Traces, Part Six

I yank open the attic door and barely throw down the ladder before I race down. Crap, crap, crap! My heart is pounding and I can’t think. She better not be pulling a bloody joke. If she is, it won’t be an imaginary killer she should be scared of, but me! Sammy, this isn’t a time to joke! God! But as I keep sprinting all over her house and don’t see her anywhere, that’s the only explanation I can think of.

Or…or else.

Gah, brain! Don’t do this to me!

I open the door to her room fast enough to nearly whack me in the face. This is where she should be, right?

No. Empty, empty!

Where could she be? My head is hurting, and my heart keeps skipping beats. It’s a joke, Ella! This isn’t real! Don’t be stupid!

Crash!

I gasp and turn around. Nothing, can’t see nothing.

And then I hear a girl scream.

What the hell! My heart stops for a moment, oh God, am I having a heart attack? That wasn’t a prank scream, no, no it wasn’t.

“Sammy!” I holler against my will, but I clap my hand over my mouth. Stupid, so stupid! You weren’t supposed to be here, she was supposed to be alone, how stupid! Classic horror movie mistake, idiot!

I turn back to her room, looking for weapons. I need a weapon! And fast, can’t have my back turned for long, can I? My eyes flicker over her floor, her closet. I spot Sammy’s softball bat from elementary school. I had no idea she kept it for this long, why did she? She never liked it anyway. I lurch forward and grab the bat, but in the process more of her junk from her closet crashes down onto the floor noisily. I wince, before realizing something

Screw it. I don’t care how loud I am now. I messed up, I shouted her name, I may as well be dead. I run down the stairs, the bat heavy in my hands. Her scream came from the kitchen. That’s where I shoud’ve looked, how stupid.

My breath isn’t coming right, I feel as though my lungs are growing weak. I nearly twist my ankle on the last step, but I manage to keep myself from falling.

The kitchen light is off. It’s the only one off.

I hear nothing.

I stop, my legs trembling with the effort. I nearly topple over, and my breath is coming short. I force myself to not sound ragged.

This doesn’t feel good. Not at all. I’m suddenly petrified, I feel as though my feet are stuck to the floor.

I hear a soft groan from the kitchen. But I don’t see anybody.

I need to move. Why can’t I?

I inhale and don’t exhale. I won’t exhale until I turn the corner into the kitchen.

My chest feels ready to burst when I finally step forward. I push the bat over my shoulder, ready to swing if I see anything. My muscles feel as though they’re melting, but why? This bat isn’t even that heavy.

When did my footsteps become so loud?

Tears of panic blur my vision. I have just enough sense left in me to know that isn’t a good thing.

I think I smell something metallic. Like blood. But no, that’s stupid. It’s my imagination filling in gory details for me. Before I lose my nerve and turn back to puke or do something even more stupid, I turn the corner.

I barely even have time to notice a pool of blood on the floor before I see the kitchen knife swing straight towards my face.

I shriek against my will and feel the knife tear skin off my forehead. Before I know it, my vision’s not just screwy because of my tears, but because blood is pouring into my eyes. Head wounds bleed a lot. I swing the bat wildly, hoping to make contact.

I finallly feel something, but when I manage to get some hair and blood out of my eyes I only see that I struck the kitchen cabinet, and that wood is falling into the blood on the floor.

I feel warmth behind me. Body heat?

I gasp and throw the bat wildly behind me and make contact with something soft and I hear the beautiful noise of cracking and a sharp gasp.

I turn around. There’s someone there, either a tall woman or a man who’s average height. I got him in the ribs, thank God, I can swing again. The bat is flying towards him again, I’m trying to get his face, which is obscured by a hat, eye mask, and cloth over his mouth and nose, which are all white, meshing together into one whole mask in a way.

He dodges away from me. The blade is getting close to my face again. I step back, but I land on something soft with a crunch. My stomach tightens, and I look down.

Oh God. Sammy. I stepped on her hand.

Her chest is still falling up and down, but I can’t tell if that’s better or worse. I only have time to see multiple stab wounds all over her body before I feel the knife slice my cheek open. I tumble backwards, but don’t loosen my grip on the bat.

I lash out again, but he’s too damn fast; he dodges and instead leaps toward me.

My heart stops, and I can feel myself gripping the bat even tighter, as though I’m already getting ready for rigor mortis.

I can’t help but scream when I feel the knife plunge deep into my forearm. My grip immediately weakens and I can hear the dull thud of the bat as it strikes the floor.

I cringe away, I don’t want to die like this. Not by a knife. I hate knives.

Blood flows down my arm, sticky and metallic and hot as hell. No, not like this. I tumble forwards, grabbing the bat off the floor.

Sammy’s barely breathing now.

I raise the bat with my left arm. This will be weird and likely a wasted effort; my left arm has never been as strong as my right, but who cares! I’m gonna die, why not at least fight more?

I try to hit him in the head, but my aim is completely off; it hits the kitchen counter instead. I suddenly feel weak, blood loss perhaps? It makes sense…my head is bleeding in two places, and I have a deep stab wound on my arm…

Crap. I lean on the counter and try to look up and not look weak, but my ragged breath gives it away.

The bat is falling from my grip. It was too slick with my blood. Now it clatters into the floor, and I somehow know that I’ll never be able to pick it up. Forget it.

I rush forward at him, though I don’t know why. My head feels like cotton balls, I can’t think. My brain feels like fuzz.

I can barely feel the dull sting as he slashes me on the back. Slashes, not stabs, why?

I’m too weak to resist. I fall away from him, slip in something, probably blood…my ankle twists, a new sharp pain, and I tumble. My forehead slams into something sharp, as if I needed more blood in my eyes.

I fall onto the floor. Darkness is starting to clutter my vision; it’s as if my eyesight is an old sixties movie, in all those weird colors that don’t look right. Fuzzy colors, I used to call them as a kid. Darkness is in the corners of my vision. I can only see the man clean the blade and let more blood drip onto the floor before he walks away.

The next thing I know I can see again. The color is sharper now. I can’t tell how long it’s been; the light is no different outside. A phone…I need to call 911. I glance at Sammy; i can’t even tell if she’s breathing anymore. For some reason, I can’t feel anything. I feel utterly numb. Does surviving a madman trying to stab you to death do something to your emotions? I force myself up and accidentally put weight on my stabbed arm. My scream rings throughout the house. Why’d he leave? Why didn’t he kill me too?

I walk awkwardly towards the nearest home phone. Sammy’s family must be the last family in America to have one. Lucky me.

I feel ready to puke again though. Do I have a concussion? I wonder as I dial 911. “911, what’s your emergency?”

Despite my newfound emotional numbness, I find it takes a lot of energy to gasp out, “Help…been attacked, my friend…I don’t know if she’s breathing.” Suddenly, it’s as if a wall comes crashing down. My heart begins to pump fast. Oh God, is Sammy dead? She can’t be dead, she’s too peppy, too vivacious for that.

“Please, ma’am, calm down. Explain to me.”

I give her Sammy’s address fast; already my vision is darkening. “Get here now! I don’t know…oh, I dunno how long I can stay awake…” my legs quake, and as I lean forward and tilt my head down I feel the wound on my head reopen. Which one? I think dazedly.

I can’t hear the operator’s voice anymore. It’s just background noise. The phone falls away from my hand. I see it shatter on the floor just as my legs give out, and I can’t see or feel anything now.

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