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I was amazed how quickly my dad found a new house for us after he was told where his job was headed. I never really try to understand what anyone want...

PREVIEW: Jack in the Box

September 13, 2018

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Friday, June 2, 2017

Kim opened her door with a heavy sigh, pushing past the heavy wood with an armful of groceries and her purse, feet aching from a long day at work. Walking through the narrow hall and into the living room, she kicked off her shoes and made her way to the kitchen, unloading the bags of food onto the counter before rubbing her back. While work had been a real drag today, she was finally home!

 

A long a sorrowful meow came from the floor by Kim’s feet prompting her to look down at her cat, Lincoln. A skinny old black cat, he wobbled slightly as he moved, his steps uneven and unsteady.

 

“Aw, you awake sleepy-boy?” Kim asked, bending down to pick up the agitated cat. She ran a hand down its back, eliciting a short purr before setting it on the counter, where it meowed loudly. “I’ll feed you in a moment, just let me change.”

 

Lincoln meowed and limped into the sink, curling up to relax while it waited for her to return. Kim walked through the apartment and back into her bedroom, shedding her work coat onto her bed as she undid her hair. Stopping when she felt a hot breeze roll over her skin, she looked over to the window.

 

It was open.

 

She hadn’t left it open.

 

Rushing over to the window, she looked out down the forty feet to the busy street far below. Car lights flashed and people moved along the sidewalk. The sheer brick wall that led up to her apartment didn’t show any signs of anyone having climbing up, though truthfully she wouldn’t know what to look for even if someone had scaled the wall into her home.

 

Turning, she looked around her bedroom; her computer was sitting at the corner desk, a bouncing ball hopping around as the screen saver. Her television was untouched, and her vanity dresser was untouched. If someone had come into her apartment, they hadn’t touched anything. Shrugging, she closed the window and walked over to her closet, shedding clothes as she went. She quickly changed into her comfortable night clothes, a blue shirt, and some baggy pajama pants, before padding out to her kitchen.

 

She began unpacking her groceries, putting away the frozen meats and the bread. Opening up the door to the pantry, she pulled out a can of cat food for Lincoln, shaking it to loosen the meat. Looking around, she didn’t see the cat anywhere.

 

“Lincoln!” She called out, stepping out of the kitchen and into the living room. “Here kitty! Dinner time!”

 

A low, mournful yowl came from her bedroom. “Lincoln? Are you okay baby?”

 

Her query was answered by another sorrowful yowl, along with the creaking of wood. Kim stopped and looked down the hall, wondering what that was. Stepping forward, she paused at the hallway leading to her bedroom and looked at the flickering light high above. She reached up and tapped the glass with the can of food, creating a steady hum as the flickering ceased.

 

Kim spun around as she felt something feather light trail down her back, like a finger ghosting down her spine. Stepping back towards the bedroom, where her cat was now meowing ceaselessly, she stared around wondering what that was.

 

“Hello?”

 

Walking to the end of the hall, she heard the wood creaking behind her from where she’d been standing. Looking back, she stared at the blank space that occupied the hall opposite the door to her bathroom. Reaching up and flicking the hall light off, just by habit, she nearly screamed when she saw a dark figure standing at the end of the hall, a cascade of light streaming over it’s slumped shoulders from the living room.

 

Quickly, she flicked the light back on and backed away into her room, closing the door. Not six seconds after closing the door did she hear a low creak of wood and a thump against her door.

 

Followed by another.

 

And another.

 

It was as if something weak was standing on the other side of the door, pounding on the frame.

 

A long meow brought Kim around to look for her cat, who was now sitting on the window ledge looking out over the city. Turning back to the door where the thumping was still occurring, she went to her closet and dug out her ex-husband's pistol, an old keepsake he’d left her when he heard she was moving to the city.

 

“Whoever’s out there, I have a gun!” She called through the door. “I know how to use it!”

 

A guttural moan, plaintive and full of agony, gurgled up from something on the other side of the door, before the pitiful poundings on the wood became heavier, bodily slams. The frame shook and the door splintered as the invader began to earnestly try and break through the door to get to Kim.

 

She checked the gun, switching off the safety and checking the magazine before tossing the can of food on the bed and walking back to where her back was against the wall across from her bedroom door. Aiming carefully, she decided to take charge and try and stop the invader now.

