Small creatures come out at night, rushing around the floor, pitter-pattering on the stairs with tiny feet. On that night, Piper thought of the noises (particularly the creaks in the floorboards) as only night creatures, rats or mice or other small things crawling around. Caroline lay sleeping softly downstairs and did not hear these noises, for she had already been asleep by the time they started. Piper, on the other hand, had been wide awake and these noises, while frightening at first, were dismissed... until they grew louder, but by then it was too late.

Caroline awoke to loud noises upstairs, things knocking over and her mother screaming. The sounds frightened her, so she tucked herself under her blanket and listened curiously. When she could not stand it anymore, she tiptoed up the stairs toward her mother's room, where the noises came from. Sticking her head through the door, she was filled with terror and she ran downstairs crying. Piper's voice spoke in her head.

"Caroline, if anything bad happens, you are to call the police immediately. You are to take the phone and call 911. Will you remember that?" Coraline remembered. Sniffling, she picked up the phone and pressed the three numbers with small fingers.

"Hello, what is your emergency?" a woman spoke at the other end.

"There's a man. A man in mommy's bedroom. She keeps screaming." Caroline started to cry.

"Hold on, honey, we're tracking your location. We have officers on the way. Did you get a good look at him?"

At this point, Caroline couldn't stop crying. She climbed under her blankets as she heard him coming slowly downstair. One step, two steps, three steps...

The crime scene was taped off carefully, nothing tampered with or looked over. The pocket knife had been photographed and taped off, the blood-stained mattress crowded around with paramedics, and the little girl hiding in her blankets was taken away for comfort and questioning. Caroline was a blue-eyed six year old girl, black curls hung low beneath her chin.

Wait. Where was mommy? Mommy? And the strange man, where is he?\

Her foot tingled.

"Shhh, sweetie, shhh." said a petite red-head as an officer handed her over. Caroline's blue eyes darted and her black curls bounced. Yellow tape covered the front porch. She pointed. The woman smiled sympathetically, as if she knew what a long road laid ahead of Caroline. Big sweet blue eyes looked back at the woman. Caroline twirled a curl and nibbled a nail.

15 YEARS LATER

Someone is there. Footsteps echo down the hall. One, two, three. I count the footsteps as the stranger moves forward. Four, five, six… he's outside my door now. My blood rushes, and my heart leaps into my throat. It is him, I am sure. He's come to dispose of evidence. I am living evidence. The doorknob turns. I freeze- wanting to look away, but knowing I can't. I am paralyzed. The door squeaks open wider, wider, wider still. A face sticks in. It's just Damien. My air rushes out with a sigh of relief. I wheeze slightly. "Hey, thought I'd stop by. I've got a class in an hour." He says, then sees the look on my face and comes to sit next to me. "You're safe with me," he smiles. He wraps his arms around my shoulders and squeezes me into his chest. "I thought you were…" my sentence runs off had hangs in the silence, screaming for a name, an answer, something. I sigh and close my eyes. I can't breathe. Everything inside starts screaming, a noise bubbling up beneath my skin. I start violently shaking, my blood jumping inside me. Blood. I see blood- on the bed, on the floor; Blood. My breathing grows heavy and my eyes roll back. I shake and curl into the fetal position. My body grows numb as I see a silhouette lunge at my mother. I see a little girl run downstairs and hide under her covers, whimpering. Caroline. Caroline. "Caroline." Damien is rubbing a wet cloth on my forehead and saying my name softly in my ear.

2:26 A.M.- My blank eyes stare at the white ceiling. My newest vision is still flashing in my mind and sweat is dripping from my face. The darkness swallows me in a sea of blood and sharp screams. The tree slaps the window, the faucet drips, and the AC hums. Tap, tap, drip, hum. Tap, tap, drip, hum. Taaaap, taaaap, driiiiip, huuuuuumn. Sleep creeps over me slowly, and my eyelids close. My dreams are dark, filled with sweat and fear. Running from shadows.