Fiction Thriller Mystery

*TW: Mentions of smoking*

The crackling of the record player woke the morning. Patsy Cline's deep, smooth voice glistened through the young woman's ears as she moved the needle over the turning black disc.

    "Crazy... I'm crazy... for feeling..." Her voice filled the room with a content intention.

Despite her leggy height, her orange hair reached no farther than her shoulder blades and she positioned the strands in a bun-type up do. She checked her reflection in the mirror. Her white nightie skimmed the sides of her small breasts, cutting off at the ankle.

The young woman was conceited as she continued to dance around the room, listening to the last few seconds of the beautiful Patsy Cline. The record ended with a crisp, making the air feel alone again. She faced her mirror again, this time, staring at her marble, blue eyes.

Annalise Booker was a young 26 year old woman with a high-minded attitude. Despite her elegant voice and body, grace was never an attainable trait for her. She was quite aware of this but never cared to express herself in any different way. Annalise pulled a tight, red dress over her hips, shifting her torso to adjust it. She latched a white and silver belt above the pelvis and a pentagon shaped pair of earrings drooped from her small ears, swinging with every lean. Annalise prepared to head out when she suddenly halted from a knock at the front door.

The sun radiated the hallway. Annalise put on her shoes while the heat hit her ankles. Her shoes looked like bowler shoes with a little heel extending from the back. They were velvety and the black stripe on the right of the shoe faded to a creamy white. She opened the door and a small envelope appeared in front of her eyes. The letter was polished and looked as if it was flattened by a hot iron. The wax seal unstuck with a tacky tearing sound and ANNALISE BOOKER, CHARLESTON, APT 6 was bolded in black on the front of the envelope. She pulled out the letter rushingly as if an urgent emergency was awaiting.

                                         June 7th, 1963

                       Tea Party hosted by Walker’s Tea Club

                             Marley Tea House, 6:00 PM

                                 Host Raymond Walker  

Annalise's hands shook with excitement. .

"THE Raymond Walker." She was speechless. For months now, she's wanted to visit the Tea House. It was a stunning building and Mr. Walker only invited the boldest and beautiful. The entire town knew him. He was a consistent business man that wooed every woman. Despite his eccentric mess of a personality, he was an accomplished man who owned the best selling herbal tea in America. Although, most times being eccentric got you closer to success than others.

Annalise slipped the mail under her door and carried on with her morning rituals, slowly sneaking on the streets of Charleston. People young and old passed her by. Handsome men in suits with buttons crossing their torso and women in distinct dresses. The tea party was close, only five hours away. She had her gown in mind and thankfully had it hanging from the hooks of her closet. A gold gown with flowers on the top seam, encircling her chest, exposing her pale shoulders, and a pair of white heels to increase her height, as if she wasn't tall enough as it is. After all, a high life was what she dreamed of, but these times with her money, it just would never be possible. Credit cards were out of the question... they were just nonexistent for a single female at this time. After a distance of walking, Annalise returned home, stretching her feet and toes in the process. She made a small bowl of Campbell's onion soup, slurping the hot and creamy liquid through her perched lips. She cleansed her hands and pulled the dress out of her armour. 

The record player spun again. A Sam Cooke tune ringed off the vinyl and Annalise tossed her body around to the beat while admiring the gold gown. She slowly danced the dress around her bottom, humming the melody out loud. She slipped the heels over her toes, feeling the stiffness against her foot. Her feet will hurt, but it will be worth every step. Annalise stepped out of her apartment, feeling the Summer evening coolness on the tips of her toes. A checker taxi stopped on the street for assistance and she handed the old driver a dollar. The driver smelted of cigars and his grey hair poofed from the sides of the head rest. The scent filled her nose, craving one more Embassy Gold. She interrupted her thoughts, attempting to stop the craving when the driver spoke up from his chair. 

    "Where to?" He asked in a scraggly voice.

     "Marley Tea House." She confirmed while touching her hair, making sure it's kept its place. After a smoky drive, she found herself in front of a church-like building with the words Marley Tea House engraved in stone.

She was greeted at the door by none other than Raymond Walker himself.

   "HELLO." He said boldly. He seemed to have little control of his arms, as they flung up and down in excitement. Annalise expected him to be firm and mannerly spoken. She assumed that was a business man’s aura but she was clearly quick to judge.

    "Good evening Mr. Walker." She said with respect.

    "Yes. Yes it is... Annalise Booker." He replied as he searched through a list of names on a piece of paper. The host bobbed his head up and down, searching for her name, almost appearing  like he was faking every movement. Mr. Walker peered over his sheet.  

    "I always remember faces and you for sure appear as an Annalise." He boasted with confidence.

    "Go in! Take a seat, socialize, whatever brings you to the tea house!' Raymond Walker gestured his arms toward the hall of round tables. He winked. A strange wink it was. Annalise understood the eccentric view of him now after meeting him. He was certainly the most eccentric man she has ever met. She couldn't decide whether to feel defeated by him or feel absolutely impressed with charm.

Chubby Checker played on a nearby speaker, and the hall filled with dancing ladies in flowy dresses. Some having a large flower below the breast and some resembling a perfect Cinderella impersonation. There were more women than men. Perhaps it was because they were the only ones firing up the dance floor. Despite the crowd, Annalise always held her head high and walked with her chest. A cling sounded in the room and the record was abruptly stopped. By the sound of it, the vinyl was for sure adopting a scratch by now.

