FICTION / Horror
FICTION / Thrillers / Supernatural
FICTION / Thrillers / Suspense
FICTION / Thrillers / Crime
It was almost midnight when Christine Jameson parked in her driveway where muted streetlights cast a dull light. She took her wallet from the glove compartment and placed it in her work bag next to a pair of safety glasses, gloves, and a box-cutter. She picked up the grimy bag from the passenger seat and carried it into her Black Water home. The air was sticky outside and even more so on the inside. She sat down on the bench near the door and took off her steel-toe work boots and sweat-soaked socks.
“That feels better”, she said, wiggling her toes that were wrinkled like prunes.
The house was quiet as she walked into the kitchen. Her fourteen-year-old daughter Dora must have made a salad before going to bed because chopped pieces of onion and celery were scattered on the cutting board next to a chef’s knife. After drinking a partial bottle of cold water from the refrigerator, she went into the bathroom and turned on the shower.
While in the shower, she heard the bathroom door open. “Is that you, Dora?”
There was no answer. Christine moved the shower curtain enough to peer out. The door was open, but no one was there. Dora must have wanted to use the bathroom and then changed her mind. She doubted her daughter had anyone spending the night because she would have told Christine.
After drying off, Christine donned a light cotton pajama top and shorts. Even with the bathroom window open, steam lingered in the air longer than usual. She quickly left the sauna and went upstairs to check on Dora, guided by nightlights to her daughter’s room. The bedroom door was open, allowing the light to spill into the hallway.
“Dora, are you awake,” Christine said as she nuzzled the door the rest of the way open. A journal lay on her unmade bed, but Dora was not in the room. Christine was surprised she had not seen her daughter. Normally if Dora was awake when she got home from work, she would have been greeted at some point before she went to bed.
Christine wanted to find Dora and say goodnight before falling asleep. She walked back down the hall and stood at the top of the steps, listening for a sound that would tell her where Dora was. Other than the tick of a clock, it was silent. She looked down the staircase into the darkness, now worried that Dora might not be in the house. But she had to be there because someone had opened the bathroom door while she was taking a shower.
“Dora, are you here?” Christine turned on the bright staircase light and walked downstairs. The television was turned off in the living room and Dora was not sleeping on the couch.
She walked to the kitchen and switched on the overhead light. Dora was not there, either. Christine turned the light off and then back on. She looked at the cutting board. The knife was missing. Now she was paralyzed with fear; someone was in the house, and it was likely not Dora.
Then Christine heard a scratchy, squealing sound coming from the downstairs office. It sounded like the computer was malfunctioning. She turned and looked down the hallway, past the bathroom, toward the office. The door was to the left, so she could not see inside. She would need to walk down there. But first, she needed her cellphone because something was wrong. More than likely there was a simple explanation for what was happening; Dora was probably absorbed in a computer game and had the knife to cut an apple.
Christine retrieved the phone from her work bag and walked down the hallway until she reached the office door. When she looked inside the room, lit only by the light radiating from the computer screen, she almost dropped the phone. There were two people inside. One looked like Dora, sitting at the computer, but she could not tell for sure because the hood of the sweatshirt she was wearing hid her face. But more disturbing was the tall, dark figure in the room’s corner. She told herself that it was nothing more than shadows playing tricks on her eyes, making her think it was a man. The moonlight coming in through the window was forming shadows on the walls from the trees outside. But that was not what was causing what she was seeing. It was a man whose head almost reached the ceiling, and it was black—inky black. It moved like a person who was shifting his weight from one leg to the other, watching her.
Christine’s throat was tight and her voice shaky. “Dora, honey, are you okay?”
The person at the computer kept staring at the monitor.
Christine brought her phone up from her side and touched the dial pad icon. That simple act caused Dora to look at her with eyes that appeared to glow yellow from the computer screen’s light. She had dark circles around her eyes. It was as though she was wearing a mask, but she wasn’t.
“Give me the phone, mother.” Dora’s voice was not her own; it was deep, like a man’s. She stood up and began walking toward Christine.
That was when Christine noticed the knife in Dora’s hand. “Put the knife down; we’ll talk.” Christine’s hands quivered as she backed into the hallway. She could feel an icy coldness radiate from her daughter’s body. What kind of sickness was this?
Dora swatted the phone from Christine’s hand before she could complete the call to the police. Then she forced her mother against the wall with the strength of two men.
Christine felt the tip of the knife’s blade press against the side of her abdomen. The shadowman was now right behind Dora and fully formed. She saw the faceless man’s dark suit and the gray skin that clung to the bones of the emancipated thing. Terrified, she could barely speak. “Why are you doing this?”
“Because, mother, it is what we must do.”
At that moment, she felt the sharp blade break through her skin and penetrate her organs. She screamed. But before another scream could exit her throat, the bloody steel sliced it. Red blood was pumped through the severed artery and sprayed against the white wall.
Dora let loose of the body as it collapsed to the floor.
As the body lay on the carpet, dying, Slenderman spoke inside Dora’s head. “Well done, child. Your reward is close at hand.”