We ended up at the Banzai Lounge.
After a few drinks, Camryn had left. She wasn’t in the best of moods. Since Sam’s death, my optimistic friend was quiet and flat as week old soda. She’d lost her bubbliness.
I said good night, and watched her leave. I wasn’t ready to pack it in yet. I was, however, seriously thinking of a change of scenery. Not much was happening here tonight, and very few patrons were at the bar.
A good looking young man was frowning pensively into his drink at the end of the bar. I couldn’t help admire his looks. His hair was such a deep shade of red it was nearly black, and his skin seemed almost luminous. Very attractive indeed.
With a sigh of regret, I stopped my ogling and left to find something a little more exciting.
I ended up going home anyway. There was nothing going on at all that night.
A block from my building, I had the strangest feeling I was being watched. When I turned, there was no one there at all. This happened once more before I froze, remembering what Sam had told me.
“Who’s there?” I called out.
But there was no one.
I was less than half a block from home now. I ran.
I made it safely into the building and upstairs.
Locking my door, I collapsed onto my couch, heart thudding wildly as though it would burst from my chest. I was drenched in a cold sweat.
I had to be paranoid. There was no way that it could be whoever had followed Sam, right?
But there was a possible homicidal maniac on the loose, and stupid me, I’d walked home. That was just inviting trouble. Camryn, and probably my parents, would no doubt lecture me if they ever found out, which they wouldn’t. I would never tell.
A serving of leftover Tursoykey later, I was tucked up in bed for the night.
Things were going from bad to worse.
All that night, and the next, I’d been plagued by nightmares about being followed. As of consequence, I’d barely slept at all. In fact, since Sam’s death I wasn’t sleeping well in general. And when I arrived at work for a night shift, I found out that there were two more victims of this supposed serial killer.
Both had been found early that morning. One, a Miss Lynn Baker, was already dead, the other, Miss Joanne Lane, had survived.
All she could tell the police was exactly what Sam had said: she thought they had been followed, though no one was there when they turned around, then she had blacked out. Upon regaining conciousness, her friend was dead and she had a strange and painful wound on her neck.
Another mysterious wound that was sealing itself rapidly. It defied all logic.
Although weak, tired, and terribly thirsty, Joanne was begining to regain her strength. She was rightfully terrified, and was under heavy guard. I hoped it would be enough to keep her alive.
I went about my duties that night with a sense of dread. I kept checking on Joanne whenever I had a spare moment, praying she would at least survive the night unharmed.
I was relieved to see she did. Who or whatever had done this hadn’t returned. Perhaps it was somehow satisfied already? I shivered at the very idea.
Several weeks came and went. Sophie was back at work, not quite her normal self, looking very strained, but was calm and focused just the same.
Joanne Lane had recovered and left the hospital, though she returned within a few days, complaining of chills and aches. Her skin was rapidly becoming cold, but for what reason, we never found out. She disappeared not long after, and the police feared she had been abducted by her original attacker.
New victims were discovered every week; children, adults, the elderly, no one was safe. Those that survived, and I fear they were few, always had the same complaint after: chills and aches. Then, they would simply vanish.
The news was full of each new case as it appeared. There was nothing the police could do, and they were frustrated.
Children no longer played alone, and were escorted everywhere. People traveled in groups, though it seemed as though that did no good at all. A curfew was introduced, and even beloved pets were locked up. Camryn, Sophie and I no longer had time to spend together, even if it was safe to go out, because of all the new victims we were treating.
It made my heart ache to see Sophie cry over the children brought in. No one loved children as much as she, and it hurt her deeply to see them suffer. More often that not, they didn’t make it much past arrival. Being young and small, they couldn’t handle the terrible wounds and blood loss as much as adults could.
After awhile, the attacks dropped off, and then seemed to stop altogether. It was the strangest thing.
Slowly, life became almost normal. People were lulled into a sense of security. And soon, my 31st birthday had arrived.
My co-workers at Sacred Spleen had surprised me with cake and presents. I was touched. The light-heartedness of the surprise party made me almost forgot the horror of the past months.
Camryn and Sophie had planned a night out for just the three of us at my favorite club.
After work, I rushed home to change and gussy up.
Tonight was going to be special, I thought.