“Please, please don’t do this. I swear I won’t tell anyone you were here,” the woman begged, tears streaming down her face. Who was she? I was still trying to identify her when I heard a lilting laugh from across the room. I turned and saw a hooded figure pouring the contents of a can around the room. A pungent smell hit me and almost knocked me out. Gasoline. The hooded person was going to burn the place down! I tried to move to the woman but I couldn’t lift my legs. Calling out to her proved to be just as futile. It was almost as if she couldn’t see or hear me. Maybe I was invisible? Would I burn if I was invisible?
The woman’s screams snapped me out of my thoughts and I looked down at my feet and saw the flames licking away at my shoes. I only saw but didn’t feel. The woman wasn’t so lucky though. I watched the flames engulf her, licking away at her long black curls as she fell to the ground, a rolling ball of flames, screaming helplessly in pain. I tried so hard to get to her but my feet just wouldn’t move and I watched helplessly as she died.
I woke up, panting for breath and drenched in sweat, even down to the roots of my crimson colored hair. Twice. I had had the same nightmare twice now and I still didn’t recognize the woman or her killer or the building. The smell of smoke clung to my clothes. That was new, 0r quite possibly a figment of my imagination. I pushed myself out of bed and went to the kitchen to get some water. The telly suddenly came to life and I stared at it, frozen, with the glass still on my lips.
“Fire fighters were able to save everyone in the building except for a woman who lived alone in Apartment 67B. The woman, Charmaine Kingsley was burnt beyond recognition and could only be identified through dental records,” a news reporter said on the screen.
A picture of a woman appeared on the screen next to the reporter with the caption ‘Charmaine Kingsley’ under it. I dropped my glass. Charmaine Kingsley was the same woman I had been seeing in my nightmares for the past two nights. Just as suddenly as it had turned on, the telly switched off and my home was silent again.
What the hell?
“Diana?” Miranda called to me from my office door. I looked up from the newspaper and smiled up at my sister.
“It is you!” she exclaimed, “I didn’t recognize you with a newspaper glued to your face!”
“Har-har,” I said dryly, folding the newspaper away into a drawer.
“Anything interesting in the news?” she asked.
“Just the story about that woman who died in the fire last night,” I replied solemnly.
“That was quite sad hey,” Miranda said.
“And there’s nothing in the newspaper about the person who started the fire,” I complained. Miranda looked at me like I had grown a second head.
“That’s because there isn’t one. A gas leak caused the fire,” she said.
“Who told you that?” I asked confused. I was pretty certain the fire was arson thanks to my dream or vision or whatever.
“I’m sure I heard it on the news or something,” she replied tucking a loose strand of her fiery red hair behind her ear. The red paint on her finger nails flashed bright as blood as she tucked some more loose strands away. I don’t know why she bothered, her hair always fell back anyway but she refused to tie it back and preferred to let it hang loose. I racked my brain trying to remember what the news anchor had said on last night’s broadcast. But then again, was I even sure I had seen that given how the television had somehow switched itself on and off.
“I’m going out to meet a client. I’ll be out for a while so I’ll see you later. Don’t forget about the ads for the realtors,” Miranda said blowing me a kiss.
“Sure,” I said distractedly. We both worked for an advertising agency, well I worked. Miranda owned it. I was the company’s graphic designer. I hadn’t painted anything in a while and I really needed the peace that comes with the quick strokes of a brush on paper so I went over to the Crafts room to work on the realtors’ ad. No one else was there so I sat by an easel and began to work. I was so deeply engrossed in my work that I didn’t realize that I had been painting for almost two hours.
“Oh my God!” someone screamed from the doorway to the Crafts room. I swiveled around and saw one of the interns standing there looking horrified and staring at my painting. I turned back to my painting wondering why she would look so horrified over an ad showing houses. I did a double take when I saw what I had painted.
Three houses stood together on a street, illuminated by a street lamp and a sliver of the moon. A road ran just beyond the houses and a man lay there wearing a police uniform, blood spurting from a hole that had been carved into his chest. A hooded figure stood over him with a dagger in one hand, while the other hand touched the hoodie showing nails painted blood red. The policeman stared up at his assailant, fear and pain etched clearly on his face.
I jumped to my feet, knocking over the easel and a tin of red paint which spilled over the canvas, almost covering the entire painting. I heard the sound of screaming and covered my ears but I couldn’t block it out. Then I realized the screams were coming from me and I clamped my hands over my mouth. More people had gathered by the door and the intern was filling them in on what she saw. For a reason I’m yet to understand, I picked up the painting and ran out of the room, pushing past them and I kept running even when I was out of the building. I came to an abrupt stop when I bumped into something solid. The impact knocked the wind out of me and I would have fallen to the ground had the person I had bumped into not caught me.
“Whoa there. Where’s the fire?” he said bracing me till I regained my balance enough to stand on my own. I opened my mouth to apologize to him but I froze before I could get a single word out. I knew him. I had just painted him with a cave-sized hole in his chest, bleeding to death.
The words were out of my mouth before I knew it. “You’re going to die tonight.”
He looked at me with a frown on his face. “Excuse me?”
“You’re in danger. Stay away from the red head.” The words sounded foreign, like someone else was using my mouth to say them while I stood helplessly.
