He’d been following her for an hour, she was sure of it. With each twist and turn of the gravel drive he’d been there, lurking just beyond her field of vision. It had never seemed so long before, the walk from the bottom of the hill to the beckoning lights of Mother of Mercy. The hospital was her safe house, no matter how many times she ran away, she always found her way back. As a rule Aslyn didn’t like the company of others, but a companion tonight would have been nice.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end as the lonely howl of the wind whipped past her ears. She could feel him, just behind her, watching. She’d been sure that when she stepped onto the path at the bottom of the hill there’d been no one around, but now even that certainty was questionable. Her eyes had only just adjusted to the absence of the street lights when he came to her notice. There was something different about him, sinister almost.
Her step quickened as the façade of the building came into view. The large stained glass windows that decorated the entry were even more welcoming tonight as the soft light of the foyer shone through then than they had been the first day she was admitted. She could remember it like it was yesterday, the sisters coming to her aid, catering to her every whim. They just wanted her to get better, that’s what they all said, but with them she believed it.
She could hear the crunch of her feet and those of her unwanted pursuer on the gravel as she walked. The sound was nearly deafening in the still of this cold October night. The leaves of the trees whispered softly as another gust of chilly wind whipped through their branches. She’d hoped when she rounded the last turn that the follower as she had come to call him would turn and disappear, to where she had no clue, she just wanted him to go away.
The urge to run suddenly coursed through her legs and it took all her might to stop it. ‘I can’t let him see that I’m afraid,’ she said sternly to herself. Her words of false wisdom did nothing to calm her fears and before she knew what she was doing her legs were pumping beneath her. The follower also quickened his pace when he saw that his quarry was quickly leaving his reach.
Her breath came is gasps and though her calves were on fire she never slowed. The wind rushed past her ears so that she couldn’t hear the crunch of the follower on the gravel behind her. The night air stung her face and as the tears welled up in her eyes and made their lonely way down her face he began to gain on her.
She could feel him before she saw him, the man that the sisters had talked about every Halloween. She’d never believed them, not once in the five years she’d been at Mother of Mercy. The ghost of Thomas Morin had been a favorite of the girls each year. The story ran through her mind as she ran, hoping that she would make it to the house before he caught her. He was in arms reach now, she could hear his haggard breath behind her now, or was it her own?
The tears continued to flow and the feelings that had been building in her for the better part of a year now burst forth. Suddenly, as quickly as she had started running, her legs stopped and she turned to face the demon in pursuit. ‘What do you want from me?’ She sobbed, watching closely as the figure came close. ‘What do you want?’
He spoke not a word but she could feel what he wanted, it was her. She was a nonbeliever and didn’t belong with her beloved sisters at Mother of Mercy. He had come to punish her. He knew the secrets that dwelled in her heart and he knew about the fears that grew deep inside her. ‘Is it my soul that you want?’ Her eyes were so full of tears now that all she could see was the blurry outline of the shadow figure that stood not two feet from her.
‘Well do you?!’ The fear turned to anger then at the apparition’s inability to answer. ‘Why don’t you answer me ghost?!’ She stepped forward and the figure stepped back, was he afraid of her? Her mind raced and skidded to a halt all at the same time as she tried to figure out why the ghost that had so often tormented the other children of the hospital had nothing to say to her. ‘Why won’t you speak?! Haven’t you heard your own story?!’
She struck the air around her, hoping to hit what even she wasn’t sure. As her hand made contact with the figure before her the blood in her veins ran cold. She made to step back but he was already upon her. His face was a mass of nothing, the blackness of the night obscured any features she may have been able to see and his greasy hair fell lank in front of his eyes. She tried to scream but as she opened her mouth she discovered that she could make no sound.
He stood, leaving her on the ground in tears. He walked some distance off and disappeared into the darkness. Aslyn lay where he left her for a time then slowly began to make her way up the drive toward the light of the hospital. The night around her was still, in those last few moments before he left her she’d prayed. She’d come to the conclusion in the moment that she thought her life was over that there was nothing left to fear and she knew he’d left her because she believed.