Sprawled out on his bed, Chandler relaxed after a gruelling day of labouring in the
July sun. Flicking through the channels on his TV and thinking about what to eat
this evening, he spotted the reflection of a woman in the TV from the open window
behind him. At first, processing what he saw, he assumed he’d imagined it,
dehydrated and exhausted from hauling bricks around a worksite all day.
Shrugging it off he tried to calm himself, but then the unmistakeable noise of the
garden gate’s bolt grinding open snapped him into life.
Leaping out of bed to look out of the window of his ground floor apartment,
he saw a woman in the open gateway, surrounded in the overgrown branches that
had bonded to the gate over the years. Her eyes were a piercing grey, dark make up
surrounding them and a nest of blonde hair slick with sweat. Lips covered in a
deep red lipstick, she smiled at him mockingly, as if tempting him to give chase.
Chandler locked eyes with her and she troubled him instantly, she was as wild a
woman as he’d ever seen, he felt threatened by her. Then he noticed the camera
strap wrapped around her neck.
‘What are you doing?’ Chandler yelled at her.
The woman laughed loudly for only a second or two and fled. Chandler
kicked on his shoes and dashed outside to follow her. Chandler saw her skipping
along the pavement with her back to him when he came through the gate. She was
apparently in no hurry, almost like she was waiting for him to catch up. Chandler
ducked behind a parked car and took a second to catch his breath. If I tried to
tackle or detain the woman, any passer-by would surely assume I was attacking
her, wouldn’t they? Chandler thought.
Moving carefully using tree’s, bushes and car’s as cover, he pursued the
woman for what seemed like hours, occasionally losing sight of her momentarily
but finding her quite easily and this worried him. Was she letting me track her? Is it
a trap? he wondered. He felt for his phone in his pocket but felt nothing, in the
rush he had left it back at his apartment along with his wallet.
‘Damnit’ He scolded, under his breath.
Chandler followed the woman all the way to the other end of town, the
infamous part of town rife with murder and drug deals. The local community had
nicknamed it ‘The Ruins’. It was a miserable place, full of crumbling, grey tower
blocks and abandoned cars.
Chandler watched the woman as she approached a line of garages and stood
in front of the second door along, slipping under it and closing it behind her.
Chandler sat down behind a burnt-out car on the rough gravel and pondered what
his next step was. He supposed that he could return home and call the police, he
knew where he could find her now after all but just as he was about to turn away
and run home, he heard the garage door open again. He kept low and watched her
from under the car. She appeared from the garage, looking as disturbing as she did
before. She closed the garage door and walked away, no skip this time, she walked
with purpose around a corner and out of sight. Everything in Chandler told him to
run the opposite direction and sort this out with the police, but he just couldn’t get
the thought of the camera from his mind. Did she leave the garage door unlocked?
he suspected she had. Chandler raced from behind the car, to the garage door and
slipped under the door, closing it softly behind him. There was no light in the
garage, but some light seeped in from the seams of the door. It didn’t illuminate
much but there was a strong smell of candles and smoke. Finding the light switch,
he flicked it and illuminated the room.
‘What the hell…’ Chandler muttered to himself.
Grief washed over Chandler and he wished he had run the opposite
direction, he wished he had called the police and not entered the garage. The walls
and tables were littered with pictures of him. Photos of him sleeping in his bed, at
restaurants with his ex-girlfriend, even of him stood atop a house he helped build
last July. All of the photos were definitely him, his blonde hair, his stocky frame,
the photos were so clear you could see the acne scars on his face but each of them
had the same drawings over them. Thick black crosses scribbled over his eyes
messily. The sound of the garage door handle shaking snapped him out of his
shocked stupor and daylight filled the room as the door opened.
The woman stood stunned at the sight of Chandler inside the garage. They
both stood and matched each other’s stunned gaze for what seemed to Chandler as
hours. The woman’s expression slowly turned to a sly grin and broke the silence.
‘Do you like my collection?’ She said excitedly.
‘You’re crazy!’ Chandler snapped back.
‘Aren’t we all?’ She replied snidely.
Before he could think she grabbed a screwdriver from a table and lunged at
him. He stepped to the side just in time and she narrowly missed his stomach.
Grabbing the woman, Chandler threw her at the table, knocking it over and
spreading hundreds of pictures across the floor. Running for the door like his life
depended on it, he reached out for the handle, just as he seized it the woman
speared him in the calf with the screwdriver. Chandler wailed out in pain and
pulled the screwdriver out of his leg. Waving the bloody screwdriver at the woman
The woman looked up at him and then softly started to giggle.
‘See! We’re all a little crazy!’ The woman splutters out in between laughs.
Chandler lifted the door and ran away from the garage. He was limping
heavily, but adrenaline pushed him through the pain. His mind was racing at a
million miles, but he remembered he once heard about a police station that had
been built on the outskirts of The Ruins, it had been in all of the local papers. The
photo’s he had seen still lingered around his head as he looked over his shoulder
again. He hadn’t seen the woman since he got away. She mustn’t have followed me?
As Chandler turned a corner, he seen a horde of police cars parked outside
the station, he had made it. He sighed relief and thanked god he had made it away
from her. He slowed his pace down to a brisk walk, his heart pounding still but
slowing with every breath. He crossed the road and was within a stone’s throw of
the station when he caught sight of someone out the corner of his eye on the
adjacent side street. Before he could turn to look, the woman leapt out at him and
hit him hard with a brick across his forehead. He tried to let out a cry for help, but
his voice had eluded him. Chandlers world faded to black.
Chandler woke slowly, his eyes blurry and his head pounding like a drum. He
couldn’t move but he blinked a few times to try and focus his eyes. He was back at
the garage, the same cheap swinging light and smoky smell. He turned his head to
the left and she was there. He wasn’t surprised this time nor was he shocked at her
deranged look. He looked to the right and this time he was shocked. Photos of other
men looked back at him, he didn’t know any of them, but they all had the same
crosses over their eyes and a candle lit in front of them. He looked down his body
and to find thick black tape securing him to the table, he couldn’t move an inch.
‘Why are you doing this?’ He whimpered.
‘I like your eyes.’ She answered softly.
Chandler sobbed harder as the woman stood up and stooped next to him. She
leant down, and he could feel her warm breath on his ear. Then she moved to
another table and picked something up. She turned back towards him holding a
long knife. Chandler frantically shook and wriggled around but it made no
difference, the woman just stood, in a daze, a blank look layered on her face,
‘Please. Please just let me go home.’ Chandler begged. ‘I won’t go to the
police. I promise!’
A small leer grew on one side of her mouth as she stopped over his heart
with the point of the knife and slowly pushed it hard through his chest. The woman
spoke softly as she watched the life drain from Chandler.
‘You are home. Your home is with us now.’
(c) Josh Cassidy