Maybe it hadn’t been such a good idea to watch three horror movies in a row when Nick was working an overnight. She wasn’t a kid, she didn’t have anything to prove, what the hell had she been thinking?
It seemed fine at 8 o’clock when Nick was heading out the door. This time of year, it was still a little light out at 8 and she had good snacks and a couple of beer, so horror movies seemed just the thing. Nick didn’t like horror at all so she usually saved them up to watch with her sister, but Ellen was out of town for a couple of weeks and it really didn’t seem like a big deal.
And it wasn’t, really. The first movie was about creatures who looked human until they decided to strike. That wasn’t very scary at all. A little gross, but not scary. The second was about a ghost and it was so over the top that she was hardly fazed. The third one, though, that hit her hard. It was about a woman who kept hearing things when she was home alone and ended with a killer slowly creeping up the stairs to her room and attacking her.
It had definitely been a bad choice for a woman staying alone in her house overnight. Ally couldn’t shake the image of the killer, dressed in black with his hood up, climbing the stairs to the victim’s bedroom.
She did all of her usual fall asleep tricks. She had a cup of tea, she read a romance novel, did some yoga and meditated. She had some music on at first, but she kept having this image of someone coming up the stair to her room and the music masking the sounds of their footsteps. So, she lay there in the quiet darkness and wished that she were one of those people who could fall asleep with the light on. The time on the clock crawled along. She saw 2AM, 3AM, and 3:38. She must have fallen asleep sometime after that because she sat up awake at 4:17 with her heart trying to escape her chest.
There was someone on the stairs. She could hear them creeping along, slow, sliding steps, like they were trying not to be heard. It was like the movie come to life. What the hell was she going to do?
She didn’t want to be like the woman in the movie, shaking in her bed, awaiting her doom. She took a deep breath, slid out from under the covers and practically jumped from her bedroom door to the top of the stairs. Her sudden appearance must have taken the intruder by surprise because he threw his hands up in the air, lost his balance and went tumbling down the stairs. She ran back to her room, locked the door and called the police.
She was talking to the 911 lady on her land line, so she decided to use her cell to text Nick and see if he could come home. She fired off a series of short texts and clutched the phone waiting for his reply while she listened closely to hear if the intruder was stirring.
She didn’t hear any movement. Instead, from downstairs, she heard the distinctive buzz and beep of Nick’s cell phone receiving text after text.
Later, in the ambulance, she was sobbing on to Nick’s hand as she held it. She was begging him to be okay and promising never to watch horror movies again, when he squeezed her hand and spoke the first words he had said since his fall.
“Next time, I’ll call before I come home early.”