It stood by my bed at night, the renegade of childhood solace, always wanting to be seen. Reminiscing through my teenage years, I sometimes shudder. But one October night tremors through me most.
It was the night of my fifteenth birthday. My girlfriends had planned to stay over after the celebration but my mother had to be at work very early the next morning. So everyone left the party around eight p.m. Mom went straight to bed.
I had showered, slipped on my favorite fuzzy jammies, and slipped beneath the comforter. With my feather pillow behind my back, I sunk my eyes deep into the tenth chapter of a mystery novel. Forty minutes in I became very drowsy and began to nod off. The book fell centerfold over my chest as I drifted into a deep sleep.
Two tranquil hours had passed when a thumping sound in the attic woke me. I raised to an elbow swiping my heavy eyelids with my palm. Once the blur left my eyes I called out for Mom but no answer came.
Assuming the noise was a mouse or the house settling, I covered back up and attempted to get back to sleep. It was difficult because the hickory branches raking against my bedroom window troubled me.
Then, a sudden Siberian ambiance clutched me. My body shivered. I felt my cheeks numb as the room grew more frigid. Exhales rose into white mists and for a few seconds, a ghastly essence kept me still. My heart was beating chaotically. I knew something sinister was near.
Cautiously, I began to raise my head. Then a closer, blood-curdling sound beset me. I gasped and my lungs paused. A gaudy scraping noise emulated across the bed’s wooden footboard and sounded like fingernails digging into the oak.
Cheek buried into the pillow, I remained still. But the ghastly feeling that came over me caused me to pant. Sensing intense eyes on me, I gulped and mustered the courage to lift my head again. My eyes saucered as I raised myself off the pillow and began to turn. That moment, a cold heavy breath brushed my hair.
If anyone ever asks me to define how I think the moments before death might feel, I’d say that moment in my room is close as I can describe. As I sat with fists full of sheet and mattress topper, a low horrific growl entered my left ear. The feeling of dread cloaked me.
“What are you?” My lips rattled.
Overwhelmed with fear, I managed to turn my gaze toward the presence. And a harrowing dark figure met me with burnishes eyes. A robe of black enshrouded it. I can’t describe the dire sensation that took over me that second. I screamed and upon instinct, bolted toward my bedroom door.
“Mom,” I called desperately. “Where are you? Help me!”
Still, Mom wasn’t answering and it felt as though the creepy mass from my room was gaining. I ran out into the right side of the hallway and paused a moment, unsure of what to do. When I glanced to my left, my heart dove toward my gut. Mom was sprawled out motionlessly on the floor beneath the attic door.
At that moment adrenaline seemed to replace the haunting fear with immeasurable worry. I rushed toward her and immediately hit my knees to check on her. I was hysterical; crying, screaming, begging mom to wake up. I felt for a pulse but it was inert. After several desperate attempts to resuscitate, it became clear. Mom was gone.
I picked myself up, staggered toward the shady kitchen, still in shock and inner turmoil. I drew up the phone and called 911. My life felt over watching the gurney take my mother away. Not for a night. Forever.
My life had ended in so many ways. I was beyond distraught. And I refused to stay in the house afterward. So, my aunt Grace took me in until I started college four years later.
I never told anyone about the strange presence who visited the night mom passed away. Not until now. I’ve told myself it had to be one of two things; death’s angel, or a warning sent to me by something beyond human comprehension.
Submitted by Raven Gilreath
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