Chapter 4
by Kimberly Raiser

D I S C U S S I O N  F O R U M  |  R E T U R N  T O  S T  O N L I N E



The drive back to the city was quiet. Steven wanted to share what happened to him but was reluctant, just as Tara was. They were both deep in thought the entire way home, eyefully watching the children in the rear view mirror. Sara had finally managed to fall asleep next to her brother. Charlie just peered out the window, not saying a word.

“Sweetheart, do you mind if we stop to buy some aspirin? I’m getting a terrible headache,” Steven said as he rubbed his temple.

“Not at all, I could use some myself. The 7-Eleven should have some. That’s the closest at this point.” Tara stared out the window while Steven drove. “Would you like me to drive the rest of the way home after we stop?”

“If you don’t mind. It’s getting difficult to concentrate on the road.” Steven pulled into the gas station.

“I’ll go in; I’ve got to use the ladies' room anyway. Just jump in the passenger seat and rest your head. I’ll be right back.”

Tara went into the store and Steven walked around and got into the passenger seat. His head was pounding.

Tara found the restroom and went in, flicked the lights on and just slumped against the wall. Her ankles were itching, and she finally acknowledged the fact that they were really bothering her, so she looked under her long gauze skirt.

The rope burns on her skin were not imaginary—they were very real. She looked closer, then looked at her wrists. No marks there, but they were tender. She checked her neck for scratches or bruises—nothing.

She looked in the mirror, afraid she was losing her mind. As she stared into the mirror, she watched as her skin began to melt from her face, blood starting to trickle everywhere. She screamed at the top of her lungs. A woman was standing outside patiently waiting to use the restroom and heard her. She ran in to help.

“What’s wrong? Are you ok?”

“My face! Oh my God, the blood!”

“There’s no blood. What are you talking about, miss? What’s wrong with your face?”

Tara turned and looked into the mirror. She looked fine. Tired, but fine. There was no blood, no running flesh. She was seeing things.

Tara composed herself. “I’m sorry. There was a spider. I have to go.” She ran out of the restroom and out of the store. She had forgotten the aspirin. She turned, composed herself and walked back into the store to the counter.

“Could I have a bottle of aspirin, please?”

“What kind, ma’am?”

“It doesn’t matter. That one.” She pointed.

She paid the young man and ran to the car. Steven was sound asleep in the passenger seat.

“You ok, Mom?” asked Charlie.

“Fine. I’m just really tired. I just want to get home, sweetie.” A bead of sweat trickled down the side of her face. She felt the tickle and slapped at her face as if it were a bug. She realized it was only her own perspiration. She took a deep breath, then exhaled.

Sara was still sound asleep against her brother. Tara just wanted to get home, and get into her familiar bed and pass out.

In just a short while they pulled into the busy development of townhouses where they lived. This was one time Tara didn’t mind the traffic so much. Too many people around was actually a comfort for now.

Steven opened his eyes and rubbed his face. “We’re home. That was faster than I expected.”

“How’s your head?” Tara was still shaken but composed enough to ask. Steven didn’t notice either way.

“Feels better. I don’t feel very well, though.”

“C’mon Sara, time to get up. We’re home now.” Charlie was tapping Sara on her leg, and trying to push her dead weight from his body. “Mom, can you get her off of me?”

“C’mon, sweetie.” Tara got out of the car and walked to the back. She opened the door and reached in for Sara. “C’mon, time to get up. We’re home, honey.”

Sara moved ever so slightly, and groaned. “I’m tired, Mommy.”

Tara picked her up and decided to carry her into the house. She was too tired to even try to wake her up. They all dragged themselves inside.

Charlie was probably the most unaffected out of all of them. He headed straight for his room and his computer.

Steven didn’t even make it to the bedroom. He collapsed on the sofa and pulled up the throw blanket that lay on the arm. He was out.

Tara carried Sara to her bedroom and laid her under her covers with her little stuffed doggie. Sara had barely awoken during the entire ride or the trip back into the house.

Once Sara was settled in, Tara decided to take a nice long hot bath. She dropped all of her clothes at the doorway to the bathroom and filled the tub to its limit. She added some green tea extract to the water to help relax her. The air was warm from the steam of the bath.

Once the tub was filled, she stepped in carefully and submerged her entire body, up to her nose. The bath was already helping.

