Almost 11 pm. Laptop shut and stowed away for the night. You stretch and coax the kinks out of your neck. Eyes burning, you reach for that glass of water on the nightstand. Except there’s no glass. A quick debate whether it is worth the trip to the kitchen. Maybe not?
A minute passes. Then two. Yeah, now you’re properly thirsty. Dammit. The hallway just beyond your bedroom door beckons you. Dark shadows and gray patterns. All thankfully unmoving. You take a deep breath and stand up. It is your house, silly. What are you so scared of?
You tiptoe to the open door and peek outside. Nothing has changed. Ok, time to go. One foot in front of the other. 32 steps to the kitchen door, 38 to the water dispenser. Your socked feet make no noise as you pad along. Your ankles twitch, waiting for something to nip at you from behind.
Your foot hits something soft. A terrified squeak escapes your lips. What was that? Jaw tight and eyes closed, you hyperventilate. (Please let it be a toy. Please let it be a toy.)
You venture a toe out. Oh, thank God
! It’s just a stupid stuffed toy! Sweet relief, and you run the remaining steps to the kitchen. Whew!!
Once there, you grope around blindly. Where’s the dispenser? Ah finally. Your fingers find the glass and pour
some water out. Down it in a greedy gulp. One more. Ah! Perfect.
Thirst quenched, you sneak a glance around the kitchen. Nothing moves and no one jumps out of the shadows. Yet, that prickly feeling at the back of your neck? Stays there. Telling you there’s someone standing right behind. Shuddering, you refill the glass and tiptoe back to your room. Shoulders clenched and spine trembling. You can sense something, smell its putrid breath. Once step behind you. One inch away. Walk faster dammit. What if it catches you? The last yard, you drop all pretense and
run. There! Finally! Inside the safety of your bedroom. You whip around, heart hammering, hoping you outran the monster. Did you?
An empty hallway stares back at you. No creatures and no demons. Just an old house, with its worn floors and fading paint.
You curse your overactive imagination. Maybe you should stop drinking coffee past 3 pm. Now, that is a thought. You trudge back to your bed, ready for a quiet night.
Blink. Blink. The cursor flickered. Biting her lip, Koyel stared at the laptop. Her finger hovered over the delete button. Something about the story she’d just written, didn’t feel right.
Should she change the ending? It didn’t seem scary enough. Maybe add an actual monster?
Wait, was she over thinking this? Suddenly tired, she let out a groan. Ok, this could wait another day. Her deadline wasn’t until the weekend.
She set her laptop on the dock where it hungrily hooked on to the charger. A gentle hum as the overworked machine settled down for the night. Sighing, Koyel stretched and wiggled her toes.
Mmmm. Sleep would come easy tonight. But first, a trip to the kitchen for some of that cheesecake.
She looked up at the dark hallway. Nothing there
, of course. Just the old potted plant and the laundry basket. Familiar comfortable shadows. A dozen thoughts clamored for her attention.
start seeing things).
Koyel didn’t notice the potted plant shift slightly.
(Horror stories were fun, but try living alone after writing one. Good thing I’m brave)
Didn’t see the 2 red eyes appear and blink at her.
(Maybe I should ask for a raise? I sure as hell deserve it!)
Didn’t hear the soft click of talons crouching in wait.
(Is that my tummy growling? Cheesecake, here I come!)
Koyel slipped into sandals and stood up. Then ignoring the prickle at the back of her neck, she walked bravely into the hallway. Into the darkness.
And finally, the shadow moved.