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The party is drawing to a close. Someone has already crashed on the guest bed. A couple of people are singing Smashing Pumpkin songs in the kitchen, wildly out of tune yet somehow in harmony. A few more are outside with the last of the absinthe and the hookah. You and I, though, we’re still on the couch, watching the candles guttering in the breezes as people bid us farewell.
“There’s just enough time for one more story,” I say.
You nod, adjusting your feet on the ottoman.
It was summertime in Coastal Virginia. The air was thick with humidity and the ozone of an impending thunderstorm was flickering in the distance like an otherworldly lighthouse. We were exploring the old center of a town that had long since moved on from it’s Old World charm. The houses were businesses: an ice cream parlor, a restaurant with a bar that sat three, an antique shop. It was the vintage shop that we were in when it happened, a place called Another Man’s Treasure. There were three of us shopping together, recent college grads on a Saturday afternoon – and just as boisterous as you can imagine. We were the only ones in the shop except for the proprietress. She sat behind her glass counter and her mechanical register, watching.
“Watching me in particular,” I say.
I saw the stairs at the back of the shop as an escape from her strange attention, and I bounded up them two at a time. The top floor was a mess of old chairs, yellowing wedding gowns, and assorted taxidermied animals. I walked over to the far window, and looked out at an overgrown alley. On my way back to the stairs, I noticed a small room was blocked off by a dresser, the door covered by a shower curtain hung just above the entrance. I squeezed my way between the dresser, pulled aside the curtain, and opened the door. It was a bathroom, or what had once been a bathroom. The fixtures were gone, but it was clear where the sink and toilet used to be. The room was lit with grainy light from a high window, and the black and white tiles were coated with a scrim of dust. At the very far end, where there should have been a tub, there hung another shower curtain.
Something was behind it. It did not move. It did not make a sound, yet I could feel it – a beastly, dark presence. If you’ve never felt something grab for your soul, be thankful, because it hurts and it is as scary as any hell that you can imagine. I staggered backwards, and bumped into the dresser blocking the door; I had forgotten it was there and a thin sound of panic escaped me. I was dizzy and close to blacking out, but a part of knew that if I did, I would die. Or worse.
There was something dark and evil, and it was trying to kill me.
I shoved my around the dresser, and kept backing away until I ran into one of the wedding dress draped chairs. The curtain swayed, a rhythmic motion too constant to be the result of my escape. Whatever had come for me, it was just beyond that curtain.
I bolted down the stairs. The old woman grinned at me. She laughed.
“The room is closed for a reason,” she said.
I told my friends I’d be waiting for them outside. In the following five years that I lived near Another Man’s Treasure, I never went back. Last I saw, the shop was closed, and the building was being gutted – and I can’t help but wonder what happened to the darkness that used to live there in the room that was closed for a reason.
Don’t forget: you can get a copy of my horror novel, Stolen Climates, and also be entered to win other fabulous prizes by leaving a comment. Remember: lurking’s for dark spirits! Comments are for people!