Charlie was busy playing with his computer game, and had the sound effects way up, blasting from his speakers. Steven and Sara were still sound asleep.

Tara had almost fallen asleep in the tub when she felt a small tug on her feet. Her eyes opened wide and she tried to reach to her feet, but she could not get a bearing on her own body. She slipped under the water, her head completely submerged. Panic claimed her consciousness and she flailed around in the tub trying to surface. Her eyes were wide open, yet she could see nothing else in the room, only the light refracting through the water. She was splashing and kicking violently, down to her last ounce of strength, keeping the water from filling her lungs.

Something crashed in the living room. It woke Steven and Sara up. Steven could hear something from the bathroom that didn’t sound right, but then it was quiet. He snapped out of his sleep and went into the bedroom.


“Daddy?” In came a dreary eyed Sara.

“Where is your mother, honey?”

A thump came from the bathroom. He ran in, and there was Tara slumped over the side of the tub, half conscious.

“Oh my God! What happened in here?”

She couldn’t speak; she could barely lift her head.

“Be careful! Give me your hand.” Steven grabbed the bathrobe that hung from the back of the door, and helped Tara out of the tub, wrapping her in the robe. She was shivering and gasping. The terror was still in her eyes.

“Steven, something was keeping me under the water. I couldn’t get out.”

He had never seen a look like this in her eyes; it was unfamiliar and frightening.

“What do you mean? No one else was in here. Honey, there’s nobody else in the house.” He held her tight.

As Tara lay slumped in Steven’s arms, Sara stood watching silently at the doorway of the bathroom. Her face showed no expression. Tara wasn’t sure what to make of it; it was such a blank look…

“It’s ok, Mommy,” Sara stated very simply, then walked off with her little stuffed animal and went into the living room.

“Steven. You believe me, don’t you? Please tell me I didn’t imagine that someone was holding my head under the water.” She sat erect, grabbed his arms. “I could feel hands on my head. Someone was trying to drown me.”

“Ok. It’s going to be ok.” Steven put his arms around her and held her head close to his. He stared up at the ceiling. What is happening to us? he thought to himself.


Steven poured Tara a glass of brandy. “Here, honey. Maybe this will help.”

They were seated on the bed together, Tara wrapped in her robe, still shivering.

Tara grabbed the glass and poured it down her throat like a shot of tequila, then grabbed the bottle for another one.

“Ok, you can choose to ignore all the weird shit that is happening, but Steven, since we have been to that house...” She paused. “It’s like something came back with us.”

Steven stood from the bed and paced around the room for a moment. He stopped and turned to Tara. He told her about what happened in the tunnels, and the bones, and the passageway to another level. Tara shared her horrifying experiences.

“I’m telling you, it couldn’t have all been a bad dream.” Tara covered her face with her hands.

“Where is the other pendant, Tara?”

“Steven, look at my ankles. Do you think I did that to myself?”

Steven looked at her ankles; he traced the wounds with his hands without touching them. “You know, you could have done this catching a briar around the well.”

“Ok. Maybe the place had a weird effect on us, made us dream things. I mean, the kids seemed just fine. Sara even wanted to stay. I mean, for me, I have enough bad things in my head about the place from when I was a kid. Drowning cats and an evil old man lurking the grounds. That’s enough to give me bad dreams if I were to fall and bump my head. And honey, you knew all about those stories. You did say that bed was really comfortable. Maybe we just let our imagination get the best of us. Uncle Ben and Jack seemed harmless enough, and he’s been there for years. You didn’t seem to sense anything. Usually I know when you pick up on something, and you seemed just fine.”

Tara started to feel the effect of the brandy. “Maybe you're right. It did only seem to bother us, and not the kids. Maybe we just need a good night's sleep. With five Benadryl and another shot. I’m not taking any chances.” She looked at Steven. “It seemed so real,” she said quietly and lay down.

Steven finally got Sara back to her room and then proceeded to tuck Charlie in after he was tired of playing his video games. Everyone seemed perfectly willing to climb under familiar covers and pass out.

And that they did.




Copyright © 2008 Kimberly Raiser

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R:

Kimberly Raiser has been a longtime contributor to the Silverthought community and considers it one of her finest accomplishments. Currently a collection of her works is published in one volume titled Stranded. It may be purchased through Amazon and its affiliates. Kimberly is currently working on a thriller novel expected to be released in 2009.

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