Everything about today sucked.
Steffie couldn’t seem to smoke enough cigarettes to burn out the disgust she felt at her miserable Saturday. The ghosts were getting rowdy and her mom had to work late for the fourth night in a row. Westfield Memorial was suffering from serious staffing shortages, so Steffie was ordered to put on her big girl pants and suck it up—her mother was needed to save lives.
My life needs saving too, mom Steffie thought bitterly. All she could do was lock herself in her bedroom, crank her record player up as high as it could scream, and dance. Her thick curly hair was let down and flew wild as she threw her arms into the air and tossed her head around in abandon. Music was her only release from this every day hell.
The acoustics in her room weren’t terrible but they weren’t ideal either, and in that fit of adolescent rage Steffie got the brilliant idea to hook her record player up in the basement.
On an average day the basement was a no-go zone for Steffie. She had been down there once when they first moved in, but she was immediately overcome by the most overwhelming sense of fear. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and she broke into a cold sweat, but as far as she could see there was nothing around to incite the response.
Since then she had done everything in her power to steer clear of the room. Tonight, though, nothing could scare her—she felt fearless and out of control. She was running out of space on her arms for the blade, and was starting to lose her concept of what was real in this house of lies and what was purely illusion. To top it off, Tate hadn’t been to see her in days.
After day 2 of his absence she tried to convince herself that she didn’t even care. Tate Langdon was a nuisance, a voyeuristic fly on her wall. After day 5 she couldn’t take his unbroken silence anymore and took to creeping around the house t night whispering his name, and leaving small piles of skittles in dark corners. It was day 9 and Steffie decided she actually didn’t care.
Once the record player was set up, she blasted her Santana vinyl as loud as it would go. Lighting a cigarette, she exhaled as she moved her hips to the beat of the song.
Dance, sister, dance
Holding the cigarette between her lips, she threw her hands in the air and moved her hips in a circle.
I love the way you move
She heard a movement over the music coming from the far end of the basement, but closed her eyes instead of checking to see what it was.
I love to watch you
Oh I’m sure you do, she thought, smiling as she took another puff. Her dance never faltered even as the sounds of movement got closer.
Dance, sister, dance
Feel the rhythm flow into your soul
In the darkness she moved her hands in beckoning gesture, inviting the rhythm to flow into her soul. The sound grew ever closer.
Dance, sister, dance
Feel the rhythm flow
Feel the rhythm flow through you
“I think I feel it now,” she whispered, shaking her shoulders in the direction of the sound. “Do you feel it?”
The response was a low growl and a wash of hot, rancid breath over her face. Before Steffie’s body could respond in terror, a pair of strong arms grabbed her from behind and ripped her away from the sound. A blood curdling scream tore out of her mouth as she was dragged upstairs, her limbs thrashing about in a wild attempt to free herself from her attacker.
Still screaming, Steffie was thrown into the bright light of the kitchen and pinned down by the assailant. “What the fuck are you still screaming for? I saved you already,” he shouted in her face, apparently at a loss on how to calm her down.
She blinked up at him for a few moments of stunned silence before touching his face. “Tate? What the hell? Get off me!”
Tate jumped to his feet, shaking his head. “What were you doing in the basement? You never go down there.”
Shakily she got to her feet and smoothed out her t-shirt, making a mental note to never leave her room without pants on again. “The real question is what’s down in the basement that I have to be afraid of?”
“You should be afraid of everything in this house, Steffie, but especially the basement. You seem to forget you’re living in the murder house.”
Steffie opened her mouth to argue but decided against it. “Well since you aren’t afraid of anything can you get my record player?”
“Only if you’ll flamenco for me, my little burrito,” he snickered.
“First of all, the flamenco is dead,” I said, shoving him. “Secondly, that’s racist—I’m only half a burrito.”
He threw his hands up in mock apology. “Allow me to politically correct myself: How about you pop that ass for me, my little burrito-fried-chicken combo?”
I grabbed a spatula and chucked it at his head. He easily ducked it and stuck his tongue out at me before heading back down into the basement.
Day 73 and counting.