Forgot Annie

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic

Holly is getting ready to leave for college but a children's book and horrible nightmares remind her of a past that she had forgotten all about.

Forgot Annie

August 18th, 2016

Mormoth, Delaware


 

Nightmares can be be experienced through several different causes. Stress, illness, certain medications, and eating right before sleep, are all the usual suspects. When Holly Mason became lucid in the middle of her dream and realized she was in a nightmare, she immediately blamed it on stress. After all, she was starting college in two days and would be leaving home for the first time.

Holly was usually able to handle bad dreams by focusing hard on waking up. Normally, after willing herself, she would awaken momentarily then, simply and quickly, fall back to sleep nightmare free. She rarely suffered through a nightmare in its entirety, due to her ability to wake herself at will.

Holly became aware that she was in a nightmare when she found herself as a little girl in a strange dark, cold room. She tried to turn on the lights but, of course, the wall light switch flipped up and down uselessly under her small fingers. No power.

Just perfect.

She tried to close her eyes and focus on waking up but it wasn't working. Holly's mind wouldn't allow her to concentrate on waking up because the draw of her surroundings captivated her, against her will. As cold and as dank the room was around her, Holly knew she was in a cellar. She focused harder, trying to will her sleeping self to become aware of her desire to awaken, to no avail. Holly decided to find a corner and hide, allowing the nightmare to transpire with as little interaction on her part as possible. As she attempted to move, she kept bumping into pieces of furniture, classroom desks and wooden chairs that seemed to be in disarray all over the room and directly in front of her. She couldn't take a single step in any direction without running into something against her legs which, for some unexplained reason, frightened her immensely.

Holly opened her eyes, abandoning her plans to wake up, found the wall in the dark room and leaned against it.

The room was nearly devoid of all light, draped in ebony shadows. She had no idea how large the room was but it must have been cavernous because of the echoes she could hear. Holly didn't like dark places to begin with but she was terrified of cellars. Basements were filled with vermin, strewn with bugs, festooned with spider webs, covered with dust and other filth. Somewhere in the room, she could hear the sound of slowly dripping water.

Holly then heard a frightful sound, a noise that was similar to rough fabric rubbing against itself. It was loud and large, coming from somewhere ahead of her in the inky blackness. Her fear increased when she recognized it was the sound of something slithering along the cold concrete floor. It was probably a large snake. Holly hated snakes.

Wake up, damn it!

Something small and scurrying fell onto the top of her head. Holly shrieked in terror and swiped at her hair, trying to remove the scuttling thing.

Another fell onto the back of her neck.

Screaming, Holly spun in a circle, slapping at her neck, running into the furniture around her, still shaking her hair to remove the other nasty little critter. She couldn't see what the scurrying things were but she knew. Somehow, Holly just knew. They had to be spiders.

Holly was deathly afraid of spiders. Their quick darting movements, their long bristly legs, their beady little eyes and hairy bodies made her skin crawl. The spider on her neck had run down the back of her shirt. She could feel its tickling little feet quickly running along her spine against her bare skin. Holly screamed in terror and ran her back against the wall trying to crush the foul thing. She felt another spider land on her head and she shook her hair, screeching in abject terror and revulsion. Then she felt a fourth one fall right onto her face.

Holly woke suddenly, sitting straight up in bed, gasping, her sheets were tangled around her limbs. Her room was bathed in the soft glow of her night lamp which was fitted with a low watt light bulb and cutout images of moons, stars and planets in the lamp shade. The planetary projections were cast onto her walls and ceiling which was tranquil, allowing Holly to usually sleep soundly.

She switched off the lamp, got out of bed and opened the curtains of her bedroom window.

Holly Mason had finally turned eighteen. Her entire life, she couldn't wait to enter adulthood, but now that it had arrived, she was hesitant to barrel on through. Adulthood required certain responsibilities that she was ready for but didn't really want to do yet. She had just graduated from High School a few weeks ago, and now, it was off to college.

Graduation and college were exciting but also sad for her. Holly would be leaving her home town, the place she grew up, abandoning it like trash, shedding her old life like a tree its leaves. She was moving away from her family, friends, neighbors and her home. The college she was attending was only a five hour drive, which was not so far enough away to never visit, but far enough to where she couldn't drive back and forth every weekend especially since she was going to have to find a job to help her parents pay for everything.

