Horror Suspense Fiction

“I can’t believe our credit card got hacked,” Kyra said. “Thanks for picking up the tab. The bank said we should get a new card soon, but until then we’re on a budget.”

“It’s no problem,” Cinia said, sipping her white wine and studying the people bustling about the elegant restaurant. “I wouldn’t miss our monthly dinner over a trifle like money.”

Kyra drank her wine and stared at Cinia. “I heard that everybody who got gas at the station outside of the neighborhood was hacked in the past six weeks, except you and Harlan. We’ve all learned to pay inside. How are you so fortunate?”

Cinia shrugged. “Good luck, I guess.”

Kyra sat her glass down. “You have the best luck of anybody I know. Nothing bad ever happens to you. You have a gorgeous husband who is a successful surgeon, a model home, a great car, beautiful clothes and jewelry, and the most recent version of every kind of tech on the market. You never get sick, you never fight with your family, and you never have money problems. You never even get headaches, PMS, or a runny nose.” She raised her glass to drain the last of the wine. “You don’t even have to be burdened with a job. You must give me the name of your crossroads demon.”

Cinia slammed the glass on the table. “What?”

Kyra’s eyes widened. “Why did you do that?”

“What did you just say?”

“I said you must tell me you’re secret,” Kyra picked up her cloth napkin and pressed it to Cinia’s hand. “The glass broke and you’re bleeding!”

Cinia looked down at the small shard of glass protruding from her palm. She winced as she pulled it out and pressed the white fabric against her bloody palm. “I’m sorry. I thought you said something else.”

“What did you think I said?”

Cinia looked at the blood dripping from the napkin to the white lace tablecloth. “It doesn’t matter. I’m fine.” She flagged down the waiter, pulling her credit card from her small clutch bag. “Can I pay the check?”

Kyra checked her watch. “I better get home. Drake is at the masonic lodge for his monthly meeting tonight, so I want to do some cleaning while the house is quiet.” She smiled. “What’s on the agenda for you tonight? Do you have a yoga class, or are you free? What does a perfect person do with a perfect life?”

“How dare you talk to me like that!” Cinia hissed.

“What are you talking about?”

“I sacrificed everything for this life. That’s an offensive question.”

Kyra’s eyes narrowed. “How is it offensive to ask how you spend your evenings while your husband is at work? I’m trying to show interest in your life.” She stood up. “Forget it. Real people have jobs, responsibilities, and other chores and errands to balance. Thanks for dinner.” She walked away.

The waiter returned, handing Cinia the card. “Your card was declined, ma’am. Do you have an alternate method of payment?”


“Yes ma’am, I tried it three times. It came up with an error saying the account number doesn’t exist.”

“That’s impossible!”

“How will you be paying this, ma’am?” the waiter asked impatiently.

Cinia opened her purse and pulled out a $100 bill. “Keep the change for the tip.”

He nodded and walked away.

Cinia looked around the restaurant. Kyra came directly from work, so they ate early and the dinner crowd was picking up. She checked her hand and, satisfied that the bleeding had stopped, folded the napkin and walked out of the restaurant quickly, praying that nobody would see her red cheeks or the gash on her hand.

How dare you pray. Nobody can hear you.

Her head throbbed as she clicked open her Jaguar and sank into the leather seat. Kyra was right; she was off today. What was happening? She woke up this morning from a horrible nightmare of being trapped in flames, she was so bloated that all of her clothes and rings were too tight, and her brand-new car choked when she started it up to meet Kyra for dinner. She kept hearing Kyra wrong, her credit card was declined, and now she had a headache. She was definitely having a bad day, something that hadn’t happened since that night eight years ago. 

That’s because your payment is due.

She was also having unpleasant, intrusive thoughts.

Cinia drove home and stumbled into the house.

“Mia, bring some warm milk to the master suite,” she shouted as she drug her aching body up the stairs, stripping off her designer dress and high-heeled shoes. She gasped when she stepped into the bedroom and caught her reflection in the full-length mirror beside the door. The trunk of her body was covered in a bubbling, red rash.

How had that happened? Her skin was perfectly porcelain when she got out of the shower after her workout this morning. She rushed to the bathroom and washed her face, shocked to see dark rings around her bloodshot eyes.

“Ma’am, what happened to you?” Mia asked, standing in the doorway.

Cinia grabbed a silk bathrobe off the hanger on the back of the bathroom door and wrapped it around her. “It’s workout injuries. I’m fine.”

“Should I call Jarlan?”

Cinia clenched at the informal reference to her husband. Why did he allow the household help to call him by his first name? “That isn’t necessary. Leave the milk on the bedside table and you’re excused for the evening.”

Mia nodded, gently set the glass on the bedside table, and silently walked out of the room. Cinia opened the medicine cabinet and studied the makeup, brushes, and cotton tips in the medicine cabinet. Of course, they didn’t have any over-the-counter medication. They never got hurt or sick. There wasn’t even a box of bandages in the house.

Cinia walked to the dresser, pulled out silk pajamas, and put them on. No need for lacy lingerie tonight, since Jarlan was on duty at the hospital. At least she could be comfortable, even if she was sick and lonely. She stumbled back to the bed, drank her milk, and pulled the soft sheets up to her chin.

