A short story by Sophomore Joey Gissendaner

My mind was numb, my body equally unresponsive. A thousand questions attacked my fatigued brain as my form lay limp in a sweat soaked bed. Only five minutes earlier I was awakened by the thunderous sound of a gun shot from the living room. I knew my father was dead. How I knew was just one more question. Muffled by the space between us, I heard my mother pleading for our lives. Not for hers but for her children’s. The second shot. My mother dead. Foot steps.

My room was the last on a wide hall at the top of a long flight of stairs. Before mine were the rooms of my sister Elise and my infant brother Timothy. Elise was fourteen with hair like wild fire. I knew she must have been in her closet by now; or at least I thought she was. I heard the sound of foot steps more dainty and light than those stomping up the stairs. Immediately I knew she was going for Timothy. Third shot. My Elise-dead. The footsteps of the intruder or intruders became muffled now as they reached the carpet of my hallway. My brother began crying in his crib. The sound of a door opening. Fourth shot. My Timothy-dead.

I knew that the fifth shot would be mine. I could practically feel the hot metal tearing through my skin and into some vital organ. My fifteen year old body would lay there lifeless, my gray pajamas soaked with my own blood. In my mind’s eye, I suddenly saw my sister with a dark red hole between her lifeless eyes, the carpet around her body a sinister shade of brown. A single tear rolled down from my blood shot eyes as the footsteps finally reached my door. Black figures. Blast of light. Fifth gunshot. Myself dead.

A thunderous boom woke me from my nightmare. Rain like the wrath of God beat the stained glass window that had hung in my bedroom since we moved in a month ago. In a background of golden hills sat an angel, his green eyes cast toward heaven. The rain trickled down the pane giving the illusion that the heavenly being was crying. My room was dark, typically the charging light on my laptop made my room a pale blue. Power must be out, I thought. I still had not forgotten my dream. The image of my little sister lying in a pool of her own blood still haunted my mind. What did it mean? I tried to rationalize it. Obviously the gun shots were actually the thunder and my brain just felt like scaring me a bit.

My body urged me back to sleep, but something told me to stay awake, some voice in the back of my head told me to check on my siblings. What could it hurt? Pulling the blankets off, I slipped out of bed and toward the door. As I passed it, I could not help but look at the window. In the day it threw vibrant colors across my otherwise dreary room, but at night I always had the strangest feeling as if the angel watched me as I slept. Even now I could swear its eyes followed me as I reached the door.

With a creak the door opened into the hallway. The soft, beige carpet cushioned my steps as it had the intruders’. In a few muffled strides I reached Timothy’s room. I eased the door slowly open so as not to wake him. His room was painted sky blue with pictures of clouds on the ceiling and smiling teddy bears on the wall. In the pale glow of the battery-powered night light, their smiles seamed sinister instead of reassuring. I craned my neck from the door way so I did not need to go into his room any further. Something was wrong. I rushed to the wooden crib, my heart pounding as it had in the dream. He was gone. His sheets were empty, save his plush Thomas the Train Engine that sat smiling up at me. A feeling as if I had just swallowed a cannon ball set in as I stood flabbergasted. Had my dream been true? I lunged across the hallway to Elise’s bedroom. My deepest fears suddenly became reality. She was gone; the pink comforter had been pulled off leaving her brown sheets exposed. A scream lodged in my throat. Frantically, I made for the hallway. As I set foot past the doorway, a flash of white lightning illuminated the night and lit my way down the hall.

My parents’ bedroom was at the end of the hall, their door to the right of a large window and on the opposite side of the stairs from the rest of us kids. My body grew cold as I reached for the door handle. Sweat beaded my brow as my numb hand turned the knob. And as I set foot into the room I began to cry. Their bed, too, was empty. I collapsed to my knees on the soft floor, my tears streaming down my pale cheeks and onto my pajamas. Out of the corner of my eye, a shadow moved in the darkness. I stood up with clenched fists. In the corner stood a black figure. Even without light I made out that the figure was female of average height and weight. “Where are they?” I screamed at her, my words more animalistic than human.

With a giggle and a soft smile, she said, “Dreams to reality, and reality to dreams. What is real and what is fake? Only you can decide”

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