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Horror Thriller Fiction

           I want that woman locked up. She is a menace and she’s ruined my life. The sign in front read Mrs. Lovett, but you can bet that’s probably not her real name. She’s the reason I’m in here, telling this stupid story for the millionth time. I don’t know why people keep asking me to retell it just to call me a liar. I swear to you, it’s the truth. It was that damn Lovett woman. She should be in here, not me.

           A few months ago, the carnival came to town like it does every year. Nothing good ever happens around here, so everyone always jumps at the chance to go. It was a Friday. After I finished my shift at The Pancake House, I picked up Julie and we went. The night started out great. The weather was clear, with just a slight chill in the air. We got cotton candy, and we did that thing where you shoot water into the clown’s mouth. I won her a stuffed animal from the pellet gun game. I still think the one where you throw ping pong balls into the little jars is rigged.

           We found her by a hotdog cart. It was a bright green, round tent. Like the ones you see in cartoons, used by circuses. The door flap was bright red. Standing beside it was a sign, nailed to a wooden post that read “Mrs. Lovett” in fancy white letters. Below that, it read “Psychic. Palms, tarot cards, fortunes told.”

           “Let’s go get a reading,” Julie excitedly said as she grabbed my hand to lead me inside.

           “Those things are all fake,” I told her. “They tell everyone the same thing. That’s why it’s in a tent and not outside.”

           “Oh, c’mon. Aren’t you a little curious?”

           Julie is the most beautiful girl you’ll ever meet, and I have no idea what she saw in me. So, of course, it’s impossible to say no to her. “Alright,” I said. “But I still say this is gonna be dumb.”

           I pulled back the bright red door flap to the tent and let Julie walk through. The inside was lit by a dim lightbulb that hung from the sloping canvas roof. A large, bearded man with a black leather jacket stood silently on the far side, with his arms folded. In the center of the space stood a round table, covered in a heavy tablecloth with gold designs throughout it and obvious tassels hanging down. At the center of the table was what I’m sure we were expected to think was a real crystal ball. Looking up at us was an old woman, dressed in headscarves with dangling gold coins, a long dress, and other stereotypical gypsy garb. She looked like she came right out of an old movie. I’m not even sure actual gypsies wear that stuff.

           “Tarot and Palm are $20, and fortune is $25,” was all she said as she motioned to the chair on the opposite side of the table from her. No hello or ‘Welcome to my parlor,’ just the prices.

           “Go ahead,” I said to Julie, pulling out the chair for her. She always liked it when I did that.

           “Fortune. Please,” she said excitedly as she took her seat. I took the cash out of my wallet and put it on the table.

           “Okay,” said the old woman, taking the money and looking up at me. She had these light gray eyes that seemed to disappear. She reached down, grabbed a white marble mortar and pestle, and set them on the table. Then she reached down again and grabbed a mason jar of tiny black seeds, about the size of the sesame seeds that come on a hamburger bun. She flipped up the top and poured a small handful into the mortar. Then she picked up the pestle and started to crush them. We watched her patiently as she made theater for us.

           The large, bearded man in the back, remained motionless with his arms crossed.

           As Mrs. Lovett crushed and stirred the mortar and pestle, I started to get impatient and shifted my feet. Julie just smiled and curiously watched her make powder of the seeds.

           The old woman dumped the crushed seeds into a small Styrofoam cup. Then reached over for an electric teapot and filled it with steaming water. “Drink,” she said as she handed the steaming cup to Julie.

           She put her adorable little lips to it and drank. Then shuttered, made a scrunched-up face, and said, “It’s horrible.”

           “I know,” said Mrs. Lovett. “Drink.”

           Julie closed her eyes and drank the rest of the cup, coughing and grabbing her nose afterward. Mrs. Lovett took the cup back from her and looked inside.

           “Well?” asked Julie, now impatient.

           Mrs. Lovett looked up from the cup, paused for a moment, and said, “The two of you won’t last.”

           Julie’s eyes widened and her mouth dropped.

           “What is this?” I shouted at her. “What the hell are you trying to do to her.”

           “She asked for a fortune and I told her what I see,” she yelled back.

           “That’s ridiculous. You’re a fraud! Give me back my money!”

           “Sean. Let’s just go,” said Julie, grabbing my arm.

           “She can’t do this to you.” I turned towards the old woman and yelled, “Give me back my money and apologize!”

           The large, bearded man all of a sudden appeared in front of me. “No refunds,” he said in a heavy voice that sounded like he smoked three packs a day. Up close, he looked about as solid as a tree.

           The old woman stood up and shouted at us, “You will see disaster. And there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. You paid for your fortune and that’s the future I see! I don’t make a habit of lying to my customers. Now, get out!”

           “Sean, please. Let’s just go,” pleaded Julie.

           “Listen to your girlfriend,” said the humorless tree in front of me, blocking my way to that woman.

           “No. Not until we get our money back,” I told both of them.

           Mrs. Lovett grabbed a handful of some powder, said the word, “Kalo,” and blew the crap right in my face. It stung my eyes and clung to the inside of my nose and I couldn’t get it out.

           “That’s assault!” I shouted and pointed at her. “I can have you put in jail!”

           “Please, Sean. Let’s just go,” said Julie.