An alarm pierced her awake. She jolted upright coughing on smoke. The red numbers on her alarm clock read 2:34 a.m. What was happening? Her phone rang.

“This is Alarm Central. We have a fire alarm at your residence. Fire responders are on the way.”

Cinia grabbed her robe and ran through the smoke-filled house, stumbling out of the door where a large truck screeched into the perfect lawn. The kitchen was in flames, and Mia was screaming in the yard as a fire officer held her still.

“You can burn in hell where you belong.”

Payment is due, and you know the price.

Mia broke free of the firefighter and lunged at Cinia, knocking her to the ground.

“You’re a bad woman! You sold your soul to demons and now they are coming for you! You’re going to burn!”

A large man pulled Mia off Cinia, dragging the woman to a police car parked on the street. Cinia squinted in the red and blue flashing lights. Black smoke poured out of the window, choking the night in flames. 

Cinia stood and stumbled to the front door. She grabbed her remote key from the bowl on the marble table next to the door and walked to her car in the driveway.

“Ma’am, where are you going?” one of the fire officers shouted. “You need to give a statement!”

She jumped in the car, threw in gear, and squealed out of the driveway. There was only one explanation for this, and she meant to set it right. Every term of their deal had been violated in less than twenty-four hours. There was only one explanation: another negotiation was in order.

Come to me.

Cinia drove in a blind rage, the streetlights and signs blurring in her vision until she passed from the suburbs into the dark country beyond the city limits. She didn’t slow until she reached the crossroads in the deserted county fifty miles from the city.

I didn’t come prepared.

It didn’t matter. She had secured her fortune. Surely, she could find something else to offer to keep it. She was, after all, the luckiest woman in the world.

Or so they said.

Cinia parked the car beside a collapsing wooden fence and got out, her bedroom shoes crunching against the dirt and gravel. She pulled her robe tighter as she stepped to the center of the crossroads.

“Abiram, I heard your summon. What do you want?”

A tall, dark man walked out of the darkness, his red eyes melting to black against his pale skin and black suit. “If the pain doesn’t speak, the flames do.”

“What do you want?” Cinia asked. “It’s only been eight years. We had a deal. No pain for life and I have my whole life in front of me.”

“Your whole life is mine dear, and your bill is due now.”

“Says who?”

Abiram laughed and looked up at the stars glowing over them. “Says the collapsing nature of the universe.”

“You promised me a lifetime of luck.”

“You’ve had it for eight years, which is generous. If you recall, you agreed to whatever I wanted as long as you got Jarlan and the charmed life you longed for. No more pain. No more struggle. A life of luxury, luck, and ease.” He leaned over her, his hot breath scorching her face. “Your future is mine and it’s over, Cinia. I have another contract pending, and I need your space.”

“What do you mean, you need my space? There’s room for everybody! That’s what you said.”

“There’s room enough for everybody in their own time and turn, my dear. The fire has come for you. I tried to do this quickly. I even warned you. Now all that’s left is the way of pain.”

“What do you mean?”

Two pinpricks of light glowed in the distance. The ground rumbled.

Cinia’s eyes widened. “No.”

“You must burn in the fire that consumed other peoples’ luck. You’re done rising from the ashes of other people’s misfortune. You must restore the balance.”

Cinia turned on Abiram. “You have no right to collect now!”

Abiram laughed, his sharp teeth glowing white in the full moonlight. “You traded your soul for an easy life. To tip the scales is to burn your soul. Time is up.” A gust of wind blew through the crossroads, wrapping Abiram in black smoke and dissipating into the starry sky.

Cinia stared at the lights bearing down on her. She tried to run, but her feet were stuck to the ground, held in place by lingering smoke. The lights grew brighter as the horn of the truck blasted in the silent night air. Metal clanged as it crashed in the crunch of bone and exploded. Another wind blew, sweeping the flames, bone, body, metal, and smoke into the sky with Abiram.

Kyra stumbled into the kitchen the next morning, rubbing her eyes as she clicked open a news alert about her friend’s house burning to the ground the previous night. First responders were alarmed that they were unable to put out the unquenchable flames, as the kitchen fire should have been easily contained. What was more mysterious was that Cinia fled the scene, and her Jaguar was found in the country fifty miles out of town, spawning a local mystery that dissected Cinia’s perfect life. The phone rang. Kyra tapped it.


“I’m free now,” Abiram said. “We have a deal.”

Kyra smiled at the first rays of sunlight flowing through her kitchen window, welcoming the first day of her new life. 

January 12, 2023 00:46

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Christina Gould
16:11 Jan 18, 2023

I did not want that story to end! Wow, great writing!


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16:05 Jan 17, 2023

Great story! I love the theme of making self-serving deals without fully considering the cost. Is it really worth it in the end? I guess Kyra is about to find out for herself. I'm looking forward to reading your other stories.


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Sherri Moorer
19:11 Jan 12, 2023

Thanks, it's amazing how little things like that can get through all the checks and even Grammarly! Glad you liked the story.


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Lily Finch
03:50 Jan 12, 2023

This story is interesting and sinister. The characters who are supposed to be friends are not friends. Amazing what people will do for an easy fix in life. Screw over another person. Sell your soul for success and luck in life. I have one suggestion: lingerie tonight, since Jarlan was on duty at the hospital tonight - I would drop the second tonight in this sentence. Thanks for a great read. LF6


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