Zach was disturbed when he read about the Hag’s ghostly white hair and how often he had seen strands like that since he moved here. How often he had seen those damn things in his house! It made him feel sick to his stomach at first. The idea that this was just sitting there waiting for them to arrive just felt cruel. For that second, he felt like he was under attack and he forced himself to breathe slowly but it was getting hard. He hated when this would happen to him. He scolded himself harshly in his head. It was just hair. For all he knew, it was actually just cobwebs. He did his best to pretend that’s what he actually saw but he knew better. Still, he refused to give in to his fear. He closed the book and silently reassured himself that this book was published ages ago. It was also, he reminded himself, a dumb book about stories. He mocked himself that he might as well pick up a book of Mother Goose tales and start to worry about good old Humpty Dumpty on the wall. Maybe he could get worked up about Jack Sprat’s overweight wife too. And it wasn’t like this was a mystery, he reasoned. This was a book about stupid stories but it was also a book about history. The book even said that the woman they were talking about was likely a real person and if that was the case, the historical evidence said that she was alive back in the 1800s. It wasn’t like she died in the house six months ago so he knew that it was stupid to worry about this. Still, he hated the idea of the Hag hair and how he’d seen it in the attic. How he’d seen it on his father.

Zach looked out the window and saw that the sun was getting low on the horizon. It wasn’t quite dark yet but with the clouds crowding out the light, it felt like the grey atmosphere was heavier here than anywhere he’d been before. The sheer amount of snow wasn’t helping. It was thick and cold and the piles of it everywhere just seemed to mirror the oppressive billowing clouds above. It just made it seem that much darker even though he could see the light outside his window. He checked his phone and saw that it was half past two in the afternoon. It wasn’t even half way through the afternoon yet and it felt like night was already coming on soon. He didn’t know how he had managed to spend so much time sitting in that cubicle but he was uncomfortable now as he looked at the way the clouds looked so full. The steel grey that lined the bottoms made the day seem even more ominous, as if the light were actually dying rather than simply fading from the change in position of the sun. He shivered when he thought that it looked like it would snow. There was already so much of it here that it seemed like the whole of the town would drown in the stuff if they got any more. If it did start snowing, he wondered how the hell they were going to get anywhere here. His father’s car sucked on the slick roads here and that was when they were mostly plowed. He checked his phone again and frowned. It would be hours before his father was finished work for the day and if the weather really did turn on them, it would be a lot longer before he got here. That meant he was stuck here with little else to do but worry about going back to the house and watch the sky get darker.

Zach looked around himself and saw that the building seemed emptier than before. There were still people around but most of them had moved on and there were few people upstairs at this point. Zach didn’t like how the empty stacks felt and he started to shiver. When he looked out of the window again, he forced himself to look at the road. There was the occasional car that passed by. He watched it and reminded himself again that this was the real world. This was a place of people and cars and indoor plumbing and lights. But there were no lights here. There were trees but never any lights anywhere. It was like this dumb town liked being in the dark. Zach looked at the book in his hand and wondered if there was anything in this stupid thing at all that would tell him why there weren’t any lights here in the county that anyone put up.

His train of thought was broken when he looked at the street in search of more cars and saw a hooded figure in white standing in the snow. He blinked a few times to be certain of what he was looking at. For a second, he thought that this person had disappeared but when he looked, he could find the outline in white. He knew just by looking at the shape of the person below that it was not a man and he doubted that it was a child. There was a shadow cast over the face but he knew for certain that the figure was looking at him. The figure moved but its movements were slow and languid, like it was moving through water. It cocked its head lazily to the side as though it were considering something. The white cloak billowed out as one, pallid hand emerged from it and gestured up towards him. The claw-like fingers curled back towards the hooded figure in a clear signal to come to where it was. Zach involuntarily took a step back and the figure seemed to drift forward but it had moved an impossible distance from where it had been. It stood beneath the window now, its hood still on but he could see the ice cold lips part. He didn’t need to hear what was said but he swore that he could hear it like the figure was speaking into his ear. The blue, frozen lips had parted and called his name. He felt cold at the memory of what he thought he heard. It was a voice that he swore he’d heard before.

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