The wind was howling, as the heavy rain hammered at the windows, making them rattle. I was lying on my bed with my blankets barely covering my eyes. As I looked out the window, a bright flash of light came across the dark sky. The lightening lit my room only for a few seconds and then vanished just as quickly. A loud thunderous clap followed making me jump.
I used to love the rain, but not anymore. I closed my eyes hoping for sleep to come. I waited, but it never came. That’s when I heard it, two deafening blasts. One right after the other. I slowly crawled out of bed and headed towards the window. I peeled back my curtains. The heavy suede slipped through my fingers. I could feel my heartbeat racing. The next-door neighbor’s lights were on. The sound was so alarming; I knew they might need help.
We had just moved into the area and I didn’t know anyone yet. My parents were off touring Europe. My brother, who was supposed to watch over me, had left to see his girlfriend, telling me to be a “good girl”. Yes, granted, I was sixteen-years-old, but I still felt uncomfortable alone in a new house and a new neighborhood.
I put on a pair of jeans and crept downstairs. I was worried that something had happened to them. Before I knew it, I was outside drenched by the rain. I ran across our lawn to the neighboring house. I ran until I reached their door. The porch light was on and so were the lights in the living room. I peered through the windows to see if I could see inside, but I couldn’t. The curtains blocked me from seeing anything.
I rang the doorbell, but no one came. If the lights were all on, then someone had to be there, right? I waited, my nervousness now getting the better of me. I began to swear at how stupid I was and how stupid my brother was for leaving me alone. I rang it again, but this time I put my hand on the front door. It opened with a soft creak. Some sort of old school jazz music was playing in the background. I inched forward slowly.
“Hello?” I said, my voice cracking from my fear. “I'm your new neighbor, Kassia. I heard a loud sound and thought you might need some help.” I waited, but still nothing.
I moved gradually through the hallway passing a staircase. The music was getting louder as I headed towards the kitchen. I could see pure white tiles lining the floor. My eyes were drawn to a deep red liquid, which had etched itself through the tiles’ grout. My breathing became erratic. I suddenly knew what I was looking at. My mind froze but my body kept going. The pool of blood was now getting larger; that’s when a small knocking sound came from behind me. My breath hitched and I turned around. My eyes zeroed in at the front door. If I run now, I could be back home and safe. I picked up my pace, but a small sound came from behind me. Underneath the staircase was a small cabinet, which I hadn’t noticed before. I reached for the handle and opened it.
I was startled out of my dream, well more like a nightmare. Post-its were stuck on my face. Fuck, I must have fallen asleep writing again, I said to myself as I peeled off each Post-it. My computer screen was still on and the famous aquarium screensaver scrolled across my desktop.
Damn it! Every time! Every fuckin’ time, I always wake up at that point. I was never able to see past the cabinet door.
It was raining outside. I guess the sounds of the rain must have triggered my dream.
“Kassia?” My brother’s voice startled me.
He had a key to my house and made it a regular routine to pop by whenever he wanted, especially after that night. It may have been seventeen years ago, but my brother never really forgave himself. I had told him so many times that it wasn’t his fault, but he still carried it with him.
“You’re still writing?” he asked as he walked into my office.
“Yeah, I was inspired,” I lied.
I was in the middle of a seriously annoying writer’s block. They happened rarely to me, only because I never forced my stories to come, but this one was killing me. My editor was on my back, which pissed me off and he knew it. I was not the type of writer who worked on a deadline. When the story came, it came. I was longing for the days I was an anonymous eBook writer, whom no one really paid any attention to. The freedom back then was unbelievable and I only understood it years after I became popular. The pressure to churn out books was becoming too much. The more popular my books got, the more I thought about my stories and the words I used, making me second-guess myself constantly.
“You’re lying to me,” he said as he took off a Post-it I hadn’t seen.
“Whatever.” I shrugged my shoulders. He pulled on my office chair, rolling me through my hallway to my bedroom and flipping the chair onto my bed.
He was strong and tall and I rarely messed with him. Well, I used to when I was little. Whenever he didn’t play with me, I made sure he paid for it.