Somebody left this message on my cell phone. The number was 0-737-2867.
I had a nightmare last night. I was in the small patch of trees in the middle of the fields outside my childhood home. The trees were a lot closer together, and didn't seem to end no matter how far I walked. As I tried to find my way out, I began to hear children giggling. I walked faster. From all around, snapping twigs, that incessant giggling, and the sound of something dragging through the bracken. I ran. I did not get far; I was soon surrounded by high deadfalls. And they all came from between the trees.
When I was growing up, occasionally there were stories of some of the local children dying. There were even a few disappearances. In my dream, I saw what became of them. Maddie was there, her head split open all the way to her right eye. Part of her cheek was missing, exposing the grim mirth of her mandible. She disappeared back in the 90s. It's rumored her abusive father pushed her down the stairs and hid the body somewhere in the fields. Gage was there, and he was a tiny broken thing; he was hit by an Orinco truck out on a lonely farmland road.
There were a few others, but the worst was Margot. Margot was my friend when we were seven. We had been up in the mountains sledding. She wandered off into the snow, and I told her not to go but she said he was calling her. I told her her dad couldn't be calling her, he was back in the car getting the camera, but she went off into the woods and there was a frozen pond hidden in the snow and, oh God, I remember the tiny unobtrusive crack of the ice and oh god we couldn't pull her outandohgodIrememberthescreams.
And there was poor drowned Margot, back to play. There she was, her skin pale as a dead fish, her arms black to the elbows, body swollen almost beyond recognition. Her eyes were the worst, swelled and bruised, but they were still her eyes and they smiled out at me like they used to whenever I came to visit.
They were all laughing and lurching towards me, arms outstretched, hands hooked into tiny claws in expectation. I scrambled to overcome a deadfall. The children climbed too. At one point I slipped and Margot's icy hand snatched at my foot. I recovered and made it over the pile of fallen logs and branches. There was a frozen lake on the other side. Before I could react, Margot's long-dead hands encircled my neck in a clammy embrace and we both tumbled headlong into the icy water. She dragged me down, down into consciousness. I woke wrapped in my blankets from thrashing, and still I was not warm.
I believe he's trying to get at me through my subconscious. Those memories are dead, and sometimes dead is better. I won't let myself be frightened so easily.
The police are asking everybody in the dorm about Delia, and it's almost my turn. I'm planning to run afterwards.