I look up, staring at the large white clock fixed into the glass wall, watching the minutes tick away. Only one more minute until I can leave this place and go home. I watch as the long arm slowly makes its way around the circle, passing by the five, then the six. I preemptively hop up from my chair and head for the door as the clock strikes five o’clock.
I almost run out of the building, dodging my boss, don’t want to be stuck doing some bullshit she pulls out of her ass. I round the corner of the front counter and push open the front doors, exiting the building.
I am instantly struck by the summer heat floating in the air. The sun is still high in the sky, shining down cooking the earth. I pause, taking in a deep breath of fresh air, basking in my freedom. I turn and start towards my car.
“Henry. Henry?” I hear my boss yelling inside. I laugh to myself as I rush to my car. You’re too late bitch, I win.
My car is parked just behind the drive-up window, shaded under the one small tree beside the parking lot. The dark red paint glints off the rear end in the bright sunlight.
I drive a fairly small compact car, nothing fancy, but it does the job getting me from point a to point b. I walk over and pop open the driver door, quickly hoping inside. I jam the key in the ignition and roar up the engine. The smell of garbage floats stalely through the car, the mountain of soda cans and food wrappers piled on the back floor-board.
I glance around the car, searching for my pack of smokes. I look down and see the pack had fallen in front of the passenger seat. “Ha ha.” I shout in victory as I reach down and grab the pack. I slide a cigarette from the pack and pop it in my mouth. I grab my lighter from the center console and spark it to life.
As I look back up to leave I nearly jump straight out of my skin.
“Jesus!” I scream.
The elderly gypsy man is standing directly in front of my hood, staring straight at me. His mouth is moving, but I can’t hear him. My heart begins to race as I watch the man. What the hell is his problem?
I swing my door open, stepping from the car. The cars idle muffle the words coming from the man.
“What is your problem man?” I ask.
He just keeps staring at me muttering his words. I take a step towards him in an effort to hear what he is saying. As I near, I realize the man isn’t speaking English, he is speaking in some foreign language, repeating the same thing over and over.
Suddenly, the man stops, his gaze piercing through me. The old man then launches forward at me, the quick movement startles me. He jumps right into me, sending me crashing to the ground. The man begins growling another series of chants that I can’t understand.
I try to push the man off, but he won’t budge, I shake my body left and right. My heart is pounding as adrenaline courses through me. I try shoving the man, he leans backward then jolts forward grabbing a handful of my hair. The elderly man yanks on my hair sending a shockwave of pain through my skull.
A chunk of my hair flies out as the man jumps off me. The man back a few feet away and begins chanting as he stares at my hair in his hand. I get up to my knees, then my feet.
“What the fuck is the matter with you, you senile psychopath?” I shout at the man.
The man pauses, then glances up at me, blowing my hair from his hand into the wind. He then turns and retreats away from the parking lot. I stand there in confusion, rubbing my head as I watch him go.
“What the fuck?” I say.
I hop into my car once more, grabbing the rear-view mirror and tilt it towards my head. A small bald spot now occupies the top of my head, not so much that it’s too noticeable, but enough to look odd. What the hell was that dudes’ problem, was this about his fucking loan? Psycho.
I shift my car into reverse and back out of the parking space, then push forward out of the lot and down the road toward my house.
I don’t live far, if I wanted I could walk to work. The whole town is basically one long road, everything important is on it at least. The bank, the post office, city hall, you name it and it’s on this road, good ole Independence avenue. I guess whoever named the street didn’t want to get too creative considering that’s the name of the town. Independence that is, not avenue, but I digress.
I drive down the bumpy brick road, feeling every movement as my car bounces along. It’s stupid that the city leaves the roads made of brick, they are all falling apart, plus they are terrible to drive on. They say it’s “historic”, I say it’s garbage.
I drive a few more blocks, and pull into the short gravel driveway to my house. The small house sits in front of me, the white siding shines in the sun. I can see my cat staring out, perched in the window awaiting my return. He is very clingy, I can’t leave a room without him crying as if I’m gone forever.
I park at the end of the drive and kill the engine. I hop out and make my way up the old cement front steps. My head still sending slight aches where the chunk of hair was removed. I swing open the glass front door, then push my key into the large metal front door behind it. I twist the key, unlocking the deadbolt, and swing it open.
An arctic blast of air condition engulfs me as I walk in, that refreshing icy air is comforting on a sweltering day like this. I quickly strip off my suit and tie, leaving them in a pile by the front door. My cat circles my feet, meowing at me. I bend over and pet him for a second before heading into the living room.
