by Nina Croft
I’m English, and in England, we don’t celebrate Halloween as much as Americans seem to. In fact, growing up, I’d never even heard of trick-o-treating until I saw the movie ET. And the closest we got to fancy costumes, was a white sheet over our heads so we could be ghosts.
But one family tradition I do remember from Halloween, was my older sister would gather us together (there were five of us) turn out the lights, and tell us spooky stories. Anne was a great storyteller, and I doubt anyone slept after one of these sessions—I certainly didn’t. But the stories I always found scariest weren’t the ones about ghosts and ghouls and things that go bump in the night, but the ones about bad people.
One story that sticks in my mind was called, The Little White Dog, a sort of traditional British horror story (and I always kept my hands tucked tightly in the bed after hearing this one). So here (from my long ago memory) is my retelling of it.
The Little White Dog
Maybe, if she lay very still, he would forget she was there. Just take what he wanted from the house and leave her alone. Sarah clung to the hope with every cell in her body. In fact, she could no longer hear him moving around the house; perhaps he’d already gone.
She didn’t know how much time had passed, but from where she lay on the bed, she could hear the drone of the television in the room next door. The news was on—so it must be ten o’clock—some report about an escaped prisoner.
“Again, this is a news alert. Serial killer Colin Hunter, dubbed Colin the Cannibal by the press, for his habit of partially devouring his victims, has escaped from the maximum security facility where he was awaiting sentencing. Police warn—do not under any circumstances approach.”
For a second, her mind refused to make sense of the words. Then a whimper trickled from her throat, oozing around the scarf stuffed in her mouth. Her stomach turned to hot, molten liquid, and she swallowed the nausea that rose to the back of her throat.
Squeezing her eyes tight shut, she tried to control her panic. It was just coincidence. Wasn’t it?
A rope of some sort was tied around her middle, strapping her to the bed. She wriggled frantically, but although she could move her lower arms, she couldn’t reach the knots.
Maybe Scamp could help. Scamp, her little white dog, usually slept on the rug in front of the fire.
But sometimes, if she had a nightmare, he would come and lie beside the bed, and she could stroke his silky fur until she was soothed back to sleep.
This was her worst nightmare. Why didn’t he come? Not daring to make a noise, she hung her hand down over the bed and rubbed her fingers together silently. Nothing happened, and she stared up at the ceiling and prayed.
A warm wet tongue licked her fingers, and a flicker of hope blossomed inside her. Now, if she could just get Scamp on the bed, he could chew through the knots, and they could both escape out the bedroom window.
She rolled her head to the side. And a silent scream rose up inside her as. Through the open door, in the flickering light from the fire, she could see Scamp. He lay on the rug, unmoving, asleep or….
The tongue licked her palm. A low chuckle sounded from the floor beside the bed, then a soft whisper.
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