There is nothing watching me from the shadows by my bedroom door. Nothing at all. I curl into myself under the blanket, squeeze my eyes shut until it hurts, and deny the goose bumps on my skin. I am trembling. I tell myself that nothing is there, nothing will hurt me, nothing wants to shred my skin from my bones and slowly roast me from the inside out--!

I am lying, of course.

I can feel it standing there, watching, waiting, hoping I'll turn around. Because it can't hurt me if I don't turn around. It can't hurt me if I don't turn around. My breathing speeds up, my heart is pounding in my ears. I feel like someone just tossed me into an ice bath, its emotions are so palpable. Its hatred, its pure, unadulterated loathing washes over me in floods.

I don't even have the courage to scream.

The things it wants to do to me… It wants to break me in two. It wants to cut me apart, live inside me, turn my soul into a blackened wreck. If I turn around, if I look at it, it will make me suffer. It will crawl beneath my skin, scratch my muscles and tissues and bones with rusty nails—it will drown me in acid, melt me from my toes to my screaming face. It will drain me and paint its horrific sonata on my body.

It will mutilate my innocence.

The floor creaks. Something slithers over my covers, and I know it is no longer watching me from the shadows by my bedroom door. It is touching me. I am whimpering, shaking, and dear God, please make it stop! I won't think about it. I'll ignore the way its burning touch slides up my leg, over my arm, through my hair and wipes away one of my tears.

It is laughing.

I tell myself it isn't real. That burning, sinful, dangerous touch does not exist. There is nothing there. I'm lying again. But I have to believe it's all in my head. It's only in my head. It's lying in my bed!

I sit up as fast as I can, eyes open as wide as they can go, stomach twisting into knots. I'm breathing too quickly.

Nothing is there.

The feeling is gone. The terror has passed. My body is shaking in the aftermath; tears fill my eyes, but I hastily wipe them away. There is nothing on my skin. There is nothing in my bed. There is nothing watching me from the shadows by my bedroom door.

There is silence.

I lie back down, still watching those dark corners for any sign of life, any movement. There is none. I take a deep breath, pull the covers tightly around my body, and pray for the sun to rise soon.

I close my eyes.

The floor creaks.

I am not alone in the dark.