Colleen always thought herself an average little girl. She was eight years old and lived in what was considered the “bad part of town” in Detroit, Michigan. She never begrudged her parents for the little they could provide her and her two sisters, one older at thirteen years old and her younger sister at six years old. The new apartment they had been able to finally provide was bigger and allowed her older sister her own room.
The one things that discomforted Colleen, though, was the horrible feeling she had when she would try to walk down the hallway to her room or from her room. She couldn’t do it like her sisters did, and her mother had come to scolding her for rubbing the white wash off of the walls. Her back would feel the tingles as if someone was following her when she knew she was alone. This forced her to rub her back down the walls as she walked like a crab sideways. Every spanking her mother gave her was worth it to not have that horrible feeling crawling down her back.
Her parents worked hard as servers in the suburb outside of downtown. They brought in a decent amount of money to keep them warm in the winter and housed now. It was a step up from their previous dwellings. Colleen knew that they were saving to one day move everyone into the neighborhood where they had found their good jobs and into the better schools.
Colleen was now laying in her blankets on the floor next to her younger sister, Tisha, and trying to will herself to sleep. For some reason she couldn’t shut her eyes. Her heart would race when she did and they would pop back open. The light from the hallway illuminated the dark room well enough for her to see that her few toys and belongings weren’t moving. Yet something seemed to be moving in the dark to her mind. She told herself over and over it was her imagination. She could hear the night people outside of the house and the bass from the cars as they cruised by. Her parents wouldn’t be home until the last bus came through at about midnight, but her older sister Nikka was awake. She knew she was awake still as her stereo was on low to try and drown out the night life of the ghetto.
Finally sleep came onto Colleen deep into the night even after she heard the door unlock and her parents come in for the night. All three bolts were replaced as her brain went into the first stages of dreams. They were plagued, as they had been of late, of weird images of people yelling and the horrible feeling of fear. No sound, though, was ever in these dreams and that might have forced her to be better about them.
Most days were a normal routine for Colleen. She would wake up and hurry out of her bedroom before her back could be exposed. In the living room her sisters would be getting dressed for the day and they would share a handful of cereal. Then they would all hurry out of the door to the public bus to ride toward their school. Their parents hadn’t wanted them to attend at the public which was three blocks from their new apartment, so they had received some of the few scholarships awarded to attend a private academy on the other side. It was an hour ride on the public bus. This meant that Colleen didn’t have to be in the creepy part of her apartment very long, though. Even when she was home she tried to remain in the living room as much as she could.
This day went as usual until it was time once again for bed. The feeling in the house intensified as night drew its blanket onto the city. Nikka was bobbing her leg up and down while sitting on the couch in apparent nervousness. Tisha also seemed to be worried about something. Colleen didn’t know what could be causing it, but even in their living room, she felt as if it wasn’t just the three of them alone in the apartment. They heard their heater click on, but then shut off almost immediately. Nikka stood up and went to the thermostat. She didn’t tell the other two anything but shook her head, shrugged her shoulders, and returned to the couch. They continued to watch their Princess and the Pea movie as the heater once again started and stopped.
Nikka sighed, “You two better go get to bed. If the heater is broke than you’ll wanna be under your covers tonight.” She stood up and turned off the T.V. The heater gave a low moaning sound before turning on and off again. It sent chills down Colleen’s spine as she grabbed Tisha’s hand and they raced for their bedroom.
As they both cuddled under their heap of blankets and quilts, most of which had been gifts from the PTO at their new school, they felt the cold seep into the room. A broken furnace in the middle of February in Michigan was a death sentence if they waited to long to fix it. Tisha fell into slumber quickly, as she did most nights, but Colleen stayed awake to hear Nikka trying to get the heater to work. She heard her on the phone with one of their parents, probably disrupting their shift to tell them, and heard her ask if they still had their portable unit from the old apartment. The old apartment hadn’t had central heat like this new one did, and so they had had space heaters that were constantly a threat to break out a fire. Colleen remembered her dad’s warnings every morning while they huddled around one in the living room. Nikka hung up the phone then and Colleen felt herself starting to drift into sleep.
The cold nipped her face, but she couldn’t breathe under her blankets. Her face was the only thing she hadn’t bundled up. Her head even had an extra pillow wrapped around it. The sound of a voice shouldn’t have penetrated the wrappings of fluff, but it was clear as if she hadn’t her ears covered well, “Kill her.”
Her eyes sprang open and she shifted their browns around the darkened room. The hallway light should have been able to come into the room well enough for her to see around her, but it seemed the black had covered her room well. She could see a bit of where the light just ended right at the entrance of her room and couldn’t come in further. The voice was raspy and deep, “Kill her.” She was awake now and knew for certain that it couldn’t be a dream. Tisha was still deep in slumber beside her.
Slowly, without knowing why she was doing it, she sat up and grabbed for her extra pillow. “Take her from this misery. Kill her,” the voice commanded. She held her pillow in between both hands now. She knew what she had to do. Her brain screamed for her to stop, though, as her hands moved to hover above the little girl’s face. She could easily push the pillow down and sit on top of the six year old.
No! Her brain was yelling at her to stop. To not move. She needed to not kill her sister. She had never any ill will toward her family before. Why would she want to end the six year old’s life now?
Her arms shook with the torrent of emotions. She wanted to stop, but the voice kept challenging her. It kept commanding her. Her eyes moved from the innocent little girl and up into the corner of her room. Above the closet was deep black and then two glowing red pupils. They had no outline, nothing to define them attached to anything. The blackness swirled around the entire room except for those eyes and the clearness she could see her sister laying next to her.
Suddenly it seemed over. A new shadow joined the room and she could move her body on her own again. She had control over her arms and pulled the pillow away from where it had almost snuffed out a life. She searched for the source of the new shadow and saw Nikka standing in the doorway. Her own face alight with fear and shock as she stared into the corner where the eyes had been. They slowly looked at each other before the older sister ran from the room.
Colleen couldn’t fight the fatigue that suddenly gripped her. She didn’t remember laying down nor falling asleep, but she was grateful when the sun was shinning through the window the next morning. She was very happy when Tisha woke her up.
Her happiness increased as they packed their things over the course of the next three days and by the end of the week were moving to an apartment closer to their school and where their parents worked. They never spoke about what happened in that apartment that night and her mother never had need to spank her for stripping the paint again. In their new place she was able to walk down the halls comfortably and even play in her room alone. They all realized how dark the world had seemed when suddenly their new apartment seemed brighter even if it did have less windows.
Colleen tried to ignore the news, but she couldn’t help to notice that her old address seemed to have a lot of domestic violence murders attached to it until it was finally torn down when she was twenty-three so that the new deli across the street could have a bigger parking area. Even later, though, she still remembers the red eyes who had tried to get her to kill her sister that cold winter’s night.