by Marilynn C.
My NaNoWriMo attempt from 2005; now it will be a a serial instead of a novel.
|Samantha Taylor had been a solid sleeper most of her life, until the night she found a thumb in her bed. She was a wife and a mother, and was a full-time accountant. Her husband, Steve, was a sports fanatic, and on Sundays during football season he was more or less glued to the large-screen television that dominated their living room.
It was on one of these Sundays, as the Broncos were beating the Raiders, that seemingly minor occurrences started to mount.
At first Samantha didn’t notice that anything was amiss. She sat at the kitchen table and spoke with her sister, Kimberly, on the phone. Football sounds came from the living room. Occasionally Steven cussed loudly. More often he cheered.
Kimberly asked, “So, what’s going on with you guys? Did you do anything this weekend?”
“Not much,” Samantha replied. “Obviously today’s out for doing anything because of the game.”
“Have you talked to Mom lately? I think she’s going senile.” Kimberly yawned.
“Well I think we already knew that,” Samantha said. “Why, what happened?”
“She locked her keys in the car the other day. Well, she left Lucky in the car and his paw hit the lock button. She had to call triple-A to get back into it.”
“Why would that mean that she’s senile? I think you’re senile, bitch.”
“Shut up, ho. That’s not why I think she’s senile. She’s senile because she’s been dialing the number for SuperCuts instead of my number. And my number is supposedly programmed into her phone! What are we going to do with her? I brought up the assisted living thing and she nearly pinched my head off. I just don’t know.”
Samantha reached for her glass of water and was mildly surprised to realize that there was no glass of water. She thought she’d poured one before calling Kimberly. She got up and got a glass and put it under the tap. “I don’t know either. Can we talk about this later? I don’t have the energy to think about Mom and assisted living right now.”
“Okay. What’s that noise? Are you peeing?”
“I’m getting water,” Samantha said, giggling.
“I think you’re senile, bitch,” Kimberly said.
“What?” Kimberly asked.
“Why did you just say that? Didn’t I say that a few minutes ago?” Samantha turned off the tap.
“Say what? You’re senile, bitch.” Kimberly’s voice sounded tinny and odd. Kimberly had never sounded anything but robust, whether she was happy or angry.
A chill went down Samantha’s back. “Kimberly, can I call you back later?”
“Okay. I’m going out tonight with Arthur though.”
“All right. I’ll call you when I call you I guess. Bye.”
Samantha hung up. She reached again for her water, and when she saw that the glass was no longer on the counter she started. “What the…?” She opened the cupboard and all eight of her milk glasses were in there, lined up. “Oh my god, I am seriously losing it.”
She walked out to the living room, where Steven lounged in one recliner and their 12-year-old son, Colin, lounged in the other. Colin’s eyes remained glued to the television, which was playing a Coors commercial, but Steven looked up.
“Hi honey. Do we have any food?”
“Tap the Rockies…” the television blared.
“I don’t know. I haven’t been to the store in awhile.” She sat down on the couch.
“I guess I’ll check the fridge when the next ads come on,” Steven said, and turned his attention back to the game. It wasn’t even halftime and the Broncos were leading 28-0.
Samantha was freaked out about the water glass issue but decided not to say anything. He wouldn’t listen anyway. Colin took after his father. He still sat with his eyes glued to the screen. Samantha got up and left the room, ruffling Colin’s hair on her way out. She probably wouldn’t get away with that in another year or so.
She was sitting in the den tackling a pile of papers that needed sorting when Pinhead walked in. Instead of approaching her for petting, he sat in the doorway and simply stared at her.
“Hey, kitty, kitty,” Samantha said absent-mindedly, as she tidied up the desk.
Pinhead glanced back toward the living room at an explosion of hooting and cheering. “Touchdown!” Colin cried. Samantha could hear Steven’s and Colin’s hands slap together in a high five. Pinhead focused again on Samantha. His eyes narrowed and widened, narrowed and widened. He sniffed the air.
Samantha looked up from the papers and looked at Pinhead. “Come here, kitty. Want to sit with me?”
Pinhead was normally very affectionate. At this moment he continued to stare coldly at Samantha.
