I felt my stomach knot as I stared at the bloodstain on the curtain. I felt physically ill.
"Hey, where did your friend go?"
My head snapped up as I looked at Snow White.
"What?" I asked, stupidly.
"Your friend. That guy. The soldier? Do you think he'd mind if I took his seat? Sitting on the floorboards is too uncomfortable."
I didn't say anything as she rubbed her backside. I was too horrified to speak. Instead I made a limp gesture to the bloody mess that had begun to seep down the curtain, onto the horrid peeling wallpaper and eventually landing on the cushion.
Snow White took that gesture as an invitation and parked her ass down next to me. She looked directly at the bloodstain on the curtain and didn't bat an eyelash. There was no reaction; there was no revulsion in her eyes whatsoever.
Suddenly I began to shake. There was a deafening buzzing in my ears. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to understand. I knew that I wouldn't. I couldn't understand what had just happened.
Not unless I saw him again.
I stood up and ran. I ran across the room, jumping over people's outstretched legs and dodging the furniture. I banged my thigh hard against the corner of an antique curio table and nearly fell flat on my face when my foot became tangled in an Oriental rug. I managed to hold it together and made it out the door in record time.
Downstairs was much more crowded then before. People were everywhere, the smell of sweat was in the air. Those that had grown tied of dancing had merged to the stairs and were now blocking the way. I pushed past everyone, desperately searching the crowd for any sign of Andrew. Finally, in frustration, I decided to follow my instincts. I made my way down the stairs and that stupid bitch which screamed in my ear earlier this evening attempted it again. I shot her a look before smacking her in the nose, sending her backwards against the railing.
"Fucking bitch!" she cried as blood spurted from her nose. "What the fuck is your problem?" I turned my head, my eyes locking onto her. Suddenly she backed off, apologising for acting the way she had.
I continued my search for Andrew. I caught a glimpse of khaki material somewhere near the DJ booth.
"Andrew!" I shouted, but it was useless. I knew that no way could anyone hear me over Michael Jackson's Thriller.
Standing on the ballroom floor, I scanned the room. I saw Andrew making his way out the door.
"Hey! Somebody stop that soldier guy!' I cried, pointing in Andrew's direction.
But no one did. The odd person glanced up in my direction but soon went back to their conversations and dancing.
I chased after him, panting as I pushed through the couples. I got a few dozen or so dirty looks and I'm pretty certain I made a guy spill his beer, but I didn't care. I had to get to Andrew. I could see his broad shoulders growing ever more distant.
As if he knew I was following, he turned and smiled just as he exited the house.
I burst through the door, the chill of the night air hitting my sweat soaked skin. I glanced around, searching for Andrew. There he was. Standing in the small cemetery. It seemed as though he was waiting for me.
I raced over to him, my heels sinking into the damp soil. "Andrew!" I called. "Andrew. Are you alright?"
He looked at me, the vacant look had left his eyes. I felt like he was looking at me rather then through me. He smiled. "Thank you," he said. "I understand now. I can go."
I didn't want him to leave. I opened my mouth, but no words came out. Instead I pleaded with my eyes, hoping that he could explain it all before he left.
He cupped my chin in his hand. "I saw you arrive," he told me. "I saw you and I knew you would help me. And you did." His eyes held some sadness as he smiled. "I cannot thank you enough." With that, he lent down and brushed his lips against mine.
When I opened my eyes, he was gone.
"Andrew?" I whispered, raising my hand, a finger brushing against my lips. There was no response. The Halloween party thumped wildly only a few yards away, but the cemetery combined with the night air seemed suspended in silence.
Slowly, as if in a dream, I turned away, walking slowly back through the iron gates. I stopped when I heard someone call my name.
Running across the grounds was my boyfriend. "Hey beautiful, I've been looking for you," he said, wrapping his arms around me. "Travis told me that you told a pretty spooky story and then had a bit of a freak out when your buddy claimed the story was about him. You OK?"
My head against his chest, I choked back tears. "I have to go home," I told him. "I don't feel very well."
He felt my forehead. "You're a bit warm. Come, let Lestat take you home, mon chéri." I felt him pull me towards the front yard. All I could think of is wanting to go home and to snuggle up under the blankets.
We stopped walking. "There's something I have to see first," I said, before turning and running back through the cemetery.
Each sculpture was different - chosen, presumably, to reflect the person whom it memorialized. I paused when I came to a sorrowed woman in flowing robes, holding a bible with a tiny lamb at her feet. I stopped when I came to a soldier.
I nearly shredded the skirt of my dress wiping away the years of grime from the flat name plate that sat just below the soldier's boots. Eventually, though, I was able to read the simple inscription that was there. A. Hill, it read. A hero 1923-1947.
"A." As in Andrew, I thought. I turned to look at the house, my eyes drifting upwards towards the attic window. For a brief second I could see him, plain as day, standing there, watching me. Then, as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared again.
I felt my knees buckle. I called out to my boyfriend, my voice coming out strangled. I felt so sick.
He appeared beside me, a worried look on his face. "You alright, love?" he asked, helping me to stand. I nodded and glanced back at the attic window once more. It was dark as the night sky.
My boyfriend helped me stumble along until we reached the car. "Do you feel any better?" he asked, helping me inside. I nodded, telling him that I probably just need the cool air on my skin. "I don't blame you," he said, climbing into the driver's seat. "It was hotter then Japanese horseradish in there."
The car ride was pretty silent. I could feel his worried eyes watching me. "So, Travis told me the gist of your story," he said, breaking the silence. I turned to face him. "It sounded pretty creepy," he added, giving my hand a squeeze.
I smiled weakly. "I never told the whole story," I replied, looking out the window. "You'll never believe its ending."