March twenty-sixth. I woke up with a knot in my stomach. My parents were still away, a week late from their trip home, and I still hadn’t heard from them. I was anxious, but it didn’t surprise me. The ink Will had written on my arm a month ago had told me March twenty-sixth was the day things would start making sense. Maybe this was the day they would come home.
But something in my gut told me not to get my hopes up.
I remembered reading somewhere that prophecies had a way of coming true even when they were avoided. If I considered the date the ink gave me to be prophecy, then I would get answers today regardless of what I did. Maybe I would find a book in my parents’ room that told me everything I wanted to know. Maybe Doc would stop being so vague with his answers. Maybe I would go down the stairs only to find a werewolf there waiting to eat me. Life was so full of wonderful mysteries.
But if I sought out my own answers, I could probably fulfill the prophecy on my own terms.
Throwing off the covers, the chill of open air and stretching my muscles helped me wake up. “Fetch!” I called after a good yawn.
After about a minute, the little green spirit walked through the closed door and into my bedroom.
“Pour me a glass of orange juice downstairs. No rush.” He nodded and walked back through the door. “Oh, and Fetch!”
This time he popped his head through the door so that only his white, pupil-less eyes went through. That had stopped bothering me a long time ago. In fact, I found the little spirits cute nowadays. “Make sure to get me a clean glass this time. From the cupboard, not the sink.” I shuddered at the thought of yesterday morning when I drank some unholy mixture of old coffee and orange juice.
As he vanished from sight again, I reached for my phone. Pulling it off the charger where it sat on the nightstand, I unlocked it and opened my contacts. I had still never contacted Will since he gave me his number. The fact that he was a serial killer probably had something to do with it. Maybe he was hunting for his next victim when he came to talk to me. But there was that ink to consider, as well.
“What doing?” Doc said from behind.
Startled, I swiveled around and covered myself with a pillow. Some shield it would make if there were any real danger. He sat on the bed frame, staring at me.
“Doc,” I breathed, relaxing. “How many times do I have to tell you to use the door?”
“It’s closed,” he pointed out.
“I know. But that is the area in the room intended for entrances. It’s really unnerving when you sneak up on me through the wall like that.”
With my heart rate increased, I decided to take this time to actually get up and change. As I discarded the phone, Doc hopped off the frame and got comfortable in the now empty bed. He picked up the phone and examined it in his tiny hands, but there was no danger as he couldn’t unlock it.
“I’m going to talk to Will today,” I commented as I pulled a t-shirt on.
“Dangerous,” he crooned, shaking my phone. It was hard to tell what his plan was, but he turned the motion sensor activated the flashlight.
“Give me that!” I scolded, swiping it away from him and turning it off again. “I know it’s dangerous, but as long as I’m careful I’ll be fine.” I changed into more suitable pants and glanced into the mirror. After some minor tweaks and adjustments, I definitely passed the ‘Is that a human being?’ test. Well, I would after my hair was brushed, at least.
Looking at my phone contacts again, I stared at Will’s name. It was so weird to have a serial killer so readily available. I could text him any time I wanted. But as soon as I did, he would have my number, too.
A thought occurred to me. I set the phone down on my white, floral themed desk, and crouched to get under my bed. After removing several armfuls of dirty clothing I forgot I owned from underneath, I grabbed my old backpack from school. The binder inside was full of chemistry formulas and English notes, but it was bound to have a blank sheet somewhere. Okay, fine, it was mostly filled with doodles, but whatever. Besides, I was pretty proud of a few of them.
Tossing it onto the desk, I opened it up to the first blank page I found. Going to meet somebody with answers. His name is Will. Probably works at the library. Possibly a serial killer. If you’re reading this, I made a bad call. Sorry Mom & Dad!
Below that note, I wrote the date. Two suicide notes in barely a few months. My life was really derailing lately. At this one was a lot more ‘Me’, for whatever that was worth.
Still sitting at my desk, I looked at the unsure girl in the mirror one more time. She might be making the biggest mistake of her life today. She was never one for taking risks. I wondered what compelled me so adamantly to talk to him today.
