I'm going to tell you a story. I'm just going to give it to you straight – no lies, no twists, no stretches. Everything I'm about to tell you is one hundred and one percent true. I know. I was there.

But this story isn't really about me – I'm just the one telling it. And it's not a nice story. It doesn't have a happy ending. When does reality ever have a happy ending?


The swing set in the back of my house is really old and rusty, and the chains creak a lot. I actually find the sound of the chains sort of comforting. The creaking chains are what started this whole thing. I figured I should start where I started. It's easier that way.


I closed my eyes and listened to the swings, feeling slightly nauseated. I used to do that when I was little. I used to watch my sister lean back and forth on the swings and close my eyes and just listen to the sound it made.


I'm still not sure what happened next, even after all this. I'm not even sure if I opened my eyes. All I knew was I was someplace I didn't recognize.

I was in some sort of playground for little kids, but I was the only person there. It was winter, and snow covered everything: the ground, the trees, the slides, the swing I was on... even those spinning things with seats no one knows what to call.

I shivered in the cold. The snow didn't look very nice. Instead it was hostile and menacing. It felt as if something bad happened here. It felt like I shouldn't be here...

Suddenly a voice caught my attention. It was a little girl's voice, singing. I turned around to see a young girl with black hair spinning in circles behind me.

Snow, snow,

Falling snow,

Hold my hand

And don't let go.

Her hair twirled around her, so I couldn't see her face. She was wearing snow boots and a winter jacket over her baby blue dress. There was something about her voice... something almost creepy.

"Are you lost?" I asked. "I'm Simone. I can help you if you're lost."

If she heard me, she didn't act like it. She just kept singing her little song. This was getting creepier by the second. I shivered again.

"Are you lost?" I asked again, louder. When she still didn't answer, I walked cautiously over to her and put out a hand to stop her.

"Heyβ€”" I began, my hand inches above her shoulder, but when I blinked, she was gone.

She was just gone. She just vanished. My voice caught in my throat when I looked down at where she had been spinning.

There were no footprints.

And then it all disappeared, and I was in my back yard again. I didn't feel any different, just... weird.

Suddenly my older sister Janie came outside and saw me sitting on the swings, facing away from her. When I heard the door open, I turned around, and the look on her face was enough to tell me she'd felt something too.

She looked around the grassy yard and asked, hesitantly, "Did you just... did it get really cold all the sudden?"

Before I could answer, she shook her head and spoke again. "Simone, you look like you've just seen a ghost!"

My mouth felt dry, but I managed to choke out, "I think I just have." And then everything went black.