Josie turned the page and was instantly confronted by yet another series of names, dates, events, and locations, a veritable summary of all that had transpired in America during the Revolutionary War. The Boston Tea Party; the Battle of Bunker Hill; the Townsend Acts; George Washington; Paul Revere; Benedict Arnold; the Continental Congress, the list seemingly went on and on with no end in sight.
"How am I supposed to remember all this?" she moaned under her breath. "And why should I care? This stuff happened a long time ago."
Her reservations about history however did nothing to change the fact that the work had to be done, so with a heavy heart she dove back into the textbook.
A sharp tug on the back of her neck startled her out of her studies. It didn't hurt, but still was forceful enough to scare her. Instinctively, she reached back and felt her neck, but there was nothing there. She could only feel the silky strands of her long blond hair cushioning her probing fingers.
With a million questions clogging her mind, she closed her book. She had so much work to do it bothered her to be distracted, but the strange feeling she had couldn't be ignored.
She pushed herself away from her desk and stood up. Mild disorientation washed over her so she steadied herself with a few deep breaths.
"Easy, Josie. It was just your imagination. You've been working too hard, that's all."
The yellow glow from the meager 60-Watt bulb in the equally meager lamp on her desk lit her study space somewhat adequately but did a poor job of illuminating the rest of the room, thus creating numerous shadows.
Josie found herself looking around. She didn't know why, but still felt uneasy about something. Even though she reasoned with herself that what she had felt on her neck was her imagination, or perhaps a strained muscle, the odd feeling that something wasn't right still clung to her thoughts.
She stepped over to the light switch and flipped it on.
She tried the light several times in a vain attempt to get it to work but still nothing happened.
She spun around, trying desperately to find something, anything that might help explain the anomaly, but only succeeded in furthering her confusion. Everything seemed normal, nothing was out of place.
Giving into the fear that was blossoming in her gut Josie decided to get out of the house. Her parents were both away for the night so she could leave a note for them on the fridge. She could then make her way to her friend Debra's house, or the police station, or a crowded mall, anywhere there were other people.
She grabbed the doorknob in a trembling hand but the door wouldn't budge.
Panic set in, crippling her thoughts as well as her body. She couldn't move. She couldn't think straight. Her heart raced in her chest.
Another sharp tug on the back of her neck literally spun her around. One second she was facing her bedroom door that wouldn't open and the next she was looking at the window above her desk.
"The window!" she cried before she could help herself, and scrambled over to it, nearly tripping over her own feet. "I'll climb out the window!" She caught a glimpse of her cell phone then, a gaudily-decorated purple and pink box, and cursed herself for not trying it before. But no
sooner had her self-directed obscenities left her lips then she felt another tug, this one more forceful than the others. It was like someone had a cable embedded in her neck and was working a winch, pulling her backward.
She cried out in pain.
"Help me! Somebody please help me!"
However, her pleas for help only dissipated in the empty room, the empty house. She was alone, at the mercy of some terrifying supernatural event.
With as much effort as she could muster, Josie craned her neck to see where she was being pulled.
At first it made no sense to her. All she saw was a wall, an empty sheet of drywall covered in faded blue paint. She didn't even have any posters or pictures on it. But as her vision cleared she realized what was happening.
She saw the cord.
Nearly transparent, the line hung taut in the air, spiraling out of from a tiny section in the center of the wall and leading straight to her neck.
As best she could Josie flung both hands around the cord, gripping it with panicked white knuckles. It felt oily and yet dry, and her fingers slipped from it with ease.
Another tug shattered any hope of escape she still clung to, and before she knew it she found herself pinned to the wall, her back flat against it.
"Somebody help me!" she cried out.
She knew that nobody would though, and worse still was that she couldn't even see what was happening to her. She couldn't turn her head. She couldn't reach behind her. She couldn't even hear anything.
The voice cut through her screams. It rang in her head, causing her to doubt her own
"You will see first hand the plight endured in the past."
The words were definitive in their implications.
Josie managed to twist her head just enough to see her fate.
There, dwelling beyond the wall, milling around like lost children, were scores of figures, people who had tasted life long ago and were now nothing more than ethereal memories spawned from the steadfast convictions of their beliefs. They were lost souls determined to latch onto anything they could, indifferent to the pain they caused.
Josie felt the searing personalities burning into her mind. There was Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and even George Washington himself, as well as many others, famous names and faces who strove so diligently centuries earlier to secure freedom and independence for their country.
But now they were remnants of their former glory. Now they were grim entities that wanted something else, something they couldn't have any more.
"Why me?" Josie cried just as she was forcibly pulled into the wall, and as she fell into the abyss, the moldering faces of Colonial times feeding off her pain, she realized in her final moments that she simply had the misfortune of, through her studies, attracting their attention; they wanted to share their historic struggles with her.
"You belong to another time now," the Continental Army officer drawled, centuries of decay dripping from his mouth. "And you, like all the others, will feel our pain."