Misha sat on the couch of the apartment she shared with her roommate, Alexa. It was after midnight and she knew she had to get up for work the next day. She just wanted to finish the movie. She knew it was a bad idea, starting a movie so late. Much worse was the fact that she chose a horror flick. Now she would lie in bed, searching the darkness for bogeymen.

She had the lights low, hoping not to disturb her roommate, who had maturely gone to bed hours earlier. Her dog, Brenna, was beside her on the couch. Not a lot of reassurance since the dog’s snores were almost louder than the movie.

She was leaning forward on the couch, bracing for the moment the psychopath would jump out at his incredibly stupid victim. She would likely either be hiding in a closet, running upstairs away from any form of escape or walking through the woods alone…at night.

Brenna lifted her head and Misha heard a low soft growl escape from her mouth, which startled Misha. “Brenna, you scared me! What is wrong with you?” The canine flattened her ears and pushed her mouth into a snarl. This terrified Misha. Brenna was the sweetest dog she knew, despite her size.

What happened next froze Misha to her spot on the sofa. She heard a slow shuffle, like something was coming down the hallway. The only thing on that side of the apartment was the two bedrooms and half bath. Brenna got off the couch slowly and backed up until she had squeezed herself between the sofa and the recliner next to it.

Someone, or something, was coming down the hallway. She could hear that dragging noise again, slow and uneven. Shufffffle, silence, shufffffle, silence. She was gripped in fear and could not force herself to turn her head to face what was causing the sinister sound.

Instead, Misha kept her head positioned forward as if she was looking at the tv. She couldn’t avoid it though. The noise, though still rhythmic, was getting closer, louder. Now she could see blurred colors out of the corner of her eyes, yellow and green. The colors of my college, she thought. Strange, what thoughts come to you when you think you are touching the spindly fingers of death.

As frightening as that sound was, what Misha heard next was so much worse. Silence. The thing, or person, had stopped moving. Misha could feel it looking at her, had seen it from the corner of her eye turn and face her direction. Misha’s heart was pounding fast. Her breath coming in short, hard bursts, getting harder, no, impossible, to control. She was shaking and could feel the low rumble of Brenna’s growl.

Misha wanted to stand up, to at least give herself a fighting chance against whatever foe was waiting for her. She wanted to scream, to alert Alexa and maybe even break this fear that was forcing Brenna to be immobile. She could do neither. It took all the courage she possessed to turn her head to the right to see what she believed would be the last sight would ever have.

Nothing, no invader, vampire, or demon could have taken her more off guard. She was looking straight into the glassy eyes of Alexa. Alexa was wearing a tee shirt and sweats in her school colors. Misha and Alexa had met at the University of South Florida, where both were Communication majors.

Misha was too surprised to scream. The look in Alexa’s eyes only increased her terror. She looked possessed. Was she sleepwalking? Could she even see Misha? A cold, strange feeling passed over Misha as Alexa, eyes open but unseeing, turned without saying a word, and crept back down the hallway. She was dragging her right foot, for what reason Misha did not know. Alexa had no injury or pain in her leg when she had gone to bed hours earlier.

She heard Alexa drag her foot in that uneven gait all the way back to her bedroom. It wasn’t until the door clicked shut that Misha released a breath. It was then that Brenna’s spell was broken. She came out from her safe place and jumped up on the couch. No traces of fear remained on the dog’s face. She lapped Misha on the cheek and settled back down on the couch.

She was just sleepwalking. That’s all it was. I got upset for nothing. Misha’s thoughts, explanations really, were coming fast now, swirling through her head. I overreacted because of the movie and Brenna picked up on my fear.

One thing Misha couldn’t explain was the smell of burnt toast that she noticed as soon as she heard her roommate come down the hall. She got up and walked the few steps into the kitchen. The toaster was empty. Unplugged even.

Misha sat on the couch with the television muted for almost an hour. She had to admit that she was afraid of her roommate, afraid to go past Alexa’s bedroom to get into her own. She finally went to bed. She had Brenna by her side on the bed and her door locked.

To Be Continued…

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