By Kay Oakley
I used to beg Ava to watch any cartoon besides Animal Friends, but I was a good sister, so I tolerated it with earbuds and hip-hop music on full volume. Now that I was tragically alone, I couldn’t go to sleep without watching at least one episode on my laptop.
Tanya the yellow hippo was twirling her dress and singing when a tapping sound intruded on her song. The beats were perfectly apart like a metronome. At first, I assumed it was part of the show.
The tapping continued. I plucked out my earbuds and realized the sound came from the window above my desk. The taps were hard enough to make the glass tremble. I swiveled my chair.
The porchlights illuminated a hand, which faded into the midnight sky at the wrist. The hand was too pale and bluish to come from a living person. Dirt crusted around its cuticles, and the skin around the knuckles cracked like concrete.
I held my breath and froze like a rabbit about to be pounced by a predator. The tapping doubled its speed. My eyes played a ping-pong match between the hand and my phone sitting on the windowsill.
Sweat cascaded down my forehead, and I slowly dropped to my knees to hide from whatever lay behind the glass.
Tap, tap, tap.
I inched my hand up the wall. My slimy hands had barely closed around the phone when a web of cracks traveled across the pane.
I scurried to my safe corner between my unmade bed and the wall. The window shattered. Glass sprayed everywhere, and I curled into a ball to hide from the shards that broke and skidded across the wood floor.
I pressed the emergency call button.
The shape of a bloated toddler crept into the open space. The figure jumped in through the hole and hit the glass-covered floor knees first.
The lights dotted my vision with black spots, so I didn’t get a good look at the thing before my desk lamp flickered and left me in darkness.
The person, who was barely longer than my forearm, had eyes that lit up like the two brightest search lights I’d ever seen. At break-neck speed, the head spun in circles, scanning the room.
Terror trapped the scream in my throat.
It struggled to its hands and knees and crawled over the pile of broken glass, elbows bent at a backward angle and legs pumping toward me.
I ran out of my room, but not before the phone slipped out of my grip. I slammed the door behind me, sheltering myself behind the next available door: the one to the pantry.
Something crinkled above me. With a foomp, a bag of flour belly-flopped off the top shelf, and a cloud of flour and dust settled on my head. The bag struck my shoulder and tumbled down my arm. I coughed and spat out clumps while warm tears streamed down my face. The last time I used that flour was for Ava’s first birthday cake, which I shouldn’t have bothered making because no one showed up.
There was that tapping again. Not on the window, but on the back of my useless shield of a door. I squeezed my eyes shut, preparing to be shot to death with a million splinters. But that didn’t happen.
The doorknob turned. The white eyes quit shining their light, and the dining room chandelier flickered on.
A toddler with gray eyes and fine blond hair greeted me. She breathed like she was holding a drop of water in her throat.
With cut up knees, my Ava climbed on top of the sack of potatoes next to me and kissed me on the cheek with lips as cold as the late fall slush. “I found you.”
Bio: Kay Oakley is an author, sister, and thinker. Kay spent her young adult years enthralled with the grotesque and disturbing parts of life. She writes what people avoid talking about. When not hunched over a laptop, Kay can be found reading, cooking, or watching horror movies. She is currently majoring in English and Creative Writing.