"The Spirit"

A 2019 Flash Fiction Winner: Cowley Alumni

“Paul, is that you?” Missy wondered. “You’re supposed to knock before coming in.”

Missy felt for her seeing eye cane and lifted it, swung it in an arc before her without intercepting anything. Rising from her recliner, Missy cocked her ear toward the sound she thought she heard. It came from the stairway to the basement, she thought. Missy stepped forward and listened again. She thought she heard breathing this time. Slow and muted, trying to hide the fact.

“Paul, damn it, I’m not kidding. Tell me you’re here. I mean it.” Missy commanded. Cocking her head again for any tell-tale signs. She kicked off her sandals to the side, leaving her bare feet on the wood floor, hoping she could feel any shift of weight in the room or hear a squeak of movement amongst the floorboards.

“It’s too early to play games, Paul. You never come until the sun goes down. I could still feel the warmth through the window. You’re beginning to piss me off. You know I don’t like surprises. Now, where are you?”

The quiet was more alarming than Missy imagined. When someone established their presence, Missy could “see” in her mind where they were in relation to herself within the house. Her mind was like a radar searching the horizon for any input. There was none. Whoever it was…Missy’s heart lurched. What if it wasn’t Paul? She had assumed it was. Paul came by each evening and shared his friendship with her, talking, laughing, playing mind games. This wasn’t the same.

“I’m giving you one last chance before I call the cops.” Missy reached in her pocket, retrieved her cellphone, flipped it open, and felt for the speed dial number which had 911 entered for her.

A malevolent voice spoke by her ear, “Trick…or…treat!”