Walking slowly, as if she was dreaming, Shelly moved towards the door at the back of the trailer.  In fact, this had to be a dream.  What she had just seen, she thought, well there was simply no way that this was real life.  There was another flapping sound.  The door leading to the room at the end of the small building was closed, but moments ago she saw it hanging open slightly.  She had been sitting on the couch in the living room when a movement from the corner of her vision caught her attention.  What she thought she was seeing was insane, but none the less, a small creature scurried along the floor.  It had been standing just in front of the door in the process of creeping into the living room when she originally saw it.  It let out a quiet gasp, then dashed back into the bedroom.  It was furry, like a long haired cat, but shaped more like a raccoon.  He (she had begun to think of it as male at once) could have been either of those animals, except for the color, which was a vibrant green.  The creature had softly closed the door and was now barricaded in her bedroom.

The wing sound fluttered again.  Slowly, while thinking maybe this really was a dream, she rose from the couch and started towards the door.  For the first time today she wished that she wasn’t home alone.  Her mother was at work.  She was home from school because they had the day off.  Her plan for the day had been a TV marathon, and then once it was a bit later, she planned to meet up with her friend Mackenzie. Mac lived a few streets over with her mother and her younger sister Brianna.  They were going to get together at the playground in the back of the trailer park after lunch.  Probably sneaking a cigarette or two from their mom’s and talking about boys.  Now all of that was pushed far out of her mind as she heard the soft flapping of wings again.  Her hand reached out towards the door knob.  She waited for the briefest of moments before turning it.

Being fifteen she was in that perfect place of being young enough to have no sense of self-preservation and old enough to know that there was probably a rational explanation for what was going on.  The door opened into the room and the day light brightened the dark hallway.  It took a moment for her eyes to adjust from the sot light of the TV in the darkened living room to the bright light coming in from the two large windows.  Unlike how she left the room this morning, the curtains were pulled all the way open.  Bright daylight flooded the room.  The fluttering sound came again and now it was easy to see where it had come from.  The creature that had closed the doors now hovered up at mid window level.  The windows had been cranked open and the screen was out.  Shelly tried to focus on the animal as it vibrated slowly in the light.  It made soft chirping noses.  There was no fear when she looked at him, just awe.  He was small, cute, and fantastic looking.  Shelly desperately wanted to pet him, but had a feeling that it would be rude.  The chirping became more urgent and his paw was now pointing towards the window, gesturing wildly at what was beyond.  Just then Mrs. Norris, the old lady from the trailer next door, walked into view.  She was looking at something Shelly couldn’t see.  Trying to get a better look, she walked closer to the window.  Mrs. Norris must have seen the movement because her eyes came down from the school and she locked eyes with Shelly.

“Close the windows, you fool girl” She hissed “Lock up.  Don’t let it in.”  And then, much more urgently and with a shudder, “Run!!”  Shelly stayed rooted there long enough to see Mrs. Norris start to lamely back pedal as a shadow fell over her.  Something was coming close and the shadow was getting larger.  Shelly didn’t wait to see what it was.  The critter she had begun to think of as Rocky disappeared through the open window with one last pleading (at least that’s what she thought) shriek cast back at her, and then flew towards Mrs. Norris’s house.  Shelly took two steps backwards before she fell over a pair of discarded shoes on floor.  The window was completely out of her field of vision when Mrs. Norris began to scream.  By the time her screams turned into a wet gurgle Shelly had passed through the door way and was frantically crawling back across the living room   The trailer was, from end to end, seventy feet.  Shelly’s bedroom on one side, her mother’s on the other.  Right before her mother’s door was the front door.  Shelly crawled as quickly as she could towards it.  She didn’t even dare stand once she reached it, she just crouched down on her haunches as she reached up to turn the knob.  Tumbling outside, the noise of Mrs. Norris’s untimely demise was much louder.  There was a brief moment where Shelly thought, that sounds like she is being eaten, before it was replaced when her new mantra of “You fool girl” and that last breathy, “run”.  So run she did.  Down the short walk way, to the end of the drive way, and onto the street.  Only slowing down once to pick a direction.  She chose the left because she could see a school bus coming down the street.  Never minding that there was a large shadow looming over head.  Never minding that the strange chirping she had only heard once before (in her bedroom) was suddenly ringing in her ears.  Never minding that there was no school today…

The bus pulled up alongside her and then slowed to a stop.  She had also come to a stop, hands on knees, trying to catch her breath.  The doors opened and out glided Mackenzie.  She was ethereal in a white formal gown.  Everything slowed down and then stopped as Mac came nearer.  The day seemed to darken all around her as she spoke.

“Join us.”  She cooed.  “It’s time.  He’s waiting”.  She embraced Shelly, her skin ice cold.  Out of all of the events that had taken place over the past five minutes, the feel of Mac’s ice cold skin woke something inside of her.  Sharpened her senses.  Reminded her that something wild was happening and that normal was something that only existed in the past.

“Mac, I love you, but please let me go.”  Mac abated giving her a wide, stretched too wide smile.

“Join us now, while you can.  If you wait, he will take you.”  With one more flash of her teeth Mac turned and got back on the bus.  Shelly saw other faces that she recognized on that bus (but oddly absent was Brianna).  They all smiled at her through the windows.  Each of them wearing that same face stretching grin, each of them visibly in white.  From behind the trailer, Mrs. Norris’s screams had long since stopped.  A new noise was now rising that set Shelly’s teeth on edge.  A flapping, so much louder than before.  The leaves on a nearby tree began to move in time with it.  Shelly turned, and ran once more.

Ahead, the exit of the trailer park became visible.  The only sound that she could hear anymore was the pumping of her own blood in her ears.  Her throat burned with exertion.  Once she made it clear of the trailer park she would be safe.  She was close enough that she dared to slow down, just to catch her breath once again.  Finally, the sound of her struggling heart quieted.  Just a moment, she thought.  Trying to muster enough saliva to cool her burning throat, she rested.  There was a moment of blessed silence, long enough for her head to clear, then the flapping replaced the pounding of her heart.  Everything went cold in an instant and then there was a sensation of fire burning deep within her.  Her throat was still too dry from running to produce a scream. Soundlessly her mouth stood open as she rose into the sky.

The sign for the trailer park was becoming smaller and smaller below her.  Fire burned deeply within her, so hot that she thought that she would go insane if it lasted much longer.  Before it burned her thoughts out completely, she once more heard the chirping from her bedroom.  Rocky was at her side for a moment. Then her mind went blank, as she received blessed relief from the flames within.  From below, the sign for the trailer park began to grow.