“I don’t know what to tell him, Mal” Nancy said, shaking her head for the hundredth time that day. “He doesn’t listen to reason. I swear it’s worse than talking to a brick wall.”
Nancy stirred her hot chocolate, attempting to cool it down to a drinkable temperature. Tapping her fingers on top of the small, brown dining room table, she waited anxiously for Malorie’s response.
“I...I’m not really sure what to tell you, Nanc’. But I do think you should come to my house. I’m not sure why you went to the cabin. I don’t think that’s a good place to be alone right now.”
Nancy frowned. It wasn’t the response she wanted to hear from her best friend. Why couldn’t she just say Nancy was right and that Matt was the worst of the worst. A complete scumbag that could crawl into the blackest hole in the world and vanish forever. She stood up and grabbed the container of whipped topping from the fridge, taking it back to the table with her.
“Why don’t you come out to the cabin with me, Mal? I could use some company right now,” Nancy said, spraying an oversized dollop of Reddi-wip onto her hot beverage.
“You know I can’t do that. We are going on a family vacation tomorrow. I’ll be back on Monday and then we can meet up.”
Nancy pouted silently. “Oh fine. Well, talk to me about something else. I need to take my mind off it.”
“Did you hear about Debbie Ho—”
Nancy pulled the phone closer to her ear. “Malorie? You still there?” The cell phone beeped a few times, indicating the end of the call. Navigating to her recent calls tab, Nancy clicked on her friend’s name. She wasn’t getting out of this much-needed conversation that easily. The phone rang until Malorie’s familiar voicemail chirped.
“Hey missy, charge your phone and give me a call back ASAP!” Nancy ended the call, setting her phone down next to the hot cocoa. Raising the mug, she took a sip of her drink. The whipped topping helped negate some of the burn, but it was still too hot to drink.
“Ugghh” Nancy groaned. She thought about Matt, who was probably lounging in his boxers watching the football game and eating an entire pizza by himself. Things had been going so well. She wasn’t sure where she messed up. Or he messed up. It seemed like such a mess. I just need a good night of sleep, she thought.
Nancy got up to close the kitchen blinds. She noticed all the dead flies on the window sill and made a mental note to clean it in the morning. She then checked the two doors of the cabin, making sure to lock them both. It was a mental safety thing, she didn’t imagine any bears would break in, let alone people. She was in the middle of nowhere all alone after all.
Making her way back to the table, she reached for her phone when she noticed something that made the hair on the back of her neck stand up.
The whipped topping had dissolved itself enough to form the warning in the center of the rainbow mug. Petrified in place, she debated running for her life or turning with the most powerful hook she could muster with her small frame. Snatching her phone, she twisted as quickly as she could, taking a few steps back as she did so.
Nothing was there.
Air escaped her mouth, her breath making itself known as a visible, white vapor. It definitely wasn’t cold in here. She made sure to set the thermostat to 74 degrees in anticipation of a cold night in the woods. She continued her steady breathing until she could no longer see it.
“I don’t know what’s going on here, but I want no part of it!” Nancy shouted, trying to scare away the fear that enveloped her. There was no way she would be staying the night here after that. She grabbed the keys from the hook on the wall and her purse sitting by the doorway and made her way out to her car. The keys jingled together as she pressed the unlock button on the key fob, but there came no response from the car.
“No, please no. Why now, oh please, no,” she muttered, as she opened the door to the car. She pressed her foot to the break and pushed the start button. Once again, the car ignored her request to work. “Why won’t you work!” she screamed, now smashing her index finger into the button repeatedly.
Flickering lights from the cabin distracted Nancy from her rage. The intervals weren’t steady either. If Nancy had known morse code, she may have tried to figure out if there was any meaning behind the periods of light and dark. However, it was just terror that registered in her brain. After an incomprehensible amount of time, the lights completely turned off. After a few more seconds, the front porch light flickered a few times before staying lit. The yellow glow revealed a shadow underneath it. Despite the brightness of the front porch light, the only detail Nancy could discern was that of a human. She couldn’t make out any details other than blurry darkness. The haunting glow of two purple eyes froze her in place, rendering her as capable as a bag of flour. And then the world went black.
. . .
“Nancy, baby, wake up. It’s just a dream.”
Nancy awoke to Matt holding her in his arms. She found herself lying in their bed covered in a heavy layer of sweat. “Oh Matt, I just had the most terrifying dream. It felt so real, too.” She burrowed her head into the chest of her husband, finding comfort in the warmth of their embrace.
“You’re safe now, Nanc’. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
Nancy felt warm tears pour down her cheeks. All the frustrations with her husband now seemed unimportant. She could forgive him. He could change. She could even change a few things, she knew that. No relationship is perfect. She knew her friends hid their dirty laundry too. False pretenses on social media had simply played with her mind. “I forgive you, Matt. I know we can get through this,” she said, her head still buried in safety.
“No, Nancy. I don’t think we can. You aren’t enough anymore. Why do you think I did all that I did? Because you weren’t pretty enough? No.” Nancy heard a soft, sinister chuckle from above her. “You are completely loony, Nancy. The problem is you and always has been.”
Pushing away from her husband, Nancy raised her tear-stained face and looked at the man she loved. His eyes were no longer the ice blue charms she first fell in love with. They now glowed purple. Matt’s head started convulsing violently while his body remained perfectly in place. His hair grew long and his nose became short and button-like. Nancy now faced Malorie, her best friend since kindergarten.
“Do you actually think my phone died? Of course it didn’t, you stupid girl. I couldn’t stand one more second listening to your shrill, needy voice.” Malorie’s body, or whoever’s body it was, started to float above the bed. The legs remained crisscrossed and the arms hung limply to the side. “The problem is you. It always has been you. Your ignorance corrupts anybody you curse with your presence.” The voice of Malorie started to rise. “You’re worthless, Nancy! The whole world is better off without you!”
The body dropped back onto the bed, bursting into millions of inky black particles. A cold voice filled the air. “Enjoy eternal isolation.”
. . .
Glowing lights filled the mountainside as they escaped from the cozy cabin windows. The antique door hung wide open on its trusty hinges, a welcoming sight to any creature attempting to escape the freezing weather. Next to the cabin sat a white, modern automobile, its engine purring like a young kitten. Inside of it, a woman with curly blonde hair and a fair complexion wept, her head pressed against the steering wheel. Her body trembled, and her fingers fidgeted as they laid on her lap.
She was alone in the woods.