Winning Story by Kasey Ennis (pictured with Sonja Settle, Youth Services Librarian)
It’s a little over three in the morning and due to my inpatient bladder, I am awake. I’m laying in bed trying to summon the energy to come out of my multi-tangled cocoon of blankets that I have somehow trapped myself into. After some overdramatic struggling, I manage to roll out towards the edge.
As I step out into the hall, I soon realize that my eyes won’t be adjusting. Not one, but both of my eyes end up nearly shut. No matter how hard I try, they can’t stay wide. As I stumble across the bathroom, I feel an uneasy breeze pass through my hair. My hands instinctively grasp into fists. Of course, that was before I realized that I was standing directly below the air conditioner.
I feel relieved, but my whole body is tense, and I can’t shake the feeling something’s off. I try to act natural reaching my hand out towards the light. However, my hand is instead met by someone else’s much bonier hand. I stumble out of the doorway and onto the ground.
I try to take air in for a scream, but my lungs don’t seem to work. I’m petrified as I watch. Wide-eyed, I stare trying to get a better look at who, or rather, what is there. My eyes can’t seem to focus, and the second I blink, he’s disappeared.
I stare into the void, arms raised, trying to look as prepared as an asthmatic, cornered thirteen-year-old can. I can’t think straight. Before I can think of a plan, a hand grabs my shoulder from my side. I swing, missing entirely.
All the mental dots connect, and I realize I’m facing my older sister, Nicolle, rather than whatever it was I saw in there. Obviously, she’s looking for an explanation. I suck in my lip before speaking.
“I was trying to go to the bathroom, but when I reached for the light, there was this man. I think he was a man. I don’t even know if he was human.”
Her eyebrows raise as I continue, “I don’t know what happened, but I guess I blinked because when I looked back, he was completely gone.”
She looks like our mom with her strawberry blonde hair, parted to the side. We both do, I guess, but my eyes are a bit darker of a blue, and my hair’s a bit shorter than either of theirs.
I watch as she switches on the light, pulling back the shower curtain to reveal — nothing. She mumbles. If I wasn’t so terrified, I would feel guilty for waking her up.
“I don’t think there’s anyone here. I’m sure you were just dreaming. You know you tend to sleepwalk more when you’re stressed, and I’m pretty sure that stupid history project counts as stress.”
I really don’t want to go into that right now. I tell her I’ll be fine even though we both know I have enough adrenaline in me to run a lifetime.
I try and sleep in bed for about thirty more minutes. I turn over on my side — viewing Nicolle standing in my room.
“Ugh, you scared the crap out of me, Nicolle.”
I wait for her to laugh, but she just stares. Suddenly, I’m uneasy.
“Nicolle . . .”
She turns her head towards me and our eyes lock.
“Your sister isn’t here anymore.”
It’s not only deeper, but an entirely different voice than hers. I notice the knife in her hand, and I can’t help but wonder if this is just another dream or reality.
“You . . . You aren’t real.”
She smiles playfully, and it’s worse than no expression. She talks confidently, but there is an edge to her voice.
“They say you can’t feel pain in dreams. Care to test that theory?”