Those skeleton-white hands I’d previously imagined shooting out from under my bed came out from under the blanket and wrapped around her neck. They pulled the blanket down over her face, skintight, and the blanket formed a shroud with dark valleys for eyes and mouth, her nose flattened against the unyielding cloth. Her mouth moved, and choking growls came out.
Those hands squeezed so the blanket pulled tighter and her blanket-covered mouth opened wider, and she shook her head, thrashing it around violently as she gasped and pleaded with someone to stop, or maybe she said she was trying to stop. Her hands were still closed around her own neck, and I’m sure it was some sort of optical illusion or a trick or kink of memory because her neck couldn’t have gotten as thin as I remember it getting, and then the rest of her body began to spasm and lash out, knocking into the house, her feet jabbing out from underneath and recoiling like a snake’s tongue.
I took another step back and suddenly the cardboard house exploded and shot out toward me. The roof smashed into my face and knocked me over. I fell backward, landing hard on my butt and with my back pinned up against my bed. I managed to keep hold of the camera, which, along with my arms and hands, was stuck inside the chimney slot of the house. I couldn’t see Marjorie over the house she’d dropped on me but I heard her run out of my room and into the hallway.
I punched and kicked the fallen house, the now loose flaps and folds tangled in my arms and legs like thick weeds. The house finally gave in, slumped off, and rolled away toward the closet. I scrambled onto my feet. My blanket was on the ground, in a harmless heap pinned under the collapsed cardboard. Determined to video an escaping Marjorie, I ran out into the hallway.
She wasn’t there. The light from my camera failed to reach the end of the hallway and the open mouth of the confessional room. The hallway walls faded and frayed into the dark. I strained to hear movement from Marjorie, from anybody, and all I could hear was my own revved-up breathing.
I walked down the hall to her door, the whole time expecting Marjorie to jump out of a darkened corner, the bathroom doorway, the top of the stairs, or from the confessional room. Her door was closed. I tried pushing it open with my foot but it was latched shut. I turned the knob and threw my body weight into it, and stumbled inside.