This story is by Glenda Cox and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
She slept through the night. Her visitor hadn’t come last night. He had visited every night for two years, but now she cautiously allowed herself to hope that he might have tired of her and moved on to visit someone else.
The visits started right after her drunkard of a husband was killed by another drunk driver. She had been driving. Her husband, in the passenger seat was passed out drunk after humiliating her at a company party, tripping on the boss, knocking them both to floor. Wendy was so mortified that tears filled her eyes and she wished he was dead
She glanced at him, slumped over with his head pressed against the glass, snoring obnoxiously., She tapped the brakes, hoping his head would bounce off the glass, causing him to readjust his snoring.
The snoring continued.
She swerved slightly to thump his head again, and suddenly a speeding truck, avoiding her, slammed into the passenger side of her car killing her husband.
She went through the motions of grieving, but the numbness she felt soon gave way to relief… and a nagging feeling that it might have been her fault. She tried to feel regret, but guilt and remorse just would not come.
Soon, though, she started having a visitor. He came in the night, as she closed her eyes. His face popped up like a jack in the box in front of her closed eyes. He stared at her accusingly. She sensed his hate. Her eyes snapped open and she told herself that it was just her imagination and closed her eyes, but he popped up again and again. She tried keeping her eyes open, but every time she dozed off, his terrifying face was there.
She hoped he would go away or that she could get used to him. But he never went away and she could expect him every night. Even when she slept, he could enter her dreams. His face embodied evil and hatred and was red like sticky dripping blood with sharp black markings. His eyes shone with such hatred and contempt that she woke up in a start, her heart pounding, soaked in sweat.
But last night, he hadn’t come. What a marvelous life it could be if he never showed up again. Imagine sleeping every night, not going to work in a stupor, not having everyone there whisper behind her back. She had confided in her office-mate Ramona, telling her in secret about the visitor. Ramona’s eyes had widened with concern and pity. Now her co-workers felt sorry for her, offering phony words of compassion over thinly veiled comments about her mental health.
But Ramona was the worst. Who did she think she was – scooting her chair close and taking Wendy’s hand in a consoling manner? “He’s been gone two years. I know a grief counselor you could talk to.” If only Ramona knew the truth, that Wendy hadn’t “grieved” for even a minute, that she was glad that drunken embarrassment was gone.
But today, Wendy felt happy as she readied herself for work. It had been a long time since she felt so good. The drive to work was smooth and sunny and she felt a sense of renewal as she pulled into her parking space.
As she entered the elevators with two co-workers, something caught her eye – just a glimpse of red streaking across the parking lot, something familiar. She quickly pushed the “open door” button, but too late, the elevator was already moving.
“Did you see that?” She asked her co-workers on the elevator. They didn’t answer but rolled their eyes.
“You better be careful” she told them, or those eyes might roll right out of your heads” Did they think she was blind?
But that red streak. . . “It couldn’t be.” She whispered to herself. “He wasn’t there last night. He’s gone.” Her co-workers exchange “she’s crazy” glances with each other. Wendy was used to it.
As she entered her office, she was startled again by a red streak zipping past her desk, out the door.
“Did you see that?” She asked Ramona, but Ramona only gave her that sad look she always gave.
“Somebody called for you earlier.” Ramona said. “He didn’t leave a name. He said he would see you later.”
“See me later?” Wendy wondered out loud. “Who could that be?”
“Maybe it was Justin from Payroll.” Ramona went on, “That report is due today.”
Wendy’s heart began to pound. “No. I know who it was.”
This was something new, some new form of torment and horror. If he was showing up at work, he might hurt someone.
“There might be someone sneaking around here today.” She told Ramona. “If you see someone with a red face, let me know. We’ll have to hide.”
Ramona gently touched Wendy’s hand. “Remember that grief counselor I told you about?”
Wendy decided not to try to help Ramona if that thing attacked.
Wendy was engrossed in the payroll report when she saw a dash of red streaking out the door. “Did you see that?” She asked.
Ramona wasn’t at her desk, and in her chair, he was there, the visitor, his eyes staring at her with contempt and his red face set in hate.
Wendy’s heart pounded. This was the time. She had to take a stand. She locked eyes, returning the intense disgust and slowly slid the letter opener from her desk. His gaze never wavered as she drew closer to him.
He screamed, shrill and piercing like a woman as her hand slammed into his chest, over and over again, ending his reign of terror once and for all.
She turned away in triumph only to see the doorway jammed with horrified co-workers.
The bloody letter opener clattered as she dropped it, landing near Ramona’s bloody body. Had the visitor killed her?
Suddenly a red dash hurried from the room.
Wendy asked her stunned coworkers: “Did you see that?”