The sky was fading from dark blue to dark orange with yellowish beige and purple clouds on the horizon as the sun rose. The darkness was fading and as Holly watched the sunrise through the bedroom window, she wondered how different the rising sun would look in another state while at college.

Her birthday, celebrated the day before, had been a blast, a huge party with family and friends, lots of presents, laughs topped off by her eighteenth birthday present from her parents, a used car of her own. It was an older car, decent paint job, nice interior, nothing to brag about but it was sensible, safe and most of all, it was hers. Holly was no longer shackled by her friends to give her rides. Now, she was in the pilot seat.

Holly was admiring her new car sitting in the driveway when her elderly neighbor, Mr. Stanley appeared in his front yard. He noticed Holly and waved, smiling widely. Holly waved back. Mr. Stanley had been their neighbor for as long as Holly could remember and was a nice enough old guy but she heard he got into some trouble in his youth because he was peeping into windows or something. Holly had always made sure to draw her curtains tightly closed at night, just in case.

She heard her parents talking in the kitchen, smelled coffee brewing and the delicious aroma of bacon sizzling. Holly went to the kitchen and ate breakfast with her parents.

After breakfast, father, Dan, called her over. He was sitting in the living room next to her mother, Sarah. He motioned for her to have a seat across the coffee table from then. A lecture? Now? Holly sat down, not knowing what to expect. She smiled nervously at her folks.

Holly had inherited her father's dark eyes and dark hair. She had always wished she kept her father's dark features, except his eyes but had been blessed, instead with her mother's beautiful eyes. Her mother was fair, blonde with their prettiest dark blue eyes Holly had ever seen. If she had dark hair and blue eyes, Holly always believed she would be much more attractive than she already was.

Holly was surprised when her father produced a child-made book out of full sheets of yellow construction paper, bound together by red yarn. From where she was sitting, Holly could see a bright crayon drawing on the front. The book looked familiar but she couldn't remember why.

“Do you remember this book, Kiddo?” Her father asked smiling.

“I think me and a friend of mine put that together years ago when I was just a kid.”

Dan nodded, “You were only five when you gave this to me. You made me promise to give it to you on your eighteenth birthday. You made me swear on it.”

“I was only five?” she asked incredulously. Holly took the book and looked it over. On the cover was a crayon drawing of two little girls holding hands. The girl on the left had brown hair, a purple shirt, green pants and brown shoes. This was supposed to be five year old Holly. The girl on the right wore a white dress with white sneakers and she had long black hair. Holly had no idea who the black-haired girl was. The front of the book was tied shut by a huge red knot of yarn. “Why is it tied closed?”

Her father smiled, “You told me it was your secret book and that I was never supposed to open it.”

“Really?” Holly wasn't sure if she was more impressed that her father kept his promise or that he had held onto one of her silly books for over twelve years.

Sarah leaned forward, “You honestly can't remember anything about it, Holly? You spend a whole week over summer vacation putting that book together.”

Holly strained to recall anything about the book or the black-haired girl but couldn't. There was an immense fog inside her mind, blinding her from seeing anything about that part of her life. Had she mentally blocked it out? What had happened? She could sense something dreadful, a negative occurrence that had transpired that riddled her with guilt, as if she had failed to accomplish a certain goal. No new revelations came to mind, no matter how hard she tried to reference them, except mundane details. There was nothing to start the ball rolling.

Holly said, “This girl with the black hair in the white dress. She was a friend of mine.”

Her mother nodded, “Yes.”

Holly frowned, “Why can't I remember her name or what she looked like?”

Dan said, “Her name was Annie.”

Memories came flooding into Holly's mind as she heard the name Annie. She was pretty, with soft blue eyes, fair complected with tiny freckles around her perky nose. She remembered combing Annie's long dark hair, playing on the swings with her, climbing trees together, playing with dolls in the dollhouse, holding hands, singing, playing hopscotch and having secret talks about boys. Annie had been her best friend. Holly smiled, “I remember her now. Annie was staying in our basement but she had to move away.”

Sarah shook her head, “No one lived in our basement, Holly.”

Holly was confused, “I don't understand.”

“Annie was your imaginary friend, Kiddo,” Her father said gently.

