From Next Door
Lynn woke to Pepper’s tongue on her face. The dog needed out. With a groan, she sat up, glancing at the clock on the stand; 2:45 a.m. Beside her, Abbie pretended to sleep, ignoring the situation. The dog never bothered her. It was frustrating.
“Okay, okay, I’m coming.” Lynn stood and followed Pepper out into the house. She didn’t need any lights, she’d made this trip a thousand times. She opened the back door and watched the dog run out into the moonlight. A breeze blew in and she shivered, willing Pepper to hurry.
Instead, the dog stood in the middle of the yard, facing the neighbor’s house. She laid her ears back and growled, deep in her throat. Lynn leaned out to see what had her riled up.
Standing at the fence between their houses was a shadowy figure. A short, female shape in a housecoat that Lynn recognized. It was Mrs. Rafkin, from next door. Except it wasn’t. Couldn’t be. Mrs. Rafkin had passed away three weeks earlier. Lynn and Abbie had gone to the service, bringing a small but lovely bouquet for the family.
Lynn squinted. She rubbed her eyes. The figure remained. She couldn’t see Mrs. Rafkin’s face but her shape was unmistakable. She’d hung laundry on a line out there every day, chatting with the girls as they tinkered in their flower garden or played with Pepper.
Don’t be stupid. She chided herself. It’s just a weird shadow, or a bush. Except there were no bushes along the fence and nothing she could think of that would cast such an odd shadow. It could only be a person, but obviously not the deceased Mrs. Rafkin. She considered calling out, then thought better of it. She whispered hoarsely out the door.
“Pepper, come on.” The dog whined and trotted back inside. Lynn lingered a moment longer, straining to see the details of the person’s face. As she watched, the figure raised its hand and waved to her, very slowly. A chill slid down her naked back and her heartbeat quickened. She slammed the door and took a step back. She was breathing heavy. She locked up and hurried back to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her. She climbed into bed and scootched as close to Abbie as she could.
Abbie raised her head. “You’re freezing.”
“Did Mrs. Rafkin have a sister? A twin maybe?”
“What?” Abbie flipped around to face Lynn. “Why?”
Suddenly, Pepper whined, scratching to be let in. Lynn whimpered. “Can you please let her in?”
Abbie sighed, throwing the covers aside. “You’re being weird.” She stood, walking around the corner of the bed and then stopped abruptly. “Oh never mind. She’s right. . .” She looked up at the door, where the scratching continued from the other side. “. . . here.” She looked to Lynn. “Why did you ask about Mrs. Rafkin?”
Then a low, gravelly voice called from outside the door. “Girrrrrrls. . .” The knob turned and the door opened.
*** *** *** *** ***
©2013 by R.k.Kombrinck.
*** *** *** *** ***
R.k.Kombrinck is a writer and artist who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and two sons. He is a founding cast-member of the popular horror podcast “Night of the Living Podcast.” He enjoys iced-tea (unsweet) and genuinely believes in Sasquatch.
You can find his work online HERE