Kelley J. Nightrose
Late Friday afternoon, Tabitha Johnson flipped off the lights in her yoga studio and stepped out the front door. She turned to insert the key into the lock and glanced back inside. A sliver of light shone under the door to the back office. Damn, I knew I forgot something. She trotted back and opened the door, but the lights were off. An icy breeze blew through her hair, sending a shiver down her spine. What happened to the lights, and where’s that draft coming from?The AC is not running. She rubbed her arms to stave off the goosebumps.
Something shoved her through the doorway and slammed the door behind her. Oh, God, somebody’s in here.Get the door open! She tried to turn, but something caught her and pinned her to the wall.
“Please don’t hurt me!”
It pressed itself fully against her. God, he’s squashing me. Tabitha flailed wildly, but the more she struggled the less she could move. “Let me go!”
Muffled laughter and heavy breathing resonated through the darkened room, coming from everywhere all at once. How many of them are in here?Oh, God, is it a whole gang? What are they going to do to me? How did they get in here? I don’t have time for this, I’m going to be late. Wallace will be pissed if I don’t have dinner ready. “What do you want?”
A whisper came from the darkness. “You.”
Is this a robbery? “What do you want from me? I don’t keep money here. My clients pay with cards.” They don’t want money, dummy, they want you. You know what that means, your pussy. Oh, God, no, please not that. These have to be those hoods who keep hanging around in the parking lot, staring in through the window. I knew I should have called the cops on them.
An old woman’s voice came from somewhere in the darkness. “I want your attention, Tabitha.”
Is their grandmother in the gang? “You’ve got it, now please, tell these guys to let me go!”
“Stop fighting and listen. You’re such a vibrant young thing, so full of life. It’s an awful shame that you will come to such a horrible end.”
“What are you talking about? Who are you?”
“No one, not anymore. They murdered me, Tabitha.”
“Murdered? You’re talking to me.”
“It is up to you now.”
“It’s up to me to, what, catch a murderer for you?”
“I am dead, you can’t help me, but you are still very much alive for now.”
They want to kill me? No. Why would they want to kill me? I haven’t done anything to them.
“Where are you and why are they holding me? Please let me go. At least turn on the lights so I can see.”
“Be quiet and listen. Evil is coming for you, Tabitha. It will destroy those you love, then spill your blood to free it from its bindings.”
“Well, what can I do about it? I’m just a yoga instructor.”
“The solution is simple.”
“Okay, great, let’s have it already. I’m running kind of late.”
“You must win the love of one man.”
Done that, game over, I win. “I already have the love of one man. He says we’ll get married, but he’s not ready to commit. Between you and me, I think he’s getting close. I’m expecting him to pop the question any day. May I go now?”
“I said the solution is simple, but the task is impossible.”
“What are you talking about? You’re not making any sense.”
“Your fate lies elsewhere.”
“What do you know about my fate?”
“You will die alone, heartbroken, and loved by no one.”
I knew it, I knew that would happen, but I really didn’t need to hear anyone say it. “Well, that’s just peachy. Thanks for stopping by to tell me the good news.”
“I am sorry, Tabitha. Nothing can save you, but if you face your greatest fear and embrace your fate, you can save those you love.”
Oh great, I’m just a worthless piece of garbage, but if I can save someone, I guess that counts for something. “Okay, how do I do that?”
“Seek the hidden truth, Tabitha. You may not find the answers, but the act of searching will yield its own rewards.”
Huh? “Okay, what does that cryptic crap mean? Yvonne, is that you? Is this some kind of joke? Turn on the damn lights!”
“I have failed to reach you. The choice is yours. Maintain a closed mind and lose everything you hold dear, or fight the evil to save what you love. Either way, your fate will be the same. Oh, he’s found me. I must leave this world while I am still able. I needed to tell you so many things. I am sorry for you, Tabitha, I am so very…”
The lights began to slowly brighten and the hazy image of an old lady floated in front of Tabitha, shimmering like smoke rising from a smoldering fire. Holy shit! The brighter the lights became, the more the image faded, until Tabitha stood staring at an empty room.
She bolted from the building, jumped into her car, and sat gazing at her studio door. Oh crap, I forgot to lock the door. She eased back over to the building, inserted the key, and turned. A sliver of light still shone under the door in the back. Screw it. Stay on all night, I don’t care. I need to drink some water. Getting dehydrated causes hallucinations, doesn’t it? I wonder if Wallace will buy that? He’ll probably think I’m crazy. He’ll probably be right. I better keep my mouth shut. Why would something evil want me? I’m nothing special. Who do I love? Yvonne and Wallace. Everyone else is gone. Note to self: have lots of babies. When a family is small, it’s too easy to get left all alone.
A frigid current of air flowed across the back of Tabitha’s neck. No, it’s just my mind playing tricks on me. I don’t want to fight evil. I don’t want to die heartbroken and alone. I just want to go home, make dinner, and have a normal life.