Holly laughed, “I had an imaginary friend? Really?” Although she was smiling on the outside, inwardly, Holly was horrified. Her recent recollection of this, imaginary friend, was that she was as real and corporeal as her parents talking to her now. She remembered Annie being solid, as visible as anyone else. She was sure that Annie was staying with them for a few years, living in the basement but as Holly thought about it further, that was impossible. The basement was cold, dark, dirty, full of spiders and bugs. Only the water heaters and the fuses were down there. Holly had never been and her mother had only gone down there a few times. It was creepy in the basement.

Holly could easily remember every other close friend she ever had, including birthdays, last names, places of birth, all the way back to elementary school. Why had she forgotten Annie? The memories had come rushing back to her like a tidal wave, as if there had been a dam keeping them stored away from recollection. Had she purposefully forgotten Annie, pushed the memories of her far back into the recesses of her mind never to be revisited intentionally?

Holly shuddered.

If Annie was an imaginary friend then how could Holly have brushed her hair? She remembered when her little dog Cosmo got run over by a car and killed. Holly had been devastated, crying herself to sleep. Annie had curled next to her in her bed, comforted and consoled her throughout the entire night. The lowest limb of the large oak was out of reach for Holly. Annie had to give her a boost in order for Holly to climb up. How could an imaginary friend have lifted her high enough to reach the limb? She clearly remembered climbing the tree, but how?

Holly felt an icy lump of trepidation in her stomach. If Annie wasn't just an imaginary friend, then who or what, in God's name, was she?

“You okay, Kiddo? You look like you swallowed a bug,” Dan said.

“Yes, I'm fine, dad. I'm just having trouble remembering that's all.”

Her mother's tone was soft, “You don't remember your friend Annie?”

Holly shrugged, “I do, but not as an imaginary friend.”

Sarah stood up, crossed the room and sat on the couch next to her daughter, “When you were little, you insisted Annie was real. You told us she was only invisible to adults. You could see her as plain as day but your father and I couldn't.”

“You would play with Annie for hours, singing, playing patty cake and games,” Her father chimed in, “When you started having full conversations with her, we got a little worried.”

Her mother continued, “We talked to a few different children's psychologists about it and they said there was nothing to worry about. They assured us that eventually, you'd outgrow it and would probably forget all about it all. And you did.”

Holly's thoughts were swirling, like a flock of birds in the sky. Some of them dove at her, becoming more to the forefront of her concerns but most of them just circled around in the back of her mind, as she dealt with all the new information being revealed. One thing was certain, Holly had indeed forgotten her friend Annie. She had outgrown her; Holly's imagination had been surpassed by maturity.

“Are you going to open it?” Dan asked her, “The book, I mean.” At her father's inquest Holly again felt a deep sorrow, almost a frightened chill pass through her. The book was somehow linked to a bad memory that she had forgotten, she was sure of it. Maybe Holly had forgotten all about it for good reason. She was hesitant to open it, scared that it would remind her, frightened that it would bring the bad memory back. What if Annie could be somehow conjured up by the book? Since Holly had no idea who or what Annie was, the idea was terrifying.

Holly shrugged, pretending to be disinterested, “Maybe later. I need to finish packing.” She kissed her parents then retreated into her bedroom, setting the secret book down on her desk. She finished packing up her stuff, it took her longer than expected, squeezing the entire day out of her reach. By the time she was finished, Holly was exhausted so, she went straight to bed.

Holly was beginning to drift off, embraced by the relaxing waves of slumber when she heard a muffled clinking noise coming from her closet. Her eyes snapped open.

The sound was distinct, Holly had heard it thousands of times. It was her metal clothes hangers clinking against each other. The sound was constant as though someone were in her closet, running their hand back and forth across her hanging clothes, causing the metal hangers to clink, clink, clink.

Holly's closet was shallow; her blouses and jackets were almost touching the closed sliding doors. No one should be able to fit inside there. She stared at her closet doors with fear building.

Her mind raced for logical explanations. Maybe a sudden gust of air through the vents was causing the clothes to shift? Perhaps a cat had somehow gotten into her room? Maybe there was an earthquake that was so slight, she couldn't feel it, but it was enough to disrupt the hangers? Holly's closet continued to make the clinking noise.

She sat up in bed.

The noises ceased immediately.

In the dim glow of her night lamp, Holly could see relatively well. She threw off the comforter and stood up, her eyes never leaving the closet. Her mouth was suddenly dry, her heart was pounding in her chest, threatening to burst out like the embryo of some ghastly alien. Thin wisps of fear skittered over her like the tiny legs of a spider, her skin erupted in goosebumps.

