"William, dear, can you come here please?"
A woman in her mid-thirties stood in her bedroom, staring out her window.
"William, there is a man standing in our garden. I don't know who he is but he is frightening me. I beg you, come here this instant," she beckoned.
William Abernathy's footsteps echoed through the west wing as he walked through the hallway to his bedroom. The candle in his hand eerily cast his shadow on the wall as the flame, flitting to and fro, made it appear to be dancing across the corridor. Entering the room, he set the candle on the bedside table and went to join his wife, Stephanie, at the window.
"See the man out there?" she asked.
"Out there, in the garden."
William looked out the window and into the garden, but couldn't see anything except for the greenery and the few tomato plants he had started growing.
"Stephanie, I don't see any man in our garden."
The woman blinked her eyes and the shadow outside disappeared. She blinked again and rubbed her eyes but the man was gone.
"It must've just been your eyes playing tricks on you, darling. Why don't you come lie down? I'll make you some tea," he said.
She wouldn't believe it was a trick. No, it couldn't have been. She saw someone out there. He'll come back, she thought, I know he will.
As she fell asleep, she dreamed of a burning field of tulips. She walked through the burning field unscathed by the flames, the smoke curving around her nose, not entering her nostrils. As she came closer to the center of the field, she noticed a small patch of flowers, untouched by the surrounding flames.
Abernathy, a whisper from behind. Abernathy.
Stephanie turned around and the burning field was now a charred wasteland. When she turned to the patch of unharmed tulips, the grass underneath still just as green as it was before, the shadow man was standing in it.
His hands shot out and wrapped around her throat, clutching and squeezing the life out of her. She opened her eyes and found herself back in her bedroom, lying next to her husband. She reached up and felt her throat, which was hoarse and raw. It hurt for her to breathe.
She got up and went to the bathroom for a glass of water. She filled the glass and swallowed smoothly, letting the cool drink massage her sore throat. She turned the faucet back on and splashed her face with water. After drying off, she straightened up and noticed her reflection in the mirror didn't have eyes. Startled, screaming and scared, she knocked the glass off the edge of the sink. It fell to the ground and shattered into a hundred twinkling pieces.
Back in the bedroom, William was startled awake by the broken glass. He went into the bathroom quickly to check on his wife, who was sitting up against the bathtub in hysterics.
"Stephanie?" he said worriedly.
She screamed like a madwoman when he went to touch her arm. Reeling back in horror, he went into shock. With his wife sitting in front of him screaming, he sat motionless in the shards of glass from the broken cup.