Fiction Fragment Friday
After writing the first part of this month’s story I thought this perspective would be the easiest. It was the most obvious perspective to give and I expected it to be the most straight forward. I had an idea in my head for how it was going to go as I wrote Lisa’s part. Then I actually sat down to write it.
In my original concept Sam was much more of a bad guy being punished for his actions. When I started writing though it just didn’t feel right. Instead he has become more sympathetic and the idea of a clear good and evil dynamic has really faded as I have expanded on the story. Instead to feel more Halloween appropriate a story where everyone involved is struggling seemed to fit better.
As much thought as I put into this weeks story, I have to admit it is my least favorite of the batch. I think all the other parts have been better with Cathy’s being my favorite. I suspect I will someday rewrite this one. The story beats and action are all fine, but the writing itself just feels off to me in tone. Maybe I should have gone with third person instead of first, or maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace.
So I hope you enjoy part 4 of A Halloween Haunting. There is only one more part to go. I will include links to all the parts in the finale next friday.
Once again, I woke up drenched in sweat and screaming. The same nightmare has haunted my dreams on and off for the last thirty-five years. The worst part is that it isn’t just a dream, it is a memory. A twisted version of something that had actually happened. No amount of therapy can make it go away because sometimes on stormy nights my nightmare come for me while I’m awake. As I climbed out of bed and headed to the shower, I could only hope for clear skies tonight.
I got to work at six pm that night. It was a little early for me, but there was no way I could have gotten back to sleep. Working night shift at a gas station is not the most entertaining job, but at least early in the shift it is busy. More people coming through means I can keep myself distracted and not let my mind wander. I knew that wouldn’t last for long though and as the night went on my mind would return to fixating on my nightmare. As the rain started to come down my anxiety started to rise up.
My mind returned to the rainy night in 1986 when my life changed forever. It was dark and one of my headlights was out. The rain was coming down so hard I was struggling to make out the road. I should have been more nervous, but I was a stupid teenager. I was quarterback, had multiple offers for scholarships, and knew that I would be getting out of this small mining town. It felt like nothing really bad could ever happen to me. My favorite song had just come on the radio, but I could barely hear it over the sound of the storm and wipers. That was when I rounded the corner and saw the headlights right in front of me.
**Ding Ding** The bell went off signaling that someone had come into the station. I shook my head trying to bring myself back into the present. My eyes turned to the front door and found my nightmare standing there. Lisa Matthews the girl I had crushed on all through my first three years of high school was standing in my store looking just like she did in 1986. She wore a letterman’s jacket wrapped tightly around herself and was drenched from the rain. Her head was cut open and the blood mixed with the water dripping onto the floor. Her clothes were torn exposing her pale skin underneath. It wasn’t smooth though, there were bleeding cuts, and I could see a bone sticking out of her leg. She walked forward with a limp but didn’t seem to show any pain on her face.
“Oh no, not again,” I gasped and fell backwards from the counter. This was not the first time I had seen her. It didn’t seem to matter where I was if it was storming out at night, and I was alone she always found me. My psychiatrist had told me that it was a hallucination fueled by my PTSD and survivor’s guilt. I was supposed to face it down. “Please just leave me alone.”
She looked at me and I couldn’t see any sense of recognition. Why would she know me though, she wasn’t real. She stepped forward reaching one hand out. Her voice sounded as sweet as I remembered. “What’s wrong with you?”
“No, you aren’t real. You aren’t real.” Panic overtook me and I ran from behind the counter and into the back room slamming the door behind me. There was no lock on the door, so I started pulling boxes in front of it. “She’s not real. She’s not real.” I said, but I just couldn’t make myself believe it. I sat on the floor rocking back and forth. Usually, she just shows up and then goes away after a minute or two. I told myself that I just needed to wait it out. Then she started pounding on the stock room door.
“Please help me,” she screamed from the other side of the door. She said it a few times getting softer each time.
I was back in my car in 1986. The other driver and I had both swerved, but it wasn’t enough, and we hit hard. I still don’t know which one of us was on the wrong side of the road. Her car went into a ditch and mine went flipping over. I sat there held in by my seatbelt with my car on its roof. Water poured in the broken windows, and I hurt everywhere. Crawling out of the car I managed to stand, but I couldn’t put any weight on my right leg. I would later learn that my knee had been shattered. I braced myself against the car and then heard it.
“Please help me.” It was a scream mixed with a sob and it was coming from the other car. I looked over into the ditch and met eyes with Lisa. Her face was covered with blood, and she was panicking.
“Just relax. Try not to move. It’s going to be ok.” I believed my words until I noticed the flames coming from under the hood of her car. Even with the rain the fire spread quickly. I tried to move, but as soon as I let go of my own car I fell to the ground in pain. It hurt so much, and I could feel the heat from the flames. In my mind I tell myself to crawl. To move and just try to do something. That wasn’t how it happened though. I lay there in the rain and watched the car burn. She asked for my help, and I didn’t do anything.
I sat in the stock room crying like I had done that night. For me that was the beginning of the end. My injuries ended my football career, but even if they hadn’t the depression and anxiety would have. I barely made it to graduation and never went to any kind of college. I couldn’t be relied on and that is how I found myself 52 years old working nights at a gas station in the town I always thought I would escape. More accurately hiding in the stock room of that gas station being haunted by memories of a person I watched die.
The pounding had stopped so I forced myself back out into the station. I was alone again. Grabbing the mop, I started cleaning up the wet floor. The blood was gone, but the water was still there and at least one newspaper had gotten soaked. I didn’t ask myself where the water had come from if she wasn’t real. Questions like that never have answers I’m willing to live with. As I cleaned up that night something felt different. It would be a while before I realized that I had stopped having the nightmares. I never saw Lisa while I was awake again.
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