It was a crisp, cool night in October. The air was calm; the night as black as pitch. Heidi had just finished a movie with some friends and was walking to her car, digesting the film. It was a psychological thriller – her favorite. Suddenly, she became aware of an ominous feeling creeping deep into her being. As a chill pricked the hairs on the back of her neck, she shuddered and thought, you’re just uneasy from the movie, Heidi. Get a grip. She climbed into her car and drove away.
As she approached her house in her quiet little subdivision, the feeling of unease came back to her. Pulling into her garage she scanned her surroundings. J’s car was in its usual spot, nothing out of the ordinary. The door to the side garage was closed and locked, as it should be. Heidi crept out of her car apprehensively and ventured to her front yard. Her street was quiet, no doubt most of her neighbors settled into bed for the night. She could hear a dog yapping a few streets over and the faint hum of cars off in the distance. Hers was the only house on her block with a light on inside – the kitchen light, which J always left on for Heidi when she came home after dark. There were no creepy noises, or frightening shadows, or suspicious characters clad in trench coats. Everything was peaceful. You’re ridiculous, thought Heidi as she breathed a sigh of relief.
“Hi dear,” Heidi called as she stepped inside. She kicked her shoes off next to the door and reached down to pet Casey cat, who was eagerly awaiting her return. Silence. J must be asleep, Heidi thought. She made her way through the kitchen and down the hallway to the bedroom. “Babe, I’m home,” she said. Nothing. She fumbled in the dark for her bedside lamp. As she clicked the light on, she realized the bed was empty. Alright. No reason to panic, Heidi assured herself. She sat down on the bed and took a deep breath. Pulling her cell phone out of her pocket, she searched for any missed calls or texts from J. Maybe he was filling in on someone’s volleyball team, or maybe he caught up with a friend for a drink. She called his cell phone to find out.
BZZZZZZZZ! “This is not for yooooouuuuu!” BZZZZZZZZZZZZ! “This is not for yooooouuuuuu!”
Heidi jumped at the sudden, piercing noise, falling off the bed and landing hard on the floor.
BZZZZZZZZ! “This is not for yoooooouuuu!”
Pearl Jam ringtone. It was J’s cell phone, sitting on his bedside table. Heidi flung herself across the bed and silenced the phone. Ok, what the fuck, Heidi thought. She stood up, momentarily paralyzed with fear. No, no, no. Don’t get crazy, Heidi. He just left and…forgot his phone, she thought. Except J never forgot his phone. And he always told her where he was going. Before she could truly start to concoct some wild image of home invasion, or aliens, or spontaneous combustion she heard him.
“I’m in here,” J said in a low and quiet tone, the haunted words floating from the bathroom. Heidi rushed in to find him kneeling in the shower. The room was dark except for a pale glow coming from the small window above the shower. His back was to her.
“Hi, babe. What, uh… Whatcha doing, there?” Heidi asked, skeptically. J didn’t respond.
“Babe?” She started towards him.
“It was awful,” he said in a monotone voice. Heidi knelt beside him. In the pale light she could see that he was expressionless, his eyes fixed on the shower drain. Her heart pounded as she placed a hand gently on his shoulder. He shivered at her touch.
“What, babe? What’s the matter? What happened?” she guided gently.
“I – The drain. It…it was clogged, so I opened it up,” he said. Heidi waited for the rest, but J did not speak.
“Ok… And?” she persisted.
“It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Like a nightmare come true. I – I couldn’t get it out, so I snaked the drain as far down as I could. It was…stuck, but then — H-h-hair. Jet black. So much hair. Oh the horror! THE HORROR!!!” he screamed. He had gone from comatose to terrified.
“Hair? You pulled hair out of the shower drain? Are you fucking KIDDING me?!?!?” Heidi shrieked. “That’s what this is about, some fucking hair?!?!? Don’t scare me like that, you asshole!”
“You don’t understand. So..much..hair…” his voice trailed off as he trembled on the floor.
“Ok, I think you’re being dramatic — ”
“NO!!! Babe, I swear, I thought the creepy little girl from The Ring was going to start inching her way out of our shower drain!” He exclaimed, on his feet now. “I saved it! I threw it in the trash in the kitchen. I’ll show you!”
J rushed past Heidi, making his way to the kitchen trash can. She followed him, rolling her eyes, bewildered that a little bit of hair could cause such a commotion. What a big baby, she thought. J rummaged through the trash. No sign of the hair. He slowly looked up at Heidi; fear filled his eyes.
“It’s not — I swear, Heidi, it was RIGHT HERE!” he shrieked.
