They wanted to destroy her.
“Are you afraid of dying, Annalise?”
His voice was a silent whisper but it sent cold chills down her spine. She was freezing now, shivering visibly. She knew he could see her and wanted to will her body to stop but she was powerless against it. She was powerless against him. She wondered if he wanted an answer to his question or it was just like everything else he did. Maybe he already knew the answer just like he knew everything else about her. She’d wondered how he knew so much of her past but that was as futile as her attempt to maintain any semblance of calm in her current situation.
“Have you ever wondered what’s on the other side?”
He taunted her for sheer pleasure. The smirk on his lips told her it was true. She didn’t know if she wanted to answer any of his questions. It was not like it mattered what she wanted. Her lips wouldn’t move. They were paralyzed like the rest of her body.
“Have it your way, Annalise. Stay silent.”
She felt his claws again. This time, they were on her neck. For a brief moment, the fear evaporated and she wanted to tell him how much she despised him but the moment was fleeting just like the last traces of hope she was barely clinging on to. She knew what he wanted her to know.
She was never getting away from him.
Her mind fell free as he settled one sharp claw at the base of her neck and pushed in. She knew the pain would come soon yet the seconds she spent waiting felt like forever. The pain never came because he stopped pushing the claw into her skin. For the number of times he’d done this without actually hurting her, one would expect her to know not to worry but there was nothing to know in the situation she found herself. His presence alone spread terror into every cell in her body.
“What do you think she’s doing right now?”
Her heart dropped at his last question. The numbness she felt gave way to anguish and for the umpteenth time that day, her tear ducts flooded her cheeks with tasteless tears. Through her blurred vision, she could see what she believed was concern etched on his face. No. She refused to believe he was concerned for her.
He wiped the tears from her cheeks with his hands but they were different now. His claws were gone, replaced by flawless skin and impeccably manicured nails. But where did his claws go?
“She needs rest. Lots of it.”
His voice was different too. It was calm and assured, no longer cold and calculated. He looked away from her and continued to speak with someone else. She looked in the direction of the other person and almost passed out from shock. Her dad was in the room, talking to him like they knew each other.
No. This couldn’t be happening.
She closed her eyes and blinked repeatedly. Maybe she could shake off the vision if she tried hard enough. Maybe everything would be different if she closed her eyes long enough. She’d wake up on her bed and realize none of this was real. Maybe this was one horrible nightmare.
“I think she’s going into shock. Do something!”
She heard the fear in her dad’s voice and opened her eyes. He was beside her bed now, pulling her and screaming frantically.
Anna could see how frightened her dad had become and a knot tied in my stomach. She wanted to tell him everything was going to be okay but she didn’t even believe that herself. She was barely able to lift her trembling hand but she put everything she had into it and managed to get it up to his face. She made contact but she couldn’t feel his skin. He was a still picture now, neither moving nor speaking. Her shivers increased and so did her heart rate. Something was terribly wrong, she could feel it deep within her.
She blinked from panic and opened her eyes to the darkness. Her skin was covered in goosebumps and her sweat soaked the sheets underneath her. She was lying on her bed, staring at the pitch black emptiness around her. She knew she’d been having a nightmare but being awake didn’t offer any relief.
Terror filled her veins as the sound of the clock pierced through the darkness. It was midnight, and she knew exactly what would happen then. She heard the wind howling outside her window and closed her eyes in an attempt to shut out the dread. It was useless. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up to the creaking sound of her door opening. There was no escaping it now.
He was there.