My whole house is filthy, the dimmed room concealing the piles of dirty clothes strung throughout. My coffee table is covered in old dishes I forgot about. I really should clean this place. The smell of Charlies’ litter box floats through the house.
All the walls are painted in a dingy shade of white, I don’t know why, I don’t even like white, but here they are never the less. Charlie hops up on the couch and curls into a ball, satisfied by my return, and goes to sleep.
I grab a dirty pair of blue jeans and a black t-shirt from the floor and throw them on. I let out a deep breath as I plop onto my old trusty rocking chair, not the wooden kind, I got a big cushy leather one, the thing cost more than my car. I figured what do I use more.
The tv remote is still on the arm of the chair where I left it, I pick it up and send power to the large flat screen across the room. The glow of the tv as it shoots on illuminates the dim room. I switch on some dumb comedy, then pull out my cell phone to play a few quick games.
“What the hell is the matter with this thing?” I say, smacking my phone.
The screen is shaky, static interference cuts across it in a pixelated mess. A high-pitched ringing scrambles from it before shutting off completely.
“Great, now I probably need a new phone.” I say.
I place the phone on the coffee table, letting out a sigh. I look around the room, looking for anything to keep my boredom at bay. The tv is still going, but nothing is ever on. I give in and flip through a few channels in hopes that I may find something.
I stop on an old action flick that I’ve seen a thousand times, it’s something I guess. I stare at the screen, zoning out into the films plot line, as the tv begins to distort the picture. The screen shakes, scrambling the images into a static.
“Are you kidding me, what the fuck?” I say in disbelief.
The tv shoots out a shriek of static so loud I have to cover my ears. Strange images flash through the static, some sort of horned shadowy figure. The static keeps flashing the images, then suddenly the screen goes black as sparks fly from the tv.
My heart begins to race, the sudden spark of the tv jolted a fear into me I can’t explain. What would make something like this happen? First my phone, now the tv? Doesn’t make any sense.
I slowly walk over to the tv stand, placing my hand on the tv, checking for any sign of a fire or something. The tv is ice cold under my hand, freezing. It’s as if it was engulfed in ice it’s so cold.
I glance around the room, checking for anything else unusual, nothing. Everything is exactly where it has always been. Maybe something is wrong with the electricity, but that wouldn’t explain my phone. I suppose it could just be a coincidence, but I don’t know.
I look over where Charlie was curled up sleeping, he’s not there.
“Here kitty, kitty.” I say, calling him over.
He usually comes running, but not this time, strange. Then I see him, he’s standing in front of the hallway, staring down it into the dark. He starts making a deep growling sound as he stares, letting out a hiss in warning to whatever he sees. I stare down into the dark hallway, but I don’t see anything.
A tingle begins creeping down my spine, making the hair on my neck stand up. I begin breathing in shuddered breaths as the air turns icy, small puffs of clouds fill the air from my breath. The dim lit room begins to darken further, my heart is pounding now, breaking the silence with its rhythmic pumping in my ears.
Charlie hisses again, louder with a deep growl. He then lets out a fearful meow and turns and begins running away, passing by me in search of a hiding spot. My eyes are wide, barely adjusted to the new darkness around me. I feel the panic rising, an overwhelming feeling that I’m not alone in here collapses I on me.
I stare back down the hall, something is down there. A dark shadowed figure begins slowly moving, dodging my sights, toying with me. The dark figure lets out a blood curdling low growl that cuts straight through me, paralyzing me in place. I can’t move, can’t think, frozen.
It begins moving faster, into a sprint towards me. I slam my eyes shut, bracing for impact, squeezing them as tight as I can. My whole-body quivers in anticipation, but nothing happens. I dare not open my eyes in fear that if I do whatever that thing is will be there, waiting in front of me.
A faint sound of a click echoes through the room. My closed eyes see a glimmer of dim light shine through their lids. Then the tv shoots on, gunfire bounces through the room as the action flick I had on begins playing again. I risk a peek, opening my eyes. The tv is back on, playing normally as if nothing happened.
The once dim glow that filled the room has returned, I glance around. Charlie is back on the couch curled up in a ball sleeping. I run over to the light switch, flooding the room with a bright glow. My head swivels around, checking everywhere for that thing. I turn on the hallway light, nothing. I let out a sigh of relief, trying to calm my still pounding heart.
“Did I? Was that just my imagination?”