“Well now that it’s settled, can I get you two something to drink?” She smiled sweetly as she offered Carmen and Doug a refreshment.
Trying to find a way to decline the offer, Carmen asked for what she assumed the woman wouldn’t have. “Have you got any bottled water?”
It had been months since Carmen had seen an unopened bottle of water and knew it was unlikely the woman had one. While she didn’t want to drink anything this woman had to offer, Carmen knew refusing outright could upset the tentative balance that had been created once she’d said they’d stay. Besides, if she did have one, it would be safe to drink.
“Oh, I think you’re in luck! I have a case I’ve been stashing around for a while. Take a look and see if it’s in the back by the kennels,” she said, her hand pointing toward the back of the shop. “Just be careful, okay?”
“I will,” Carmen returned as she walked the short distance to the back of the small store.
Pushing open the door to the back stockroom, the smell hit her like a slap in the face. Breathing shallowly through her mouth, an action that didn’t help to assuage the stench, she looked around to get her bearings. Shouting back through the partially open door she asked, “Where are the kennels?”
“On the back wall, covered with the sheet. Do you see them?”
“Yes, I see them,” Carmen yelled back, all the while struggling to get through the piles of the woman’s treasures on the floor without vomiting. The shriek stopped her cold, sweat breaking out all over her body.
“Oh I see you found my pets!” The voice of the elderly woman was close behind her, the proximity startling her.
“Pets?” Carmen questioned as she stepped back into a precariously stacked pile of old newspapers.
“Yes, my pets. Would you like to see them?”
Carmen had no desire to see what was living in the kennels underneath the sheet, but stared enraptured as the little old woman lifted one of the corners. Upon seeing Carmen, the keening started in earnest, the small creatures struggling against the wire enclosures.
“Holy fucking shit!”
“I’ll trust you to watch you language around the children sir!” The elderly woman addressed Doug, her voice rife with indignation and disdain.
“Children? They’re not children anymore… They’re monsters!” Carmen tried to reason with the woman, knowing the importance of getting out of the shop was high on the list of tasks to accomplish in the next five minutes. Inside the cages, the creatures fought to be free, their small arms reaching out through the spaces between the bars.
“They’re not monsters! How could you say such a thing!” From sweet but crazy to sour and angry in no time at all, the woman looked ready to battle. Her stance spoke volumes: Doug and Carmen were about to pay the price for her displeasure.
But the small hands had other plans for their captor. They snaked into her red hair and wound the strands around their little undead fingers, pulling her struggling body closer and closer.
“Oh sweeties! You need to stop that. Bad sweeties, bad!” The whole time they were pulling her closer, the woman tried to reason with them.
Carmen and Doug watched in horror, the two of them frozen in place, watching the death of the woman inch closer and closer as the fingers tightened and pulled.
“Oh, you mustn’t bite me! That’s not good…” her scream cut off her strange sing-song voice.
Doug and Carmen looked at each other, the silent look relaying the same message: time to go!
All rights reserved © 2014 Julianne Snow