Davidson woke with a jolt as a slat in the dilapidated porch permanently attached to his trailer creaked ominously. He sat bolt upright and then froze. If she was there, he did not want to startle her; she would disappear back into the night like a ghost. It took him a moment to realize why he could not find the window in the dark. When he realized that the porch light had blown out, Davidson swore under his breath.
Annie was out there. He knew it; he could feel her just a few feet and sheets of metal away. She was sitting in the lawn chair that was almost as old as the porch. Her long, tangled white hair was snarled around her face like a floating death shroud. He could almost see her, but it was too dark.
Davidson reached for the camera that he had kept on his bedside table for months, waiting to capture a moment of Annie’s existence. His sweaty palm slid against the camera’s smooth body.
He swallowed, swinging his legs from under the covers. His throat worked furiously, his heartbeat making the arteries in his neck contract and swell. If he could just get a picture he could prove everything. He could save his entire life from ruin if he could just capture Annie on film; if he could just prove that he was not insane.
The floor groaned as he shuffled toward the window. Beyond the thin glass pane, Davidson could just make out the tree line and the white side of the nearest cabin. The campground was quiet. Though he could not see his clock in the dark, he thought it was probably one or two – the darkest part of the mountain night.
He stumbled slightly over a pair of discarded jeans, the leather belt let threaded through its belt loops jangled. Davidson froze, listening for any noise from the porch. If Annie heard him she would be gone and along with her any chance he had at redemption.
Davidson flicked the switch for the flash on his disposable camera, flinching at the resulting hum and accompanying red light.
He reached the window, his heavy breath making amorphous shapes on the glass. Davidson peered out into the night, squinting, looking for the telltale white hair of his prey.
The lawn chair was empty; its teal and pink plastic slats slouched downward, abandoned. Davidson let a huff of air out of his lungs, his brow knitting. She was gone.
He looked toward the other side of the porch, where the useless blown out bulb would be hanging. He let out a squeak of alarm.
Annie Bangs was staring into his window. Her long, tangled white hair shifted in the breeze, as though it was trying to pull out of her scalp and disappear. Her eyes were enormous in the thin frame of her face. They were dark and feral, staring right into Davidson’s.
Davidson longed to step back, but he told himself that he was safe. The window pane was between them, she could not reach him.
Annie lifted her hand and he flinched backward. The emaciated woman was holding something in her palm. Davidson stared at it, not fully comprehending for a moment. It was dark, but the object’s curvature caught what little light there was. It was a light bulb. The bulb from the porch light.
Davidson looked back into Annie’s face, a chill sliding over his skin. He swallowed sharply; the arteries in his neck worked feverishly.
Annie stared at him. Her skin hung from her bones in fragile folds, allowing the long white lines of her skeleton to catch the light. Her eyes protruded from beneath her brows, wild and electric.
Davidson glanced back down at the light bulb in the woman’s hand. When he looked back into her face, Annie was smiling. Her lips stretched in a grotesque crescent, revealing teeth that even in the dark appeared yellow and corroded.
Davidson felt a bead of sweat trickle down his back. The cheap camera tumbled from his fingers, clattering to the floor of the trailer.