THREE MONTHS AGO.

Springwood, Oregon

Nancy was in hysterics as she hid in the closet. She looked down at her trembling hands as the blood on them turned a blackish color.

She kept repeating in her mind: This isn't real. This isn't real. It can't be real. They're all dead.

Her neck had a burning sensation, as steamy breath ran along the nape of her neck. Nancy kept her eyes forward, as a wet sensation filled her left ear.


EARLIER THAT DAY.

It was a year to the day, and Nancy Thompson sat alone at Postino's. She ordered a Pinot Grigio in remembrance of Tina Lane—her friend for well over a decade.

In a last ditch effort to save her marriage, Tina went under the knife for the ultimate makeover. Nobody could have anticipated that Tina would have a fatal allergic reaction. She flat lined on the operation table. Nobody knew about Tina's decision. If she had, Nancy would've talked Tina out of the procedure—not only for moral reasons, but also because of her friend's heart arrhythmia. Nancy remembers vividly the call she received from Tina's mother Hilda. She was helping her daughter Kristen with her homecoming dress. The scissors practically flew out of her hand in shock. Her son Alistair barely caught Nancy in midair as she fainted.

For a while after Tina's death, Nancy pitied her friend for letting a marriage destroy her self-esteem. Rod Lane might've had the face of Adonis, but his boyish charms never appealed to Nancy. How ridiculous for a thirtysomething man to be chasing women fresh out of high school. Nancy never really cared for Rod's penchant for scotch and sports cars. But Tina couldn't get enough of Rod, and the fact that he was nine years younger made her feel energized. Tina was always sunny and bubbly for Nancy. But in private, Tina must've have been wrestling with her insecurities.

Once Nancy accepted that Tina would never come back, she began to analyze her own marriage. It seemed that lately her husband Jacob was spending more time at the office. Granted he became a Senator last year. But there was something different about Jacob. When he would call Nancy to cancel their dinner plans, his voice sounded conspiratorial—almost as if he didn't want somebody to hear him. He also spent a lot of weekends working, which left only Nancy and Kristen to attend Alistair's football games.

After Nancy paid her bill, she freshened up in the ladies room. Nancy fiddled with her wavy hair, and frowned at the streak of gray that blossomed by her right ear. I need to make an appointment at Tiffany's. She studied her taut body in the mirror, pleased at what the Pilates were doing for her.

She planned to spend the rest of the day at Whole Foods Market. Tonight's dinner had to be special—for it was Jacob's forty-sixth birthday. She gave Jacob an ultimatum—be there for family dinner, or she will not give him the gift that he pretended not to want (it was a Briel watch).

Tonight's going to be perfect thought Nancy, as she adjusted her silk scarf.


But the night didn't turn out to be perfect. Not at all. In the closet, Freddy Krueger whispered in Nancy's ear: "Did you miss me?"