This story is by Rockebah Charles-Stewart and was part of our 2017 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the Summer Writing Contest stories here.
As I turned the keys to my front door, in a manner that has now become so familiar to me, I noticed movement in the corner of my eyes. I wasn’t alarmed though. Since I moved to this neighborhood, I quickly realized that I would not be the only one roaming the streets before the break of dawn, on my way to work. Plenty of people got up early for no apparent reason but I was not complaining though. It made me feel safer knowing that, if needed; help was only a scream away.
After dismissing what I thought I didn’t see, I reluctantly wiggled my way out of the yard. It was probably my eyes adjusting to the street light spotting directly into my veranda anyway. But I soon noticed movement again, causing my head to automatically turn to the top of the hill where another streetlight, was strategically placed among the trees. From underneath the branches, I noticed my neighbor enjoying the view of the neighborhood with shorts that made the early morning air feel even colder; his body making me regret the vows we both took. He looked at me for only a second, and as if he read my thoughts, bolted into his apartment. I turned my head quickly, not wanting to think of anything that would bring out the lust in me.
Instinctively, my eyes diverted to where Mr Temptation was gazing and that’s when I noticed it for the first time. I really didn’t get a good look because it vanished before my brain was able to comprehend what my eyes were viewing. Not knowing if I was imagining things or not, I sped up the pace. My little legs moved twice as fast, and for once, I regretted that my uniform was tight enough to reveal all the curves on my body. I couldn’t move my legs properly but still managed to fast walk into the darkness.
About half way from my destination, I noticed that Mrs Lil was up. She was someone in the neighborhood I never spoke to, and only knew her name because of a conversation I overheard. A younger lady reminded the grey haired woman about the rolls she had to bake for some breakfast sale they were having. Mrs Lil had reassured her that they would be ready by 7 a.m. and from the smell of things, Mrs Lil was a disciplined woman.
As I passed her yard now, I angled my head, just to get a good sniff, not intending to catch more than just the sweet aroma of fresh bread. But I did. Through the open kitchen door, I saw Mrs Lil hard at work, kneading away at the bread dough on her counter-top with her bare hands. At her side was the most frightful thing I had ever seen. I couldn’t tell what it was though. It was a contradiction of both black and strangely translucent. It looked human enough with two hands and two feet but oddly alien with a small round and smooth bald head. The thing revealed fingers that were twice the length of mine, as it rubbed Mrs Lil’s cheek, in a manner that reminded me of a dog preparing to devour a big juicy ham bone.
At the sight of it, I took in a sharp breath and its head automatically turned in my direction. Like an owl would. Eyes red as rubies bore into mine and I shivered from the darkness it emitted. It looked at Mrs Lil, who was dividing her dough into little balls, then at me with curiosity, shattering my composure with its stare.
That was more than I needed to see. I began to run, pushing my body to its maximum, with still so much ‘sleep in my eyes’. I ran down the hill not daring to look back. Too afraid of what I might see. Too petrified of what Mrs Lil didn’t see.
A few more houses away, I saw a man having a cup of tea in his veranda and my body relaxed with relief. I ran to him with my bag strap falling off my shoulder, and in distress began to mumble. Petrified for my life, I was forced to push my fears to the back of my mind, long enough to ask for help. I turned around to show him the unknown entity which was closing in more cautiously now, but no matter how much I directed or pointed, my rescuer just looked at me with a confused expression on his face.
After a few short moments, I realized that was a lost cause. I grabbed my bag and began to run again. Hopefully, I would get more luck on the highway. I was running so fast now that my bag was falling completely off my shoulder. It bounced my side every time I moved, so I let it fall. My life was more important than a container of oil down and any amount of cosmetics. My son and his father didn’t care what I looked like at the end of the day, only that I was safe, so I relinquished my load and ran even faster.
At the end of the road, I saw the highway. I saw people. I saw help.
I began to shout at a man and a woman, standing at the bus stop. I yelled for help from my attacker, as vehicles sped between us and drowned out my words. Then, I started to point. I started indicating the figure that was almost upon me then, but the couple only looked at me in confusion. Not them too! Why weren’t they doing something? Why were they looking at me like that? I had to go to them then. It was my last chance. They were my last chance. But as soon as I stretched my foot out to cross the road, I felt a strong sense of confinement and then everything went dark.