All I want is for my daughter to come back home. I would forgive her for all the things she’s done, for destroying windows and torturing animals. Even for killing her mother. I don’t believe that was her. I don’t believe she would have done that. It’s not Shana. This thing is not Shana and all I want is for her to come back home and give me a hug and laugh again.
It was in February. Who knows where she met those kids. Shana never played much away from our house, she was always in the garden or riding her bicycle up and down the road.
She was never shy and timid. She was always open and approached others. She didn’t mind getting her clothes dirty and even a fall or two didn’t stop her from speeding down the hill near our house or from climbing back into her favorite tree, the one in our neighbor’s garden.
But she had never been destructive like that. And she never had wounds like that.
She was out cycling. We didn’t even notice that she had come back home until I went to the kitchen for a drink and noticed the trail of blood that led up the stairs.
Shana was in front of the mirror. Her white dress was covered in blood. She didn’t turn when I entered the room. Instead she raised her hands to her head. There was a loud crack and her head moved sidewards.
She ignored me.
I walked to her and kneeled down. She only reacted when I touched her. She hissed and jumped backwards on her bed. I’ve never seen her jump like that.
That’s when her mother entered the room. Lillian and I never married, we were always against those rituals, but we had Shana because we loved each other and wanted a child.
I can’t get Lillian’s scream out of my head, that shock. I should have screamed too, but I think I was too shocked to scream. Lillian ran towards Shana but Shana ducked and ran past Lillian and out of the room. We tried to follow her but she was so fast.
Before I was even half down the stairs I heard the glass breaking downstairs.
By the time I was at the back door Shana was gone. The broken back door was covered in blood.
We reported her as missing, we even organised search teams, but for two weeks she was just gone.
It was a Saturday morning, not even 10. We were at home printing “Missing” posters. Lillian had been crying most of the morning. We thought Shana had been drugged or abducted or worse.
And then the stone slammed against the repaired back door. It was like hail, small stones, but they cracked the glass.
There was a group of kids in the garden. Five or six of them, all in dark and stained clothes. Lillian was calling the police already and I grabbed a bat to run out and scare them away.
Then, just before I opened the back door, I recognized her.
Her hair was cut and she wore a different shirt, but that too was covered in a dried brownish red.
The kids didn’t laugh or speak. They just pelted our house with stones while I stared at them. At some point Lillian was by my side. She ran towards the door and unlocked it.
The kids stopped throwing their stones, but they all raised their arms.
Lillian opened the door. I pulled her back inside just in time, just before the stones flew towards her.
Shana was smiling.
When the sirens appeared in the distance the kids ran off. They were fast. The first two jumped over the fence, then another one kicked through the gate in our back yard.
The neighbors reported them too. Four times within just two days. Then Mr. Garland disappeared. There were stones all over his back yard and the back door of his house was open. They never found him.
We organised a neighborhood watch. We exchanged numbers and all made sure to have our bats and other things ready, to scare the kids. I also had a net. I didn’t know how else I could possibly get her back.
The call came at 4am. One of our neighbors, three houses down, was being attacked.
I hopped the fence and was the first that reached the house. The neighbor was just at his back door, waving his bat. When the kids saw me they turned to me. There were six of them. They all had calm expressions, all except Shana. She seemed excited when she hurled those stones towards me.
There was no way out for me, no way except back. The kids kept coming closer. I held the squash racket above my head but their stones hit my shoulder and chest. While one or two of those would have been okay, those stones kept raining on me.
Then two other neighbors came running through the back yard’s gate from the other side. The kids threw a few stones, but then they ran. They ran past me and over the fence. I couldn’t get myself to hit them but I threw the net. One of the kids was caught but she ripped it straight apart. Shana hissed at me when I tried to run after her.
They haven’t thrown stones since then, but they broke car windows and fences and garden gnomes. They even killed two cats; ripped their necks open and let them bleed out on the asphalt behind the playground.
The police brought child psychiatrists and some strange people. They even brought a priest that tried an excorcism and equipped us all with bottles of holy water.
I should never have allowed that priest to speak to Lillian. Somehow this guy managed to convince her that Shana is possessed and that holy water is the cure. She was grasping for any hope and this guy hit the “mother” button and got straight into her mind. Lillian really believed it and no matter what I said she didn’t want to listen.
I told her it was a bad idea to go out at night; that it wouldn’t help and she only risked being attacked. My only choice was to come along.
For more than two months we walked around the area at night. Streets, gardens, the two playgrounds, the small forest – nothing.
Lillian blamed it on me. She said it was my fault; that i was too loud and scary and that that was what kept Shana away. She said that I must have done something to Shana. She said that I scared Shana when she was injured and that that was the only reason Shana ran away and refused to come back.
She shouted at me to stay home. First I refused but Lillian got more and more angry. She blamed it all on me. I told her I would ask a friend to come along, but she just stormed out of the house. I saw her running into the forest but I was too slow. I still don’t know why I thought I should put my shoes on first.
That night I ran through the neighborhood and then the forest. I called for Lillian. I was so scared that the kids would find her.
I’m sure Lillian must have heard me. She wasn’t that far away; she must have been hiding from me; she didn’t want to see me. All she wanted was to find Shana.
When I heard her screams I knew they were close, just from behind me, from the group of houses that I had passed.
I ran back and called her name, but she didn’t respond anymore. There was no noise at all.
Then I noticed Mr. Garland’s house and I just knew.
When I stepped into the garden I saw the kids running off. Shana was trailing behind, with her head turned to me. She held something heavy in her hands. She was grinning.
Lillian’s body was behind the shed. Her body was still warm but her skin already pale. There was a large hole in her throat and her left arm was missing.
Lillian’s ashes are on the small shelf where the TV used to be.
All I want is for this nightmare to end. All I want is for Shana to come back. Shana, my Shana, not that thing that comes nearly every night to throw stones at my house.