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I Feel it All Over Me - Flash Fiction
I felt something lingering over me, right as I dusted off the teacups, folded the laundry, and mopped the floors. I opened up the windows to get some air. Maybe that would appease my appetite. It was in the dead of summer. The heat from outside was choking. I would describe it as sultry, steamy, and sticky.
I went outside to the garden. Watered the dying plants, pleading for salve to their crisping leaves. No matter where I went in the house or outside, I felt like someone was watching me. I started the day off by playing the violin. I made faces in the mirror, sang in the bathtub, and danced with my cat. I live 20 miles from town. It's not the easiest house to find. You have to know your way; it's past a vineyard and past a brook.
Around three in the afternoon, when I went to wash the last of the dishes, I could hear clinking from somewhere. This sent shivers down my spine. I thought maybe my cat had gotten into one of the cabinets. He does that from time to time. I let the thought of something more harrowing subside from my mind. There were plenty of chores to be done; I hadn't been attending to the house because I was busy with seeing my new boyfriend. It had been a month since I dedicated time to being with the house. Maybe that was too long. Maybe the house had missed me, and that's why it seemed to creak more than usual. There were sounds I didn't remember, and we had been renting for the past two years.
I went to go put my hair up, and that's when I heard the creaking again. I was about to slip into a black dress, when it seemed like a door was open. I heard a howling outside.
So in the black dress, I went to the doorway -- and it was open. Wide open. The doorknob was rolling down the street. I didn't want to chase after a doorknob. I was trying to prepare myself for the night. But I stopped caring so much about my looks, and I did chase after the doorknob, and when I caught it, I looked down the street and a man with an unusual hat, his attire like the 1800s was limping down the road. He had a blue glow to him. I wasn't sure how to feel. I felt numb. I thought maybe my mind was playing tricks on me. Did I just see a ghost? Or is the light playing tricks.
After marrying the doorknob back to my front door, I went back inside, and just as I was about to pin my hair -- I realized I didn't know where my cat was hiding. And I feared the worst -- that he sprinted out the door... and the man had taken him with him. I ran back outside and yelled for my cat over and over. But the only sound that returned was silence. I couldn't stop craving to find the cat.
I searched in the garden, my neck was dripping in sweat, and my hands were getting dirty as I pressed into the ground -- looking between the plants for him. When I got inside, I realized I had forgotten to turn off the water. It was overflowing in the sink. I turned it off fast, washed my face, and tried to restart the rituals we do before a date. But this time I did hear the meowing; it sounded like it was in the attic. The problem is that there is no way the cat could have gotten into the attic. I didn't have enough time to go up there and pull him down. I figured that if he found a way up, then he could also find a way down.
So I decided to drink a warm cup of jasmine tea. I needed a moment to calm myself, because I kept having these thoughts, these paranoid thoughts that the seams around my house were about to fall, and I was about to realize I'm just a doll in some little girl's toy collection.
Then things only got more queer. The lights died off one by one. There was enough light that I didn't need to worry too much. I went to the breaker box flipped the switches. All the lights came back on in the house. I checked every single room to make sure there wasn't a faulty room. My guest room's lights wouldn't light -- and I could hear the meowing up above, getting louder and louder. I really wish he could find his way back down. I don't have time to go get him and make an adventure of the attic. I only had 15 minutes, then my date would be picking me up. I went to the garage again and flipped the breakers -- but the guest bedroom lights were still stubborn. This room has no windows. Without the hall light, it would be pitch black, with the sounds of my cat meowing as if he really is stuck.
I didn't feel right in the room. There was a draft and I felt it had a musty smell. I ambled through the dark room with my arms stretched before me, avoiding colliding with walls and furniture. I was trying to make my way to the closet. I thought I should see if a light would shine in the closet -- I could tell the boyfriend and he could fix the problem for me. When I opened the door to the closet, it was dark. I reached for the light switch, but could't find it. I walked into the closet space, searching deeper and deeper for the light switch, but I never found it. I turned to find the door, but it wasn't in reach anymore. I could hear the cat screaming at this point. The creaking sound I heard earlier got louder -- I realized it was in the closet with me.
I wasn't sure what to think or do. I grabbed for the doorknob, and at last when I found it -- it was locked from the other side. I crumbled to my knees. I stated laughing hysterically. The only way out was if my boyfriend came inside and found me in the guest room. My imagination started taking me to elaborate places, I felt this strong fear that someone was in the closet with me and was about to touch me or whisper in my ear. I tried to quiet my mind. I tried not to panic. Maybe the cat found its way to the attic by climbing through a space in this very closet. I shouldn't lose hope so quick. But the longer I was in there, the more I felt like I was on the verge of hallucinating. I didn't want to lose my date. I didn't want to lose my cat. I didn't want to lose my mind.
I screamed. I screamed as loud as I possibly could. I wanted to scream so loud that my neighbors would find me. But something muzzled mouth. Something from the closet wrapped itself around me. I felt the cloth, I felt the chloroform. I drifted into a sleep; it was a deep dark sleep. I kept having visions of a man with a sly smile. He was wearing these 1800s clothes. I kept trying to figure out his eye color. Were they brown? Were they hazel? Were those eyes before me red? Those noises upstairs weren't my cat. I now knew my cat escaped out the front door. The noises upstairs were of a woman. Those noises drowning out the house were my own screams. And this black dress wasn't for my date night, I was dead and dressed in the black sheets of nothing -- I was repeating it all in my mind over and over again. Trapped in the closet. Feeling how he began with nibbling on my ear two centuries ago. In the closet. All before another family with a cat moved into the house by the vineyard and added electricity. But not before the husband found out I was planning to meet someone else that night.