Holly usually slept in an oversize shirt and panties but since it was a warm night, she had gone to bed completely nude. She felt more vulnerable while naked. Her oversize shirt was draped over her chair was near the closet, too far away to put on.

Holly took a step toward the closet and heard another noise, something bumped against the door on the inside of the closet. The bump was light, barely a brush but she clearly heard it and flinched in fright, nearly let out a deafening scream.

What in the hell could be making all these noises?

There was another bump, a little heavier than the first. Maybe an animal really had gotten into the closet.

When faced with random things that couldn't be explained by logic or science, people tended to handle them in their own way. Some completely dismissed them, denying any existence of the supernatural, living their lives carefree and blissfully unaware, blinded by their denial. Others embraced the idea, exploring and investigating the unexplained, thriving on the possibility. Most people, Holly believed, were unsure and kept a safe distance from things that went bump in the night, not completely dismissive but not engaging either. Holly was a denier and had gotten this far in her life in complete disbelief of anything supernatural.

Her willful insistence on ignoring the unexplained did little about how to handle whatever it was bumping against her closet door.

Holly took another step and was shocked to see a person's shadow suddenly drift across the white doors of her closet, clearly visible, nearly equal to her in height, moving fast toward the bedroom door, vanishing as quickly as it appeared. Upon seeing the apparition, Holly's felt another intense jolt of terror. This time, she was unable to hold in a shriek of fear. Her scream as short but very loud. She turned back to her bed and leaped under her covers, wrapping herself up tightly in her blankets, as if the comforter was some kind of impenetrable shield against the forces of darkness.

After a few seconds, Holly heard her dad calling her, his footfalls quickly coming down the hall and he burst through her bedroom door as Holly sat up, wrapped in her blankets. Her father was bare-chested, bare footed and wearing pajama pants. Dan was ready to kill someone, his eyes were wide, chest heaving, fists and jaw clenched, “What's wrong, Holly! Are you okay?”

“Yes, daddy! I'm sorry. I just had a bad dream.”

“Just a bad dream?” Her father seemed to deflate slightly. Sighing, he came over to her, sat down on the bed. He smoothed her hair, “You sure, Kiddo? You screamed pretty loud.”

“Yeah, I'm fine, daddy.”

Dan slowly calmed down, “Okay. I thought I was going to have to murder someone.” To be sure, he checked in her closet, under her bed and checked the window, making sure everything was boogieman free, secure and locked. Satisfied, her father kissed her on the forehead, “Try to get some sleep, Kiddo. Good night.”

Holly reached out for her father as he was leaving, “Wait.”

Her father turned back to her, ready for action.

Holly felt foolish, as though she was a small child again but she didn't care. The shadow she had seen frightened beyond any comparison. She had never seen anything like it and couldn't remember ever being this scared before, “Could you check my closet one more time?”

Dan hesitated, “Why? What happened?”

“Nothing, daddy. It was just a bad dream but could you check again? Please? For me?”

“Sure, Kiddo.” Her father slid open both sides of her closet, carefully searching through her clothes and on the top shelf. From where she was sitting, Holly could see there was nothing there. What the hell had made all that noise? Was it the shadow? An apparition suddenly appears in her bedroom, tormenting her for no reason? How could a shadow move the metal hangers?

Holly shuddered.

Her father seemed satisfied that his daughter was perfectly safe, “Anything else, Kiddo? You need to talk about it?”

“No, thanks daddy. I'm sleepy.”

“Okay. Goodnight, Holly.”

After her father had gone back to bed, Holly's attention was drawn to the secret book, propped up on her desk. There was no other explanation. All these years, she had slept in this very room without any unexplained phenomenon every happening before. The disturbances only occurred after the book had come into her possession. Was the entity that posed as her childhood friend angry at her? Did it seek to frighten her since she had forgotten about it all these years?

Holly got out of bed, slipped the over sized shirt on, put on panties and pulled long socks onto her feet. She flipped the desk lamp on and placed the book in front of her. There was no title, just the colorful drawing of the two girls on the front and the large knot, impossible to untie, keeping the book from being opened.

Holly felt a chill as she stared at the book. Normally, the bright yellow paper, colorful red yarn and crayon colors would illicit a sense of innocence to anyone looking at the book, but she could feel nothing but a dark foreboding. Could anything good come from her opening and reading this book from her past? What if the answers weren't there but it was actual a portal of some kind, a doorway that would let the entity Annie back into her life? After all, the noises and the shadow were not her imagination. Holly was sure of it. As much as she wanted to deny it all happened and that it was just a dream, she couldn't.

