in my own house to be able to sleep more.
Safe or not, I have a feeling that things are about to change soon. Whatever is happening to me is going to come to a head, and some big event is going to change everything. I'm going to change everything, somehow, someway. I'm very, very important, as if I'm at the center of a very big plan.
At least, that's what the voice has been telling me.