“I hate buying groceries,” I mumble, slamming the car door shut with my foot.
Juggling two large bags full of fruits and vegetables, I suddenly realize I forgot my keys and will have to use the spare. I reach under the mat and feel around until I locate the key.
The key slips into the lock with an audible click and I step inside the cabin.
My Maltipoo, Jasmine, comes running down the hallway, barking viciously at my feet.
“Hey girl, calm down. It’s just me,” I tell her, rolling my eyes. She continues barking.
Still muttering to myself, I enter the kitchen, set the bags on the kitchen counter, and head to the refrigerator. I twist the cap off a soda and take a long drink.
That’s when I see it.
An open bottle of wine, sitting on the kitchen table.
Now, I may be a bit of an oddball, but I’m not crazy. I did not open a bottle of wine today. In fact, I’m actually trying to cut back a bit. So this makes absolutely no sense at all.
I continue to stare at the bottle of wine, unsure of what to do next. I’m not going to lie, I feel a little freaked out right now. Mind you, I live in the middle of absolutely nowhere. There isn’t anyone around for miles. My eyes dart around the room, searching for anything else out of place.
I don’t see anything unusual, but to be safe I grab a butcher knife from the drawer and quietly make my way to the second floor, checking out each room with caution.
No one in the closets, the bedrooms, or the bathroom. I begin to relax a little bit and go back downstairs to check out the rest of the cabin. The library, living room and laundry room are empty. I head back towards the kitchen and check the hall bathroom on my way. It is clear as well.
Scratching my head, I re-enter the kitchen and put the knife down.
Suddenly my cell phone rings, and I nearly jump out of my skin.
“Hello?” I say.
“Hello?” I say again.
Shaking my head, I press the end call button and set the phone down next to a pile of mail.
My name, Alistair Hendricks, is completely marked out on every piece of mail. A black, uncapped sharpie lay next to the pile. Fear begins to creep into the pit of my stomach.
Someone or something is screwing with me.
Suddenly I hear a loud thump come from somewhere in the house. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up and my suspicions are confirmed.
There is either an intruder in my house, or I’m being haunted by a ghost who knows how to open a bottle of Chardonnay.
I almost stop and laugh at the absurdity of the idea of a ghost, but instead, quickly grab the butcher knife and make my way down the hall towards the library. Peeking around the doorway, I am startled to find a strange man holding a glass of wine, browsing my collection of books.
The man doesn’t look threatening; he actually looks quite at home.
A board under my foot creaks.
Before I can duck out of sight, the man whirls around to face me, sloshing the wine over the top of his glass.
“Who are you?” The man demands. “What are you doing here? This is my house!”
My heart is thumping wildly in my chest, but I try to stay calm.
“Sir” I tell the man, “ I’m going to have to ask you to leave. This is my house. Please leave, or a I will be forced to call the police.”
The man chuckles and sets down his glass of wine. “Are you nuts? What the hell are you talking about? This is my house.” He then sees the knife as in my hand, and in one swift motion pulls a gun out from behind his back.
. “Get out.” He cocks the gun. “Now.”
I open my mouth to reply, but suddenly everything starts to spin, and I collapse onto the floor
When I wake up, it is dark outside and it takes me a minute to remember where I am and what happened.
Then I realize that I can’t remember what happened. And why am I on the floor? My hands feel sticky and gross, and there is a strange smell permeating the air. I then hear a bump near the doorway. I scramble to my feet and flick the light switch.
No one’s there.
It is then I notice the red streaks covering the floor. What is that?
My hands still feel sticky…
Why are my hands sticky?
Something wet trickles down the side of my face. I stumble into the hall bathroom and gaze into the mirror. A gash the size of a golf ball is on my right temple. I grab a towel, wet it, and dab at the wound. Then I realize the shower is running. I take a deep breath, throw aside the shower curtain expecting to see someone in there, but there is only an empty bucket and mop. I shut the water off. I hear a creaking of floorboards but turn around to find no one. My head feels foggy, and I fight to remember the past how-ever-many hours I was passed out. There are more streaks in the hallway, leading towards the kitchen.
