I stared into space for a long while as I showered. I was looking at my own clean hands, trying to understand how I had tripped so hard. Maybe I needed to toss the batch out I had grown?
Maybe I was sleepwalking again. I used to do that as a kid.
I got ready for work and tried to forget it. On my way out that morning, I had received a bill in the mail. I smiled at it. It was the first one I had received since buying this house a few months earlier. It was an easy sale. It was the last house on Primrose Lane, and it sat alone. Hell, it was lonely just being there. No one had much liked the place because the only other house on the street was a large mansion belonging to a technology tycoon, Mr. Savage, where the maid was murdered. They had summed it up as an affair gone wrong. She had slept with Mr. Savage’s eldest son, Mack, and well when the maid tried to blackmail him for money by threatening to tell his wife, she ended up at the bottom of the lake at the edge of the estate.
It cast an eerie shadow over my property. They had found Mr. Savage dead of a heart attack some months later, and his son killed himself when his wife divorced him. The only people living in that old house now were ghosts. I had not been in the house that loomed in the distance. I had been curious over the years about the old place but had often wondered what it would be like to venture inside of it.
I forgot it as I walked into the old grocery store. For once, I was on time and made sure to unlock the front before anyone got there. Carl was off today as he was most Sundays. He had been taking his wife to her chemo treatments. She had had breast cancer, but it was caught on time.
On Mondays, there were fewer employees, and I had more to do when I was there. I got the cashiers their drawers and money to start their morning. The store was usually busy toward mid-morning.
As Monday went on, I found myself nearing my mid-morning bread. I let one of my trusted cashiers know I would be taking my lunch break. I went out the front door, and I noticed a man I had never seen before was staring at me. I smiled at the man, but he didn’t smile back.
I got to my car, and I noticed that he was following me when I pulled out of the parking lot. I pulled into a local fast food place, and the man was still behind me. I went through the drive-through, and so did the man following me. I noticed when I got to the window to pick up my number five special, he only had a drink. When I drove away, he was no longer following me. I figured it was just a coincidence.
I didn’t see him anymore, so I ate in my car. I listened to the radio while I finished my lunch and went back into the store. When I got inside the store, I noticed that the police were there.
“Madaris, the cops are here asking some questions about a missing woman,”
“Okay,” I walked over to the cop, and he asked if he could discuss a few things with me.
“We had a few questions about Jess Halloway, the girl that went missing,”
“Oh, yeah, we were pretty sad to hear that something bad had happened to her,” I said to the cop.
“We found her purse in the yard of an old abandoned mansion not far from where you live. We wanted to know if you saw anything considering you live not far from where her purse was found.”
I looked at them in shock. “No, I hadn’t seen her since the day she left after quitting,”
“Do you know if anyone else may have seen her or interacted with her that may have seen her that day?”
“Just our weekend Cashier Cheryl. That is why Jess quit. I can assure you Cheryl had nothing to do with Jess missing,”
“One can never be too careful. Do you have a number for her?”
I nodded and gave the cop Cheryl’s telephone number.
After the cops questioned me, it made me wonder why Jess’s stuff was found near my home. I felt uneasy about it but couldn’t place it.
When I got home, a note was under my door.
I put my keys on my key holder and shut the door. I took off my coat and then opened the letter.
Haven’t you figured it out yet? You are a wanted man, and only I know your secret. Keep playing games, and I promise you will not get out of this. Stop trying to stop me.
I put the letter down, thinking about the man I caught following me this afternoon. I wasn’t sure what was going on.
Jess was missing, then that weird man today followed by the damn cops. I needed a beer.
I tried not to think of it anymore, but it was hard. I debated contacting the cops, but instead, I lit a joint and poured a beer, and before I knew it, I was gone.
I woke to laughter. Only it was mine. I wiped my eyes, and then I felt something tight around my neck. Before I knew it, I was kicking a chair away from me, and I was hanging from the ceiling in my living room, fighting for my life.
I woke with panic, not understanding what made me do such a stupid thing. I tried to pull myself up and break the grip from the noose around my neck. I was losing consciousness, and I couldn’t seem to come back to life. I felt something touching me, and in the kitchen window, I saw the black figure of a man. He was tall and was dressed all in black.
I tried to utter a scream, but nothing came out of my mouth.
I heard laughter again.
“Maybe you will listen to me,” said a man’s voice.
Then the lights went out in my house, and I fell from the noose, landing on my coffee table and hitting the back of my head.
When I gathered myself together, I found another note.
This isn’t a game!