Our Friend Ashley

Our Friend Ashley

By: James G. Boswell 

Note: This is a preview from the scary short story collection e-book, “Deprived …and Other Stories.” To find out how the story ends, you can buy the collection on Amazon for $2.99. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Whitney wrapped a piece of yellow cloth around her mannequin’s waist, then used some chalk to mark the spot where it overlapped. Her roommate, Amanda sat next to her at a desk in their studio apartment and sketched dress designs on tracing paper with a graphite pencil. A thunderous “boom” made Whitney topple to the floor and made Amanda snap her pencil against the pad of paper. The lights went out, and Amanda looked at Whitney and said, “What was that? It felt like a bomb went off or something.”

Whitney scoffed and said, “I can’t deal with this right now. I need to finish my final project for my dressmaking class and I’m way behind schedule.”

“I know what you mean. My fashion drawing final is next week, and I’m not prepared at all.”

A strange violet light shined through their fifth-floor balcony’s sliding glass doors and lit up their apartment with an otherworldly glow. Perplexed, they walked out onto the balcony and saw a huge purple cube in the sky. The cube folded in upon itself over and over again as spherical energy pulses shot out from its center. Each pulse created the sound of an explosion and made their apartment shake. This continued for several moments before the entire cube folded up completely and disappeared with a resounding electric “pop.”

As Whitney continued to stare up into the sky, Amanda turned around to go back inside and gasped. Whitney looked to see what was wrong and was frightened to see that her mannequin now stood in the balcony doorway. Its hands covered the lower half of its face as if someone had posed it to look shocked and surprised.

Amanda smacked Whitney’s shoulder with the back of her hand and said, “What the hell is that about, Whitney?”

“I didn’t do that. I was out here with you.”

They both looked at the mannequin with expressions of confusion and fear.

Amanda said, “Whatever, I’m gonna find out what’s going on,” then rushed through the doorway and knocked the mannequin over. It struck the ground with a hollow plastic “thud.”

Amanda picked her phone up off the desk where it was connected to its charger next to Whitney’s and pushed the button to turn it on, but the screen remained dark. Frustrated, she pushed the button a few more times with no success, then slammed the phone down. She grabbed Whitney’s phone and took it over to her.

“My phone’s not working for some reason. Use yours to get onto Reddit or Facebook and see if anyone posted about that weird cube thing in the sky. Everyone in the city must’ve seen and heard it. Someone must know something.”

Whitney looked at the mannequin on the floor, then took her phone from Amanda and tried to turn it on. However, its screen remained dark as well. “That’s weird,” she said. “I’ve been charging it all day.”

“I’ve been charging my phone for a while, too, and it won’t turn on either.”

A scream pierced the air, followed by the sound of gunshots. They looked back out over their balcony and saw a group of soldiers at the far end of the neighborhood. The soldiers were clad in black tactical gear and had rifles slung over their shoulders. As Whitney and Amanda watched in horror, the soldiers dragged people out of their homes and forced them into the cargo beds of black military trucks. Two teenage girls tried to run away but were gunned down before they could escape.

Whitney and Amanda were startled when someone pounded on their apartment’s front door and said, “Open up!”

They went back into their apartment and Whitney noticed that the mannequin was no longer on the ground or anywhere in sight.

Amanda said in a hushed voice, “We need to find someplace to hide.”

Whitney rushed over to the closet and opened the door, but hesitated when she saw that the mannequin now sat inside. It seemed as if someone had posed it to look like it was hiding, and its face was buried in its knees and its hands covered its head. Before she had time to think about it, Amanda pushed her into the closet and closed the door. They pressed themselves against the back of the wall behind the coats, shirts, and other articles of clothing that hung there.

They heard a wooden cracking noise as someone kicked in their front door. Then someone said, “This is just a small studio apartment, sir. I don’t see anyone inside.”

Another voice said, “Check it out. If you find anyone, bring them downstairs and put them with the others. If they resist, shoot them. Remember to confiscate any firearms you find, and don’t take too long.”

“Yes, sir.”

Whitney and Amanda heard one set of footsteps walk away while another began to slowly circumnavigate their apartment. Then they heard the intruder pull out the desk drawer and dump its contents on the ground. The floorboards creaked loudly, and Whitney guessed the person had crouched down to look under their beds. The footsteps padded over to the tile floor in the kitchen nook, and they heard the pantry door’s hinges let out a small groan as it opened.

Finally, the footsteps started to come closer to the closet door, and Whitney and Amanda held each other’s hands as they shook in fear. The doorknob turned, and the closet door began to open…

Click here to find out how the story ends and to read many more tales of terror by purchasing the e-book, “Deprived …and Other Stories” on Amazon for $3.99.

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