Holly held the book with trembling hands. There was never a time when she was so unsure of herself. She had fluttering butterflies in her stomach. She recalled how the clinking hangers, the bumping sounds and then the sudden appearance of the shadow had so frightened her. Holly couldn't remember a time she was ever scared of Annie before. In fact, the few memories she had recalled of Annie, so far had been good ones, warm, comforting and friendly. She remembered that Annie always gave the warmest hugs. Why then was she so frightened to open the book?

What if Annie wasn't a bad entity? What if she needed Holly's help? Holly had a lot of questions but no answers and she couldn't shake the feeling of sadness whenever she thought about it.

Holly decided to sleep on it. She would probably have a clearer head after she got some rest. Holly left both lamps on, climbed into bed and went to sleep.

Holly dreamed.

She was a little girl again, five years old in the same dark cellar. She'd been here before, seen this dream already. She had this nightmare the night before but now she remembered that she had also dreamed about it many years passed when she was young. Deja vu.

There was almost no light, Holly could barely tell where the walls were so she leaned against the nearest wall and sat down, hugging her knees praying to wake up. There was an unholy noise, almost like organ music but deep, guttural like a bellowing beast. It was resonating but overall subdued, like background music for a video game.

She heard the same slithering noise, something dragging itself over the dusty floor.

Holly felt something skitter over her arm. She screamed, slapping at it, trying to kill the nasty thing. Something tickled her face. She shrieked in terror, trying to brush the horrible spider off. Someone else screamed her name, “Holly! Help me!”

It was Annie. Holly put her hands over her ears trying to muffle the screams of torment. She remembered how this dream ended and didn't want to hear it.

“Holly, please! Help me!”

Annie was screaming at the top of her lungs, blasted out her cries as if her life depended on it. Her voice was hoarse from the effort but she screamed in terror again. “Holly! Holly! Please! Help me!”

Holly wanted to yell back for her to shut up. She was just a little girl. She couldn't do anything to help. She was just as scared, just as terrified to be here as Annie was.

“Holly! Holly! No! NO!”

Holly covered her ears as Annie's cries for help were suddenly replaced by an awful gurgling sound. Annie was grunting and gagging, gasping for breath. Someone was killing her, snuffing her out like a candle. The sounds of Annie's death were awful.

Holly was bawling, “Annie, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. I'm sorry I'm not brave enough to help you. I'm so sorry, Annie. I'm too weak.”

Holly woke up suddenly in bed sobbing harder than she could remember in a very long time. She buried her face in her pillow so her parents wouldn't hear. She cried and cried. Shaking, fat tears soaking her pillow case, Holly muffled her anguished cries of sorrow.

After an hour or so, Holly finally managed to get a hold of herself. The dream had been so real, so vivid and terrifying, that she was still shaken by it. She went down the hall to the bathroom, her hands were trembling as she washed her face.

Holly stared at herself in the mirror, her dark eyes were slightly red, her dark hair was messy and her jaw was clenched. She had made up her mind. Annie needed her help. Somehow, in someway, Holly needed to find out what she needed to do.

She went back into her bedroom, locking the door. It was still dark outside, the display on her digital clock read 3:21am.

With grim conviction, Holly sat down at her desk and cut the yarn off the front with scissors and opened it to the first page. Both the inside cover and the first page were blank marigold. The next page was a picture on the entire left leaf and large writing covered the right. The picture was her and Annie playing with her dolls in her giant dollhouse. On the right, in varying alternating color crayon, was written childishly, 'Here we are playing with the dolls. We always had so much fun. We'll never forget how much fun we had.'

Immediately, Holly recalled memories of her and Annie playing for hours, dressing the dolls, combing their hair, setting up scenarios for the dolls to act out. She could hear Annie's laughter, it was heartfelt and warm. Holly felt a pang of guilt that she had forgotten all those good times they had with her dolls.

The next page was set up identically as the first, a crayon drawing on the left leaf and multicolored writing on the other. The picture was Holly and Annie climbing the large oak in the backyard. Holly remembered spending hours climbing with Annie. She even put a bandage on Holly's knee when she skinned it and wore pants for two weeks to hide the injury from her parents. The writing said, 'Here we are climbing our favorite tree. We promised to remember our friendship every time we looked at the Our Tree.'

