I bobbed my head and hummed along as my ipod blasted out "Thriller," ignoring the disapproving glare of our extremely old and crotchety next-door neighbor, Mrs. Gilbert.

She sat, rocking back forth in a rocking chair that emitted a eerie, lingering squeak every time, petting her old, fat Siamese cat, while she glared at me. Even her cat seemed to be glaring at me with venomous yellow-green eyes.

I glared back at the cat, not her because then she would have harassed my parents again, saying that I'd been disrespecting her, but I jumped back when it hissed, baring yellowed fangs.

In retaliation, I let out a very realistic sounding bark, making the evil cat's fur stand up.

"It's okay, . Ignore the horrible girl," Mrs. Gilbert cooed, petting the irate cat without ceasing to glare at me.

I shivered.

Man, she has the creepiest evil eye. And that cat is evil incarnate. Someone really needs to kick it. Would that count as animal cruelty since it's really a demon sent here to bite as many ankles as possible? No, must resist the temptation.

I hurried past them, trying to ignore the glares, one old-crone and one feline, burning into my back, and jumped up the steps of a little pale green farmhouse that had been transplanted into the suburbs by an eccentric owner, and then sold.

I pulled open the door and threw my backpack on the floor, calling out, "Mom, I'm home!"

"Ashley? Come in here please."

I froze, halfway to the stairs. Uh oh. What did I do now?

My mother had a certain tone, something between strict and disappointed that she tried to keep sounding neutral and failed miserably, that usually meant that I was about to get grounded.

I edged into the kitchen and saw my mother seated at the kitchen island, arms crossed over her chest. Her long copper-colored hair was drawn back into a loose braid, and her freckled face was serious, green eyes staring at me, normally smiling mouth pinched.

I racked my mind for possibilities.

What did I do lately? Nothing! I haven't done anything that would get me in trouble. But the way she's looking at me… That leaves only one option. Dylan. He's done something and blamed me for it again. Mutant older brothers…

I tried to smile. "Yes, Mom?"

"Have you been harassing Mrs. Gilbert again? And is it true that you barked at her cat?"

No way. How did she make the call already? I just did that! She's a witch. She's got to be. Or she can just hobble really fast, but I think the first option is more likely.

I put up my hands and started rambling, something that seemed to be chronic with me. "Okay, just listen to me, okay? I did bark at her cat, but that's only because it was glaring at me! You should have seen it, and I think it wants to eat my-" I paused, confused.

Her shoulders were shaking, not from tears, but from laughter.


She wiped away a tear and grinned. "Oh, I'm sorry, Sweetie. Mrs. Gilbert didn't really call me. I saw what happened from the window. I just couldn't resist teasing you. You look so cute when you're flustered."

I stared at her. Is this really my mother?

She got up off of the stool and hugged me tightly. "So adorable!"

I just shook my head, and complained, "Why can't I have normal parents?"

She ruffled my hair. "Because you're not normal."

I'm pretty sure that is not the response that parents are supposed to make. Maybe… No, I'm positive.

Grumbling, I stepped back from her and smoothed down my hair, after a moment cocking my head at the unnatural silence of the house. "Is Dylan at a friend's house?"

She shook her head. "Nope. He decided to go on a fishing trip for the weekend."

"So he's gone for the weekend?"


"Yes!" I pumped my fist in the air in a particularly unfeminine gesture of triumph.

No one to tease me for three days… besides my parents, but still! Freedom! Sweet, sweet freedom!

My mother rolled her eyes at my antics, hesitated, and then asked, "Do you have any plans for tonight?"

I paused in my celebrations and shook my head. "Nope. It will just be me, my favorite horror movie, and a container of ice cream. Why?"

She shook her head quickly, flashing a smile. "No reason, Sweetie. I was just wondering."

I frowned. The sudden shift in mood was weird, and she was drumming her fingers across the counter at an agitated rate, a sure sign she was bothered by something.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Positive! Now, why don't you go up and do your homework. I'll call you when dinner is ready, okay?"

I eyed her suspiciously. Something is definitely weird… And then what she said actually permeated my skull.

"Wait, dinner…. What did you cook?" I asked warily.

"It's a surprise."

Oh, no… Surprises that had to do with my mother's cooking were never good ones. They had the tendency to be like sauerkraut spinach rolls and jellied haddock with cinnamon crusted string beans.

"A surprise… Lovely," I said faintly, never more grateful for the stash of candy in my sock drawer. I could start to smell something distinctly odd begin to waft from the oven. "Yeah. I'll just go then."

I was on the stairs before I glanced back.

My mother quickly glanced away, but she had been looking at me, and there had been something unsettling in the look that I couldn't place at the moment.

Maybe I'm hallucinating. It wouldn't be the first time. Or maybe parents are just uniformly odd. Yeah, that fits. Weird.

I mounted the stairs and went straight to my room. Painted apple green, with thick darker green carpet on the floor, a picture window that opened, and three locks on the door, all to keep out my brother, it was my sanctuary.

I kicked off my shoes and paused as I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror tacked onto my closet door.

Even though both of my parents were tall, I'd failed to inherit that gene, and stayed at a petite 5'3". I had the slender figure and bright green eyes of my mother, but didn't have her freckles. From my dad's side of the gene pool, I'd gotten light olive skin and the heart-shaped face common throughout his family.

They'd often said, with the rather fond oddness that only parents seemed to have mastered, that it was like they'd been poured into a pot, stirred, and I came out. I didn't even want to think about the analogy that was for, not when my parents were involved.

One thing I hadn't gotten from either of them was my hair, thick and straight to my shoulders with bangs that swept to the side and a deep, dark, auburn red.

I stared at my reflection with a slight pout.

I look like a fourteen year old instead of a sixteen, almost seventeen year old. Maybe it would help it I wore different clothes?

I liked to wear what I deemed "comfortable" clothing, AKA loose T-shirts and jeans that tended to hide whatever figure I did have. So, I seemed to constantly get mistaken for someone's kid sister.

Then I shrugged. They're comfortable.

And then I kicked open the sock drawer, taking out my trusty bag of sweets, grabbed a book, this one about supernatural creatures, and plopped down on my bed. I unpeeled a candy bar, opened the book, and settled down to read.

Half an hour later, I was called down to dinner. Mom's surprise turned out to be rutabaga, horseradish, and beet puree with charred pretzel crusted chicken breasts on top. I learned that charred was another word for burnt to a crisp, and I was never more grateful for candy bars.

After dinner, when I was back in my room, I was perturbed.

My parents had been acting even weirder than usual. My mother had kept asking how I was feeling, and my father had kept shooting me what he thought were discrete glances.

I should probably tell him that bringing an oversized book to the table and peeking at a person from behind it is not inconspicuous. Yeah, that might help. But what on earth is wrong with them?

I shook my head and shrugged. I suppose I'll find out sooner or later. And then I plopped down onto my bed.

The moon shone through the large picture window, illuminating the room without use of artificial light.

I stared at it, round and ghostly pale in the dark, midnight blue sky. I smiled. It was a full moon. For some reason, most likely due to my fascination with horror movies, I loved the full moon and everything it stood for.

I stared at it until my eyes began to droop, plans of ice cream and horror movies forgotten, my last thought: Whatever's wrong with Mom and Dad, they'll tell me eventually. It can't be that bad…

Hello! This is my second story on fictionpress. My first one, which I've been writing for more than three years (I think) people seem to like. So, I decided to start another one, but in the supernatural section this time. I hope you all like it. Please review and tell me what you think!