The man in black

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A Halloween short story by Kevin Mercado

Knock knock!
Vanessa felt her heart skip a beat and she drew her hand to her chest. She looked toward the door from the couch. A movie was playing in the background. She wondered who would be at the door at this hour.
“Halloween’s over!” she screamed through the door. There was a scratching sound heard from the other side of the door. She heard the sound slide from the top of the door down toward the middle.
“What are you doing?” she asked. She slowly started inching toward the door. She reached her hand to slightly touch the doorknob. Then, one of the back room doors swung open. She took her hand away from the door and rested back on her chest. She turned around and saw her boyfriend, Jeremy.
“What’s going on babe?” Jeremy asked.
“Just some stupid trick-or-treaters playing with the door,” she answered.
“Good thing it isn’t your mom or she’d have my head,” Jeremy said.
“Don’t worry babe. She won’t be home for hours. She’s doing a double night shift at the hospital tonight. And Bobby is staying over at his friend’s house so they can count all of their candy and go into a sugar coma. It’s just you and me tonight,” she explained. She leaned in for a kiss until she heard a loud slam!
“What was that?” she asked as her head snapped back at the front door.
“It was probably nothing, don’t worry about it,” Jeremy said embracing her, turning her head back to him. Her eyes were widened. He leaned in and kissed her lips. Vanessa sighed as they separated and half smiled.
They began to make their way back to the couch. There was a faint series of thuds heard from outside. Jeremy and Vanessa stopped in their tracks. They both looked back.
“That can’t be nothing,” Vanessa said. She started toward the door.
“C’mon baby, don’t worry about it. Can we just watch the movie?” Jeremy asked, Vanessa ignoring him. Jeremy threw his hands up. Vanessa continued toward the door. She slowly pressed her face against the door through the peephole.
She saw darkened red blotches all over the yellow wallpaper out in the hallway of the apartment building. Her eye followed the wall down to the floor. She saw her neighbor looking back at her. Vanessa looked for a while at her neighbor who wasn’t blinking. Vanessa screamed and scurried back into Jeremy’s arms.
“What happened? What did you see?” Jeremy asked trying to console her. He held onto to her while she covered her mouth and pointed to the door. She was panting fast and taking short breaths.
Jeremy let her go and started toward the door himself. He looked out the peephole and said “Oh my god.” He looked back at Vanessa and shouted, “Mrs. Jennings is dead!”
Vanessa couldn’t form any words, but nodded in agreement.
“What are we gonna do?” Jeremy asked to which Vanessa only reply was a headshake.
“We gotta help her,” Jeremy said. He turned back to the door. He opened the door slowly and peeked his head out first. He looked both ways as if crossing the street and then determined that it was safe to leave the house. As he exited he whipped out his cell phone. Vanessa was immovable. Jeremy naturally understood that she was not going to go with him after a glance back at Vanessa. The door closed.
Vanessa sat on the arm of the couch, her face wet with tears. She kept wiping her face with her sleeve and shaking her leg. She sat there for a few minutes and then, heard Jeremy scream, “Hey! What are you doing? No, please no!” She shot up off the couch and took as step forward. She cupped her hands around her mouth.
There was a loud bang against the wall. She squealed and dropped to the floor, squatting.
Vanessa realized the door was still unlocked. She ran for the door. The knob was starting to turn from the outside. She struggled for a moment but successfully locked the door. She then ran to the corner of the living room, crouching behind her standing lamp that she turned off. Vanessa covered her mouth with her hands to keep quiet. She closed her eyes as well, as if it would change where she was.
From where she was crouched, she couldn’t see her door. She just heard the sounds from a distance. It got eerily quiet. It had been that way for a few minutes. She slowly got up and went for the window with the fire escape. She tiptoed through the house while it was dark.
She made her way to the window and threw it opened. She started reaching her leg out the window. When she finally got her head out of the window, straddling the windowsill with one leg in and one leg out, she looked up.
Vanessa saw a man dressed in all back with an unrecognizable face and let out another scream.

This piece is a work of fiction and does not reflect the ideas of The Albany Student Press

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