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SHE WAS FAST asleep, snoring lightly and peaceably.

No reason to be uptight because the entire house was well lit and the entrance doors were secured. She’d doubled-checked them, mused over the several recent odd and incomprehensible events bordering around her life, then concluded she was becoming a mental case in need of urgent psychiatric evaluation.

Then her mind lingered for a moment about the weird encounter that Jonathan had. Finally, she thought about the inexplicable case of the missing house keys, puzzling over the fact that she was quite certain that the front door had been locked when she’d tried it at first. In fact, Samantha could remember dunking the keys in her handbag, along with the credit cards and mobile phone, just before she got behind the steering wheel of her car outside on the parking lot.

Samantha couldn’t wrap her mind around it now, and it bothered her greatly that none of it made any logical sense. She really needed to see a shrink, she thought again, although she loathed the idea. Stirring slightly, and then rolling onto her side with a quiet groan, she decided she’ll have to weigh the thought a bit more before making up her mind. Perhaps she’ll talk it over with Jonathan, hear his opinion on the subject.

In the morning, she would call him.

So she slept. Stirred slightly again, muttered inaudible words in her sleep, and just slept on.

It was a serene altitude at first, tranquil and welcoming. It soothed her, relaxed her nerves, eased her worries. It was paradise. She could remain here forever, floating and sailing through space, through time…

Until it became a gaping, fiery black hole filled with a thousand screaming voices and wailing fiends reaching out to grab her with crooked, sinewy hands, to pull her into the depth of an infernal abyss.

Samantha opened her eyes with a start, her heart beating recklessly beneath her chest, the scream in her mouth cut short by the sudden and terrifying realization that something was awfully wrong in the bedroom; something that instantly chilled her down to her marrow.

The room was plunged in blackout.

That wasn’t right; Samantha was perfectly certain she’d left the lights on when she climbed into bed. She could remember, because she’d read a chapter from her James Patterson’s crime thriller before drifting off to sleep. But what happened to the lights? Was it a general power outage or simply a blown out fuse in her apartment? She stared around apprehensively, wide-eyed and terrified.

And then she saw it; the shadowy person glaring at her quietly from the middle of the room, unmoving against the background of the dark room, with round, pearly eyes that turned her blood to ice.

The outline was obscure and would be easy to miss for a person just glancing casually around the house. But because Samantha had had previous experiences, she was careful and purposeful as she moved her gaze back and forth, like the beams of police searchlight sweeping across the city in the dead of night.

Samantha stopped, facing the thing directly, holding her breath and not daring to move a muscle.

It was there alright, just staring at her, enchanting her with its bewitching gaze.

Then it moved, rushed towards her like a cyclonic, violent wind.

Samantha shrieked wildly, tumbling off the bed in abject terror.

Then she opened her eyes.

It was a nightmare!

She’d been having a terrible dream…The room was lit, and she was still in bed, not sprawled out hopelessly on the floor like she’d dreamt. Her head felt like bricks on her shoulders, and her heart was beating so fast within her she feared she might go into a seizure or suffer a fatal cardiac arrest if it didn’t slow down soon.

Looking around forlornly, she got the dizzying notion that the room had somehow gotten smaller than it was before she went to bed, that everything had somehow been miniaturized. Because, as she experimented unwittingly, her hands could touch the roof! She was like a giant in her own room, her head reaching the window level when, hitherto, it placed well above her head.

What was going on? Samantha wondered in bewilderment. Now everything seemed to be in motion, hovering slowly, very slowly, in midair! Time seemed to be suspended, and it freaked Samantha out. Then with the sudden realization that her bed was floating, with her on it, she panicked and attempted to scramble off it. She took the blankets and sheets with her in her haste, falling four feet down to the floor and landing heavily on her side. She lurched and crawled from beneath the airborne bed, edging her back against the wall.

Oh, no! thought Samantha, mystified. Oh, no!

This wasn’t a dream, she was sure; it was real!

Samantha Prince stared at the bed with her jaws hanging open and a silent cry in her mouth as she got up nervously and ran to the door, grabbed the handle and pulled at it firmly. It was locked tight.

Samantha froze, the hairs on the back of her neck bristling. She tried the handle again desperately, pulled it forcefully a couple of times.

No use.

The door was locked.

Then she really panicked, her befuddled mind quickly trying to comprehend the dastardly situation, whether she was in actual fact still dreaming, and if not, what she had to do. But one thing was certain then; there was an evil power in her room, a diabolic force at work; she could feel it and it was undeniable.

Suddenly, the floating bed fell back on the hard floor with a loud, crashing sound that startled Samantha. She jumped and turned around, letting out a shrill, desperate cry.

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