Molly was alone again.

Although Molly was only 8 years old she liked being alone in their big house. It made her smile to walk up and down the long hallways between the two wings, and she laughed when she was home alone and could enjoy the thrill of sliding down the long spiral banister from the second floor to the first. Her parents said it was dangerous, but she loved the thrill of the ride down, and because the banister sloped at the end she could slide to the floor and laugh.

The first time she had slid down she had fallen on her bottom. Not wanting to draw attention she walked briskly for a few days even though her bottom hurt a lot. It went away, and she practiced until she knew just when to slow down, and just when to stop so she wouldn’t fall.  She had not fallen again.

As she explored the old house her father had inherited from a grandparent she became fascinated with all the toys all over the house. There were dolls, and stuffed animals, trains, toy soldiers, and a multitude of other items that glistened, sparkled and made noise so well that she just had to play with them.

It was in one of the rooms that she had found Shelly. Well, she called the doll Shelly but she really didn’t know her name. The doll was old, beat up, and well loved. It wore a simple plain red skirt and a white shirt worn with age. She had on tights with a small rip over her knee, and black patent shoes. A small red necklace dangled from her neck with a heart on it. When she had found Shelly she was under a bed in one of the upstairs back bedrooms, and as she held the doll, she just felt safe.

Shelly had become her favorite companion, and as she walked from place to place she carried Shelly everywhere. Shelly was never far from her side and they had great fun sliding down the stairs together. So here again, they were alone, and Molly and Shelly were having a great time.

“We will have so much fun tonight,” Molly said to the doll. Mommy and Daddy are gone again, and we can do whatever we want.

It was a fun night already, and Molly and Shelly began running the halls from room to room, snooping like two sleuths. Molly’s imagination ran wild and her long curly golden hair bounced on her shoulders and she laughed with the little doll. Molly was good at being alone.

A sound shattered the evening from the lower floors and Molly was startled but curious. She ran to the stairs and with graceful ease took the banister down a floor and landed quietly on the floor. Lost in the moment Molly raised her arms in a brief gymnast pose but then remembered her reason for coming downstairs.

Molly heard the crinkle of glass and held Shelly close to her as she crept closer, closer, until there, in front of her, two men coming in the foyer window.

The men were dressed in black and both were normal sized, much smaller than her dad, but they looked mean. One was gruffy with blonde hair and skin so white Molly wondered if he had ever been in the sun. The other was very dark, almost black as night. They both had on black hats as well, like they were trying to be part of the darkness.

Molly ran back to the stairs and ran up them quickly. As she reached the top stair she turned and saw the two men at the bottom of the stairs.

“It’s OK little girl, we just wanna get something your daddy owes us, why don’t you come down here,” the very white man asked.

“No,” Molly said and ran into the hallway upstairs hearing the men running the stairs behind her.

She was in one of the bigger bedrooms and looking for a way out and set Shelly on the floor as she tried a duct. No luck. As she reached back to grab the doll someone grabbed her hand.

Molly looked and a little girl was holding her hand. “This way.” The little girl said and lead Molly to a wall. Touching the wall in the edge of the molding, a small door opened up. It looked like a wall, but it wasn’t. The little girl led Molly into the wall and closed the doorway behind them.

There was a dim light in this little area and Molly looked up to see a vent above her. The room was long and narrow, and turned and she wondered if it went anywhere. She started to move but the little girl softly grabbed her hand and put her finger to her lips. “Shhhh” she whispered.

Molly understood and waited as she heard footsteps crashing around the room. They were obviously furiously looking for Molly, to no avail.

Molly waited, and the sounds disappeared. The little girl smiled in the darkness. “We can go now.” She said and opened the door into the room.

“Who are you,” Molly asked.

The little girl in the red skirt and white tights giggled. “Shelly you silly.”

Molly gaped, “Shelly?”

Molly looked at the girl and the white shirt, the locket with the heart, the white tights, and light brown hair, it was all there, but how could this be Shelly.

Shelly led them to the edge of the room where they heard the men going through one of the other bedrooms.

“Race you,” Shelly said.

The two ran suddenly to the stairs and Molly was determined to win. She grabbed the banister and swung her leg over, then slid down quickly. Shelly had done the same and was right in front of her, well, in front of her was right, but they were both going down the stairs backwards quickly.

“There’s two of em,” they heard the voices as they reached the top of the stairs.

The two men bounded down the stairs as Shelly and Molly road the long banister. Molly was going faster and had to make the landing work. As she hit the end she pushed out her legs so she would not fall, but tumbled over instead. She felt dizzy from the fall and saw Shelly land standing at the bottom of the stairs. The two men rushed for Shelly as they reached the first floor and Molly felt dizzy.

Shelly grew, and grew and a full grown woman stood before the two men, and then Molly thought that woman reached for the men, and her hands were bone and ice. The darkness in the room seemed to seep in from the shadows and surround the woman as the two men tried to run. Their legs were frozen in place, and they looked at the woman in horror. The men screamed for a moment as the shadows left the woman and seemed to surround the men now, the room was cold for a moment and the two men began to shake and shimmy like butter in a frying pan. The two men then fell to the ground, but neither looked the same. Their eyes were no longer looking at the room, but lost in something else, some scene only they could see, a scene they might never escape. Molly looked back up, but the woman was gone now, and the little girl Shelly was gone now too.

Molly shook her head and walked towards the two men and saw her doll laying on the floor. She picked her up and ran to the door just as her mother and father walked in. Molly yipped a little.

“What is going on here, what happened to the window,” her father asked.

Molly turned and looked at the men, spasming on the floor.

“What on earth,” Molly’s mother asked.

Molly just held her doll close and knew she was safe, safe from anything that could come for her.