Kayla slammed a bottle of vodka down onto the kitchen table. The table was a round thing, wooden and solid. The kitchen was small, but bright and cozy with some dangling plants here and there.
Shaking, Kayla put together a drink for herself. For once she didn’t try and smile at me. She just squeezed out that lemon – then tipped the whole drink back.
Straight aways, making a face, she poured herself another one. Then she sat down, adjacent to me. She put her head in her hands, fingers running through her blonde streaked curls. Then she looked up at me. She was empty, haggard.
“I-” she started, but then was lost for words. She drew the vodka drink to herself.
“They’re here, that’s what it means,” I said flatly, unicorn in my lap. Wretchedly, it still comforted me. It felt like a survivor now, like me.
“Hon,” she said, voice trembling. “The police had that, the fact it’s here,” she took a deep inhale. “They gave it away.”
“To them,” I said stoically.
Kayla nodded, eyes shimmering with tears. “They’re here,” she croaked. “I thought – that if we left the city,” she picked up the vodka drink and tipped some back.
“It’s okay,” I said sternly, knowing that was the right thing to say.
It wasn’t. She burst into tears, sobbing. “It’s not!” she sobbed. She covered her mouth with a hand, tears trickling down her cheeks. Shaking, she drew a large breath. “I’ll get a security system,” she babbled. “I- we’ll figure something out. We can move.”
“Again?” I asked. “They’ll follow us.”
She tossed back her vodka with a gulp. “Nunavut or something,” she mumbled. Then she rose, still trembling. “Let’s go to bed. Sleep always helps. We will feel better tomorrow morning.”
I didn’t want to tell her that they almost always struck by night. I just nodded, stomach tight. I didn’t tell her that I still needed supper. What point was there?
Slowly, lights were switched on for us to walk upstairs to a small bedroom where she drew out blankets from the closet. Then, quite suddenly and haphazardly, Kayla put all the blankets away and announced that I would sleep in the bed next to her. I didn’t argue. I just put my pajamas on in the bathroom and brushed my teeth.
That night, I lay on my back with eyes wide open. The moonlight drifted in through the thin curtains. Kayla shifted and shifted. Finally, an hour later, she fell asleep.
I lay there and listened for the crick of the door. I listened, body tense with every bird chirp and cuckoo from outside. I listened, heart pounding in my throat and mouth turning dry. I checked the glowing clock by the bed, watching the time seemingly freeze – only to tick off a number every so often. It was agonizing. Then, three am struck.
I heard a footstep almost in time with the flickering change on the clock. I froze, every muscle tense. I gripped my hand in my pocket, clenching my keys that I had snuck into bed. I was going for the eyes this time. No hesitation. They wanted to send a message? So would I.
Soft, quiet, thumps were barely audible. The stairs creaked a warning. I hoped Kayla wouldn’t wake. She’d just get hurt and get in the way. No, this was my battle.
The footsteps stopped before the closed bedroom door. For three heartbeats, nothing. Then, the doorknob turned with a click. The door swung open – and squeaked oh so loudly.
Kayla gasped, sitting up in bed. With a grappling scramble, she flicked the light on from her bedside. Light glowed gently out from the lampstand near her side of the bed.
I Had sat up despite myself, and Kayla was gulping for air, looking from me to the opened door. “Stay there,” she whispered before picking up a beer bottle from beside her bed.
Then, as bravely as she could, she walked to the darkness of the corridor. The beer bottle was lifted as she switched on the lights in the hallway.
She yelped, then stepped back. She was frozen stiff, but then she shook herself. “There’s nothing!” she announced. Turning her back on the hallway in a stupid move, she announced to me with wild eyes “There’s nothing!”
Then she looked again into the hallway, as if to make sure.
“What did you see?” I asked, stepping out of the bed. I walked to her side. She glanced from me to the hallway.
“A man. He was wearing green. It- but he just vanished. Must have been a shadow,” she said, looking around once more.
I walked out into the hallway. I wished I could sense leftover energies, like some psychics could. What did that man want? I even walked to the spare room. The door was locked.
“They couldn’t have gone in there so quickly,” said Kayla tensely. “Come back to bed.”
I did. Again, we lay down. Kayla set the beer bottle back on the floor beside her – and there was the sound of tires crunching on the road. It stopped before our house.
“They’re here,” a male voice announced from the hallway.
Kayla leaped up. Bottle in hand, she stood by the bed, shaking all over. A shadow stepped out of the shadows and into our bedroom.
“They’re here,” the man repeated, and I saw an outline of a cloak on his form. “What are you going to do?”
I stepped out of the bed, the floor cold to my bare feet. Ice prickled over my skin. The moment had come. The final showdown – or so I hoped.
“Who are you?” asked Kayla. “What do you want?”
“I’m not with them, if that answers anything,” he said. “But you will need to decide fast.”
“I’m killing them,” I announced breathlessly, keys in hand and ready to scratch and maim.
“I won’t let you do that,” he said somberly. Downstairs, the front door softly clicked open. He whispered now. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to kill them,” I repeated.