Popularity kills

I worked for a big mining company which was based in the Chicago on South Michigan Ave. Each day I woke up, went for a jog at the park near by apartment, showered, went to work, had lunch by Monroe Harbor with a female colleague, and finished my day before going home at 5 o’clock. I always took the train.

This day, however, was different. My colleague called in sick. At lunch hour, while walking through the gardens to get to Monroe Harbor, I bumped into an old woman. Somebody had suddenly stopped in front of me, and I side-stepped them, bumping into a woman who I swear wasn’t there seconds ago. She appeared homeless as her clothes were dirty and drab, and she hair was greying, stiff and knotted. The woman turned around and looked at me. I stood there, holding my lunch in my paper bag. I suddenly felt my stomach tried to escape through my mouse and my heart sank, because she had a face twice as long as a normal face and no eyes. I fainted.

I woke up on the floor with people at my side. A police officer was there, so was the old woman, only this time, she looked… normal, her face was normal and so were her eyes, albeit in bad hygiene due to being homeless.

The officer asked if I was okay, I told him I was. He told me that I had fainted, and he will escort me to the hospital. I told him I was okay, then jokingly told him that I probably just need sugar. I kept looking back to the old woman, who stood amongst the circle, with a look of concern on her face. I got to my feet and decided to go back to the office instead. Every step was quickened by fear as the old woman creeped the hell out of me. Although it was my mind playing tricks on me, I was still freaked out nonetheless.

The rest of my day was one of the worst day’s in my working life. I had never been so unfocused or unproductive in all my days. I ruled it down to fainting and it probably took a lot out of me. I felt like I just sat in my chair for hours, looking into blank space. When I finally came back to it, it was 7 o’clock. Crap. How did that happen? The pile of work on my desk had not moved, and everyone had gone home. The cleaners were vacuuming the floors and wiping each desk.

I packed my bag and left the office building for the train. I was feeling slightly nauseous and felt very uncomfortable, but I was looking forward to going home and getting into bed. Taking my shoes off, wrapping myself in my big, comfortable blanket and curling into a ball seemed like heaven and motivated me to get home as soon as I could.

But something put a damper on my spirited walk. It wasn’t just the feeling of nausea or feeling uncomfortable, but more like the feeling that I was being watched… or followed. I looked behind me to reassure myself. Nothing appeared unusual at first, but then subconsciously, I swear I saw that old woman’s face behind me. I turned back again and scanned. The old woman was there in the distance, walking in the same direction as I was. My pace became quicker as her presence felt more than coincidence this time.

I turned back and scanned a few times on my way to the station, but she appeared closer and closer. I realised as she approached, she was staring at me the whole time. I kept assuring myself, it was just a big coincidence, but I still felt safe enough to go about my business as Chicago was still full of people.

I knew this part of Chicago really well, so I took a few random turns to try and lose her. She was still following behind me. So I proceeded to make some stops, pretending to window shop. What I was really doing, was observing this woman in the reflection of the windows with what little light the streets gave me. When I stopped, she stopped. My entire body felt hot due to nervousness. Remaining calm, I walked as my legs allowed me without making it seem like I was running, towards the train station, checking each window I passed to see that the woman was still behind me, but falling behind.

I reached the station and made it to the platform I needed. The train was there, loading up passengers and about to leave. I ran onto the train just as the doors closed. The train chimed to indicate that all doors were closed, and we were departing. I saw the old woman through the train window as I stood by a pole, holding it for support. Her face was again twice as long and without eyes.

I turned around and faced the other side of the train, switching hands on the pole. My apartment complex isn’t that far from the train station, so once the train arrived, I safely got home. The feeling of nausea was gone. I no longer felt uncomfortable and I was suddenly extremely hungry and thirsty.

I usually ate pretty healthy, but I suddenly felt like the cheesiest, oiliest, fattiest thing I knew how to make, so I made myself a melted peanut better sandwich. Peanut butter on the inside, deep fried in a pain, then cheese baked on the top in the oven, covered in maple syrup. I ate this with such joy, practically having tears down my face after each loving bite tasting better than the last. I washed each bite down with a glass of matured Merlot, while watching junk on TV.