“Dude, are you high?” Heidi asked. He snorted at her, clearly offended. “Seriously, though, are you on something?”
“No, I’m not fucking ‘on something’!” he replied.
“Well, maybe you were dreaming,” Heidi offered.
“Heidi, I wasn’t even in bed yet. I wasn’t asleep, so I couldn’t have dreamed it! Get your head out of your ass!!” J snapped.
“Woah, woah, woah, babe. Ease up. I’m just trying to help. But this – This is ridiculous.”
“I’m not making this up. It was right here.”
“Let’s just got to bed. I’m tired, and I’m guessing you are, too. We’ll figure it out in the morning.”
What was that, Heidi thought as her eyes fluttered open. The only thing she could make out in the dark bedroom was the time on the clock – 2:36 AM. She shuffled her covers and fluffed her pillows. As soon as her head hit the pillow she felt the covers move. One of the cats had gotten into bed. A warm sensation came over her feet as the cat made itself cozy. What is that smell, thought Heidi. It reeked! Probably J, as he was notorious for his pungent flatulence. The covers rustled again. Heidi sat up and reached down to shift the cat, but as she felt around…no cat was to be found. She laid back down, confused and sleepy. Just then, she felt a slow warmth creep up feet to her ankle. But it wasn’t just warmth. It took her a few seconds to realize that the warmth was also slimy…and slithering past her ankles to her calf. She flung the covers off her and darted out of bed. She fumbled for a second as she flipped on the bedside lamp. Her heart was racing. That was no cat, she thought. It was a snake. I had to be a snake. How the shit did a snake get in my house?
“J,” Heidi hissed. “J, wake up! I think there’s a snake in the bed!”
“Garg urgh whaaat?” J moaned, barely cognizant.
“Seriously, I just felt something on my leg. Get up!!” Heidi shrieked. She pulled the covers all the way off the bed and started examining them. She shook them out and reached for the sheets to do the same.
“Babe, what the hell are you doing?” J asked, more alert this time.
“J. Focus! Snake…in our house…in our bed! Help me find it!”
This seemed to startle J, and suddenly he was wide awake. He sprung out of bed and started ferociously shaking the sheets. No sign of a snake. They looked at each other across the bed. J smirked at her.
“Now who’s crazy?” he snickered.
“Oh for Christ’s sake, J! There was no goddamn hair monster!” yelled Heidi.
“Oh yeah? Well I sure as hell don’t see a snake in the bed. Do you?” he asked, grinning at her. He paused a beat, then in the most smart-ass of tones, “Are you high?” She squinted her eyes at him, lasers surely aiming to zap him to dust. He plopped down on the bed triumphantly and kicked back with hands behind his head. He looked mighty proud in the naked bed, propped up on his pillow of victory. He laid there a minute, and said, “Could you… Would you mind putting the covers back on the bed? I’m a little bit –“
There was no time to react. It had slithered out of the pillow case and wrapped itself around J’s neck and face. Heidi screamed and fell backwards, hitting her head on the wall. J hopped to his knees, choking and spitting as he tried to pry the creature from his throat. Heidi sat for a moment, panic-stricken at the sight before her. She had to move. She leaped to her feet and lunged at J’s head. With both hands on the beast, she pulled and yanked as hard as she could. It was no use. The creature was too slimy. And that smell! It stung her eyes and burned her nostrils. Without thinking, she ran to the kitchen and grabbed the butcher knife. Wait, she thought, I can’t use this on J! I’ll cut his face off! Cut. Cut? CUT!!!! Exactly! She grabbed the scissors out of the drawer and darted back to the bedroom. J’s face was beat red with the violet hue of asfyxiation. Heidi ran to him and yanked at the creature until she could get the blades between it and J’s neck. She smashed the scissors down as hard as she could. A high pitch screech erupted from the creature, startling Heidi. The creature was tough, and the scissors would not cut it, but still Heidi clamped down. Spitting and screeching, the creature finally let go. J dropped to the bed, half conscious. The creature lay there for a second, and then slithered off out of the bedroom.
“Oh my God! Are you ok? BABE?!?!?!” Heidi cried. She held his head in her lap, thankful he was alive. He gasped for air, and after some time sputtering and coughing the red in his face subsided.
“I’m fine,” he finally managed. “What the FUCK…” cough, cough “…kind of snake was that?!?!?” Heidi was breathing heavy and a solemn look appeared on her face as she met his eyes.
“It wasn’t a snake,” she said. “You were right. I should have listened to you…”
“Wait, are you saying –“
“It was the hair.”
TO BE CONTINUED…