 

Firing off a shot, she bit her lip at the recoil of the gun and the loud noise it made, along with the scent of Sulfur that lingered after. The bullet blasted a dime sized hole through the door, large enough to see that the hall was dark again, before an eye covered up the hole from the other side, allowing the invader to look in at her. Hazel and bloodshot, the eye was wild, vibrating slightly from some unknown stress. Maybe the invader was on drugs?

 

“I’ll shoot you if you don’t leave!” Kim shouted, taking aim once more, this time towards the center of the door.

 

The pause in the assault on her door only lasted a brief moment before it resumed, steady slams cracking the frame of her doorway as the invader slowly pushed his way into her room. She fired off two more shots, neither of which seemed to slow the invader down any, despite the twin holes appearing in the dead center of where the ever expanding crack in the door was. A sudden wave of panic washed over Kim, and not knowing what to do, she turned and reached for her phone.

 

Quickly dialling the emergency number, she found that her line was disconnected. Looking down at her mobile, she was confused. Didn’t all cell phones reach out to emergency numbers? Suddenly a text appeared on her screen, a sentence all in caps.

 

LET ME IN

 

Kim squeaked and dropped the phone onto the bed, spinning around to look at the shameful state her door was in. Whatever was attacking her door was throwing itself bodily into it now, shaking the thin wood with every thunderous blow. It wouldn’t be long until her door was broken down, and the invader was in her room. Checking her magazine, she found she had five bullets left, and quickly popped one into the chamber; she would wait for the door to come down and then take a shot when she had a clear view of what exactly was attacking her doorway.

 

Her lights above flickered, on and off, for a mere moment. Long enough to cause her to worry about what would happen should the lights go out before the lunatic busted down her door. Looking at the light fixture hanging over her bed, she noticed two of the four light bulbs burnt out, with the third flickering. She didn’t keep spare bulbs in the bedroom, just in the kitchen.

 

Turning and stomping over to her window, she knocked Lincoln out of the way and opened her window, leaning out a little to look at the people walking on the streets below. “Help!” She called out, hoping some would look up at her. “I’m being attacked! Help me!”

 

But none of the small figures so much as slowed down at her cries. The honking of horns and the noise of city drowned out her cries, swallowing them up in a cacophony of chaotic rhapsody that was the evening in any metropolitan area. A loud crack from behind her caused her to spin, aiming her gun at the door.

 

Where nobody was. Her door was split, part laying on the ground while the other half swung from the hinges. A sharp crack from her hanging lights told her the third bulb had finally gone out, leaving a faint flickering from the fourth.

 

“I don’t know what is going on, but I swear I will blow your brains out if you come any closer,” Kim growled as she stared around her room. The dim lighting made it seem somewhat surreal, shapes dancing at the corners of her eyes, dark figures that would race towards her until she would look. Trembling, she fought back the tears as she watched the final bulb pop and fizzle, before the room went dark, leaving her alone with a hunched silhouette standing some two feet in front of her.

 

Firing three quick rounds into the person's chest, she created a shower of feathers from her assassinated goose down pillows before being slammed into from the gut, someone’s shoulder planted there firmly. It pushed her into the small opening of the window, forcing her to drop her gun as she scrambled to get a grasp of the wooden frame around the small aperture. Her back strained and her hips ached as slowly, the force pushed her through the window.

 

“No, please don’t!” Kim shrieked, grappling with the edges of the frame, fingers straining to keep her mostly inside her apartment. Looking down, she saw herself reflected in the glassy eyes of a young woman, hair greasy and black, hanging down to her mid-back. Her eyes were sunken and ringed as if she hadn’t slept in weeks, and her body was as pale as cream, save for the dark clothes she was wearing. Behind cracked lips, the woman was whispering something, though what it was, Kim couldn’t hear it or make it out over her own screams as she was pushed from the window with a final shove, her gun flying away from her as she flailed about in the air, falling to her death with a keening scream.

 

The woman stood at the window, staring down at the spot where Kim had landed, an ever-growing ring of red expanding out onto the dimly lit city streets, people crowding around her. The woman didn’t care. She had her home back, walking over to the bed, she grabbed the can of cat food and slowly popped the top off of it, laying it down on the ground for Lincoln, who happily dug in. The woman walked over to the wall, sinking into it to once again sleep, hopefully for a longer time than the last time she got to rest…  

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