Fiction Horror Thriller

This story contains sensitive content

*This story contains references to mental health, substance abuse, and suicide. *

It was nearly midnight when Crystal stepped out of work that night, exhausted both physically and mentally. She had not been serving at the steakhouse for long now, but the hatred for the position had seeped in before the interview had even begun. Falling from the top of one’s dreams is never an easy thing to endure she supposed. Pickings were slim, though, and the bills did not stop rolling in just because her life was not going the way she had planned. For now, all she could do was make the most of the hand she had been dealt.

When she entered the apartment that still hurt to call home, she instantly sighed at the disarray suddenly surrounding her. Kicking her shoes off at the door, she trudged into the kitchen and slung her purse onto the counter. She dug around at the bottom for a moment before taking out an orange bottle with her name printed in bold letters across it. Dumping out a few pills into her hand, she threw them to the back of her tongue before stepping over to the dish filled sink; yet when she turned the faucet not a drop of water presented itself. She grimaced as she swallowed the pills dry, coughing as they scraped down her esophagus.

Irritation growing by the minute as she began trying to clean up, she heard a groan come from the bedroom. Moving to the doorway, she peeked in at the lump under the covers of the bed. The only light was that coming from the kitchen, casting out shadows and distorting the contents of the room. Another groan sounded out, louder this time.

“Matt?” she called out to her husband, leaning in closer. “Are you okay?”

A few seconds went by in silence. She turned to leave, assuming he had just been having a bad dream, when he spoke up from the darkness. “My head hurts,” he cried out quietly.

She inhaled deeply through her nose, her patience for this dissipating. Matt had always struggled with depression, but lately it had consumed him. They had lost their restaurant first, and consequently their house shortly after. It was like playing that old board game everyone used to love, The Game of Life, and getting sent back to start. Only they could not simply pack up the game and stow it away in the closet. They had to keep on living it.

For months she had tried to coddle him, then tried to give him space. Nothing seemed to get through to him, though. At this point, she was out of ideas on how to motivate him to help her patch their quickly sinking ship other than using some tough love.

“You can’t do this forever, Matt. Every day you’re faking migraines because you feel guilty. I know it’s been tough, but we have got to move forward,” she insisted, sounding much more pleading than she wished to.

“I’m not faking. Besides, what’s the point? Everything was perfect, exactly where we wanted it. Now it’s just gone,” he replied in the same robotic, misery-filled tone he used nowadays. “How did we lose it all?”

“It’s called a recession,” she responded dryly, massaging her temples in frustration.

“You don’t even care! Not about me or anything else!” he yelled out aggressively.

Her lips curled back in anger. “I need help here, Matt! How long are you going to let this all fall on me while you lay in that bed? You won’t even get up long enough to go pay the water bill, let alone look for a job! You’re the one who doesn’t care!”

“Ughhhh!” he moaned hideously, the blankets thrashing around on the mattress. “Just get out! The light is killing me!”

She slammed the door without another word. For a while, all she could do was pace back and forth outside the bedroom, digging her nails into her palms as she tried to calm down. When that did nothing to ease the boiling in her blood, she aimed her fury at the coffee table. Kicking it completely over, she watched half empty soda cans and takeout trays fly across the room. Limping harshly, she stormed across the apartment and sent a couple more pills down the hatch.


The next morning, she awoke to knocking. At first it was a few light taps, then quickly turned to pounding. She lifted herself groggily from the couch, holding her spinning head as she leaned up against the door to look through the peephole. Outside was Matt’s nosy sister, Sandra, and her overly religious husband. This duo was just what she needed to start the day.

She swung open the door, attempting a sunshiny greeting and inviting them in. “I tried to call you,” Sandra apologized as she looked her over in that judgmental way that Crystal despised. “A few times,” she added as she scanned the apartment wearing the same expression.

In truth, she did not have the vaguest idea where her phone was. After her and Matt’s fight, Crystal remembered very little from the night before. She cleared the couch off, encouraging them to have a seat while glancing down at the scattered trash and old soda now soaked into the carpet.

“Sorry, had a bit of a rough night,” she apologized half-heartedly, eager to make her retreat. “Just give me a second, and I’ll go let Matt know you’re here.”

Sandra’s face wrinkled up in distress, gaping up at her in shock. Crystal frowned, suspecting she was disgusted by the state of the place, not that she could blame her. She quickly excused herself and slipped away into the bedroom before she had to hear whatever incoming comments Sandra was surely about to dish out. Moving over the bed, she reached out to gently shake Matt awake. She froze when she suddenly heard Sandra’s voice hissing hysterically in the next room.

“I told you we should have checked on her sooner! She’s completely out of her mind!” she screeched frantically, somewhere in between crying and hyperventilating.

“What the hell is she going on about?” Crystal asked herself quietly as she hovered over the bed. Then, all at once, it hit her. She gazed down, abruptly realizing there was nothing but air under the blankets in front of her. “M-Matt?” she stammered as the words of his sister fell heavily in her ears.  

She retracted her hands in fear as blood began to drip from her fingertips. Falling backwards against the wall, she found it was splattered everywhere: the mattress, the lamp shade, the picture frame on their bedside table. Matt smiled brightly from across the room with his arm wrapped around her as blood trickled down both their faces.

A gunshot went off as if right next to her ear. She whimpered, whipping her head back and forth as it continued to play on a loop in her head. When she tried to plug her ears, she found it only grew more deafening. She began to scream, desperately trying to crawl away when the light suddenly cut on from above her and all fell quiet.

Slowly, she moved her hands away from her ears as she tried to catch her breath. The blood had disappeared; however, the bed was still empty. The only ones in the room were Sandra and her husband, both appearing as equally disturbed as she felt on the inside. Gaping up at them with tears rolling down her face, she asked the question she had forgotten she knew the answer to. “Matt’s dead, isn’t he?”

October 13, 2022 01:22

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