Welcome to FROST HARROW, my new modern (1990s) gothic horror series! If you’d like to support this and my other work, go to www.CushingHorrors.com and become my patron! You may also enjoy the Scribe Award-Winning MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE – In print, for kindle, and for all e-book formats. And check out my retro-horror-comedy classic CANOE COPS VS. THE MUMMY as well as my other books. Now… On with the show!
THIRTY-TWO – CASSIE’S NIGHTMARE
Cassie awoke knowing something was wrong.
The door to her room remained open, just as it had when she’d put Ivy to bed. But something felt different. She could tell even in the darkness.
She looked at the clock on the nightstand to see what time it was but saw nothing. The digital readout had gone black. As lightning flashed outside, Cassie realized that the storm must have taken the power lines down.
A vague musky smell hung in the air. Cassie wondered what it was. It didn’t smell like the ozone from most electrical storms.
She got up out of bed and went to check on her friend. Intellectually, she knew that Ivy would be safely asleep in the guest bed. Sleeping pills always put a person out for a while.
But there was no one in the darkened bedroom. She checked both sides of the bed, just to make sure Ivy hadn’t rolled out in her sleep. Nothing.
For a moment panic seized Cassie’s heart. What if her friend had been kidnapped? No, she realized, that’s stupid. Why would someone kidnap Ivy and leave me sleeping in the next room?
Money, she thought. They might do it for her family’s money. Cassie tried to still her pounding heart. No. Don’t panic. Check the house first. Maybe she just went to the bathroom or downstairs to get something to eat.
But as she passed the window at the end of the hall on her way to the bathroom, something outside caught Cassie’s eye.
It was Ivy, walking down the darkened street, her pale form obscured by the driving rain.
Cassie threw open the window.
“Ivy!” she called into the storm. But her friend didn’t respond. Either Ivy couldn’t hear her, or she didn’t want to answer.
A terrible thought occurred to Cassie. What if she’s sleepwalking? What was it Ivy had told her earlier? That she’d woken up in the hall outside her room after a bad dream?
What if she was dreaming now, but the sleeping pills wouldn’t let her wake up? She could be hurt or killed wandering unconscious in the storm.
Cassie tripped over something soft as she headed for the stairs. She crashed headlong into plush carpeting, only just avoiding hitting her head against the wall. She looked back at the offending object. A flash of lightning illuminated Ivy’s yellow nightgown lying on the floor. Her best friend was sleepwalking naked in the rain.
Cassie pushed herself up off the floor and leapt down the stairs. She dashed out of the house, pausing only long enough to grab a raincoat to put over her bare skin. She didn’t even bother to close the door behind her.
But when she got outside, her friend had disappeared into the rain.
Cassie ran desperately in the last direction she’d seen Ivy, calling, “Ivy! Ivy, come back!”
Only the storm howled an answer.
TO BE CONTINUED…