Dustin pulled over and hit the brakes. His car, a rusted out but still functional ’78 Olds Cutlass Supreme, screeched to a halt. He wasted no time getting out of his safety belt. The girl turned her head to look at him as she darted across the lawn of an old house with faded green paint. She ran up the steps to the front porch, grabbed the door knob, turned it and ran inside, slamming the door shut behind her.
As the door closed, Dustin was crossing the street. He ran swiftly to the house and tried the door. It was unlocked. He turned the knob and pushed the door open. He stepped to the side as it swung open. He cautiously looked inside, wary for any nasty surprises. The front room was empty. The sound of running footsteps came to him from somewhere within the house.
Dustin stepped inside and closed the door. As an afterthought, he locked it, both with the deadbolt and the chain lock near the top of the door.
“Hey, little girl,” he called out as he stepped into the small front room. Silence greeted him. No more sound of motion, no screaming for help, nothing. The absence of noise bothered him a bit. The girl was only fifteen, and he would have expected to hear something from her. Screaming in the hopes a neighbor would hear and come to her aid, certainly. Crying, perhaps. Pleading with him to leave her alone, almost a dead certainty. Silence was not on Dustin’s radar of possible responses from his victim.
He was not worried about any intervention. Dustin had surveilled his prey for the last two weeks. The girl’s parents would not be home till later. Many of the neighbors were at their jobs as well. As for the ones who weren’t, well, Dustin didn’t plan on being there long. Grab the girl, get her out to his car, and get the hell out of Dodge. Simple and sweet.
The quiet unnerved him a bit. He wondered if maybe her father owned a gun. Maybe she was lying in wait, crouched behind a door with a gun ready to blow him straight to hell when he entered the room. Could be she was trying to hide, hoping her silence would make it hard enough to find her that he would be forced to leave, rather than wasting time and putting himself in danger of being caught.
Maybe she’s already called the police, he thought. They could be on their way here right now. The smart thing to do would be to go back outside, get in his car, and leave. The thought of her drove him on, however. He had been fantasizing about all the things he’d like to do with her. Ever since he’s first seen her three weeks ago, his mind had been inflamed with images of her. No, he had come for her today, and he was not going to leave empty-handed.
“It’s ok, little girl,” he said. “If you come out now, I won’t be angry with you. If you make me have to find you, it won’t be fun when I do. Come out!” There was no response. He waited a minute, giving her a chance, but silence reigned.
“I’m getting angry,” he shouted. “Last chance!”
“I’m upstairs,” came a voice from the second floor. “I’m in my bedroom.”
Dustin paused. The voice that came down to him did not sound scared. There was an air of calm to the girl’s speech that bothered him. She should be frightened. The girl should have screamed at him to go away or leave her alone, or something to that effect. Divulging her location in a calm, unhurried voice was not a response Dustin anticipated. Again, the idea that he should turn and leave went through his mind. He stood still, thinking about his options, then he shook his head. He was being silly, he thought. Quiet or not, unafraid or not, she was still a teenage girl and he was a fully-grown adult in his prime. No way was she a match for him.
Dustin walked to the set of stairs leading up to the kitchen and turned to the right. A short hallway led maybe fifteen feet to another set of stairs leading up to the third floor. He ascended the stairs and stopped on the third-floor landing. There was a bathroom off the top of the stairs. Past the bathroom door, there were two bedrooms on the right and left of the landing. The door to the room on the right was closed.
He peeked into the room on the left. It was empty. Dustin went deeper into the room. Along the wall to the left after entering, there was a closet. He quickly checked it. Nothing. The girl could only be in the other bedroom. He went back out to the landing.
“I’m coming in,” Dustin called out. “You better not be planning to do something bad. You don’t want to make me angry.” He grasped the doorknob, turned it, and pushed the door open. The doorway faced a short wall. He would have to step through and turn to his left to see into the room. Cautiously and slowly leaning into the room, he craned his neck to the left. The girl was standing facing him, on the other side of a bed. There was a window streaming in sunlight on the wall behind the girl. She was standing there quietly facing in his direction.
After a moment or two observing her, Dustin was satisfied she was not holding a gun or any other weapon. She simply stood there, hands at her sides, facing the doorway. Dustin stepped into the room and smiled at her.
“Come on, let’s go,” he said.
“Are you sure,” she asked him in response. She smiled, waiting for him to respond.
Dustin, for the first time that he could remember, was struck speechless. Her words to him were so alien, so foreign to his experience, that she may as well have been speaking Chinese. Nothing about the situation was right. He felt an icy clutch of fear in his heart as he stood there looking at his prospective victim. A few seconds passed as they stood staring at each other.
“Let’s play a game,” the girl said, breaking the silence. Her smile grew larger. “How about ‘Tag, you’re it?'”
A split second later, Dustin decided it would be best to leave. He stepped back through the doorway and began turning toward the stairs.
“Wait,” the girl exclaimed loudly. Against his better judgment, he turned back toward her and then froze in shock. She was staring at him with a full, open-mouthed smile. As he looked at her, her smile stretched wider. Dustin realized something was wrong with her face. It was as if her mouth was growing larger. A second later, he realized not only was it growing larger, her jaw was extending forward. The girl suddenly hunched over and Dustin could see the muscles in her back swelling and flexing.
She’s getting bigger, Dustin thought. Indeed, she was. Her flowery pink shirt was clinging tighter to her body by the second. She suddenly jerked her head upward and fixed her gaze on the man. A feral light shone in her eyes and she growled at him. Her hands were opening and closing spasmodically, and as Dustin watched, her fingers grew longer and sharp claws extended forth from her fingertips.
He needed no further encouragement. Dustin turned and ran down the stairs and through the hall to the kitchen. Somehow, he managed to turn and make his way down the main stairs to the front room without tripping and falling down the steps.
He almost made it to the door.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The girl opened the door and looked out at the policeman standing on the front porch.
“We got word there was a disturbance,” the cop stated. “Is everything ok?”
“Yeah, everything’s fine here,” the girl responded, looking at the officer with a confused look on her face. “Why?”
“We got a call that maybe there was an intruder at your house. Are you sure everything’s ok?”
“Yeah, it’s all good,” she said. “There was a salesman that was here a few minutes ago, but I told him we weren’t interested and he left. No intruder.”
“Do you know if that’s his vehicle,” the cop asked, turning and pointing to the Olds Cutlass parked on the other side of the street.
“I have no idea,” she answered. “I’m sorry.”
After the cop left, she went back up to her bedroom. Dustin was laying on her bed. His eyes flared with fear and he tried to scream, but the duct tape across his mouth prevented him from making more than a muffled moan. The fact that his knees and elbows had been brutally shattered kept him from being able to try and escape. He could only lie helplessly in pain and terror as the girl entered the room. She walked over to the bed and gazed down at Dustin.
“Dinnertime,” she said.