Date Night

December 14, 2017
By Taylor_Strawn BRONZE, Sioux City, Iowa
Taylor_Strawn BRONZE, Sioux City, Iowa
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I was spending my Saturday night exactly how I would like. Snuggled in with a blanket on the couch, reading a book, drinking hot chocolate, with the fireplace across the room flickering occasionally. While most of my friends were facing the cold for a night out at the clubs, I was more than happy to be keeping to myself for a night. I even had shut my phone off in order to prevent myself from wasting yet another night on social media.
I became fully engrossed in the story in front of me without even giving reality a thought when I heard banging on my door. Grumbling to myself, I walked over and looked in the peephole, only to see my boyfriend standing on the other side of the door. I unlatched the lock while turning the doorknob and pulled the door open. I was met with a giant grin.


“You weren’t answering your phone so I decided to come over and check on you.”


“I was trying to read, Andy, and you know I hate distractions. Why were you trying to call me anyway?” I laughed.


“I have a surprise! Happy date night, Lori.” He pulled a small bouquet of flowers from behind his back and stepped inside- without asking might I add.


“I told you I was spending the night in tonight- “


“And now you’re spending it out. With me. Please?” He flashed another smile and I finally agreed, running upstairs to change. I slid on a pair of jeans, pulled a sweater over my head, and ran my brush through my hair hastily before running downstairs where he was waiting. I reached for my flats when Andy told me I might want to wear more comfortable shoes, holding up my black sneakers.


“What exactly do you have planned for this date night?” I asked him.


“I told you. It’s a surprise!” I slipped my foot into the shoes and tied them quickly, before standing up with a bounce and facing him. “Ready?” I gave him a small smile and nodded, and we made our way out of my apartment. I pulled the door shut behind me and began to follow Andy out of the building entirely. “Oh, and you might want to put this on,” he told me as he handed my winter coat to me.


“Where’s yours?” I slipped my arms into the cold fabric, willing it to warm up quickly.


“In the car.” He held the door open to the outside and I followed him over to his car, climbing in and immediately being met with warm air. I relaxed as he messed with first the heat buttons, then the radio, before finally throwing it into reverse and heading towards the main road. I knew he wouldn’t tell me where he was taking us, so I sat back in my seat and listened to the radio as he took turn after turn.


Nearly a half hour later, he finally slowed the car and put it into park while announcing we were here. What kind of date is this? We’re in the middle of nowhere.


“All I see is trees,” I told him, half-laughing and half-serious.


“That’s the fun part. This date is all about what you make of it. Just us in the middle of nowhere! Come on!” He headed off toward the trees and I reluctantly followed. My fingers were already numbed with cold and I was finding it harder to talk as I lost more and more feeling in my face.


As time went on, even though it was cold I found I was having a lot of fun. It was really nice to be able to spend time with Andy with no distractions. Just him and I doing something together. Suddenly, Andy’s hand clamped around my wrist.


“Don’t do that! Scaring me isn’t funny – “


“Hush!” I was annoyed at being cut off but listened to him. “Follow me. I think I hear someone,” he whispered so quietly it was almost inaudible. He started pulling me over towards him when my toe hit something solid and I fell to the ground. I reached behind me to move the branch so I wouldn’t trip over it again on our way back, but it felt squishy and almost soft to the touch.


“What in the…” I mumbled as I continued poking at the object, trying to figure out what it was.


“Come on!” Andy practically hissed, but still managing to stay as quiet as a mouse. I clumsily climbed to my feet and began walking closer to him again. It was probably just a branch anyway. I mean, it is really cold and my fingers are numbed so I didn’t get the best sense of what it felt like. I’m only scaring myself because Andy has me paranoid that someone is here, too.


Right then, I heard exactly what he was talking about. There was a rustle of leaves, directly to the left of where we were standing now, on the opposite side of the path we were on moments ago. There was no doubt about it; Andy and I were not alone in these woods.


“Use your flashlight and see who it is,” I whispered directly into Andy’s ear. I was met with silence. “You did bring one, right?” Silence. “You’re telling me you brought us into the middle of nowhere and you didn’t bring a flashlight?” My voice was getting slightly louder but I figured it didn’t matter. That person knew we were there just like we knew of their presence as well.


“Let’s go. Something doesn’t seem right.” He gave me a gentle push meant more for direction than anything, but I was thankful for having a reason to move my feet. We walked as quietly as possible for what seemed like an eternity before I heard the simple word “Run”. My brain didn’t think as my body reacted to Andy’s words. Only a few minutes later, we arrived back at the car and I practically jumped in and slammed the door shut behind me, hearing Andy do the same. He jabbed the key into the ignition and turned it, and then turned his brights on the woods we had just run from.


My eyes skimmed the entire length of the trees but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Our heavy breathing filled the silence as we both tried, but failed, to make sense of what happened.

***

I couldn’t believe it. As soon as I brought myself back from that memory, I backed up the television program to double check if what I was hearing was right.


“Can you tell me about the one time you thought you were going to getting caught, but managed to avoid it?” the Interviewer asked the man, Ted Bundy. He took a minute to think before responding, but once the words started flowing, shivers were sent down my spine.


“I remember this one time, in particular, it was a cold night in the middle of winter and I had just lured my latest victim into the woods. I, of course, killed her right there in the middle of the path, when I heard voices approaching the exact location I was hiding. The footsteps were getting louder as the seconds ticked by, so I knew they were close, and I also knew I didn’t have much time. I tried moving the body out of the way, but it wasn’t easy because you know, dead weight.” He chuckled as if he had just told an amazing joke and I grimaced. “I could hear the voices clearly now; they were that of a male and a female. They sounded younger, probably teenagers, but I also knew that they were old enough to know what to do if they saw me next to this woman’s body. So, I did what any person with sense would do; I ran about two feet into the trees and hid. I think the boy must have heard me rustling the leaves or my footsteps or something because he stopped the girl he was with and basically told her to shut up. I think he tried to hide in the trees like I did, but the girl tripped over the body. I could hear the commotion she made as she fell, but then there was silence. I hoped and prayed she wouldn’t discover what it was she next to, but after a few seconds, I heard them only a few feet away from me. I could hear the girl complaining about a flashlight or something, but I was simply waiting for them to leave so I could dispose of the body to prevent getting caught. We stood there for minutes, waiting to see who was going to show themselves first when I heard their soft footsteps walking away from where I was standing. When I heard them begin to run, I knew I had slipped by, but I was more careful after this, not daring to have another close encounter like this one. It really is too bad they didn’t catch me, though. It would’ve saved the lives of those who came after her. I bet those kids didn’t even know what they had stumbled into.” He laughed again before the camera switched off of him.


“Andy…” I called to my now-husband in a shaky voice and I backed up the program yet again. He walked in and sat next to me on the couch. “Watch,” I managed to squeak out, although it was barely loud enough for him to hear. I slowly pressed down on the play button and watched the blood drain from his face. He figured out what I just had. We sat there in silence, soaking in our newly gained knowledge, but yet not wanting to believe it. We had narrowly escaped one of the world’s most famous serial killers.


The author's comments:

Dear Editor: 

 

I am submitting a short story, "Date Night" for consideration in Teen Ink. It is 1658 words. 

 

I have previously been published in Harvest magazine. 

 

Please recycle my manuscript if it does not fit your editorial needs. I hope to hear from you soon. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

 

Taylor Strawn


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