It took me a long time to return home, thanks to rain and wind. My ’97 Honda Civic felt like a tin can when it was tossed around by these thunderstorms.

The heavy rainclouds and their fat offspring blotted out what little light which should have remained at this time. I fumbled with my keys by the door, trying to find the right one by touch. Something ran over my feet, and I shrieked, dropping the entire key ring.

It must have been Mister Muscles, the neighbourhood stray, but that didn’t make my job any easier. I groped in the dark for my keys, jumping again when the door swung open.

I raised my eyes to meet the pale blue ones of Lucy, my next-door neighbour’s daughter. I sighed in relief. “Lucy! Did your mother send you over? Does she need something?”

Lucy nodded, then hid behind the door. Shy! The girl was usually such a chatterbox.

“Don’t worry, darling,” I said, locking the door behind me. “I’ll be right there. What do you need? Sugar? Flour? Sprinkles? I just bought a new…”

My voice died as I entered the red-splattered kitchen. I had a sinking feeling that wasn’t tomato sauce. “Lucy…?” my voice rose several octaves. “What happened in here? Are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?” Lucy’s head appeared around the corner, but she only shrugged, and disappeared again.

I walked around the kitchen slowly. Near the fridge was mangled body of Mister Muscles, his feline limbs twisted in unnatural angles. Judging from the bloody knives piled nearby, his demise had been far from peaceful.

“Lucy, what’s this?” I said, as soon as I caught my breath. “Did you do this?” Lucy materialised in front of me, but she only shrugged again, as she pointed to the stairs.

“You want me to go upstairs?” I asked, struggling to keep my voice calm and steady. “Is something wrong, Lucy? You can tell me, you know, if something’s wrong.”

But the girl disappeared up the stairs, and I sighed, climbing one, two, three, four…CRA-A-ACK!

A piece of the step beneath me gave way, and my leg followed, leaving me wedged with one knee twisted uncomfortably behind me. “LUCY!” I screamed. “LUCY! WHAT…!”

CRAAAACK!

The rest of the step followed, and my body plummeted down into the dark, damp basement. I landed awkwardly. The pop in my leg told me I’d broken or dislocated something for sure.

What was happening? Was Lucy doing this? Was it a trick of the mind, something brought on by the storm?

There was another running sensation over my feet, but, this time, it continued up my legs and onto my chest. I soon saw the culprits: spiders. Big, hairy tarantulas with eyes glowing like red devils.

By now I was screaming incoherent obscenities. The spiders crawled onto my face and into my mouth, and I felt myself gagging.

There was a loud cackle, a snap, and a bang. The spiders disappeared, as did the pain in my leg. A rope was hanging in front of me, the end tied onto itself so it formed a loop. A noose.

Another snap, and the noose fell around my neck.

Snap.

It tightened.

There was a silhouetted figure in front of me. Lucy.

“Lucy!” I cried. “What are you…?”

SNAP.

My feet left the ground, and I felt my neck snap backwards. But I could still breathe. Quite easily. And I could move my feet, too.

“Wow,” said Lucy, her voice small and innocent, Mister Muscles curling up by her feet. “Looks like you’re one of us, now.” She snapped her fingers again, and the rope released me.

And, with that snap, I remembered: Lucy had died fifteen years ago.

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