Samantha sighed, rubbed her eyes, and put down the pile of papers she’d been holding. Tired was an understatement. She was feeling just plain burned out. She stood up and went to pick up Pinhead.
Pinhead saw her heading towards him and leapt away, galloping off down the hall.
“Fine then, Puss,” she said.
Samantha put on her coat, hat, and scarf and headed outside for a walk. It was chilly for a late October day and snow was forecast. Living on the Front Range meant that one could almost always depend on the forecasts.
The wind whistled around the eaves and stung Samantha’s face. She took a deep breath, clearing her lungs. She decided to walk to the cemetery that was situated about a quarter of a mile from the neighborhood.
The cemetery was deserted. Newly planted shrubs and decorative grasses bent down under the force of the wind.
This was a new cemetery; as yet it only contained about fifty graves. Samantha walked among the shiny granite headstones. She noticed a very new grave and approached it. It was so new that it was mounded with soil and had no headstone. She wondered about the individual there, six feet under. The grave was surrounded by partially wilted flowers. One arrangement held a small plaque that simply said, “Mom.”
How sad, she thought. She wondered if the child or children were young.
The wind swirled around her and carried with it some small white flakes of snow, so dry and light they could have been Styrofoam pellets.
She took a step back and felt something under her shoe. When she looked down she saw a flattened prickly pear cactus, already smashed into the ground, no doubt by the mourners that had been here perhaps a week ago.
She turned and faced west, looking at the Flatirons and Long’s Peak. This cemetery had the best view in town. Long’s Peak had a light dusting of snow but the Flatirons were still brown and green, looming over Boulder.
Some more tiny white flakes swirled around Samantha’s face. She stepped under the cemetery’s only tree, a very old oak, as she walked out.
In an instant, it seemed, the snow began to fall swiftly and heavily. Samantha wrapped her scarf up around her face and headed for home. By the time she got back, the snow was already sticking to the grass and the roof.
She shook off her coat on the front porch and went inside. Steven and Colin had switched on the gas fire and were watching the post-game show. The Broncos had beaten the Raiders 52-7.
That evening before bed, Samantha had gotten Colin into bed and was checking her stocks on eTrade when Steven came up behind her and kissed her neck.
“Come on, let’s go to bed,” he whispered.
She switched off the computer and, hand in hand, they disappeared into the bedroom.
Samantha lay quietly in the dark, thinking nightly thoughts. Having trouble sleeping was not a common occurrence for her. Usually she was out like a light just seconds after her head hit the pillow. Things looked strange in the dark. Objects looked like they were moving. Well, not moving exactly, but pulsing. Her vision was grainy.
She heard the refrigerator begin to hum. Other than that, the house was silent. Steven’s breathing was barely audible. She was silently thankful that he didn’t snore.
Samantha thought about what had happened with the water glass earlier that day. How could that have been real? If it wasn’t real, how could her mind have played tricks on her like that? She hadn’t been so occupied by her conversation with Kimberly that she would think she’d filled a glass and then realized that it wasn’t there. It made her tired thinking about it but she still could not sleep.
Wait, a sound. The refrigerator was no longer humming but she heard something else. Something stealthy. No, more tentative than stealthy.
A shuffling. A brushing. So faint it was barely a whisper.
The sound came closer. Came closer? As Samantha began to recognize the sound, her heart pounded in her chest.
Her eyes wide, she desperately scanned the dark room. Nothing looked different.
The sound was footsteps.
The steps brushed along the carpet and approached her side of the bed. Still Samantha saw nothing out of place.
She wanted to wake Steven but was too terrified to move, or even breathe. She stared into the dark, trembling, her eyes open so wide that they bugged out of her head.
The steps seemed to stop just as they reached the side of the bed. Then there was silence.
Samantha didn’t move. Her mind felt nothing but a pure white explosion of terror.
Time seemed to stop. Clutching the blanket, Samantha dared to take a breath.
At that moment a shrill, raw, desperate scream broke the silence right next to her.
Samantha drew in a deep breath and screamed back.
Steven bolted up violently, and said “What the fuck?” but no one heard him over the two screams.
Samantha continued to scream in sheer terror and the invisible screamer carried on as well.