It took Lizzie longer than it should have to realize that she was waking up from the nightmare. The world around her still shook and the laughter, his laughter, followed her even when she opened her eyes and saw she was back in her own bedroom.
Had all that only been a dream? It had been so real… But no, it hadn’t. She hadn’t felt the pain when she hit the wall. She should have realized that. Damn dream logic.
“Lizzie, wake up!” Sarah was yelling at her and the shaking? It was Sarah and Elisabeth somehow, Lizzie wasn’t sure just quite how they were doing it, shaking her bed.
They hadn’t been able to move things before, how were they doing this? She didn’t have time to think about it too much as she saw their worried faces as they were looking down at her. They were scared, but they were dead. What could scare them?
“What?” She said. Her voice was little more than a whisper, her throat dry and raspy as she was still not fully awake.
The laughing wasn’t going away, but it changed. It didn’t sound like it had in her dream. It wasn’t that growing cackle that had shook the room, but it was a deep raucous sound that was exploding out of the other room. It was coming from Sarah’s room.
Lizzie’s face went pale and she turned to her best friend, then to Elisabeth.
They both turned to the open door. Across the hallway was Sarah’s old room, the door wide open.
She hadn’t stayed at Jessica and Dennis’. They had been kind enough to offer and had pushed saying that they had plenty of room for her, but she still said no. She understood their concern. They didn’t want her sleeping alone, not there in that apartment she had once shared with Sarah. What they didn’t realize was that she still shared the apartment with her.
The first night she had slept in the apartment she had done just like she had always had. When she had gone to bed, she had made sure all the doors were locked and the inside doors were all closed.
It had driven her three guests nuts. Well, one dead roommate and two guests. The apartment had been Sarah’s too, and when she’d been woken up around two a.m. because they were all bored, she had been reminded of that. It seems that dead people don’t sleep, and without friends to torment, they get bored.
Since then she’d gotten in the habit of keeping open all the doors in the apartment and the television on. That is, all the doors but her own. Not her room. Her door always stayed closed. Last night had been the exception.
Coming home after the funeral and being with Jessica and Dennis had left her in an awful state and she couldn’t stand to be alone. Lizzie and Elisabeth had been happy to stay with her and it had almost felt like a slumber party until she, mid-party, crashed.
That had left her leaving all the doors open, even her bedroom’s. Oh no, that meant that Chuck could have been in there watching her sleep at anytime. Who knows what he might have tried to check out.
She knew this was a childish thought. It wasn’t like guys hadn’t seen her naked, though never when she hadn’t wanted them to. Him checking her out while she was sleeping was not cool.
She looked at Sarah who was still looking at the other room, scared. What could spook a dead woman? She was already dead.
“Sarah? What is it?”
Sarah slowly turned to look at her, her remaining eye wide. “He’s in there,” she whispered.
“Who, Chuck? What’s he doing in your-“ Lizzie was going to say room, but before she could say this blunder she saw that Sarah was already shaking her head.
Lizzie looked back to the open door. If it wasn’t Chuck, then who was in that room?
She couldn’t stop it. The memories of that naked man as the maggot slid from his scrotum to land on her chin twisted her stomach. The laugh wasn’t right. She was pretty sure of that, but could she be certain? She remembered the penis lurking over her and later looking into Sarah’s eyes, but other than that most of that day had become a hazy blur. Could she say for sure that wasn’t his laugh? She didn’t think she could.
But how could he have found her? The police had said he had been dead. It couldn’t be him.
He could find me. He had already been dead when he attacked Sarah and I, so what was possible didn’t make sense anymore…
Yet she was surrounded by dead people. They were becoming a part of her everyday life. She was beginning to think that the dead just don’t stay dead anymore.
No. that had definitely not been his laugh. It had stopped of course, the other room now eerily quite. The whole apartment was. The two people hovering over her weren’t making a sound. All of them were watching that open door and the other room.
“What’s going on? Sarah?” Lizzie tried to whisper as quietly as she could.
“Some guy showed up. He went in there.”
“Should I call 911?” As soon as she said it, she realized just how stupid the question was but it was too late, the words had already escaped her. To her surprise, Sarah shook her head.
“I think he’s dead.”
“If not, he’s got a terminal case of missing-the-back-of-your-head disease.” Elisabeth whispered and Lizzie had to struggle to take her eyes off the woman. Of course if it was another dead person now joining her undead entourage they would be able to see how the person died. All of them had the tell tale signs like gory tattoos, each identifying their deaths. They were the bleeding but not bleeding wounds, as blood sometimes seemed to trickle but no messes were ever found beneath these walking corpses that followed her.
“Who’s dead?” Lizzie whispered as she tossed away the tangled covers and pushed herself out of bed.
“No clue.” Sarah said as she looked over at Elisabeth who shard her ignorance and was shaking her head.
Who the hell was in the other bedroom? She didn’t want to go in there, but she had to find out. Besides, they couldn’t hurt her, right? Both her and the dead person would get intensely sick so it wasn’t even possible.
The wood panel floor was cold to her bare feet as she stepped into the hallway. The air in the apartment had a chill as well and she wondered what it was like outside? Had the temperature finally dropped? Should she be turning on the furnace. The little fog of her breath escaping as she breathed made her think it was time.
Behind her, Elisabeth and Sarah both hung back in her room. Of course the two dead people were hanging back afraid. After all, what did Lizzie have to lose? Only her life, so you know, no big deal.
She gave them both dirty looks before turning back and taking another step towards the room.
A crash came from inside the room and Lizzie quickly was beginning to realize that everything she had thought she had known or had learned about the dead was wrong.
Fearing the worse, she took the last step and entered the room.