Sheila gasped, gulping air as if it were in short supply, her chest heaving with every involuntary intake of breath. Perspiration beads on her forehead, too heavy to cling to her clammy skin, trickled into her eyes and down her cheeks. She tried to quash the sound of her own breathing, a noise that surely would give away her location. And then she heard it again; rasping, scratching, something clawing at the door, trying to get in, trying to get to her. The ecstasy she felt when Peyton’s voice on the phone told her that he was coming home from Afghanistan disappeared, vaporized in a cloud of terror. The unwelcome sound at the door snatched her joy, replacing it with a ribbon of fear that encircled and squeezed her like a python.
The scratching stopped. Sheila allowed herself to breathe. It must have been a raccoon; that’s all it was. God, I’m so silly! But just as the muscles in her neck relaxed, the sound started again, this time even louder. She gulped in air, freezing in place; and, then, again it stopped.
Bam! Bam! Bam! Something pounded on the door, hard enough that Sheila could see the wooden door flex against its frame.
“Open the goddamn door! Now!”
Bam! Bam! Bam!
Sheila recognized the voice booming from the other side of the door between the explosive clamor of a closed fist beating against it. Moker Landry’s voice, alone, was terrifying, but the sound of him clawing on the door and the fury of his fists smashing against it were too much for Sheila to process. She collapsed to the floor. Her last thought before losing consciousness was, He’s going to kill me.