An steady exhale and a string of ignored mental warnings later, it was sent. “Hey, Will. This is Lisa.”
I stared at the phone, watching as the text changed from ‘sent’ to ‘delivered’.
A thousand butterflies filled my stomach. Each one was an entirely different conversation. What if he had nothing to do with the ink? What if it was the wrong number? What if he could track the text back to my house?
But no. I doubted texts were traceable. And even if they were, Will probably wouldn’t have the resources to do it. Still, the anxiety of the immediate future was overwhelming in that moment. A glance back at the notebook on my messy desk sent a chill down my spine. I added ‘I love you‘ to the bottom of the page before leaving the room.
As I descended the stairs and walked into the dining room, my phone hummed with the default ringtone I still hadn’t gotten around to changing. My breath caught in my throat. It was from him.
“Hey! Took you long enough!”
Something innocuous. I guess it would have been weird to expect ‘Hey! You’re too late to be murder victim number thirty-six, but if you hurry you can by thirty-seven!’. What was I thinking?
“I had to think over your offer” I sent back. The glass of orange juice sat nearby on the counter. It was a bit on the empty side, but it was definitely an acceptable color this time. Still, precautions were necessary when Fetch prepares your drink, especially without supervision. A careful sniff indicated that it probably wasn’t poisonous. It seemed he had gotten everything right for once. That was reassuring. The spirits didn’t learn very well.
My phone hummed again. “You asked some interesting questions, huh?”
How could I respond to that? I wondered what he knew, and what he thought I knew. What if the information I had gotten that day wasn’t even the worst of it?
“I want to meet up and talk” was my response. I was nervously chugging the juice, waiting for his reply.
“Sure, I’ll give you my address. See you in 30?” Maybe he didn’t think I knew as much as I did. I wasn’t about to meet a serial killer in his own home.
Having finished the glass, I stood up and walked over to the sink to wash it out. Before I got there, I slipped on a puddle right in front of the refrigerator and fell forward. The glass shattered ahead of me, scattering glass all across the kitchen. Thankfully, I was fine. Upon inspection, I realized that the puddle was orange juice. Apparently Fetch hadn’t performed as flawlessly as it seemed. I opened the fridge to see that he had dropped the carton inside. There was juice spilled everywhere.
“Sparkle!” I yelled.
A moment passed, and a purple spirit plopped onto the counter, passing through from the ceiling above. It stood up and looked at me. “Yes!” she chimed.
“Please clean this mess up. Don’t go in the fridge, and just push all the glass into a pile. Take all the time you need. Got all that?”
The little ghost nodded. I liked this new one. I hadn’t been training her very long, and I still didn’t like her name, since it sounded so childish. I was pretty sure the spirits didn’t even have genders, but whatever. Sparkle was a girl’s name.
Now I also had to change. Again. Luckily, I wasn’t wearing socks. I picked up my phone from the counter. I still didn’t like the idea of going to his house. “I was thinking coffee, actually” I replied.
“I can show you some cool things if we meet in private ;)”
Oh, brother. “Like the sharp end of a knife? I’m not meeting some guy I don’t know where my safety isn’t guaranteed.”
He didn’t respond immediately, so I took the time to look for a change of clothes. No clean pair of jeans left. I was forced to grab a skirt that matched my top. Could I teach Sparkle to do my laundry? Probably not. I would have to delegate that job to a different spirit. What would I name that one? I’d have to give that some thought another time.
Looking through the mirror after I was once again fully clothed, I realized I almost forgot to brush my hair. I was beginning to think I had scared Will away when my phone hummed again. “Your kind has nothing to fear from me. I promise. But if you want to meet, you’ll have to come to my house.”
Your kind. Was he not human? I wasn’t sure whether to be more or less scared because of that text.
Several minutes passed, and my scalp ached, but my hair was straight. I ran my fingers through it to make sure it was perfect. I went back downstairs to put some sandals on. “Your address?” I texted him.
He sent it. Two miles. Too far to reasonably walk. I’d have to take the car, even though I hated driving. “I’ll be over soon.”
“See you soon!”
I dialed 9-1-1 into my cell phone so I would be ready in case anything went wrong.