Another one that gave me goosebumps as I wrote it. Part of this story actually happened to me. I’ll let you wonder about which part.
The sheets twisted between her feet as she rolled back and forth, trying to find a cool spot in the sweat soaked bed. Even the small movement made her forehead bead, and the sticky water at the base of her neck dribbled down her back.
“Can you stop, Mia?” her husband groaned, as he kicked away the last of the sheet and rolled onto his back, the vast expanse of his chest shiny and damp.
“When I’m confrontable,” she muttered, finally giving up and shoving the pillow behind her head. Laying in no-man’s land, half sitting, half lying on the bed, her chin pressed against her chest, teeth clenched tight.
Seconds ticked by and the heat in the room finally levelled out, and her head lolled to the side. It must be close to sunrise she thought, as the air from the fan started to cool instead of just force the hot air into her face.
A quick slap on her foot, and she pulled them back from the edge of the bed.
“Stupid cat,” she yawned, waiting for her sleep deprived brain to catch up. The cat, she must have gotten in again last night, the silly thing likes grabbing at feet hanging over the end of the bed.
The wooden panels on the wall grew a soft buttery yellow in the dawn light. She’d have to be up in half an hour anyway, might as well start the day with something nice. Stretching her back out, she wriggled her toes, the golden flecks of her ruby nail polish shone in dancing pinpricks of light. Then her big toe flicked back, pulled by something she couldn’t see. Before she could react, a hand around her ankle, stinging as it bit into her flesh and with a tug, she was yanked flat on her back.
A suffocating weight pressed down on her chest. Her eyes flicked around the room, her body straining to move. Sandalwood and lilies drifted into her nose, her mouth and the edges of her vision blurred, as she inhaled long drugging breaths. She gave in, as lazy fingers caressed her face, stopping only to grip her chin and twist her head to the side.
Then all at once, everything was gone. The weight, the smell the… the… whatever it was, was all gone.
Her husband laughed and brushed it off as a heat induced, sleep deprived dream. “It’s the heat, Mia. It’s playing with your mind.”
“No,” she cut her hand through the air. “This was real, it called me twenty-two.”
“It?” He shook his head, his lips pulled into a tight line. “How about we go away for the weekend. Just up to the mountains, it will be cooler up there, and we can relax, go antiquing, and I promise I won’t complain about how many vintage cuff links you want to buy, even though neither one of us wears them.”
“Sure,” she swallowed hard, relief flooding through her veins.
It wasn’t until they were getting ready for bed in the little cottage they had rented for the weekend that they turned on the television. A news bulletin was breaking about a woman who had been taken from the walking trail behind their house.
“The police are warning everyone, especially women to be vigilant. Don’t go out walking alone or in secluded areas.”
The shot on the screen was of police milling around, and crime scene tape around the trail. Mia could see the roof of their house behind it. Her heart beat a staccato rhythm in her chest, and her husband gripped her arms.
“That’s where I walk. I could have been there this morning. I…” Goosebumps broke out across her skin, and the news reader continued.
“This is the twenty-second victim.”
They locked eyes, and she started crying, he didn’t tell her she was silly this time, and when he wiped her eyes so she could look at a photo of the missing women on the television, she might as well have been looking at herself.
He squeezed her close, and his voice shook as he said. “What do you think it was? A warning?”
“Maybe,” she replied something solidifying in her mind. “I think it was death.”