Holly was again overwhelmed by guilt, feeling as though she had let her friend down. How could she have put all of these memories out of her consciousness? She had so thoroughly forgotten Annie that it was almost as if she never existed at all. What had forced the memories from her mind? Why had she forgotten?

The next page was a drawing of a tent in her bedroom at night. Holly and Annie were in sleeping bags inside. Holly felt tears burning in her eyes as she remembered how much fun they had camping together inside the tent, eating snacks, staying up late talking about stupid boys, telling each other scary stories. 'We never got tired of sleeping in the tent. We'll always remember all the fun we had.'

The fourth page was once again in Holly's bedroom. They were sitting at Holly's kid table dressed as princesses pouring tea from Holly's old toy dish set. Tears fell as Holly recalled the rehearsed plays they would put on while in costume. Annie could talk with a British cockney accent and would make Holly's sides hurt from laughing so hard. The writing: 'We were always princesses in each others eyes. We will never forget, no matter how much time goes by.'

The fifth page was Holly and Annie lying down on the ground at night, staring up at a starry night sky. They were holding hands. The opposite page was written, 'Us talking about our future plans. We both want to be nurses. We want to get married to a good guy and have lots of kids.'

With every page Holly turned, she was remembering more and more about Annie. It was as if someone were flipping on a light switch in the recesses of her brain, illuminating her memories, once again revealing them to her. How long had those cerebral rooms filled with Annie's memories remained in darkness? It was so unfair. Poor Annie had been cast aside, swept out of Holly's awareness like wiping a computer's hard drive of a virus. But why? And who or what was Annie?

The sixth page was her and Annie on her old swing set. They were pushing each other higher and higher. Both girls had huge smiles on their faces. Holly remembered how much fun they had. They used to compete with each other to see who could jump from the swing the furthest. Multicolored writing, 'We used to push each other so high it felt like we were flying! We'll never forget how we soared!'

The seventh page was completely blacked out with black crayon on both the left and right leafs. Annie was alone on the left page. She was sitting down hugging her knees, crying. No words on this page. Holly was frightened by it. What did this picture signify? She remembered that Annie claimed to live in her basement. Did this drawing illustrate her residing there?

The last two pages were devoid of any drawings. It was just writing in black crayon, much more neatly written than the previous text, 'Holly, thank you for trying to help me. You will be too old to remember me soon. I cannot contact you anymore so I will just wait in the basement for you to find me. Don't make the same mistake! Try your best to remember this time! Don't forget me! Love you forever! -Annie'

Unfortunately, no memories of this page or the previous page of black crayon brought forth any new revelations. Holly was more confused now than ever.

It was now 3:39am. There was not much more Holly could do at this hour. As upset and emotional she was, she yawned and realized she was exhausted. In the morning, she would grill her parents further and possibly investigate the basement. For now, Holly needed sleep. She crawled into bed and was out within a few minutes.

Once again Holly found herself in the dark scary basement dream. The awful guttural music sounds were going again but this time, Holly wasn't a six year old. She was herself, grown up, confused, wanting answers and irritated that she was having the same damn dream. She was sitting against the wall again but stood up defiantly, ready to traverse the gloomy area to find Annie.

There was a few minutes before Annie would start screaming for help. Holly was determined to find her before then. As she tried to walk in the direction where Annie's screams would eventually come from, she kept tripping over all of the desks and chairs. Holly couldn't take one step without stumbling and being tripped up by the unseen barricades which seemed almost strategically placed to slow her movement.

Something brushed into her face as she fought to cross the dark room, feathery and sticky, most likely a spider web. Holly spat and frantically slapped the web out of her hair and off her face, praying that it was an old web without a host. A spider skittered over her hand.

Holly screamed slapped at the horrible little thing as it dashed over her body. She could feel its tiny hairy legs all over her and she performed a sort of strange, twisting dance as she tried to kill the damned thing. She became aware that she was fully dressed in a long sleeved blouse, jeans and her workout shoes. How could she feel the spider crawling on her over her clothing?

Holly sighed in disgust. Its just a dream, Holly! Spiders can't hurt you in a dream! Find Annie. No more weakness, no more fear. You're not a scared little girl anymore!

She continued to struggle through the dark basement.

