Anne was standing on her apartment porch when I pulled up, clenching and unclenching her fists in short staccato bursts. At the sound of my car door closing, she blanched and jerked her head in my direction.
I knew she had been on edge ever since her house burned down but this seemed dramatic even for her.
Intending to calm her down, I spread my arms wide and offered her what I hoped was a reassuring smile. “We just moved you in, you’re not planning on leaving already?”
“I can’t stay here. They knew where to find me. They were waiting for me this morning. I thought the fire would stop them but it didn’t!” She grabbed my arm with shaking hands.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down there. Who will get you?” I asked.
She took a hand off my sleeve to point down. “The clowns.”
Filthy dolls lay spread out across the wooden planks of the porch.
A creeping dread crawled over my shoulders, stirred by memory. “Aren’t those the same ones that used to give us nightmares as kids?”
“Yes, except for the big one. He’s new.”