The strange whooshing sound would have woken Serafina if she had been asleep. But she never slept well when her parents were out for the night. At the age of 16, she was far too old to be scared of the dark, but that didn’t keep her from leaving the TV on in her room all night long, door closed tight against the world.
At first Sera thought the sound was from the TV, which droned on in the background while she read in bed. She had avoided the psychological thriller on her nightstand in favor of a romance novel because she was in the mood for something light, or so she told herself.
She muted the TV and titled her ear toward the bedroom door. “Whoosh…whoosh. Whoosh…whoosh.” It was muted and slow, like it was coming from outside.
I wish Addie had been able to stay over tonight, Sera thought as she played with the silver cross around her neck.
Instead her best friend had ditched her for a date. Understandable—Sera would have done the same if the roles had been reversed—but she could have used the company.
Underarms damp with sweat, she threw off the covers and slipped out of bed, her bare feet sticking loudly with each step on the laminate floor. The door opened in silence, and Sera barely breathed. She clutched the molding and peeked down the hall.
“Whoosh, whoosh. Whoosh, whoosh.” It was louder than before, and coming at a more rapid pace.
Down the other end of the small ranch house, light spilled from the kitchen doorway. Sera’s heart thumped in her chest; she hadn’t left on any lights aside from the one in her room.
Maybe my parents are home early, she wondered…she hoped.
But then she would have heard the groan of the old garage door. Surely they would have come to check on her by now. Or at least the sound of them having a nightcap would be floating down the hallway instead of the “whoosh, whoosh” that continued to grow louder and faster.
An unearthly breeze blew back her hair and tickled the tiny hairs on her arm, raising goose bumps all over her body. Oddly, the cross felt hot against her cold skin.
She should call 911, but she had left her phone charging in the kitchen. Car headlights reflected off the Yankees poster on her wall. She stood perfectly still until the lights disappeared. It was probably just a neighbor. Lucky for her, the poster reminded her of the souvenir bat she had gotten at the last game she had gone to.
Sera’s sweaty hands fumbled around her closet for the bat. Her foot bumped into something hard, and the bat clattered to the floor. Her body tensed, but the sound from the kitchen was much louder than any noise she was making.
“Whoosh whoosh whoosh whoosh.”
She peeked down the hallway again to find the light blazing and a stormy wind sweeping through the house. A streak of anger bolstered her as she gripped the bat tight in her hands.
How dare someone break into her house? she thought and made the snap decision to confront the intruder, damned be the consequences.
Disregarding any pretense at being quiet or stealthy, Sera marched down the hall. Her heart rate wasn’t the only thing that increased with each step as the sound was now coming at an alarming pace. Hair blew all around her face in a crazy swirl.
Sera brought the bat over her head and charged into the kitchen.
The light exploded in her eyes, forcing them closed. The whooshing sound rang out so loud it reverberated through her teeth and bones. Sera fell to the ground and threw the bat into the light, but it was lost to the brightness.
A shadow broke through the light. It moved up and down with the noise, and seemed be the source of the light.
Sera groped around the floor, looking for anything that might help her. The cross burned the skin just above her chest. Ripping the chain from her neck, she flung the necklace at the figure.
The kitchen turned dark and silent. The brief stint of bravery gone, Sera remained on the floor, stunned by the sudden change. Her chest heaved up and down and began to calm. A cheesy sitcom laugh-track broke her out of the stupor.
She stood and as her eyes adjusted to the darkness, she spied a woman on the ground a few feet away. Sera stepped into the kitchen. Moonlight from the back slider illuminated the woman’s features. They were so beautiful an ache rose in Sera’s chest as she stared.
Pale, almost see-through wings framed the woman’s figure—no, not a woman. An angel.
The shattering of glass ripped Sera’s gaze from the stunning face. A man careened through the broken glass, grabbed Sera, and held a knife to her throat. The angel vanished and Sera was left alone with the intruder.
Katie L. Carroll is a mother, writer, editor, and speaker. She began writing at a very sad time in her life after her 16-year-old sister, Kylene, unexpectedly passed away. Since then writing has taken her to many wonderful places, real and imagined. She wrote her YA fantasy ELIXIR BOUND so Kylene could live on in the pages of a book. Katie is also the author of the picture app THE BEDTIME KNIGHT and a contributor to THE GREAT CT CAPER, a serialized mystery for young readers. She lives not too far from the beach in a small Connecticut city with her husband and sons. For more about Katie, visit her website at www.katielcarroll.com.