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Hayley traversed along the uneven black road of her neighbourhood from work. The road was moistened from an earlier rain, and fallen leaves plastered the asphalt. A slight breeze caused tendrils of honey-brown hair to cavort on the young woman’s head. The sky was painted with clouds the colour of gun metal, and though the sun was setting, its colours did not pierce the melancholy sky.
Hayley however, was not melancholy. After all, she was only days from her wedding. She considered the sky, the street lamps that were beginning to light up, and hurried along the road to the house in which she lived in, alone.
Keys jangled, a lock clicked, a door opened. Hayley strolled into her house comfortably and then climbed upstairs to her room. Hayley’s room was very typical. There was a chair next to the bed, a closet on the other side of the room, and a few personal belongings scattered about. On the chair was the bridal veil she was to wear for her wedding. Hayley gazed upon the veil, studying the sheer white fabric.
Hayley blinked. When her eyes opened, a crimson liquid disturbed the perfect white of the veil. The substance spread across the veil, like a red rose blooming in the celebration of love. It dried and congealed, revealing a metallic scent. When Hayley blinked once more, the redness and stench of the veil had disappeared, like some grotesque reverie.
The young woman was nauseated. The metallic scent that was just in the air was gone, but the memory so clear she thought she could still smell it. Hayley lifted the veil, inspecting every inch of it, but could not find anything tainting the transparent fabric.
"I imagined it. I’m just exhausted from work." Hayley tried to reassure herself.
Hayley placed the veil gingerly onto the sofa. She then walked out of her bedroom, into her office, and settled down at her desk to labour on a work project. She turned on her computer and began to type on it, its stark white light illuminating her face and contrasting with the dark room. She hummed a nursery song as she worked.
"One for sorrow
Two for mirth
Three for a wedding
Four for a birth..."
After a while, she stopped, and opened a drawer on her desk. Her hand reached over to retrieve a notebook, and brushed against a loaded gun. Hayley recovered the notebook. She then continued to type on her computer, keys clicking in fast rhythm. Then an eerie sound interrupted her.
Tap... Tap... Tap...
This sound was not the crisp conversation of the computer keys snapping. No, the sound came from above... something seemed to be moving in the dusty attic. Perhaps Hayley had rats in her attic, but after her vision of the veil, she was not in her most rational state. She did not want to work any longer, so she saved her work and turned off the computer. Hayley then scurried away to her bedroom. She opened her closet door to retrieve pyjamas, changed out of her day clothes, turned off the lights, and crawled into bed. Hayley did not fall asleep for a long time, her mind roiling in a primitive anxiety she could not identify.
Scintillating rays of sunlight awakened Hayley. Her eyes closed once or twice, and then adjusted to the brightness. She yawned and pulled herself out of bed. Hayley then walked to the room’s window to observe the neighbourhood. It was the same as it had always been, except that to Hayley’s surprise, there was a magpie settled on a tree branch in her yard. Hayley smiled, remembering the nursery song she had hummed last night, and waited for another magpie to come. None came. She shrugged and stumbled to her closet for a change of clothes. Hayley reached to open the closet, but then noticed something bizarre. Her bridal veil always rested on her chair; Hayley would never move it out of place.
However, the veil was now placed on the foot of her bed.
“Oh... Oh my God,” gasped Hayley.
Hayley lived alone, so there was no one else who could have closed the door, and Hayley was certain that she left the door open the night before. She was now truly frightened. This wasn’t the kind of fright one felt on a ride at the fair. This was the feeling that comes when one is sure that they feel something’s uncanny presence but cannot see it. That one is being watched, yet the watcher is veiled with a cover of darkness and secrets.
Hayley’s mind was then bombarded with multiple thought-forms, all relating to her terror and what she could do about it. Should she just relax and dismiss the sounds of last night and the closet door as coincidental? Should she call 911 just in case? Hayley was a cautious (if not paranoid) person, and she remembered from her childhood that if anything felt wrong, finding help would be the priority. Hayley reached for one of her home phones and dialled 9-1-1.
“Hello 911 what’s your emergency?” came a pleasant female voice on the other side of the phone.
“I’ve been hearing strange sounds and my closet door is closed when I never closed it!” wailed Hayley. “I’m so scared. What should I do?”
Hayley heard an exasperated sigh on the other side and then a response.
“Please Miss; don’t call 911 unless it’s a real emergency.”
“But this is an emergency! There is definitely something in my house that is not welcome! I can feel it!” cried Hayley desperately.
“Miss,” sighed the woman once more, “if you really need someone, go get a friend or someone you trust to come over to your home and give you company. Thank you. I am now hanging up.”
Hayley listened to the click of the woman hanging up her phone. Then Hayley heard another click, the sound of another phone being hung up before her own, though she held her own phone in her trembling hand.
Hayley, thoroughly frightened by this, dialled the person she trusted the most - her fiancé.
“What’s up, girl?” came the voice of her fiancé.
“Could you come over to my place?” begged Hayley. “Please?”
“What is it? You sound scared,” said her fiancé. His voice became less conversational.
“I am. I’ll tell you when you get here,” replied Hayley. “You have keys to my house right?”
“Yeah. The ones you gave me last month.”
Hayley ended the call and dropped the phone. With her safety in mind, Hayley went to her office and took the loaded gun out of her desk. She didn’t want anything coming after her before her fiancé arrived.
5 minutes later Hayley heard the door open, and almost ran down the stairs, gun still in hand, to welcome her fiancé. She led him to her bedroom and told him about every single strange occurrence that had happened since the night before, except the strange vision of the red veil – a hallucinating bride isn’t very appealing.
“That must have been creepy. Are you okay?” asked Hayley’s fiancé.
“I’m alright, just scared. So what should I do about it?” asked Hayley. She was sitting on her chair, toying with her veil nervously, sometimes putting it over her head.
But then a single realization struck her. Her hands stilled. There was absolutely no way anyone could get into her house other than her... and her fiancé. He had the keys. Now that she thought of it, he had an abnormal amount of dust on him, as if he spent time in an attic. His eyes were ringed with shadows, as if he stayed up all night. He took a short time to get to her house, yet he didn’t have any appointments or events that would bring him near the area. Was her fiancé the watcher?
Hayley looked at the man she was to marry, and saw her gun in his hands. She met his eyes, and the eyes she stared at were horrible. They were detached and cold; not the eyes of someone she trusted.
Before Hayley could speak or make any move, the man with the horrible eyes raised the gun and pulled the trigger.
Hayley’s eyes widened with shock. Not fear, the time for that was over. Some droplets of blood had interspersed on the veil that was still on Hayley’s head. A trickle of blood ran down from Hayley’s chest down to the floor. Hayley gasped for air, but couldn’t; blood percolated into her lungs.
I’m drowning, thought Hayley, Drowning in my own blood.
“Why?” wheezed Hayley, “Why kill me?”
The man’s reply was troubling. “I was engaged to 11 women, 11 different times before you, and 12 times I’ve manipulated and controlled all of you. Can’t you see? It’s all a game.” His voice was as dispassionate as his eyes, almost as if he were dead.
The flow of blood down Hayley’s leg pooled on the floor. She took one more shuddering breath. Then she was still. The veil on her head slid past her motionless body and rested upon the pool of blood. The substance spread across the veil, like a red rose blooming in the celebration of love.