“Mandy,” a soft voice whispered close to Mandy’s ear. Mandy heard it, but she wanted to sleep a little longer so she decided to ignore it. She was still so tired she felt as if she had just gone to bed. Mandy knew it must be morning and that she must have slept through her alarm clock since her mom was trying to wake her up. “Mandy,” the voice persisted.
Mandy groaned and pulled her pillow over her face. “Mandy,” said the voice again. Mandy felt the pillow be pulled away from her eyes. She knew the charade must be up, she would have to give in to the day now. She forced her eyelids to open a bit in a squint, prepared for the morning light to be bright and painful, but instead darkness met her eyes. She rubbed her hands against her eyes and half sat up in bed. It was still dark, she was not imagining that.
“Mom, what are you doing?” Mandy asked appalled that she had been called awake at this ungodly hour.
“Mandy,” the voice said again, softly.
“Mom?” Mandy asked quietly, her voice icy in her throat with the sudden panic that was enclosing around her.
“Mandy,” said the feather soft whisper.
Mandy looked around quickly, willing her eyes to adjust to the darkness. She could see no one in her room. There was no light coming in from out in the hallway or further in from the house, no light shining in from the windows. She was surrounded by the pitch black, alone in her bed except for the voice. She felt a scream rising in her chest but it would not come out. Mandy felt paralyzed with fear.
“Mandy,” the voice was very faint now.
Mandy had the sudden urge to pull the blankets up over her head and hide, but she knew that was pointless. She summoned all of her courage, which wasn’t very much and said to the disembodied voice, “What do you want?” She was almost more terrified to hear the answer than to hear the whispered voice again.
“Come,” it breathed.
Mandy was certain of one thing: she was definitely not getting out of her bed willingly. She grabbed hold of her blankets and pulled them up a little higher and tighter to her body.
“Now,” it instructed.
Suddenly a gust of air blew in though Mandy’s open windows. It was cold, the summer nights always cooled off drastically. Coolness blew in right off the waters. The wind seemed to wrap its icy, invisible arms around Mandy, embracing her in its powerful nothingness and pulling at her unrelentingly.
Before she could scream she was somehow not in her bed anymore but out in the dark night. Her house was gone. Her bare feet felt the crisp grass beneath them. The land was flat. There seemed to be a house in the shadows but Mandy couldn’t make it out clearly. The lonely moon peeked out a little from behind some silver clouds, sillouhetting a few tall yet crooked looking trees. They reminded Mandy of skeletons, all bony and knobby, the branches pointing like long, skinny fingers. Mandy followed the outline of the branches to the end, realizing suddenly that something was looped on one of the bigger branches. She took a few steps closer, squinting in the darkness, trying to make out what the object was.
It was dangling. The wind whipped around Mandy and gave the object a push as well. It began to sway a bit from the gusty breeze. A break in the clouds soon allowed the moon to show itself completely, illuminating the horror before Mandy’s eyes. A corpse it was, dangling from a rope tied about the tree branch. The head was at an awful angle, unnaturally bent to the side. It was dressed in outdated clothing in muted tones of brown. A blouse and long skirt. The breeze pushed it again, making it swing gleefully.
This time the scream did find its way out of Mandy. She screamed and screamed, staring in unparalleled fear at the traumatizing sight in front of her eye. She wanted more than anything to back away, to run away, or to at least look away or close her eyes, but she couldn’t. It was as if her body was not under her control anymore. She continued to shriek until finally she located her legs and they began to respond to her commands and move her away.
Mandy ran blindly, not caring which direction she went so long as she got away from this horrid place. She had only gotten a few paces away when she tripped over something, perhaps a tree root poking out of the ground. She fell on her stomach and found herself staring at something directly in front of her. It was a large gray stone. A slab. A headstone. Her eyes began to read the carving even though she knew what it said before she did so.
“Here liest quite free from Lifes
A loving Wife…”
A loving Wife…”
The scream gurgled up again in Mandy’s throat. She squeezed her eyes shut and let the scream surround her in the dark night until her throat felt like it would collapse in on itself.