Candace crouched on the ground in fear, she could hear her heart pounding in her ears. Listening carefully to the sounds all around her, she could not hear anything over the incessant pounding. Candace peeked around the tree she hugged for comfort and protection, there was nothing visable through the inky blackness of the night.
Ok, I have to get a hold of myself. Breathe, Candace, Breathe. She tried to calm herself by breathing slowly. In, out. In, out. That is it. You have it. Now, listen. As her heart and thoughts slowed, the sounds of the forest broke through the terrified beating of her heart, rustlings in the leaves, birds flapping their wings in flight, and the hooting of the owl in the tree limbs above her head. Overpowering all other sounds, the one that had sent her into this midnight flight of panic.
Swish, scrape, drag. Swish, scrape, drag. The nightmarish sound just kept repeating over and over. It, whatever it was, was getting closer and closer to her hiding place. Desperate to escape, she jumped up and raced to the supposed safety of the next big oak tree. Where are Mom and Dad? How could they leave me? Are they safe? I hope that Thing has not gotten them. Swish, scrape, drag. Swish, scrape, drag. The Thing kept coming closer and closer. No matter where she hid, escape was impossible.
Then, up ahead she saw a light. Running towards it, she was able to make out the shape of the cabin. Candace raced to the rough-hewn door, she pounded on it with all her might.
“Daddy, Daddy,” she had screamed, “Let me in. Help me. Daddy”!
“Daddy, it’s me, Candace. Daddy, help me!” Candace had screamed to no avail.
“Swish, scrape, drag. Swish, scrape, drag.”
Candace screamed and sobbed in absolute terror. As she turned around to look , she finally saw it. Or rather, Her. Scraggly hair covered the misshapen face. In one hand, an axe, in the other she had Candace’s sister and was dragging her by the hair. Swish, scrape, drag. Swish, scrape, drag.
Candace turned and pounded on the door again, “Daddy! Daddy!”
The door opened.
“Candace, sweetie, are you alright? Wake up honey, you are having a nightmare.” Daddy reached down and swooped the frightend child up in a big bear hug. “What are you doing in the hallway?
“Daddy, is that you?” Candace asked in a trembling voice.
“Yes, honey, it’s me. You were having a nightmare. Let me tuck you back into bed and I will sit with you until you go back to sleep.”
Daddy cradled his little girl in his strong arms as he carried her back to bed and laid her down. He reached over to cover her up. After tucking the covers around the child , he sat on the side of the bed. Daddy stroked her hair back and smiled.
“It is okay, sweetie. Daddy will be right here. Go back to sleep.”
Candace smiled, held the comforting hand to her cheek and closed her eyes. For one more night, the witch had been banished back to the land of nightmares. As Candace went to sleep she knew that the witch could not hurt her as long as her Daddy was with her.