This content was originally posted on www.alifeboundbybooks.blogspot.com as part of the Shudder Blog Tour in 2013.
Hi everyone! I’m SO excited to be here today – thanks so much to Lisa and Jessica for including the Stitch Blog Tour as part of the Haunted Halloween festivities!
I’m a HUGE Halloween fan and have been obsessed with everything spooky and paranormal since I can remember, so I always LOVE to hear other people’s true scary stories and have been eagerly following the posts all month long. Unfortunately, though, (or maybe fortunately!) I don’t have any true tales of my own to tell. :'-(
However, never fear! My book, Stitch, is about a college student who’s being haunted by what she *thinks* is a ghost (though anyone who’s read it will tell you her problems are actually much scarier than that!), so my main character, Alessa, has plenty of encounters to share. Here’s a recounting of her very first experience with the mysterious ghostly presence in her sorority house…
“The Apparition” – A Short Story featuring Alessa from Stitch
Alessa tossed her sweat jacket over the back of her chair with a yawn and crawled into bed. It’d been a long day.
It was only the first week of classes and already she was inundated with work. But right now she just couldn’t muster the energy to care. She’d spent the day with a forced smile plastered on her face, trying and failing to connect with the other students she met, and now her cheeks ached and she just wanted to go to sleep.
Switching off the bedside lamp, Alessa cradled her head in the softness of the pillow with a contented sigh. Bed time, finally.
There was a knock at the door and Alessa groaned. Who could be here at this time of night? Alessa glanced at the clock – it was only 9:30, she realized. With a sigh, she tossed the covers off, switched on the light and trudged to the door.
“Hey Alessa! Oh, sorry – were you asleep already?” It was Janie, the only other freshman in her sorority house, her messy bob bouncing cheerily as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.
“No, I was just settling in,” Alessa mumbled through her yawn. “What’s up?”
Janie narrowed her eyes and Alessa felt suddenly guilty, like she’d been doing something wrong. She supposed it was a bit early to be going to sleep – the other sisters in the house were probably downstairs having a pillow fight or something. Alessa shook away the image with a quiet groan and resolved herself to getting back in bed at the earliest possible chance. She would never fit in here, so she might as well not waste her time trying.
Janie continued to eye Alessa for a moment, then screwed up her face in a gentle apology. “Sorry to bug you. The rest of the girls are in living room painting each other’s toes and I just couldn’t sit there any longer.”
Alessa snorted with amusement, her sleepiness shaking away with her mirth. It was weird how Janie’s thoughts always seemed to echo Alessa’s own. They’d only know each other for a few days now, but Janie was the only person on campus who seemed to get what Alessa was thinking. She was glad to at least have one potential friend.
“Quick, shut the door before they come for us,” Alessa ribbed, a smile flitting across her face. She stepped to the side to let Janie pass and closed the door behind her. Janie flopped down on the bed without hesitation and promptly launched into a spirited lament of the day’s classes.
Janie’s effervescence was contagious. Minute by minute listening to Janie, Alessa’s own grumbles melted away, and by the time Janie left for her own room an hour later, a small part of Alessa was beginning to feel like maybe things would be okay.
She lay back down and drifted off to sleep quietly with the hint of a smile playing at her lips.
But halfway through the night Alessa woke, some eerie sixth sense telling her that something was off.
Still rousing from her slumber, Alessa muddled through her feelings trying to figure out what had disturbed her. With a gasp, she realized she wasn’t alone.
Her heart in her throat, Alessa peeked through her eyelashes to see if she could find the intruder. She steadied her breathing as best she could, hoping that whoever was there hadn’t noticed she was awake. If it was some kind of burglar – or worse – her best chance would be to take him by surprise.
Alessa distinctly noted the biting sensation of her own nails digging into her palms as she struggled to suppress the panic that welled in her gut. Peering through the darkness, Alessa spotted the fuzzy outline of a figure at the foot of her bed and stifled a short intake of breath. Had she forgotten to lock the door after Janie left? Fighting the urge to jerk her foot back, Alessa instead strained to focus her energy on observing the intruder.
The figure stood stock still, tall and looming and very clearly male, and Alessa’s chest hammered as the possibilities of his intentions darted through her mind. She choked down the bile in the back of her throat and forced herself to think. She needed a plan – before it was too late.
He hung menacingly at the end of the bed, directly between Alessa and her only escape route. Alessa couldn’t tell in the blackness of her room if he was facing toward her or away, but she thought that if she moved quickly enough she might be able to rush him and make a run for the door.
Adrenaline ringing through her body, Alessa primed herself to make a stand, curling the bed sheets in her fingertips as she prepared to toss them at the intruder with a violent flourish.
But suddenly the feeling vanished. Daring to open one eye, Alessa realized she could no longer see the silhouette of the intruder. Had he moved out of her view?
Some primordial instinct told her that the presence had gone, but she didn’t know how that could be possible. The door hadn’t opened, and there was nowhere else for him to go. And if she was wrong – if he was still there – she knew she wouldn’t be able to make her escape without knowing where he was.
Summoning every ounce of courage in her bones – her muscles still coiled and ready to fly – Alessa reached one tentative hand out to the bedside table and switched on the lamp.
She was alone.
Gaping at the empty room in front of her, Alessa felt a sudden rush in her head; the only sound she could hear was a deafening ringing in her ears. She’d thought in the last few moments that she’d known fear, but the complete and utter terror that gripped her now was unrivaled. Something was very, very wrong here.
She was certain she’d seen someone. Where had he gone?
Groping for answers, she threw herself onto the floor, almost hoping now to find the intruder hiding under the bed. But she knew in her gut before she even lifted the sheets that he was gone. That he’d – she didn’t even want to think it – vanished.
It wasn’t possible, but Alessa knew it to be true. Her head spinning, she clawed her way back onto the bed, clutching the comforter in her palms as she tried to steady her drumming heart. Taking slow, deep breaths, she flicked off the light and curled up tightly under the covers.
Alessa reassured herself that she was safe, that no one was ever there, that she must have imagined the whole thing. It had to be – that was the only logical explanation, after all.
But as Alessa closed her eyes, some deep part of her recognized her flimsy reassurances for what they were: lies.
And she knew in her heart that her life would never be the same again.