"Do you believe in angels?" eight-year-old Tory West whispered to her best friend, Paige, under the thin sheets of her bed.
"Well, what kind of angels?" Paige muttered back. Tory shrugged.
"I don't know—any kind," Tory said.
"Hmmm," Paige contemplated, as Tory waited for an answer with eager eyes.
"Well?" Tory asked. A noise was heard. It was a sort-of creaking sound that could only be heard if you were absolutely silent.
"Shh," said Paige, holding a finger to her lips.
"What?" Tory asked. "Is something wrong?"
"I heard a noise," she said with frightened eyes.
"Oh I wouldn't worry," Tory said, shaking it off. "It's probably just the laundry machine or the dishwasher." Paige shook her head.
"No, it was something else," she said. "Something scary." Tory tried to convince her otherwise, but the terrified stare on Paige's face was something too difficult to ignore.
"Don't be scared," Tory said, holding Paige close. "Just go to sleep." Paige nodded, but Tory still didn't know if she was all right. Amidst attempts to stay awake that night, however, Tory eventually fell asleep. When she woke up the next morning, Paige was gone.
"Paige?" Tory asked, leaning over her bed to see if she was beneath it. "Paige?" she asked again, looking in her closet and in any other "good" hiding spots in her room. "Paige?" she asked, going down the hallway and searching through all the rooms. Her heart began to beat faster. Through all of their sleep-overs, they had never gone anywhere but to the bathroom until the other one was awake the next morning. Tory shook her head. She must have just gone to get breakfast, she reassured herself. Confident in that thought, she headed downstairs to the kitchen.
"Girls? Are you ready to eat pancakes?" Mrs. West asked. You could hear the sizzling of grease in the frying pan and the clinking of glass cups being set on the table. She had heard her daughter coming down the stairs, though, because all of it had slowed down. Tory paused dramatically, and plastered herself against the wall. Paige isn't down there? She panicked.
"Girls?" Mrs. West asked again. "Are you coming?"
"Mom?" Tory asked, quietly.
"What is it, dear?" she asked, turning off the stove. "Is Paige with you too?" Tory was silent. She didn't know what she should do or say. The whole situation scared her so badly. "Honey?" she asked again.
"Where is Paige, mom?" Tory asked, slinking down the carpeted steps.
"I thought she was with you," she said, turning to the refrigerator to get some orange juice.
Tory shook her head. "No, I just woke up. I've looked everywhere, and she's nowhere to be found," she said.
"Hmm," Mrs. West said. "Well, I've been up since seven and now it's ten, so…she must be around here somewhere."
"Yeah," Tory said unsurely. "Have you seen her?"
Mrs. West shook her head. "No, that's why I thought she was with you," she said.
"Oh," Tory sighed. "Where could she be then?" she asked, feeling about ready to cry. Mrs. West came forward and hugged her.
"Oh, don't worry, sweetie. I'm sure we'll find her. She just probably slipped by me, when I wasn't looking. We'll find her," she said. Tory nodded.
"Paige!" Mrs. West shouted, leaving the kitchen to search the house. The sound resonated throughout the house and startled little Tory, who sat at the kitchen table and played with her fork. She sighed. I've never lost her before…
About fifteen minutes later, Mrs. West came back into the kitchen and grabbed her keys.
"I'll be back soon, honey," she said, snatching her purse.
"Where are you going?" asked Tory in confusion.
"I'm going to go look for Paige." Mrs. West headed towards the door.
"You mean, you didn't find her?" Tory asked.
Mrs. West shook her head. "No, but don't worry, I'll find her. Your dad is in the garage working on some shelves. I'll be back soon. Bye, sweetie. I love you," she said, hugging her. Then she left.
Tory sank into her chair. Why is this happening? she thought. She attempted to eat her breakfast, but found out that any appetite she might have had before had vanished in the thought of Paige alone and scared somewhere. She remembered the look on Paige's face. How desperate and frightened it had been. There was nothing Tory could do to take away the pain of fear Paige on her face. And now she was gone. Tory wiped away a tear. Mom will find her, she thought assuredly. She has to.
Eventually, Tory got up and headed towards the garage. She hated being alone, especially in such circumstances as these. She sighed and opened the door. She had heard the banging noises of the hammer against the nail all morning, but recently they had stopped.
"Daddy?" Tory asked, looking around the garage. She could see no one. She stepped inside. "Daddy?" she asked again. She spotted the hammer and nail upon a workbench and some chopped wood. Beside it on small table was a sweaty cloth and a dripping glass of water. "Daddy?" she asked, pushing the button to open the garage. She stepped outside and walked around the yard, calling for her father and receiving no response or appearance of anything that looked like him. Scared, Tory decided to go back inside through the garage. But once she got there, the garage door was shut. A confused, frightened, expression shone on Tory's face. No one else was home. She ran in through the screen door in the backyard, where her mom had gone out of, and picked up the phone, willing to call 9-1-1 if she had to. There was no dial tone. Tory dropped the phone on the floor, and watched as the batteries splattered all over. What is this? she asked.
