Despite my cautious steps, I tripped and couldn’t upright myself quick enough, falling down onto my knees. My fingers splayed out but strangely, the grass below was even, not so much as a sign of being dug up. Since I was already down, my knees sopping up the dew, I inched forward, moving my hands across the grass. Or rather, my gloved hands. Pulling them off, I tried again. Still grass. Even if someone had carefully removed the grass and laid it back, it wouldn’t have felt so even. But sod probably would, I thought and gave it a tug. All I got in return was a handful of wet blades. This wasn’t what I pictured.
Looking up at the shed, I realized it wasn’t such a pathetic thing after all. It didn’t even look prefabricated. Helena’s words came back to haunt me as a yawn escaped my lips. I rubbed my eyes. Great, now the grass was stuck to my lashes. I rose up from the gold ground, picking at the transferred blades and flicking them away from me as I gracelessly trudged towards the fence. My shoe wedge up against the cement apron and sent me lurching forward.
“Dang it,” I hissed.
A soft metallic clunk resonated from inside the shed. My breath caught. Did I cause that? I stayed still.
“Hello?” A faint voice made its way to me. My eyes grew to the size of coconuts. I swallowed. “Is someone there?”
Okay, I heard that! But was it coming from inside the shed? I glanced around behind me hoping to see a figure in one of the windows overlooking the yard. My eyes slowly moved about the Danvers’ windows turning up nothing, then up to Highlights. Nada.
“Please, is someone there?”
“Who are you?” I whispered.
“Oh, dear God, thank you! Please, you have to help me,” there was a strange, tin-sounding noise that accompanied the voice.
“Who are you?” My words were insistent. My nerves were shot, fried, caput. Was I so tired that I was hearing things? Hadn’t I decided Helena was right? Wasn’t I taking a risk staying there talking to a storage shed when daylight as on the verge of breaking? Shouldn’t I be home, in bed, getting my much needed sleep instead of sitting out in the back of some rich people’s house getting chilled as I crouched down on their wet grass? Was I going nuts?
“Please, I have to get out. Please help me.”
I sat there trying to figure out what to do. I wasn’t completely convinced whomever was talking was inside the shed. Hell, for that matter, I wasn’t convinced the person was real. And then there was this matter of the whole security alarm system. Would they wire the shed? Hard telling. I didn’t see any wires leading to it, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any. They could have been underground. Come to think of it, the entire neighborhood’s wires were underground: telephone, cable, electric, the works. I vaguely recalled a full-page article about the new city ordinance requiring builders to “bury it.” The article had been titled: “Burial Grounds.” Why was the helpless person just now calling to me? Wouldn’t that loud thump I made when I droped down have inspired him to call out? Of for the love of all that’s good in the world… this was getting to be more of a nightmare than I imagined!
Opposed to digging up a half-dead or even completely dead body? My brain screamed. I smiled wryly, eyeing the fence. Screw it. I had taken enough chances. It was now or never. I had to get back over that fence and out of the neighborhood, back into my bed to catch the last few winks of sleep before pulling my tired battered body back to the boutique to face another endless throng of shoppers.
Rising up from my crouched position, I slipped quietly across the rest of the spans and pushed my hands into my pockets where my gloves were. I wiggled my sore splintered fingers inside until my nails brushed the inner seams, then pulled my gloved hands out. This would be easier. I would step onto the bottom horizontal framing piece of wood as I grabbed hold of the second piece toward the top, repeating what I did the first time, only this time using the makeshift ledge to launch myself over.
“Are you still there?”
I ignored the voice and reached up, my jacket sprang up under my arms, tugging my sweatshirt and thermal undershirt up along with it, exposing my midriff. The air was cold and biting. I stepped up with my left foot. The bar didn’t bend. I lifted my right.
“She’ll kill me by sunrise!”
I dropped down and turned toward the shed.
“Why should I believe you?” I asked throatily.
“Good! You’re still there! Just open the door and let me out.”
My mouth soured. “No.”
Why was I still there? Why had I stopped? Why wasn’t I climbing the fence? Why was that stupid shed still talking to me?
“What? Why? Who are you?”