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Nimue's Grotto

It's Him

by Warren T. Smith

Sometimes, I am so stupid. The weather reports told everyone on the Florida coast to evacuate but my New York independent streak said "No, I paid for this and nothing was going to make me abandon this Victorian treasure, or my vacation, for a little rain."

It was a big house, what they sometimes call a Painted Lady, with more gingerbread on it than the witch's house in Hansel and Gretel. When I got the chance to rent this, I jumped. It wasn't just the house, they had furnished it with antiques. When I got here on Monday I fell in love with the divan in the parlor. I have to admit that I ate most of my meals there alternately pretending to be a duchess or an Empress.

Wednesday was the only day I went to town. I thought I would inhale the local culture. As with most of life it was a mixed bag. I stopped at the local hardware store to get some batteries and a flashlight. I also had to arrange to have my windows boarded for the storm. My landlord had told me ask for Christian at the hardware store.

I headed straight to the counter and prayed that the man behind the counter wasn't Christian. He was in his late thirties, unshaven, and the look on his face that said that telling me his name would be a mental challenge. His eyes leered at me like knowing his thoughts could put me on the sex offender list.

"You're not Christian, are you?" hoping for a negative answer.

"No, I'm Bobby. What do ya want him for?"

"Mister Peters said he arranged for him to board up his house if it looked like the hurricane was going to hit. And lucky me, it looks like it is hell bent on hitting us."

"So, you're the one who rented that place. Bet Peters didn't tell you all about the house."

"What's there to tell?"

"Never mind. I shouldn't bad mouth my neighbor"

"What?"

"I live next door" He leaned close to the microphone in front of him and said "Christian come to the front."

"What were you saying about the house?"

"Ask Christian; he was there."

I sensed someone come up next to me and turned to find a tall muscular man about six foot, with dark wavy hair and soft blue eyes.

"Are you Samantha? Mister Peters said you would be in today."

"Bobby was telling me something about the house and said I should ask about it?"

"I wish he would stop that." He said exasperated. There was a series of murders that started eight years ago. All young women, the last one was raped and murdered in the Peter's house. I had just moved here when the last one happened. I had just joined the ambulance corps and that was my first call. I thought about quitting right then."

"Did they find the killer?"

"Nope. But the last murder was three years ago so people just figure he left the area. Listen, I have to get back to work so I'll see you tomorrow.

"By the way, you might want to consider an emergency radio in case the storm knocks out the power."

The next day Christian boarded the window and asked if I was going to listen to the evacuation warnings? I gave him my 'little rain" speech and he promised to check in when he could.

Friday the storm hit and surprisingly it didn't do much damage except for about an inch of water on the ground. I was watching the television and they said that the storm had turned north. About two, they were high wind warnings and possible power outages but I was happy I had ridden out the storm. I hope this will make a great chapter in my book but I am going to turn the tape recorder off now to save the batteries. Memo to self, next time you go to the store remember to really pick up some batteries and maybe a flashlight.

Crap! It's turned for the worst. The power did go off and it is completely dark. The reason I'm recording is to remember how creepy this is. My neighbor, Bob left in his truck a little while ago, so that relieves some of the creepy. After I left the store I went to the diner and a few seconds later he came in and sat at the counter and stared at me. He has stared at my house every time he left. Almost as though he was planning something.

It got really dark when the sun went down. Now it's cold but I was smart enough to get under the covers in the upstairs bedroom.

Damn, what was that?

It sounds like a truck. Maybe it's Christian. He said he would check up on me. What if it's not? There was that killer and Bob was here all his life.

Someone is trying the door. I can hear glass break. Should I call out? What if it isn't Christian but Bob? I'm leaving the tape on and looking out the bedroom door. Someone is there with a flashlight. Oh hell, he's at the stairs. I can hear the squish of his shoes on the stairs. My heart is racing. My breathing is heavy. I'm whispering so he doesn't hear me.

There is a noise in the bedroom at the top of the stairs. He either tripped or kicked some furniture. He grunted but I can't tell if it sounded like Christian or Bob. If it is Bob and he broke in I'll have him arrested. Sure, that will stop him from doing anything. I really am stupid. I'm going to put the recorder under the bed and leave the microphone out, so at least there will be evidence.

He is outside the door, the knob is turning...

He comes into the bedroom... he lowers his flashlight...

Oh God, it's him!

About the Author

Warren is a writer and stand-up comedian who admits that his teachers always told him he had a knack for storytelling. But he thought they were just telling him that to get into his pants. But that's the way nuns are. [Warren is, of course, my husband and except for winning "Dishonorable Mention" in the The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, this is his first publication.]