The policeman just stood there scratching the bald spot on his head in bewilderment. I took off and ran from him before he decided I was a lunatic and had me committed. My apartment was close to work so within a few minutes I was back at home. I threw the painting on the floor and curled up on my bed, trying to fold myself away from the world, eyes screwed shut, but the gory painting kept haunting me.
‘Stay away from the red head. Stay away from the red head. Stay away from the red head…’
My eyes snapped open. I had said those words to the policeman. What red head was I talking about? Against my better judgment, I got up and picked up the painting from where I had tossed it.
The red paint had splattered the houses and crimson lines ran down their walls making it look like the houses were bleeding. The policeman was covered in streaks of red all over except for his shoes which still looked black and shiny. My gaze shifted to the hooded figure. A large splotch of red marked the left pocket of the grey hooded jersey that the assailant wore. I sat on the floor and looked closer. From the small build of the person, I confirmed that it was a woman. I couldn’t for the life of me tell why I had referred to her as the red head, the hood covered her hair completely. Except…
No. It couldn’t be.
I held the painting closer to my face and sure enough, there it was. A light stroke of red peeking from the hood. A single strand of fiery red hair.
My first thought was Miranda but I quickly dismissed it. Miranda wouldn’t even hurt a cockroach let alone stab a man to death. My head was starting to pound so I got up off the floor and went to the medicine cabinet for some pain killers. The pills combined with my weariness from running and everything else had me dropping off into a deep sleep.
A street sign loomed a couple of steps ahead of me, illuminated by the street lamp near it. It read Oakstreet. The name sounded familiar but I had no idea why I would be so far away from home especially at night. A harsh gust of wind blew, chilling me to the bone and I pulled the hood of my grey sweater onto my head and wrapped my arms around myself. I didn’t remember leaving the house or how I got to this particular road and all I wanted was to go back home to my nice, warm blankets. A sound from across the street caught my attention and I squinted in the dim light provided by the moon to see what it was. Apprehension choked me when I caught the gleam of a police badge on the man’s chest. I hurried over to him and upon hearing my footsteps he turned to look at me from his position on the ground.
I froze when I saw his face. It was the cop from my drawing slash premonition slash symptom-of-mental-disorder, cave-sized hole in his chest and all. The sound of a gate swinging on its hinges directed my attention to my left where three white houses stood together in line. The realization that this was the scene from my drawing hit me like a punch in the gut. If the policeman was here then the red-head hooded killer was around here too and I had to find her and see who it was.
A thought hit me and I panicked. I was probably having a dream or vision like I had had of that woman Charmaine and while I lay here maybe the hooded red-head was already attacking him in reality. I had to wake up fast and warn him. Now that I had seen what street he was on, I could get there in time, if only I could wake up. I tried to pinch myself awake but that didn’t work. I dug through my thoughts to remember how I had woken up from the Charmaine dream slash vision and recalled that I only woke up when she was dead. But now the hooded figure wasn’t appearing to finish him off, maybe because I had disturbed the flow of things by being present. Maybe that meant in reality the policeman was still alive and safe where he was. I hoped that he was.
After a few more minutes I decided that the policeman in my dream would have to die so I could wake up and go warn the real policeman and I would have to finish him off myself. My hand curled around the dagger that was lying on the ground next to him. I took a deep breath reminding myself that this was only a dream and I had to do it quickly and go save the man’s life. After my pep talk I raised the knife high above my head so I could drive it down with enough impact to kill him once and for all and hopefully wake up immediately after. A feather light tickle on my cheek distracted me momentarily and I pushed the loose strand of fiery red hair back with one hand and tucked it behind my ear but a bit of it still peeked out of the hood. A flash of red from my hands stilled my movements and I brought my hand up to my eyes. My nails and a bit of my fingers were covered in red paint making it look like I had applied red nail polish.
Blood red nails.
Cave-sized hole in a policeman’s chest.
A dream that won’t end.
I wasn’t waking up because I was already awake. This wasn’t a dream, it was real. I had just stabbed a man.
Suddenly the street was flooded in blue and red light, streaming from the dozen police cars now surrounding me. I threw down my dagger and raised my hand and an officer came from behind me, pinned me to the ground and handcuffed me. A crowd had gathered on the perimeter formed by the police cars and everyone stood gaping at me. A flash of red in the crowd caught my eye and I strained to see what it was.
Fiery-red hair. Miranda.
She met my gaze and smiled a strange, almost cocky smile then pulled up the hood of her grey sweater. I caught sight of a big red spot on the left pocket of her jacket as she turned away, melting into the darkness.
What the hell had just happened?
‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night.
And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike
You know it’s thriller, thriller night
You’re fighting for your life inside a killer, thriller tonight!
Haha I was completely obsessed with this song when I was six or seven years old and it used to freak all the adults out whenever I played the video, which made me love it even more because their reactions were absolutely killer lool. But who wouldn’t love that video! Those zombies, that dance
Anyhoo, on to serious business If you hadn’t figured it out from the song mention, this is my post for the #Thriller genre for my #SelfChallenge. It’s my first ever thriller so it definitely needs a lot of work. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to write a killer thriller (haha, see what I did there). Maybe I’ll even include Michael Jackson and his groovy zombies! hahaha