|Helena was the perfect little girl. Always polite. Always kind. Always hungry.|
Here's an exclusive excerpt of HELENA By Cassie Carnage!
No sooner did she put her head to the pillow did she hear it, a soft rhythmic scratching, like a cat at the door trying to get in.
Beneath that noise, a fainter one, that of a child crying. It pulled at her heartstrings. She couldn’t ignore that.
Susan grabbed her robe and ran outside. It was dark and foggy; the thick early morning mist was cold against her face. She walked all the way around her house. The scratching, it sounded like it was coming from the basement. It was louder when she knelt by the back door that lead to the cellar.
It was coming from inside the house.
Did an animal break in? She wasn't sure. It was too late to call animal control.
Sighing, Susan grabbed a broom and turned on the cellar light.
"Mother, help me!"
It was a little girl. She was down there!
"Hello?" Susan called and slowly walked down the steps, instantly regretting not putting on shoes. The cellar stairs were wood with no back-riser board, just a blank space between the steps. Anyone, or anything, could reach out, grab her ankles and yank her feet out from under her, sending her tumbling down to the basement floor to break her neck.
She grimaced at the thought and steeled herself, trying hard not to jump at any sound as the old wood groaned under her weight.
The scratching became louder.
"Hello? Little girl? I’m here to help. Are you hurt? How did you get in here?"
Susan looked around, the back corner near the water heater had no light. She had to go over and yank a pull-chain hanging down from a bare light bulb. She cursed herself for not getting the basement furnished before she moved in, but it was far too late for that now.
The scratching changed from fast short scrapes to long, slow ones. Like little fingernails on a door.
She looked over at the cellar door, expecting to see a girl huddled against it. There was no one there.
Susan let out the breath she was holding.
"Mother! Over here!"
Startled she dropped the broom. It clattered to the floor, and the scratching stopped.
She looked around cautiously, stooping to pick up the broom, imagining a small evil child hiding behind the water heater, waiting to pounce.
A scraping sound came from behind her, from the other side of the brick foundation wall. It was enough to get her to grab the broom and race back up the stairs, slamming the door behind her.