Updated: Apr 7
Jeremy tossed in the sheets. His mopped hair was like a splatter of paint on the white pillow. He was aware of the empty space next to him. The warm air of the room caused sweat to drip down his face, forcing him to throw the sheets from his body finally. His head throbbed with exhaustion, but a running mind kept his eyes flickering. He tossed over once more. He grunted and rotated his pillow to the other side; the cool side allowed a moment to drift into comfort before the sweat and heat caught him once more, forcing his mind to stay active. Jeremy flipped his head to another side. His wide, dark eyes opened in the black abyss of the room.
Red digital numbers, the only light in the room. 12:01, what the fuck! Jeremy tossed to the other side once more. He could hear a pulse in his ears that was leaving a warm sensation. He forced his eyes shut. The pulsing in his ears faded and, for a brief moment, began to slip into a slumber.
A dripping, not in his ears. His eyes fluttered open. The noise was just audible when he focused on it. Was it the sink? The restroom was down the hall, and too far for that to come through the walls. Was Jennifer doing something? She was not in the bed and he was not sure when or where she went off to. He shut his eyes once more.
A scratching. His eyes fluttered open once more. Again, a scratching. The noise reminded him of his childhood. The sound of a dog’s claws against hardwood floor. There had been a time in his life this sound was comforting. Long ago, in his childhood. He would hear the scratching, the sniffing, the shaking and rattles of collars in the night. It had soothed the nerves to know the trusted family companions were nearby in the dark. Eased the tension of a young mind still frightened of what lay in the dark. Though, his heart sank. He steadied his breathing. Slow, and steady, he listened intently. They didn’t own a dog. He waited, holding his breath again. Waiting for something. His chest ached. His throat contracted.
“Jeremy! In the kitchen, quick!” A faint female voice called.
With fear as his engine driving him, Jeremy bolted out of the bed. His bare feet pushing into the soft carpet. Disoriented, he banged his small toe against his dresser as he stumbled into the hall. The cold of the hardwood floor heightened his senses. He moved to the kitchen.
“Jeremy!” This time the call came from another area, closer, the bathroom.
He stopped at the urgency of the new call. In the hall, there was a single door open, dark, which was their bathroom, and then down into the kitchen.
“Don’t go into the kitchen. I heard it too.” The voice came from the bathroom. A cold chill ran up his spine. The clicking noise had returned. He stood frozen, unsure where to turn, and cold fingers spread across his lower back.