After Midnight – Prolog – Witching Hour

Thunder crashed overhead and lightning wiped away the velvety black sky, illuminating the tops of the trees surrounding the small house. Rain pelted down from the sky like bullets, exploding on the roof and the walls. The wind screamed like a mother who had just lost her child.

I pulled my small, fraying quilt tighter around my body. I had never been fond of thunderstorms, and this one was no exception. I looked at the digital alarm clock sitting on the bedside table. The numbers 12:04 shown brightly in the dark room. It's the witching hour, I thought to myself.

I whimpered loudly when the thunder crashed again, closer this time.

"One…" I began counting aloud. My grandmother had taught me a trick to see how far away thunder was.

"Count slowly after you hear thunder, until you hear the next crash. That's how many miles away eye of the storm is," she would say.

"Two…"

Boom! Thunder crashed again, causing the house to shake.

Chocking on a scream, I heard something in the room above me thump loudly.

"Eek!" I shrieked. I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to distract myself with a happy memory. There had been a party yesterday afternoon.

More thumping sounds and other strange noises came from overhead.

The party, I was there. Who else had been there? Everything seemed so distant, as if my memory was fading.

Wailing noises were carried down the stairs and through the door of my room. Goosebumps appeared all along my arms and legs as the hair on the back of my neck stood up.

Becca! She had been at the party too! And who had she brought. Oh yeah, her younger sister Emily.

The stairs creaked under pressure, while the wailing grew louder. The noises of the storm seemed to quiet down as the noise maker grew louder.

I squeezed my eyes shut tighter trying to focus, because somehow, I knew that if I focused on something else I would be able to survive this. Becca. She had been at the party, but who else. Who had walked in the door after her? Remember! I shouted inwardly.

Suddenly the door flew open. At the same moment my eyelids snapped open and I screamed.