Underneath my pulse monitor's irregular percussive beep, there was another sound in the room. Drip. Drip.
It must be raining hard enough outside that the roof was leaking.
I focused on the sound. The splash pitching deeper as the puddle grew.
The storm flashed again, lighting up the room. This time I didn't count. I'd only had a heartbeat of illumination to see the puddle. It was black.
No. It's not real. Not real...
I grabbed the monitor and turned the screen toward the drip. The black puddle had spread, moving to the wall. And up it. Like a black figure leaning against it. I closed my eyes, telling myself the truth that it was just a shadow cast off the IV pole.
"You're being stupid. Shadows can't get you," I told myself, breathed deep, and opened my eyes again.
The shadow had moved. And it was coming closer. It oozed and grew taller, separating from the wall to walk toward me.
"Found you," the shadow gurgled. "Run."
I didn't need to be told twice. Ignoring the pain, I ripped the IV from my hand and sprinted out of the room, taking the far side from the oozing black shadows.
"Nurse! Nurse!" I yelled.
Emergency lights on the ceiling swirled, the spinning had a dizzying strobe effect. I staggered down the hall toward the illuminated exit sign. Pushing through the door, I burst onto the landing. The stairwell leading down was pitch black at the bottom. I held my breath and to hear a faint click. The sound of the emergency lights shutting off, floor by floor. Second. Then third. I was on the fifth floor. Fleeing the darkness, I headed up to the roof, taking the stairs two at a time. I hit the exit door with a thud. It wouldn't budge.
I looked over my shoulder, the lights continued to snap off. Fourth. Fifth floor. Turning back to the exit, through the small square window at the top I could see a cyclone whipping through the city toward the hospital. A streak of lightning zig zagged down from the funnel.
The lightning was silver. And shaped like a woman.
"I told you I'd be back."
The last light in the stairwell went out, enfolding me in the darkness.
About the Author.
Betsy Schow is the Today Showfeatured author of Finished Being Fat, Quitter's Guide to Finishing, as well as the Storymaker's Saga: Spelled and Wanted. Her career in both fiction and nonfiction makes sense because she's been mixing up real life and fantasy for as long as she can remember. If someone were to ask about her rundown truck, she's one hundred percent positive that mechanical gremlins muck up her engine. And the only reason her house is dirty is because the dust bunnies have gone on strike. She recently moved to Maryland with her own knight in geeky armor and their two princesses (that can totally shapeshift into little beasts). When not writing, she is actively involved in Odyssey of the Mind, a program that helps teach kids to think like there is no box. Catch up and connect with Betsy at betsyschow.com.
Also by Betsy Schow.
The Storymakers Series.
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