Annie shrieked somewhere in the distance. Then, “Holly! Help me!”

Holly called back, “I'm coming, Annie! Hold on!” She finally made it through the first room and could barely make out an outline of an entire new room before her, no doubt with countless obstacles in her way. She hurried ahead, tossing and pushing things out of her way, trying to reach her friend.

“Holly, please! Help me!”

Annie's cries were so awful, brimming with such terror, that they fueled Holly to push harder. She entered a frenzied state, kicking and throwing things out of her way, desperate to reach her friend in time to save her. She was halfway through the second room, “I'm almost there, Annie! I'm coming! Hold on!”

“Holly!”

Holly ran into a wall of desks and chairs stacked on top of each other. She had to go around the tall obstacle, unable to move the heavy stacks out of the way. She wasn't going to make it in time. She only had seconds before Annie was killed. Her teeth were clenched, her throat tight from frustration.

Annie was shrieking, “Holly! Please! Help me!”

“Annie, I'm trying! Hold on! I'm coming as fast as I can!” Holly made it through the second room. Through an entire third room, she saw an archway and a light source illuminating it. She cried out in conviction and renewed vigor as she ran through the third room to the archway. There were no more barricades. Only a few feet to go.

“Holly!”

She reached the archway but ran into something at full speed. It almost knocked her off her feet. Holly tried to go through the archway again but felt a smooth invisible wall, like completely clear glass, stopping her.

What the hell?

“Holly!”

Holly pushed against the invisible wall, trying to get through but couldn't. She could partially see into the lit room, saw Annie legs bound by leather straps to a table. Someone was standing over her, their back was to Holly, blocking the rest of Annie's form from view. Annie was struggling against the straps.

“No!” Annie screamed.

Holly pounded on the barrier, “Leave her alone! Get away from her, you rotten son of a bitch!”

Whoever was standing over raised a knife into the air.

Annie cried out again, “NO!”

Holly went crazy, kicking and pounding on the invisible wall desperately trying to get through. She screamed at the perpetrator, spitting vehemently, “You motherfucker! Don't you hurt her! Leave her alone!”

The knife was plunged into Annie's body. Annie coughed, gasped, wheezed and gurgled as she was stabbed over and over again. Most of the grisly violence was hidden from Holly because murderer's body blocked out her view but Holly could still hear everything, just like before. Once again, she was powerless to save her friend.

Holly collapsed sobbing. She realized that Annie wasn't an imaginary friend. She wasn't a demon, or some evil spirit, or some unknown dangerous entity that wanted to prey on her. Annie had once been a real person, a real girl who had been brutally murdered in the basement. Her lonely spirit had probably reached out the Holly because, as a child, Holly had been lonely too. They had formed a powerful bond of friendship because both of them had needed the company at the time.

Holly felt a gentle touch on her shoulder and looked up. The dream had shifted. It was sunny outside and she was sitting beneath the large oak in the backyard. A very pretty young woman, about Holly's age, with long dark hair helped her to her feet. The girl had beautiful blue eyes, was very fair with small freckles around her nose. Holly felt she recognized her. Swallowing hard against the lump of emotion in her throat, Holly whispered, “Annie?”

The young woman smiled and embraced her. As soon as they hugged, Holly knew it was Annie. She always gave the warmest hugs.

“Look at you,” Annie said happily, “All grown up and beautiful.”

“You too,” Holly said grinning, “You were always a pretty little girl but now, you're gorgeous.”

“I've missed you so much, Holly!”

Holly felt tears brimming again, “I've missed you too! I'm so sorry I forgot you, Annie. Can you forgive me?”

Annie's smile never wavered, “You just grew too old for me to appear without frightening you, so I stopped trying. I thought you could handle it earlier tonight but you totally freaked out! I really didn't mean to scare you, Holly. I'm sorry too.”

Holly remembered the hangers and the shadow she had seen. Annie had been trying to communicate, “Its okay. I guess I'm just a big chickenshit.” They shared a laugh. She grasped both Annie's hands in her own, “I never thought I'd see you again!”

Annie nodded, “Me either.”

Holly started to cry, “You were murdered.”

Tears fell from Annie's eyes as well, “Many years ago, yes. That's why you couldn't stop it. It's already in the past but I can't rest until my body is found.”

Holly felt horrible, “You're trapped here?”

Annie shook her head, “No, I can't move on until everyone knows the truth about what happened to me. My parents never stopped searching, they have no idea. I can't let them continue suffering.”