I scanned through channels as each channel started showing infomercials. That woman’s face started appearing on TV. I thought I was going mad, so I kept changing channels, trying to flush it out of my head. Nothing seemed to work, so I grabbed the magazine from my coffee table and opened up to a random page. Neutrogina. Eva Longoria. Make up. I thought of random things to try and free my mind of that woman’s face. I turned the page. The old woman’s face was on it!

I put the magazine down.

“I know what you did!”. I screamed! And looked up ahead of me to where that voice came from. The woman with the long face and no eyes was standing about 6 feet away from me in my living room, more horrifying than ever. Her skin was a shade of grey, her eyes were empty, revealing just the sockets, her hair was loose, wet and wavy, and she had the largest grin on her face with no teeth, elongating her face even more.

I whimpered and stuttered… “what do you want from me?” Tears running down my face and legs curled up to my chest, secured by my arms to try and comfort myself. The woman kept grinning. I was paralysed and fear, but I somehow mustered the courage to get to my feet, in this unfathomable situation. The only way to escape her was to leave this apartment, or so I thought. I ran towards the door. In the seconds that I looked at her as I ran past, till when I looked at the front door to reach out for the door handle, she was suddenly there and caught me. She put her hand on around my neck and squeezed tight.

I fell to my knees and head tilted down at me. If she had eyes, she would have been staring at me. I gasped for hair, trying to pull her arm away from my neck. Her grin continued.

As I started to lose consciousness, I started experiencing flashbacks. I started mouthing “I’m sorry” with my lips because I didn’t have any air to say the words. Tears were running down my face. I repeated myself, and repeated myself, mouthing the words I’m sorry.

Suddenly, I could breathe. The woman’s hand was gone. I fell to my hands and knees, gasping and breathing in as much air as I could, winded by the events. I looked up and the woman was gone. I looked behind me, nowhere to be seen. I got to my feet and grabbed my cell. Locking myself in the bathroom, I called 911.

To cut a long story short, I heard a knock on the door. I was told by the dispatcher that the police have arrived at my home and I needed to answer the door. I obliged. I opened the door, and two uniformed police officers were there.

I hung up the phone to the dispatcher and placed my hands in front of my body. Tears were running down my face due to the overwhelming guilt I had been feeling. The police cuffed me and escorted me to their car.

When I was in college, I had befriended a girl in my year because she was smart. She helped me get good grades, and in return, she was suppose to hang out with me and my friends, to gain popularity, and above all else, protection from her bullies at school. What made this even more sensitive was, my mother and her mother were cousins, so she was actually my second cousin, but I pretended like we weren’t related.

On prom night, my mother insisted that she came with me. Honestly, I wanted to hang out with my boyfriend and our mutual friends, as we all had a partner, but she was the odd one out, and everyone in the group was annoyed with me for inviting her, not knowing that she was related to me, or the massive favor she was doing for me.

We took a limousine to the prom. The girl, my second cousin wasn’t going to go, but I pressured her into coming and told her to not tell her mother or mine, that she was taking a limo with us… that was the price she had to pay for riding with us.

My boyfriend, me, the girl, and two other couples from our group rode together. We had decided beforehand, that we would pretend that we desperately had to go and do our business behind some bushes at the side of the road, quickly get in the car and leave the girl there, then later when the prom was over and she eventually made it or went home, blame it on the limousine driver. It sounds absolutely ridiculous now I know, but back then, at the risk of losing my status and friends, it sounded like the most “humane” thing to do without losing face. I felt like I had no choice.

So right down to the last detail in our plan, my second cousin, got out of the limo with us, we went into the bushes, then all ran back into the limo without her. However, she would never make it to prom or back home that night. Instead, she was brutally murdered and mutilated. In the bushes was a man who happened to be nearby. After choking her and raping her, he ripped her jaw from her face, elongating her face and imposing a smile.

To this day, I strongly believe that the old woman in my house was my second cousin’s guise, I’m not sure how, I’m not sure why, but ever since I came clean to the authorities, I have not seen her again.

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