From M.M. Kelly

My neighborhood has had a lot of supposedly paranormal activity as of late. The police have made announcements that they can’t really respond to ethereal invaders. Complaints started within the book groups. Their contacts were never where they let them. They’d wake up with fresh ice in their drinks or an empty cup on their nightstands. Personally, I always find everything exactly where I leave it. I think they might be hitting the Jesus juice a little aggressively.

Honestly, I think the bigger crime is how often spouses spend the night separate from each other because of their jobs. The husbands miss their wives, the wives miss their husbands. After being single for most of my life, I can sympathize with them. Sleeping alone is terrible. Snuggling up to a warm person, the smell of their hair. It’s just the best.

Another odd thing around here, on top of the ghosts and so many people traveling so often is none of these people lock their deadbolts. Everyone is just a credit card swipe away! I guess when you have to go through gates to get into the community it gives you a lot of security. I still triple check my locks before bed. 

So I got a great idea. I ordered a white morph suit off of Amazon, and I watched. My neighbor across the street always seemed so sad that her husband had to travel so often. I waited for her car to be there by itself for a couple of nights. On the third night, I put my morph suit in a backpack and snuck into her yard in the middle of the night. All the lights were off, the back door popped open with one stab of my gas station rewards card. 

I switched my clothes for my morph suit in her mudroom, then crept up stairs as quietly as I could. I searched for her bedroom. I didn’t want the kids, or the computers. Sweet little Karen was my target. My eyes had adjusted to the darkness, I could just barely see her through the suit and by the star light. She tossed and turned, searching for something that simply wasn’t there. 

She looked like she was suffering. I slipped under the covers and sat my hand on her hip. She instantly settled down and snuggled into me, shoving her sweaty hair into my mask covered face. It was like she was personally telling me thank you. I conked out for what felt like a restful ten days, but her alarm clock told me it was only a few hours. I slipped back out, careful not to stir the now peaceful Karen. I changed in the mudroom again, then scurried back to my home under the cover of the night.

The next day at our book club, she seemed… fresh. Rejuvenated. She kept going on and on with such awe about how she hadn’t slept that well alone in her entire life. I wanted to squeal with joy, but I held it in. I’m not crazy, I know she would feel a certain kind of way about this situation. I feel the good outweighs the prudish social expectations. That night, her husband was still absent. I donned the morph suit for another tour of duty.

The third night rolled around, and honestly I’d gotten a little comfortable. That happens when you’re sleeping with someone, right? I took a drink from the glass on her nightstand, borrowed her eye drops and nose spray. My allergies were acting up, and I didn’t want to interfere with her rest. I slept through my phone buzzing, the benedryl I took so I wouldn’t sneeze and hack from mucus must have put me down a little too hard.  

I woke up to the sound of her alarm. She was groggy, and smacked at her alarm clock haphazardly. I stood up as gently as I could, trying not to alert her. I absolutely knew this was it. I was going to get caught. Run, or hide? I would have fit under the bed, but something was screaming run. I bolted through the dark house. She screamed. I was spotted. I pulled off the morph suit as soon as I slipped in my backdoor. I stuffed it between the washing machine and the wall. 

Then I waited. I waited quietly on my couch. I was absolutely sure the police would be on their way. Six o’clock rolled around. Seven, eight, nine o’clock all came without anything. By noon I realized that my face was covered, but even better, she must not have had her contacts in. Jim, her husband, was home that night. That was his last business trip for a long time. That was the week the rumors about Karen’s house being haunted started. 

I laid low, until a few months later. Sue was in a similar predicament as Karen was. Sue also always wore glasses, giving me some insurance if I was sloppy again. Her deadbolts were locked. But her windows on the deck were unlocked, I slid in. If you consider how its weird to smell someone’s house for the first time, it’s three times as strange when they don’t know you’re there. I rummaged through the mixed nuts on her counter, digging for cashews. I found her bedroom shortly after getting over my disappointment with the lack of cashews.

It presented a possible problem. With how the room was arranged, she would be between me and the door. I bit the bullet and took the risk. The next day, it was like she’d had a coffee drip all night. Frankly, it was the most uneventful week of breaking into a house that you could imagine. Everything was exceptionally smooth. It bolstered my confidence.

The very next week, Jacqui was dragging like she’d been awake for weeks. She had the same story as everyone else. Husband out of town, fishing, hunting or something that was very… Hemingway. To be frank, that was the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever gotten. I honestly quiet dislike Jacqui, and her husband. I find them to be crass, uncivilized things. I almost backed out at the last moment, but I think businesses who discriminate are horrid, and that I should hold myself to a higher standard.

I will admit, I was less than professional. The first night, I took the dirty glasses from her sink and stacked them into a triangle on her kitchen table. While rested, she was shaken up. I squealed like a little girl the next morning when she posted a picture of it online. I jogged by her house around eleven that night. The lights were on, she was shuffling around the house. I waited under a tree in her backyard. Eventually, either exhaustion won out over paranoia, or she decided she didn’t believe in ghosts.

I should have  skipped that night. It was stupid. It was way more risk of getting caught since she was already on edge. I even hated the smell of her shampoo. My disdain grew almost unbearable as I lay there, staring at the back of her head. I should have made myself leave. I never wanted to have blood on my hands. Just thinking about that night makes me shake with some alien mixture of disgust and hate. 

Jacqui is fine. I did not hurt a single hair on her head. However, sometime around two o’clock that night, I heard the backdoor click open. Then footsteps, soft, slow,  and deliberate. Break ins non-existent in our neighborhood. Everyone is relatively well off, and we’re gated from outside interference. I froze. My heart pounded in my chest like a mad man trying to escape his cell. The footsteps neared her bedroom. A blacked out figure entered. I feigned sleep and watched it through cracked eyes.

She must have been absolutely dead to the world. He was mere centimeters from her face, as if inspecting her, scrutinizing every last detail. What about me? He could kill us both, he could lead me to be being discovered. He could ruin everything for both of us just based on this one bad decision he’d settled on. The shadow man turned away, looking at her nightstand for a moment. I took my shot. I grabbed a rock with an inspirational quote scrawled on it from the nightstand and slammed it into his head. 

The stars must have aligned for me that night. He went to the ground instantly. No scream, just knees, then folded over backwards. Jacqui was out hard, she didn’t even stir. I cracked him in the same spot a few more times to make sure he was finished. I stood there, in the dark, wee hours of the morning, essentially alone. My suit was ruined, nothing was going to get this much blood out. I left his body there. She found him the next morning. They ruled it as an accomplice turning on him in the middle of the invasion. 

Not telling anyone was tormenting me. The book club chattered, avoiding the topic completely. No one wanted to admit we were vulnerable here. That there could be a killer lurking amongst them. I don’t want to be a killer, I just want to help.

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