Holly could feel a pull from the dream. She was waking up. She only had a few seconds left. Holly hugged Annie tightly, “Don't worry. I won't let you down this time. I'll save you, Annie! I promise.”

Annie hugged her back, “I'm going to miss you, Holly! Thank you so much for helping me but don't forget this time! Don't make the same mistake!”

“I won't! I know you can't rest until I find where you're buried!”

Holly woke up in her bed, wiped the tears from her eyes, tossed off her covers and hurried down the hall to her parent's room bursting through the door and snapping on the lights. She had never done anything so reckless before. It was barely 5am, still dark outside.

Dan nearly jumped out of his skin, “Holly, what the hell is wrong with you?”

Sarah was groggy, “Holly?”

Holly wanted to find Annie's remains as soon as possible. She had waited over twelve years which was long enough, “Daddy, you have to help me search the basement for Annie's remains!”

Dan had leaped out of bed in his boxers but after Holly asked him for help, he sat down on the bed heavily, “Damn it, Holly. Not this again!”

Holly was devastated, “What do you mean?”

Sarah said, “Holly you said the same thing when you were five. Your father and I both missed work digging up half the basement! We didn't find anything.”

Holly couldn't believe what she was hearing but then she remembered Annie's words, Don't make the same mistake! Had they searched the wrong basement? How could Holly completely forgotten the first time? What was wrong with her?

Dan said, “You insisted I go next door to Mr. Stanley's basement and dig that up too but I refused no matter how much you begged me. Don't you remember?”

Holly frowned, “Why would I want you to do that?”

“Because you found out that Mr. Stanley used to be a teacher,” Sarah told her.

Holly realized why she had tripped over desks and chairs in her dreams. Perhaps Mr. Stanley kept some old school furniture in his basement. As her face lit up with the epiphany, her father shook his head at her.

“Don't even ask,” Dan told her gruffly, “The answer is no.”

“But daddy, Annie's is suffering. She can't rest until her body is found! Please help me!”

Her mom gasped suddenly and her father shot to his feet, both of Holly's parents were staring in the direction of the bedroom door behind her. Holly turned and saw Annie. She was translucent, barely perceptible but she was there nonetheless. She was like a hologram, visible and apparently three dimensional but not really there. Holly was glad her parents could finally see her.

After a few seconds of complete silence, Dan swallowed hard and asked quietly, “Is that who I think it is?”

Holly grinned, “Yes. This is Annie.”

Annie smiled at the three of them and slowly faded from view. Dan and Sarah looked at each other. Holly could see that they now understood. There was no more confusion, no more doubts. Annie had been much more than just an imaginary friend.

Dan pulled on his pants and shoes then threw on a shirt, “Let's go,” He said to Holly.

They ran to the garage to fetch the shovel then ran through their backyard into Mr. Stanley's. The basement door was locked but Dan smashed the lock open with the shovel with three good whacks. He pulled open the heavy door and flipped on the light switch. Mr. Stanley's basement was exactly how Holly dreamed it, divided into three separate chambers, lined with old school desks and chairs.

Holly pointed to the room on the left, “Daddy, there!”

Mr. Stanley was moving around overhead in the house. Boards creaked and they could hear footfalls. He was probably awakened by them breaking in.

Dan pushed through the desks and began shoveling where Holly indicated. The soil was soft and the shovel was digging through it quickly. Holly's father seemed feverish, totally focused and committed. Even after Mr. Stanley appeared and informed them he had called the police, Dan kept digging. Then Mr. Stanley tried to stop Dan from digging any deeper but her father shrugged him off and pressed on, bent on finding Annie's remains.

After a few more minutes, they all heard the police sirens approaching in the distance. The elderly Mr. Stanley sat down on one of the chairs with his head in his hands weeping. The heavy guilt was apparently too much for him to handle.

Holly almost felt sorry for him.

A few minutes later, after Dan had dug down about three feet, his shovel unearthed a human skull in the soft soil.

Annie had finally been found.


Submitted: April 21, 2018

© Copyright 2023 Cthulu45. All rights reserved.

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hullabaloo22

A pretty impressive read! I liked the way you introduced the jolt to her memory, and the way you let the pieces snap in to place. Good work.

Sat, April 21st, 2018 7:07pm

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Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

Sun, April 22nd, 2018 7:50pm

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