One pitch-black winter night, I went for a walk around my neighbourhood. I noticed a dark silhouette off in the distance. ‘Who are they?’ I thought. ‘I know everyone in my neighbourhood.’ I felt an immediate wave of revulsion pass through me. My heart was skipping a beat through every step I took. But every step I made, I felt my anxiety rise. The worst part regarding it is as I got nearer, the silhouette appeared to wither away in the horizon.

“Hello?” I called, “Is anyone there?”

I ran as quickly as possible down the sidewalk, without even considering where I was headed to. As I was lost in my thoughts, I heard someone open their window, with a resounding creak.

“What are you shouting about?” The woman responded in a fatigued voice. I sought to be polite, so I just elucidated that my brain was deceiving me. She scoffed and shut her window with a crash.

‘That was creepy’ I deemed. I didn’t recognize that I was that noisy. Had anyone else overheard?

I didn’t know where I was… one minute I was on the sidewalk just outside my house, and the next, I’m on this dimly illuminated street with no cars in view. My parents always told me that I should never leave the house without a means of technology. Oh well, I should be fine.

I questioned what time it was. How late had I been standing out here? My stomach was churning, my mind surging around with thoughts, and my limbs were trembling, not knowing where to go. I stared into the bleak distance. It was a magnificent star-filled night. The sky was a creamy hue of dark blue, and the stars were twinkling as radiant as I had never seen before. How could such a brilliant evening be permeated with so much terror?

“What’s that?” I said out loud, for an unknown reason. I was staring out onto the hill in the far distance. I saw a light! What did it lead to? I was going to find out. I ran as quickly as I could in the direction of the luminosity. It appeared to occupy a lot of space, it must’ve been a building of some sort.

Every second, I got closer and closer. I became wearier and wearier as I continued on for what seemed like an eternity. I eventually grew close enough to see it was a store.

‘Maybe they have food there.’ I thought. ‘Oh, but I don’t have any money with me. In fact, I don't have any at all.' I stood at the front door of the store. I was hesitant to walk in, but I decided if I ever wanted to find my way back home, I would have to attain a phone. And the only way I could manage that was to go into the store.

I stepped in, and everything seemed very worn and faded. The cash registers were poorly lit up, there were lots of garbage and candy wrappers tossed on the floor, and red spray paint crowded the walls as if people had nothing better to do on a Friday night. I searched throughout the store. I didn't notice anyone! That was until I felt a faint breath graze against the back of my neck.

I looked behind me. There was the same figure a few metres away from my position. They were dressed in a long flowing black dress, with long black hair draped over their face. I studied the character from afar, and the hidden face shape revealed it was a woman.

I attempted to walk up to the character again. But this time, my legs were planted in one spot. It's like they were being weighed down by boulders. I had a million questions. Was this silhouette in my imagination? If not, why was this happening? How can you prevent it? None of them were answered as I stared at her face that was obstructed by her hair.

After staring at the figure that appeared to be looking at me as well, she vanished. I was broke free from immobility, and I decided to give the store a more thorough investigation. As I walked on, I noticed there were about three payphones near the back of the store. Were they always there? I went up to the phones, taking in every step. I counted the steps I was taking. 1...2...3... and then they were gone. Into thin air; all of its remains have diminished.

“Hello.” I heard a woman say, in a soft, breathy voice. “How may I help you tonight?” I turned around and saw a woman with long black shiny hair and dark brown eyes, almost black, staring back at me. I was so startled that I screamed. This is her. This is the figure I was seeing.

The beautiful woman slowly stuck out her arm and put it on my shoulder. As if to say ‘It’s okay, don’t be scared.’ But the feel of her cold touch blazing through my skin was enough to make me terrified. I wriggled away from her hand that which was resting on my shoulder. She looked at me with a very perplexed expression. Her eyes were so beautiful and dark. Like looking into an infinite void; it was breathtaking.

As I stood there staring into her vacant eyes, as she stared back at me, she suddenly broke our stare. She was looking at something behind me and nodding at it, almost as if something was communicating with her. I turned around to regard what she was looking at, but I didn’t see anything. I turned around to face her. She gave me an ominous grin as she placed her lifeless arm over my shoulder.

I didn't enjoy her arm around me, it made me shiver. I could feel the blood rushing through my veins like I was bleeding. She walked me across the store; I could feel my heart rate rising.

“What is your name, child?” She asked me in that same soft and breathy voice as earlier.

“Why am I here?” I asked as firmly as I could. It came out sounding forced and shaky like two rusty gates being forced close by the wind. She was hesitant with her reply, but she finally pushed a few words past her lips. Her lips were stiff like they were frostbitten. But the store's heat was on at a comfortable temperature.

“I-I'm... he-he-help-" And then she started fading away into the dim lighting of the store. I looked around. All I saw was the garbage surrounding me. I was suspended into place as I stared at the void where this woman once stood. What was she trying to help?

Just then, I hear a voice call from behind me. I'm immobilized. I detect the heavy footsteps approaching me. The steps terminate from about one metre behind me.

"I've been waiting for you. What took you so long?" I feel a cold hand on my shoulder. It turns me around with excellent strength. I am staring at a faceless woman with black hair draping her face. She was the same figure the beautiful woman was nodding at. It looked just like her, except the eyes were glossed over. Her cheeks were hollowed and sunken. Her nose was just a hole in the centre of her face. I tried to pull away. But she was too strong; her icy touch pierced through my skin.

"You should've gotten my help before it was too late. Now it's time."