The two women were walking down the road, trying to talk, even though they didn’t really know each other. The sparse conversation between the silences began to stretch. Why they were walking together, two strangers in the night, they knew. Safety in numbers, especially now. In the dead of night. Everyone knew better than that, but sometimes it was necessary.
“My mom needed her medicine,” blurted the first woman, her anxiety getting the better of her.
Her newfound companion with the red lips smiled. Nodding knowingly, she replied. “I needed food. We ran out in my apartment and my kid is hungry.”
The silence loomed even longer this time, both women unsure of what to say next. Neither had realized how late it was when they left, but at least the sun had been out. Then it was dark, and they were walking together, heading the same way. They both dreaded when they would come to the place where they would have to separate. They knew what could happen.
“I like your earrings,” complimented the red lips.
A hand flew to an ear. A flattered smile. “Thanks, they used to belong to my mom. She gave them to me for my birthday last week.”
“Oh, how old?”
“Eighteen. I’m going off to college tomorrow. This medicine should last her a few months. She doesn’t drive, can’t see past ten feet. She denied that for months, but then there was the crash so no more license. Sorry, I don’t mean to ramble. I’m just nervous.” She pulled her blonde hair up into a ponytail before pulling it back down.
“As you should be. As we all should be. It’s not safe out here alone.” The red-lipped woman smiled reassuringly.
“Right. Thank God I ran into you.”
A loud crash filled the cool night air, and the women froze. They stared down the dark alley. The tension in the air could have been slit through with a knife. A shaky breath from one of the women, the one with the mother at home. “I’m sure it was just a cat. My mother’s cat knocks things all the time,” she rationalized.
“A cat. Yes.”
They began to walk again. This time there was no small talk, no rambling. Only the silence. Their speed was slightly faster, their breaths slightly shorter, their fear even stronger.
“You know that feeling you get when you’re being followed? Or watched? That prickling at the base of your spine?” inquired the soon-to-be college student.
“Yes, that shiver. Like a sixth sense.”
“I...You feel it right? That… sense?”
A red smile. “I’m not really superstitious.”
“Oh. I guess I’m just nervous.”
The other woman, the one with the smile like a sharp knife, rested her hand on the other woman’s arm. Her nails dug into the skin of her terrified companion. They felt like tiny daggers being shoved into her skin. They stopped walking underneath a streetlight. The blonde stared into the other’s sharp grey eyes, her blood-red lips shining in the dark. She said, “This is my stop. My apartment building.”
“Oh. I’m still another block. I’ll be fine. It’s lighted all the way. I’ll just walk fast. Have a good night. Get in safe.”
“Oh, I’m not too worried. It’s right there. Tell your mother to take care!” The blonde’s only reply was a nod. She turned away from the stranger-turned-companion.
The blonde began to walk away, her feet moving quickly, fear biting at her heels. She didn’t look back, afraid that the demon haunting the dark streets would get her. She was just about to enter her building, stopping to get her keys from her bag. She didn’t notice the figure right behind her, raising something dark and glinting and bringing it down on her head. The poor women didn’t see the sharp, blood-red smile as she collapsed to the ground.
Hours later, after a phone call from a terrified mother who needed her medicine, the dark streets were alight with red, white, and blue flashing lights. The chatter of police radios and concerned neighbors filled the air.
“I just spoke with her at lunch yesterday. How can she be gone?”
Reports, breakdowns, and a mother’s tears filled the news for the next week. A curfew was implemented for all. No one out past 10:00 PM, and past 8:00 PM everyone must have at least one companion when walking in the streets. Usually though, no one stayed out past 7:30 PM, and if someone stayed out, well, no one did.
A day after the news died down, a blonde woman stood inside of a nearby convenience store, looking out at the dark streets. She quivered like a leaf in the wind thinking about walking the block home. After all, the week before a girl had been killed just outside her very own door, keys in hand.
“Do you need someone to walk home with?” came a voice from behind her.
“Oh, it’s only a block.” She brushed a blonde lock from her face.
“That’s perfect! I live a block from here as well. I’m glad I found you. I didn’t want to walk alone. I had to go get my kid some food. We ran out in the house.”
“Oh no. I just needed some things for my husband. He’s sick.”
The two set out together, a blonde and a woman with blood red lips.
“I love your earrings.” The blonde spoke in a small, timid voice. Her eyes scanned the ever-darkening world.
Her companion lifted her hand to her ears and smiled a bone-chilling, bloody grin.
“Oh, thank you. They belonged to a dead friend.”
Jill Phillips is a sophomore in the Honors Program at SIUE. She is a Theatre Performance major with a French minor. She loves to write and is honored to be published in the River Bluff Review.