    "Ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the Marley Tea House!"

The crowd applauded and even a few "woo's" managed to intertwine in the loud chatter.

    "Thank you all for coming! We will serve tea first and then the desserts. I hope it finds your taste buds well!"

Raymond's face especially lit up at the mention of desserts as if he wasn't the one making the speech. Clanging noises chimed from the circular tables and Annalise sat with two young women. One had an emerald dress on with a diamond necklace that hugged her neck tightly. The other women wore an orange belted white dress with little to no jewelry touching her skin.

    "Donna." The girl in green introduced, while holding her hand out in free air.

    "Susan... Su for short." The woman in orange stuttered for a moment.

    "You can call me Su I suppose." Annalise shook their hands.

    "Annalise. Ann for short. You can call me Ann I suppose." She replied, almost mocking Su with her high-minded humour.

The woman chuckled in a high tone, surprising Annalise. Looks like her mockery didn't quite reach its purpose.

    "What brings you to the tea house?" Donna proposes.

    "I've received a letter at my door." Annalise explained.

Donna and Su looked her in the eyes with bliss.

    "A letter?! Well you must be special!"

    "Yes... yes I am. Did you not receive one?" Her arrogance was getting the best of her but she couldn't care less. She just wanted to know about Raymond Walker and get close to him of course. 

    "Our husbands are good friends with Mr. Walker. They've worked within the law for a few years now." Su was preparing her sugar packet, shaking it about. Annalise made a glaring expression at their remark and quickly picked up her sugar packet. She never took sugar in her tea but luckily it was there for her fiddle purposes.

The tea pots were scattered amongst each bubble of people. An aqua teapot was planted down in the middle of their table. It was absolutely dashing with its gold rim outlining the top of the cup. Annalise looked over to Donna and Su. She noticed they have already started drinking their tea, making unnecessary sipping sounds between each lift of the cup. A waiter brushed by her shoulder and she managed to catch the young man's attention.

    "I have no tea cup. How do you expect me to be at a tea house with no tea." She said abruptly.

    "Yes. I understand. You are the one. Annalise Booker?" The waiter asked while studying her face.

    "Yes. I am Annalise Booker." The waiter moved in a little closer to her, trying to hear through the constant babble of the other guests.

   "Ahhh. Makes sense. Mr. Walker is preparing a special tea just for you. "   

Annalise's heart fluttered and she hoped her neighbours at the table overheard their conversation.

After a few moments, Raymond Walker made his way  through the aisle with just one cup of tea, while directing his eyes directly towards Annalise. She could finally admire his looks and style from the strained distance. A White blazer flowed over a pair of black satin pants. He added a black bowtie that night and it certainly brought his outfit to a complete ensemble. Mr. Walker had short, curly dark brown hair and resembled the body type of a middle aged man. After a gaze or two, he made it to her table.

    "Tea just for you Annalise."

    "Thank you. How generous of you!" She replied with excitement. As quick as he came, he left again. A strange man indeed. 

The porcelain cup was unlike those of her comrades across the table. Their cup’s resembled an ocean blue and hers radiating a luxurious gold, the same color as her twirly curvy dress. Annalise took a gulp of the tea. It was sweet... and strange... just like Mr. Walker. In fact, it was incredibly sweet and had a confusing, herbal smell. Donna and Su looked up Annalise.

   "You are one special lady Ann." They uttered, almost in unison.

After a few more sips, something felt unusual. The sweet tea gurgled in her stomach and she pressed her other hand against her abdomen. A painful ache fuelled her head and she struggled to think at a normal pace. After gazing at her stomach for some time, she raised her head to the guest behind the tea pot.

Donna and Su's faces begin to distort, creating a visual similar to that of Edvard Munch's paintings. Annalise clenched the bottom of the seat and twirled her body left and right, observing the other faces around her. They were all beginning to turn to horror. Some with eyes draping and some transitioning to a zombie-like state. Alarm set in as she attempted to stand on her pair of skinny heels.

    "Mr. Walker! Excuse me! Mr. Walker!" She yelled from the top of her lungs, straining her vocal cords until exhaustion. She scanned the room while everything turned red in sight. Despair hit as she let out a pitchy, nasally scream, making the headache double the pain inside. The holler broke her sight and slowly the redness began to fade.

Annalise found herself in the middle of the hall, crunched on her knees with her palms covering her ears like winter earmuffs. Her hands soaked with sweat and warmth swarmed her palms causing them to clam up. She looked up from her knees and found that the room was as quiet as the dead. After taking a closer look, all the guests collapsed on their tables. Their tea was spilt over their hands and their faces were currently invalid and unseeable.

Annalise shook with fear and was startled when a pair of black dress shoes clunked in front of her hands on the floor. She looked up. The white blazer looked all too familiar and the black bowtie now appeared slanted, whether it was the angle of her sight or the bowtie itself.

   "Mr. Walker?" Raymond glared down at her.

   "My my. You certainly are special Annalise Booker. "                         

January 10, 2022 18:09

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Hannah Barrick
20:05 Jan 20, 2022

Great story! Well done.


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Unknown User
22:53 Jan 20, 2022

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