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Haunted Lily - The Nightmare Ball
By: Sidney Fox

"Surely if anyone had jumped into the pool, Houdini or not, they would have absolutely drowned by this time," Darby said quietly. Several minutes passed as he stood at the edge of the pool peering into the dim glowing water. He turned and walked back to the table where the monitors sat and plopped back down in his chair, figuring the chlorine was finally beginning to take its toll. As he continued to glance at the pool, he unscrewed the cap from his thermos and took a swig of coffee; his eyes unconsciously following a small trail of bubbles moving from the far end of the pool toward him.

Unexpectedly, a woman broke up through the calm surface of the water and swam across the pool with long, eloquent strokes. She seemed oblivious to the fact that she was being watched by the astonished eyes belonging to Darby, who choked down the warm coffee in his throat.

"I’m sorry Miss, I didn’t hear you come in," Darby called out to her politely. "The pool has been closed for the evening." The woman swam over to the edge of the pool where Darby stood. She never looked at him and never spoke, as she climbed a stainless steel ladder out of the swimming pool, wearing a vintage forties, halter-top, bathing suit and swim cap. Walking over to an empty towel rack, she picked up an invisible towel and dried her face and body, before taking off her bathing cap and shaking out her dark bobbed hair.

Darby noticed the young woman was bathed in an extraordinary greenish radiance, yet she appeared rather solid. It quickly dawned on him that she was not of this world. Surprisingly, he was in no way afraid of the spectral woman, as she was not scary or threatening in any way and did not seem to be aware of his existence.

Bravely moving closer, Darby was able to really look at her. She was quite beautiful with delicate features: high cheekbones and arched brows. He could actually see the beads of water running down parts of her body, and standing just a few feet from her now, he studied her every detail while she gazed into the pool. The apparition then abruptly turned and walked through Darby. He could feel the cool vaporous mist, which emanated from her, softly lay upon his skin. He watched, as she walked barefoot into the ladies changing room.

"My torch," Darby whispered aloud, rushing over to the table and grabbing his flashlight. He pulled the walkie-talkie off his belt trying to call up to Dave, as he rushed across the pool area.

"Dave, Dave, can you hear me?" he said quietly; but nothing came through except for static. Darby abruptly stopped walking, standing right next to the pool, noticing a mist hovering above the water. Though he took note of the strange mist, his mind was totally focused on the ghostly woman, so he continued following her wet footprints into the ladies changing room.

Looking around the room with disappointment, Darby noticed that the woman was gone; she seemingly vanished into thin air. The room was quiet other than a soft repetitious drip of water. The lights were still flickering, just as they had been when Dave had his run in with the black mass. Something didn’t feel right; the air felt electrically charged. Out of the corner of his eye, Darby saw a sudden quick movement at the end of the narrow hall containing the changing boxes. He instantly became uneasy, standing alone in the middle of the darkened room.

Darby stood completely still, concentrating, straining to make sense of the recognizable sound he could not believe he was hearing. A very faint resonance could be heard coming from the end of the passageway. He could see the sheer curtain on the very last changing box in the back of the corridor, moving back and forth in a sensual rhythm. Darby lit his flashlight to get a better look, but as soon as he turned it on, it quickly drained and died.

"Brilliant," he nervously whispered, continuing to move closer, more curious of what he would find than fearful. The further he ventured down the shadowy corridor, the more recognizable the sound became. It was unmistakable, full of lush intensity; the sound of a woman repeatedly moaning in the throws of passion.

Darby was almost to the end of the corridor, when he stopped abruptly. He saw the back of a massive bald man wearing dark blue coveralls; one of his long legs stuck out from under the sheer curtain attached to the top of the changing box. Grunting gruffly, the man thrust his entire body forward and back. With each mounting thrust, the woman’s moans would increase in crescendo, louder and louder, echoing off the marble walls, over and over again. The sound was chilling…unnerving. It seemed to go on for a long period of time, then the moans abruptly ceased.

The man stood motionless, breathing heavily, his enormous body throbbing. Suddenly, his face emerged from the shadows and he glanced out into the passageway, looking past Darby, obviously unaware of his presence. He was covered in blood, an ice pick grasped tightly in his right hand, his face was vicious, flush with anger, his shoulders rising and falling with each deep breath he took. Then, without warning, he ran full throttle directly at Darby, who didn’t have a chance to move before the mad man ran right through him.

"Noooo!" Darby yelled, putting his hands in front of his face, trying to shield himself from the impending collision. Time seemed to slow drastically, as the man infiltrated Darby. He could feel electric chills sparking over his entire body, as though he had touched a live wire. It was not the pleasant feeling, like he felt from the woman. This was horrible, frightening, painful. In that split second, he could see the crazed thoughts rushing through the deranged man’s mind in rapid flashes, as he recounted brutally hurling the ice pick through the air, over and over again, puncturing something writhing around in the darkness beneath him.

Once the man passed through Darby, he continued running down the corridor and disappeared into the darkness. Darby collected himself and slowly approached the last changing box. Pulling back the curtain, he took a step back, covering his mouth in horror.