My hands are still sticky…
I stumble along the hallway, following the red streaks like the trail of breadcrumbs from that childhood fairytale, Hansel and Gretel.
I enter the kitchen and find that the red streaks end at the back door. Taking another step, I nearly trip over a box of trash bags sitting on the floor.
I glance to my left and see that the open bottle of Chardonnay is still there. Grabbing it by the neck, I carry it over to the sink, pour the still half-full bottle down the drain, and chuck the bottle in the trash bin.
Now to clean up these red streaks.
My hands are still sticky…
I twist the cap open on the bottle of ammonia and pour it into a bucket half full of steaming water. I then lug the bucket out of the bathroom and into the library and begin to mop up these terribly messy red streaks. I wish I knew what they were and where they came from.
I finish mopping and the floors are now spotless, so I decide to take a break and watch some tv. I end up falling asleep on the couch and I am startled awake hours later by the chiming of the grandfather clock. Six chimes, so it’s 6:00 am.
I enter the kitchen and begin to make coffee, still desperately trying to remember the strange events of yesterday afternoon. I pour myself a cup of coffee and walk over to the window. I see my reflection in the windowpane and reach up to touch the wound on my forehead.
What happened yesterday?
Three weeks later
“Stupid dog,” I mutter, gripping the wooden handle of the shovel tighter. “ Why did I ever get a dog?” I trudge into the woods, my steps slow as not to dump any of the dog crap on my new pajamas. “She makes too much of a mess. I’m going to have to find her another home,” I say to myself as I toss the crap into the woods. It lands on top of a large mound of dirt that curiously resembles a shallow grave.
That’s absurd, I tell myself, shaking my head. I’m the only one around here. Besides,I’d know if there was a random stranger roaming the woods.
Chuckling to myself, I make my way to the shed and prop the shovel up inside the door.
I can’t stop thinking about that mound of dirt. It seems oddly familiar. Like I’ve seen it before, but can’t quite remember why it’s there, or how it got there.
I have to investigate it.
I head to the backyard and once again grab the shovel from the shed. When I reach the mound of dirt just past the tree line, I begin to dig. Fear begins to worm its way into my stomach, as I’m scared as to what I might uncover.
Suddenly my shovel scrapes against something,
I stop digging, and as I stare at the strangely familiar pile of dirt, it all comes flooding back to me.
The open bottle of Chardonnay. Marking out my name with a sharpie. The strange man. The flash of a knife. Someone screams.
Suddenly I’m dragging something heavy. Red streaks across the floor. A bottle of ammonia.
My hands become sticky… with something.
Am I crazy?
Following the red streaks…
No, it couldn’t be. I couldn’t possibly have…
Did I kill someone?
A car door slams, shaking me out of my unpleasant reverie. “James?” I hear a woman’s voice call out. “James dear, I’m home.” Then I hear a knock. “Open the door, darling. It’s Lydia. I forgot my house key, and I can’t seem to find the spare…”
Ignoring the woman, I drop to my knees and furiously begin to dig with my hands. No, I couldn’t have killed someone…
The woman continues to call out that man’s name.
I am covered in muck and grime but I continue clawing at the dirt like a madman. All of a sudden I feel something that feels like fabric… no, not fabric. I wipe away the last bit of dirt to uncover a large lump of black plastic, accompanied by a horrific smell.
After gagging a few times, I tear open the trash bag and find…
I scrambled backward away from the rotting corpse. Did I kill someone without knowing? Surely not.
I look toward the cabin to see the woman where the woman is. She now has her cell phone out and is dialing a number. Then I faintly hear a phone begin to ring on her end.
Then suddenly, there’s ringing in my pocket.
I quickly reach for the phone inside my trousers and pull it out to silence it, but then I fumble like an idiot and drop it on the ground. It continues to ring.
I grab the phone, push the end call button, and peer through the tree line at the woman, who seems to stare right at me.
“Hello,?” she calls out putting the phone in her pocket. “James dear? Is that you?”
I crouch down, hoping that she doesn’t see me.
The woman starts walking towards the woods, and in a moment appears through the tree line.