           “Leave,” said the tree.

           So, I lead Julie out. I opened the bright red door flap, let Julie pass through then followed behind her. That’s when everything went black.

           I don’t mean black as in I was knocked out or went blind. I mean to say, black like everything disappeared and blackness was left in its place. As if it was all just a picture jigsaw puzzle on a black table and someone came and stole the pieces. Julie, Mrs. Lovett’s tent, the booths, and lights of the carnival had all disappeared. And there was only blackness in their place.

           I had to have been standing on something, but even the ground was just gone. I could still see myself, so I know I wasn’t blind. I thought I might’ve been dreaming, at first. “Julie?” I called. “Anyone?” I listened for a response, but nothing came back. I started to get that weird feeling in my stomach.

           I bumped into something hard and stumbled. I stretched out my hands and touched whatever I hit. It felt wooden and cut square. “What the hell happened?” I said to myself. I started walking forward and something hard hit me right in the shin and I fell forward, hitting the ground hard. Or it must’ve been the ground. It was all black.

“Who’s there?” I shouted, angrily. But nothing came back.

I brought myself onto all fours when someone kicked me in the jaw. Or it felt like it. I spat out a bloody tooth and my gums and lip swelled in pain.

I guarded my jaw and shouted, “If I find you, I’m going to kill you!” I swung wildly into the darkness but didn’t hit anything. My fist just flew through the air in vain.

The air laughed at me and seemed to come from all around.

I brought myself to my feet and demanded, “Stop hiding! Where are you?” Whoever it was, wouldn’t stop. And I felt cold metal pierce into my back and through my kidney. I opened my mouth to scream, but the pain stopped me. And I fell to my knees. When I felt the warm liquid soak the back of my shirt, I brought a hand around and pulled it back, covered in blood.

My hands shook with fear and I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid to make a sound, even though I knew it didn’t matter. Whoever it was, knew where I was, and it was me who couldn’t see them. And I knew they could kill me whenever they wanted.

Every slight movement brought pain from the stab wound in my back and they laughed. They wouldn’t stop laughing.

Something that felt like a knife sliced open my cheek and I could feel the blood trickle down my face and the shattered glass air blow across the open wound.

“Please!” I pleaded at the top of my lungs. “Stop,” I pleaded with tears. But all I heard was laughter. Then I don’t know what I was thinking. But I picked a direction, and I ran. I ran as fast as I could run. I ran in mortal terror of something that I couldn’t see. Then I ran head-first into something that felt like it tried to split my skull open as surely as an ax splitting wood. I dropped to my knees and held my head in agony. I could see blood, smeared all over my arms.

As I laid curled up and holding my head on the ground in blood and tears, I kept repeating, “Don’t kill me. Please, don’t kill me,” not knowing what else to do.

That woman, Mrs. Lovett had cursed me. She’d sent me to Hell or a place close to it. And I was about to be tortured and killed.

Julie’s voice came to me, from off in the distance. It was nothing more than a quiet, “Sean?”

“Julie!” I called out. “Julie, where are you? We have to get out of here!”

“I’m here, Sean! What’s going on? Where are you?” Her voice shook and sounded scared.

“Everything will be okay, Julie. Stay right there and I’ll find you!”

It was all still black, but I could hear where she was. I ran straight towards where her voice came from. “Don’t worry, Julie. I’m coming!”

Then, as if pulling back a curtain, whatever had been laughing and attacking me, now stood right in front of me. And it looked like the large, bearded man from inside the tent. “What’s wrong, Sean? You look upset,” he said in Julie’s voice.

“What the hell is wrong with you people?” I yelled as I backed up. “What have you done to me? Where am I?”

I could see the knife in his hand. It shone with light from somewhere that I couldn’t see. He’d been playing with me. Eventually, he’ll get tired and kill me. I wished he’d hurry up.

His searing eyes focused on me and he laughed.

“Shut up!” I demanded. “Stop laughing at me!”

Then as suddenly as if someone had opened the starting gate, he raised the knife and ran at me. As he brought it down onto my chest, I caught his hand in both of mine and his momentum sent us both to the ground. The impact shook the knife from his hands, and I grabbed it. Then without thinking, I jammed it into his chest as hard as I could, screaming and wishing I could shoot death from my eyes.

He shrieked in Julie’s voice. My god, I hated that sound. Then, everything came back, all at once. The booths, the lights, the tents, and the ground all reappeared, replacing the blackness. A small crowd started to gather around me and murmured to each other. They looked down at me horrified and put their hands over their mouths. They pointed and swore. They pulled out their phones to record me.

I looked down and found that the bearded man had been replaced by Julie. It was now her, laying under me. The knife was still in her chest. The expression on her face when she looked up at me burned into my brain like a cattle brand. I see it every time I close my eyes at night. I should’ve told her I was sorry. I should’ve told her that I loved her. Instead, I just stared at her in shock until she bled out and died.

Everything after that felt like a swirl of meaningless noise. Somewhere in the jumble, the cops came and arrested me for the murder of my girlfriend and I’ve been sitting in jail ever since. Now, I’ve told you my story. Call me a liar. I don’t care. Just make her pay for what she did. And leave me alone.

May 10, 2021 19:31

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