• I heard the floorboards creak behind me. Fear climbed slowly up my body until I was drowning in it, immobilized by sheer terror. I had seen enough horror movies in my seventeen years to know what comes next. The endings in those movies hardly ever work out in everyone’s favor. Someone had to die, and I had this gut-sinking feeling that in this real-life horror movie, whoever else was in this house with me wasn’t planning on being that someone.
    A door creaked, closer to me than I had expected; closer than I had planned on. I whirled around just fast enough to see a shadow and the glint of light off a wicked looking knife that was headed straight for me. I didn’t even have time to scream before death closed in around me.
    * * *
    I jerked upright in bed, immediately checking to make sure I was still alive. Noting my clammy skin, rapid pulse, and labored breathing, I decided I could definitely still count myself amongst the living. Death would be way better than this, I figured.
    I tossed my covers off and pushed aside my canopy drapes to slide out of bed and make my way toward the shower. Today was the first day of summer vacation. Unfortunately for me, it was also the first day living in the new house, too. I had almost forgotten about that. Hard to do, considering the new house was about the same size of my old bedroom. My new room consists of my bed alone. Nothing else would even fit in this closet-sized room. Talk about down-sizing. It would take some time to adjust.
    Now I know how Alice must have felt when she landed in Wonderland, and she drank that stuff and just kept growing, until everything was miniature to her. That’s the same kind of feeling I’m getting now, in this new house, stuck inside a foreign place, not even fitting, but all cramped and uncomfortable.
    Oh my goodness! I just realized something; I forgot to tell you who I am! Well, I’m not exactly sure of what you want to know, so I’ll just give you a run-down on all the basics anywho.
    My name is Lillian Grace Hanson. I happen to be the fourth generation in my family tree who has been burdened with that name. My parents don’t even know the meaning of the word creative, much less posses any miniscule drop of it. So instead of having some cool modern name like Kristy or Maya, I got stuck with being Miss Lillian Hanson IV. Oh, lucky me, right? Well, I hate being stuck with such an old-fashioned name, so I go by Lili to everyone except my ‘rentals (short for parentals, which is what I refer to my mom and dad as), they detest nicknames of any sort, which is why I address them as Claire and James instead of Mom and Dad, but I digress.
    My favorite color? Well, funny you should ask, because I don’t actually have one. I’ve been told that it’s a direct result of my indecisive nature, and my pickiness (which, by the way, so isn’t true!), which is the very same reason I haven’t been able to hold on to a boyfriend for any length of time. This is all according to my best friend Wilhelmina. You can tell that her parents and my parents are close. I mean, her name is even worse than mine (which is tough to beat, trust me, I know)! She detests her name too, so she goes by Billie. You can so tell we were meant to be close, our names just go together so naturally: Lili and Billie. We’re the perfect team, and we know it.
    This is where I should probably go on and tell you all about the rest of my family, my school, and my love life, but I think you’ll learn about all of that soon enough. Just be patient and bear with me here, okay? It’s not like any of those things are particularly exciting, anyways. Not in my life, at least, but that’s beside the point.
    I hate to change the subject, but to get back to that dream of mine. It was pretty scary, huh? The sad thing is, I’m used to it by now. Those kind of dreams would visit me every night, once upon a time. They would creep in and posses you before you could guard yourself against them. They visit me less frequently now, but they’re still as terrifying now as they were when they first showed up as guests, at least back then they were polite. Pesky things are like roommates now, with no manners whatsoever. Ungracious little nasties.
    The first nightmare I ever got was when I was eight, right after “the incident” occurred. “The incident” is what my ‘rentals refer to it as. Me? I just call it what it was: a kidnapping. Very few people in this world know the truth about that day, and I plan on keeping it that way. So you’re going to have to promise me you’ll keep this a secret, ‘kay? I don’t know if I can tell you all the gory details, but I will tell you what I can remember…
    * * *

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