“James?” She looks left and right.
I’m now flat on my stomach behind a large log, and I can only hope that she doesn’t notice the shallow grave I uncovered. How would I ever explain that?
I shift my position and leaves rustle underneath me.
“Hello? Is someone there?” She calls out, trying to see through the thick pines and brush. The woman takes out her cell phone again and begins to dial a number.
The phone in my pocket starts ringing
I slowly crawl out from behind the log. There’s no point in hiding now.
“Who are you?!” The woman yells. “Why are you here?”
I am standing before the nameless woman, who looks extremely nervous. She shakily holds a can of pepper spray in her left hand.
“Calm down, ma’am,” I tell her, keeping my eyes on the can of pepper spray. “I’m not going to hurt you. My name is Alistair Hendricks, and I live here.”
“You live where?” the woman asks, still firmly grasping the pepper spray.
I gestured towards the cabin. “I live in that cabin. That’s my home”.
The woman gives me a strange look. “What are you talking about? My name is Lydia Dosher, and I live in that cabin, along with my husband, James.” She looks around frantically. “Have you seen him?”
Before I can answer, Lydia turns her head to the right and sees the trash bag I’ve uncovered and the corpse that lies within it.
She turns back to face me. “What is that?” Lydia whispers.
“Ummm….” I stammer, unsure of how to answer her. “I was out here and uncovered it. I’m not sure how it got there…” my voice pitifully trails off.
The woman looks at me with uncertainty, then approaches the grave and kneels down beside it. She keeps staring at the body. Just staring.
Suddenly she scrambles backward and lets out a strangled sob.
“What? What’s wrong?” I ask.
Lydia turns to me, her eyes wide, face as pale as a ghost. “Th-that’s my husband!” She screeches. “Someone murdered him and buried his body here!” She begins to wail uncontrollably.
I’m just standing here, unsure of what to do. When Lydia finally stops wailing, she gets to her feet and wipes her eyes, smearing mascara across her left cheek.
“I-I need to call the police,” she sniffs. “They can help figure out who did this.”
Her back is now turned to me as she punches numbers on her cell phone.
I don’t want to do this. I really don’t want to do this.
But I have no choice.
I pick up the shovel and swing it. The hard metal slams against Lydia’s head with a sickening crack, and the woman slumps to the ground
“I’m so terribly sorry that I had to do this,” I tell the dead woman, dropping the shovel. “You seemed so nice. It’s a shame you had to go.”
I stand there in the silence for a good moment, then realize what I have to do.
No one can know about this.
So I grab Lydia by the arms and begin to drag her across the ground towards the grave.
Then I roll her into the shallow hole. She lands on top of James with a thud.
Now to cover them with dirt.
It’s been two days since my experience with the grave and now, no matter where I go, she follows me.
She simply won’t leave me alone. Even as I sit here on a bench outside The Deli, which is a good 45 minute drive from the cabin.
I turn my head slightly to the left, trying not to make direct eye contact with her. She’s just standing there, staring at me.
I shake my head, turn my gaze away for a moment, then look back.
She’s still there.
But, perhaps she’s not real. Perhaps she is just a hallucination, a fictional product of my stressed and troubled mind. That’s what landed me in the psychiatric facility, after all. Seeing things that aren’t there. I was lucky to escape and find that beautiful cabin I live in. Yes, just a hallucination.
So I decide to ignore her and take a bite of my sandwich. But all of a sudden the air turns cool around me, and my skin starts to crawl.
I realize, with impending dread, that she is right next to me, and she’s not a hallucination.
Suddenly, Lydia reaches out and places her cold, dead hand on my shoulder, her long dirty nails digging into my skin. She leans close, her icy breath sending shivers down my spine. A manic grin spreads across her dirty, blood-streaked face
“ You’ll never escape me, Alistair,” she says, her voice raspy and cold. “I’ll always be here. I will torment you until the day you die, then I’ll torment you some more. You picked the wrong couple to murder, Mr. Hendricks.”
My hands are still sticky
Kennedy Blake is an author and mother of three. She enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with her family. Kennedy has been writing since she was nine years old, and has several published works.