“MOMMY! Help, they’re after me!”
Ana rolled onto her side, propping herself up on one elbow and forcing her groggy eyes to focus on her four-year-old.
“Kayla, there are no monsters. We live seven floors up from the street and monsters can’t get up here so you’re safe, it’s just the moon casting shadows. ”
“I don’t want to sleep there anymore, it’s too scary” her eyes pleaded as her little fingers grasped Ana’s hand in desperation.
Ana considered Kayla’s tiny hands wrapped around her own. She loved the smell of her vanilla scented shampoo, and how cute she looked in her fuzzy pink bunny pajamas with matching slippers. Smiling, Ana brushed her hand through her little girl’s fine auburn hair and sighed.
“What’s going on?” The commotion had roused her husband Danny. “Is she seeing shadows again?” Danny was a realist, he worked in the Canadian foreign affairs and had seen too much in his years of work there to believe in anything except what was real.
“It’s okay honey, I’ll handle it. You have to get up and ready for work now anyway” Ana shoved her feet free from the blankets and stood grasping Kayla’s hand, “Come on, why don’t we get you some nice warm milk and we’ll go look for these monsters together, how about that?”
Ana found her way to the kitchen and warmed some milk for Kayla, a trick her mother had always used to help her fall back to sleep, and some tea for herself in her grandmother’s teacup. She led Kayla back to her room and flicked on the light.
The small bedroom boasted pink flower print walls which had seen better days and now starting to peel at the corners. The seventies style orange and green plaid wallpaper peeked through and the faded shag carpet was still there from Ana’s own childhood. The small window looked out at the graffiti covered brick wall of the adjacent building through the rusted metal railing of the apartment’s flimsy fire escape. Many a suitor had climbed that old fire escape, Ana would always politely decline. The thought of climbing down the rusted stairs which barely clung to the side of the building with a few meager screws was absurd.
“See? Nothing here.” Ana waved her hand in a grand gesture that made Kayla giggle.
“Mommy, were you ever scared of the shadows when you were a kid?”
Ana thought a moment, the creepy shadows had once haunted her too, they reached their long sharp claws out to grab her and they would laugh when she hid her head underneath her blankets. I don’t want to live here anymore Daddy she would plead. Her father would only respond This is our home in Canada Ana, it is much better than the one we had in Moscow only a few years ago. Be content little one, this life is the one you have been given and you must enjoy it for what it is.
Shaking her head Ana turned to her daughter and smiled brightly at her. “Come now Kayla, every little child has fears but that does not mean they are real. You are safe, I will just be in the next room. Now close your eyes and off to dreamland you go.” Ana tucked her in tightly and gave her a kiss on the forehead before switching off the light.
Suddenly Kayla let out a scream. Ana flicked on the light again “What is it?”
A large spider with tiger like stripes and beady eyes had crawled between the bedside dresser and the wall and now sat hissing at the little girl violently. Ana instinctively ran to her bedside and tossed her teacup at the creature smashing it all over the wall and splashing tea across the pink flowers. The spider took off and quickly found its way to a crack in the wall near the floor to escape.
“It’s ok honey, the spider is gone now, ” Ana told her running her hand through Kayla’s hair and then picking up the pieces of her grandmother’s teacup “and he won’t come back, I promise.”
Leaving the door of the room open and the hall light on to reassure her, Ana vacated quietly. She poked her head in her own bedroom, it was empty, Danny must have gone to work already. Too awake now to head back to bed, Ana decided to head to the kitchen to get another tea. She glanced down at the pieces of teacup, a reminder of some of her favorite times with her dear late Grandmother now dashed to pieces reluctantly tossing them in the trash.
Suddenly a stabbing pain in the backs of her knees made her scream before her mouth and nose were covered with cloth. A strong arm wrapped around her shoulders.
A horrid, pungent-sweet chemical smell invaded her nostrils.
Ana held her breath and kicked her assailant in the shin with all her might.
Her body was wrenched to the side knocking her from her feet, another sharp pain to the backs of her knees
Ana gasped from the force of the blow.
Her limbs grew weak and she slumped unable to stand on her own.
The world grew dim…
…and then black.