are you in?” Kimmy asked.
rechecked my move-in paperwork. “Foster Hall.”
brother said that one’s haunted.”
Apparently a student goes missing every year near the holidays.”
or drops out during finals?”
her eyes. “Okay, okay, you’re a non-believer.”
could respond, I heard shouting from behind us.
Shawna! Wait up!”
“Oh great,” I
muttered. “I didn’t know pipsqueak got accepted here.”
was waitlisted. But she’s here now.” Kimmy faked a smile. “Hey, Dezzy.”
up just short of barreling into us and put her hands on her knees while she
caught her breath. Kimmy and I exchanged an eye roll over her head.
I’m so glad I found you. This place is huge.”
“Sure is,” I
said. To Dezzy anything was huge, though. She was under five feet tall. But I
kept that comment to myself. Even though she’d been kind of the outcast of our
grade, I tried not to be openly mean to her. It was just so hard to be nice to
excited to be here. I’m taking so many cool classes. What are you guys majoring
in? It’d be awesome if we had a class together.”
rambled, Kimmy and I resumed walking. She kept pace with us and we added the
appropriate “yeah”s and “cool”s. I already couldn’t wait to ditch her.
“ – and I
hear Foster Hall is haunted!” Dezzy gave a squeal and I finally took notice of
what she was saying. “I’m on the fourth floor, right below the attic –“
in Foster too?” I interrupted.
in Foster? Oh yay! Practically roommates. We should do a séance, try to weed
out the spirits.”
My shoulders slumped as I realized how much harder it was going to be to shake
her off now.
college began. Turns out Dezzy was in the room next to mine. I was thrilled.
She’s kind of grown on me, though. In a stalker-y way. She knows my schedule
without me telling her, but she brings me coffee before my first class every
day. I try not to be annoyed with her; she’s just trying to be nice. If only
she’d lay off the ghost thing.
hear that?” Dezzy’s eyes were as round as plates as she stared at the ceiling
of the common room.
I had one headphone in and was trying to stay focused on my research paper.
From up there.”
probably just someone getting’ it on,” Kimmy said.
I looked up
in time to see Dezzy turn red. “It’s fall break. We’re like the only people
shrugged. “All the more reason it’s people banging. No one’s here to catch
“I want to go
check it out. Do you guys know how to get into the attic?” Dezzy stood up from
girl. Sit your ass down. We’re not dumb kids in a scary movie,” Kimmy said,
you said it was just people doin’ it?” I said with a laugh.
“Oh, shut up.
Doesn’t mean we should take any risks.”
There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
But then I
heard something too. A thud and something like metal clanging together. We all
froze and eyed the ceiling.
“Want to go
look now?” Dezzy asked.
Ghost or no ghost, I’m not going into the attic. Now just get back to work.”
day, I started having nightmares. I don’t want to believe that the two things
are connected. It was probably just nerves about finals coming up.
But it was
always the same.
I would be
searching a dark room. I don’t know what I’m looking for until I see Dezzy in a
corner. I call out to her but she doesn’t seem to hear me. She’s staring,
petrified at whatever’s in front of her. I get closer and reach out to grab
her, but then she… this is the worst part… her skin just melts away.
and wake up.
just nerves. It doesn’t mean anything.
“Where’s Dezzy?” Kimmy asked after
she bounded up the steps to the patio outside Foster.
I sat at one
of the tables, checking over my notes for my last final. “I dunno. I’ve been waiting
for fifteen minutes.”
waiting out here? It’s freezing!” Kimmy shivered and stomped her feet to keep
her toes warm.
“Layers. Lots of layers.”
“Why not wait
again. I didn’t want to talk about the weird feeling I’d been getting for the
last week. Not to Kimmy, especially. But it had felt like a shadow was over me
anytime I walked down the hallway or took the elevator. I’d switched to the
stairs on Wednesday, but it had only gotten a little better.
on. Let’s go check her room. She’s supposed to quiz me for my geography final
since she took hers yesterday.”
but gave in at the idea of having to confess my worries to Kimmy.
The lobby was
empty, as were the common areas on each floor as we ascended the stairs. Most
students were in the library studying if they weren’t currently taking an exam.
We arrived at the fourth floor and
felt the temperature drop.
wrapped her arms around herself and her breath came out in a cloud. “Someone
playing with the thermostat up here, or what?”
respond. This was another reason I was prepared with layers of clothing. It’d
been like this for three days and no one had figured out why.
down the hall and pounded on Dezzy’s door.
Come on! We’ve been waiting on you!”
There was no
answer. Kimmy jiggled the doorknob, but it was locked.
else could she be?”
There was a
thud and a bang from above us, followed by a muffled scream.
said and jumped.
think….” Kimmy trailed off, looking up.
have gone up there? She kept trying to get us to investigate the weird noises.”
“Oh man… she
might be…” My dream started to play in my head.
“We should go
get her. She must have tripped and hurt herself.”
should call for some help first.”
silly. I thought you didn’t believe in ghosts.” Kimmy tugged on my arm and I
let her drag me down the hall.
closet stood ajar next to the bathrooms. A ladder was visible in the back and a
dim light fell on it from an opening in the ceiling.
“I wonder how
she found it.” Kimmy grabbed my arm again. “Come on.”
of my being was telling me to turn back. To get away. To run as fast as I could.
But I couldn’t let Kimmy go up there alone. She was already halfway up the
ladder, her head poked up into the square of light.
you up here?”
I heard a
voice say, “help me,” in response. But it was wrong. That wasn’t Dezzy. I tried
to reach out to grab Kimmy’s leg, but I couldn’t reach. She was through the
hatch, her feet disappearing from view.
I was frozen
to the floor. I couldn’t go up there, even if I’d tried. My jaw was clenched
shut. I couldn’t make a noise. Something was wrong.
I heard a
growl from above me. Louder than any dog. Deeper. More menacing.
heard Kimmy say, her voice faltering. She’d realized her mistake now.
There was a
rough giggle in reply. The sound was like broken glass. It grated on my nerves
and I felt sickened to my core. “She’s already gone,” the voice said, turning
my stomach. “Would you like to join her?”
forget Kimmy shrieking my name. Begging for my help. It’s all I hear at night
when I’m alone.
go to her. I couldn’t move.
her scream had died away was I unfrozen. Once I could go, I didn’t know where
to. Not up the ladder, it was too late for that. But not for help either. I
already knew there’d be nothing to find up there. If that were the case, this
would have stopped long ago. After the first student was taken.
All I can
do now is try to warn others. Tell them that someone has to feed the beast in