The sun had set long ago. He had stood on the top step since twilight, watching the deep golden light fade from through the adjacent window. Now, in the darkness, he was even more reluctant to descend the staircase. It wasn't as if he was afraid of falling- the moonlight was bright enough that he could clearly see each step. It was something else that made him uneasy.

Something that reason told him wasn't there, something unreal and irrational, lurking only in the shadows of his own mind.

He had tried several times to work up the nerve to go down, but each time he had taken a deep breath and began to take a step, his heart would pound and his subconscious would scream ,"No, don't go down, don't move!"

He didn't know how long he'd been standing there. It felt like an eternity. He should've just run down on the first attempt, he thought to himself. The longer he stood there, nervously contemplating, the harder and harder it became to work up any courage at all.

He closed his eyes and tilted back his head.

You're being ridiculous, he thought. Just go down the stairs already.

He took a deep breath and put his hand on the railing, hesitating. Shaking his head he told himself Go now! And finally took a step down.

Nothing happened.

Of course it didn't! He laughed at himself. Nothing ever was going to happen. What is my problem?

Feeling a new sense relief, he slowly walked down the rest of the steps, and stopped at the landing where the stairs turned.

On the opposite wall above the bookcases was a round clock, whose hands he could just barely make out in the dim light. It was about nine thirty.

His eyes wandered over to a mirror which was directly across from the staircase. It reflected the moonlight nicely, and he could clearly see the outline of his own face.

As well as a dark shape behind him.

He stared at it, which at first appeared to be just a formless shadow. Slowly, it began to take a defined shape as it came into focus. It seemed like to be a head, the silhouette of someone with very long hair…

It was over before he could turn around. His body crashed down onto the remaining three steps in a mess of blood.

He hadn't known that there was another watching from the confines of his own bedroom. This one had seen the entire act unfold, the grotesque deed done by the woman who was both here and there, in the room with him and also standing over the body of his classmate.

She turned her shadowed face to him, and she was smiling. "My dear child…I won't let anyone harm you…ever again…"