She ran upstairs to her bedroom, which she felt was the only safe place left in her house, and locked the door. She climbed onto her bed and hid beneath the covers. It was the middle of a humid, summer day, but at the moment, she just wanted to be hidden. Maybe then this thing would leave her alone.
She lay very still. Her breathing was harsh, but it quieted as soon as she realized the safety of being in a locked room among things she knew, away from things unknown. Then, she heard the noise again-that sort of creaking sound that could only be heard if you were absolutely silent. Tory gasped. This must've been the noise Paige had been scared of, she thought. Her grasp on the bed sheet tightened and she felt a few silent tears flowing down her cheeks.
"Angels, if you're real, if you're out there, I need you," she breathed. "I'm scared." A scream was heard. Tory's eyes widened intensely. The scream was whiney and drawn out. It sounded eerie and strange. Then, she heard footsteps. They got louder and louder the closer they came, and a strong, powerful knock pounded into Tory's bedroom door.
"Tory," an eerie voice said slowly at her door. It was a strange, unnatural sound. "Come out and play with me," it said.
Tory blinked a few more tears and wiped them away quickly. She clung to her sheet and her pillow. She was scared to death. She had never been more scared in her entire life. She wanted to cry, but she didn't know how. The few tears that did escape were mere accidents. She was about to reach for the teddy bear on the right side of her bed, when she felt a gust of wind. She looked up and saw that her stand-up fan was blowing on high. She looked at the cord. It wasn't even plugged in.
Tory got up slowly and clenched her teddy bear close to her side. She walked over to the fan and moved the dial to medium. It flickered back within an instant. She moved it to slow, but it flickered back to high. She pushed it as far as it would go to off, but it flicked back to high, so hard this time that the dial flew off and broke through the window three feet away. The fan was still going on high. Tory fell down against the wall and began to cry.
"Tory," the voice said again.
She shook her head violently. "No! Go away! Leave me alone!" she said, clasping her hands over her ears.
"Oh, why won't you play with me?" the voice asked. Tory's eyes bulged as she saw the locked door begin to open. She no longer felt safe, not even in her own home. She squeezed her eyes shut and refused to open them. She covered her ears tighter and curled up into a ball against the wall. She tried to stay silent, but the tears were uncontrollable now. Fear was written on her face. She was scared.
Time passed, and no more strange things occurred, but Tory was still scared. She cowered against the wall, clung to her teddy bear and mentally screamed for her mother and father. She was too scared to speak anything aloud. Finally, she opened her eyes. The fan was off, and she wondered if it had all been a dream, but then she saw where the dial had pierced through her window, and she knew she had not imagined it.
She got up and went to her door, still clinging to her teddy bear. She opened it slowly and carefully. There was no one on the other side. She walked down the hallway and noticed, as she went down the stairs, that there were huge black foot imprints on each step. Her eyes went wide, and she didn't even dare touch them. She was too scared.
Then, she heard a car coming up her driveway. She looked out the window and saw it was her mom with Paige. Tory rushed outside and clung to the both of them. "I'm so happy you're all right," she said.
"Are you okay?" Mrs. West asked. "You look like you've seen a ghost," she said, feeling her daughter's forehead. Tory was breathing fast, but she nodded uncertainly.
Paige hugged Tory tightly. "What happened to you?" Tory asked. Paige clung to her.
"I heard the noise. It was going to get me," Paige said, mesmerized.
"Oh, she's been saying that the whole way back," Mrs. West muttered. "Don't think much of it. She was probably just wandering around in the dark." Tory clung to Paige.
"I know, Paige. It was going to get me too," Tory said, looking into Paige's eyes, frightened.
Mrs. West shook her head. "You girls are crazy. I'm going to go inside and make some lunch, all right?" she said.
"No," the girls said. "It will get you." The fear and pain written in their eyes was so real, it was almost unbearable to look at, but Mrs. West turned away. Tory grabbed her arm.
"Do you believe in angels?" Tory asked, glaring into her mother's confused eyes. Mrs. West moved away and released the grip from her daughter, while Tory and Paige joined back into their tight hug. Both of their faces were staring intently at Mrs. West. Then, there was a noise. It was a sort-of creaking sound that could only be heard if you were absolutely silent. Then, there was an eerie, unnatural scream. Mrs. West turned around cautiously. The locked, wooden front door opened slowly, creaking back and forth in the wind. Then, it slammed shut.
"What was that?" Mrs. West asked.
"Shh!" Paige said. "The wind." Tory looked up to the dial imprint on her window. She could hear the fan going on high.
"Tory, where's your dad?" Mrs. West asked, looking back at her daughter.
"I don't know," Tory said, eerily. "But I bet it does," she said, pointing up at her bedroom window.
Mrs. West turned around to look up at the house. From Tory's bedroom window an unfamiliar, dark, disfigured shadow stood, and it waved its dark hand in slow, fluid movements.
"Tory, Paige," it said.