“What was that?” Lilly asked groggily, as she tried to wipe the sleep from her eyes.
“I don’t know.” Jacob replied, as she sat up in his bed.
Jacob and Lilly were brother and sister. Eight-year-old Jacob, and six-year-old Lilly shared the upstairs bedroom where they lived in an old cottage with their parents on the outskirts of Hackensack; a somewhat small and not the least bit impressive town that was surrounded by the country side, and thick forests, and which sat at the foot of the Wandaway Mountains.
“What are you doing?” Lilly asked, as she watched Jacob slip from his bed and start tip-toeing towards the door.
“I’m going to see what all that commotion was.”
“If Mommy and Daddy catch you up, you’re going to get in trouble.”
“Don’t be such a baby.”
“Don’t call me that.” Lilly spat back in a huff as she slammed her hands down on her blanket.
“Well then, don’t act like one.”
Lilly understood the challenge, and quickly got out of bed and plodded across the room to the door where Jacob waited for her. “Turn on the light, I can’t see.”
“No!” Jacob hissed under his breath, someone will see it.
“Who’s acting like a baby now?” Lilly taunted.
“Keep your voice down. I think I hear something outside.”
The two huddled next to the door, straining to hear what was going on after the loud crash that came from the other side.
“I hear it too.” Lilly proudly announced, and then suddenly realized she had proclaimed her triumph too loudly, and hunkered down behind Jacob ready for the door to swing open and to be caught out of bed by their parents; but as they waited nothing happened.
Jacob reached for the door.
“Don’t.” Lilly pleaded, “Let’s just go back to bed.”
“I’m just going to peek.” Jacob slowly turned the knob, and pulled the door open just a crack so it wouldn’t squeak the hinges.
The two children peeked out into what used to be the hallway outside of their room, but was now a vast valley with a slow meandering stream cutting across through its middle; and though outside their bedroom window the moon still hung high among the stars in the night sky, out in the hallway the sun was out, and it was midday already.
“Where’s the rest of the house?” Lilly asked.
“How should I know.”
“Where’s Mommy and Daddy?”
“How should I know.”
“What if there’s something else out there instead.”
“Stop it, you’re scaring me.” Tears started to form in Lilly’s blue eyes.
No sooner had Lilly spoke the words than dark clouds suddenly began to fill the sky, and loud rumblings of thunder shook through the doorway, and into their small room.
Jacob shut to door again and locked it, and headed for the window.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to climb down the gutter pipe, and try the front door. If Mom and Dad aren’t there I’ll climb right back up, I’ll only be gone for a minute, you’ll be fine.” with that Jacob lifted the window and disappeared outside.
Frightened and alone Lilly climbed back into her bed, and pulled the covers up tight around her. She tried to tell herself this was all a dream, and that she would be waking up soon. As she anxiously waited for her brother’s return the door handle started to tried to turn and rattled behind her, then the whole door started shaking, someone was out there trying to get in. Lilly dove under the covers, hiding and waiting for whatever was outside to pass, but it didn’t seem to be giving up. Then she heard the eeriest of sounds, the sound of someone, or something, sliding the key into the lock.
The door creaked open.
“Lilly.” it was her mother’s voice.
Lilly threw back the covers, “Mommy, everything outside our room was gone and I was so scared.” Lilly tried to explain through the tears as she looked past her mother and out of her bedroom door to the quite normal looking hallway outside.
“It was just a bad dream, you’re fine now.” her mother cooed into her ear.
“Get back in bed.” their father told Jacob, before he glanced back into the hallway and thought to himself; the last time I heard of something like this, I was just a boy and wandered into the back of a wardrobe.
written for: The Speakeasy #143
photo by: muttermeem