Natalie pulled her legs to her chest. Just go away, she pleaded. It was three in the morning. She had to get up for school in a few hours. But the voices would not leave her.

Help us, they cried. There were other pleas as well, even threats. Natalie had lived with the voices and images ever since she was little. She remembered when she was five. Natalie was playing in her back yard, swinging. A woman in a long pale dress walked up to her. She offered to push Natalie. Natalie accepted the offer without a moment's thought. The woman began to push Natalie, who giggled.

"Higher." She shrieked with glee. The woman smiled and did as Natalie asked. Natalie was unaware that others were gathering around her. Most of the new arrivals looked lost, their eyes wide and confused, deep circles added to their drawn look. A couple of the mysterious people looked injured. All of them were moaning for help. Help us. They whispered, gradually their chant got louder.

The woman stopped pushing Natalie on the swing. She joined the group of strangers, reaching for the hand of a small boy. Natalie was shocked. She looked at the large group of guests. One reached out to her.

Help me! You can see me. You were sent to us. That is why you are here, help me. Give me the justice I deserve. The man staggered forward more. His clothing was torn and stained. Natalie wasn't completely sure it was mud.

Suddenly images filled her mind.
It was a dark, cold night. A man was running down an empty street. He looked over his shoulder. There was a shout from the building to his right. Then another man was visible. He seemed angry. He charged at the first man.

"You still owe me!" The second man said. "I loaned you the money for your dirty business. Pay me back now; it is a week past your deadline."

"I... I don't have the money yet. I will soon I swear!" The other man was obviously not satisfied with this. He shoved the man then punched him in the gut. The first man, doubled over in pain. Then he was kneed in the face. He fell to the ground, now the man stood over him sending several powerful kicks to the first man's abdomen. He curled into a fetal position, covering his face. He shouted for forgiveness and begged the other man to stop.

"Next time Ben, I won't be so' lenient'. " Ben figured that meant if he didn't pay off his debt, he would be dead.

For the next week Ben avoided the street; only leaving home during the day, if absolutely necessary. One afternoon he returned home and the door was open. Cautiously he entered the room. He whistled for his dog, Felix. The chocolate lab didn't come. He looked for the dog in all of the usual places. First he walked to his room, then to the kitchen, and lastly behind the couch. He was nowhere to be seen. He looked in every other room.

As he entered the bathroom he saw the blood. 'No,' he thought to himself. Sure enough his dog was lying in the bathroom… dead. He had been gutted; Felix's insides were spilled all over the floor. Bile rose in Ben's throat. He turned away from the sight and went to grab cleaning supplies. He held his breath as he lifted his beloved dog. Tears filled his eyes. He had found a large box in his garage and used that to place Felix in.

He scrubbed the floor several times, but it seemed that he would never wash away the blood. He knew it was gone, but the memory burned brightly in his mind. Giving up, Ben went to his back yard. He dug a large hole set the box inside it, and placing sticks, dried leaves, and grass inside along with the box he started a fire.

He mourned for Felix, and prayed to God to help him find happiness once more. He wondered how his life had gone askew. He went inside the house after putting out the fire. Inside he saw a note, he hadn't noticed it before. He picked it up puzzled. He recognized the scrawled writing. It's time to pay me, tonight. There was no signature, but Ben knew who it was.

Despite himself, Ben fell asleep. He woke suddenly when he heard a window shatter. He was out of bed and in the hall in a matter of seconds. The man was standing inside Ben's living room.

"Hello Benjamin. I hope you have my money tonight." He said murderously.

"Why did you break into my house, Jon?" He knew the answer. Jon stepped towards him.

"Give me my money." He took out a knife.

"Jon, put that down!" He stepped back and turned to run. He made it to the back door and yanked it open. He heard the menacing laugh of Jon follow. He looked back. As he assumed, Jon was following him.

He fell. Ben had forgotten about the hole. It crossed his mind that he was laying in his pet's ashes. He couldn't think about that now. Jon was standing over him.

"Ben, do you have my money? This is the last time I will ask."

"No, I don't." He whispered hoarsely. "But I have some of it. It is in the kitchen, the first drawer." Ben whimpered. Was he to join his only loved one?

"That is not enough Ben. I wanted all my money."

Then Jon jumped into the pit and began to slash at Ben. He covered his face, his arms taking many of the blows. His arms felt as if they were holding up the sky. The weight was too much; he dropped them to his sides. Jon began to stab Ben in the chest, each time he twisted the blade. Ben could hardly breathe; he was beginning to black out.

In the next few minutes Ben lost all consciousness. Then he was standing above his body. He watched Jon hovering over his mortal form. He dropped the knife and left the scene. Ben didn't move from where he stood. He couldn't grasp what had just happened.

Natalie was screaming. Her parents rushed out to the back yard where she was gripping the swing tightly.

"What is wrong sweetheart?" He mother said taking Natalie in her arms.

"The people, the strangers…" She cried, "They won't go away!"