It was a peaceful Saturday evening, the children that lived next door were skipping rope in their front yard and singing gaily, ignorant that the sun was steadily sinking towards the western sky.
"Sarah? We are heading out. We'll be back in time for dinner, so don't snack on junk food while we're out," A male voice called. Sarah looked up from her book, Bram Stoker's infamous Dracula, to glance at the doorway and noticing her father standing just past the entrance. Her father did not wait for a reply, instead walking down the stairs and out the door to the patio. She sat up and glanced out to the window to see her stepmother's car pull out of the driveway; a murky-brown mop of hair was visible in the back seat before it drove onwards to its destination.
The mop of hair was her stepbrother, off to get his hair cut once again. His mother didn't like how his hair would reach his collar and he complained of the hair dangling in his eyes. So, they got an appointment with a barber down at the town center. They didn't ask Sarah if she wanted to go with them, so she was left at the home. If they had asked, she would have gone with. She didn't like being left alone. It wasn't because she didn't want to be lonely, nor was it the unnatural silence that came when the parents and children leave for a time.
She was scared of Jareth.
The Goblin King was someone Sarah was always uneasy about. Three years ago, she foolishly wished away her brother to the goblins. To gain him back, she had less than thirteen hours to navigate the massive labyrinth and reach the castle beyond the Goblin City. There, the Goblin King tried to convince her to give up her quest and she ended up scorning him. She had won back her brother, but that look on his face when she did was both frightful and worrying.
She was jolted out of her memory-filled thoughts by a sharp ping, coming from the floor below. She waited, and then heard another ping. She put the book calmly on the quilted blanket and sat up. At the third ping, she stood up and walked to the door. She touched the brass doorknob and froze; curiosity suddenly plummeted to cold fear. She shook her head and turned the knob, pushing the door open.
The pings came faster as she walked down the hallway and touched the banister, like something was dancing on the keys of a piano. Of course they had a piano, but who would break in to play a piano that hasn't been tuned for at least two years. She carefully took a couple of steps down the stairs, listening. Once she reached the fifth step, the noise stopped.
"Who's there?" She called, taking a step before kneeling to peer into the living room.
It was empty, the piano still had its wooden cover over the keys and the room seemed undisturbed.
"What?" She yelped, rushing down the stairs and lifting the cover. The white and black keys gleamed up at her, undisturbed.
"Did I imagine it?" Sarah wondered out loud, setting the cover back over the keys.
"Tee hee hee," Something giggled in response. Sarah spun, leaning against the piano in fright while looking around. The room was still empty around her, but she thought she saw something near the stairs.
"What the hell!" She shouted, rushing to the stairs and looked up. The stairs were empty, as they had been when she had walked down them.
"If I have a panic attack every time I am left alone, I'll never survive leaving for college," She groaned as she turned around. She plodded to the kitchen and opened the fridge, glancing at the fridge's contents. She spied a bottle of grape soda half-hidden by a carton of orange juice near the back of the fridge, she smiled as she reached in to take the bottle.
Just as she placed her fingers on the top of the soda she was reaching for, she heard something crash. She froze, and then slowly pulled her hand away from the chilled air and closed the fridge door. She took a breath to calm herself, and then she took one of the knives from the drawers nearby and walked to the door.
"Get out!" She screamed as she pushed the door open. She saw something fall and smash on the floor. She walked over to it, kneeling to examine it. It was broken glass, maybe from a crystalline ball or from a snow globe.
"How did that get here?" She wondered. She reached down to touch the shards, and then remembered that touching broken glass without a towel or other form of protection wasn't such a good idea.
"Oh well, better go clean this up," Sarah muttered, standing up and turning back to the kitchen.
"Sarah…" A thin high-pitched voice giggled. Sarah stopped, and then turned. The glass was melting, forming a small pool on the carpet.
"Sarah…" It called again. Sarah withheld a gasp as what looked like wings unfurled from the pool. A head appeared next, while the rest of the pool condensed to form a thin spindly body. It looked at her, an expressionless face staring up at her.
"No, it can't be…" Sarah whispered in shock. The thing cocked its head, as if it didn't understand what she had said.
"Sarah…" It giggled, stumbling to its feet and flapped its clear wings to try and get into the air.
"Sarah?" "Sarah!" "Sarah…" More voices seemed to answer, in the same thin voice. She screamed as she felt something pull at her ankle. She kicked out at it, dislodging whatever was on her ankles and sent them across the room. She ran for the stairs, ignoring the smashing of glass and the giggles. She started racing up the stairs, then her foot caught on the step and she tripped.
"Don't run, Sarah," One giggled manically. She looked back; the first had figured out how to work its crystalline wings and was hovering above the ground. Gracefully, it fluttered over to her face, landing quietly on the step.
"It will only be worse if you run," It giggled.
"Leave me alone!" She shrieked, a sudden flush of anger overwhelmed her and she struck at it. It shattered against the step, cutting into Sarah's hand. The other creatures stopped giggling.
"…Sorry, Sarah…" She heard, and then her hand began to burn. She screamed as the glass melted and began spilling down her hand, now stained slightly red from her blood. It dripped from her hand and formed a puddle again.
"…That won't work…" It giggled as its head rose from the pool. The giggles got louder as the rest joined in.
"Stop it!" She screamed, pushing herself up and running up the rest of the stairs. She rushed into her room and slammed the door shut. She leaned against the door, fumbling for the lock. Once she touched the brass lock, she realized the laughter had stopped. She stopped moving, listening for the laughter or if they were coming.
"…Is it over?" She asked herself softly, stepping back. She looked down from the door, realizing she still had the knife in her hand. With a sigh, she threw it onto the bed.
"I'll just wait here until they come home, I'll make up an excuse somehow…" Sarah muttered, and then she heard a knock on the door. She froze, listening to a second knock and the door handle squeak as it turned. She spun around, praying that it was just her imagination. The door opened, swinging out gracefully. Sarah felt cold with fear as she recognized who was standing before her.
"Hello, Sarah," A dark silky voice softly hissed.