I am not sure if I hear that at first.
I definitely hear it now. It is so quiet, but the hiss of the “s” is hard to miss. I know I locked the door before I came back here to close out for the night. Maybe there was someone still in the aisles that I missed? I quickly lock the cash up in the safe and head back up front to check out what’s happening.
“Hello?” I wait for an answer but all I hear is the humming of the fluorescent lights. I look over at the door and see that it is cracked open. I may have forgotten to lock it, but there is no way I would leave the door unlatched. I cautiously walk over to it and open it the rest of the way. I peak my head outside. There is no one there. I am not normally a jumpy person, but since we played around with the Ouija board last night, I am a little on edge.
I wrangle my keys out of my front pocket and latch the door and lock it. This time, I check it twice. I may have forgotten before in my haste to get out of here. I told Aimee that I would come over right after work since I am not the only one on edge after last night’s events. My rational brain tells me it was just Alex moving the planchette, but when the lights are off, the candles are flickering, and your girlfriend is squeezing your hand so hard it cuts off the blood flow, the pointer could be spelling out “puppies” and you would still crap your pants. At least Alex didn’t go for anything too scary, just a few random letters. S. E. R. A.
I try to clear my mind of that as I head back to the office. I bend down to open the safe, but the door creaks open on its own.
“Come on, what the hell?” I know I locked that door. After working at Bill’s Hardware for five years, this is a mistake I would not make. All of the employees were given the lecture. We had been robbed a few times over the years and Bill always told us that the money went in the cash register or in the safe and both were to remain locked at all times.
I scoop up the stack of bills I placed in there and quickly count the money and match it up to the sales for the day. It’s all there. I sigh in relief. I do not need Bill on my back. I have one week until I am out of this deadbeat town and off to college.
I jump. Look at me, afraid of my phone. I pick it up and read the text message from Aimee.
I put the money in the deposit bag and stick it back in the safe. This time I close the door firmly and after I lock it, I pull on it twice to make sure that it won’t be opening again. It is definitely locked. I shut the lights off in the office and make my way back up front. I take a quick look around and make sure that everything is in order and then head over to the light switches. Just as I click them all off, I am standing in pitch black and then I hear it.
I immediately hit the lights back on and look around frantically.
“Alex?! If that’s you, this is not funny!” I wait for a response but hear nothing. “Alex?” I wait in silence.
I watch as the front door slowly opens on its own.
“Fuck this shit! I am outta’ here.” I flick the lights back off and head straight for the now open door. I cannot get outside quickly enough. As soon as I step out of the building, I slam the door shut behind me and jam my key into the lock. I hear the tumblers click as I turn the key and take a deep breath of fresh air. I glance back through the window expecting to see something moving around inside, but instead I see darkness.
“It’s just my imagination.” I turn around to head to the car and as soon as I take a step, whooosh.
“Watch where you’re going!” shouts the man on the bike. His voice fades as he zooms away from me.
“Get a grip,” I tell myself as I realize I am acting like a scared child. I take a few breaths and calm my nerves. This time I look both ways and then step out into the parking lot. I hear the chatter of the crowd up at the pub and a dog barks in the distance. I am comforted by the sounds of life. I am not alone.
I stop texting and look behind me. There is no one there. I pick up the pace, only a few more steps until I reach the car. The hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end. I fumble with my keys and when I find the right one I slide it into the lock. When I turn it, there is no resistance. The door is unlocked.
“No way!” I am on the verge of shouting as I back away from the vehicle. I always lock my car. I am anal about it. I inch closer and look in the back seat. Nothing. I look in the front seat. Nothing. I look in the back seat again and open the door. Nothing.
I just need to get out of here at this point. I climb behind the wheel and quickly lock all four doors. Unless someone else has a key, I am safely locked in the car. I slide my key into the ignition and the engine comes to life. I shift into reverse and look in the rear-view mirror. Instead of seeing the asphalt of the parking lot behind me, I am looking right into two red eyes which are looking right back at me.